The Big Taper

I had no idea that some of the toughest miles I’d run in this 30 week marathon training program would be during this last leg – the taper. Cranking out 20-milers wasn’t easy but psychologically, I just found myself pushing through with blind determination. But now, 5-miles seem like an eternity. I’m procrastinating more than ever and I’m finding the miles seem to take forever to pass.

Of course, the past few weeks have been crazy. Really, the past few months. We sold our house and bought a new one at the same time. After moving out of the old house, we stayed in Sacramento at my parent’s house from June to early August. During that time, we had the new house remodeled (master bathroom, kitchen, all doors, moldings, electrical and painting). The place looks simply beautiful right now!

The previous kitchen was workable but cut off from the rest of the house by a wall separating the kitchen and dining rooms. It was also dated with white tile countertops and old cabinets.
The previous kitchen was workable but cut off from the rest of the house by a wall separating the kitchen and dining rooms. It was also dated with white tile countertops and old cabinets.
This wall made the kitchen feel smaller than necessary.

Flipping houses has always been my dream. I got a solid taste of it in our previous house, which we owned for a little less than 2 years. We updated almost every surface except for the kitchen and bathrooms. When we sold it, we did very well and I was so excited to have seen my vision and work pay off. But we never got to do the holy grail of remodels – the kitchen.

This isn't the best photo I've ever taken but it shows the kitchen really nicely. We removed the wall separating the rooms, added an island and updated the flooring, lighting, cabinets, appliances and countertops (everything really!).
This isn’t the best photo I’ve ever taken but it shows the kitchen really nicely. We removed the wall separating the rooms, added an island and updated the flooring, lighting, cabinets, appliances and countertops (everything really!).

So I’ve been a little busy. I had so much fun running in Sacramento this summer – the American River Parkway trail that I know and love so well. Getting settled into the new house and dealing with the endless to-do and punch lists is exhausting stuff, though. So that explains the current running challenges. I missed almost a week of runs but I didn’t feel too guilty because I was so exhausted from moving that I didn’t even think it made sense to push myself any further. And now that I’m back to it, I’m finding the shorter runs more challenging than ever. 9 more days until the marathon and while I’m feeling daunted, I feel ready. I think 5-milers just don’t feel like enough anymore!


Big Weekend in Seattle

I hate it when I realize it’s Friday and I’ve yet to write up my thoughts about the race I completed on Sunday!

The race I did this past weekend was See Jane Run’s Half Marathon in Seattle, Washington. In case you haven’t head me rant about it in the past, you should know that we lived in Seattle for EXACTLY 53 weeks in 2011. I loved/hated Seattle so much. 

Things I love about Seattle:

  • the weather
  • the culture: the town is chocked full of personality, character and art on every corner. The whole place is like eye candy
  • the architecture: I love Craftsman style homes and Seattle has a ton. There are also tons of mid-century modern homes, modern buildings and everything in between…it’s an amazing place to see!
  • the parks: the parks and playgrounds are plentiful and take lovely advantage of the already picturesque scenery. If you haven’t been to Golden Gardens or Carkeek Park, you have simply got to go!

Makes you wanna jump up there with them, right? That’s my love in the sunglasses! (This is at Golden Gardens…we also love Green Lake, Maple Leaf, Volunteer Park…)
A new park for us, Kerry Park on Queen Anne. That moon-like dome behind me? That’s the 14,000 foot Mt Rainier. Yeah.


  • the food: no surprise that coffee and donuts reign supreme up there considering how rainy (and tiresome!) the weather is. That said, it’s not just Starbucks. The coffee is killer and from Top Pot to Mighty-O, they’ve cornered the market on awesome donuts too. Add to that their incredible (and incredibly fresh!) salmon. Oh and pies, ice cream, beer, wine. Lord, I could go on and on!

Molly Moon's Homemade Ice Cream...rocks!
Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream…rocks!
We ordered the Peanut Butter Cream pie. OMG. That is all.
We ordered the Peanut Butter Cream pie. OMG. That is all.
To go with that riDONKulously delicious pb cream pie, we got 2 scoops of Bluebird's Theo's chocolate ice cream. GAWD, this wonder-town has good freaking food!
To go with that riDONKulously delicious pb cream pie, we got 2 scoops of Bluebird’s Theo’s chocolate ice cream. GAWD, this wonder-town has good freaking food!

  • Our friends. That’s the thing about towns where you used to live…you leave behind all the awesome friends you made while you were there. Here is one such…
My guy is the one with the smirk on the right.

