In Pictures: Disneyland Half Training, Day 1!

In my post last week, I asked for advice on half marathon training programs and got some amazing advice. Which, let’s be honest, I was totally expecting because you all are the shizz. So, thanks to your advice and specifically to Juliana for hooking me up with a runDisney plan that is perfect for me, I set out Tuesday night to conquer Day 1. I put Bug to bed at 7, laced up my sneaks, and hit the city streets!

As a runner (I use that term loosely) (for now), I love and hate training in San Francisco. Quite obviously, it is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Truly. I couldn’t ask for better scenery. But the f&%king hills, you guys! Oy vey. My runs are usually planned around avoiding the steepest ones, but inevitably I always end up having to climb at least one. Still, my run last night was more of a fast walk, so the hills were conquerable.

And because San Francisco is so stunningly gorgeous, especially last night when it was in the low 70s at twilight, I had to snap some pictures and share my route!

Ready to rock with Weezer!

Ready to rock with Weezer!

Excuse the blurriness of the above picture. I took it fast because I was afraid a neighbor was going to catch me selfie-ing.

Forget Weezer, Britney was the name of the game.

Forget Weezer, Britney was the name of the game.


These are the kind of hills I like: the ones that go down.

These are the kind of hills I like: the ones that go down. But seriously, look at this steep-ass hill. 

Runners! Hello, fellow runners!

Runners! Hello, fellow runners!

I love these houses. They could be mine for a mere something-million dollars.  I like to dream whilst I run.

I love these houses. They could be mine for a mere something-million dollars. I like to dream whilst I run.


Now, I will admit to making a pit-stop at two places: Walgreens, so I could get some water, and Bob’s Donuts, to pick up a donut for Mister Jess. I was wondering why he was so eager for me to go running until he said, “Hey, while you’re out…” But I am so committed to my training that I didn’t even get a donut for myself.

How stupid awesome am I?

Mmm, donuts.

Mmm, donuts.


A hill going the wrong way.

A hill going the wrong way.

Another hill going the wrong way. What's with all of these up hills?

Another hill going the wrong way. What’s with all of these up hills?

And finally, after about 40 minutes, I arrived home safe and sound from the streets of San Francisco.

Celebrating with my friend, the creepy cherub.

Celebrating with my friend, the creepy cherub.

I even had enough energy for a Katy Perry dance party in the elevator. Gotta love those endorphins!

My next run is tonight – another 30 minutes – and then Saturday I’ll run 2 miles. While 13.1 still feels incredibly daunting, I’m excited to have a plan in place. I’m ready to rock it!

Do you have a favorite route you run? Do you prefer out in the world or indoors? What’s your favorite donut? Tell me about it in the comments! 

Slowin’ My Roll

The other day I had some extra time before work, so I decided to go for a run along Crissy Field. Which, by the way, is easily one of the most idyllic runs in San Francisco.

I mean, seriously.

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At any rate, I fired up my RunKeeper app to keep track of my distance and pace. I decided to do a mix of running and walking since I’m trying to ease myself back into running (it’s been a while). Once I was warmed up and jogging, I decided to check my pace and was really surprised at what I saw.

I was running a 9:45 minute mile. Say wha?!

Now, I will admit that when I was running on the regular, I was averaging at around 10:30 per mile. But I did notice that if I wasn’t paying attention and really pacing myself, I would speed it up to a sub-10 minute mile. The problem with that is I 100% cannot sustain that pace. My body is like “hey, actually this is effing hard and if you don’t slow your roll soon I am going to cramp so hard on you.”

I am, of course, thinking ahead to the Disneyland Half in August and how I will need to sustain a reasonable pace for 13.1 miles (that sound you hear is me crying a little bit, thinking of running that many miles). I know for a fact that my reasonable pace is NOT sub-10 minutes. However, my body just seems to automatically click into that faster pace when I go for runs.

So, this is where I ask you, wonderfully informative and smart Scoot readers, for your advice on the matter. How do I force myself to slow down? My goal is an 11-minute mile, which I think – or maybe HOPE – is sustainable throughout the half in August.

