Monday Miles: March 3-9

Whoa…what a week this has been! Between a crazy work schedule that had me struggling to figure out just when I’d get my workouts in, and some challenging workouts on the calendar, I’m glad to say I made it to today! I must also say that with just under 4 weeks to go until the next duathlon, I’m feeling pretty excited about how much stronger my legs are becoming!

Monday – Rest day. Seriously, one of my favorite days ever right now. Because these double weekend workouts are killer on the legs!

Tuesday – Two workouts: run & strength. The scheduled run was 4-5 miles of steady running focused on form and breathing, finishing with 4 x 100 m striders. I had hoped to get 5 miles in, but my back was really bothering me and I thought it was better to stop at 4.5. Plus, I hit the track at exactly 4.5 miles, which seemed like a sign I should just start my striders. I did 4 x 100 meter striders with 100 meters recovery in between. All together, the run was 5 miles in 47:36.


Artwork along the Ohlone Trail in Berkeley

Artwork along the Ohlone Trail in Berkeley

After returning home from my run, I also spent 45 minutes focusing on strength and stretching, including 15 min on legs, 15 min on core, and 15 min stretching.

Wednesday – It was dark and started raining on my way home from work on Wednesday, so instead of my planned track workout on a track that isn’t lit, I opted to swap it with my bike workout for the week. This workout left my quads shaking and sweat all over the mat underneath the trainer. It was tough! I started with a 20 min warm up before 14 x 1 min one leg drills. These suckers might be my least favorite thing in the world. You essentially pedal with one leg for an entire minute. At 15 sec, you think it’s not so bad, but by 55 sec you’re dying. After 7 times on each leg, I was done. Fortunately I had 5 min of easy spin to recovery before doing 5 min at full effort. That was followed by another 5 min easy spin going into the final set of 5 x 1 min spin ups, which I did with 1 min of recovery in between. I then held a steady spin for the rest of the ride to bring it to 1:30 for the night.

Thursday – My workouts Thursday started with 6.4 miles of bike commuting, which wasn’t exactly fun on my beat up quads. After getting home, I quickly changed before heading out the door for my track workout. I started with 10 min of easy running on the way to the track. And since I normally run my intervals way too quickly (last week bonking on the final one), shredding my legs before the weekend, I decided I’d take advantage of actually being able to run on the track for once and run smarter intervals. The workout was 5 x 1000 meters at threshold with 200 meters easy recovery in between (no stopping for recovery). Threshold for me should be right around, if not slightly over, an 8:00 mile, so for 1000s, that would put me close to 5:00. And since Coach T wanted me to increase the pace on each one, I knew I had to be smart. The intervals ended up being: 5:07, 5:03, 5:03, 4:58, 4:53. Nailed it! And considering the shape my legs were in at that point, I was pretty pumped. I walked the final 200 meters of the track before doing a 10 min cool down run to get home…and it was a SLOW cool down! Final stats: 5.54 miles in 50:19.

Thursday night track workout in Berkeley

Thursday night track workout in Berkeley

After making it home from my track workout, I still had one workout left on the calendar: 1 hour of strength. I did 15 min legs, 15 min core, and 30 min stretching.

Friday – Rest day!!! And it felt gooooood. I did try to get a little stretching in that night, too.

Saturday - The weekend torture began! On tap for Saturday was a 20 mile bike ride followed by 20 min of running. I mapped out a fairly decent route around the Bay, which was awesome on such a gorgeous day. Even though the route winds quite a bit and it can be difficult to get some good speed sections going on, it was a great ride for me. I realized just how much my handling of the bike has improved, and how much stronger I’m feeling. I even picked up the pace quite a bit from last weekend. The bike portion ended up covering the 20 miles in 1:25:51. After a quick shoe change, I headed out to get the run portion in. Starting out, my legs felt a lot better than I anticipated they would, and I am definitely chalking that one up to my smarter track workout on Thursday. However, once I made the turn to start running home…straight uphill…my legs were screaming. I was beyond thrilled to finish for the day, covering 2.08 miles in 20 min.

