Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Legend of the Nojoqui Falls

So this is more of a story than a legend but that doesn't mean we can't make this story legendary. Ok, no it is just a story.

So just down the road from where Samuel L. Jackson buys his produce is the Nojoqui Falls Park. Just as the name would have you believe, it is a park with a waterfall about a 0.6 mile hike in. I mean up.

It's not as bad as I'm making it out to sound. It's more of a gradual incline. Plus, it is 0.6 miles of natural beauty. Plus, it is only 0.6 miles.

About 0.2 miles into the hike, Sister K and I noticed this sign. 

Upon closer inspection of the sign, we discovered that making a lot of noise while hiking reduces the chances of surprising a lion. Wait, what? No one said anything about mountain lions. I want my money back. Oh yeah, this was free. Surprising anything that you can't out run is like at the top of the list of bad ideas for runners or it should be. 

My sister and I are pretty soft spoken people so we felt that it would probably be safer to just play some music on my iPhone while we hiked. She tells me to select Gotye's Somebody That I Use To Know. So I did. So that was the day we used Gotye to scare off the mountain lion while hiking to Nojoqui Falls. I can't make this stuff up.

What the heck? No one said anything about stair climbing.

So we finally make it to the falls. It was pretty dry there that day but still pretty cool. This fall is seasonal so depending on the weather/season when you come to visit will determine the amount of water flow of the falls. This fall is unique in that instead of eroding the side of the cliff it is actually building outward.

And just so you don't show up and think that this is a massive waterfall and accuse me of false advertising, here I am next to it for size comparison.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Classic Organic Farm (Where Samuel L. Jackson Buys His Produce)

Have you seen that new iPhone commercial with Samuel L. Jackson? The one where he cancels golf and cooks a romantic dinner? If not, here is a screen shot.


In this particular scene, Samuel is asking Siri for assistance with locating a local organic market where he can buy mushrooms for his risotto. I know, I am an amazing story teller. It's a gift.


I am giving you this background because prior to Sister K telling me this interesting little factoid, I had not known the significance of this farm either. Anyhow, seeing that this farm was only 10 miles from the town of Solvang in another little town called Gaviota, we had to go and check it out. Because if it's good enough for Samuel L. Jackson, it's good enough for me. The farm is located on Hwy 101 and is easy to miss if you are not looking for it. There is but one little dirt road that leads into this farm. Driving up to the barn, I see a large peace sign on the side of the barn. Groovy baby!

There is a small pick-your-own strawberry area directly across from the barn. Strawberry picking is hard work. I'm embarrass to say that it took us a really long time to pick this pint. I know, we suck at strawberry picking or any sort of farm work actually. 

But there is just something about being out in the fresh air, picking your own fruit while getting a tan that makes you appreciate not having to do that every time you want some fruit. I kid, I actually had a lot of fun and wish that I had more opportunities to slow down and do this more often.

Inside the barn are pre-harvested organic produce that you can just buy without the work. The produce here are amazingly fresh and beautiful. We originally had plans to buy some of this produce and cook it up in our hotel room which has a little kitchenette but after a full day of sightseeing this plan went out the window. Next time!

This is how you pay for your produce. It is so laid back here. Go and pay them a visit the next time you are driving through or looking for some mushrooms for your risotto. Tell them Siri sent you.

Classic Organic Farm & Market
2330 Old Coast Hwy,
Gaviota, CA 93117

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Miniature Unicorns and Zonkey!

I am taking a rest day today. Yep, completely off from running or any other sort of activities that may be mistaken for exercising. I went on a run this past Monday after my not so good race in wine country and that sucked as well. So I'm just going to give it a rest until Friday. I have a pretty long run coming up this weekend in preparation for the Ojai Marathon so I need to make sure that I am mentally prepared for that. It's been awhile since I've done a long training run. I know that sounds weird coming from someone who runs as many races as I do. So that's enough talk about running. Let's talk about miniature horses and donkeys!

As you know, I like to roll my vacation time into my race weekends and kill two birds with one stone. So naturally this past weekend when I was in town for the SB wine country half, I tried to fit in as much activities as I could. Luckily, I was traveling with Sister K who is the master of fitting in as many activities as one can in a short amount of time. Really, she's a genius at what she does!

