Saturday, March 24, 2012

Marching On

Well, this blogging thing has proven to be as challenging as ever for me.  I have the best intentions, but real life just seems to get in the way.

Unlike past attempts to blog, however, I am not giving up this time.  Sure, I am irritated that I have not met any of the goals I set for myself in terms of writing and posting.  But that does not make the work  have done so far worthless or insignificant.  I know that for myself, and for many of my friends and colleagues, the tendency is to focus on the future, on what lies undone, on the hoops we have yet to jump through.  But more happiness and less anxiety can be had from reflection, for looking backward, and from celebrating the successes and milestones that have been conquered and won.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Weekend Workout Wrap-up

This past weekend was another gorgeous one in the Santa Cruz area.  Recently we purchased a California State Park Vehicle Day Use Annual Pass which allows us to park in pretty much any state park or beach for free.  A great deal at $125 for a year of free parking.  This purchase has inspired us to travel to different State Parks on weekend day trips.  On Saturday, we decided to visit Butano State Park, located in the beautiful redwood forest inland from Pescadero.

We decided to hike the 4 mile loop that begins and ends at the park entrance.  4 miles seemed like no big deal, but I neglected to note the "700 foot elevation gain" part of the description.  The steep climb and descent definitely amped up the difficulty level of the hike, but the gorgeous weather, redwood forest, and views of the coast made the trek well worth it.

Unfortunately, I thought my camera batteries were charged but the opposite was true, and I was only able to snap a few photos before my camera died and I lugged her dead useless body as well as two empty packs of rechargeable batteries up and down the mountain.  Oh well.  I had to just call that one meant to be and figured that what happened in Butano would stay in Butano, at least for this trip.  I was able to snap a few shots right when we started the hike, including this one of a cute little newt

There were tons of banana slugs and more newts than I had ever seen before.  I would definately do the hike again and maybe even try a longer one further up the ridge.

Sunday was another sunny, even warmer day, and I did my usual 14 mile ride to and from the gym and my usual Sunday Zumba class.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Friday Ride

I could not resist the excellent weather (again) yesterday.   I started off the morning with a run up into Niscene.  I had planned to do 6 miles, but my body was just not feeling it and I could tell I was tired.  I have been struggling with eating enough and eating the right food to fuel my workouts.  I am still eating too much sugar and empty calories.  I think that was the issue yesterday, so I cut it short to 4 miles and finished strong.

I wanted to save some of my energy for a nice long bike ride.  When I got home, I ate some peanut butter on gluten-free bread and then got my gear together for a ride along the coast.  I often like to ride west and visit all of the places Jason and I have lived over the years.  Since 1997 I have moved progressively eastward from the Live Oak area to where we now live in Aptos.  I am sometimes nostalgic for the cramped and cheerful bungalows of Pleasure Point or the bright and austere architecture of the Capitola jewel box, especially in the spring and fall where there are few tourists.  How quickly we forget the negative aspects of these coastal dwelling places -- cold foggy weather most of the time, moldly everything, high rent, traffic, and above all, vacationers parking in your driveway.  Here in Aptos we only have to deal with that once a year during the 4th of July!

At any rate, here are some shots from my gorgeous ride yesterday.  You can see all the photos from yesterday at my flickr page.  I ended up riding for about 2 hours and covered 18 miles.

Capitola Beach
Capitola Wharf
Garden gate detail in Capitola
Rockview in Pleasure Point
Pleasure Point architecture

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Wilder Ranch SP

Last Saturday I went hiking/birding in Wilder Ranch SP.

Wilder Ranch SP
Ranch Buildings
Calico & Flag
Wilder Ranch SP
Old Cove Landing Trail
Old Landing Cove
Old Cove Landing Trail
Northern Harrier

Vacation Action

This week I have been on vacation from work.  February break is also sometimes called "snow week", which is ironic because the past few days have been gorgeous 70 degrees and sunny.

I kicked off the week of amazing weather with a little bird photography in Wilder Ranch State Park on Saturday.  I walked the2 mile Old Cove Landing Trail, and explored the old Ranch buildings and part of the bike trail.

