Author Archives: Jojo

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A few of my favorite things

Although I’m not a dedicated Oprah watcher, I did always tune into her annual (or sometimes bi-annual) “Favorite Things” show.  The show would feature the best of the best- apparel, electronics, foods, you name it.  Well, here are a few of the things and places that I love;

  • GU Vanilla Bean Energy Gel:  Ever since my first GU while training for my first marathon, I’ve thought I was a Chocolate kind of girl.  I’m you’re average chocaholic, but ever since trying this flavor at the Oakland Half Marathon in March, I’m hooked.  It’s the perfect amount of sweet, not overwhelming, and has a small amount of caffeine.  Everyone has their preference, but I’ve found my match in Vanilla Bean- yum!
  • Superfeet GREEN insoles– I suffered from knee pain on and off for a good portion of my running.  My dad finally got me to try Superfeet to add stability to my shoe and provide more support for my feet and legs.  The Green line is actually for hiking, but after a careful trial of both Green and Pink (Pink is more for female runners), I had to stick with the firmer Green pair.  They last for about 2 pairs of shoes, and add SO much value to any shoes I’ve run in.  My aches and pains have been healed!
  • Nook– This is a favorite little cafe of our staff.  We love their salads, but most of the menu is yummy.  They have free wi-fi, outdoor seating, and a nice space.  They use all fresh ingredients and have lots of healthy options.  I’m borderline salivating just thinking about it.
  • Fort Mason Hill– This is my favorite place to run hill repeats- it is a steep climb, but short and sweet.  I chase up or down the steep or less steep side over and over, looking up at the trees, waterfront, bridge, and beach beneath.
  • Brooks Adrenaline GTS 10– I’ve run in almost every top shoe brand out there, Asics, Nike, Saucony, you name it.  I ran in Brooks Adrenalines for my first marathon back in 2008, and was sad to part with them when they’d worn down.  When they were updated, I wasn’t as impressed, but with this most recent update, the GTS 10’s are phenomenal.  These are the best shoes I’ve run in yet- to prove it, I just finished up on my 2nd pair and ordered 2 more online.  If you don’t believe me- Runner’s World gave this shoe a “Best Update” award.  5 Stars!
  • Lilly’s Frozen Yogurt– Recently renovated, this place has self-serve low fat (or fat free) frozen yogurt and all the toppings you could ever want.  I love the “tart” yogurt flavors- pomegranate, original, raspberry, etc.  Then I usually top it with fresh berries, mochi, and fruity pebbles! It’s tasty and a lot less guilt than other desserts.
  • Headsweats Race Hat– These hats are the best for endurance athletes.  The material is lightweight, they are lined with a thin sweatband on the front, and they are machine washable for after a long run.  It clips in the back for a pony tail, and is super comfortable.  We also have headsweats Race Hats in our online store!
  • Udi’s Hawaiian Granola– I found this stuff at Real Foods on Polk Street and have been hooked ever since.  It’s all natural and only 120 calories per serving (not bad for Granola!).  It has macadamia nuts, dried pineapple, and coconut for the tropical flavor.  I put this on top of Fage Greek Yogurt for extra protein.
  • The Athlete’s Palate Cookbook: Ever since “Dublin” gave me this cookbook for my birthday, I’ve been smitten.  So far I’ve loved the Asparagus Omelet Tart with Polenta Crust, the Salmon Lettuce Gyros, Pancetta Wrapped Chicken, and the Naan Pizza with Canadian Bacon, Asparagus and Fontina Cheese.  My favorite part is that it’s written by athletes, for athletes and it tells you which recipes are best for recovery, training, etc. And since athletes understand limited schedules, they’re all really easy to make.
  • Bumble and Bumble Seaweed Shampoo– I used to buy my shampoo and conditioner at Whole Foods, or Trader Joes, nothing fancy.  But recently my hairdresser Dana at Backstage Salon SF (another favorite- it’s a salon and art gallery in one! Awesome place) recommended this stuff because I wash my hair so often.  Daily running= Daily shampooing and that’s a lot of hair damage.  This stuff has changed my life- the soft smell is amazing, my hair is healthy and soft, and it repairs all the damage I’m doing with my ponytails, runs, time in the sun, and hard water in my old apartment building.
  • Garmin Forerunner– You can’t get much more accurate than GPS.  When I started working at The SF Marathon, I tried my first watch on, and now I rarely run without it.  My roommates have nicknames my watch “Gary Garmin”, because they think I’m a bit attached, but it’s nice to be able to leave my apartment to go out for a run and be able to run in any direction without mapping it ahead of time.  That way I can enjoy my run and know when it’s time to turn around and go home.
  • Green Layer Arm Warmers– When our friends at Green Layer sent a pair of these over to me, I was really excited to try them out.  I’d tried running with other arm warmers before, but fit is key.  I took my first run in them, and I was immediately obsessed.  They didn’t slip or slide, and they were a nice sleek black color, and great design.  Stay tuned, we will soon be selling SF Marathon Arm Warmers (by Green Layer) in our online store.
  • Synergy Grape Kombucha– Michelle and Francis brought the Kombucha trend to The SF Marathon office, and slowly but surely we all became hooked.  We all have our favorites, but mine is Grape.  Awesome health benefits, unique flavor, and low calorie.
  • Finally, my favorite PLACES in San Francisco: Crissy Field and The Coastal Trail.  Nothing calms me more than the water.  Crissy Field is great for the long stretch of beach property, people walking their dogs along, and the unmatched view of the Golden Gate Bridge.  The Coastal Trail is a bit more remote, a higher viewpoint, and windy trail with trees and cliffs.  When I first ran here, I could not believe I was in a big city, it feels so “naturey”.  I love to run in both spots, and fondly refer to them as “My Happy Places”.
  • GLEE Cast Soundtrack– Total guilty pleasure- but I haven’t found someone yet who has watched Glee and doesn’t love it.  I downloaded the soundtrack from iTunes, and a lot of the songs are great to run to.  The show’s star Lea Michelle has an fantastic voice, fun to sing-a-long to.
  • Restorative Yoga– With my training schedule ramping up as I train to *hopefully* qualify for Boston, and the stress of Race Day of The SF Marathon approaching in only 83 short days, this style of yoga centers and rejuvenates me.  It is more effective than any nap I’ve ever taken, and really allows me to unwind.  The props (straps, bolsters, blocks, blankets, sand bags) all help achieve the ultimate relaxation.  Namaste!
  • Inner Sunset Farmer’s Market– After living in this neighborhood for a short stint when I first moved here, this is still my favorite farmer’s market.  The location (right near Arizmendi Cooperative Bakery, The Beanery Coffeeshop), this is a one stop shop.  This farmer’s market is a pretty new one, just this year opened to year round shopping.  Buy local!
  • Lemon Zest Luna Bars– They’re sweet and tart- and although I thought they’d be on the more “sugary” end of bars, when label checking in Trader Joe’s last week, I noticed that this kind is one of the best on the sugar spectrum.  Perfect for my 4PM lull to give me some energy before Track, a run, or a yoga class.

