ZOOMA Napa Valley Kickoff Event

On April 12, I headed into San Francisco with Miriam for the ZOOMA Napa Valley kickoff event held at Athleta, where we met up with Hayley and Kat, and several other women preparing for the inaugural ZOOMA Napa Valley race. The day started with a quick stretch before heading out for a run through the Presidio covering just under 3 miles (running near the warehouse the SF Chocolate Salon was held in). It was a beautiful morning and the route was a little hilly but taken at a pretty conversational pace so my legs were happy coming off of the Golden Bears Duathlon.

zooma kickoff event at athlete

When we made it back to Athleta, we had some snacks, including Hint water, Muscle Milk Light, and Luna fiber bars. The refreshments were perfect after a morning run, and it was fun to talk to some of the women running ZOOMA while munching on the goodies.

zooma napa valley kickoff at athlete

Once everyone had made it back in from the run, Athleta held a raffle for several fun items including Athleta gift cards and cases of Muscle Milk Light! I was pretty jealous of the big winners ;).

muscle milk light at zooma napa valley kickoff

The event wrapped up with some goodie bags that included more Luna fiber bars, an Athleta hat, and a fun reusable lunch bag. Most of us stayed around to browse some of the racks and I definitely had a hard time not giving my credit card a workout! It was a really fun event, and I’m thankful to Athleta for hosting us!

After talking with Athleta following the event, there are plans in the works to begin a training group for ZOOMA Napa Valley at the Athleta in Emeryville, which would have weekend long runs along the SF Bay Trail and the Berkeley Marina. There are also plans to get training groups going in Napa and Sacramento, so stay tuned for opportunities and more information!

And don’t forget, if you haven’t registered for the race yet, you can save 10% off the half marathon or 10K distance with the discount code NAMB2!

Your Turn: Are you running ZOOMA Napa Valley? Would you be interested in group training runs?

Monday Miles: April 14-20

Wow…can we all just take a moment and recognize how amazing and inspirational today’s Boston Marathon was??? With Ernst Van Dyk’s record 10th win and Tatyana McFadden’s victory just 2 weeks after winning London (not to mention snagging a skiing medal in Sochi), the wheelchair division was pretty amazing. And then a course record from Rita Jeptoo, an American record from Shalane Flanagan, and the first American male victory since 1983 from Meb Keflezighi…it was tears and goosebumps the entire morning over here!

And completely inspirational! Like every serious runner, I dream of one day qualifying for Boston and running from Hopkington to Boylston, crossing one of the most iconic finish lines in the world. But making that dream come true will require shaving almost an hour off of my current marathon PR – doable? I hope so. I have already shaved over 45 min off of my PR. But it will require putting in hours and hours of work. And strategy for preparing my body to run at that level. While some may see my conversion to a multi-sport athlete as a distraction from running, I see it as cross training. It’s a way to put mileage on my body and build cardiovascular strength without also risking the possibility of running-related injuries (that I seem way too susceptible to!). But it’s also helping me build more muscle and mental strength, both of which I will need in order to run a BQ marathon. Another part of my strategy? Racing half marathons to work on my racing speed. If I could run between 1:30-1:45 for a half marathon, I’d start to think I was ready for a strong sub-3:35 marathon…assuming qualification doesn’t get harder in the coming years. I’ve already taken my half marathon PR from 2:17 to sub-1:57. But I have work to do to reach my goals.

Which brings me to what I’m currently working towards. In just under 4 weeks, I’ll be lining up at the Windsor Green Half Marathon with a new PR in mind. While I’ll be happy to break 1:55, Matt wants to PR as well, which would mean breaking 1:54. That means I’m looking at dropping from an 8:55 mile pace to an 8:34 mile. I have been putting some killer miles on my legs in 2014 already, but with just 4 weeks of training left to test my mettle (and run my first California half marathon), my coach has been serious about kicking my butt!

Monday - After a week of recovery, it was time to get serious with training again. I rode my bike to work to start the day with 3.15 miles. As I was getting ready to head home for the night, a coworker texted to let me know that Bart was massively backed up due to a medical emergency. So instead of sitting on an overcrowded train for double the usual time, I headed out to Potrero for my workout. I started with 20 min of running to warm up before making my way to a runnable hill in the neighborhood. I then did 5 x 2 min hill repeats with 1 min recovery in between. The best part of this workout was the man yelling the Rocky theme song for me on the repeats :). I ran a couple of recovery minutes after finishing the hills before finishing with 2 miles building to goal half marathon pace. After the repeats, that was pretty tough, but I was pretty pumped to hit 8:34s consistently at the end of that workout! Total run was 6.5 miles in 58:22.