Help! Give me some tips on how to slow my roll in the comments. And tell me what your ideal pace is while you’re at it. 

Guest Post: Mermaid Run in San Francisco

Last fall, I participated in my fourth Mermaid Run in San Francisco, which is hands-down my favorite event of the year for many reasons.

First off, the 2010 Mermaid Run was my first-ever 10k. The race takes place in my favorite American city, the course is stunning and the weather is perfect for running. The event has a small(ish) participant field and is one of the most organized runs I’ve participated in, the energy is amazing and swag is awesome!

Participant shirt, Finisher Necklace and my bibMy participant shirt, finisher necklace and race bib

2013 was an exciting year for the Mermaid Run San Francisco, as race organizers added a new distance, a 10-mile race dubbed The Sirena 10.

But even better than the new race length was its course, which would include an out-and-back trek on the Golden Gate Bridge. I could not pass up an opportunity to run across the bridge, so Sirena 10 it was!

Registration opened up right around my birthday so my son gave me one of the best gifts ever, registration for this run… thank you Rob!

before the race

before the race

The 2013 race was held on Sunday morning so I arrived in San Francisco early Saturday afternoon and headed straight to the Sports Basement Presidio to retrieve my race packet which consisted of my bib, participant shirt and a Mermaid Run headband.  Packet pick-up for this race is always well organized and efficient, so I was in and out in 15 minutes leaving me with plenty of time to enjoy the city before grabbing some Korean hot pot for dinner and turning in early to ensure I would be well rested for my run in the morning.

Sirena 10 Runners lined up at the start

Sirena 10 Runners lined up at the start

My hotel was a little more than a mile from the start at the Marina so getting there in plenty  of time for the 7:30 am start was a breeze for me – a 15 minute walk on Divisadero Street and I was there. It was chilly and windy waiting for the race to start but runners and spectators were having a great time chatting, snapping photos and enjoying the stunning vistas the Marina has to offer.

The three event distances (10m, 10k & 5k) had staggered start times to account for the difference in the course for each distance, right at 7:30 the Sirena 10 runners set off.

We headed out Yacht Road and on to Mason Street towards Crissy Field, right away I noticed  that there wasn’t any crowding on the course and was extremely thankful for those staggered start times. Before I knew it, I passed the first mile marker and we veered left on Crissy Field Avenue toward the Presidio.

I’ll admit it. This is the part of the course I had been dreading. While the next two miles would get me to the base of the Golden Gate Bridge, it also meant one thing, running uphill.

I wasn’t excited.

Once I made my way up to Fort Point Historic Site and caught my first glimpse of the iconic bridge, those rotten hills were forgotten.

first glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge from Bay Trail

first glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge from Bay Trail

Many runners stopped mid-stride to capture the amazing view of the bridge before continuing on to mile 3 and our run across the Golden Gate Bridge.

I’m not going to lie, this is what I had been waiting months to do.  

I walked across the bridge years ago. Last summer my son Rob, boyfriend Tony and I rented bikes and rode across the bridge, from San Francisco to Sausalito.

And of course I’ve driven across the great Golden Gate countless times.

But I wanted to run across it. And I was about to…. well, after I took in the absolutely AMAZING view, snapped a handful of pictures which included a shameless selfie or two.

The view right before mile 4 was breathtaking.

The view right before mile 4 was breathtaking.

I found my happy pace around mile 4 and headed for my happy place as I started to make my across the bridge.

I was in awe of not only the view but of all the amazing women who were already making their way back across the bridge toward the finish.  I happily clapped and cheered on the lead runner and several of  the others behind her as I made my way to the end of the bridge, Vista Point and mile 5, the halfway point and turn around.

The view from Vista Point.

The view from Vista Point.

Running back to San Francisco we were running toward traffic. Quite a drivers waved and honked as they passed by. And I got rather excited when the Bacon Bacon truck passed me, which, in turn, made me start planning my post-race bacon-centered meal.

The run back felt effortless. I was truly swept up in the moment and loved taking it all in. Before I knew it I reached the end of the bridge and mile 7.

