Racing with Strategy

It may come as no surprise to anyone that despite thinking red eyes are a good idea when booking flights, I inevitably regret them the second the flight starts. No matter what, I can never seem to get any sleep on the plane. In fact, I typed out this blog post at 2 am California time after spending an hour and a half working on the formatting of my NIH biosketch for the grant application I’m working on. And that was after a beer at the postdoc appreciation BBQ before leaving work and another large beer at the bar while watching the end of the Royals game at the airport.

With that rant over, I wanted to do a quick update on where things are training/racing-wise and where they’re headed.

If you’ve taken a look at my race calendar lately, you may have noticed that between September 19 and October 18, I have 4 races scheduled. Oops!

Following all of the Ragnar fun, I spent a lot of time thinking through what made the most sense with the races I had on my schedule already, and where I wanted my effort level to be for each of them. I obviously want to avoid injury, since I now have another 4 races left to round out my 2014 season, but I also wanted to make sure I’m not throwing away opportunities to push myself, as well.

My Coach warned me that coming off of Ragnar, I’d be exhausted. My legs would feel ok shortly after getting home from the adventure, but a combination of the miles and lack of sleep would make it difficult to find any kind of speed in them for a few weeks. So with that in mind, we crafted a plan to carry me through November 9 (aka the day I FINALLY get a pedicure and fix the disgustingness that my feet have become after 9 months of racing).

Tower of Terror Ten Miler – This race was one I was actually supposed to do last year. But between starting my postdoc and being a Matron of Honor in my best friend’s wedding around the same time, I opted to defer to this year. I hadn’t decided if I was actually going to run the race or walk it with my mom until Matt was able to find a bib a few months ago. Given Ragnar 2 weeks ago, we’ve decided that this race is going to be an easy long run with a few hundred friends J. We’re actually dressing as Ariel and Prince Eric – nothing elaborate but carefully chosen running clothes match their outfits – and plan to stop for photos along the way as long as it isn’t raining. I refuse to go beyond a 9 min/mile pace, so if you are following along Saturday night, feel free to yell at me if you see faster splits!


Healdsburg Half Marathon – The final race in the Run Wine Country Series, I signed up for this race after finishing Water to Wine in August. Run all 3 races (the first was Windsor Green in May) in the same calendar year, and you snag yourself a special label bottle of wine. That’s the kind of prize that has my name written all over it! After flying back home from Florida next week, Matt and I will head up to Healdsburg for the weekend for another easy race. I’m not going into the half with any time expectations; and in fact, I’d rather not push it. The following weekend is my big goal race for the fall and I view this race as my final big training push.

Healdsburg half marathon

Du the Bears Duathlon – My final duathlon of the season will take me back to my first duathlon course. This time I’m hoping there won’t be sideways rain and my increased experience on the bike should mean more confident handling. Racing my solo duathlon after Matt’s bike accident was a major confidence boost, and I’m looking to dominate this race and set a HUGE PR compared to where I started in February. I have yet to come in lower than 1st place in my AG this year, and with some real competition this time around, I’m hoping I can maintain my positioning! This is the race I’m really focused on nailing right now.

du the beards duathlon

Berkeley Half Marathon – On November 9, I’ll be taking to the streets of Berkeley to run my old neighborhood and some of my favorite training routes. The course is brand new this year, and if you aren’t familiar with the route, I promise you this: it’ll be a challenge. There are several hills that I often struggle to conquer, but I think that’s the excitement of this race for me. During a meeting with my Coach, we talked about using this half marathon as an opportunity to test myself on racing strategy. I have some really big goals that I’m working towards (fodder for a future post), and it’s becoming increasingly important that I learn to use sound strategy while racing instead of just giving it what I can. I’m excited to test myself on my ability to make a plan and stick to it despite the race excitement. I have a feeling that’s going to require some work!

berkeley half discount code

And that is where I leave you for now, my friends. I think it’s finally time I caught a few Z’s on this flight and tried to rest up for my next race. Catch you on the opposite coast!