Things I hate about Seattle:

  • the weather
  • the traffic (which isn’t that much worse than where I live but it’s still notable)

I also love all the water in Seattle. And I got some incredible views of it this weekend.

See Jane Run’s races are FABULOUS! 

The Seattle race starts and finishes in Gas Works Park, which happens to be in the same neighborhood where I lived when I was a resident up there. Gas Works is a place like no other. The former Seattle Gas Light Company gasification plant, the park contains much of the old machinery required to run the plant. So the place looks other-worldly with all the old copper structures…it’s a trip!

This is a great shot – showing the Lake Union shore in the foreground!

Exiting Gas Works park and heading west toward the neighborhoods of Fremont and Queen Anne, the course first crosses the Fremont bridge and then does a quick down and back along the Fremont canal. 

Miles 4-8 go around the south shore of Lake Union (Gas Works Park is the north shore). I had a great start and was feeling awesome throughout this time. I normally run with only one headphone but decided to groove with both on Sunday and it really helped. I set a target/coached pace of 9 minutes/mile on my MapMyFitness app on my phone, rocked my running playlist and felt like a million bucks. 

I stayed closely with a pack of runners during that time and kept pace with a runner I call, “Pink Legs.” Pink Legs had 2 dark braids down her back under a visor, a water/fanny pack thing and hot pink compression sleeves on her calves. Pink Legs was easy to spot and kept a great pace.

At mile 5, a group of ladies holding signs for her (her name is Kristy apparently) got her pumped and I had to work to keep up for a bit! I was thrilled to have her in my sights.

Around that point, I also saw a funny sign that said, “You’re doing better than Brazil!” I truly laughed out loud!

I knew I was ahead of my expected pace so I wanted to let my love know I’d be crossing the finish line earlier than expected. So when I crossed mile 6 I called him. Even though I’ve had an iPhone for years, I’ve only recently started getting into using Siri. So I asked her to call my husband. Long story short, after 4 attempts at yelling at Siri, I got my hubs on the line. He was already parking. Bummer was that in all that Siri shouting, I lost Pink Legs. Forever. 😦

Before the water station at mile 8, there was a steep uphill as the course headed up to the University Bridge (which crosses Lake Union from the University of Washington (You-Dub) to the northern part of Capitol Hill. I was thrilled to notice runners around me having to stop and walk up the hill as I powered myself up there. Apparently all that hill training is paying off!

Miles 8-10 were uneventful, other than the number of times I asked myself what the H I was doing out there!

At mile 9, the course crosses in front of Gas Works Park. I’d say this is my only complaint with the race. It’s really discouraging to me to run near the finish line when there are still 4 miles remaining. After Gas Works, we ran back under the Fremont bridge and along the Fremont side of the Fremont canal. This was beautiful (OF COURSE) but somewhat of a bummer since it was another out and back span. 

In order to BQ in my marathon, I need a 3:45 time. I was hoping to complete this race in under 2 hours. In the end, I rocked a 2:04:07. I’m thoroughly pleased with that time. Even though it’s not BQ worthy, it’s the fastest I’ve ever run and I’m honored to have had the chance to run in a city I love so much.

Here are some more pics!

Snagged this one on the way to race! Check out my snazzy red See Jane Run Ambassador jacket!
Snagged this one on the way to race! Check out my snazzy red See Jane Run Ambassador jacket!
Got my medal. So happy I did it!!
Got my medal. So happy I did it!!
My little guy did the one-mile kids' run too.
My little guy did the one-mile kids’ run too.
Yo! This is a PR by 8 minutes for me. Super excited about that!
Yo! This is a PR by 8 minutes for me. Super excited about that!


It was an absolutely lovely weekend in Seattle. The weather was gorgeous and getting to see our old friends and stomping grounds was the best. I love Seattle so much!!

Oh, and a special shout-out to my girl who had her baby on Tuesday (the day after we left!)…she gave birth to the incredible Analeigh Rae on Tuesday morning. One more awesome Seattle resident for us to visit next time!


See Jane Run Race Entry Raffle

I’m SO excited to be doing my first raffle! It’s for a free race entry to the See Jane Run race event of your choice. 


Unfortunately, I’m a little late for the SF Bay Area half marathon and 5k, but you can choose to do either the Seattle half/5k, the Wichita half/5k or the Women’s Tri/Duathlon in Pleasanton, CA in October. Either race you choose, I guarantee that you will have an amazing experience with tons of other supportive women.

