Posts Tagged ‘exercise’

A few weeks ago (yes, I’m quite behind on blogging about it…) Sean and I completed another section of the West Coast on bike: San Luis Obispo to the Mexican border.

We started on Thursday October 18th. Early in the morning we backed all of our bikes and camping gear into our car and drove from San Jose to San Luis Obispo (a 3 hour trip). Sean’s sister Mariah studies there, so we planned the beginning of the trip in such a way that we would be able to hang out with her for a few hours that first day.  When she headed to class in the afternoon, we attached all of our gear to our bikes, slathered on sun screen, and headed out.

us in slo

Sean and I, about to head out of San Luis Obispo

That first day we had only planned for a brief ride, knowing we wouldn’t hit the road until 3pm. The ride was from the Cal Poly campus to Pismo Beach – roughly 16 miles. We figured it would be nice to start the trip with a warm up day to make sure everything on the bikes was fine and we were set to go.


riding route – day 1


lovely spot near first camp at pismo beach


the bikes, fully-laden


lovely spot near first camp at pismo beach

The ride out of SLO was great – beautiful, easy and short. A perfect warm up. We arrived at our camp for the night at about 5pm – with plenty of time to set up camp, make dinner, and even wash our clothes. These sorts of trips we usually bring two sets of biking clothes (shorts+top) and dry the previous day’s washed clothes on our bikes as we ride. That’s why in a lot of our pictures our bikes are covered in socks and shorts and shirts – it’s an effective way to air-dry laundry, especially if it’s warm out.

In the evening, Mariah drove out to the camp to join us for dinner and hang out with us some more (we left our car with her for the week).  We had a great time just relaxing and eating copious amounts of roasted marshmallows. Camping as it should be :0).


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Yesterday was my birthday – I am 27.  I figured it would be a good time to ponder a bit both about this past year as well as the one ahead of me.

This past year has been pretty incredible.

Sean and I have done some amazing stuff.


-We went to Hawaii with friends on the vacation of a lifetime – it’s not uncommon for us to turn to each other and say “man, we need to go to Hawaii”. I was always resistant to Hawaii vacations, as I am to anything that seems even vaguely cliche…but man, what a time it was.



-We completed our first Olympic-length triathlon.

It hurt, but was totally worth it.

santa cruz tri


-We went to Ethiopia on a medical missions trip. This trip was my first foray into Africa and way out of my comfort zone. It has brought up a lot of questions about who I am and what I want to do with my life. Questions I’m still wrestling with, and probably will be for many years to come.



-My sister Anya and I traveled to Chicago and St. Louis to visit friends over Thanksgiving – an intense weekend of much needed sister and friend time. My love for the midwest has not waned.

st. louis


-December and January found Sean and I in San Diego for Christmas and Las Vegas for New Years. The Las Vegas strip New Years experience was decidedly more pleasant than I was anticipating.



-Sean and I moved yet again, into an adorable duplex with lots of storage space. We’re still working on home-ifying it, but it’s slowly coming together.


-We visited Denver – a city I’d never been to before. Plus, we got to explore an abandoned mining town, which was a super cool experience.



-Spring marked the start of wedding season – I booked 10 weddings this year. A decent amount for only my second year of being a professional photographer.



-We made another dent in our plan to bike the entire west coast by biking from Monterey to San Luis Obispo. 140 miles over 4 days – best bike trip to date!



-In May Sean and I kicked butt at a sprint tri in Moragn Hill – I beat my previous time by a full half hour!



-Sean and I traveled to Houston to visit Anya and co., and even made a trip to New Orleans. I LOVED NOLA and hope to return there again some day.



-July found us gathering with my whole family in San Diego for my grandpa’s 87th birthday. It just now dawns on me that he’s almost exactly 60 years older than me.




Man, we did a lot of traveling –

I didn’t even realize how much it was until I wrote it out!

…So now what?

