3.9.14 Off Road Ramble, Watsonville, California

You know that noise your water bottle makes when the water is half way full, and it’s moving around? That’s the noise my stomach was making when I was running the Off Road Ramble put on by Fleet Feet Aptos on Sunday 3.9.14, The run was a benefit for the Friends of Santa Cruz County Parks and Project Fit.
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With the time change, and accidentally turning off ‘snooze’ on my phone, I got up at 8am instead of 7am like I wanted to. The race started at 9am at Pinto Lake County Park in Watsonville, California which is about 30 minute drive from Santa Cruz. I got dressed really quickly, grabbed a Cliff Bar and water, the off I went. After almost finishing the Cliff Bar, I got super thirsty, so I started chugging my water which resulted in funny noise in my tummy during my run.
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I had no idea such a place existed in Watsonville. Pinto Lake County Park has a beautiful lake with a fishing pier and a disc golf course. It was has bathrooms with flushing toilets (what a luxury!),  picnic areas, small baseball and soccer fields, and plenty of parking. I was thinking about running the 10K at first, but decided to run the 5K instead, and then volunteer after the run.
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Boy was I glad I only ran the 5K. The course was very challenging (which made me realize I need to do more hill training), but beautiful. The route was well marked with volunteers along the way, cheering everyone. 
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And best of all, they had a bagpipe player at the start/finish line. I started off too fast, forgot to turn my watch on, was scared of running down the hills and my stomach started making the aforementioned noise. Oof! It was just one of those mornings. I was parched during the run, and was sweating like a pig by the end but to my surprise I ran 23:50, which I’m stoked about!
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And my pretty new shoes didn’t get as dirty as I thought it was going to get. 

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Photos courtesy of NRZ

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Hoopulapula Haraguchi Rice Mill Tours, Kauai, Hawaii

My thoughts the morning of Wednesday 9.25.13:
‘Oh I hope that rain stops soon, otherwise I don’t know if I want to go on a farm tour. I don’t want to get muddy.’
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PAM and I got talked into a farm tour (which turned out to be excellent!) at Hoopulapula Haraguchi Rice Mill Tours to be exact. It’s not every day you get to go on a farm tour in Kauai.

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This non-profit tour is only offered once a week (on Wednesdays), so we booked a tour. Plus after the tour, you get a free meal made from the products of the farm. How can you say no?

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With the luscious green mountains as a back drop, you can see the farm from the lookout point on the way to Hanalei. It’s the largest taro farm and the only remaining rice mill in the state of Hawaii.

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The tour started and ended at the lunch wagon, Hanalei Taro and Juice Co in town. Upon check-in, we were greeted with freshly made taro smoothies. After a quick intro, we headed to the taro farm. The farm was purchased by our tour guide Lyndsey’s family (5th generation farmers) in 1924.

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At the farm, we learned about different elements that go into farming, from harvesting taro plants by hand, to darn apple snails destroying the plants, to endangered birds, to hurricanes and flash floods.

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After trying to find snails and their eggs on the taro plants, we moved onto the Haraguchi Rice Mill.

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The rice mill is preserved as a nonprofit historic landmark, and is listed on the National Historic Register of historic places. The museum has a ton of artifacts, and huge original machinery from places all over the world (like Japan and Philadelphia). After an informative tour, we all sat for a fun demonstration of how to open a coconut. As a benefit of the demo, we got to drink fresh coconut water and sample taro cakes with freshly shaved coconut.

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The tour ended with a delicious lunch back at the lunch wagon. I got Chicken Lau Lau (steamed taro leaves & chicken) Hawaiian Plate Lunch which was perfect for our afternoon hike to the Hanakapiai Beach.

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Fleet Feet Santa Cruz Racing Team

I have an exciting announcement! I probably should have posted this before my last post (Super Bowl 10K), but better late than never. I’m stoked to announce that I’m part of Fleet Feet Santa Cruz (Aptos) Racing Team.  How did I get to be part of the team? I pretty much begged the owners to let me be part of it.

Fleet Feet is a local running store out of Aptos, which is the town right next to Santa Cruz. It was voted one of the 50 best running stores in America by Running Insight and Competitor Magazine last year.  Fleet Feet Aptos focuses on wellness of community by promoting a lifestyle of fitness. They offer running and walking training programs for all shapes, sizes, and abilities.

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Fleet Feet Aptos organizes a handful of races that I will be participating in. So far, the people I’ve met during the fun runs and meetings have been super friendly and supportive. I’m really excited about improving my running and meeting new running friends!

Super Bowl 10K, Santa Cruz, California

The morning of Super bowl 2014, the unthinkable happened. I ran in the RAIN! In my lifetime, I’d never imagined that I would run in the rain. I’ve always thought people who ran in the rain must be a little nuts (and this is coming from a girl who once ran 18 miles on a treadmil).

When I looked out the window on Sunday morning, I wanted to crawl back in bed. Unfortunately, I knew I couldn’t back out because I told people I was running the 10K. In addition, I borrowed a Fleet Feet racing team singlet from one of the ladies from the store (thanks L!); I had to follow through.

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So I ran in the rain, and let me tell you, it was not fun. Not to be negative, but here’s a list of things I didn’t enjoy: the wind, water on my face, hands and feet going numb, wet clothes, wet socks, wet shoes, wet everything. But for about 10-20 seconds, the weather calmed, and I was all alone with the ocean next to me, and the gentle sound of the rain actually felt soothing. Then the wind picked up again and I was over it. I told myself I was running for a dress (newly engaged).

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Of course, the amazing PAM was cheering me on all alone at the finish line, which made running in the rain not so bad.

If you ever run in a downpour, make sure you have a towel in the car so the seat doesn’t get soaking wet from your bottom. Always bring a towel 😉

And surprisingly my time wasn’t all that bad, 48:27, just 2 seconds slower than last year’s 10K.

