Training for a half marathon is not something I thought I’d do in my lifetime. I’ve never been a runner. But last fall I spontaneously signed up for a 5k. I’ll admit, my biggest motivator was a chance to spend time in one of my favorite places in the city. The course was in Golden Gate Park and as a recent transplant to San Francisco I couldn’t get enough of the urban oasis. I ran the 5k on a cold, drizzly February morning and it felt incredible. I couldn’t stop smiling. My first attempt to complete a race was successful and I didn’t want to stop.
Lauren started running in college, had recently completed a half marathon, and she was training for her first marathon. She was the perfect person to pump me up and push me to go further. We ran a 10k together this past spring, and it motivated me to run a half marathon by the end of the year.
I still don’t consider myself to be a runner. I’m slow and often “forget” to run for a few weeks at a time. But I know the amazing feeling that comes with sticking to a running schedule. Before I started training for the half, I asked Lauren about her motivation to run, how she overcomes setbacks, how she trains, and what she loves about hitting the pavement. Hearing Lauren answer these questions, and seeing how running has such a positive impact on her life has me really excited about running the half this fall and wanting to keep pushing myself. I know it will be worth it.
Lauren answers my questions on running below.
M: You didn’t start running seriously until college. What motivated you to start running?
L: Eugene is a great place to run. I started running every once in a while when I felt like I needed some exercise, or a quiet moment alone, or some fresh air. It also became a way to explore the city beyond campus—though I had visited Eugene frequently before going to college there, I was still unfamiliar with much of the area. Pre’s trail and the Amazon and Rexius trails became my sweet spots that I would come back to again and again.
Additionally, I think the people that I spent time with were motivational. My friends in Eugene were all very active; we would go hiking together or meet up for an hour every week to go swimming at the rec center. Being around people who value the fun and challenge that come with exercise is definitely encouraging.
M: Did you face any challenges or setbacks when you first started? If so, how did you overcome them?
L: Running is hard. Especially in the beginning, I think it’s easy to lose patience with yourself if you’re not progressing the way you thought you would. I remember the first time I ran for thirty minutes without stopping—it was such a breakthrough! Setting small goals and keeping with it really helps. The mindset of, “if I can run for half an hour then I can run for forty minutes…if I can run for forty minutes I can run for sixty” was useful for me. Also, being ok with having an off day is really important. Learning that it’s normal to feel unusually slow some days, or to have trouble finishing four miles when you just ran seven last week.
M: What are your goals for running? How have they changed over time?
L: My goal right now is just to keep running, because I know I feel the best when I do. My goal this year was to finish a marathon, my goal in 2012 was to finish a half marathon. Goals are great! It helps that the races I’ve done have been in really fun spots, and are non-refundable :)
M: What kind of training plan have you found works best?
L: I usually find a training plan I like online (from Hal Higdon or Runner’s World) and then adapt it to my work/life schedule. I’ve used 12 week plans for the half marathons I’ve done, and a 16 week one for the full marathon.
M: At what point did you know you wanted to run a ½ marathon and eventually a full marathon?
L: I decided I wanted to do a half marathon after I got home from a great run in Eugene my senior year. I think it was the first time I had run six miles in a while, and I was probably on a running in the rain/Lady Gaga-induced high. I found a half that was happening in Bend a few months out and signed up that night (If I can run six miles, I can run 13.1! Ha).
Last August, I was in Eugene after a friends wedding, and brought the idea of the Vancouver, BC marathon up to my friend Chloe. Chloe had done the Eugene marathon a few months prior and was down to do another one, and I was ready for a new challenge and an excuse to go to Vancouver. We signed up in September.
M: How did you train for the Vancouver marathon? How was the race?
L: I started training for the marathon in January. I had just done the Holiday Half in December, so it was an easy transition. The first few months kind of breezed by, and the hard part didn’t start until mid-march when I took a mini vacation that derailed my training a bit. I took about a week and a half off of running and tried to catch up by running more during the week towards the end of my training. I completed my last long run of twenty miles and was feeling pretty good until the week before the race, when I was doing shorter, “easy” runs that didn’t feel so easy. I was feeling stiff and my hips were out of whack, so I went to a few yoga classes and that seemed to help.