Sunday – And since my legs weren’t dead enough already, Sunday called for a nice long run. To get in the 1:20 of running on the schedule, I headed down to Temescal in Oakland, and back. We’re planning to move to a cheaper neighborhood when our lease is up in the summer, so lately we’ve been using our long runs as a chance to check out various neighborhoods. Before we were even 10 min into the run, my legs were struggling, so I knew it was going to be a tough one. Somehow, I managed to hang in there, and after several threats to cut off my legs/stop at a friend’s apartment for a couple shots of liquor before finishing, I finished the run completely sober with two legs. Victory! Wrapping up the weekend, I covered 8.09 miles in 1:20. And then promptly ate a $2 ice cream sandwich from Cream…totally normal, right? (Yes, I did plan the route to finish at Cream…don’t judge.)

Chocolate Chip Cookies with Caramel Twist Ice Cream from Cream

Chocolate Chip Cookies with Caramel Twist Ice Cream from Cream

And with that, I’m off to get this week started!

Your Turn: Hardest workout of the week? Anyone in the Bay Area been to Cream yet?

Disney Vacation Club

Hi all! I hope you’re enjoying beautiful weekend weather wherever you are. We are currently experiencing a GORGEOUS day in the Bay Area, making me feel like summer is already here. Yikes!

I’ve been receiving several emails from readers lately asking about Disney Vacation Club, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to write about it and try to answer any/all of the questions that have come up.



Matt and I joined the Disney Vacation Club in October 2010. Even though we were trying to save money for our wedding at the time, we realized that with how much money we were spending on traveling to Florida for races and other vacations, it was an investment that would undoubtedly be worth its weight in gold. And seriously, I can’t even tell you how much money we have ended up saving over the last 3+ years since we joined.

At the time, DVC was selling memberships at Bay Lake Tower, Animal Kingdom Lodge, and the Treehouses at Saratoga Springs. Because you pay annual dues and grounds fees based upon the number of points you purchase, we opted for Bay Lake Tower, which had the lowest of the fees (being a tower, there is much less landscaping requiring upkeep, etc.). Additionally, we loved the modern feel to the rooms and the proximity to Magic Kingdom.

bay lake tower room


But let me back up a second and explain how Disney’s system works. Yes, it is their version of a time share, but it’s structured differently from what you what traditionally define as one. Instead of buying the same week or two at the same home to visit every year, you buy points that are associated with a home resort. For us, that home resort, as I mentioned, is Bay Lake Tower. We purchased 160 points, because it was enough to have a lot of flexibility but not so much that we’d never be able to use them all – we are at the beginning of our careers, after all. When we want to book a vacation at our home resort, we can make a reservation 11 months in advance. If we want to stay at any other DVC property, we can make a reservation 7 months in advance. Booking a vacation is easy: you simply need to determine when you want to go, where you want to stay, what size villa you’d like (we always go with a 1 bedroom over the studios because they come with a full kitchen), and what view you want. Based on all of that, you can determine how many points it will require, and if you have enough points to cover it.

Let’s say you don’t have enough. You have a few options. If you didn’t use all of your points from the previous year, you could bank them and apply them to your next vacation. OR you can borrow from the following year. To make that more clear, we’re currently in 2014. That means I can use leftover points that I banked from 2013 as well as borrow points from 2015 to cover a vacation that I want to book in 2014. Make sense? If you get at all confused about how many points you have and what you can use them for, have no fear. There’s a worksheet on the DVC website that helps you track all of that information!

So when you buy into DVC what are you actually buying? When each DVC property is built, Disney starts to sell points at that resort for the next 50 years. So when we purchased our Bay Lake Tower points, we were basically buying 160 points for the next 50 years. (The clock starts with the opening of the property.) It basically means that by paying up front for the points now, I don’t have to worry about paying for a hotel/accommodations when I want to travel to a DVC property, as long as I have points available. Which is fantastic!

animal kingdom lodge

So after being a member for 3+ years, what are some of my favorite things about DVC?