Those are just a FEW of my favorite things, what are yours?


Saving the Planet: One run at a time

Running is a pretty “green” sport right?  We use our legs, feet, and a pair of shoes to travel wherever we choose to go that day.  When I moved to the city back in May of 2009, I ditched my car and decided to bike, run, walk, BART, and Muni around town to save the headache of parking and traffic.  So far, I don’t have a bike, so my daily commute is either a bus or my two feet.  Lately, as the days have gotten longer and sunnier (approaching summer!), I’ve gotten into running home from work.

So for Earth Day, why not run TO work?  It was a pretty simple idea, we packed up gear in our new San Francisco Marathon Backpacks (they’re perfect for commuting- tons of pockets for shoes, laptops, waterbottles, etc) and decided to leave our houses at 8AM sharp.  When I walked out my door, it couldn’t have been a more perfect day.  The sun was shining down as I made my way to Kezar Stadium (where we have our Training Program Track Workouts), through Golden Gate Park, up through the Richmond and Presidio, and then weaving my way through Pacific Heights to the office.   I bumped into a few runners along my way, giving a woman in San Francisco Marathon 2007 Race Shirt a free race registration– she seemed pretty surprised by my offer.   I gave out the rest of the gear to runners who all looked equally as surprised that I was running around with a backpack of free stuff, but I think I had the most fun giving it all away.

