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Late Friday afternoon we arrived in San Francisco. Andy and I met up with her dad and went to dinner at Sotto Mare (on my SF recommended list). Afterwards we walked off our meal around North Beach and Coit Tower. We met up with the other Finish Line Girls in our hotel room and just hung out with no set plans until Saturday morning.

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The next day Andy and I skipped the shake out run and caught up on some much needed sleep. We met the rest of the FNL group at Bluestem Brasserie for brunch before our photo shoot in the city. Finish Line hooked it up with a swag bag filled with a Nike tech vest, leggings and roshe runs!!

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We also received an outfit for our photoshoot, where we shot some holiday looks around Union Square and then ventured to the Mission District. Next time I come back to SF I definitely want to spend more time in this area. It was filled with so many cute/independent shops. Andy grabbed us the most simple but delicious baguette sandwiches from Craftsman and Wolves (bread, dijon mustard, salami and cornichons). We ended up not having as much free time as we thought we would to explore, and headed straight to dinner at Colosseo where I had a simple but delicious Salmone alla Griglia. We tried to call it an early night, but with all the fun that ensued between me and Fit Andy in our slumber party, we ended up staying up close to midnight.

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Sunday was race day! Recap to come, but I ended up doing much better than I anticipated. With no specific goal in mind, I felt like I absolutely crushed the last couple of miles (which I feel like is becoming my specialty). After the race Andy and I tried to go to Sweet Maple for brunch, but it was PACKED. We ended up at Park Tavern (also on my SF recommended list) for a kickass breakfast and maybe too many mimosas 😉

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After brunch Andy left for her flight and I met up and moved in with Jen for the night. The afternoon seemed to fly by and before I knew it, it was time for dinner again. We ended up at Park Tavern again where I ate myself into a food coma (literally, because I could not keep my eyes open).

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Monday morning Jen and I took a short walk to Roxanne’s for breakfast where I fulfilled my craving from the day before for a simple breakfast (eggs, bacon and avocado toast). It wasn’t too long before we found ourselves headed to the airport and departed back to San Diego.

The days seemed to be jam packed, literally going from one activity to the next without any real breaks. My favorite thing was probably taking a hot shower after the race and crawling back into the lush white hotel bed. mmmm. Even though it was a fast-paced weekend, a trip to the city is always exciting! I’m looking forward to my next race-cation :-)

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And we’re off! This morning we’ll be taking the streets of San Francisco. Make sure to follow along on Snapchat as Fit Andy and I will be taking over the @finishlineusa account!  Here’s the gear I’ll be wearing (and don’t make fun of my Hokas!!!).

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–Larabar
Skinfix  Rash Repair Balm
–CLIF Shot Blocks
Garmin 620 Forerunner
–Ipod shuffle
Stance Run Threshold Crew
Body Glide
–Lululemon Turbo Run Shorts
–#FNLRunsSF tank (similar style here)
Hoka One One Huaka

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Here’s my playlist for this weekend’s race.  I’m pretty sure 85% of it consists of Big Gigantic (thanks to Kendanimall and KAABOO when we saw them live).  The rest is kind of electronic/EDM…just the stuff with the higher BPM to keep cadence, rhythm and pace up up up.

What’s your favorite new song to listen to while you run?

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Hi hi.  If you know me and/or you’ve been following this blog for a while, you know I’m kind of insane when it comes to traveling and eating.  Like if it’s not the best thing, earth shattering, insta-worthy meal, don’t put it near my mouth.  Jusssssst kidding….kinda.  That’s why 30 different eating options and itineraries are key!!!! 😉

So as we travel to SF this weekend, I put together a list of “must-eat” places in SF.  Make sure to check it out and give me any other suggestions/restaurants/tips.  Also, same goes with NY because I’ve actually never been there before!

 

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Saturday continued on a good note, following Fit Andy around on her photo shoot (with @kaarmen), while grabbing awesome views of the city from Twin Peaks.

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By the time we finished up, it was time for dinner. Although I would’ve like to have gone with my traditional cioppino, we settled for something within half a mile from Union Square (let’s just say we were both a little hangry) – authentic Italian with homemade pasta from Trattoria Pachino & Pizzeria.

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Sunday it was RACE DAY (I promise this recap will be up tomorrow). I ended on a high note, feeling amazing after 2 consecutive great race weekends.  And even looking back now I don’t even know how I powered through it all.

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I took the shuttle back and met up with my dad who was doing his part–just waiting for me at Lefty O’Douls. I chugged a Bloody Mary and devoured some potatoes before we went to brunch at Hops & Hominy. After several mimosas, we did some shopping, I retired for a brief nap (nap did not happen), and then I was hungry again for some ice cream (Ghiradelli’s of course). After eateng myself into a sugar coma, it was time for me to lay low and retire for the night.

