Thursday, June 27, 2013

Hawaii Fun: Part II

When I left off, I was describing all the fun we had on Oahu. We then went to the Big Island of Hawaii!! We had about two and a half days there. The first day we visited the Kona Brewing Company -- so good!!

One of the days Ryan and I ventured off on our own for the day to visit Volcanoes National Park. The island of Hawaii is actually made of five volcanoes, with some of them erupting in the not too distant past. They had a lot of tours where you could walk to see flowing lava. We didn't see that, but did get to see a lot of smoke coming out from the volcano in the park. We also went to see the end of the road in the park where lava flowed over it in 2003. It was raining at the park when we arrived, but luckily it cleared out and we had a great day!

 We also went to a luau at another nearby hotel at sunset. The next night there were hula dancers at our hotel doing a little performance. My Mom and I got a good photo with one of the dancers! :)

The last day before we left, we stopped to check out the lava tubes near the airport. Basically, they are huge holes where lava had flowed underground. My brother, Ryan and I climbed around in them a bit. It is tough to walk over the lava rock -- very jagged. 

Overall it was an amazing trip! I loved spending some good time with my family. We had a great week, and I can't wait until the next time we get together! xoxo

Monday, June 24, 2013

Hawaiian Fun: Part I

As I mentioned in my quick update last week -- I was away for the week with my family in Hawaii! We had an amazing time, and I wanted to share with you some of the details.

During our trip, we visiting two of the islands: Oahu and Hawaii (the Big Island). We spent the first four days in Waikiki on Oahu, and the last three in a little town North of Kailua-Kona called Waikoloa on Hawaii.

We made sure to keep busy most days with different excursions, but also had some time to relax on the beach, play cards, and swim in the pools. Since I have way too many photos that I love from the trip, I'll break this down into a couple posts. This one will focus on Oahu.

During our time on Oahu, we visited Pearl Harbor, went snorkeling, went on a sunrise photography tour, and enjoyed some gorgeous sunsets from our hotel.

Pearl Harbor was beautiful and moving. We also toured the USS Arizona. It was really interesting to walk around and explore the battleship.

The photography tour was amazing. Every stop we made was gorgeous, and I took SO many photos!!

When we were snorkeling we even got to see a couple turtles!! The guides mentioned they usually see a few more, but there were some scuba divers that were scaring them away. One of the turtles came to the surface really close to me and another person. It was amazing to see it stick his head up out of the water! Here's a photo of one of them below the surface -- you can see how large it was compared to the scuba diver!

At the end of the day we always had a gorgeous sunset!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Quick Update

I know I haven't posted in about a week, so I wanted to give you a little update.  If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you know that I have been away on vacation to Hawaii!

Last week, my parents came to CA to visit for a few days. I am aiming to finish my PhD in the near-ish future, so I walked at graduation. It was exciting, even though I'm not quite finished. My brother arrived on Friday night.

Then, Saturday we left for Hawaii!! We have spent the past few days on Oahu, in Waikiki. This is my first visit to HI. It has been beautiful!! We have been busy enjoying the beach, vising Pearl Harbor, snorkeling, and exploring the island on a photography tour. I can't wait to share some images with you! Until then, seriously...check out Instagram! I promise to tell you more in a few more days.

So tell me...what have you been up to this week?

Monday, June 10, 2013

Summer Marathon Training

This weekend was one of the first we have had to relax at home in 6 weeks! It was wonderful to be able to get some things done around the house, and get out on the trail for a run and to the pool for a swim. We also celebrated Ryan's birthday on Friday night. We were able to stay cool during the 100+ degree heat wave we had Friday and Saturday! Overall, great weekend.

{after my hot Saturday AM run.}

So now that my spring racing season is over, it's almost time to get going on training for my fall marathon! Over the next week or two, I'm hoping to put together a training plan for OBX. Exciting!! My plan is to officially start training the first week in July. I know it probably sounds crazy, but I am actually looking forward to the 18-20 mile long runs.

When training for my first marathon in December, my plan was just about putting in the miles to make sure I could complete the distance. Before this spring I had never done track workouts during my training programs, but completing them really improved my speed and also my running confidence. During this marathon training cycle, I will be incorporating speedwork and tempo runs. I also will be working on hills some to be prepped for Hood to Coast!

Until then, I will be filling in my days with strength training, keeping my running base up, and getting to the pool for some cross training. There's a chance I will squeeze in another triathlon or two later in the summer.

What are your summer training goals? 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Guest Post: Thought's from Ana's First Marathon

Happy Thursday everyone! Today I have a post from my wonderful friend, Ana, who ran her first marathon last weekend at Rock & Roll San Diego. I asked her to share something about her experience. 

{Me and Ana at the Running of the Elk half in April}


This past Sunday, June 2nd, I had the opportunity to run my first marathon!  I am so honored to write a guest post for Kristen’s blog. Without further ado, I present:

Ana’s Top 5 Marathon Memories

5. The Spectators!!
 “There's not a sad face to be found, everyone is just so glad to see you” – Big Fish

Running a marathon without the supportive (and often hilarious) spectators would be like a band playing a concert without an audience. And with it being the Rock and Roll marathon, the bands along the route were literally our audience! From the joker who started the race with a sign reading “Only 26.2 miles to go!” to the  group of guys playing “Eye of the Tiger” on repeat near the finish, the spectators kept me smiling and laughing through it all.

