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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.

Catching up


When I seem to be “off the grid” it actually means I’m more on the grid than usual. In the past two weeks I’ve spent more time in front of my MacBook than I’d like to admit.

Between classes resuming at the local community college I teach at and a site launch yesterday and today, it’s been one heck of a week. But I haven’t blogged in 10 days, which means I was getting busy before I wanted to admit it to myself.


  • I had a decent 12-mile run last weekend
  • I’ve been maintaining six-mile runs, even if they feel like more effort than usual
  • I went to yoga twice this week and have plans to go on Sunday
  • I had a good first week of school
  • I successfully launched a website with millions of changes
  • I hosted a birthday party for my husband


  • My car overheated (again) and I literally puttered home from my 12-mile run
  • My stomach has been very, very uncooperative with me

Even though the list doesn’t indicated it, the bad kind of outweighed the good, particularly with my persistent stomach issues. I’ve lost four pounds this week because I haven’t been able to eat. Everything upsets my stomach. I’ve missed two morning runs this week because I can’t get my stomach issues under control.

This all goes back to the missing gallbladder. For months I was doing so incredibly well without it. It was a relief to not have to run to the bathroom after every meal (sorry, TMI, but so true).

And now my life is revolving around bathrooms again.

That makes my training, which already seemed to be in a rut, that much harder. I’ve been stuck on the treadmill for the most part the past two weeks. I’ve been going to bed early because I feel so miserable.

Nearly everything I eat has given me problems. It’s not just gluten or dairy, it’s everything.

So between that and my busy schedule, I haven’t had a lot of time to write. I’m hoping things are going to calm down a little bit over the next few weeks (ha, maybe not so much, I’m planning a bridal shower for Sept. 7). But I’m trying to get back on a schedule.

In the process of me not writing, I’ve received several cool new running-related items to try out. Two of them are fueling solutions, which I am hoping will provide some relief to my now Gatorade-intolerant stomach. The third item is my Teespring shirt from the Berkeley Half Marathon which I scored for $13 on sale.

Needless to say, I’m more than a little behind on some posts. Hopefully this is the start of me catching up.


A runner’s mailbox full of goodies

Don’t laugh, but I love getting things in the mail. I used to love it as a child too. Anytime something came for me in the mail, it felt like Christmas. There was a very excited moment where I would open it up and check it out.

I’m still that way. Except I usually get bills now. Lots and lots of bills.

Adulthood is a bummer sometimes.

So when I get running-related items in the mail, I am usually just as giddy as I was as a child. One of my particular favorites is getting my Runner’s World magazine every month. I recently stopped my Running Times subscription, just because I was never getting to actually read both magazines, so Runner’s World is my one predictable “prize” in the mail each month.

Or at least it was. In July, I signed up for StrideBox, a monthly subscription box that sends different items that are of interest to runners. There’s usually a gear item, a fueling source and some snacks. And stickers. You have to love the stickers. Plus, it’s only $15 a month. It seemed like a good deal, so last month I signed up and kind of kicked myself for not doing so earlier this year at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Portland Half Marathon.

Earlier this week, I got my first shipment.


The package fit inside my small-ish secured mailbox, which is already a win. I’m always worried that the mail person will just leave stuff on my doorstep when I’m not home and someone will take it.

The box included a lot of goodies.


Behold the “loot” upon my first opening. There’s much more jammed into the box that’s not shown, including StrideCool towel, which I have yet to try out. It’s been getting cooler again here. I even wore a long-sleeved shirt on my 6 a.m. run, so I’m hoping to have a warm-run day and be able to use it.

The box for August included:

  • Package of Island Boost Passion Fruit flavored
  • Gatorade Lemon Lime Endurance Formula
  • Gatorade Endurance Chews in Fruit Punch and Orange flavors (two packs)
  • 2nd Surge Ultra Energy Gel in Expresso Flavor
  • Maple-Glazed Pecan and Sea Salt Kind Bar
  • Apple Cinnamon Chia Bar
  • StrideCool Post-Run Cooling Towel

All of that for $15. I added up the price list and saw the towel was valued at $10. The Island Boost is somewhere around $2.50. The Kind Bar is anywhere from $1.50 to $2.