One fabulous perk of having to run hills at the start of the race is that those same hills become your best friend on the return route. DOWNHILL!

I ran back down Bay Trail and Long Avenue before we merged with those running the 10k on Marine Drive, we made our final turn at the Warming House at Fort Point and ran those last two miles to the finish.

I am a Mermaid Athlete.

I am a Mermaid Athlete.

2013 was by far was my favorite Mermaid Run!  The course was stunning, and I kept thinking to myself while I was running is how lucky I am to get the opportunity to run in such an amazing city with such magnificent views and have perfect running weather in early November.

With the hills, I was concerned I would fall off pace and slow way down, but much to my surprise that didn’t really happen. I was only 5 minutes off my normal 10 mile time. And I paused more than once to snap some photos!

I definitely rode my runner’s high well into the day.  The Mermaid Run San Francisco remains my favorite event of 2013 and you can bet I’ll be back next year! I hope the Sirena 10 will be as well.

2014 race info

Are you interested in running the 2014 Mermaid Run? Registration is underway for the Nov. 9 event.

Early registration fees end May 31 and range from $40 to $70 (depends on which distance you pick!)

Can’t make it to the San Francisco run? There’s also a Mermaid Run in East Bay on May 10. That weekend series includes a 5k, 10k, half-marathon and 18-miler. Registration is between $45 and $75 through May 8.

Oh and in case you were wondering, I did have that bacon after the race. Like the run, it was perfect.

Heather is a mom, runner, crossfitter and contract administrator. She blogs at Heather in the Middle and can be found on Twitter at @hsb0372.

Do you have a favorite annual road race? Have your ever run across an incredibly large bridge? (That’s a hill in itself!) 

Where to run: San Francisco edition

I live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I know this not only because I have eyes, but also because millions upon millions of people converge upon the city by the bay every year. Tony Bennett even left his heart here, so you know it’s got to be a pretty legit place. Tony wouldn’t leave his heart just anywhere.

But San Francisco isn’t just beautiful for living; it’s absolutely awesome for running.  Most of the major races make a pit stop here, there are a variety of neighborhoods, parks and trails to run on, and the weather is mild year-round – never too cold, never too warm.  It’s no wonder the running community here is robust: SF is practically a runners’ utopia. Forbes even named it one of the 10 Best Cities for Runners in 2012.

I could go on and on, but instead I’ll get to the point: if you ever find yourself visiting this heavenly place and have a hankering to go running, there are a few places to bookmark. Want to know what they are? Read on!

Crissy Field

This beach and park is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. On any given day, you’ll find a mix of dogs and their owners, families setting up blankets and picnics on the sand or grass, and, of course, runners. Lots and lots of runners. The pebbled path here takes you along the water all the way down to Fort Point, which stops right underneath the Golden Gate Bridge. The route is 1.5 miles one way, so it’s a great practice route for 5Ks.

Plus, hello, it’s stunning!






Golden Gate Park

This is the West Coast equivalent of Central Park. With over 1,000 acres, it’s a gorgeous green sanctuary right in the middle of our bustling city. Not only is there a ton of stuff to do in general (I recommend the paddle boats and snack shack at Stow Lake), you could run for miles and miles here while soaking in the beautiful scenery.

Park anywhere, get out, and hit the road. The urban jungle awaits!


You can take it slow too: a leisurely stroll with Bug.


The Valentine’s Day Dash 2012 in Golden Gate Park. Thumbs up!


Golden Gate Bridge

At the very least, if you visit San Francisco, you need to walk across this piece of architectural history. But it’s a great place to run, too. The bridge itself is about 1.7 miles long, and there’s a great lookout on the Marin side of the bridge. Make sure you bundle up if you do this one – it can get blustery up there.

It’s also probably not the best option for those of you who are afraid of heights. That ish is tall.






What’s big and red and pretty all over? The Golden Gate Bridge!