Tuesday - Spin workout. After a 20 min warm up, I spent 10 minutes building from Z2 to Z3, which was followed by 6 x 30 second power ups at a 90-100 cadence. I allowed myself a few minutes of recovery before going into 20 min at Z3 (when my legs thought they were going to fall off of my body!), and then finished the ride in Z2 to wrap up 1:30. The unfortunate fact that we get all kinds of evening sun coming into the apartment right where we set up the trainer meant that there was a puddle of sweat under my bike when I finished. And of course Pepper wanted to drink it…silly dog!

Wednesday - After carpooling to work, I took my bike so I could ride the 2.75 miles home and get across the Bay faster. I didn’t want to get home late because I knew I had a brutal and long track workout waiting for me. I ran 1 mile to the track to warm up. And then the party got started: 800, 1200, 1600, and 2000 building from half marathon pace to faster than 10K pace. That meant starting at a 2:08 lap and eventually building to 1:58s. After the 2000, I had another 1200 and 800, both with the goal of holding onto the pace as best as possible. Despite feeling like my legs were shredded and ready to fall off, I managed to keep all splits under 2:00 and even ran a 1:53 in there! Another mile home for cool down must have been one of the slowest miles I’ve ever run (the uphill trek home from the track is cruel), and while the workout was brutal, I finished it feeling strong and proud! In total, I ran 6.67 miles in 58:43.

Thursday - Rest day. Thankfully!

Friday - A second rest day in a row!!

Saturday - Long run. Coach T had an easy 8-10 miles on the calendar for Saturday. Knowing that next weekend I have a 12 mile run, I decided double digits were a good idea, and I also wanted to play around with a new fueling strategy: Swedish fish. I’ve read on several blogs that they work really well for a lot of people, and considering my difficulty in getting other nutrition sources down, I thought why not give them a try! I took the run itself pretty easy after a challenging week of workouts and tried to stay slightly under a 10:00 pace the whole time, stopping to eating some Swedish fish throughout the workout. My legs felt really strong the entire time and the fish were pretty darn delicious! So I grabbed a large bag that I’ll continue using to test out the fueling strategy leading up to Windsor Green. In total, I covered 10 miles in 1:37:22. After the run I ended up doing 45 min of strength training, focusing on arms and core. I was supposed to get this workout in on Tuesday after the bike, but it just did not happen. I’m going to count it as a successful workout, though, because I am STILL sore!

Sunday - My attempt to make up Thursday’s strength session yielded 45 min of stretching. Including rolling out my calf muscles on a lacrosse ball. Holy hell that was painful in the best way possible! Yikes! And the rest of my legs enjoyed a good stretching after being incredibly tired and sore from some serious workouts.

That’s a look at where my training is right now and where I’m hoping to go with my running in both the near future and long-term. Just thinking about some of the workouts I have ahead of me has my legs feeling tired. Here’s to gaining some serious speed quickly!

Your Turn: Did you watch the Boston Marathon? What was your favorite moment? Do you have a big goal you are currently working towards?

ZOOMA Napa Valley Runner Report: Sarah Knutson

Runner Report Logo


The ZOOMA Napa Valley Ambassadors are excited to bring you our “ZOOMA Napa Valley Runner Report!” Each week we’ll be featuring a ZOOMA Napa Valley half marathon or 10K runner on each of our blogs. As women runners, we want to use our role as Ambassadors to highlight and share the stories behind the incredible women preparing to run ZOOMA in June. Each runner has a special and unique story, and we invite you to learn about our runners through this series. Please feel free to click through the links at the end of each post to read about additional ZOOMA racers.

ZOOMA Napa Valley Ambassadors

 Runner Report: Sarah Knutson



Age: 33

Current City: Napa, CA

Race:  10K

Why are you running ZOOMA Napa Valley?

I love to support local races – as much as I love running, driving to San Francisco or Davis well before dawn can take some of the sparkle out of a good run. This summer alone, I’m signed up for three local runs (and that number may increase!).

A good friend is an ambassador for the SF Marathon, and she told me about ZOOMA Napa Valley. It is a gorgeous course in my city – how could I say no?

I’m excited about making this a “girlfriend’s run.” I have a few friends running with me. We even formed a team: Roar Like a Lioness. I’m stoked!

When & why did you start running?

Although I ran in high school to condition for swimming,  I really started as a runner with a 5K in 2008 after reading Lynne Cox’s Swimming to Antarctica.  I was at a personal crossroads, and Ms. Cox’s book inspired me to have goals.  In 2010, I started training for my first half marathon in 2010 with my best friend.  Together, we learned what it meant to dedicate time to training and to experience a pretty extreme runner’s high!