So you get a lot of goods for a really inexpensive price.

I tried the Chia Bar first.


It was actually really, really good. I’ve never tried a Chia Bar before. I wasn’t too keen on the texture, but I generally have issues with certain food textures. Plus, it was only 100 calories.

Yesterday, I ate the Kind Bar.


I’m familiar with Kind Bars. I really love the apple cinnamon ones. I started purchasing them earlier this year because for some time I couldn’t digest certain foods thanks to the missing gallbladders. The Kind Bars were just that, kind on my stomach.

I’m most excited about the different fueling options. My stomach has started to act up again, especially since I’ve been running in the morning. Last week during my half marathon, I suddenly had a very upset stomach with my usual Vanilla Bean Gu. I didn’t feel better after the race for hours. It just made for a very uncomfortable day.

I’m hoping to try the Island Boost during my long run this weekend. It’s supposed to be good for sensitive stomachs.

Since I ran out of my Gatorade powder, I’m glad to have the pouch for my long run too.

But who am I kidding, I’m most excited about getting a new little box of goodies to try out every month. I’ve tried, unsuccessfully, to get involved in “swaps” on different blogs. I think I just have bad luck, but both that I signed up for didn’t come to fruition. (And one of the blogs was one that had done swaps previously, I just signed up in a month where hardly anyone else did. I don’t know.)

At least for now I’ve have a box of goodies waiting for me in the mailbox as well as my Runner’s World magazine.

Dead trees tell no tales, but wives do

I’m stepping away from training, running and other talk to write a homage to something I held very dear: the cherry tree in my front yard. Why? It’s my blog and I can write what I want to.



More than three years ago when my husband and I signed our lives and incomes away on a 30-year mortgage, we did so when a beautiful house became available thanks to short sale. I was conflicted by the notion that we were getting our dream house because someone was losing theirs. But I was so very much in love with my four bedroom, three bath home.

We closed on it three days before my 26th birthday. The moment was the result of two years worth of saving our pennies while paying $1,450 in rent at a three bedroom, two bath house on the other side of town. That rental was the first home we shared together. While we were sad to see it go, we were happy to have a place where we could 1) Paint the walls whatever color we damn well chose and 2) Tend to the property how we saw fit.

I’ll back up to 2008.

We moved into the rental house two days before we got married. My husband and I had never lived together before then. It wasn’t for a religious reason or anything like that. It was because finances told us it would be cheaper to pay for our wedding while he lived with his parents for a couple months and I lived with my grandmother.

We were one of more than 20 people who applied for the rental, the only one we looked at. And we got it.

Fast forward to move in day when we discovered two unsettling things.

The first was that the house, unlike advertised, didn’t come with a washer or dryer. Great.

The second was the glaring dead tree in the front yard.

“Do you have any other questions?” the property manager asked us.

“Is that tree dead?” I responded, apparently when we walked through the property a month before I didn’t realize that there were no spring blossoms or leaves or any other sort of indication that stupid tree was dead.

“I’m not sure,” she responded. “If it is, let me know.”


I knew it. My husband knew it. Neither of us wanted to say it.

Then fall came. No foilage. Then winter. At least then it looked normal. When spring rolled back around and the stump started attracting unsavory bugs, I knew it was long past resuscitation.

“We have to do something about the goddamn tree!” I said about six months into our two-year stay at that house.

Finally, as it got colder outside at the beginning of year two, my husband cut off the dead branches. Then, with approval from the landlord, he rented a chainsaw and took that sucker down.

Words cannot describe my excitement about getting rid of that dead tree. I would stare at it everyday while I ran on my treadmill. EVERY. DAMN. DAY.

Too bad Google maps has been updated, otherwise I would have been able to show the monstrosity of a the dead tree. Instead, here’s what it looked like, without the tree in the planter in the center of the yard, the day we moved out.