Coast Landscape
Wilder Ranch SP

You can see more photos from this walk at my flickr photoset and at this post on at my family blog, Santa Cruz Stasi.

Tuesday, a friend invited me to go hike in Henry Cowell State Park at the Fall Creek Unit.  I hiked this trail about two years ago, and blogged about it here.  This time we started out at about 2 pm and finished about 5 pm.  We went straight up and back the Fall Creek Trail, taking the South fork back past the Lime Kiln area.  We missed a few trailheads and had to double back, but it was a fun adventure and Fall Creek is a gorgeous area in which to hike.  Here is a photo from a shorter hike there a few years ago:

Fall Creek
Fall Creek

Wednesday, I rode my bike to meet a friend in the early afternoon for lunch to celebrate her birthday.  Recently, as part of my journey to figure out what has been causing my hives and skin irritation, I figured out that I am sensitive to what and/or gluten (I have been avoiding both).  This has posed a challenge in dining out.  My friend suggested Zameen, a Mediterranean restaurant across the street from my house.

Surprisingly, Jason and I have never been here. It is tucked away in a corner of the Aptos Center, and has a lovely outdoor dining area.  We usually visit the taqueria in the same shopping center and bypass trying anything new.  I'm glad my friend suggested Zameen, and I may have found my new favorite place to eat. Zameen offers a menu with make-your-own salad and combo plates featuring fresh produce, grains, and meat.  The menu is large and the server/cashier was knowledgeable about which items were gluten-free.  I had the Zameen House Salad, with Vegetable kabob and Fig Chutney Sauce.  It was awesome.  My friend had a salad with the Lamb Shish Kebob and Pomegranate Walnut sauce, which also looked delicious.  I wish I had remembered to take a picture of the food!  That's novice blogging for you!  After lunch I rode my bike down into Capitola Village and walked around for a bit enjoying the gorgeous sunshine and thoughts of summer.

Old Landing Cove
Old Landing Cove

This week has passed too quickly, as all vacations do, especially when the weather is this amazing.  Tomorrow is Jason's birthday and I am attempting to cook gluten-free lasagna and lemon cake.  Then a regular weekend and back to work on Monday.  I hope everyone has had at least a few moments to relax in real or metaphorical sunshine this week, and maybe even be fortunate enough to have a day or two off.  Happy "snow week"!


Saturday, February 18, 2012

Superbowl Sunday 10K

Hello readers!  Sorry for the long delay in posting.  Real life got in the way.  Even though I have not been able to keep up with the blog goals I set for myself regarding frequency of writing and posting, I am still pleased with the development of the project.  My friends and family have received it as the positive and inspirational message it is intended to be.  I am glad and happy to be putting motivational energy out into the world.  Thanks for visiting and checking it out!

Now, on to the story of my most recent race, with video!

Earlier this month, on Superbowl Sunday, I ran my second 10K Race.  This race begins and ends near the entrance to Natural Bridges on Delaware Ave.  Jason accompanied me as usual to the race.  I got there very early, which is also typical since I really hate to be late to competitive events.  I guess I want to have every advantage.  There was plenty of parking in one of the nearby office building lots when I arrived at about 7:20 or so.  This race features a 1K for kids and a 3K, as well as the 10K in which I was running.  Since this race is sponsored by the Santa Cruz Track Club, there were many accomplished and experienced racers competing at the event. I found out after the race that some people ran both the 3K and 10K!

My race began at 8:30.  I got my number and my race T-shirt, and was dismayed to find that the Superbowl participating teams were printed on it, which of course included the Patriots!  Any self-respecting Raiders fan would not wear an item of clothing emblazoned with another team's logo, let alone that team.  This is why I am making a disgusted face as I hold my race T:

That's Ok, though, because now I have a reason to run the race every year, because soon the Raiders will be on my Superbowl  race T.

My first number actually was the wrong one -- I realized it after looking at the name on my tear-off tag.  I guess that is a good race tip: make sure to check that the name on your number is you.  I traded my number from 1547 to 1647, and Jason took a pre-race pic:

While I waited I walked around and jogged a little to warm up.  As at any race, the "facilities" are an important part of pre-race routines. Conveniently, the restrooms, which were potable toilets, were clean and the line never got too long.  It was a relatively small race, with 179 people in the 10K.

