Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 Year In Review: Laying The Foundation And Living With Joy

2017 has been a special year of running for me. It has been a year of the very beginning of great things ahead - I feel that in my heart (and importantly, my coach said it). I had so much fun running this year, I learned a lot of lessons and I realize that I am strong and getting stronger. When I have moments of doubt, God keeps nudging me along... encouraging me through good and bad, I feel his presence and for that I'm grateful.  I'm ever aware that my children are watching and learning from me...I hope I'm doing a good job. I'm so far from perfect, but because of my love for them and desire to be a good role model - I'm optimistic that those things outweigh the imperfections. We were out on a trail biking and exploring this past week, and stopped for a while to play some games. At one point we decided to run a relay race and Josh and I ended up running against each other. Oh boy, I didn't feel ready to sprint in the least, but he wanted to, so of course we did. He dusted me in that 100 meter dash - in his jeans no less - and in that moment, I realized 1. This kid is freakin FAST - I mean really fast and 2. he truly loves to run and I hope a little bit of that comes from me. Afterwards, he said: "Mommy, don't worry, I know you could beat me any day in a long distance race." 
Nice work kid - make your Mom feel good :)
I couldn't be happier with this year in my running life.

Running in January on one of my favorite trails

This photo is everything to me

It felt sweet to break 1:30 in the half this year. That wasn't something I was extremely focused on, but when it did happen I felt in my gut that it was time. The training was there and although I was in the middle of marathon training for CIM, I knew I was strong and ready to put this under my belt.
In January, I started off the year training for Boston and ran a 1:37 half in Carlsbad...

and then nine months later in October ----> ran a 1:27 half in Ventura...

When I crossed the line in Ventura, I realized that my future is bright and I have so much more room to get faster. After careful thought, I would have to say this race was the highlight of my year. Not just because of the time, but because I felt so strong and in control the entire race - even through the hard parts, I kept it together. That race summed up months of work and I'm proud of that. An excellent launching pad for 2018!

Another year at the Boston Marathon and it never gets old. I love this race and part of me is sad not to be going back in 2018, but I've had a blast the last two years!

When Lauren Fleshman sends you a DM asking if you'd like to be on the cover of a Picky Bar, which you geninuely love... I mean - really? That was a highlight for sure...

Trail running has such a special place in my heart. I know I have to reserve time for some trail racing in the future.

The beach runs never get old. NEVER. My heart pulls at trails and then I get to the beach and I'm in love all over again. This year, I ran a lot of both - which by the way you can do a lot of both when you are injury free the WHOLE YEAR! :)

Oh the sea means so much to me...

I raced seven times - broken down like this:

Carlsbad Half in January: 1:37

Encinitas Half in March: 1:33

I really did have fun in Encinitas - really. #painface

Boston Marathon in April: 3:23

Students Run LA Trail 5K in June: 21:13 (emphasis on TRAIL - oh see...I am running trail races ;0)

Shoreline Half Marathon in July: 1:36 (it was SO hot during this race, but so fun... beers and tacos afterwards!)

We are melting...

Took a break to regroup (and took a first time trip to NOLA where of course I did a lot of running), and build a slow base before going into CIM training...

Ventura Half Marathon in October: 1:27

CIM Marathon in December: 3:13

Don't stop your watch! #rookiemistake

Almost 10 minutes faster than Boston, 8 months prior. Let's just say I made a lot of rookie mistakes in this race (and I'm not a rookie runner, so humm...), but I'm proud of knocking down my marathon time and can't wait for the next one. #iloverunning

My total miles for 2017? 


I've never totaled yearly miles before and it was neat to add them all up. I also ran my first 70 mile week ever, which was cool. That alone sets me up for many 70+ mile weeks to come in 2018.

Fired up, pumped, ready to have a blast, ready to put in the work in 2018! I mean, you kinda have to be motivated after watching all the the amazing women distance runners tear it up this year. Wow.