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Monday morning I woke up bright and early at 6:15am. Did some blogging and then went out for a surprisingly quick and easy 5 miles. Before I knew it, I was at Pier 39! I returned back, got ready for the day, and then had a decadent send-off brunch at Scala’s Bistro (breakfast sandwich, brioche french toast and all).

After brunch it was time for me to fly back to San Diego and reality!

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I can’t believe it’s almost October! That means a big month of racing coming up for me. Not only will I be running my first full marathon, but I’ll be running the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in SF the following weekend. Kind of crazy, but when I was offered the opportunity to run the sold out Nike Women’s Half, I knew I couldn’t pass it up. Last fall I ran my first Nike race and I was hooked. It’s amazing how they can take a race with soooo many participants and make it feel so special and personalized (goes for both SF and DC!).

In order to prepare for my busy racing month, I’ve been keeping up with my training. This usually includes 5 days of running, and at least 2 days of cross-training (recently I’ve been doing Pilates). I also make sure to take 1-2 days off a week to fully rest and recover.

A typical training week looks something like this:

Monday – cross-train + tempo run (~6 miles)
Tuesday – easy morning run (~4-6 miles)
Wednesday – cross-train + speed work
Thursday – easy morning run (~4-6 miles)
Friday – cross-train or rest
Saturday – long run
Sunday – rest

Since the Nike Women’s Half will be the week after my first full marathon, and I have nooooo idea how I’ll feel/recover, I’m planning to take the race super easy. I plan to listen to my body, take the hills as they come, walk through water stations, etc. The only goal I have set is to finish within the 3 hours and 17 minutes allotted for the course. AND to finish on my feet this year (and maybe get that Tiffany’s necklace…) 😉

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Checking off thing three from my October “Three Things” Bucket List: Take a mini fall vacation.

So this month I ended up having one planned race-cation, and another impromptu race-cation.

How to plan for a race-cation:

  • Arrive early – give yourself some time to settle in.
  • Resist walking – or over-exerting yourself.
  • Race first – play later.
  • Hydrate – h20 and nuun. Save the celebration drinks for after.
  • Wear compression socks – to avoid swelling and promote circulation (especially for flights).
  • Plan your meals – know what kind of food you can eat and where you’re going to eat the night before.
  • Get a hotel close to the start – we stayed at the Handlery for NWMSF and Hotel O for RNRLA race.  Both were walking distances to the start.

Troubleshooting:

  • Bring backup music (iPhone & iPod) – I didn’t check my music until the night before and discovered “voice control” never turns off with music.  Luckily, I had my iPod for backup.
  • Bring alternative clothing – if the race is in an area where you’re unfamiliar with the weather, bring some options.

Have you ever done a race-cation?
If so, what do you make sure to prepare?

Thing One l Thing Two (coming)

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What would San Francisco be without a zillion food pictures and a play-by-play of every place we went to eat? I also went so far as to claim my pre-race dinner was “the perfect proportion of protein-to carbs-to lightness.”  See what went down and into my belly.

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Saturday lunch – After checking-in to the race expotique, we went down Maiden Lane (a little side street off Union Square) to this small little Italian place with outdoor seating.  We all had the seafood salad that was very light–perfect for our plans to eat an early dinner.

Mocca – 3.5 stars $$ Italian
175 Maiden Ln
(between Grant Ave & Stockton St)
Neighborhoods: Financial District, Union Square

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Saturday dinner – Around 5pm we had dinner at Sotto Mare (one of the many places on my list).  This ended up being quite a feast, but still light.  From a whole cracked-crab appetizer, to eating family-style — a pot of cioppino (me), linguine with bay scallops (dad) and sautéed scallops and prawns (bf) it ended up being my best pre-race meal.  The cioppino was so good!  Actually, everything here was so good! The sauces on everything just complimented the seafood in the best way, and were far from over-powering.  With the ambiance (family-owned, hidden gem, long-standing establishment) and everything combined, it was a very good meal.

Sotto Mare – 4 stars $$ Seafood, Italian
552 Green St (between Columbus Ave & Stockton St)
Mon-Sat 11am-9:30pm
Neighborhood: North Beach/Telegraph Hill

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Sunday brunch – Originally we were going to go to Mama’s at Washington Square, but by the time we made it over to North Beach, it was 11:30am and Mama’s had a long line out the door.  So we ended up at Park Tavern (again, one of the places on my list).  We shared a warm baguette with 3 homemade nut butters and banana coconut fritters as brunch appetizers (I don’t know if I’ve ever had brunch apps before?).  Then I had the roasted pepper and burrata tart that was oh so perfectly flaky.

