26.2

Last month I checked off one of the biggest items on my list of life goals. It was one of the most daunting goals and one in which I was really reaching for the stars because I never imagined I would be able to run a marathon.

I began training 16 weeks prior to race day. Training was mostly good, with a few rocky weeks of running injuries, and my goal finish time in turn increased. But I felt prepared, that I had done just about everything I could to be able to run 6.2 miles further than my longest training run of 20 miles (which, by the way, seemed impossible after I finished that 20 miler).

Saturday was packet pickup day.
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I found my name on the runner’s wall.
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Then I went home to prepare and resume carbo-loading which was in fact my absolute favorite part of marathon training.
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I texted photos of my outfit to my cheer team so they would be able to spot me along the way. Then, it was time to turn in early so I could get up at 3:45 am for my pre-race breakfast.
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I arrived at the bus pick-up at 5:30 am.
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The bus was crowded and I asked a girl if I could sit next to her. We started chatting and she asked if I lived locally. I told her I used to but now I live in Hawaii. What I did not expect was for her to say, “Me too!” I was pleasantly surprised to make a new friend on the way to the marathon start.

When we arrived in Folsom, I stayed on the relatively warm bus for a while, but decided I better get in on the restroom lines. I stepped off the bus and was greeted with a chilly breeze. I stood in line for the port-a-potty for about 30 minutes, watched the sunrise, ate a snack, and then it was time to go!
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All of the sudden the national anthem was being sung and I realized I needed to get out my iPod and put my sweats in the donation pile. It was difficult to hear what they were announcing and I couldn’t find any of the pacers or my corral, but the gun went off and everyone was going, so I just started running. I was beginning my first marathon!
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I could finally feel my feet again at mile 2.5 and discarded my gloves on the side of the road. I was surprised at how many people (males in particular) were stopping really anywhere on the side of the road to relieve themselves, but I just averted my eyes and kept chugging along. I felt great. The weather was perfect, I was super excited and I was looking forward to seeing my friends and family that had come out to cheer me on.

Around mile 8 I saw the first familiar faces. I waved to the parents of one of my best childhood friends as they cheered for me and snapped some photos. It was amazing how much of a bounce it put in my stride to see friends that had stood in the cold and waited for me to pass to give me encouragement.

Winding through Old Fair Oaks I looked forward to seeing my parents at mile 10 and got ready to throw my headband to my mom. These are some of the photos they were able to capture while they waited for me to arrive:

The elites at the front of the pack
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And the rest of us…
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At the halfway point I began experiencing some knee pain which was unfortunate, but I prayed and God took it way. Then it would come back, and I prayed some more. Fortunately, right around mile 14 were my aunt, uncle and cousin in Carmichael cheering me and pushing me on. Then, I went through the aid station covered by my alma mater and saw one of my favorite teachers from junior high.
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I was really looking forward to seeing my parents and mother-in-law at mile 18, but when I passed through they weren’t there. I was so thankful to spot my mom’s bright pink sweater at mile 19! This is a video my mother-in-law took of me passing by.

The mile markers began appearing further and further apart, but I was determined. My pace slowed a little but I never stopped running. My husband (who wasn’t able to be there) was watching my little dot tracking me on his computer screen and said he couldn’t believe I held my pace so well and was about to finish. I was reaching the capitol park and the crowd on each side of the road was thickening.
This guy cheered me up and my pace quickened.
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I saw the finish line and all of the sudden I felt like I was sprinting, giving every last ounce of energy into this amazing moment. I spotted my family, my aunt and mother-in-law and I couldn’t take the huge grin off my face. I crossed the finish line.

My mom captured my finish in slow-mo and my uncle was there to give me a high five.
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I met up with my cheer team and all I kept saying was, “I can’t believe I did it.” I finished! And I beat my goal of 4:45 and finished in 4:43:35.

It is an indescribable feeling what I felt when I crossed the finish line and realized one of the biggest accomplishments of my life.

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–A

Some statistics from the 32nd California International Marathon:
Entrants: 8261
Starters: 5945
Finishers: 5804

Boston Qualifiers: 1283
Streakers (32-Time Finishers): 12
U.S. Olympic Trials Qualifiers: 30

Yoga. Run. Party.

SeaWheeze 1/2 Marathon & Sunset Festival

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Vancouver, BC

SeaWheeze was so much fun that I am still giddy while reminiscing about it a week later. It wasn’t just the half marathon, but the entire experience starting with the packet pick-up and crazy line for the SeaWheeze store to the blissology yoga and amazingly fun party with Capital Cities at the Sunset Festival. Of course, the half marathon was awesome too. It was a fun and beautiful course through the city and Stanley Park with lots of cheer stations and entertainment to keep us going to the finish line!