Your Turn: How are you rounding out your 2014 racing schedule? Are you running any of these same races?

Monday Miles: August 8 – 28

Hello friends! It’s been a while, eh? Life has gotten super crazy since coming home from Ragnar and despite my half written posts (yes, I have several that I’m still attempting to finish!), I wanted to do a quick catch up on everything before heading to Florida later this week!

9/8 – Rest day with 6.9 miles of bike commuting.

9/9 – Bike commute for 6.9 miles plus a track workout. Did 1 mile warm up, 3200 & 1600 building from race pace to threshold, 2 x 800 at threshold, 1 mile cool down. This was a TOUGH one. Total of 6.03 miles in 51:23. I was also supposed to do 45 min of core work, but didn’t have the time or energy to get it in.

9/10 – Another day of bike commuting for 6.9 miles plus an additional bike workout. I did a 10 min warm up, 2 x 10 min at 90 cadence, 10 min build to race pace effort, 10 min easy (twice), with a 10 min spin out at 95 cadence. Altogether it was 1:20.

9/11 - Last day of bike commuting for the week for another 6.9 miles. And then one of the toughest workouts as one of my last major workouts for the year. I started with 10 min easy running followed by 20 min at tempo. Then I did 3 (out of 5) hill repeats for 3 min of climbing, running back down, and resting for 30 seconds. It. was. brutal! And I was dripping sweat! I ran a cool down back to work. Overall I did 5.68 miles in 50:47.

9/12 - Recovery day!

9/13 - Last big training run before Ragnar! I covered 10 miles around Lake Merritt in 1:39:53. It was slow and steady (my legs were totally dead from the week) but I got it done.

9/14 - Two hour brick for my last brick of the season. I started with the bike, 1:35:48, which included a spill at a stop light. So embarrassing! I think I biked about 19.66 miles. And then I headed out for 30 min run and ended up covering a total of 22.75 miles.

9/15 - Rest day!

9/16 – Bike commute for 6.9 miles. I then did 30 min of stretching at night (opting out of the strength portion).

9/17 - Another day of bike commuting for 6.9 miles. I had a 40 min easy run on the calendar but didn’t have the time to get it all in so I ended up doing 2.11 miles in 20 min.

9/18 - I was supposed to do 30 min of strength and stretching, but I ended up spending the night packing for Ragnar instead.

9/19 - Ragnar!!! I’m working on writing a recap from the weekend…I promise it’s coming! But quickly, my first two combined legs were 8.4 miles in 1:22:22. It was one hell of a leg! My third leg was 4.7 miles in 41:08. As you soon read (I hope), I had “9 f’ing kills.”

9/20 - After perhaps maybe 3 hours of very off and on sleep, my fourth leg was 8.3 miles in 1:14:49. This was quite rough, but it was beautiful!

9/21 - Recovery day…with lots of sleep!

9/22 - I was supposed to bike commute, but I was too tired to pull that one off. And quite ill (I’d spent the night puking and my stomach was still pretty upset).

9/23 - I did actually bike commute, covering 6.9 miles. I then skipped the core/stretching for the night since I was busy getting work done for some meetings last week.

9/24 - Bike commute for 6.9 miles. And then my first run since Ragnar. I did 3/4 mile warm up, 15 min fartlek with 3 min steady and 2 min easy, and then 3/4 mile cool down. I just let my legs dictate the pace on this one. It was tough but I covered 3.16 miles in 29:35.

9/25 - I was supposed to bike commute and do 30 min of stretching/core work but neither one happened.

9/26 - Rest day.

9/27 - Last long run before my next race! I headed out for 6 miles around Lake Merritt to discover that my legs are still quite tired from Ragnar! I ended up finishing in 59:28. And it was not easy. I did 4 miles easy with 2 miles building to a faster pace. Ouch!