The most fun part was seeing our Twitter and Facebook feeds come in on my phone as I ran.  A bunch of our fans/followers were inspired to run to work, saying “Thanks for the Challenge”.  Laura from Sacramento ran 7.5 miles to work and posted these pics of the run:

Blake took the challenge all weekend, biking, running, and conquering all kinds of weather before finally “rescuing the gas guzzler” on Sunday.

Here’s what a few of the staff had to say about the run:

“This year for Earth Day we decided that we would all run to work and share some of the cool stuff we have here in the office with our loyal facebook followers. At first this sounded like a great idea. Then I remembered that I was on Dublin watch and that I live about 5 miles from the office. Dublin and I made this trek home once in the past. It took us almost 3 hours to cover the distance as he ate EVERYTHING in his path. Really, San Francisco residents, we need to put our food garbage in a can of some sort and not toss it in the cross walk, in the gutter or on the sidewalk. Please! A Labrador’s health is at stake!
As flashbacks to this day made me wary, I agreed to get out and run, but decided Dublin and I would need to be dropped off close to the office. Our neighbor dropped us off at Crissy Field and we began our Green Day run along the sunny waters of the SF Bay. What a great way to start the day! Dublin was beside himself running in the grass at Crissy Field (his 2nd favorite thing to do) and then taking a swim at East Beach (his absolute favorite activity!) Typically we take a quick walk in Golden Gate Park, so today felt like Saturday.
There were so many people out running, walking, riding. It’s amazing how health conscience our City is. I love being a part of it. I counted 5 people wearing past San Francisco Marathon t-shirts and 12 dogs (I always count dogs when I run.) While few of the runners that passed me stopped to chat, I was able to pass out a few shirts and some other swag to people who were willling to chat with my wet dog and me. I think we made some people’s day!”

“My Earth Day route took me from Noe Valley through the Castro and down the multi-cultural Market Street Corridor until I reached the elegant Waterfront on the Embarcadero.   I meet all kinds of people: runners, walkers, businessmen and women, and tourists all having great importance on Earth Day.  My goal that day was to reward runners for running either to work or for pleasure by handing out San Francisco Marathon Gear as a thank you for helping save the earth.”

“On Earth Day, I did one of my favorite runs: I started at Pacific Heights, then down to Crissy Field / Marina Green, through Fort Mason, and back up to Russian Hill.  This delightful course gave me the chance to enjoy trees, sand, fields, fresh air and more natural wonders.  I stopped several runners along the way and handed out SF Marathon goodies.  One of the runners was an Entrepreneur who started an eco-friendly company.  We bonded over fitness and going green.  What a wonderful way to celebrate Earth Day!”

Hope you all had as much fun as we had exploring and celebrating the beautiful day!  Keep running and having the planet!


Running Green!

As a runner, I have found a deeper appreciation for the environment, the public parks, city streets, and paths that I scamper along on my daily runs.  These roads and trails are the places I go to unwind, breathe, and center myself.  That is why I’m so thankful to live in a place with lush green trees, sandy beaches, pebble paths, grassy fields, and air fresh off the ocean.

I think all of us at The SF Marathon would agree that we’d like to keep this city (and planet) in pristine condition.  So this Thursday April 22nd, in honor of Earth Day, we will all be running to work and hope you’ll join us!  Here are the details:

Beginning at 8AM, Abe, Libby, Francis, Michelle, Roslyn, Natalie, and I will leave our homes to run to work.  If you want to join us, we will be out running (scattered around different SF neighborhoods) with prizes for runners who find us on our way to work.  We will be out running until about 9AM.

We will each have one free race registration to give out, socks, discounts, hats, and more.  If you find us- you can choose any prize we’ve got left!  Pretty sweet deal if you ask me, you’ll get your training run in for the day, spare the environment, and win cool stuff!

Stay tuned, we will be posting details on what/who exactly to look for, and tips on how to find us later in the week.