As for 2017 - I'm proud of what I accomplished in running (and in life - I love writing, I love this blog and also this year I started writing weekly for Women's Running Magazine after writing for them a few times in 2016. I also created Running Is My Recess in 2017 - a community of runners who celebrate running. After all, why should kids have all the fun?) and there's a reason why my famlily is in so many of these pics... cause they keep me going, they are the center of it all.

After a 20 mile run in March and they are so much bigger now!

Cheers my friends. Cheers to family, friends, beautiful memories and lots of great running in 2018.

Do awesome things.


Friday, December 29, 2017

A Cheerful Winter Treat: Cranberry Salad

I have such great memories of growing up. I was an only child, which meant I didn't have a lot of distractions at home. There wasn't a lot of chaos and children running around - it was just me. I realize you don't miss what you don't have and I didn't yearn for siblings. I had lots of friends and cousins (and tons of books - you could find me under a tree or hiding in my closet reading) and my life felt bursting at the seams full. I also spent a lot of time in the kitchen watching my Mom cook amazing meals. She was always focused on creating healthy, yet tasty meals. She introduced me to the Farmer's market, farm to table eating and how to pick the best produce. I have always admired her sense of style - from how to dress a beautiful table, to how to throw a successful dinner party, to picking the perfect dress to wear and how to apply beautiful eye makeup (as a former model and make up artist - she was the epitome of style)... my Mom has taught me so much.
One dish that my Mom has made every single year since I was a little girl is this colorful cranberry salad. I can't remember a time from November through January that we haven't had this salad on our holiday table. 

Last year as my Mom and I were making this salad together, I wondered out loud if I should share the recipe on the blog. The thought quickly went away through the haze of holiday activity. This year it entered my mind again and my Mom has graciously allowed me to share it with you guys.
What I love so much about this dish, is the beautiful pop of color it brings to a holiday or winter meal, it's relatively healthy (except for one cup of white sugar), it's so easy to prepare and it tastes delicious! We always have to make more then one, as my kids (actually all of us!) fight over who gets the last scoop.

I'm so excited to share this with you - perfect for your New Year's meal or any time during the winter. Your taste buds will definitely thank you :)

Winter Cranberry Salad

By: Natrunsfar's Mom


1 apple (I love using Fuji)
1 large orange + the zest 
1- 12oz. bag of fresh cranberries
1 cup pecans
1 cup white sugar
1 8 ounce box black cherry jello (My Moms says make sure you get the 8 ounce box, not the 6 ounce - and if you can't find black cherry, cherry is good too)
1 package Knox gelatine


Complete the chopping first. Dice the apple, orange, including peeling the outer layer of the orange and dice the skin + pecans and set aside.
Rinse the fresh cranberries in a colander. 

Then, in a medium sized saucepan, combine the cranberries with 1 cup of water and 1 cup of white sugar. Bring to a boil, then simmer uncovered until the cranberries completely burst open - about ten minutes.

In a small bowl, combine one packet of Knox gelatine with 1/4 cup of hot water. Stir to dissolve.

In another small bowl, combine the black cherry jello with 1 cup of hot water and 3/4 cups of cold water and set aside.

In a medium sized serving bowl, combine the Knox gelatine mixture, cherry jello mixture, simmered cranberries, fruit + orange zest and pecans. Gently stir until all combined.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Serve chilled.

This salad is wonderful alone - and it's also delicious with any type of meat (not just turkey), or scoop a spoonful alongside a huge green salad. You can even have it for breakfast with a hard boiled egg - there are so many ways to enjoy!

Okay, now I'm off to make this again as my mouth is watering. 

Happy eating and running my friends.

Do awesome things.


Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Holiday Gift Guide 2017 - My Top Ten Gifts For Runners

I was talking to one of my son's teachers a few days ago and she told me that she hadn't started her holiday shopping yet - she had simply been too busy until now. The last week before Christmas is offically here and I know there are many of you who still have some shopping to do!
I'm excited to share some products that I have loved this year and some of them for years. So if you still need something special for the runner or fitness enthusiast in your life - I've got you covered and you'll be jumping for joy over these awesome gift selections.