Grainy photo courtesy of my old school BlackBerry Curve. Well manicured front lawn by me (after I fired the teenage gardeners, but that’s a completely different story). Camaro by Chevrolet.

The day we moved into our new home, I remember saying to my husband: “LOOK, NO DEAD TREE!”

Except my husband decided that at the new house, he would take over the gardening and landscaping duties.

He had “grand plans.”

Those plans included landscaping the backyard, which he has done a beautiful job with. But he also ripped out a set of bushes near the front door because they smelled like “tree sperm” and has threatened, repeatedly, to tear out a massively amazing Juniper bush right at the front of our yard.

We bought a 20-year-old home, with beautiful landscaping, folks.

The curb appeal sold me first. I grew up without sidewalks in front of my house. WITHOUT SIDEWALKS. I didn’t even live in the country.

Not only did I have sidewalks at my house, I had bushes and plants and pretty flowers and trees! Wee!!! Exciting.

A year in, my husband decided the trees needed pruning. Fine. Cut them back a little, I said. I didn’t realize he’d hired professionals who wouldn’t just cut my trees back, but would take away the privacy that I so loved about my house. I’m not kidding. I couldn’t see my neighbor’s backyard from my bedroom window when I moved in. Then my husband went and had the trees cut and NOW I SEE EVERYTHING.

It was a Friday when he had it done. I wasn’t home. I was at school in the morning for newspaper distribution for my students. Then I went and worked a 10-hour day at the newspaper. By the time I got home, after 8 p.m. I drove up to both my apricot and my beautiful cherry tree looking like nude models. And not artistic ones.


That’s what it’s looked like for two years.

I’m not one to hold my tongue when I’m upset. I try, but it’s not in my nature. In fact, I’m told it’s better for me to let it out then to let it build up. My neighbor caught the tail end of my tirade. I was pissed.


That’s the tame version.

And you know what? For two years I’ve told him repeatedly that the tree is dead. That one act of eco-violence killed it. I knew it then.

He had denied it every chance he gets. Nope, the tree isn’t dead. It’s “getting there.” He told me to “give it time.”

Now, I’m not a “tree hugger.” I went to Berkeley. I own Birkenstocks. I even bring reusable bags to the stores on occasion and when I travel. I have a can in my kitchen solely devoted to recycling even. I once floated a lavaliere microphone up a 50-foot Redwood tree near Cal Memorial Stadium, much to the dismay of my master’s project adviser, to interview a “tree hugger.”

But that’s about as far as I go. I wouldn’t chain myself to my cherry tree.

I did love it though. I loved the privacy it gave my yard. I loved it so much I once threatened a teenager who I caught up in it (seriously) with police action if she didn’t get her butt down and “get off my lawn.”

It was only THIS WEEKEND, after my half marathon in San Leandro, that my husband confessed what he did two years ago had finally taken its toll. Those little leaves you see? Those sprouts were the only remnants of the tree “coming back.” And now those little leaves, the only signs of life, are dead.



I have words. None of them are good. But I also know the dead tree isn’t staying in my yard.

My husband was surprised I was more upset about this than some other bad news I received lately. I felt more vindication when he admitted the tree was dead, though, than anger. I KNEW THE TREE WAS DEAD. I’VE COME TO TERMS WITH IT.

After I did the “I told you it was dead!” dance about 10 times, I calmly (calm for me, I raise my voice when I get excited) said: “You will cut down the dead tree. You will take out the stump. And you will replace it. But not with a stupid, small ass tree that you can get for cheap at the nursery. No, you will find a well-established cherry tree or something comparable and you will plant it there. And there will be shade. And it will be beautiful again. But I will not live with another dead tree in my front yard.”

You wouldn’t know by that assertion that my husband and I operated on an even keel around our house. I’m thankful that even know he’s been the “breadwinner” in our relationship since we got married, we both have equal say. But the tree leaves little room for negotiating.

Kill my tree, I also get to keep my Juniper bush.