One of our stops this past weekend was at the Quicksilver Miniature Horse Ranch. We had passed this place a couple of times during our other visits into this area but had not stopped to check it out until now. So I have to just say that miniature horses are adorable! If I had the space and money, you'd know there would be a couple of these walking around the grounds of my huge mansion.

They really are cute! I found them fascinating because they are about the size of a large dog when they are babies. I don't know why but I started to talk about unicorns with Sister K while we were walking around admiring these animals. Apparently, I wasn't the only one that had unicorn in the brain since I overheard some other people there also talking about unicorns. I think seeing horses the size of dogs causes one's brain to go haywire. Before you know it, you actually start to think that maybe, just maybe they can breed unicorns. Maybe I had just been out in the sun too long because as Sister K pointed out...unicorns are not real but miniature horses are so if you are in Solvang anytime soon, so check them out. It's free.

So this little guy caught my eye. The little brown and white one. 

Just look at that little face! He would make a beautiful unicorn. Yes he would.

Just make sure you don't do this. Just leave your box of fingers in your car.

Quicksilver Ranch
1555 Alamo Pintado Road
Solvang, California 93463

Our next stop was at the Seein' Spots Farm to check out some miniature donkeys. There was this large tom turkey on this farm that was making a lot of noise dragging his wings on the ground. I'm not exactly sure if he wanted to show us who's boss or if that is some normal turkey behavior. 

Sister K + Donkey equals Konkey. Okay I made that up.

But here's something I didn't make up. This here is a Zonkey. Zebra+Donkey. Who knew!

There was also this magnificent horse there. Want!

Seein' Spots Farm
2599 Baseline Ave
Solvang, CA 93463

Saturday, May 12, 2012

2012 Santa Barbara Wine Country Half - Race Recap

Date: May 12, 2012
Location: Santa Barbara, CA
Start: 7:00am
Finish: 1:56:34


So the last time I ran this race was back in 2008 as part of a female relay team with my sister. We came in 4th place that year. So technically, this was my first time running this race in it's entirety by myself. I rolled into Solvang yesterday afternoon and headed straight to the expo held at Hotel Corque to pick up my bib, timing chip and shirt. The shirt is okay but not one of my favorites.

On race morning, I got up at 4:15am to get ready to head to Solvang Park to catch a bus to the starting area in Santa Ynez. I think I was too anxious because I was one of the first people there. I was on the first bus which dropped us off at an area with shops and restaurants in the style of saloons or some sort of Western styling. Once we were dropped off, I had about an hour and a half to kill. I made the mistake of not wearing my sweat pants here so I was really cold for about 1.5 hours. I even thought about hopping back on a bus to Solvang Park and driving back to the hotel and sleep.

I was so early that there was no one at the starting line yet. They were still setting it up.

So this was about 5 minutes before the gun went off. I was still cold but glad that it was almost time to run. About a couple miles into the race, I realized that this was going to be a long race. I felt so fatigued. I just didn't feel like running today. I was hoping that once I got started that I would get into a groove but I was just so tired. Maybe I had not recovered from last weekend or maybe I've been racing too many weekends in a row. I decided that I was just going to slog along slowly until the end. However, the slogging was making things more drawn out so every couple of miles I would pick up the pace in hopes of getting to the end sooner. After a couple miles of running at a faster pace I would feel tired again and slog along some more. This slow/fast running pattern went on the entire race. When I finally got to the last 2 miles, I wanted to quit so bad. All I wanted to do was stop running and take a warm shower.

Right after I passed the mile 11 marker and decided that I didn't know if I had wanted to run anymore, I saw a couple of horses come galloping up to a fence to watch the runners. I took a picture of them because hey it wasn't like I was busy running or anything. It was around this point that I noticed a guy running near me that looked like Bart Yasso but I was running behind him so I couldn't see his face so I wasn't sure and I was too tired to try to catch up to find out. Turned out that it was him. I finished just right behind him when they announced his name after crossing the finish line. True story. So to sum up...very cold, tired, crappy running, Bart Yasso, horses and...

One of the cooler medal I've gotten this year! Sure, it's a medal, but wait there's more! It is also a wine opener and stopper! Almost made my bad running day more tolerable.