7th Annual Snow Trip: Whitefish, Montana

Since 2008, my friend JW and I have been doing at least a week long trip to the snow annually.

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Canadian JW has been living in Japan for the past 15 years, and this has made our snow trip a bit more exciting in terms of finding a location good for both of us. What we’ve done so far is going back and forth between a convenient location for at least one of us. Last year was my turn to “go away” to play in powder in Japan. This year, we picked Whitefish in Montana, a bit closer to my home. In addition, both our significant others joined us for our trip which was great.

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Just a little over 6500 people live in Whitefish, Montana, making it a small ski town catering towards tourist.

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Why did we pick Whitefish? This is why.

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Whitefish Mountain was featured in Warren Miller’s Ticket To Ride, which also confirmed I made a good decision.

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Some fun facts about Whitefish Mountain Resort, AKA Big Mountain AKA Fog Mountain:

  • 3,000 acres with 300” of snow annually

  • 14 lifts

  • 102 marked runs including 13% beginner, 38% intermediate, 43% advanced, 6% expert runs

  • 2,353 feet of vertical drop

  • Overlooks Glacier National Park as well as the Canadian Rockies

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You can also save money getting to the mountain – which is about 20 minutes away – by riding the free snow bus provided by the city. Our bus stop was easily accessible, only 0.3 miles from our condo.

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We were very luck to have a couple days of blue sky above us, since most of the time the mountain is covered in fog.

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It was so clear, we were able to see the Glacier National Park and the Canadian Rockies from the summit. Great snow and minimal crowd, JW and I got to experience some great powder and tree runs the 3 days we rode.

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We also had the pleasure of spending a day on the slopes with my friend from college KN, and her boyfriend CB, both who live in Missoula, Montana.CB lived in Whitefish for a good amount of time, so he was able to show us some fun terrain.

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KN was also able to get us a good deal on our day passes. She scored day passes for $50 at Costco, a nice $20 savings as compared to the  $69 on the mountain. That sure beats the $102 per day price at Squaw Valley in Tahoe, California.

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Don’t know how to ski/snowboard? You can always take a lesson up in the mountain.

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There are also handful of things you can do in Whitefish, such as shopping and checking out galleries. You can also go snowmobiling, go on a dogsled tour, do some cross-country skiing, backcountry skiing, and even ice skating.

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Tree branch I went over couple of times in the woods. Oops

Overall, the snow was amazing, the tree runs were fun – even though I accidently hugged one. People are friendly and laid-back. Plus having the whole mountain to yourself is always a terrific treat!

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Glacier National Park, Montana

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“Where are you guys from?” a lady at the visitor center asks.

“California,” I answered.

The lady looks up and down and responds, “Of course you are.”

Well, that sure wasn’t the warmest Montanian (yes, I make up words now) welcome we were hoping for at the Apgar Visitor Center.

My friend JW’s flight from Denver, Co to Kalispell, Mt got cancelled on Friday 1.3.14 due to a snow storm. So JW and his girlfriend MS flew into Missoula, Mt which is about 2.5 hours from Whitefish, Mt where we were staying on Saturday 1.4.14 afternoon.  And of course United Airlines didn’t transfer their bags to their flight. So Sunday 1.5.14, we waited for the bags to arrive. Good news is that their bags did arrive Sunday morning. But the bad news was they misplaced JW’s snowboard bag. Doh! Since we couldn’t go snowboard, and  JW decided to keep the rental car for one more day, we decided to check out the Glacier National Park, which is a part of world’s first International Peace Park.

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Nevertheless, the ranger told us of a short walk, about 1.8 miles to a waterfall we could walk to. Apparently that was the only thing we could do in winter other than snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.

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Even though Glacier National Park is always open, it lets the forest “rest” in winter. Which means that nothing, including hotels and shops, are open in winter. We also didn’t see any animals, which was a bit disappointing.

The road access is also very limited in winter. This park is HUGE, but we only got to drive in 9 miles to Lake McDonald Lodge where the road closes. There, we parked our rented car and went on a leisurely walk. It was freezing so I don’t know how much fun everyone had, but we sure were on a mission.

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The fall is small and pretty, surrounded by ice.  Apparently if we had gone a bit further we would’ve seen a cascade of waterfalls, but we weren’t brave to go any further. Plus we were on a time schedule, so an hour walk was enough for us.

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The weather is unpredictable but we got really lucky and enjoyed a gorgeous, sunny day at the Park.

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Happy New Year! 2013 in Review

I don’t know where the time went, but 2013 sure flew by!  Apparently time goes faster each year as we get older. Considering this, I don’t think it’s fair for many of us to work 5 days a week, and have only 2 days off!  Fact: I was useless on the days I worked 12 hours (3 days a week), but what’s even more depressing is I’m useless on the 5 days I work now.

Nevertheless, I got to do a lot of fun things this year.  
I visited my brother and grandma in Korea, then went to Japan for some great snow for a week, total of 10 days.
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I went to one of the Cayman Islands, Grand Cayman with my nerdy friends for a week in May.

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I also visited my favorite State, Hawaii for a week with this guy for a week.

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I also ran A LOT! More than I’ve ever anticipated. Apparently I got sprinkled with running fairy dust.

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Saw good friends getting married….
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Visited with my friends from down under and their family.
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Got a dose of country from a music festival.
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And I finally ran my first marathon which I was stoked about.
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 I’m excited to see what 2014 will bring. I have couple of trips planned for this year (I can’t help it, I’m a planner), but expect to see cash being tight with almost half of my paycheck going towards the mortgage. One more thing I’m excited about this year is = Vineman! I will have to stay put so I can train for a half ironman this summer.

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