The bright spot in all of this is that our front lawn, which had been neglected for months when we moved in because it was a short sale property, is thriving with more sun. I also don’t have to look it while on the treadmill anymore. Instead, my treadmill faces the nicely landscaped backyard where a newly planted Japanese maple is thriving next to a hand-laid cobblestone porch. But really, that doesn’t make it any better.

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.

On privacy, protection and online identity

When I started this blog nearly two years ago, I had a grand plan to never reveal my name to anyone. My first post had a generic byline. The “user name” assigned to the main posting account was “… and she runs.”

I’m so original.

A couple months later, I changed it to “T.C.” I don’t think I mentioned anything personal, related to my life or my job, until about six months into the whole blogging thing.

Then I made a critical decision in terms of how much I would reveal on this blog. I decided that if I was going to write about my training, my personal life, my diet, my weight and everything else, I would do it by being completely transparent about who I was.

I’m writing about this because I had a lengthy Facebook discussion earlier this week with several other Sweat Pink ambassadors about this topic.

A lot of questions came up in the exchange.

How much should you reveal? Should you worry about your information getting into another person’s hands? When we publish blog posts, do we realize how people could read between the lines and find us?

For me the answers are a little more black and white than they are to some people.

I wrote my first newspaper column when I was 15. I wrote for newspapers for 10 years, my name, work phone number and email address were out for anyone who had a phone or Internet access to call me to do so. I also spent four years dealing with online trolls in website and social media communities. My husband once made the mistake of listing our home phone number, now disconnected, in the phone book. One of those commentors from the online community I managed actually once called me. At home.

Years before, when I graduated from college, a man approach me asking me if I was “the Tara Cuslidge” who wrote for the newspaper. As much as it was a little concerning, I never felt a need to protect myself. I wrote a column my first year of graduate school where I talked about everything from social topics to personal issues.

Transparency is the pinnacle of good journalism. It’s something I teach my students repeatedly every semester. It’s because of that I don’t hide behind a pseudonym on my blog.

But I’m not against it.

In fact, I specifically didn’t take my husband’s name professionally when I got married to protect him. He had the right to be a private individual even if I chose not to. It wasn’t until a paperwork mistake at the college I work at happened that anyone started using my full, married name on documents that find a way to the public eye. Only since I left my full-time journalism job have I started to retreat to a far less public role.

Would I reveal my name again if given the chance to start over? Probably not. But it’s hard to take it back once it’s out there. The Internet has a unforgiving memory. The cache is deep. I used to tell people who called and wanted stories removed from the website I worked on daily that “even if it goes away here, there’s no guarantee that it will disappear from the Internet.”

In the Facebook conversation, we talked about blurring photos, erasing bib numbers and other ways to protect yourself from online trolls or stalkers. Here are some of the things I took from our conversation:


Do people online know your name? Do they know what event you ran in last weekend? Do they know in what vicinity you live in? It’s easy to do a search online where someone can put together all those details and, in some cases, figure out your last name. If you’ve Googled yourself lately, you know what comes up (even if it’s just your results).

On that note, you should Google yourself. I know it’s cheesy and people feel weird about it, but it’s also a way to know if information that you don’t want online got there. I tell my students, once they start writing, to Google themselves once a month. For them it’s a safeguard against people stealing their content. But it’s a good habit to have.


I mentioned this today even though I’m guilty of it. I once got an email from a “husband of another racer.” It was only a couple months after I started blogging I wrote a race recap from the Nike Women’s Half Marathon. It is so crowded at the race, and always is, that I didn’t think anyone would recognize me. But I’d been blogging about it for a couple weeks. He sent a rather strange, kind of creepy email, about “seeing me” at the finish.

Yikes. And wow. I didn’t respond. It was too weird.

I’m guilty of posting numerous photos on social media sites of me still wearing my race bib. A word of advice: Don’t. It makes it THAT much more easy for someone who wants to find out who you are to do so.

I have noticed my husband doing some self cropping of me when I ask him to take post-race photos of me. He usually tries to only get my face, the medal and the top half of my torso. I never told him to do so, but I’m glad he does.