9/28 – I had an hour of stretching and core work on the schedule but I spent the day getting work done instead. Oops!

I’ll try to check back in later this week with an update on where things are with training/racing, and where I’m headed. But first, I need to get some sleep to help get over some crazy illness that of course flared up right before vacation!

Your Turn: How has your training been going? What races do you have coming up? Will you be in Florida for the Tower of Terror 10 Miler this weekend???

It’s Relay Time!

This weekend is Ragnar Napa Valley. Excuse me while I go freak out a bit because I am NOT ready!

My bags are not packed, the vans are not picked up, I have yet to decide on what I’ll wear when, and I’m still busy making recipes from Feed Zone Portables to fuel the trek from SF to Calistoga…IN A FEW HOURS!!!

My legs mostly feel ready, but a few last minute drops from our team have meant additional miles for most of us and that’s a bit scary with my upcoming race schedule. We’ll now be running 4 legs instead of 3, so not quite the ultra team rules but a little nerve racking nonetheless. My extra leg is the start, and since I’m runner #2, that just means I’m basically extending my first leg a bit. We’re going to have 10 2/3 runners (yeah, it’s a bit of a story). Who knew how complex this could all be???

That being said, I can’t wait to toe the start line and run across the Golden Gate Bridge! As one of the newest arrivals to the Bay Area on the team, I was lucky to draw this leg!! I’ve driven across the bridge but have yet to run it…so this leg has me most excited!!

I’ll start with the 2.7 miles of leg 1 plus 5.5 miles from leg 2 at 9:30 am on Friday morning, and will wind my way out of Golden Gate Park and across the Bay to Marin. Once in Marin, I’ll hand off to runner 3. Despite my excitement for the Bridge, I’ve been warned that it’s basically a hill…and I’ve read that there will be stairs prior to that. If you know me, you know I hate stairs. I’d rather run 1 mile than walk up 1 flight of stairs…so that’s a bummer. But I bet the views from the Bridge will 100% be worth it!!Ragnar Napa leg 1

Ragnar Napa leg 1

Leg 1

ragnar napa leg 2

ragnar napa leg 2

Leg 2

Leg 14 will come up Friday evening (we’re anticipating hitting this point around 8:30 pm) and will have me running 4.7 miles through Petaluma. This will be the least entertaining of my miles, but also my shortest mileage. I’m hoping the distance is enough to help me fall asleep so I can get some good rest before my last leg. This area is definitely the least scenic of my legs, so I’m not disappointed about running through here at night at all. I’m hoping to ride the downhill after the one climb into transition at a solid pace – maybe some of the fastest miles I’ll be putting up throughout the relay.

ragnar napa leg 14

ragnar napa leg 14

Leg 14

 My final leg, leg 26, is going to be GORGEOUS. I’m running from the edge of Sonoma to the edge of Napa. You can all go ahead and be jealous now. Because I’m freaking excited for this one. I’ll be starting my run around 8:30 am, which will be great weather-wise because it won’t be too hot yet. The leg is 8.3 miles (woof) and will include the hill separating the two counties. So that could be more awesome, but it’s crossing through at a lower point, which means it could also be so much worse. I’m looking forward to enjoying the views in the morning sunlight once I crest the hill…that’s what I’ll keep thinking about on the way up :).

ragnar napa leg 26

rangar napa leg 26

Leg 26

I’ll be joining a cast of familiar faces for those of you following Bay Area bloggers. Van 1 will include Cat and Texas blogger Bean (100% appropriate since the star on the California flag is an homage to Texas). Van 2 will include Jen and Tennille. We’ve drug along some other friends and our husbands for the trip up to Calistoga (they may be regretting that decision now!) and we’re itching to get started! We’re Team You’re the wine that I want…a name that earned us recognition in the best 25 team names! If you’re keeping an eye out for us, watch for our sweet Pink Ladies and Thunderbird t-shirts!

you're the wine that i want

If you want to follow along with all of the fun this weekend, check has tags #ytwtiw and #greaselightning on social media…we’ll be sure to have some good fun as we race down Thunder Road!