So lace up your shoes this Thursday and run green with us!


Our (sometimes dysfunctional) little family

As Libby mentioned last week, it tends to surprise people that planning The SF Marathon is a full time job.  Year round, 40 hours a week (or more), Monday-Friday, we are here, planning for the one big day where 25,000 runners come together and take the challenge.  There is a lot of work to be done to make this day happen, and not many of us to put it all together.

Some people may not identify themselves by their work, but I am proud to say I do.  Of our conscious hours each each week, we spend almost half of them working, so why wouldn’t it be a big part of my life?  With all that time, it’s hard not to feel like coworkers aren’t friends, or another family.  In this office, I like to say we are one little (sometimes dysfunctional) family. After all, we work, run, dine, travel, cook, work-out, and more together…

I’ve grown to love the team we’ve created.  Every Wednesday is “breakfast day”, where we take turns bringing in homemade breakfast for each other.   Almost every morning, Abe and I make our daily walk to Starbucks where he orders his Mocha, and I order my Americano.  On Wednesdays, Roslyn, Michelle, and I venture to the track to join The SF Marathon training program for their work-outs.  Francis and Michelle take turns sneaking down the street to the store to load the office mini- fridge with Kombucha.

Wednesday Breakfast! Bear Naked Granola, Greek Yogurt, and fruit!

Kombucha- the new rage in The SFM office

We all have our roles in this “family” we’ve created too.  Libby is our “Mother Hen” as we like to call her.   Before her Race Director days, Libby was a teacher.  She makes sure we’re all healthy and happy, and makes sure to shoo us out the door  if we attempt to stay late at the office.  Then we have Michelle, she is like the “Cool Aunt”.  She is creative, has a quirky sense of humor, and has the potential to encourage questionable decisions like skipping a day of work to go down to the beach, shopping for running gear, or go sip margaritas at an outdoor cafe.

Michelle testing out her new camera!

Our family doesn’t exactly have a father figure, but we do have the “Nutty Uncle”, that would be Francis…  He’s also a creative type- very smart, with a dry sense of humor.  He is usually cracking jokes and causing trouble around the office.  He likes to routinely change around desks, suggest that we all leave for the day, and distract people in meetings with the laser pointer.  I always count on him to lighten the mood during a long meeting, or to spontaneously suggest a “field trip”.

Then we have Abe.  I think all the running he is doing to train for his ultra-marathon is damaging brain activity.  While he’s a comic and chatty Cathy, he is also the guru I turn to for training advice.  Abe is Yoda, all knowing and wise.   I always pre-approve training with him.  He refers to me as the “Jedi Knight” that can kick his old-man butt, but I think he’s still got it in him to beat me in a foot race.

Libby and Abe on our trail run in Marin!

Natalie and Roslyn are relatively new to our team.  They moved into Libby and I’s “Girl’s Only Office” just a month or two ago.  As Bart Yasso once mentioned to Libby, The SF Marathon is a race put on by “a bunch of chicks”.  Well, our atrium office is full of the feminine energy.  We’ve got female running posters, candles, flowers, an ipod player shuffling through our tunes, and plenty of “changes of clothes” for those lunchtime runs, gym trips, or yoga classes after work.

Girl's office- full of posters!

I suppose if I had to choose a role for myself, I’d say I’m the youngest child, the baby.  Francis jokes that I’m like having another daughter- always spending money (buying Race Merchandise, Goodie Bags, Finisher’s Shirts, etc).  I light up when packages are delivered to the office, bragging that I “always get the fun mail”.

But my favorite member of our family?  Our mascot, Dublin Moon.  No offense to the others, I think the feeling is mutual, he’s the coolest guy around.  Dublin is Libby’s Chocolate lab, he’s about 18 months old, and a very playful pup.  He’s pretty hard not to love, and spends his days curled up on his SF Marathon blanket, or nosing his way into our meetings.  He does get a little restless periodically throughout the day, but there are plenty of people to take him out to play.  He’s got bones, treats, toys, tennis balls, and other loot sprinkled around the office.

Dublin Moon paying a visit to my desk

Dublin's naptime...

