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Our team photo

Well I shouldn’t post just about the team photo location without adding the actual team photo. LOL.

You can surely see that this is one good-looking team!



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Sometimes we run…

TNT-Sep26-2013Sometimes we are a running team, sometimes we are an eating team, sometimes a  drinking team, sometimes we are a traveling team. Most of the time we are all of the above. Yesterday we were also a model team. 🙂

Some of my Team in Training running buddies met up yesterday for a team photo shooting. Well, it was a team run night, we slacked on the running front just a little as the photo shooting took a little longer than expected. But it was all good fun! I used the opportunity to also check out the panorama functionality on my iPhone. It turned out actually quite well, much better than I ever expected.

So this was our photo location at the South Bay:



NWM Preview Run

putting on a brave face before the run

putting on a brave face before the run

First of all there were no snakes (and I never mentioned that we saw one wriggling its way through the running trail at the Trail Hog race the previous week and my running buddy L. jumped up 6 feet…).

But we had an adventure nonetheless. Our Team in Training coaches totally missed to remind us that it’s always cold in San Francisco and coming from the South Bay Area you will need an extra layer of running clothes. So as I opened the car door, about to take off my long-sleeved jacket, the wind hit my face and so did the cold. Car door slammed shut and the jacket stayed on. I was crying for ear muffs and gloves.

So we took some brave photos in the cold wind to announce our impending run to the whole world via Facebook and waited for our run start. Our coach gave us last instructions on where to run and where not to get lost, but missed to tell us that it’s uphill both ways… This was our Nike Women’s Marathon preview run. We ran 10 miles of the actual course to be well prepared for the race. Well, I have run NWM a few times before and just enjoyed the scenery again – and the reminder that it can be COLD on race day!

On the way out (uphill), we had some awesome views of the Golden Gate Bridge. I don’t get to see the Golden Gate Bridge in the clouds very often (bar the time you see on my blog header – a lucky shot), so I loved the beautiful views:

At our turnaround point we saw a tiny little glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge.


a tiny glimpse

We just knew the great view would just be around the corner, so off we went, a little rogue, straying from the designated course. Luckily, I was well prepared for an adventure off-course as I just had a coaching event the previous day about “making your own rules”. Who would have thought this learning came in so handy this fast. LOL. Less than a quarter-mile after the official turnaround point, we were offered this great view of the bridge. It would have been a shame to have missed this photo opportunity as we traveled already so far (remember, all the way from the South Bay… LOL).

Here is our “running rogue” victory photo.


On the way back (uphill again), the aid station was already packed up. No more peanut butter pretzels for us there. We made it back to the starting point and caught up with the rest of the team by the ocean. You saw the happy team photo already. But before that photo happened, I briefly braved the waters by myself. Yes, it was crazy cold!


I don’t want to leave you without my second favorite photo of the run. A beautiful view of the Golden Gate Bridge.



The Monkey on my back… literally…

When you have THE MONKEY you don’t need enemies. 😉

For the past 5 years I have been running at least one race each year with Team in Training to support the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. This year I had help in form of THE MONKEY who got into all kinds of trouble…

THE MONKEY has friends, but luckily, they are pretty tame and don’t follow his mischievous footsteps.


One day, THE MONKEY decided to sneak into my bag and come to work with me. Oh my, what a day that was…

First, he found the printer… monkey butt prints anybody??


A little later, THE MONKEY found the break room. I guess he totally wanted a soda or maybe was just monkeying around.

He forgot that soda is free at my office and you don’t need to sneak into the vending machine and steal…


A little later I caught THE MONKEY on the phone. It was actually quite cute. He called up all my friends and asked them to help with my fundraising:


Cute as THE MONKEY is, he took a break.

Talk about cliches…


Even for a cute MONKEY, dating life is tough.

But really? Do you have to go this far, MONKEY?


THE MONKEY somehow managed to get out of the office, follow me home and jump into my purse. That’s how he ended up in the bar. And I can’t tell you whether they checked his ID. I am just saying…


Maybe a few too many, MONKEY??

I hope it was worth it…


Apparently, we are not to discuss the night before.

Even THE MONKEY sometimes has a hangover….


I used these cute little photos for my fundraising for the Nike Women’s Half Marathon and I thought, you’d all enjoy the adventures of THE MONKEY as much as I did. 🙂

If you have a donation budget left and would like to support me, here is the link to my fundraising page:


My team – my friends

I thought I’d show you some of my team photos from the San Diego Rock ‘n Roll marathon weekend. This is the Austin team (South Central Texas chapter of Team in Training).

I found some of my best friends in this team. Nothing makes you bond more than sharing our personal moments, raising funds for a great cause together and sweat like hell together.

During the inspiration dinner, John Bingham – a friend of Team in Training – gave his speech. He is always fun to listen to. My favorite quote of this night was something like this:

“You are not getting value for money if you finish the marathon in under 3 hours. You have 7 hours to finish, use it. Get your money’s worth.”

I leave you with this today and some photos of my Austin team.


San Diego Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon – race recap

I am going to come out with this right away. No point beating around the bush here. I really don’t care for the San Diego Rock ‘n Roll half marathon course.

showing off my medal

I ran this race in 2010 and around mile 5 I remembered that I didn’t like the course then either.

Everything was perfect. The weather was perfect. Overcast with clouds. Not too cold. Not too hot. I was injury-free. My legs felt great. I was ready to go. And despite this being my 16th half marathon, I acted like a newbie… 🙂

My original plan was to run with the 2:15 pace group. But then I got caught up with having my Austin friends around and decided to run with some of them. Probably my biggest mistake.