1. Roka Sunglasses

Living in a year round sunny climate, I must have a great pair of shades that:

A. Will hold up to sweat and running for hours at a time
B. You can put them on with casual or dressy regular clothes
C. They look amazing and make you feel like a bad ass at all times.

Boom. Roka completely took sunglasses and made them impossibly cool. I LOVE. THESE. GLASSES. I wear them all the time and if I could sleep in them, I would. I can and have run 20 plus miles in these glasses and they never move, never slip - they are light as a feather, and you don't even know they are there. 

Need further validation? Gwen Jorgenson and Lauren Fleshman wear them also. Enough said.

There are two pair that I love. The ultra hip and cool aviators - the Rio Ti...

I'm wearing THESE glasses.

I'm also crazy about the Vendee, which makes you look and feel like you're at a posh resort, but you can still hit the road FAST:

I'm wearing THESE

2a. Brooks Ghost 10 Running Shoes

Now I realize that unless the person on your list specially asked for the Ghost 10, you wouldn't know if they can wear this shoe.
I will say that this is my absolute GO TO running/training shoe (I've been wearing the Ghost since the 7 was introduced a few years ago). It cradles and hugs my foot so comfortably, and the cushion is amazing without being too soft. This is a neutral shoe with a 12mm heal to toe drop and if I could have 5 boxes lined up at my disposal at all times, I would. I love this shoe and I love Brooks Running. They really understand the sport of running and their constant mission is to make products that bring out the best in you as a runner.

2b. Brooks Levitate

Light. Cushion. Fast. 
The Brooks Levitate shoes set out to make a shoe that makes you feel like you are floating on air and ready to run the race of your life at the same time.

They succeeded.

It's another neutral shoes with an 8mm heel to toe drop and you really can feel the energy flowing through your body when you run in these shoes.

3. Garmin Forerunner 935

Sleek. Cool. Savvy. Efficient. 
This watch has all of this and so much more. I'm just waiting for it to say: "Time to get up and run, Nat!" 

I mean really. Not only is the 935 awesome for running (and gives me every piece of data that I need to analyze my workout), it's a great watch for triathletes as well. Run, swim, bikre, ski, GPS, heart rate monitor and the list goes on. 
I can wear it for a marathon (as I did for CIM) or wear it with jeans. This watch is on my wrist all the time and if it's not, then I'm charging it so I can wear it asap.

Trust me, if the runner in your life gets this as a present, expect a yelp of joy.

4. JayBird Freedom earbuds.

Music brings us to life. It energizes us, pumps us up and sometimes makes the impossible seem possible. 

The Freedom earbuds rock. The sound is clear and premium and you can hardly tell that you're wearing them on a run or workout. I love having music or listening to a podcast during a workout and these are top of the line. No worries about sweat moving these around and interrupting your flow.  You put them in and they stay in place. period.


5. Bambino Sitters

You guys have heard me talk about this company a lot in the past couple of weeks. A man (from my very own town!) developed the premimum babysitter app of all apps! What makes Bambino stand out? You can choose a sitter from your very own neighborhood, or look up referrals from your neighbors and friends about sitters and then book them yourself. It's easy, simple and takes the stress out of finding the right sitter. You also can pay right from the app which is genius.
You can read about my personal experience HERE.

A great, fast and easy gift idea? Give a gift card and that special someone will receive the ultimate gift - a little bit of time for themselves.

Friends - use the code: NATRUNSFAR to get $10 off your babysitting! (new parents only).

6. Stride Box

The compact fun box filled with useful goodies for runners that is delievered every month right to your doopstep! 

The great thing about Stride Box is that they pack their boxes with products that runners actually WANT to use. They really understand a runner's needs and wants and it's reflected in this great box. 

In addition - I have a coupon code for you too friends! Use the code:


This code will give 10% off of 3 month and 6 month gift subscriptions. The expiration date is 12/24/17.

ALSO - be sure to jump over to my Instagram - I'm GIVING AWAY Two Stride Box to TWO WINNERS this week!!