Well, here’s a bit of what I’m hoping for / planning on for this next year:

-Another full length tri: I want to beat my time on the Santa Cruz tri!

-Complete a half-marathon

-Visit Tahoe

-Visit Boise

-Book more weddings! (I’d love 20…)

-Bike San Luis Obispo to Mexico! 400 miles of glorious California coast :0)

-Complete a full-size stained glass window

-Start painting again!

-FINALLY visit Russia with my hubby :0)

-I really want to start volunteering in some capacity

….and I guess we’ll just see what lies in store!

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I’ve never thought of myself as an athlete. I’ve always been a slow, somewhat sluggish, full-figured sort of gal. But I started doing triathlons a couple years ago and I suppose that means I’m an athlete now, no matter how slow, sluggish, or full-figured I may be. I’m not one of those triathletes who eats healthy and is all fit and fast and never gets out of breath. I’m one of those barely-walk-across-the-finish-line-but-feel-triumphant-anyway sorts of triathletes. And I love it.

I stopped biking and swimming right after the last tri in Sept, while continuing an occasional running schedule (in fact, getting worse and worse with each occasional run). We’ve been to Hawaii, Ethiopia, St. Louis, Chicago, San Diego and Las Vegas. Needless to say, I’ve fallen a little behind with my training, and I’ve eaten everything I could get my grubby little hands on. And can I tell you, it is more than a little depressing when you go from being able to run 5 miles to being able to barely run two. Ok, I said I was an athlete, not that I was a good one.

The the fun thing about triathlons is that you work, and sweat and strive and succeed… and then the tri happens and it’s like hitting the restart button. And if you try harder, maybe you can do better next time. The next tri I’m planning on is the Morgan Hill Sprint Triathlon at the end of May. It’s a great course that Sean and I have done before, and I am aiming to kick my previous time’s ass. Which shouldn’t be too hard, considering I came in dead last in my age group.

Well, this week was a good start to my journey to the next tri – 3 runs, a bike and a swim. The runs were short intervals : 2min walk (4mph)/2min run( 6mph). Times 5. Which is a lot worse than I used to do, but you gotta (re)start somewhere. For the bike (my first time in the saddle since October!) Sean and I biked to his work – a nice, slow 25 miles in the frosty morning. Then I topped the week off with an easy 30 laps in the pool, just trying to get the feel for it again.

Feels pretty good to be moving again. AND!

I’ve been having the worst lower back and hip pain. For weeks. Which didn’t help my running progress at all. I would have to take pain killers just to make it through my days of sitting at the computer (sitting with a bum hip = no fun) and my short runs. And sleeping? Forget about it. And then – a miracle.

There I was, stretching my hip after a long shower, trying to get the ache to mellow out and I hear a quiet “click” as something pops into place in my hip. Now, I don’t want to jinx it or anything, but I think it’s healed! NO PAIN for the first time in two months! I feel reborn.


Now I’m ready :0) Lemme at that treadmill!

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Sean and I are not too good with plans. We often try to squish too many plans into too short of an amount of time, and either end up exhausted and late everywhere, or just bailing on the entire thing and hanging out on the couch at home. This past weekend I had an unexpected last minute request to photograph a company picnic. Though we had already planned to go camping on this rare, free weekend, I couldn’t miss an opportunity like this. But of course, we had really been looking forward to camping, and Sean’s been jonesing for a bike trip for a while…so we decided to go ahead and do both.

The plan was this: Saturday morning, get up early and pack all of our camping gear. At 10:30, Sean would drive me up to Redwood City for the picnic. I would shoot and he would…chill…until 3pm. Then we’d drive home in record time, collect all of our belongings and bikes and magically make it to the bus stop by 4:45. We would catch the bus to Santa Cruz, get there at 5:30, grab dinner to go, and bike 20 miles down the coast with all out gear. We would make it to camp by 8:30, hopefully still in twilight. We would then take our time putting up the tent and have dinner. The following morning we’d get up at 7am (Ha!), pack up, and bike all the way back to Santa Cruz in time for the 11am church service. Then we’d grab coffee or lunch, hang out for a bit, and take an early afternoon bus back home.  Easy Peasy. Right?