Screen Shot 2013-07-22 at 6.02.22 PM

While a private domain registration is usually a recommended ay to prevent anyone from finding out information about who you are and where you are, you can also update your domain information and exclude the important tidbits.

Mine has my name listed, which is already part of the copyright information at the bottom of each page, but I purposely put in “XXXX” for other information and switched up the information for my address. Anyone can search to find out who owns your domain, which will likely lead them to finding out more information.

Just make sure you change the contact information for all four areas of contact, not just one.

Or just pay the extra dough to have a private registration.


Again, I don’t necessarily follow this guideline. I do, however, protect a lot of information about other people. I don’t call the See Jane Run ladies by their full names. I don’t say a lot about my husband, outside of the fact that he is incredibly awesome. In fact, I’ve gotten used to NOT putting information about him on my blog.

You know where I live? Fine. It’s a city of 80,000. You know where I used to work? Good for you. That one isn’t hard, I was there for a collective 10 years. You looked up my profile? Then you know my students are my biggest fans. Whatever. But I’ve blocked out my direct address in several photos. I’ve chucked photos of my Garmin immediately after I PRed because you can see my information in my RoadID.

I don’t want you showing up on my doorstep, or finding me at a local store. If we run into each other at a race, that’s cool. But please don’t stalk me. I’m not that interesting.


I list the races I’m participating in on my blog. It’s about community. I want people to say “oh hey, I’m running that race too!”

I don’t give details about where I am staying, who I am staying with, what I’m doing before the race or even when I’m going to the expo. Moreover, I don’t talk about the plans for my house when I’m gone. I don’t blog about certain details until after the fact. I’ve been told that my race preparations are all over the place. Some races that people assumed I’d travel for, I haven’t. Some that I should have stayed the night with before, I didn’t.

Notice again the vagueness?


A couple months ago, I posted an image that I had edited a name out of. My friend’s daughter made me an awesome poster at the Mermaid Run in Fremont, but she spelled out her entire name on it. I know my friend well enough to know she wouldn’t want a photo with her little girl’s name on the Internet.

When I color corrected it in Photoshop, the name was barely visible. Perfect.

But I also ask my friends if I can post photos of them. They know I have a blog. They also know if they run with me, they’re usually be part of it.

Let’s face it, photos like this would be kind of odd:


I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t post these photos if I had to blur my best friends out. But I literally ask for permission every time I take a photo now. Or, at least, I imply that it’s going on the blog. “I’m taking this for my blog,” I say. Sam, in particular, will usually tell me if I can’t post something. Jennie is a journalist. She knows the way I write for this blog. She gets it.

By the way, that Chico sweater is kind of a misdirection. I didn’t graduate or attend California State University, Chico. I was going to…but then my undergraduate institution gave me 24,000 reasons not to in the form of a nearly full-ride academic scholarship. The context of which is now you know I was an excellent high school student, graduating tied for something like 13th in my class. You know what? That information is available about me on the Internet as well. Back to the sweat shirt: I was glad when my then boyfriend, now husband decided to go to Chico State. Totally made the $50 sweatshirt he wouldn’t have never bought me worth it.

Also: If you search me on linked it, you likely know what school’s I attended and graduate from. See, there is so much information out there already.


Especially if you want to blur out your friend’s faces or a bib number you don’t want the world to see.


It’s easy to use. But I’m a big fan of finding more creative shots to use instead of making ridiculous Photoshop edits. A lot of bloggers also add watermarks to their photos. Just last month, a blogger’s images of her son were discovered on a blog about a fake child supposedly suffering from cancer. Just know that even if you have a watermark, your images will be taken by uncouth people.

When I worked at a newspaper we couldn’t stop the people taking our content. Sure, we ask them to take the images or video down, but sometimes, even after the warning, people would just come back and do it again. Anyone can do a screen capture. And a lot of people are very skilled with Photoshop and can remove watermarks.

I have images that were shared on Pinterest, which I have a button for. That’s fine. As a blogger, I accept that as a “cost of doing business” per se. But I’ve read that Katie at Runs for Cookies has actually had an advertisement for a weight-loss program use her “before” and “after” images. She was upset, if I recall the post correctly. I would be too.