The Embarcadero

This is one of my very, very favorite places to run, the Embarcadero stretches from AT&T Park where the San Francisco Giants play (an insanely beautiful place, though I am an A’s girl) alllllll the way down past Pier 39 – wave hi to the sea lions! – stopping at Pier 45. It’s nice and flat, so it’s not too terribly difficult a run. AT&T Park to Pier 39 and back is right around 3 miles, but you can easily go further to make it a longer run.

Hint: when you reach Pier 39, make a pit stop at Trish’s Mini Donuts. These things are piping hot and melt-in-your-mouth delicious.

Hint hint: once you turn back and hit the Ferry Building, reward your efforts with Gott’s Roadside, a ridiculously good burger joint with outside seating perfect for people-watching.


The clock tower at the Ferry Building. Oh, and some beautiful sunshine and blue skies.


Running along The Embarcadero during The Giants 5K back in August!


Lyon Street Steps

I’ve never actually run here, but I would be remiss not to include it on this list. Made up of 288 punishing steps, this stairway connects the Pacific Heights and Cow Hollow neighborhoods. This is a runners’ favorite, but I have yet to attempt it. Probably because I’ve heard how hard it is!

Still, the view might be worth it.

Pic source:

As you can see, Forbes wasn’t lying, and my list is just the tip of the iceberg. Try dragging your heart with you when you leave here. I guarantee it’ll put up a fight.

Do you have favorite running spots where you live? Tell me about them in the comments!

We Might Be Giants

Or at least we were for one day when Mister Jess and I (and Bug, too, by default) ran The Giant Race 5K.

Somehow, despite the fact that the city of San Francisco is obsessed with their baseball team, I’d never heard of this event. But when my darling friend Val mentioned on Facebook that she’d signed up for it, I looked it up, decided it would be the perfect inaugural post-baby race to run, and signed right up!

It’ll be such great motivation to train! I thought. I’m going to be SO READY to run! I told myself. 

Fast forward to August 4th and yeah, I hadn’t trained at all. Whoops! Needless to say, I was a little nervous about running 3.1 miles when I hadn’t run even one mile in well over a year. Add on to that the fact that Mister Jess was determined to run the whole thing without stopping and I was getting a little dewy underneath my Scoot A Doot t-shirt.


Sorry, you want me to RUN?

Ain't no thing, says Mister Jess.

Ain’t no thing, says Mister Jess.

We got to the start line in front of AT&T Park (where the Giants play, of course) about ten minutes to 11am when the race was expected to start. Knowing nothing about this race previously, I was wholly unprepared for just how many people were there.



There were thousands upon thousands of racers dressed up in orange and black, sporting Giants gear, ready to run on behalf of their beloved baseball team and Project Open Hand, a very worthy cause the race was raising money for. We ended up at the back of the crowd. The early bird gets the better spot and all that, which was fine by me due to the whole not training for the race thing. I was happy to start in the caboose.

Nervous smile!

Nervous smile! BOB cameo!

Because there were so many people, it took us forever to get to the actual start line and once we officially began racing we were barely walking, never mind running.

This is easy! I thought. For about two minutes.

But then people started dispersing and spreading out and, you know, running. Mister Jess looked at me and said, “Ready?”

Apparently it was not a rhetorical question, so run we did.



The course went from AT&T Park down the Embarcadero toward Pier 39 and then looped back to finish at AT&T Park. It’s certainly one of the prettier courses I’ve run, although I think you’d be challenged to find a course in San Francisco that doesn’t have some kind of scenic eye candy. We ran along the bay, past the Bay Bridge and the various piers, bobbing and weaving through the crowd with our BOB and a straight passed out Bug.

I was already feeling pretty fatigued less than a mile in, but Mister Jess was a great running partner, encouraging me to keep running even if I needed to slow my pace. Despite the fact that he hadn’t trained for the race at all, he was running next to me like we were on a walk in the park. Annoying, but forgivable since he was keeping me motivated.

By the time we reached the halfway point, though, I was really feeling it and had to slow to a walk. Disappointing and probably completely in my head, but I was tired, sore and parched. We turned back toward AT&T Park and walked until I got my bearings and breath back.  After a few minutes, I was ready to pick up the pace again. The natural competitor in me (buried deep down, but it’s there!) didn’t want my finish time to be too skewed.