  • We didn’t have the money up front to pay for the points so we got a 10 year mortgage through Disney. There is absolutely no penalty for paying off your mortgage early, and in fact, they encourage you to do so.
  • I make my DVC payment each month, which includes my dues (you can chose to pay in 1 lump sum or spread it out in 12 payments over the year), and I don’t have to worry about saving money to pay for a hotel when I travel. Not to mention, it’s significantly cheaper than it would have been to rent a room at an equal level hotel. SIGNIFICANTLY. (Seriously, if you travel to Disney World or Disneyland frequently, you are likely throwing away a lot of money by not joining DVC.)
  • You aren’t limited to staying at Disney properties. You can exchange your points with other time shares if you want to travel elsewhere (they usually cost 160 points, which is why they recommend 160 when you’re starting out). However, we actually learned that we could rent points we weren’t planning to use and get more money doing that, purchasing a time share somewhere else for less. That’s how we paid for our honeymoon in St. Lucia. We rented our points for a year and received enough money to pay for both 1 week at a time share (which was a huge 3 story house) plus cover 1 of the plane tickets.
    villa at windjammer landing
  • We’ve been able to stay at several different hotels on the Disney property and had completely different trips each time because of that. For example, Animal Kingdom Lodge is somewhere I’d love to go for a weekend getaway to hang out at the pool, enjoy delicious food, and relax, but not actually go to the parks. Boardwalk Villas is perfect if you’re heading to Orlando for the Food & Wine Festival because you’re right at the back entrance to Epcot, where all of the food is available. If you’re going for marathon weekend, staying at Bay Lake Tower is perfect because you’re located on the monorail, circumventing the need to take a bus to the start line quite as early.
  • The DVC membership gets you discounts on food and shopping. And access to special tours.
  • It also gets you the ability to buy both the Tables in Wonderland dining discount card ($100 to save 20% off of your meal at almost every sit-down restaurant, including alcohol), and the annual pass at Disney World at a discount. Those two puppies save you a lot of money!
  • Because you don’t have to worry about never going back, you end up feeling less pressure to get every single item checked off your list during each vacation. And as a result, each vacation becomes more relaxing and less about running around to hit the major attractions. You find yourself willing to give different things a try that you might not have previously considered, and while you have old favorites (the tequila bar in the Mexico pavilion makes the greatest avocado margaritas ever), you end up discovering new things along the way (Sanaa at Animal Kingdom Lodge is a new favorite for me).
  • The rooms are so much bigger. I’m not kidding when I say the 1 bedroom villas are bigger than my apartment. They may partly be because I live in Berkeley where the rental market is only slightly less insane than San Francisco, but the point is, they’re nice. Full kitchen. Washer and dryer. One bedrooms usually sleep up to 5 people (1 king or queen size bed, pull out sofa that sleeps 2, and a chair that pulls out to sleep 1). And they’re spacious. You never feel like you’re right on top of one another, which certainly has happened for me in the past at Disney resorts. An additional benefit from all of this is you enjoy spending more time around the hotel, and there’s usually a lot to do and a lot to discover at each one. I have taken several trips to Disney without actually going to the parks.


Ok, that’s a long list. But before I wrap this all up, there’s one last MAJOR item I want to discuss. Resale.

What is resale, you ask? It’s something I wish I had known about before buying DVC. Now, of course it’d be awesome if you all when to Disney and asked to join DVC and used me as your referral so I could make some $$$, but because I’m a nice person and want to actually save you $$$, here’s one of the best tips I can give you. You can buy into DVC on a resale market and save a boat load of money. Better yet, you can buy into DVC on a resale market and purchase properties that you can’t get through Disney anymore. After Matt and I had been DVC members for a while, I had mentioned to my mom we were thinking we’d buy points at Boardwalk next, but she decided she’d buy them for herself. Because we purchased her points to match our use year, we were actually able to merge the accounts into one big one (FYI the term use year is confusing because it actually refers to the month in which your calendar year for your points start – ours is March). Not only did my mom get her pick of resorts by taking that route, she also got a much cheaper deal than she would have had she gone through Disney.

For resale, we’ve worked with The Timeshare Store, and they’re awesome. I definitely recommend using them if you’re looking to buy (or you want to sell). But there are a few things to keep in mind when you buy from the resale market. First, Disney has the right of first refusal. If they don’t like a selling price, they can opt to buy back the points themselves. From my experience, this very rarely happens. Second, when you buy resale, you must pay for the points up front. You can’t get financing through Disney, so that is a big consideration to keep in mind. Third, it’s like closing on a house, so don’t expect it all to happen overnight. And fourth, some properties get snatched up faster than others. You can sign up for daily or weekly emails with a list of available properties, and once you know exactly what you what (for example, when you see 200 points at Boardwalk with a March use year), make the call ASAP or it may disappear QUICKLY.