Well, it only *sortof* went like that. The part about getting ready in the morning went off well enough, mostly because Sean did all of the packing and prepping, while I got my gear, my outfit, and my brains together for the photography gig. We’ve gotten a lot better about storing our camping stuff in such a way that it’s pretty well organized and easy to pack up (or perhaps it seemed that way to me, because Sean did most of the packing). The photography event went well, though I didn’t take into consideration what effect the combination of a warm, sunny day, a long-sleeved black outfit, and walking around taking pictures for three hours would have on me. I was exhausted – not a good way to start a camping trip.

By the time we got home it was after 4. I had to import my photos, finish packing my stuff, randomly stuffing bits of food in my mouth. At about 4:35, we were still unsure about where we’d make the bus or not. We decided to go for it after too much waffling, stuffing our heavy-laden bicycles one at a time into the elevator. We live on the third floor, and carrying our bikes down the stairs normally isn’t an issue, but when they are laden with camping gear it is quite a different story. We hussled our butts to the transit center a mere half mile away, only to watch our bus pull away from the curb.


The next bus wasn’t for another hour.  By the time we made it to Santa Cruz, grabbed a subway sandwich, realized we forgot a memory card for our camera at home (D’oh!) and decided not to buy a new one, it was about 7pm. It was also cold, and completely overcast – we were losing light fast.

It’s hard to describe the exhilaration of bike touring: the freedom of being on a bike, the knowledge that you have everything necessary for survival with you, knowing you can’t stop until you get to your destination. It got dark *fast*. My light was barely enough to see a few feet in front on me, so I was left blindly following Sean’s blinky red light in the distance, careening around corners,  hoping there was nothing in the road, trusting his lead and the bike beneath me. The thick mist was more of a drizzle, so even my glasses were put away, useless. it was pitch black, without streetlights in some places. Terrifying, and exciting.

It’s amazing how much of a difference 40 lbs of weight makes in the ease of a bike ride. On a regular day, Sean and I can make 20 miles in 1.5 hours – this took us 3. All my muscles were burning and screaming, my stomach growling, my whole body turned into some sort of angry hungry animal. I may have cursed the hilliness of Santa Cruz more than once.

When we finally got to the campsite, it was 10:30 and cold. Sean set up the tent, I made “dinner”. We absolutely demolished a subway sandwich, a large beer, two grilled cheeses and two mini pies.  We passed out cold sometime around midnight.

The following morning, when the alarm went off at 7am, we both groaned, said “forget it” and fell back asleep. We rolled out of the tent at about 9, had breakfast, went for a long walk n the beach. It was a much needed peaceful respite, a necessary prize for all the effort of the previous day. Turns out that that particular beach, halfway between Santa Cruz and Monterey, is some sort of sand dollar habitat. Funny to think about it, but sand dollars are in fact critters, alive (and fuzzy!) and the parts of them that we pick up on a beach are their corpses, cleaned off by flies and gnats. Ok, so it’s not “haha funny”…At any rate, I tossed the ones that looked still alive back in the water, and collected any that were still whole, but obviously just shells of their former selves.

We packed up an headed out at about 1. The ride back was so much easier (turns out it was mostly uphill on the way there), in the sunny Sunday daylight, everything seemed happy and easy. We passed through quintessential  California towns, full of bikini-ed girls and dudes toting surfboards. We got some legendary Pleasure Pizza. We made good time into Santa Cruz, and spent a while hanging out at our favorite coffee shop, playing cards and relaxing.

It was all as it should be.

And that, my friends, is how you do a weekend :0)

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As always, I am behind on my story-telling, but I ant to tell the stories anyway, lest I forget.