Check out more about Sarah’s running journey in her Yahoo! Voices piece here (it’s pretty awesome!).

How many races have you done & which was your favorite?

In addition to a few one-off races (8k, 12k, relay), I’ve run about ten 5ks, at least a dozen 10ks, and five half marathons.  It could be because I set a PR for the first time in a long while, but Sonoma’s Hit the Road Jack 10k is my favorite race so far – the course is gorgeous (and fast)!

If you could pick one celebrity to run with, who would it be & why?

I don’t even know if she runs, but I would love to run with Sara Bareilles. Her music, especially “Brave,” is on my running mix, or when I’m running with my son in his stroller, it’s the song I’m singing as I run.  Her music inspires me, and I would love to have the chance to meet her!

What is your favorite running memory?

I’ve run half marathons in the rain, but I have to say that the 2012 Salmon Run 5k in Yountville, CA brought me my favorite running memory.  My son was born in May 2012, and I ran the race five weeks later. My son came along in the jogging stroller and had an awesome little nap. My dad ran with me, the whole way, letting me set the pace.  Crossing the finish line was the first step in a long road to becoming comfortable with both my post-baby body and my new role as a mom.  I’ll never forget it, and this year I’m running the race for the third time.

What is your one running must-have?

I have a lucky race outfit – purple running shorts, a special t-shirt, pink Garmin Forerunner 10, and my best running shoes.  The t-shirt is my must-have – it’s from Red Coyote Running, a local running shop in Oklahoma City, where my husband’s family lives. I wear it and feel like I have the support of the family with me.

What is your favorite post-run indulgence?

Post-Race Indulgence: A Gott’s Wisconsin Cheddar Burger and Sweet Potato Fries

Post-Run Indulgence: Dark Chocolate Milk

Who is your running inspiration?

Two people really inspire me:

My dad. He was a runner in high school, to the extent that he was offered running scholarships.  He passed those up to join the army, got caught up with raising a family, going to college, and managing a career.  He renewed his dedication to running when I convinced him to run a half marathon with me 2011.  He’s run a bunch of races with me since, and he’s even training for a full marathon now.

My best friend, Irene. We ran our first half together in 2010.  She has always inspired me in many ways, but the change that running has brought into her life – physically, emotionally, socially – are truly inspiring. I’m super impressed that she’s willing to take risks and run races with teams that are more advanced than she is. She never lets fear stop her, and that amazes me.

What is the most important lesson you have learned from running?

If I can run half marathons, I can do anything.

When I was in labor with my son, I could not have pain medication.  My midwife and the nurse on duty both knew that I am a runner.  Throughout the labor, they made running references, telling me how close I was to the finish line.  If I regularly run 13.1 miles, for fun, I could have a natural birth!


Want to read about more of our amazing ZOOMA runners? Check them out here:

Melodie Woerman on Long Run Happiness
Susan Carino on Dream Body Warrior
Chandra Brouillette on Fitnessmomwinecountry
Beth Carter on Reason to Play
Heather Bender on Welcome to Karadise
Susan Berg on The Slow Life DD

Are you running ZOOMA Napa Valley and would like to be featured in our Runner Report series? Email runningonwaffles@gmail.com for more information!

Monday Miles: April 7-13

Hello everyone! I hope you all had a great weekend and were able to enjoy plenty of sunshine. According to my Twitter feed, there was plenty of good weather to go around all over the country, which is a pretty nice change for many of you I bet!

After racing the Golden Bears Duathlon (I promise you the recap is coming but if you’re really impatient you can see a write up on the CT3 Racing website here) pretty hard, last week was all about recovery. The goal was to come out of last week with my legs ready for big workouts – seriously, my training plan for this week is more than a little scary…especially the track workout – so I’m glad I took it as easy as I did.

Monday - Rest day plus bike commuted for 5.7 miles.

Tuesday - After 4.9 miles of bike commuting (I attempted to meet Matt at the Bart station for free ice cream day at Ben & Jerry’s but the line was outrageous), I spent 45 min on the bike trainer doing an easy ride. Even Harry Potter couldn’t distract me from the pain that is indoor riding.

Wednesday - Rest day.

Thursday - Bike commuted for 5.9 miles. Was also supposed to do an easy shake out run but I was not feeling it. I figured I’d do an easy run during lunch on Friday instead.

Friday - Rest day. I ended up being too busy during lunch to go out for a run so that was a bust.