That’s really all I can think of to answer now. If any of you have more questions or want me to elaborate on something that I’ve only glossed over, let me know.

And now, after thinking about all of this, I’m really ready for another trip to Florida. October needs to get here quickly!

Your Turn: Are you a DVC Member? Do you have any questions about DVC Membership? What’s your favorite Disney resort?

Monday Miles: February 24 – March 2

All I can really say about the last week of workouts is this: I’m glad I survived! Coach T was seriously about getting us back up to a hard training effort, with our next duathlon just over 1 month away. And she did a great job of kicking my butt the entire time. The fact that the schedule for this coming week is even tougher does more than terrify me for the jello that will be my legs come Sunday night…YIKES!

Monday - Rest day that included 5.9 miles of bike commuting.

Tuesday - I had 2 workouts on the calendar: a tempo run with hill repeats and a core workout. With a crazy work schedule, I ended up getting up early to run before work (4:30 am is not my friend), and the run itself ended up being fairly lackluster. After 10 min of warm up, I tried running 20 min at tempo, and failed miserably. I was so slow. Because I also changed my route on the fly, I ended up searching to find anything decent to run my hill repeats on, but eventually found something that was shorter and not as challenging as I would have liked. After finishing my last repeat, I ran home to finish up 5 miles in 48:05. Not my finest, but completed none the less. I also rounded out the day with 45 min of core work before going to bed.

Wednesday – Another long day at work resulted in not getting on the bike training until after 7:30. And with 1:20 ride on the calendar, that meant I didn’t eat dinner until after 9! I tried to take it pretty easy and entertained myself by watching the Nancy & Tonya documentary from the Olympics. Who else thinks Tonya seems trashier now than ever before?? Whoa!

Thursday – Another two-parter. Wednesday’s track workout was pushed to Thursday so I could actually get it in during the day, and I finally realized that the Ferry Building on The Embarcadero has a farmer’s market on Tuesday and Thursday during lunch, which has been the cause of a lot of frustrating runs for me. I’m hoping to change that in the future, but until then, I’m making it work. Thursday’s workout was 10 min warm up with 5 x 1000 m at threshold with a 2 min recovery in between, and then 10 min of cool down. I started out strong (but too fast) with the first intervals being 7:44, 7:43, and 7:43. But after I turned to start heading back to work, things got brutal. There was some wind, but it definitely doesn’t explain the splits. I totally bonked by the end, finishing with 7:53 and 8:07. Woof. Overall, I covered 6.1 miles in 52:04. And wrapped up the night with another 45 min of core work before bed.

Friday – Hello MUCH needed rest day.

Saturday – Well, despite trying to avoid the rain for both weekend workouts, I somehow managed to head out just as it started on Saturday AND Sunday. My luck. Oh well. Saturday started with a planned 1:30 bike ride that was to be followed by 30 min of running (15 min easy and 15 min building to goal half marathon pace). The bike ride went really well, and I was able to do some sections with harder effort/faster cadence to cover 18.75 miles in 1:28:23. After switching into running shoes, I spent the first half of the run searching for a bathroom…I really had to pee! After taking care of business, I finished the run attempting to run 15 min at half marathon pace. But you know what happens when you try running fast uphill at the end of a brick? Your legs actually refuse to run that fast. I gave it my best effort, convinced I was going to collapse on the side of the road in Berkeley somewhere, and it sure felt like I was at least giving half marathon pace effort…but the speed was not with me! I finished 3.32 miles in 30:00.

Sunday – And then came pain like nothing I’ve experienced before. I’m convinced my coach was actually trying to kill me with this one. The plan was to do 8 miles with the last 3 building to goal half marathon pace. The workout might as well have said, “Run 8 miles into your grave because you will want to cut off your legs before this run is over.” I mean, seriously, it was ROUGH! As much as I wish I could have pushed through the last 3 miles as a faster pace, I was giving it all I had the entire time. I did end up with a little speed in the final half mile, but this workout was a true test of every muscle in my legs. And most certainly was not assisted by the hilly course (I told myself repeatedly that hills pay the bills but it didn’t do much to get me over them any faster). Anyway, I somehow didn’t collapse in the middle of downtown Berkeley so we’ll see if I can tough out next weekend’s workouts which will be even longer. This run ended up covering 8 miles in 1:18:03.