Yep, loving life.

 It had been so long since I’d run a race that I completely forgot about the rush. You know the rush: when you’re less than a mile from the finish and you’ve got spectators cheering you on, saying things like, “you’re almost there!” The endorphins kick in and suddenly there’s that burst of energy and you’re like, “I’M ALMOST THERE!”

Add on to that the fact that we could hear cheers coming from AT&T Park where people were waiting to welcome us across the finish line and I had a renewed sense of what I like to call Hell Yeah.

Experiencing the rush!

Experiencing the rush!


Hell Yeah!


What’s around the river – er, stadium bend?

If you ever want to cross a race finish line on the hallowed ground of a major league baseball field, then The Giant Race is for you. Mister Jess is a big sports buff, so when we got here:


And here:


He was pretty geeked out. And even though I barely know the difference between a touchdown and a home run, I have to admit that it was awesome running onto that field and seeing people cheering for us from the stands. It gave me a tiny taste of what it must be like for the Giants to play there. It was a truly unique experience that I wouldn’t have been able to get anywhere else, and definitely a race moment I will remember forever.

Another thing I’ll remember forever? Getting my first medal!


I’m done!


And I’ve got a medal!


My boys!

After we’d crossed the finish line, grabbed our medals, and took off our time chips, we went to hang out in the grass for a few minutes. Bug was less than impressed with his first experience with grass (pssh, city kid).


Two eyebrows are worth a thousand words.




Hmm. Can I eat this?

After soaking up the atmosphere we packed it up, packed it in, and left the park to feed our hungry bellies. I was nowhere close to PRing, but I finished the race and ran the majority of it, so I had to pat myself on the back for a job well done.

Overall, this was a very well organized, super fun race with a unique finish line experience. As soon as we were done, I turned to Mister Jess and said, “we’re doing this again next year.” If I can’t be a Giant all the time, at least I can every August!

What’s the most unique race course you’ve ever run? When did you get your first medal? Tell me about it in the comments! 

The Color Kinda-Run

Here’s a confession: running is not always fun for me. In fact, a lot (okay, FINE, most) of the time I consider it work. Sure, I love that it makes me feel strong and healthy and accomplished. But it also makes me feel sweaty and wheezy and tired.

So why do I do it? Aside from the whole good-for-you thing, which is admittedly pretty important, I love that so many of my friends run, too.  It’s the reason I got into it in the first place, proving that, yes, I’d jump if everyone else did. Sorry, Mom.

And what’s so great about having so many runner friends, you ask? It means that we make plans to run awesome races together. It means traveling to other cities and states to run said awesome races together. But best of all, it means that they travel to MY city to run said awesome races with ME. I hate to fly, so this is understandably my favorite scenario, one that happened last July when Chicks Meri and Cam flew to the City by the Bay to run the happiest race on the planet.

Yes, that’s right. A happy race! And not just any happy race, The Color Run!  Doesn’t it just sound so fun? Because it was. So. Fun.

This is the gist: the 5K race douses runners with a splash of colored corn starch at every kilometer, so that by the time you cross the finish line you look like a super-colorful Rorschach. The race is untimed, so there’s no talk of personal records or “hey, I beat you by 0.05 seconds, suck it.” The point of The Color Run is simply to enjoy, get colored up, then party it up after you cross the finish line. This was our mission and we accepted.

Hey, if you tell me to take it easy and enjoy myself, I’m not going to argue with you. Plus, I was 18 weeks pregnant with my little Bug at the time, so I was more than okay being the tortoise for this one.

Meri flew in first and we palled around the city while we waited for Cam to join us.


Welcome to San Francisco in July. Beautiful, isn’t it?

Once Cam was with us, it was basically about preparing for the 5K – outfit planning and packet pick-ups, which included t-shirts, a headband, and a packet of color to use after the race – and eating. Oh yes, there was eating.


Cuteness with a crepe sundae.


Stuffing my pregnant face like a lady.


Getting pumped! Please note our t-shirts. Clear eyes, full hearts, free Tim!