Post running snacks! Those Mary's Gone Crackers crackers were pretty good.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Yesterday was a special day. This pretty much sums it up! <3

Sunday, May 6, 2012

2012 OC Half Marathon - Race Recap

Date: May 6, 2012
Location: Fashion Island (Newport Beach) to OC Fairgrounds (Costa Mesa), CA
Start: 6:15am
Finish: 1:45:58

Mile 1 - 8:09                     Mile 8 - 8:08
Mile 2 - 7:23                     Mile 9 - 7:54
Mile 3 - 8:03                     Mile 10- 8:10
Mile 4 - 8:01                     Mile 11 - 8:04
Mile 5 - 7:45                     Mile 12 - 7:55
Mile 6 - 8:08                     Mile 13 - 7:42
Mile 7 - 8:21                     Mile .30 - 2:12

I got up this morning with the intention of setting a new PR but I fell short. My training has not been stellar lately so I shouldn't be too disappointed with my time but I am. Inconsistent pacing and going out too fast may have been what contributed to my sub-par performance. I guess if nothing else, I got a good long run in. I have another chance next week to try again. I will spend this week doing a couple of shorter runs to try and align my pacing.

And with this race, I've completed the Beach Cities Challenge!

I ran the Long Beach Marathon last year, Surf City Half this year and the OC Half Marathon today to complete the challenge and picked up an extra medal. It is huge and heavy! 

I arrived at the runners drop-off area at Fashion Island around 5:20am. I saw that the marathoners were about to take off but there was some sort of delay so they didn't start until about 5:45am. I went into the Marriott to use their restrooms. Real restrooms! A nice perk to this race. I had a lot of time to kill so I stretched a ton and jogged around to warm up my legs. I've been dealing with some major shin split issues lately on my training runs so I've been rolling it out these past couple of days in hopes of preventing it from happening today. It worked! And with 15 minutes left until the half marathon start time, I checked in my sweats and headed into my corral. The weather was perfect for me but maybe it might have been warmer to some for that time of day. It was overcast and to me it was perfect running weather so the fact that I didn't do well is no part due to the weather. The half marathon started right on time at 6:15am. The course was well organized and manned by some great volunteers. The only thing that was not so smooth was the issue with exiting the fairgrounds parking lots after the race. Because there was a half and full marathon going on, as well as a 5K, all the exits out of the fairgrounds were blocked due to the way the courses were routed and we were not able to leave until about 9am, about an hour after I cross the finish line. That's water under the bridge now.

So one of the side effects of running at threshold, at least for me is that all my race photos are fugly. I mean they are usually fugly anyways but when I am mustering up all my energies to run a good race some things gotta give and that something is really really bad race photos. This is the only one I found where I actually appear to be semi smiling. Can't tell where this was taken but probably early on in the race. I look like death in my other photos.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Running All Day...Errands That Is

Last night before I went to bed I wrote up a list of errands that I had wanted to get done today. It's been a while since I've had a free Saturday to run errands so I wanted to get as much of it done as possible. First up, I wanted to hit up the farmers market to pick up some produce for the week. I've missed the beautiful produce at the farmers market. If you like beets and Maui onions, you are in luck because they are in season now and they are huge! I saw some cherries but they are not quite there yet.

Next up, the OC Fairgrounds to pick up my race packet for the OC Half Marathon tomorrow. Really slow moving traffic into the parking lot of the fairgrounds. Thousands of people trying to get into a small area. Sucked! I ended up parking on a side street because it would have taken me two hours to get into the fairgrounds parking lot. There was a lack of signage so I had no idea where the registration area was located. There was a kids race going on near the Centennial Farm area so I just walked over there. I finally found the expo located in one of the buildings. I picked up my bib and shirt, walked around a bit and left. From there I headed to the car wash and then the grocery store.

This photo has nothing to do with errands, just some pretty flowers from Sister K.

Some beautiful produce I got from the farmers market that I will be cooking up for my pre-race carbo meal this evening. 

And for dessert...

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Home Sweet Home

This pretty much sums up my week but I'm happy to be home and sleeping in my own bed tonight. Going for a run tomorrow morning. The first run after Big Sur and the last one before the OC Half this weekend.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

2012 Big Sur Marathon - Race Recap (*Hill Ninja vs Hurricane Pt.)

Date: April 29, 2012
Location: Big Sur to Monterey, CA
Start: 6:45am
Finish: 4:13:11

I have a crazy week ahead of me so this recap is going to be quick. Okay, let's go!