And with that, another week of training is in the books. It wasn’t the best, but I pulled through and gave everything I could with each workout. Here’s to hoping I can at least say the same for this week!

Your Turn: Did March come in like a lion or a lamb for you? Are you participating in the #ZOOMAphotoaday contest? Let me know so I can check out your entries!

Strong Women


It’s a word that I actually can’t remember not knowing. I grew up in a family with an incredibly strong mother who worked full time and devoted herself to giving her children every opportunity in life. While running me around the country to figure skating competitions, she was also working to shatter the glass ceiling as an incredibly successful financial assistant at one of the top brokerage firms in the country…one of the few women to be so successful in the company during the 80s and 90s.

I grew up in a sport that trains young women to be both fierce competitors and graceful pieces of art. I started figure skating at the age of 2, spent hours every day on the ice surrounded by incredibly hard working and determined women, and learned that just because you skate around trying to look elegant doesn’t mean you aren’t the toughest of athletes. If anything, it probably means the exact opposite.

I consider myself lucky to have been able to grow up in an environment where the strengths and accomplishments of women are celebrated. I have since found myself in situations where that isn’t always the case, but I have always been able to draw on my early life experiences to remind me of the incredible things all women are capable of achieving.

Perhaps to me, that is why races that celebrate and encourage women to accomplish their dreams and goals, and strive to create a supportive atmosphere for those events to take place resonate so strongly. I remember feeling intimidated by my first road race. I remember wishing I’d had strong women to help me find my footing on a new path in my life when I became a distance runner. I didn’t know the first thing about training for a half marathon, and I remember being terrified the day I headed out for my first 12 miler.

Years later, when I first learned about the ZOOMA women’s race series, I loved everything I read about it. I loved the goal of creating an encouraging and supportive atmosphere for women. I loved the idea of teaching women everything they are capable of achieving – something that for me has spilled over from my running life to my personal and professional life. And I loved that it created opportunities for women to become involved with road racing and distance running in a capacity that celebrates all of their achievements along the way.


You can imagine, then, that when I recently learned ZOOMA was bringing their race series to my back yard – Napa Valley – this summer, I was beyond thrilled to find myself in a position to be able to participate in their race series. But over the last few weeks, an opportunity far greater than I anticipated has presented itself: I am beyond thrilled to announce that I am an ambassador for the 2014 ZOOMA Napa Valley Half Marathon & 10K. Being able to be so involved with a race series that is so closely aligned with my personal interests means a lot to me. Every time I receive an email from a reader telling me they’ve been inspired to tackle their road running goals, it feels like I’ve won the lottery, so having the opportunity to hopefully inspire more women and be involved with their journeys to the finish line makes me beyond excited for the coming months.

ZOOMA Ambassador Badge 2014

Do you want to get in on the action, too? If you register here for the ZOOMA Napa Valley races (either the 10K or the half marathon) and use the discount code NAMB2, you can get 10% off of your registration price. And what does registration get you?

  • Admission to the Expo and the signature Swag Bag (valued over $50 including a technical t-shirt, a pair of Feetures! socks, a ZOOMA running hat, and reusable bag)
  • Pre-race Honest Tea Mocktail Party
  • Post-race After-Party…with Barefoot wine, Muscle Milk, food, and massages
  • Medal with detachable charm for half marathon finishers and a medal (no charm) for 10K finishers

zooma napa valley half marathon medal

Does all of that fun, plus the opportunity to run through beautiful wine country, sound like a blast to you? Then register soon because the race is capped at 2,000…and it’s one you won’t want to miss! (My mom and MIL are already registered; and rumor has it some other new half marathoners in my family are thinking about coming out for the race, too!)


As race day gets closer, I’m looking forward to sharing more information with all of you about kick off events and opportunities to meet the race ambassadors, but I do have a fun game for those of you on Instagram who are interested in winning a pair of Altra Running Shoes. Each week, Altra will be giving away a pair of shoes to a participant in the #ZOOMAphotoaday contest throughout the month of March? Want more details? Click here. And get creative with the daily prompts:


So ladies, race day is 118 days away. How many of you Strong Women will be crossing the finish line with me in Napa this summer???