Here is Jason's video of the start of the race:

 The out-and back-course of this race hugs Westcliff Drive, with breathtaking views of the pacific ocean for pretty much the entire run.  It was a gorgeous, sunny 60 degree day on the Westside of Santa Cruz.  The amazing views of cliffs and surf were motivational and made the run much more pleasant. I can see how, if it was a cloudy, rainy, or stormy day that the race would be more challenging, but I felt quite fortunate to be blessed with perfect weather.

Here I am at about a mile into the race.  Jason was trying to get a picture of the "blowhole" (water splashing up from rocks below) spouting water behind me, but it didn't go off at the right time.

The course follows the same cliffside walkway that many Santa Cruzians use on the weekend, so as I ran I had to watch out for bikes, dogs, and other pedestrian traffic.  I ran a much slower race than most of the group, finishing 159/179 overall, and 9/9 in my age group (women 30-34).  Nonetheless, I felt I ran a solid race, earning a PR of 1:05:17.  That is pretty slow, but still better than my Wharf to Wharf time.

Jason took a video of me finishing the race (with a cameo from my friend Kim at the end - she was working at the event).  I find this video funny because I thought I was running much faster than I really am.  I had a little energy at the end of the race, so I pushed it for the last 1/4 mile or so.

Overall, I had a great time and feel good about my performance at the race.  I will definitely do it again next year... and hopefully get a shirt with some Silver and Black on it!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


This week, I heard a feature on NPR that is perfect for Valentine's Day inspiration.  NPR has been doing a series where they ask people for their favorite memories of songs in winter.

In this episode, Alice Swersey talks about the winter of 1958 and Schumann's Piano Concerto.  It is a sweet story that brought tears to my eyes.  You can listen to the story or read a transcript of it here.

I was also inspired this week by another of Danielle LaPorte's posts. This one is an ode to carpe diem; a good list of reasons to seize the day. I don't necessarily agree with all of what she suggests, but I think there is something in her list that will resonate with each one of us differently, making it worth checking out here.

And finally, some tumblr inspiration:

(Source: getfuckinfit, via fuckyeahfitspiration)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Farmers Market Feature: Mello-dy Ranch

Mello-dy Ranch
Mello-dy Ranch booth
This week at the Aptos Farmers Market at Cabrillo College, I was attracted to some amazing apples and preserves at the Mello-dy Ranch vendor booth. Welcoming rows of green, yellow, and red apples greet you with their bright aroma as you approach this tent on the second row of the market. The many apple varieties available from this family owned-farm include such varieties as Mutsu, Granny Smith, and Gala. Kyle, the friendly young man behind the register, suggested I try the Braeburn. It was crisp, sweet, and delicious.

Mello-dy Ranch

Also available from the Mello-dy booth are potatoes, lemons, and squash. While I was visiting the booth, many people came by to inquire about fresh chicken or duck eggs and to recycle their egg cartons. Although it was only about 9 am, the eggs were already gone. Kyle explained that there will be more eggs as the season progresses, and that the ranch has about 3,200 hens. These fresh eggs seem to be a very popular item, so if you want to sample them get to the market early!

Mello-dy Ranch

Mello-dy also offers a delicious looking line of preserves, toppings and sauces. I noticed applesauce, strawberry-rhubarb preserve, and at least one sugar-free variety of raspberry preserve. These were priced very reasonably at $5-$6 each.

Mello-dy Ranch

Mello-dy Ranch

After checking out all of the delicious items available, I talked to Kyle about his family’s ranch. This is Mello-dy’s 28th year at the Cabrillo market, making them one of the older vendors. Although Mello-dy is not organic, they are pesticide-free. Kyle explained that his family has been working on the lengthy organic certification process, but that the ranch has a dedicated customer base that know and trust their products. Kyle is actually the sixth generation of this ranching family. His ancestors came from the Azores of Portugal in the 1800’s, and settled in the farm’s current location in what is now Watsonville.