Put together, we’re a pretty dynamic team.  So as I sit here at “work”, surrounded by yoga pants, running shoes, homemade Kombucha, excessive amounts of post-its, and a puppy at my feet, I can’t help but smile.   So as I once was told, “Find a job you love, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life”.


Finding my balance (Part 1)

I am a runner.  For years, I’ve trained my body to conquer the hills, go the distance, fight through weather, change my pace, and see new things through running.  I have my battle wounds to prove it, too.  Last weekend, my mom and I went to get a pedicure together.  The man working on my toes looked up from my feet and asked “you’re a runner, aren’t you?” I guess my black and blue toenail, blood blister, and rough skin on my feet was a bit of a giveaway.  But I nodded with pride because I’d take a good run over pretty toes any day. (Don’t get me wrong- I do LOVE a good pedicure)…

Anyway, I’ve found my sport.  One that I can do almost every day of the week, one that challenges me, and one that gives me sanity.  But recently I’ve come to the conclusion that I could use some stretching, relaxation, and strength training in my life.  After some encouragement from Luke, Francis, Libby, and Michelle, I finally caved and committed myself to finding my balance (and hopefully my inner yogi).

The goals: to use yoga to decompress and de-stress while we get closer and closer to the one day of the year we spend the other 364 preparing for.  To improve my flexibility, stretching, reduce soreness after my daily pounding of the pavement.  And to improve upper body and core strength.

With these goals in place, I devised a plan.  I will test out 3 different yoga studios in San Francisco over the next few months, all styles, and hopefully find a way to incorporate yoga into my lifestyle.  My first stop was The Yoga TreeLuke is an avid Yoga Tree go-er, and conveniently there are 4 locations in the city to choose from.  I checked out their schedules and was mesmerized.  Hatha, Vinyasa, Iyengar, Flow, Shadow, I had no idea what these meant.  So I signed up for a “Shadow Yoga” class and was on my way to enlightenment.

I showed up for my first day with a “I heart running” water bottle and my mat.  I snuck into the back row (perfect- no one could see me topple over when the trickier moves came around…)  There was a little bit of chanting, I listened and tried to figure out the tune, but clearly I did not buy the “Shadow Yoga Sing-a-long” before I came because I was not picking up the melody.  Next we did some gentle stretching, twists, etc.  Later we progressed into some poses with a martial arts theme.  The instructor explained everything fully, and there was rarely a time when I was completely lost.  All in all, my first class was a success.

Later that week, I signed up for the Gentle Hatha class with a friend of mine who lives down the street.  Friday night came and we walked down to the studio, exhausted after a busy week of work.  Although I had no idea what I’d signed up for, the stars aligned, and the class turned out to be exactly what my body needed: relaxing, restful, meditative, and deep stretching.  In the dark room, with sage and candles burning, we slowly worked through different poses on our mats with bolsters, blankets, and blocks.  For any injuries, there was always an alternative.  We kept our eyes closed and tried to get in touch with what we individually needed from the class.  Walking out of class that night, I was convinced I’d napped for at least 4 hours-  it was the most relaxed I’d felt in ages.

Having conquered (or rather surviving) 2 different styles, I was ready to try Vinyasa yoga.  A few weeks ago, Luke recommended this style to me, saying it incorporates great poses for runners.  This time, I headed south to the Valencia studio in the Mission District. Again, I crept to the back of the room and tried to keep a low profile.  The class was so different from the sleepy-time gentle class before.  The room stayed warm as the instructor lead us through dynamic poses at a quick pace.  My heart was pumping, muscles burning, and mind racing as I tried to keep up.  There were definitely poses I struggled with, but I persisted, not giving up.  This class was the most challenging so far, and a serious work out!

Now finished with stop #1 on my “Yoga Tour”, I know more than I did 2 weeks ago;
1. My body is not ready to be a triangle, a camel, or a king dancer
2. On the contrary- I’m well on my way to becoming an eagle, a happy baby, a child, a dog, or a warrior.
3. When it comes to attire- anything goes! But beware of room temperatures…
4. Breathe, breathe, breathe!



Double Header- 1 weekend, 2 great Races!