This is what November's box looked like :)

7. Procompression Socks

Every runners needs really good socks! This is a great stocking stuffer or stand alone gift. I love the long compression socks for recovery (they have a new, great design every month) - I sleep in them too! I also love the lows for running and training. I've been running/recovering in these sock for a couple of years and the quality is always top notch.

8. Lululemon Speed Short

As of now, it's the only short I run in and I've trained in these shorts for years. I love the fit, feel, fabric, vibrant colors and of course the pockets! there is a nice, slim pocket on the back waistband to fit your phone (without the case) and key or a Gu or small nutrition source. For CIM, I fit 5 GU between the back pocket and two inside pockets in the front. I LOVE these shorts and you really can't go wrong with Lululemon.

Just a few - I have a lot! :)

9. Oofos Sandals

This is another product that I have used for about two years. We don't wear shoes in our house and I needed a shoe that was supportive and would really baby my feet after running. I also needed extra support for running after kiddos all day, and being on my feet so much of the day.
Oofos is perfect. Again, this company understands the importance of a runner's feet and their sandals are top notch.

Soft with great cushion and support - you'll want to throw off your running shoes and slide into these sandals after every run. Even if you can't put your feet up right away, these shoes will help begin the recovery process.

I had a bad case of plantar fasciitis last year and one thing you cannot do after having PF is walk around barefoot. Enter Oofos. 

The athlete in your life would love to receive these under the tree!

10. Momentum Jewelry

Need Inspiration? Look no further than these pretty bracelet wraps that tell you everything from "Dream Big" to "Nevertheless She Persisted" to "Own Today" and the list goes on. Athlete or not, everyone needs some daily inspiration and Momentum makes a wonderful line of product that is reasonably priced and comes in a great array of styles and colors. I know you'll love it as much as I do.

Well, there you have it. Ten of my favorite items for runners, fitness enthusiasts, Moms, Dads, siblings or friends.

There's still time to find the perfect gift! Enjoy my friends.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

Do awesome things.


Sunday, December 10, 2017

My Experience With Bambino Sitters

I can't believe it's been one week since The California International Marathon and the memories are still so fresh in my mind. As an athlete and a Mom, sometimes I need to leave my kiddos at home while I travel for a race. Jerold and I don't have a lot of family nearby, so there are times when we need to turn to a babysitter to help care for our kids.  One of the highlights of my weekend away was the knowledge that my kids were happy, safe, engaged and well cared for when I was away. 

We used Bambino Sitters for the weekend and it was such a great experience. One detail that first stood out for me, was the fact that Bambino has a thorough, easy to navigate app that allows you to sort through qualified babysitters right from your phone. The babysitters are all in or close to your neighborhood, and you are able to read reviews about each sitter - many of them from your very own neighbors. The app also allows you to search through parents that you know in your area who have used sitters that they love and you can request the same sitters for your own family.

Another feature that I loved was the fact that I could message my babysitter right from the app - no searching for phone numbers. Simply click on your sitters name and you can easily exchange texts with them before, during and after the babysitting session.
I had never had a service take care of my kids for an entire weekend (My Mom took care of them over night and early mornings  - thanks Mom!) before and it was important for me to introduce myself and get to know the sitter before she arrived. Each sitter was super responsive, friendly and I really felt at ease that I could communicate with them while they were with my kids. For instance, Josh had a major ear surgery right before Thanksgiving and I wanted to make sure that he followed his surgeon's orders and not play rough or jump around. I left a detailed one sheet for each sitter, but we also texted and they gave informative feedback on how the kids were doing. One sitter even took beautiful photos of my kids that I've included here - such a personal touch and I really was able to focus on my race and not worry about my kids.

Check out these additional great features that Bambino offers its clients:

1. Various levels of babysitters at different price points. Some parents may desire a junior babysitter (13 - 15 year old) to come over as a Mother's Helper or a sitter to play with the kids while you go and run a few errands, or take some 'Me' time. I have a good friend who hires a sitter just so she can go on a run when her husband is traveling.