Day 1: Packet Pick-up & SeaWheeze Store

6:50 am apparently was not early enough to arrive for the 7am opening.

pickuplineThe line wrapped all the way around the giant Vancouver Convention Centre. Shoppers began lining up as early as 4am that morning in anticipation of the 22,000 square feet of lululemon’s exclusive SeaWheeze merchandise sold only that day. Luckily my parents were able to hold our place in the store line while we picked up our packets inside.

pickuppickupmeThey were doing some crazy yoga to entertain us while we waited in line.

pickupyogaAfter an hour of waiting we rushed into the SeaWheeze store.

storeClothes were flying off the racks and shelves as soon as they were restocked, people were on the floor surrounded by piles of items, and both men and women were stripping down in the middle of the room trying on garments. It was pretty crazy, but they had lots of fun stuff!store2

Outside the store was a complete assortment of amenities for race participants, including cold brewed coffee and electrolyte drink samples, a tattoo station (temporary, of course), an area to get your hair did by a professional stylist, a place for your nails to be painted, and even a station for men where they could get their hair cut or beards trimmed–all complimentary for SeaWheeze participants.

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It was an awesome way to kick off the race weekend.

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Day 2: Race Day & Sunset Festival

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We arrived early and stayed warm inside the convention centre.

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Then we began gathering in our corrals.

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There were 10,015 runners.

10501811_436822179791986_7744177217900301461_nAnd we were all ready to go!

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A race photographer happened to get this shot of us taking off at the start.

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Brandon has been dealing with a knee injury for the last few months and wasn’t able to train for the race. He planned to stay with me for the first 3 miles and then drop out and walk straight to the end to see me finish.10629674_436822426458628_551084089525845258_nHe ended up staying with me all the way to the end of the Burrard Street Bridge which was about 5.5 miles in! However, at that point he really had no idea where he was and didn’t want to get lost so he decided to stay on the race course and run/walk the rest.

cheer2muscleMy parents were waiting for me to run by at Muscle Beach when a good friend of ours who we hadn’t seen in years happened to run past my mom and recognize her. He even ran back to give her a big, sweaty hug.

shaneI turned the corner and spotted my mom but she was looking the other way waving at someone. I yelled, “Mom! Moooom!” And she saw me pass just in time. My dad snapped this shot of me right around the 8 mile mark.

cheer2Then began the gorgeous seawall at Stanley Park.

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The final cheer station was at the 11 mile mark and my parents were there to cheer me on.

cheer3As I drew near the finish line I searched for familiar faces but didn’t see anyone. Unfortunately my parents didn’t make it back fast enough and were still on the shuttle from the cheer station. Since I didn’t know Brandon was still running the race behind me I was confused when I couldn’t find him at the finish and worried he was somewhere lost in the city.

Finally, my cheer team arrived.

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And then we found Brandon! I was so proud of him for finishing the race.

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We did it! All 13.1 miles.

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That evening we were ready to do some yoga at the Sunset Festival.

festivalyogapanoEoin Finn was there to lead out in blissology yoga. It was the most enjoyable yoga session we have ever participated in and probably the neatest environment.

festivalyoga210559859_436821676458703_4278127608329110159_nAfter that we were able to catch up with our friend Shane.

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Then there was Capital Cities.

capital3One of the most fun shows we have ever been to.

capital2capitalI soaked in every moment and will hold onto the memories we made here in Vancouver for a long time to come.

–A

Look Up

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I came to an upsetting realization today. While walking up the road with Mochi, my eyes on the pavement and a million thoughts running through my head, I thought, “Wow, it feels really humid today.” I looked up toward Haleakala and saw blue skies and gray, wispy clouds clinging to its side and wondered if it was a clear enough day to see the ocean from our house. This is when I realized that it was 10:30 in the morning and I hadn’t even looked out the window at the ocean. I had even walked down our driveway on the start of our walk and somehow never looked up.

I love the ocean. That’s why I live way out in the middle of one. When I was 17 I moved from the Sacramento Valley to San Diego. Not only did I now live closer to the ocean, I lived in Point Loma, right on the coast. I had an ocean view from my dorm room at Point Loma Nazarene University.window

I would gaze at the sparkling blue water on my way to class, while I was eating at the cafeteria, from the track during P.E. class, and even from the windows of my chemistry lab. As an excited new freshman I vowed to never take for granted this beauty that surrounded me.ptloma001juicy

When we moved to Maui almost 9 months ago, I couldn’t believe how easily we found our little cottage and that we were even blessed with a view of the ocean, west Maui and Lana’i. Once again, I vowed to never take this for granted.