Your Turn: Have you ever run a Ragnar Relay? Are you going to be out on the course this weekend??

Banana Bread with Blueberry White Chocolate Glaze

When I was in high school, I fell in love with chocolate chip banana bread, and it became my mission to create the best banana bread recipe that I could. When I started working with Shokomonk, I knew I had to develop a recipe that combined my amazing banana bread with their delicious chocolate. I started thinking about flavor combinations, and I realized banana and blueberry would be a delicious mix. Using the blueberry white chocolate, I created a glaze to drizzle over banana bread, and the result was amazing! Give this recipe a try, and let me know what you think!

Banana Bread with Blueberry White Chocolate Glaze by Running On Waffles


Banana Bread 


1 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
4 medium ripe bananas
1/3 cup water
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray the bottom and sides of a 9x5x3 loaf pan with cooking spray.
  2. Using a standing mixer, mix sugar and butter. Add in the eggs one at a time until blended.
  3. Add in bananas one at a time, mixing well. Add water and beat 30 seconds.
  4. Mix in the remaining ingredients until the dry ingredients are moist. Be careful not to overmix.
  5. Pour into a pan and bake until a toothpick or fork comes out clean from the center. This usually takes 60-75 min.
  6. Cool 5 min. Loosen sides from the pan and remove loaf to cool on a cooling rack.

Blueberry White Chocolate Glaze


1 bar Shokomonk blueberry white chocolate, chopped
3 tbsp powdered sugar
2 tbsp cream


  1. Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Place chocolate in a glass bowl over the water as a double boiler, and stir until chocolate it melted through. Remove from heat.
  2. Mix in powdered sugar and cream to form a glaze consistency.
  3. Drizzle the glaze over the banana bread while it cools. Place a paper towel under the rack to catch any that drips off.
  4. Allow to cool and set before serving.

banana bread

banana bread with blueberry white chocolate glaze

banana bread with blueberry white chocolate glaze

banana bread with blueberry white chocolate glaze

banana bread with blueberry white chocolate glaze

banana bread with blueberry white chocolate glaze

Your Turn: Are you a banana bread lover, too? Have you spotted Shokomonk anywhere near you?

Monday Miles: August 25 – September 7

Training over the last two weeks has really focused on preparing my body for Ragnar. Three runs within 30 hours is not exactly going to feel great, and I need my body ready to handle all of that. Especially so I don’t develop an injury just two weeks before 3 weekends of back to back racing! (I never said my racing schedule was anything short of crazy.) With that in mind, weekend workouts have focused on getting in miles on tired legs. Here’s how all of the miles have played out:

8/25 - Bike commute to work. Covered a total of 6.9 miles.

8/26 – Rest day.

8/27 – Bike commuting for 6.9 miles. The day also included a tempo run with 1 mile warm up, 3 miles building to 10K pace, and 1 mile of cool down. The tempo miles were incredibly challenging…I made the mistake of picking up the pace too quickly and had to fight to hold on for the last mile. The run ended up covering 5 miles in 44:07.

8/28 – I had a bike commute with extra time on the way home. Instead of doing the miles on my folding bike for commuting, I decided to jump on the bike trainer after I got home to finish. I did 6.9 miles in ~45 min and then rode the trainer to bring it up to 1:20.

8/29 – Rest day. I drove down to Anaheim with Matt to see my mom for the weekend as she took on the Dumbo Double Dare.

8/30 – Got up early and headed out for an 8 mile run around Anaheim during the 10K. We tried to run a good chunk of the half marathon course, but so many of the main streets didn’t have sidewalks! It was more than a little frustrating. Fortunately we were able to get the run in pretty well with some course adjustments. I felt really good about the run and I felt pretty strong throughout, which was awesome. Total run was 1:18:18. Following the run, I spent the majority of the day playing at Disney’s California Adventure and Disneyland parks…which meant my legs were sufficiently tuckered out!