You can also choose:

- Standard Sitter (15-18 years old)
- Advanced Sitter (18 years plus)
- Elite Sitter (18 + and background checked)

2. Paying your babysitter is SO EASY. Personally, I can say I have been there - you hire a babysitter that only takes cash... which means we usually have to make an ATM stop on the way home from our date. Yeah, you really don't want to have to worry about that detail. Let's face it, time is precious, we don't go out a lot and I want to soak in every moment. With Bambino, you pay solely through the app. Click the button at the end of the session while you're sitting on the couch and it's done. Easy peasy.

Give yourself the gift and necessity of a little time - hire a great babysitter and off you GO - no worries included.

Check out Bambino! Use the code NATRUNSFAR to get $10 off your babysitting (new parents only).

Do Awesome Things.


** This is a sponsored post, but as always - all opinions are my own.

Friday, December 8, 2017

CIM 2017: The Race Recap

It's taken me all week to process and absorb last weekend. Every time I started to write down my thoughts this week, there was a little person around to distract the flow, I fell asleep in front of my computer at night or I was focused on my city/state literally burning down around us.

I'm going to try and keep this recap as simple as possible, so here's what it boils down to: 

1. I'm so proud of the direction I'm going as a runner.
2. I've made some really good gains in this training cycle and I was happy to stay healthy the whole time.
3. I made some key mistakes in the race last Sunday, which ultimately led to leaving a good amount of precious time on the road. Although that is the glaring reality, I'm really proud of myself for fighting the whole way (despite pain, and the lingering disappointment that I desperately tried to shove out of my psyche), never giving up and finishing with somewhat of a kick the last 800 meters. You gotta make lemonade and add a good amount of sugar to those lemons. 
4. I earned a pretty signifcant PR (in April of this year I ran Boston in 3:23 and a little less than 8 months later ran CIM - which I have been wanting to run for so many years - in 3:13.)
5. I have a great coach who truly believes in me, and believes in my potential as an aspiring fast marathoner.
6. I've learned so much about myself as a person and a runner, and I'm super excited for the future.
7. This is just the beginning of my path as a marathoner. I'm stubborn, bull headed and a work horse - so putting in the work doesn't deter me, it fuels the passion.
8. Through ups and downs, good and bad, I love running so much.
9. My family loves and supports me above all and that is all that matters.
10. I want to take a moment before I get going on the race to thank all the people who have helped me get to this point: First ----> Jerold (the best husband and friend ever. I'm so lucky.), My amazing kiddos, My Mom, my whole family, friends, Brooks Running and Brooks Women for all the shoes, outfits and gear which is what every runner needs, Lululemon for the awesome race outfit, Bambino Sitters for taking care of my kids, Garmin for the sleek watch (the new Forerunner 925), Roka Sports for the ridiculously cool sunglasses that protected my eyes during training, Jay Bird Sports for the bomb wireless ear buds, CIM for having me, Women's Running Magazine for letting me take over their Instagram account for the day, and last but in no way least - my coach, Mark Hadley for his guidance, support, positivity and safely pushing me into new territory.

If you follow me on Instagram, you pretty much know the progression of my weekend, but I'll refresh it here.

Friday December 1st:
Up at crack of dawn (literally), kids up and we enjoyed a beautiful sunrise birthday walk together. Then we got them off to school and we were on our way to Sacramento. It was a big deal for us to leave the kids at home for the weekend, but I knew there wouldn't be a lot for them to do. They would be cold standing around waiting for me during the race and I thought they would have more fun at home. Turns out they had a blast - between their fun array of babysitters during the day and my Mom in the evening (thanks Mom!), they never had a dull moment.
We arrived, checked into our hotel - The Sheraton Grand Sacramento - if you ever run CIM, definitely stay at this hotel. It's the official hotel for the race, I booked it in June and it is literally right next to everything. Two steps away from the convention center to pick up your bib, walking distance to tons of restaurants and right near the state capitol building which is where the race finishes.
Jerold and I had a nice pasta dinner that evening and I went to bed shortly afterwards - a very relaxing night, which is what you want two nights before a marathon.