I love See Jane Run’s “I Run for Chocolate and Champagne” race theme! I did the Alameda half last year with my sister and we LOVED it! I’ll be running in Seattle in 2 weeks and can’t wait.

If you want to sign up for one of the events without winning the raffle, you can use this code for a 10% discount off the entry fee: SJRAMB272

You can use that same discount code for 10% off merchandise on their website or in a store. If you haven’t before, check out See Jane Run! Or via Facebook.

NOW – click HERE for the raffle! yay!!




Who’s Getting Sick Next?!?

I haven’t written much in a while because I haven’t run much in a while. After my last post about spilt milk, my running was going great but everything felt really crazy. The crazy still feels crazy but I’m finally getting used to our temporary living situation. Living in my mom’s house is a little strange without her and I miss her so much. Fortunately, she’s only a phone call away – in South Dakota!

She and her husband are enjoying some incredible sites like Mt. Rushmore, the Badlands and Crazy Horse. They even sent a video yesterday of bear cubs playing. 

We’ve been staying here (in Carmichael, California) since the start of June when we closed escrow on our old house and our new house pretty much simultaneously. We’re having some work done on the new house (new kitchen and master bathroom!!) and we’re waiting it out here instead of living through the mess. At first, we were all one awkward family living together in my parents’ house – until they left for their 6-week RV trip. So now I’m trying to settle into our new routine of summer camp, swim club and being without my husband most of the time (because he has a 100+ mile commute). It’s all good but strange and like most things, it’s taking some time to adjust.

Just when I thought I was going to get used to this routine, I got sick. 

Last week, we went to Alexandria, Virginia for our annual Strauss family reunion. For the past several years, my husband’s parents and siblings and their families have all converged on Alexandria for a few days of time together. It’s always really fun and I always come away exhausted but filled with love for my family-in-law.

This year’s trip started out rocky because my love was sick on the way out there. The traveling is always pretty tough because little kids just don’t handle travel very well. Having a sick Daddy too makes the experience nearly unbearable – or at least it did for us on this trip.

Things were going great. I got in 2 beautiful runs, too. I ran 6 miles on Friday evening along the beautiful Mt. Vernon trail (from near the Woodrow Wilson bridge toward Mt Vernon). The trail begins in Alexandria/Mt. Vernon at George Washington’s incredible Potomac-front estate and makes it way through numerous parks and landmarks along the Potomac and into Washington, DC. Friday morning, I ran another 12 miles on that trail – going from a similar location (at Belle Haven Park) toward DC. Earlier in the week, it had been extremely hot and humid but by the end of the week, the heat died down and we even got some rain. It rained on my Saturday morning run but I didn’t mind because it was beautiful. Here are some shots of that run:


This is looking from Belle Haven Park in Alexandria north toward DC, the Woodrow Wilson bridge. Across the river is a brand new town called, “National Harbor, Maryland.”




Now north of the bridge, this is the first marker for the waterfront walking path in downtown Alexandria.




This is a wider pic of the same column, showing the bridge in the background. This was about 1.5 miles into my run.


Some ducks in an inlet of the Potomac.


This is Prince Street. I love seeing this street every time we go to Alexandria. It is “original” to the time of the colonial settlers. This street is not paved…it’s all real/loose cobblestones. 


The homes on Prince Street have real gas lamps!


And the architectural details, like the shutters, are all original or in period style. I think it’s simply beautiful.


Way over there in the middle of the photo is the US Capitol!


And this is a man named Alton Booth. I came across him as I was on the northbound portion of my run. I asked him if he knew where was the next bridge to cross over into DC. He said he wasn’t a local and we ended up running together (I never did find a bridge to cross into DC!). Alton and I ran about 4 miles together, chatting about our lives, families and politics. He’s a former US Army soldier who was in DC on business and brought his family along. They live in Fayetteville, NC now. Since I normally run alone, it was really nice to run along with him and chat. Alton, wherever you are…thanks for the great conversation and the company on my run!



And here I am, back where I started, at Belle Haven park. After 12 miles in the rain, I felt like a million bucks!

Later that evening, a few of my really good friends came over for dinner – and joined our family circle for the evening. I was in heaven until…my throat started to feel a little sore.

The next day we had to fly home and I felt miserable. I took off the entire week from running. Now it’s Sunday again and I have a 17-mile run on my training plan. It’s going to be 100 degrees in a few minutes but I really want to hit the road today. So my sister and I are going to meet and run 3 miles. Wish me luck – I’ve got a half marathon in 2 weeks and my BIG RACE in 6!