Park Tavern – 4 stars $$$ American (New), Breakfast & Brunch
1652 Stockton St (between Union St & Filbert St)
Sat-Sun 10 am – 11 pm
Neighborhood: North Beach/Telegraph Hill

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Sunday dinner – Dinner at Mission Street Oyster Bar, aka cioppino round 2.  This place had the best garlic bread for dunking; it had the perfect crust with a soft interior excellent for soaking up juices.  Instead of king crab claws like Sotto Mare, it had dungeness crab shredded into the bowls (perfect for the lazy man, or the lady who doesn’t want to get her fingers dirty – I’d classify myself as both). This cioppino also had a little more heat (spicier than the night before’s).  It’s crazy because without Yelp we never would have found this place!

Mission Street Oyster Bar – $$ Seafood, Fish & Chips, Seafood Market
2282 Mission St
(between 19th St & 18th St)
Neighborhood: Mission

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Sunday dessert- The only thing I had to have was ice cream from one of the 3 places on my list (Humphrey Slocombe, Bi-Rite and/or Mitchell’s Ice Cream).  Bi-Rite was the closest to Mission Oyster Bar (which we were kind of skeptical to walk around after dark).  A couple blocks over in the Mission Dolores district, the crowds followed us to Bi-Rite.  I had a single scoop (option 1 or 2 flavors) with brown sugar and ginger swirl and ricanelas (cinnamon ice cream with snickerdoodle cookies).  I love unique ice cream flavors/shops.  If we had one of these in San Diego I would always choose it over Yogurtland (yes, I just said that).

Bi-Rite Creamery – 4.5 stars $ Ice Cream & Frozen Yogurt
3692 18th St (between Dolores St & Oakwood St)
Mon-Thu, Sun 11am-10pm
Fri-Sat 11am-11pm
Neighborhood: Mission

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Monday breakfast – I woke up and was hungry.  My bf wanted to run (and I was in no shape to/nor did I want to), so I took my dad to my favorite coffee shop that I unfortunately had not visited yet this trip – Blue Bottle Coffee Co.  We both got mocha’s and shared a pumpkin buckle (I love crumble toppings!) and a waffle.  I love the mocha’s at Blue Bottle because they have a bitter chocolate taste (made with TCHO chocolate) and are made with Whole Jersey Milk. So while they’re rich, they’re not overly sweet.

Blue Bottle Coffee Co. – 4 stars $$ Coffee & Tea
66 Mint St
(between Jessie St & Mission St)
Neighborhoods: Union Square, SoMa

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Monday brunch– We checked out of our room and drove over to Mama’s at Washington Square which ended up being closed on Monday’s.  So I did a quick Yelp search and found Sweet Maple (a name that seemed familiar from our July trip).  It had a lot of options—omelets, scrambles, benedicts, pancakes, breakfast pizzas.  I ended up getting  the Athenian omelet (arugula, mushrooms and light goat cheese) made with egg-whites, that also came with an herb potato medley (I LOVE POTATOES) and levain bread.  It was a delicious meal and I realized how much I enjoy/love goat cheese.

Sweet Maple – 4 stars $$ American (Traditional), Breakfast & Brunch
2101 Sutter St
(between Steiner St & Pierce St)
Neighborhood: Lower Pacific Heights

On Sunday, October 20, I woke up at 5:30am after having a scary dream that I drove off a cliff. I was driving my car but it was like 3rd person vision in a video game. As I was hovering hundreds or thousands of feet above a body of water, I was so regretful and just wanted to turn back. I was jolted awake and happy that I was in my hotel bed, still alive. Mantra/song for the day: (“No I don’t even know if I’m alive. Oh, oh, oh without you now” from This Is What It Feels Like).  If a scary almost-death dream doesn’t make you excited to run a half marathon, I don’t know what does (*insert sarcasm*).

We stayed at the Handlery Hotel on Geary so it was literally a block from the start. Unfortunately I booked us a double bed, which feels like the equivalent of sharing a college twin XL bed. Next time I need to keep in mind King size or no size. **note: stay in Union-Square. There was no host hotel (maybe for TNT [Team In Training]) and no runner discounts.

This was the earliest race I have ever run (6:30am), but the longest I’ve ever slept in. Usually I have to wake up super early to drive and chill out in the parking lot for several hours. I also wasn’t hungry when I woke up (very unusual for me). So I snacked on some ProBar chews and finally ate my Quest Bar.  My dinner the night before (SF eats post to follow) was the perfect proportion of protein-to carbs-to lightness (no scientific backing for this claim).

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I didn’t have to deal with the porta-potties or lines with our hotel so close to the start. Around 6am we went out to check it out, then I went back up to the hotel room to pee and was back out by 6:15am.  I had a hard time getting into my corral originally, probably because I should’ve gotten out there a little bit earlier. They didn’t have an opening in the line-up for 7:00-7:59 pace wristbands to enter, so I had to enter from the 8:00-8:59 corral and push my way up to the front before the race started.