Mello-dy Ranch
I enjoyed talking to Kyle about his family’s farm and history. The apples I sampled were wonderful. I am intrigued by the popular eggs and also by the preserves and toppings. The Mello-dy Ranch booth at Aptos Farmer’s market has a great selection of fresh, local, pesticide-free fruit and other produce. This vendor has a great reputation at the market, so stop by and check out what they have to offer. Although the ranch does not have a website, you can find out more about Mello-dy in this article from the Monterey Bay Certified Farmers Markets site.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Shine On!

November Sunrise

I was talking with my friend Carmen from Zumba a few weeks ago, and she asked me if I wanted to go to a Body Sculpting class with her on Saturdays.  I told her I usually run on Saturdays, and this led to the topic of my upcoming 10K.  Carmen shared this anecdote from her running days.

Years ago, Carmen and her friend had an agreement to run daily, early in to morning at 5:30. “While the stars were still out,” she explained.  The two friends were also neighbors, with houses facing each other across the street.  Since Carmen’s friend had young children and might have to cancel their daily run at the last minute, they made a simple arrangement.  Carmen’s friend would put her porch light on each morning that she was ready to run.  Carmen, who could see the light from her bedroom, would look for the light each morning and know if her friend had kept the agreement.

“Never,” said Carmen, “in all the time we ran together, was there a morning when my friend did not turn on her porch light.” 

Years later, Carmen’s friend moved away, and Carmen shared just how motivational that light had been.  “Many mornings I did not want to get out of bed to exercise,” she told her friend, “but I saw your light and I knew you were counting on me.”

Carmen’s friend, it turns out, felt the same way. “There were so many times,” she replied, “that I wanted to stay in bed and not turn on the light, but I did not want to let you down.”

I love this story on so many levels.  It shows the importance of friendships, and how having a partner can motivate one to achieve greater fitness than if one were going it alone.  

But that porch light that kept each runner going also represents the light that shines in each one of us.  Everyone has something special and divine to offer the world.  You might not feel like shining your light some mornings.  You may not feel like being kind, generous, and compassionate with yourself and others.  You may not feel like giving love.  But you never know who else out there is counting on your light to get them going, to motivate them.  

Your inner beauty and gifts may seem insignificant to you, and you may feel like you cannot make much of a difference or impact in this world.  Someone, however, may be looking for your light to shine for them every day whether you realize it or not.  You are divine, special, and have something unique to offer to the universe.

We are all interconnected in this world.  Look for the light of love shining from those around you, and shower the brilliance of your love on others.  Together, we can make this world a brighter place.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


I am considering a weekly theme for my posts in order to focus and direct my writing.  I already have a few themes going: My Weight Loss Journey, Weekend Workout Wrap-Up (Monday), and Farmer's Market Featured Vendor (Sunday).  I think I am going to add Inspirations, where every Wednesday I post links to web ephemera that have inspired me this week.

Today I'd like to begin with a few articles I found inspirational or intriguing.

Jess over at Makeunder My Life pointed her readers to a very cool article by Haley at Tiny Twig, called 100 Golden No’s.  If you are hoping to start any kind of new venture or project in your life, Haley's approach may be for you.

Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project shared a great link to a positive article about living a more productive life.  The article 30 things to start doing for yourself can be found at Marc and Angel Hack Life.This article was written in response to another, more more prohibitive article listing 30 things to Stop Doing to Yourself.  I like both articles, as they represent to me duality of practicing productive habits while simultaneously letting go of actions that hold you back from your goals.

The band Jane's Addiction (who is not really a "friend" but that's why social media is so cool... I can have direct communication with artists I admire and who inspire me) posted a picture of lead singer Perry Farrell and quote that I adore. "If you're not part of the freaks, you're part of the boredom."
Finally, here are some motivational photo posts from various healthy living tumblr blogs:

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Weekend Workout Wrap-up

I love my weekend workouts!

Since I work long hours and have an extensive commute, the weekend is the best time for time-consuming workouts like long runs, extra classes at the gym, or a nice bike ride.  I usually try to fit in one of each of these things over the weekend.

The last few days, we have been blessed with beautiful sunny, 60 degree weather all along the coast.  On Saturday, I took advantage of the milder temperatures and did a 6-mile training run in the gorgeous redwood Forest of Nicene Marks.  I am so fortunate as to live next door to this beautiful California State Park.  From my front door, it is a mile to the entrance of the park, and two miles up to George's Picnic Area.  The whole loop is about a 10K.