The race itself was great. I felt strong and refreshed, and SO inspired by all of the thousands of people running along side me. We had a few friends join us for the weekend in Vancouver, and seeing them on the course at mile 19 was perfect. At first, my only goal was to finish the marathon, and never stop running (I cheated a bit with this one at the water stations once I realized I could only get about 5% of the water in my mouth while running). As the race went on, I started thinking about my time, and set a goal to finish with an average pace of less than 10 minutes—which I did, but only by fractions of a second!
Overall, such an amazing experience. Really cool to see what your body can do when you put the work in.
M: What do you love about running?
L: I love the feeling that you get during and after a run, satisfied and exhausted at the same time. I love how it makes me feel mentally and physically, and how it can be shared with friends or done alone. I think running has taught me a lot about patience and time management. It’s just cool to think about running and doing races in the years to come, all the memories that will come from them. Excited for the Big Sur half in November!
I am thrilled to share one of my favorite places on earth with Lauren in November, and so happy she is joining me for another race!
Photo from a recent trip to Big Sur in August.
Crossing the Oregon-California border I could feel the familiarity of my childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood – 25 years of life – slip away. But the nostalgia quickly passed. Perhaps naively, all I could think about were the new opportunities I’d have at my fingertips.
Working remotely, I’ve found myself hunkering down in coffee shops during the day, and exploring as much of the city as I can during the evenings and weekends. And for the first time in a long while, I’m making a conscious effort to explore and really get to know who I am and what I want. I’m focused on doing things that have long been on my list to tackle, and actually doing them. Writing more, bringing my camera with me wherever I go, studying CSS, and making the time to unplug and read are just a few things enabling me to be truly content and satisfied in this time of transition.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned since moving to San Francisco, it’s this: inspiration doesn’t grow on trees. I can’t sit idly by and expect it to come to me. I have to seek it out, move fearlessly down avenues uncharted. Recently, someone very dear to me said, “you have to mine for life’s gemstones.” Full of cheese and spot on.
So much more to learn, see, do, and observe.
A few weeks ago I found myself in the Oregon Badlands Wilderness. High desert country. My hiking legs tend to gravitate towards bodies of water, but I was eager to break out of winter hibernation and trudging through feet of snow in the Cascades wasn’t an option. We drove east optimistically, excited to explore new territory on a sun-kissed weekend.
Shortly into the hike we came to understand why the area received its designated name. Sagebrush and juniper trees for miles, eery stillness except for the occasional airplane passing overhead, dry sand as far as the eye could see. Land not fit for lush growth.
Climbing a giant rock outcrop near our campsite we could see the sun cast its final glow on the Three Sisters. The evening was spent writing and reading via the beam of our headlights. I fell asleep reading Mary Oliver’s Winter Hours, falling in love with her words all over again.
It was a weekend of quiet hiking, story telling and pushing our limits. And left us hobbling out of Bend’s Deschutes Brewery dust covered and sore to the bone. Mission accomplished.
I recently came across Jessica Marquez’s Stitched Gifts: 25 Sweet and Simple Embroidery Projects for Every Occasion. Her designs completely won me over and have inspired me to learn to embroider. For a while now, I’ve been drawn to certain types of embroidery and simple compositions featured in small round hoops. I’m looking forward to learning various stitching knots and a new craft.
Do any of you embroider?
A couple of Sunday’s ago, Joey (my roommate and partner in crime) and I decided we’d try the impossible: make Deb Perleman’s fig, olive oil and sea salt challah bread. How were we going to get the dough right? How in the world were we going to be able to do THAT braid? Two people who had never made bread before said screw it, and rose to the challenge. What resulted from our feat in the kitchen was the best challah I’ve ever had.