With our bellies full  – really, really full – and our race day duds ready to go, we hit the hay. We needed to save our energy for all the happiness and color to come!

July 14th dawned bright and foggy and we woke early to get the party started. Fun fact: Cam is kick-ass at hair braiding, which means she is the Official Hair Braider™ at any and all races she attends with the Chicks.


Mmhmm, that’s right.


Meri is dreaming about freeing Tim Riggins here.

We made our way to Candlestick Park (go 49ers with your crappy old stadium!) and joined the bazillion other people who were braving the very chilly weather to run/walk/dance their asses to color nirvana.

Literally, there were a bazillion people there.


We were pretty far back from the start line and with the race starting in waves, we had to wait for a while to get going. But they were pumping awesome music through the speakers and the people-watching was pretty excellent, so we busied ourselves with jumping up and down to stave off the cold, pointing out some great costumes, and dodging the rule-breakers who were throwing their packets of color up in the air (hello, that’s for after the race!).

Oh, and we took some pictures, too.


We had the raddest socks there.


We love each other!


Showing off our impressive guns. And cuteness.

And then it was our turn! We began our trek around the stadium, starting off slow and steady with a brisk walk.

Well, there was some pretend-running.



And then? Then it was time for the color. Let me paint this picture (get it? Paint? Because of the color): you’re skipping along with your friends and fellow runners and then all of a sudden right ahead is a cloud of bright color. Truly the coolest thing. And when you see color, what do you do?

Why, you RUN, my friends. You run to the color and roll around in it (seriously) and stand in front of the color-dousers and make them douse you extra-good. And you cover your mouth because hello, it’s a cloud of color, but it gets into your mouth anyway. You don’t care! This is so fun! Wee, color!

They call it mellow yellowwwww.

Color Run volunteers happy to pose for a photo op.

You high five people as they run by!

Slap me some skin!

You stop for water, because all that frolicking and high-fiving and color-getting works up a thirst.

99.9% parched.

Note to future Color Runners: don’t park your car next to a color station.

Sorry not sorry.

We got through all of the color stations at a nice clip considering we were walking, and then there it was. The finish line and the beginning of the par-tay! As you can see, people were in no rush to PR.

As you can see, people were in no rush to PR.

We were done!


Cel-e-brate good times, come on!


Blue Sunglasses wanted to be a part of our cute crew. Sorry, dude, only room for three.


Livin’ la vida color.

We were also insanely thirsty. There were stations set up after the finish line with juice and coconut water and snacks, all of which had pretty extensive lines. But no water water. We just wanted water water! Hopefully they’ve remedied the water water situation since last July.

There was a Color Festival just past the finish line, which we moseyed over to.

Party time, excellent!

This is where the color packets came into play. Thousands of us gathered round a DJ set up at the front of the crowd, dancing and celebrating and taking pictures of our manginess. And then the DJ told us to open up our packets and we all counted down. 5-4-3-2-1…

The hills were alive with a color ‘splosion (ah ah ah ahhhhh). In the interest of protecting my phone, I didn’t take pictures as it was happening, but this was the aftermath.


Meri got it on her teeth…


Cam got a mustache…


I got it everywhere!

After some more dancing and celebrating, we decided we were both parched and starving (surprised? Didn’t think so), so we packed it up and packed it in and took ourselves over the Golden Gate Bridge to a magical place called In N Out. Sure, it was 10:30 in the morning. Sure, we were completely covered in colored corn starch. But Meri had never had the pleasure of stuffing an In N Out burger into her mouth, so off we went! We definitely got some looks from the other early-risers at In N Out, and I got my hair petted by some high dude who must have thought I was one big acid trip, but we enjoyed ourselves nonetheless.

Meri especially.


All in all, this was a pretty stellar race experience. And now that The Color Run is a total phenomenon, with similar races like Color Me Rad and Run or Dye,  there’s really no excuse not to do it again. Who knows, maybe it’ll be my first post-Bug race. There’s really no better – or more colorful – way to ease myself back into running.

What’s the most fun race experience you’ve had? We want to hear about it in the comments!