This is the quickest way for someone to know where you live! It’s also one of the reasons I’ve stuck with DailyMile independently of Garmin Connect. I post my runs to the blog via a DailyMile widget. I don’t sync to Garmin.

  1. You don’t need to know my running routes exactly unless you’re my husband and I don’t come home.
  2. I don’t want someone “following” me on my run.
  3. When I run with friends, I don’t want their homes displayed.

That’s one of the reasons that when my friends and I started running together, we deliberately started our “path” nearly a half mile from one of our homes. The walk provided a good warm up and took us far enough way where people would be left guessing.


Contextual clues are everywhere. No matter how much you try to hide, you are likely going to slip at one point or another. I’ve actually seen this happen to even the most private bloggers. Just last week, I saw a blogger who usually goes by a pseudonym accidentally post a reply to a comment using her full real name.

Another blogger might put your name up on accident as well.

I once wrote a story that a man in the community I worked in didn’t agree with, for whatever reason. My tagline, the area displaying my phone number and email address, was left off the story. So the guy instead turned to the phone book. He called my grandmother. It freaked her out, especially because her address is listed next to her phone number in the phone book.

He called my grandmother. She gave him my work number. He then called me and told me how he called two other people listed in the phone book and found out that I was still a college student. It was “no wonder” I got it wrong. (For the record, the fact he disputed wasn’t wrong.)

In today’s Internet-driven society, there’s a likelihood that if you’ve ever participated in any sort of event, you’re on the Internet somewhere. We can protect ourselves all we want, but the issue remains. If someone wants to find you, they can definitely do so.

So be careful.


You’re a runner when …


I had one of those “you know you’re a runner when” moments yesterday while my husband was stranded on the side of Interstate 80 above Colfax, more than 100 miles from our home in Tracy, an exburb of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Nevermind the fact that his 1998 Toyota Camry had likely climb its last hill, I was staring down a major sloped incline and all I could do was think about how instead of running out the door as quick as possible in my running clothes with sandals on, I should have grabbed my Nikes.

Well, I did grab my Nikes.

Just not the right ones.


Those are not my running shoes. And lucky for everyone who reads this blog, my black toenails aren’t showcased in this lovely photo.

My husband waited more than two hours for me to make the journey up to get him. I had to drop my freelance work after solving a particularly messy navigation issue with a more-complex-than-I’d-like CSS hack. I was about to celebrate when I noticed a call on my phone went straight to voicemail.

Then I had a text message from my husband that said: “Call me!”

1) My husband rarely leaves voicemail or calls twice to get me. 2) My husband doesn’t text often. I’m still not quite sure he knows how. He owns an old-school Samsung flip phone. We talk about moving him to a smart phone, which I’ve had for about five years now, but he never seems too motivated to do so. He just usually borrows my iPhone.

It’s with that knowledge that I present his poor, 1998 Camry.

He bought it five years ago. It’s his commuter car. He puts roughly 120 miles on it every work day (he works 9/80s, so he gets three-day weekends every other week from his engineering job in the Bay Area). He’s put 200,000 miles on it since he purchased it from a private owner.

We’ve known for awhile that it likely was on it’s last leg. But it was a good car and measured good gas mileage.


Photo editing note: I blurred the license plate. Because no one needs to see that.

It’s a little heartbreaking. Not a lot, though. He’s more heartbroken that he won’t get to go camping this weekend like he had planned. Instead, I had to bring him and all his camping equipment home, which barely fit in our Jeep. The car is being towed to my parents’ house in Stockton (closer to our AAA 100-mile tow coverage) and we’re going to decide what to do with it.

But it’s not going to hit the freeway again.

We bought our Jeep last fall when my Camaro started giving me problems (ever seen a V6 on fire? I had a moment, or twenty, with that car on the way back from the Bay Area after the Nike Women’s Half Marathon Expotique last year, smoke, losing power, all the things that make a person freak out, on the Altamont of all places).