Deb, my friend! You never let me down.
Below are a couple of photos I snapped with my phone during the process.
Mom and Dad Ward joined me for a weekend in Los Angeles a few months back.
It was one of those gloriously flawless weekends that remind you how awesome life is and why you should appreciate everything around you.
We spent Saturday afternoon at the Getty, looking at fine impressionist paintings, strolling through gardens, and enjoying the (clear!) views of LA.
Dad found particular interest in the imported stone materials used to build the museum itself…Geology majors never quit!
It was a beautiful day to spend outside, catching up and sharing stories.
Our evening was spent dining at the Manhattan Beach Post, a post office turned social house, with long wooden tables and a modern earthy vibe. Dinner started out with bacon cheddar buttermilk biscuits with maple butter, and was followed by several small, family-style dishes that were unique and delicious. MB Post cocktails do not disappoint either, mine consisted of Chopin, grapefruit, basil, raspberry, and pink peppercorns. Definitely check this place out if you’re in the LA area!
Los Feliz welcomed us for breakfast on Sunday, followed by a short visit to the Griffith Observatory. Though 48 hours isn’t enough time to really experience LA, I was happy to show the rents a few of the places I’ve come to love the most, and I can’t wait for the next visitors that come my way!
“Husbands and wives should have separate interests, cultivate different sets of friends and not impose on the other. You can’t spend a lifetime breathing down each other’s necks. We are very, very different people and yet somehow we fed off those varied differences and instead of separating us, it has made the whole bond a lot stronger.” - Paul Newman
This is one of my favorite quotes from a gem of man (and my all-time favorite actor). He and Ms. Woodward certainly seemed to have something special.
There’s nothing better than bringing people together through food. And while I enjoy throwing dinner parties and sharing my favorite recipes with my favorite people, sometimes it’s pretty damn awesome to be on the receiving end of a wonderful home-cooked meal in an intimate setting.
Last year, Josh and I decided we’d like to spend more time exploring new cooking techniques and recipes…and came up with a (brilliant?) plan. Each week we’d cook one meal for each other. The catch? We had to explore foreign land and create something we had never attempted before.
We’ve carried this plan into the new year, and I must say it’s pretty rad. Each week I get to improve my skills in the kitchen and look forward to having someone cook a delicious meal for me. What’s not to love?
(photo: hasselback potatoes with spinach cashew pesto, and seared pork chops au poivre)
Let’s talk about boots, baby! Boots are one of my favorite wardrobe elements. I love their versatility, and the way the perfect pair can tie outfits together to create a unique style. Here are some of this season’s loveliest pairs:
1. Classic leather ankle boots made in the USA by the Vintage Shoe Company.
2. These Italian-made leather and suede booties are of the latest additions to the Madewell boot collection.
3. The Zipcode Boot. Meg and I each have a pair of these ankle boots, and couldn’t be more pleased with them. Wear them with tights and skirts, dresses, or skinny jeans…or for a more laid-back look, a slouchy pair of denim. In addition to black and brown leather, these boots also come in four shades of soft suede.
4. Camp boots, hand-crafted in Maine. For sale right now at Creatures of Comfort, one of my favorite online clothing shops.
5. The Greyci Bootie by shoe style-icon Aaron Osborn. Osborn shoes are hand-made and use textiles and patterns from South America. Check out the Greyci, as well as many other colorful booties, oxfords, and flats here.
What are your favorite boot styles?
I’ve been admiring TOPO Designs for more than a year. Their bags are made of Cordura and lined with coated pack cloth to protect gear against adverse weather conditions (bonus: they are handmade in Colorado). I recently received their classic Klettersack as a gift, and couldn’t be happier with it. It’s the perfect size for toting school books, office necessities or everything you need for a long day hike. Heavy duty Cordura paired with buttery leather – it’s a modern take on a classic design. I’ll be using the Klettersack for years to come.
It looks like they’re currently sold out of the Navy/Leather color combination, but check out these other awesome options (and these sweet tees)!