Your Turn: Will you be running ZOOMA Napa Valley? Have you ever raced a half marathon or 10K?

Monday Miles: February 17-23

The past week was full of solid training, both in my Mizunos and on my Willier. With recovery from the Du 3 Bears over, it was time to return to strength and endurance building. The next race on my calendar is another duathlon on April 5, so while I’m beginning to prepare for that race, I’m also working to build mileage and speed for a half marathon in May. The half marathon is my next A race, so I’ll be focusing my attention on preparing for those races in the coming weeks. This first week back into training mode was a great start to all of that:

Monday – Rest day.

Tuesday – I did a 6 mile run over lunch. I started with 3 easy miles, then did 3 sets of 5 minute bursts at goal race pace with a 2 minute recovery in between, and finished up to complete a full 6 miles. I ended up running the first 3 miles at a 9:11 pace, ran 8:09, 8:10, and 8:17 for the three intervals, and finished at a 9:28 pace. My goal half marathon pace is an 8:30, so I ran too fast, but did at least get a little closer to the right pace with each interval. The run itself ended up being 53:37 total. I wrapped up the day with 1 hour of core work and some stretching before going to bed.

Wednesday – Wednesday afternoon I headed out for my track workout for the week. The schedule called for 10 min warm up, 5 x 800s at AC with 2 min recovery in between, and 10 min cool down. Because I was crunched for time, I ended up doing 1 mile warm up (9:06 pace), followed by the 5 x 800s (7:40, 7:55, 7:50, 7:44, 7:33 paces, respectively), and 1 mile of cool down (8:58). My paces were a little inconsistent, and I think that’s because my legs were exhausted after a long day in the lab. To be honest, my legs felt heavy going into the workout and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to hold on. I was pleasantly surprised by this one. The workout total ended up being 5.39 miles in 45:51.

Thursday - Thursday’s workout started with bike commuting to get in 5.9 miles. Using the ride home as my warmup, I then jumped on the bike trainer to get in a crazy spin workout my coach called “short and sassy.” Let me tell you, it did not feel short with just how sassy it was! I started with 10 minutes of 1 leg drills, alternating between legs every minute. I swear, these are absolutely my least favorite thing in the world! Those drills were followed by 10 x 2 minute power ups (starting in a lower gear with a high cadence, bumping up the gear every 30 seconds) with 30 seconds recovery in between. By the time I made it through the power ups, I was dripping sweat all over the place. The last drill was 5 minutes at a lower cadence but higher gear, building up to a higher heart rate zone by the end by increasing the gear throughout. By the time I finished, my quads were on fire! I finished up with 15 minutes of easy spinning to cool down to complete 60 minutes on the bike. It was rough.

Friday – Friday was a rest day with the exception of the 5.9 miles of bike commuting I got in.

Saturday – Because I spent Friday evening preparing for a BBQ I was hosting for Matt’s birthday, I didn’t have time to get in the core workout I was supposed to on Friday. As a result, I spent 45 minutes doing core exercises before finishing party prep on Saturday morning. That was smart because I ended up drinking way too much beer at the party to be in any kind of condition to do core work.

Sunday - I was a little worried about Sunday’s workout after the party. Somehow I managed not to feel like complete and udder crap when I woke up, which was good because I had a pretty killer workout on tap. Up first: 7 miles of running. I went in with the intention of taking it slow, not exactly sure how my body was going to respond. Even though there were several elements working against me, the run was actually pretty amazing. It wasn’t my fastest, which is ok because I still had quite a bit more workout to go, but it was strong. My legs handled the 2 miles of uphill at the end really well, and I could feel my running strength really growing. The route was one that would have left me really struggling even just a month or two ago, and today it felt fairly easy. I’m really excited with how much my running has improved since I started working with my coach again. I finished the miles in 1:08:35. After coming in from the run, I quickly changed my shoes and grabbed my helmet before heading out for an hour on the bike. This was my 8th ride out on the bike, and I have to tell you, each ride gets stronger and stronger. I spent a little time working on hill climbing, and a little time working on shifting. The ride itself was a big improvement in bike handling. And I seriously cannot believe how much stronger today’s ride was compared to the first day I got out on my bike. It was amazing. Total ride was 14.34 miles in 1:04:43.

Your Turn: What has been your favorite moment of the Sochi Olympics?