We ended up getting the Camaro repaired for less than we thought it would be, so we decided to “garage it” and baby it a little more.


Unfortunately for me that means I’m turning over my Jeep keys to my husband for awhile. The Camaro, which gets amazing gas mileage for a 11-year-old sports car, can’t handle the extra miles. It would end up in the same position as the Toyota.

We’re looking for a used commuter car, but not quite in a rush to get one yet. I’ll be driving my Camaro again, which won’t be nearly as much as I was driving it before. My full-time job as a journalist meant that I was racking up mileage on my car every time I did an assignment.

Sure, we got paid for the gas, but the wear and tear on a car isn’t compensated. Now I drive to work and am there all day. I come. I go. That’s about it. I even walk to lunch because it’s pointless getting in my car to go somewhere.

My husband, while sad, did make sure to grab his Chico State license plate frame from the car. To me, that marks the point where you know your vehicle is really gone.

And I’m still regretting not bringing my running shoes to get in hill repeats. For real.

After the long weekend

Lots of new things, lots of changes and lots of moving forward hit today after the long weekend. These things happened in both my little running world and the running world abroad.

Here’s a couple updates/changes I noticed that took effect after the long weekend:



I woke up this morning to a Facebook status update on my phone that I didn’t recognize as something I had previously “liked.” I looked at the profile and realized that iFtiness had changed it’s company name to Fitletic.

The website addresses the name change specifically:

“We believe that the name change better captures the company’s mission of providing premium ergonomically designed endurance accessories that allow fitness athletes to unleash their performance potential.”

I love, love, love my iFitness band. My first concern was that the company was no longer going to making these awesome products. I was especially worried because mine seems to be nearing replacement age. I was relieved when I saw that the bands were all still available on the website, just with a different name written in silver letters.


My treadmill was starting to have an awful smell to it if my runs were getting a little long. On Saturday night, when I failed to run the color-run type 5K, I ran eight miles in the evening instead.

It wasn’t even warm but I started to smell something a little burnt.

I know my treadmill needs a new drive belt. I’m going to replace it once I get paid for my freelance work from the month of June. I’m actually hoping my husband can replace it for me. The “treadmill guy” from a couple years ago said he would only change $75 to come and service it if I already knew what was wrong with it.

But I also know my husband, the engineer, can probably tackle it as well.

That can wait, lubing it up couldn’t. I grabbed the kit I purchased awhile back from I’m nearly out of the lube that came with it, but I poured it on and spent a good amount of time trying to work the “wand” in between the deck and the tread belt. It seems to work a little better now, but definitely still in need of a drive belt replacement.


Runner’s World is reporting that marathoner Ryan Hall is now self-coached again, dropping an Italian coach he’s only been with for less than half at year.

The article says he’ll go back to “faith-based coaching.”

Every time I think I’m doing well in running, I remind myself that with coaching I could probably be so much better. Then I realize that even the best athletes don’t work well with coaches all the time. Would coaching work for me? I don’t know.

More power to Hall for striking it out on his own again.


A month ago, I saw the StrideBox booth at an expo. I was tempted then, but I didn’t sign up because I wanted to know more about the service before committing.

In the past 24 hours, I’ve seen numerous tweets about how excited people are after receiving their July StrideBox. I looked at some of the images. This month’s box includes a water bottle, energy bars and hydration tablets. The water bottle alone would be worth the $15 in many cases.

I looked at some previous tweets and realized that other packages included some sort of “gear” item too. I was sold. Look at what the StrideBox has to offer:


The animated gif is from where runner’s came sign up for the $15 a month membership.

The boxes promise “stuff runners want.” After I signed up Ashley over at Rather Be Runnin’ also highly recommended it just a little bit ago on Twitter.

Since I signed up today, I won’t actually get my first StrideBox until August, according to the tweets responding to customers today. But I’m looking forward to it. And will definitely review it on the blog once I receive it.