The thing is, I consider myself a pretty oblivious person. I could be running down a trail and run smack dab into someone if Brandon didn’t yank me out of the way.  Maybe I can blame this in part on hardly ever wearing my glasses, but probably not. Sometimes I find myself so caught up in my head or my iPhone that I don’t notice much around me. I realized that happened today. I don’t know how long we will be here on Maui, so while we are here I want to take it all in, absorb it, and never ignore it. I want to see more, experience more and all in all just do more.

My hope for myself and for you is that wherever we are, we will take a look around. Take our eyes off the pavement, look out our windows, notice people around us. Put our phones down while we’re with friends or in a room full of strangers. Look up, notice the beauty surrounding us, take it all in and never take it for granted.

–A

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Breakfast with AshnBran

I love bagels. Honestly, I love any and all bread-like foods. But I had never thought about making bagels myself. I really had no idea at all what the process entailed, so I went directly to Pinterest. There were many recipes, but I went with Peter Reinhart’s recipe because for some reason he sounded important and I think he wrote a book about bread or something. His bagel recipe requires a 2-3 day process which sounds a bit intimidating, but once you read through the directions it doesn’t seem so bad. The bagels are just refrigerated during much of the process.

There aren’t many ingredients involved, which is nice. According to Peter Reinhart, the barley malt is the key to an authentic bagel.ingredientsKneading this dough nearly broke my stand mixer, it was so thick and elasticky. After the proper refrigeration, I attempted to shape my bagels first with the technique most professionals use (rolling out into a rope, then bringing the ends together and sealing by rolling and squeezing), then quickly moved on to the technique used by the average layperson (poking a hole through the center of a ball of dough).shapedI refrigerated the bagels a little over 24 hours. Then came the weirdest part of the recipe. Poaching the bagels.maltpoachAfter poaching, you can top with desired toppings and bake.toppingsmeThey turned out amazing.bagelsonplatechalkbagelsclose

I would definitely recommend this recipe, and I can’t wait to try other variations and flavors.

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–A

The Quintessential Hawaiian Dessert

Often served for dessert at luaus and other gatherings, haupia is a gel-like pudding made from coconut milk, kō (sugar cane) and, traditionally, ground pia (Polynesian arrowroot). To simplify things, pia is often replaced with corn starch. The haupia is usually served in small cubes.Haupia006med

Some would say the haupia pie is the quintessential Hawaiian dessert. So of course, we had to try and make one ourselves.

We began with the crust. I slightly modified a chocolate haupia pie recipe that I found on sweetandcrumbly.com. The recipe included instructions for a macadamia nut shortbread crust, and that sounded amazing so we went with it.nutsProcess 1 c. macadamia nuts, then add 4 T. cane sugar, 4 T. brown sugar, just over 1 c. all purpose flour and 1/4 t. salt.sugarsProcess again to combine.mealAdd 2 T. milk, 1 stick of butter and 1/2 t. of our favorite vanilla bean paste.vanillaProcess one more time.doughPress into a lightly oiled pie dish and refrigerate for 1 hour.piepanBake at 325 degrees for about 20 minutes.crustAnd onto the haupia!ingredientsBring 1 c. milk, 1 can coconut milk and 1 c. cane sugar to a boil, then simmer for 3 minutes while slowly adding a corn starch and water mixture (1/2 c. cornstarch, 1 c. water).whiskingDivide haupia in half, melt 3/4 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips and stir into one half.chocPour haupia into crust.whiteAdd chocolate layer.chocolateRefrigerate 2 hours.fridgeCover with whipped cream (1 1/2 c. heavy whipping cream, 3 T. powdered sugar, 2 t. vanilla bean paste).whippedTop with chocolate shavings.topAnd voilà! Our very own chocolate haupia pie.pieBeware this is a rich pie. Small portions are advised!

Macadamia Nut Shortbread Crust

  • 1 c. toasted macadamia nuts
  • 4 T. cane sugar
  • 4 T. brown sugar
  • 1 c. 4 T. all purpose flour
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 2 T. milk
  • 8 T. butter, sliced into small cubes
  • 1/2 t. vanilla bean paste
  • Refrigerate 1 hour
  • Bake 325 degrees for 20 mins

Haupia Pie

  • 1 c. milk
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 c. cane sugar
  • 1/2 c. corn starch
  • 1 c. water
  • 3/4 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 c. heavy whipping cream
  • 3 T. powdered sugar
  • 2 t. vanilla bean paste

–A