8/31 - Another morning run in Anaheim! With my mom doing the half marathon, we decided to run our 5 miles in a different neighborhood and finish around the 4 mile marker of the course to cheer her on. This run was set up to be 1 mile easy, 1 mile hard, 1 mile easy, 1 mile hard, and 1 mile easy. On exhausted legs, the hard miles were definitely hard, but I hung in there to finish and had a great time cheering on the runners until we saw my mom. Total run: 5 miles in 49:39. Following a quick shower, we headed over to the finish area to wait for my mom to come in and had so much fun cheering for the runners. After finishing the race, we spent the afternoon relaxing, eating, and napping (I was happy to avoid the heat for the afternoon) before going back to Disneyland and riding rides until the park closed. Without a doubt, my legs got some serious mileage in over the two days!!

9/1 - Rest day! Drove back home to Oakland.

9/2 - The day started with bike commuting (6.9 miles) followed by a steady run. I did the run before work on Tuesday morning and ran out of time to get the full 45 min in. Instead, I covered 3.17 miles in 29:42. I also had core work on the schedule, but I was up all night preparing for some meetings the next day and it just didn’t happen.

9/3 - Bike commute to get in 6.9 miles. I was also supposed to run, but moved that to Thursday since I had two big work meetings to finish preparing for in the morning.

9/4 - Last day of bike commuting for the week to get in another 6.9 miles. I also got in my track workout before the work day started. I did a 1 mile warm up, 20 min of fartleks with 3 min on at half marathon pace and 2 min recovery, and 0.75 mile cool down. This run actually felt really awesome and I felt completely in control the whole time. Yes, my fartleks were faster than they should have been, but I held the paces better than I thought I would. Total run was 4.1 miles in 35:48. I also had more core work on the calendar for the night, but I had another work meeting to prepare for and didn’t get it in Thursday night, either.

9/5 - Rest day!

9/6 - The start of quite possibly one of the scariest weekends of workouts I’ve seen on my schedule! The day started off with an easy 5 miles with the Athleta run club. I lead the group through a bit of Emeryville before heading out a bit on the Bay Bridge Trail. We took it easy as some runners were racing a 5K the next day and covered the 5 miles in 59:41. For round two, Matt and I took our bikes out on the Bay Bridge Trail to get in some extra miles. Riding our usual route, which took a little longer biking up the bridge in a massive headwind, we covered 13.92 miles in 1:12:29.

9/7 - Day 2 of the weekend madness started with a 7 mile run. We headed out for a standard route around Lake Merritt and back home. My legs were tired and it was definitely hard to get moving, but after a few miles I settled in well and felt awesome. I was pretty excited by how well the run went, actually, given the miles I’d already put on my legs. I tried to hold the pace consistently at something easily manageable because I knew I still had more on tap. Total time was 1:08:51. After recovering throughout the day binge watching Breaking Bad (seriously, why did no one ever tell me it was so good!?!?), I headed out for another 7 miles through the neighborhood. Running the reverse route from the morning, I had to really fight my way through the workout. My legs were dead and the weird calf/shin pain I dealt with leading up to Water to Wine was returning. Adding to that, my stomach was not happy with some chicken I’d eaten for lunch (which I totally thought would be super easy to digest) and I had to deal with bouts of nausea throughout the whole run. All of this is to say that battling through those 7 miles was definitely some good training. And I finished in 1:07:59…almost 1 min faster than the morning. I’ll take it!

And with that, I’m off to spend the rest of the night recuperating! However, for those of you wanting to run the Berkeley Half Marathon or 5K, I have a discount code for $15 off! Use BHM2014AMANDA when you register.

berkeley half discount code

Your Turn: Toughest weekend workout you’ve taken on? What fall races are you training for?