In 2006 and 2007, I did out-of-state newspaper internships in Colorado and Texas. I actually looked to leave the state both summers because, as a California resident, I got in-state tuition at University of California, Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. I figured that instead of competing against the other students who needed to be in the state to get in-state tuition that second year, I’d just expand my horizons.

Both years, when people asked me if I’d considered leaving California. I was so tempted in Texas. I loved the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex area. I probably had the best summer of my life in Dallas.

But I love California and it’s not just because I was born and raised here. California has a vast variety of climates and cities that make every part of it diverse.

So it’s not surprising that Runner’s World reported today that California has the most marathons with 61.

To think, I’ve only run four of those: California International Marathon (twice), Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego, San Luis Obispo Marathon and the San Francisco Marathon. I think I have a lot of groundwork to cover in this state before I start a 50-state quest.



“Love it will not betray you, dismay or enslave you, it will set you free…”
— “Sigh No More,” Mumford & Sons

Today is my five-year wedding anniversary. It’s been a half decade since my husband and I said “for better or worse” in front of 150 people in a beautiful chapel with tall, stained-glass windows.

We celebrated that day with friends and family. Many of those friends have gone the wayside, as it happens in life. We’ve moved on, finding new couples and individuals to share our journey with.

I was 24. He was 27. We’ve grown together. We’ve survived the storms that come with marriage.

And we’ve made it this far.

Five years. Four jobs. Three dogs. Two house. One kayak.

Thomas supports my running habit. He’s my constant race companion and the biggest supporter I have. The one who is always at the finish. The person who watched me cry after my first marathon. And again and again since then at each PR, at each triumph.

This weekend we travel down to San Diego for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon. A year ago at this time, I was struggling through life, unfulfilled and unhappy. After my horrendous 26.2 in San Diego, I vowed to never do it again.This weekend I aim for a fun 13.1 with my running buddy Sam, followed by an anniversary trip to Magic Mountain.

I know better than anyone what a difference six months, eight months or a year can make in a person’s life. Today I’m eager to try again, loving what I do everyday and in a better place.

That’s all because of my husband.

When I had a moment today where I felt defeated, he’s the one who brought me back. That’s what someone who loves you does. Five years may not seem like a long time, especially when compared to my grandparent’s 60-plus year union, but it’s the stepping stone to getting to 10, 15 and even 20.

I’m excited to get to those next chapters with Thomas.

What do you when Kara Goucher signs your race bib?


This one time, at a race expo, super runner Kara Goucher signed my race bib. She was super nice about it and even let me take a photo with her. Which is amazing, because she’s Kara-freaking-Goucher. She can run marathons in the time it takes me to run a half marathon.

This is a fan girl moment for me. A running fan girl moment. I not only have photos of it. I also have the bib.


Now I keep all my race bibs anyway. I’ve included posts on this blog that include my “bib wall” in my home office, i.e. the place where I spend most of my day coding and working on WordPress blogs. I like to look up and be reminded of what I’ve done.

I also keep my half marathon “PR medal” right in front of my computer. All reminders of the amazing things I’ve done running and how far I’ve come just in the past five months.

But a bib signed by Kara Goucher deserves more than just a spot on the “bib wall.”

No. It needs to be put in a place of reverence. It needs to be put somewhere where not just my husband and I will see it. But it also needs to be incorporated into the decor of our home.

So it needed a frame.

Yes, I framed the Kara Goucher signed race bib.


It’s not a custom job, because that would have cost a lot of money. This is a Michael’s 12X12 frame matted down to 8X8. I found an online coupon for 25 percent off. I went for it. The matted area is almost the size of the Rock ‘n’ Roll race bibs, enough to fake it. And see Kara Goucher’s signature. Because that’s really what is important here.

And now the bib is sitting in my family room, above the mantle for my fireplace. It’s part of the decor. Because it’s so awesome it should be.

I should mention this isn’t my first race-related art piece in my home. I should probably do a blog post on all of them one day. Since running is part of my life, it’s also featured prominently in my home.

But this is now my newest prized possession. I’m actually considering taking it to school and putting it on the wall in my office.