I Cried Over Spilt Milk

This week finally got to me. It’s been one for the books – that’s for sure!

First of all, we’re in home-upheaval. In mid-April, I ran through a neighborhood near the base of Mt. Diablo that my husband and I love. In fact, there had been a home for sale in that neighborhood when we purchased our home. Unfortunately, the one over there was already “Sale Pending” by the time we started looking so we were really disappointed to never get the chance to make an offer – let alone buy a house in that neighborhood. That was in July 2012. Since that time, we had bought a townhouse in another neighborhood (about 3 miles away), remodeled it and moved from San Carlos (on the SF Peninsula, smack in the center between San Francisco and San Jose…prime Silicon Valley real estate. Facebook’s and Groupon’s headquarters were just down the street. Read: we had no shot at buying a house in that crazy real estate market!). We both love Walnut Creek and we were thrilled to be closer to my family (who live in Sacramento). 

Back to that fateful mid-April run during which I noticed a town home for sale in the Northgate home community. The difference between where we were and Northgate is subtle at best, but as they say, the devil is in the details. In this case, the devil included a family room, a substantially larger yard, an overall better layout and peace and quiet. The new neighborhood is an equestrian community. We’re not horse people necessarily but we don’t mind watching neighbors riding their horses in the evenings. It’s a great place.

In 2 days time, we hired a real estate agent, looked at the house and decided to make an offer. (It wasn’t yet listed on the market, which in the current Bay Area real estate climate was KEY!) We were leaving another 2 days later to spend Spring Break at Legoland. Thus began the “Mad Race to Stage Our House in Two Days of 2014.” I called in all of our resources (my mom and step dad) to help me. We scrubbed, rearranged, repainted and decluttered. While that doesn’t sound like much, when it involves a short time frame, it was incredibly stressful. By Friday, we were on the road to Southern California and the house was listed for sale.

By the following Friday, both houses were in escrow with above-asking offers and we thought we were golden.

Unfortunately, the contingency on the sale of our house was finalized permits. The contractor who had done our original work had been contracted to secure permits but hadn’t done so. Long story short (and many lessons learned later), we were without permits and struggling to get the right people to help us. Even longer story short, on the day before escrow was due to close, we finally got the head building inspector from the city to finalize our permit. Suffice to say, we got very little sleep in that time. I don’t recommend moving under such circumstances. Side note, I also don’t recommend trying to qualify for the biggest marathon in the country while moving under such circumstances. 

Did I manage to keep up my training during all of that? Sort of. I did all of my long Sunday runs but left many mid-week fast pace runs undone. While the running helped me keep (some of) my sanity throughout that painful process, I wouldn’t say the performance level was of the quality I’ll be needing to kick the BQ’s ass in Santa Rosa in August.

How did it all end? Why did I cry today over spilt milk? Well, as I noted, we did close escrow. The kids stayed with my parents throughout the moving portion of the drama. My love and I enjoyed a bottle of Veuve Cliquot champagne (that had been previously been given to us as a housewarming gift for the OLD house) in a hotel during our brief period of homelessness (one night). The new house closed on the following business day.

Today, most of our belongings are in storage and we are staying at my parents’ house in Sacramento. The new house is furnished with an aerobed and a few toiletries. We’ve been madly shopping IKEA, Lowes, Home Depot, Granite Expo and numerous other big box stores in search of the materials for the remodel of the new house.

In all senses, I’m in heaven. My children are off school. My son is getting ready to start kindergarten. We have a free place to stay during our remodel. And yet, somehow, the stress of it all caught up with me today. My niece and nephew are also off school. Because my mom normally watches them during the summer, I’m watching them this week. My parents are preparing to leave next week for a 6-week RV trip. My car is full of tile and cabinet door samples. I’m drinking Starbucks like my life depends on it and I can’t seem to sleep past 6am (something about a little voice from the pack n play calling, “Mommy, Mommy, you wake Mommy?”). 

Throughout this glorious upheaval I’m running. I’m grateful for getting to remodel our beautiful new home before we move into it. I’m grateful for a husband who is 100% on the same page with me…from remodeling to child rearing. I’m grateful for my parents who have graciously allowed us to completely overtake their home in the midst of their own very stressful time. I’m grateful for my sweet niece and nephew who love my children and love to “help” care for them. But I’m struggling a little to keep it all together today. I’m frankly exhausted. Driving everyone back and forth across town to pick up the RV from storage, this child to tutoring, that child from tutoring, these three to frozen yogurt and myself to run miles and miles and miles is taking a toll on me.