*My Ragnar teammates called me the Hill Ninja during Ragnar last weekend because I ran the Escondido and La Jolla hill legs. That and because they were picturing me doing somersaults over people as I ran up the hill. That never happened! Much. So this recap is about me versus the hill known as Hurricane Point.

So last year I ran the modified Big Sur Marathon course because part of the course on Highway 1 collapsed. They haven't quite finished fixing it yet but it is holding up for now so they decided to go back to the original course this year. So this is actually my first time running the original Big Sur Marathon course. So how do the two compare? The original course is a little bit harder than the modified course but thanks to my Ragnar training from last weekend, I did better this year than last. Six minutes better to be exact. I'll spare you the mile-by-mile split review because when I looked at my splits, I pretty much ran a 9:30 minute/mile pace the entire time. Faster on some parts and slower on the other parts (read: hills).

I drove up to Monterey on Friday with my entourage. Don't you all have entourages too? I never leave home without mine. We stopped into Taqueria Cuernavaca in Ventura for lunch. Small, tiny dive of a place with some amazing tacos.

We rolled into Monterey just after 5pm so I miss the expo for the day. So we went to eat some more. I will do a proper review of this place later on this week. I hope!

The next morning, I grabbed some breakfast before heading to the expo. Yes, I am eating real yogurt again now. Don't ask, seems that my stomach is okay with it for now.

It was early but the expo was already hella crowded.

Can you tell what's important to me?

I picked up my bib and really bright orange/pink neon shirt that I actually kinda like. Oh look my bib number was 2-4-6-8!

Then I went to do some exploring around Monterey. I have a ton of pictures from last year that I had not yet posted so I'm going to venture to say that this may very well be the only photo of my sightseeing trip that you will get to see.

I ate some more. If there is one thing that I am good at...it is carbo-loading. All day baby!

So I get up at the butt crack of dawn the next morning (aka 3am) to get ready to board a bus at 4am to the start of the race in Big Sur. It took an hour to get from Monterey to Big Sur. It took that long because it was so dark at that time of morning and there was like a million buses making their way there on a single highway lane in the dark. I'm glad I was not one of those drivers.

So we finally get to the starting area near the entrance to Pfeiffer National Park. It is still really dark and COLD! The runners' staging area is out in the open so there are thousands of runners sitting around everywhere trying to keep warm. Some even sleeping on the ground. They did have coffee, water, bananas and bagels but I had already eaten.

I took this photo about 10 minutes before the start of the race. I was in wave 2. I wore my sweats to the very last moment before I had to check them in. It was a good decision.

I don't know why but I walked all the way to the very back of the line and then slowly made my way back to wave 2. I only slept for 4 hours the night before, give me a break!

Nothing too exciting to note once the gun went off for wave 2. At least not for me. I just slowly ran with the goal to make it over Hurricane Point and run as much of the course as I could. See the line of runners ascending Hurricane Point? 

This was the start of the ascend for me. It didn't look so bad after running up that hill in Escondido in the middle of the night last weekend for Ragnar. Seriously, this was not cake but it was not as bad as I had imagined it to be.

So I took this photo of the Bixby Bridge once I was on the other side of Hurricane Point. See all that fog? It was really foggy. So foggy that it covered up most of the beautiful scenery that the Big Sur Marathon is known for. I was sad. Plus it was so SO windy. 

Even Bart Yasso thought so and that guy knows what he is talking about.

Hello Michael! I heard your beautiful music from a mile away.

So I don't have any photos from the race yet but it would look something like this. Don't you run marathons in jeans too?

I love you Big Sur Marathon ceramic medal! Yes you made me work hard to earn you but that a$$-kickin' I got on those hills that lined your lovely course is the kind of tough love that only you can bring. And when it comes down to it, I don't really mind having to get up at 3am, having my a$$ handed to me on Hurricane Point, almost getting blown off the course (I'm a small girl, have mercy) or even that hill you decide to put at mile 25, because there really is nothing like running on the edge of the western world! Nothing!