4. The Unexpected
 “Ch-ch-ch-ch-CHANGES” – David Bowie

No matter how much I prepared for this race, life was bound to shake me by my (running) shoe laces. It started with the lack of sleep two nights prior to the race (not recommended), continued with an ache-y hip and knee for half the race, and ended with miles of hills at the end. All I could do was be adaptable. It wouldn’t be a challenge if everything went according to the plan, right? J

3. The Finish
Winning is about struggle and effort and optimism, and never, ever, ever giving up” – Amby Burfoot

I had heard of hitting ‘the wall’, but it always sounded like more of a physical exhaustion than the ‘mental’ wall I had encountered around mile 20. I was literally beginning to question the existence of this elusive ‘finish line’. I remembered this picture and just couldn’t stop pushing forward:

2.  The Present
“You will never be lovelier than you are now. We will never be here again.” – Homer

I find it quite challenging to not worry about the past or future in day-to-day life. There are some moments, though, where you know you are exactly where you are supposed to be. I feel like running absolutely helps me live in the present. It’s not every day that I can run with 30,000 other people around an ocean, through a tunnel lined with strobe lights, and on a blocked off freeway!

1. The Journey
 Cause all I wanna do is go the distance.” – Rocky
The reason I decided to train for and run this race was to accomplish something for myself. In a world bound by so many obligations to other people, it was amazing to have a goal over which I had complete control. I was fortunate to enjoy every step of my fifteen week journey so by the time I got to race day, it was like sliding that last puzzle piece into place. Done!

Congratulations to Ana on completing her first marathon -- an amazing accomplishment!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Tri for Fun Sprint Triathlon: Race Recap

Saturday morning I completed a sprint distance triathlon at Rancho Seco Park called the Tri for Fun. It consisted of a 0.5 mile swim, 16 mile bike, and 3 mile run.

The park is about 45 minutes away for our house, and Ryan and I wanted to be sure to arrive by the time the transition area opened to get a good spot. So we got up at 4:30am, and rolled out by 5:30. There are so many things to pack for a tri that we were both worried we forgot something. Especially because we were also packing for a night of camping. Luckily, we did not. :)

Since we arrived early, we got a great spot in transition, right next to the bike in and run out. Also not far from the bike out. We picked up our bib numbers, and got body marked.

The race seemed to start right on time with the first wave of men swimmers at 8:00. Since I hadn't gotten the chance to do a swim in my wetsuit, and the water felt pretty warm, I decided not to wear it. Women under 30 started in the 4th wave at 8:15.

{Pre-swim stretching}

As the swim started, I did a pretty good job of not getting worked up by the open water or going out too fast. It can feel daunting to see how far away the buoys are. I felt like all the women had surged out ahead of me, and I thought I fell behind right away. I just tried to keep moving, and hoped I could catch up on the bike and run. I did a better job than last year at sighting and staying on course, even though the second buoy was impossible to see in the sun glare! I did not see the clock when I finished the swim, so I'm not totally sure what my time was....but I'd estimate about 19 minutes.

{Heading to transition from the swim}

I ran up to transition, and as quickly as I could dried my feet, threw on my shoes, sunglasses , helmet and watch and stuffed some chews in my pocket.

When I got on the bike I saw one girl ahead of me, and decided my goal was to start picking people off. The bike course starts a down hill (to get out of the park) for about 2 miles, then goes down a road for about 6 miles until the turn around and heads straight back. I was able to pass a couple women in the bike. It seemed like there was a little head wind on the way out. The first half the bike was a bit slower than I wanted. As soon as I turned around I was able to pick up the pace a bunch! I think I averaged over 20mph the whole ride back until some of the uphill portion. My bike pace ended up at 18.6mph -- half a mile per hour faster than last year.

At this point, in my head I was not doing very well, and was moving slower than last year -- I hadn't looked up my times, but thought I remembered what they were. I hoped I could at least do well on the run. T2 was also pretty quick. It was great that my spot in transition was so close to the bike in and run out. I threw on my sneakers, and grabbed my bib number and visor and head out.

If I had to describe the run in one word it would be HOT. The run is on a clay path, and is kind of rocky with small rolling hills and no shade coverage. I did not pass any women in the run. I tried to just keep pushing as hard as I could even when my quads were burning. I dumped water over my head at the water station to try to stay cool. My legs finally started feeling more normal with one mile to go. My average pace was 8:18/mile, about 30 seconds/mi faster than last year.

Throughout the race I had convinced myself I was so far behind. I thought I was slower than than last year -- believing I had swam slower, biked the same, and ran the same. In reality, I swam about the same, transitioned faster, biked faster and ran faster this year. I didn't realize how well I was doing until I could see the timing clock! It's amazing how many different aspects there are to work on during a triathlon!

{Almost to the finish!!}

My final time was 1:37:15. Good enough for 3rd in my age group and 8th woman overall. A 5 min PR over last year!

{Ryan finished 2nd in his AG, and 18th overall!}
Even though I somehow didn't think I was doing better than last year for a lot of the race, I didn't let it defeat me. I just kept telling myself to do the best I could. Just finish the race and enjoy it. I guess I should've done a better job of looking up my previous race splits rather than trying to just remember them from a year ago! Haha.

But I had a lot of fun! I'm proud of myself for staying strong and doing my best. And will probably be searching for another triathlon for this summer. :)

THANKS to Matt for taking so many great photos!
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