Saturday December 2nd:
Slept in till about 7:30 am, which was a dream. No little people coming to wake me up in the wee hours of the morning, it was quiet and so wonderful.
Jerold and I hit the road (along with what seemed like thousands of ultra fit, super fast looking runners) for a three mile shake out jog. Again, very relaxing, a slow pace and we got to laugh, chat and sight see along the way. I also was taking over the Brooks Womens Running Instgram and story, so it was fun to record my day for that too.

Breakfast, leisure lunch, stopped by the expo very quickly and then I went back to the hotel to rest for the remainder of the day (epsom salt bath and legs up the wall + just rest) and Jerold was out and about enjoying the city and free time.
Dinner in my hotel, and an early night as the alarm was set to go off at 3:15 am!

Sunday December 3rd:
It's race day. Up at 3:15 am, and I love to take a hot shower before a marathon - it's kind of a ritual I've gotten into over time and I wasn't going to stop now.
Quickly dressed, breakfast at 4 am (bagel with almond butter, banana and a Picky Bar + water and Gatorade).
We walked just a few steps out of the hotel to the buses that would deliver all the runners to the starting line. I said goodbye to Jerold, he had a quick pep talk and a huge hug and I was off.
Talked to a nice guy that I sat next to on the bus, and then took a nap until we arrived. I knew the weather was going to be perfect. It was crisp and cold, but not freezing, zero wind and the sky looked clear.
Quick porta potty line, dynamic warm up stretches, a short jog warm up, a quick meet up with the We Run Social crew for a pic, dropped my gear bag at the drop off point (By the way, CIM is very organized with the gear check - I was impressed) another quick pee and then headed to the starting line. I positioned myself as close to the front as I could, and there were already tons of runners. Everyone was friendly and chill - really great atmosphere. The National Anthem was sung and just like that, we were off.

Coach had laid out a simple plan and I had read it over a hundred few times. It was a solid plan well within my wheelhouse ( = 3:03 - 3:07 finish time at least) and I felt excited about the possibilities. I knew in my heart I was going to PR, at that point it was just a matter of by how many minutes.

I'm not going to go mile by mile on this recap, I'll just give you the splits up close and personal in one lump:

7:05, 7:02, 6:49, 6:50, 6:51, 6:55, 6:47, 6:59, 7:01, 6:53, 6:51, 7:02, 7:04, 7:06, 7:17, 7:12, 7:15, 7:28, 7:39, 7:46, 7:59, 8:00, 8:07, 8:25, 8:12, 8:13 

= 3:13:21 (and somehow I ran an extra .1 so total distance was 26.3)

At about mile 18, my legs were starting to feel the effects of the rolling hills - another note, this is an awesome course, but PLEASE NOTE there are rolling hills (it is not flat as some people think and I knew that) from miles one through twenty. It is flat after mile twenty, but you actually have to feel good to be able to fly that last 10k. If you decide to run CIM, practice on rolling hills (I did), and make sure you don't go too fast for you in the first half (guilty).

The last five miles felt horrible. My calves and quads were on fire with cramping and I wanted to stop and cry on the side of the road. By that point, the GU didn't help, the electrolye didn't help - the only thing to do was to put everything I had into getting to that finish line. My heart sank as hundreds of runners sailed past me. Hundreds. Of. Runners. I hadn't looked at my watch much and I glanced down just to peek. I knew I had to do something to pull it together. I gave myself a tough love pep talk (get it freakin together Nat) and I used my arms so much to get me through (Thank you every night push ups!!!).

I finished in a stream of hiccupping tears. I couldn't help it - that's what it was. Jerold was right there waiting for me and I hugged him so hard. 

Bummed that I didn't get a Shalane manicure! ;0

Look, this isn't a pity party - as so many people remind us, it's amazing to finish a marathon. I totally agree with that, I really do. I think it's definitely hard to have a tough finish and to hurt, but you learn from it. You pick yourself up, lick your wounds, dry your tears and keep marching forward.

After all, it's just running.

Do awesome things.