I’m honestly not sure I could ask for a better situation, in spite of how crazy it is. My life is about as blessed as it could possibly be. It just got to me this morning when I came home from picking up one of the kiddos, tried to clean up the breakfast dishes and spilled chocolate milk all over the table cloth.

Yep, that’s what did it. Chocolate milk. So I walked out to the front porch and let the tears flow.

Then I went back inside, cleaned up the dishes, cleared out my inbox and updated my remodel budget spreadsheet with the contractor’s new estimates.

When it’s done, it’s going to be simply elegant and amazing. In the meantime, I’m rocking a 10:30 min mile and will just have to accept with compassion and gratitude that this may not be my BQ year. 


Longest Run of my Life!

Yesterday I ran 14 miles. That’s the longest distance I’ve ever run. Honestly, stating it like that doesn’t seem like that much. I’ve run 5 half marathons (4 of them last year) and yet, going just a bit farther felt like sweltering hell. Of course, it was nearly 100 degrees by the time I finished. But still, it was tough.

On the bright side, it was absolutely beautiful. As you may already know, we’re staying in my childhood home in Carmichael, California (suburb of Sacramento) while our new house in Walnut Creek gets remodeled this summer. My parents were gracious enough to (a) let us stay here and (b) go away on a 4-week RV trip so we could take over their house without them present (a sweet deal for all involved!). I’m really enjoying the opportunity to run on the American River Parkway Trail, which I grew up on (biking, walking and occasionally even running). Last week, I also got the chance to run near the base of Mt. Diablo in Walnut Creek (which is only a mile from our new house!). Here are some snapshots I took during my recent runs. While the weather so far this June has been pretty insufferable, I’m grateful that I’m still able to get out and get some fun runs on my favorite trails!



Ok, so those last 3 weren’t strictly “running” pictures, nor were they taken in the locales I mentioned. But their still worth sharing. The first one is just a funny pic of my love at the top of the Marin Headlands (north of SF). The second and third shots were taken from the Lands’ End trail in San Francisco. If you’ve never been to that part of SF, you are missing some really beautiful (and apparently dangerous!) vistas.


Because it has been SO hot lately (104 yesterday!?!), I’ve been trying to run early in the morning. Last week, I ran at 6am in Walnut Creek and was able to catch the sunrise over Mt Diablo. Sunrises are always special to me because I truly don’t prefer to be awake for them. That said, I’m always grateful for the site.


This beauty was nice enough to let me snap her photo. As you can tell from the resolution, we weren’t that close to one another but I was really impressed to note that she watched me for about a half a minute before wandering on. Seeing wildlife can be a little frightening, but it’s another thing about running that I cherish. 






This view is simply incredible! I took this one on my way back from my run so the sun was higher in the sky. Seeing the mountain, the golden grasses and the trail laid out before me nearly brought tears to my eyes.




Now we’re getting back to the area where I grew up. This shot was taken on the east side of Lake Natoma in Folsom, California. Lake Natoma is a dammed reservoir that feeds from Folsom Lake and is part of the American River. Much like most of Northern California, it’s full of golden brush, oak trees and beautiful views. During my run yesterday, the Folsom International Triathlon was taking place. It’s become a huge race, including a sprint, an olympic distance and a half iron distance. Watching all those triathletes lug their gear from the parking lot, I trembled with the memory of that WICKED cold water! Woo…even when it’s 100 degrees, 55 degree water is COOOOOLLLLLLDDDD! 





I took this pic because I love running on foot bridges. Don’t you? What’s the weather like where you live?



What a night!

Last night was huge for me. Check it out!


So, if you’re my friend on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/tanyastrauss…if you’re not, you should be!), you know that last night was a big night for me. About a year ago, I wrote a personal essay for an essay contest, which was subsequently selected as a finalist and included in an anthology. The anthology, “Nothing But the Truth So Help Me God: 73 Women on Life’s Transitions” came out 2 weeks ago. This book is 73 stories of women learning how to live in their next chapters – whatever that may mean. One reconnected with an old lover and had to learn how to speak the languages of love and sex without feeling cheap or humiliated. A few had to learn to integrate the dreaded “C” word into their vocabularies as they ingested medicines that tried to disintegrate the cancers within their bodies. Several (including me) had to learn to remake…

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