Saturday - The ZOOMA Napa Valley kickoff event at Athleta included an easy 3 mile run around the Presidio. I have no idea what my time was, but it was a very conversational pace. I also spent the afternoon biking around Berkeley with Matt, covering what we estimated to be about 7-8 miles.

Sunday - The toughest workout of the week: a bike ride at a length of our choosing. Keeping it easy, we biked along the Marina on a beautiful morning covering 17.39 miles in 1:19:20. It was an incredibly beautiful morning that left my back very sun burned. One of these days I’ll remember I live in California and NEED to wear sunscreen all of the time!!! Until then, you can see some crazy weird tan lines on my back. Along with aloe containing lidocaine (SOOOOOO thankful for whoever invented that!).

I don’t want to give away any of the excitement for next week’s post, but let me conclude with this: it’s only Monday evening and my legs are DEAD. I guess that’s what it takes when the next race on your calendar is an A race with a pretty big goal attached to it! Is anyone else running Windsor Green Half Marathon? And do you want to pace me to a sub-1:54 finish??

Your Turn: Now that spring is here, what big racing goals do you have for yourself? Spring also means baseball season, so who else now has a commute that is hampered by home games?

ZOOMA Napa Valley Runner Report: Megan Ayala

Runner Report Logo

The ZOOMA Napa Valley Ambassadors are excited to bring you our “ZOOMA Napa Valley Runner Report!” Each week we’ll be featuring a ZOOMA Napa Valley half marathon or 10K runner on each of our blogs. As women runners, we want to use our role as Ambassadors to highlight and share the stories behind the incredible women preparing to run ZOOMA in June. Each runner has a special and unique story, and we invite you to learn about our runners through this series. Please feel free to click through the links at the end of each post to read about additional ZOOMA racers.

ZOOMA Napa Valley Ambassadors

Runner Report: Megan Ayala

Megan Ayala

Age: 31

Current City: Santa Maria

Race: 10k

Why are you running ZOOMA Napa Valley?

 I love Napa! Wine, great food, massages, and gorgeous views.

When & why did you start running?

I have a new found love for running. I ran track on and off in high school (14 years ago) and I tried to pick it up again 5 years ago when I moved out of my comfort zone and took an internship in San Diego. In January of this year I decided to give it one last try. I have fallen in love with my early morning runs and learning to push myself farther than I ever thought I could do. It’s a really good feeling when you feel like you can’t do something and then you blow it out of the water.

How many races have you done & which was your favorite?

I have done San Diego Rock n Roll (5K) , San Diego Color Run (5K) and Ventura Color Run (5K). All of which I walked several times lol. My favorite was probably Ventura Color run because I took all my kids with me.

If you could pick one celebrity to run with, who would it be & why?

Does the celebrity have to be a runner? I’m really not sure. Someone to make me laugh the whole time. That way time would just fly by.

What is your favorite running memory?

This last Saturday I went to the beach to run in the chilly am hours. I was tired but I knew I had to do at least 3 miles. I wanted to stop the whole time but at mile 3 I got a surge of energy. I ran another 2 miles making my distance 5 miles! My farthest yet! I was so proud of myself.

What is your one running must-have?

My Nike+ GPS watch. I love that I can see my pace and distance on the watch and when I plug it into my computer, it shows me vividly the path I took, the elevation, where my pace slowed, and each mile marker. Ahhhhmazing.

What is your favorite post-run indulgence?

A ginormous veggie burrito. They sell them down the street from where I run Saturday mornings.  On a normal day after my run I eat an egg white scramble and ½ a wheat tortilla. Im usually not very hungry when I am done running so I eat what I can.

Who is your running inspiration?

Dimity and Sarah from Another Mother Runner. After listening to their blogs and following them on all media sites they have taught me to balance my life as a worker, mother, and runner.

What is the most important lesson you have learned from running?

To have faith in yourself. If I cant push myself who else is going to do it. Running keeps me calm and makes me appreciate being able to run and in return it helps me cherish moments with my children more. I want them to see me as a runner and cheer me on at finish lines and hopefully run with me someday.


Want to read about more of our amazing ZOOMA runners? Check them out here:

Christine on Long Run Happiness
Meg Gudgeirsson on Dream Body Warrior
Janet Carlton on Fitnessmomwinecountry
Sally Bellinger on Reason to Play
Tiffany Dewald on Welcome to Karadise
Andrea Atchison on The Slow Life

Are you running ZOOMA Napa Valley and would like to be featured in our Runner Report series? Email runningonwaffles@gmail.com for more information!