Crossing the bridge just past George's Picnic Area, almost to the first gate

 On Sunday, I followed my usual routine.  Weather permitting, I ride my bike to Zumba class in the morning.  The ride is about 14 miles round trip, but I usually take my time riding home if the weather is as gorgeous as it was today!  Jason, my husband, is often fishing at this time, and I can rendezvous with him somewhere along the beach.
That's Jason casting out (in the white shirt), at Rockview in Pleasure Point

Checking the waves on my ride home

I also walked around the Aptos Farmers Market and did some chores around the house.  Fitting in that run made me feel great, however, and I feel ready for my 10K on Superbowl Sunday!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Farmers Market Feature: Cole Canyon Farm

New Blog Feature: Farmers Market Vendors
While walking through the Aptos Farmers Markettoday, inspired by the gorgeous day and the wonderful array of produce around me, I got the idea to regularly feature a vendor from the market on my blog.  This fits my concept for this blog in two ways: 

One of the many hobbies that help me achieve a healthy balance in my life is photography.  Although I have been an avid amateur photographer for years, I have always been self-conscious about taking photographs in public.  Having a purpose behind my photography will hopefully help me get over my apprehension about taking photos of people and in public, and I will be using my camera skills for a specific creative purpose. One of the reasons I started this blog is to push my personal boundaries, and motivate myself to act on my goals, instead of just dreaming about them.

I also hope for this blog to inspire others to live a healthier life, and farmers markets make it fun and exciting to incorporate healthier choices into in your diet and lifestyle.  By featuring a local vendor of healthy products, I can also show support for buying local, fresh food.  So please enjoy my first in a series of features about booths at my local market.

Featured Vendor: Cole Canyon Farm
For my first attempt, I decided to try the first vendor who looked friendly and approachable.  Cole Canyon Farm  has a booth located on the east end of the second row of the market.  I was relieved to find that the woman manning the booth, Renee, was as friendly as she appeared and offered a wealth of information about the farm and its offerings. 
The Cole canyon Farm booth features wonderful organic vegetable and herb seedlings.

Beautiful, colorful leafy greens
A selection of salad greens

Today was the first day back to this market for the season, and I could feel Renee’s excitement as she talked about what the increasingly warmer weather and longer days will bring.  I was already impressed with the array of lettuce, leafy vegetables, and herbs available, but Renee pointed out that as the season progresses there will be many additional offerings, since the farm’s greenhouses are just beginning to produce young plants.

Renee and the Cole Canyon Farm booth at Aptos Farmers Market

There were many gorgeous offerings, but I was especially fascinated by the strawberry seedlings, which had been recently taken from cold storage.  Renee explained that as soon as they are removed, planted, and begin to feel heat they just take off in an amazing process.  These delicious starts are perfect for the organic home garden.

Renee also mentioned that in addition to home gardening favorites like rosemary, the farm also offers an intriguing variety of medicinal herbs, such as yarrow and chamomile.

Love Potion herb bowl

I was intrigued by this herb bowl . A nice quality bowl is planted with a selection of herbs to fit a particular theme, and includes little sign indicating the medicinal property of each plant.  I like the “Love Potion” bowl, which includes sage and thyme. 

After learning about the herbs and vegetables on sale at the market, and reading more about the farm on their website, I think it might be fun to visit.  According to Renee, Saturdays are a good day to go check out the farm.  Cole Canyon Farm is located in Aromas, California.  Their website is well designed and has a wealth of information.  You can also check them out on Facebook.  This farm also sells at other markets in the area, and list of where to buy their products is available on the website. If you are looking for organic vegetable and herb seedlings, Cole Canyon Farm is local, friendly, and has an excellent variety of offerings.

It was an exciting and fun experience talk with Renee and learn more about once of the local organic farms in this fertile region of California. I plan to try and include this type of article at least once a month, hopefully more. The Aptos Farmers Market is open all year, and there are about 75 vendors there, so I have plenty of material to keep me busy for a while!