Since I love trying out new races, I usually pick a few each month.  Although, never have I run two races in one weekend.  This was definitely a first for me!

A few months ago my roommate Allie and I decided to sign up for The Big Sur Mud Run- a 5 miler with drill sargents, lots of mud, obstacles, and more.  I thought it’d be a great way to try out something new and have a fun run before beginning training for my next full marathon. A few weeks later, Abe invited me to run the Oakland Half Marathon, and since it sounded fun, I signed up for that too!

Lately I’ve found that all races have very different purposes.   Some races require months of training and dedication to reach the finish line, some are a tune-up for another race, some are meant to test limits, some are just for a good time with friends, and some are to make a difference in the community.  Also,  in my case, running is “research”.   I like to go out a see what makes a race fun, what do runners like to see when they come to race.  Libby, Abe, Natalie, Roslyn, and Michelle are the same way, so it really helps us stay creative and always looking to improve the runner experience at The SF Marathon.

Saturday began at 5:30 as I groggily scrounged up my oldest running clothes I could find, laced up my old running shoes (the ones I thrashed a few weeks ago at the Woodside Half Marathon) and  hopped into the car.  Allie and I drove South (just under 2 hours) to CSU Monterrey Bay.  When we arrived, the announcers were already on the mic, warning us of the obstacles we’d encounter when the gun went off.  About 45 minutes later, the announcers lead us through a warm up- Military Style.

Then, the gun went off, and Allie and I were running!  There were drill sargents all along the course, some cheering, some yelling for us to continue.   About a mile in, we hit our first mud pit.  With a little hesitation, we jumped in and crawled over the barriers.  Shoes soaked and legs dripping with mud, we continued up the sandy path.  The route wound through the hills for another mile or two and we arrived at mud pit #2, this time there was a wall to climb over, and then another long swamp of mud.  The drill sargents yelled “knees and elbows, knees and elbows” as we crawled through, covering ourselves in gunk.  Thankfully, we were rewarded by a beer stop at around 3.5 miles.  Two more mud pits followed, we walked a wood plank, did push ups, and climbed another wall.  When we reached the final stretch, we crawled through the mud under a net, mud splashing all over us.

We ran to the finish, drenched and dirty.  Allie and I collected our medals and t-shirts, laughing uncontrollably at the sight of each other, and hurried over to the shower line to clean up a little before heading home.   It took about twice as long to scrape and scrub all the mud off as it did to finish the run- but we had such a good time!

Check out that “mud-line” on my ankle!! (that’s after the first shower!)

After all the muddy mess, I was ready for the next challenge.  At around 7:30am Sunday, I met up with Abe and another running friend to drive over to Oakland.  We got there with lots of extra time, and wandered around a little bit, checking out the “festival” all around the Start Line.  We decided on a meeting place in case we separated during the race and checked our gear in the tents.  At 9:00, we were off running!

I started off a little bit slower, weaving through the crowd and warming up a little.  As I wove through the crowd, I counted the SF Marathon shirts on the course, I know it’s a little bizarre, but I somehow always get the urge to high-five these runners and say hello… Still haven’t built up the courage, but someday I will. 🙂 After the first mile, I picked up the pace and tried to keep a  consistent speed.  The crowd support was great- spectators and cheer stations were dispersed all along the course!

About halfway through the run, one of the pacers from The SF Marathon Training Program caught up to me and said he’d been running with Abe and the others.  We ran and chatted for a while, and it was great to have someone to run with and keep me at a consistent pace.  Eventually, he was off searching for other running friends, and I was almost to the finish line.  I ran along Lake Merritt, up a short hill, and took one last turn towards the finish.  Pushing to the end, I finished in 1:44, a new PR!  I grabbed some water and waited for the others to come in.

Oakland was a great lesson for me, I haven’t run very many half marathons since I started running full marathons (my personal favorite).   Although I love running the full 26.2, the half marathons are great for me to test my speed and tune up while training for my next full.  For me, it is a way to test my speed and improve my pace.

I have no plans to run 2 races in the same weekend again, but I will say, it was definitely an adventure.  Every race is a new opportunity to celebrate our sport with other runners.  So, if you ask me, we should all get together and celebrate a little more often.