Miles 1-3 – Going out way too fast keeping up with my running friends Arek and Jessie.

Mile 4 – We are entering the highway area. We are now running on the freeway concrete for the next 4 miles. I start to remember why I didn’t like this course in 2010.

Mile 5 – I have a melt-down. I never reached the bite-me stage this early. But I am pretty much done with the race at this point. The concrete of the freeway is getting to me. I am hating running. I am hating the race. I never want to run again. Ever.

Mile 6 – My friend and Team in Training coach, Rob, gives me a big hug and walks with me for a while. I finally get my composure back and decide to move on to get this race over with.

best running friends: Amanda, Jessica, Arek, I, Jessie

Mile 7 – My running friend Jessica comes up to me and helps me through the next 1.5 miles. She shows me where she used to live in San Diego and this will be my fastest mile today. 9.16 min/mile – that’s freakishly fast!

Mile 8-11 – I am trying to find a rhythm and just fail. We are finally off the freeway and running becomes bearable again.

Mile 12 – The 2.15 pace group catches up with me (I started in an earlier corral). At this point I decide to keep up with the pace group and finally find a rhythm. The last mile is perfect. Perfect speed. I find my rhythm.

Mile 13 – Finish in sight. About time! Loving running again. But not this course. San Diego, beautiful city, but your Rock ‘n Roll half marathon course sucks. Never again!

Despite really not liking the course, there were a lot of positive memories. I love the Team in Training coaches on this course. There are plenty and they look out for all of us. A few ran with me for a short while making sure I was doing ok (they must have seen the look on my face…).

Despite all the suckiness of this course, I ran my second fastest race ever, even though I walked quite a bit. My running pace must have improved. 2:23:28.

I loved seeing so many Team in Training runners out there. 2,500 purple jerseys. What a team!

post-race recovery: a massive chocolate milkshake, burger and fries

And of course, post-race recovery. There is no better guilt-free pleasure than a large chocolate milkshake (this one consisting of a gallon of chocolate ice-cream), a burger and fries.

The plan for my next race is to run with the 2:15 pace group. Please, my dear friends,  remind me of that! 🙂

Loving running!


A special Team…

Today I want to share with you why I chose to run my fifth season with Team in Training this year.

I am not asking you for donations, I just want to share this story.

I fundraise for Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) once a year. I raise money while training for an event. Last year I raised money whilst training for the San Antonio Half Marathon, but I also had the opportunity to meet up with my TNT friends in Alaska (yes, ALASKA) and San Francisco.

Well, this year I am training for the San Diego Half Marathon on June 3rd.  My motto is to kick cancer in the butt.  This year we have a team within the Team.

Team Ruben. We are raising $200,000 for a grant in memory of Ruben. I met Ruben briefly at a fundraiser in 2009. He was a great friend of our coach Stephanie (who has coached me to cross the full marathon finish line in San Francisco in 2009 and several other races since). Please read Ruben’s story in her words:

 Team Ruben isn’t just a normal TNT group… it’s a band of friends forming a family to rally in memory of an amazing person… Ruben Garza… this one’s for you!!

Ruben was diagnosed when he was 25 years old, underwent both – a bone marrow and stem cell transplant, and spent a lot of time living life “normally” (not going through treatments). He actually joined TNT in 2004 and participated in the Cap Tex Tri and he was amazing. He was a terrific teammate, an avid supporter and above all, the best friend anyone could ask for. He valued life in a way that most of us dream about.

Ruben loved music, especially Pearl Jam & U2, so he always told us to “live life with the volume turned up loud.” He danced through life showing us how to appreciate the moment and listen to the world around us. Because of him, we’re training and most importantly, fundraising to find the cures for blood cancers.

He had a type of blood cancer that was “uncurable” and yet he defied the odds (no doubt thanks to research funded by LLS and the continuous development of new therapies) and LIVED for a solid 12 years before it began to truly turn on him. Most people never thought of him as being sick, much less someone with a potentially deadly disease. He never did either.

In February of 2010, Ruben told friends he wasn’t well. He said he was literally fighting to live. Luckily, months earlier, he met the love of his life and she made him fight… she gave him purpose and reason and the desire to hang on. (THANKS JEN!!) And she was the binding force that spoke up and the reason we all banded together, and with the help of friends and a fundraiser, he entered a clinical trial and the odds were good. Ruben and Jen got married in November 2010 and it was a spectacular celebration and we’ve never seen Ruben happier. Life was good… life was expected. Unfortunately, the 12 years of treatments caught up to Ruben and his body began to fail… his organs were exhausted and started to give up. We knew this day was coming, yet, somehow you are never quite prepared.

In a letter to friends and family, Ruben wrote:

There is time left. I am alive. Others call it dying; I’ve only ever known to call it living. If you see me, see me, the life. Our time under the sun should not want an umbrella, but instead let’s look up, get dizzy, go blind with life. Our time under the rain should not want an umbrella, but instead let’s look up, get soaked, and drink up life.

Ruben passed on October 12, 2011 with his wife, Jen, by his side. He went peacefully, as expected. You see, Ruben had this quality about him that exuded peace, acceptance and faith. He taught us how to believe in not only ourselves, but others and the bigger reason we all exist. He is and will always be a miracle… an angel on earth put here to show us how to truly live life.

I hope this inspired you to consider running with Team in Training (or for any other charity really). I know a lot of you already do and I strongly believe that with these small acts on our part we can make a difference!

We won’t always know whose lives we touched and made better for our having cared, because actions can sometimes have unforeseen ramifications. What’s important is that you do care and you act.

~ Charlotte Lunsford