It was a fairly chilly morning, but after the adrenaline/panic of almost not getting into my corral, I was warmed up and dropped my throwaway jacket before the start. I decided to pin my bib to my shorts in the chance that I would run with my sweatshirt for the first couple of miles.  The corral panic made me realize that I have a lack of self-motivation– basically, I was ready to give up from the beginning (but I didn’t!).

Also, did you know Shay Mitchell was running this race (#PLLFanatic…mildly just kidding)? Of course I did after stalking her Instagram. I was partially on the look-out and thought I saw her within the first half-mile. I contemplated sticking around and running by her before I realized it def was not her!

There were some smaller hills around mile 3 (near Ghiradelli Square) but I moved up these seamlessly, and made sure to take 10 good steps after reaching the top which helped refresh my legs and kept me moving (got this tip from the November Runner’s World I read on the plane ride over!).  The biggest hill was around 6-7 through Golden Gate Park, but it was definitely nowhere near the difficulty level of Torrey Pines.  I didn’t think the course was as hilly as people made it seem (or maybe compared to La Jolla nothing will be as hilly).  There weren’t any of those “signature SF hills.”

Around mile 9 I was starting to fatigue and there were some small hills through residential areas. At mile 10 I felt really good, but by mile 11 that feeling started to fade off.  At mile 12 I finally gave it my all, especially around the 12.5 mile mark.  Once I turned the corner towards the finish line, I came in fast with my knees driving (6:25 finishing pace). Then I flew and ate shit. The worst part was that the fireman looked at me unapologetic like it was all my fault (okay, so maybe it was). But by the time I registered, high-five, no high-five, I had already fallen flat on the ground. Today my right knee is pretty poorly bruised and I have rug burn all up my forearms. This was probably one of the most embarrassing incidents of my life. But I guess it makes for a great story (too bad there’s no finish line footage).

The spectator shuttle system was pretty messed up, so my dad and boyfriend didn’t arrive until 45 minutes after I finished. They were dropped off at the 11.3 mile cheering station and was told it was the end, so they ended up having to walk the 2 miles to the finish line (thank god for the Verizon “call your friends” tent. I didn’t run with my phone so it helped to have some way to contact them).
I realized I got blood on my finishers t-shirt and that my arm was scathed. So I made my first ever trip to the medical tent (which was also just very warm). I also drank my bodyweight in nuun while I was waiting. I probably had close to 8 cups I kept walking back and forth to drink.

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Throughout the race I only stopped for water twice (around mile 4 and 7) and only walked through these stations (I have a hard time drinking from water cups and running/not choking). I didn’t walk anywhere else which is a small victory in itself since for the past 3 half marathons (AFC, RnRSD and La Jolla) I’ve felt the need to walk at least a few strides. Especially after AFC, I feel like I’m back on the right track.

Mile splits recorded by my Garmin (1:45:18):
1 – 7:56
2 – 7:54
3 – 7:58
4 – 7:43
5 – 7:49
6 – 8:05
7 – 9:15
8 – 7:37
9 – 8:45
10 – 7:39
11 – 7:45
12 – 8:06
13 – 7:02
Last .25 – 1:36

My chip time was 1:45:07.

From my perspective, I thought this was a well-organized race (except for the corral thing). Of course there is going to be chaos with 30,000 women running (and shopping everything Nike).  From my dad’s/bf’s perspective, the spectator shuttle was a nightmare. It basically took them 2 hours to get the finish line, from waiting, to taking a detoured bus route, to walking to the finish line. They didn’t even make it to see me finish. However, I thought Nike did an excellent job of personalizing the experience.

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The Niketown exterior window had every runner’s name listed. And as you entered the “expotique” after checking in, your name went across a big digital screen “ASHLEIGH YOU INSPIRE US.” They also had a wall where pictures hash-tagged with “werunsf appeared.  Overall, I thought it was a good race with a fun and refreshing course. Even though it was a new course (to me), I think unintentionally running part of the route during our July trip helped familiarize certain places. The only thing I would change would be training a little bit more for the hills. Mentally I felt good and I would probably like to run it again next year.

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 The Nike Women’s Half Marathon 10 year anniversary was my 10th half marathon!  Just in 2013 I have doubled the amount of half marathons I’ve run.  It feels good!  I don’t know if my competitive nature has increased, or if this blog has lit a fire under my butt to keep running.  I’m also completely satisfied with my time, 1:45:07.  The concept of “We Run The Hills” wasn’t as hilly as I imagined.  I thought it was a good and fun course.

At the end of the race, I was coming in hard and noticed several girls high-fiving the fireman at the finish line.  I never give high-fives but I was feeling good and accomplished, so as I went to high-five the fireman in front of me (who’s high-fiving hand was non-existent…basically he wasn’t giving high-fives) I tripped and ate shit. AT THE FINISH LINE.  Now I have some scratches and rug burn haha.

I’ll be back with a full update tomorrow!

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