The weekend of May 16th, my parents and brother came up for the weekend to support Sean and I in our first-ever-together triathlon experience. We had a great time with the fam, and loved the tri. Hopefully this will be the start of a tradition!

My folks got into town on Friday the 14th. I had been tirelessly cleaning our apartment all week (I may have mentioned this before, but it’s truly amazing how hard it is to keep a tiny, cluttered space looking tidy). In all my efforts I ran out of time to make dinner. Plus, in a typical Liza miscalculation, I thought that they would arrive late (they told me so!) so I decided to take the rare Friday off an organize a girls’ night gathering.  I figured we’d go to get dinner, I could show them my wedding dress, and then we’d be all done by 11ish, which is when I expected my parents. Imagine my surprise when I called my parents at 7, on my way out to dinner, and found out they were a mere half hour away. I managed to have enough time to grab dinner to go and say hi to the girls, at which point my folks swung by, picked me up, and we headed back home.

After a whirlwind trip to the supermarket (which I only mention, because I found it hilarious how at the mention that I bought  “only one pizza” for dinner, the road-trippers panicked that there wouldn’t be enough food, and proceeded to run through the supermarket grabbing anything they could think of. “Liza, you don’t have yogurt!? How can you not have yogurt? WHAT, no tomatoes either!?”….and so forth. This was particularly funny because they were going to spend an entirety of 15 hours or so actually in my apartment, and most of those hours they would be asleep) we came home and ate dinner. We ended up devouring two pizzas and half a chicken, and my fridge was still stuffed with more food than it had seen the entire time Sean and I have lived there.

After some talk and story-sharing, Sean and I left to spend the night at Jess and Johns and gave my folks and Alexie the apartment.

On Saturday we miraculously collected enough bikes for all of us and went on a ride to Los Gatos along the creek trail:




We biked all the way down the trail, got sushi for lunch in Los Gatos, then continued on all the way to the dam! All in all it was 16 miles, and I was proud of the folks for making it so far, especially considering how long it’s been since any of them have really biked. After the ride we took quick showers and went to Sean’s parents’ house where we had a delightful dinner and hang out time. In the evening we all went to Gilroy, where we had booked hotel rooms because it is closer to the triathlon site. I passed out instantly but overall didn’t sleep too well. We had to get up at 4:30 and were at the race site by 5:30.

I was super nervous, as this was only my second race ever, and it was much bigger (and longer) than the first race I’d done. Plus, it was chalk full of pros – people darting around on their carbon-fiber bikes and such made Sean and I very self-conscious of our heavy hybrid bikes and the attached racks – Sean even had fenders on his bike!

It was a beautiful day out – chilly, foggy, fresh. Perfect for a race! We found spots for our bikes, got the wetsuits on, and got ready to go. The hour before the race went by in lightening speed, and before we knew it it was time for Sean to line up. The swim was first – 3/4 miles around a natural peninsula in the lake. They went by gender and age group, and Sean’s group was second. Nervously I watched them go, while I tried to warm up and calm down at the same time. Then it was time for my group. I started out to fast and was too anxious, and it took me a while to catch my stride and get a good rhythm. The water was cold, but not bad at all (especially compared to the ocean swim I did in the last tri!) and I found myself going along at a decent pace, for the most part staying in line with my group-mates. I liked that it wasn’t super crowded because of the way they paced it, but I still got the occasional elbow in the forehead from people passing by.

I tried keeping an eye on the buoys, which were our markers, but it was hard for me to keep going the same direction – I found myself pausing a lot to get my bearings and make sure I wasn’t swimming off in the wrong direction. I feel like I could have done it faster if I was better at staying on track. It felt like it took forever, and the swim is certainly the most anxiety-ridden portion of any race, just because it’s so dis-orienting and you can’t just stop to get your bearings. I was glad when that part was over.

Next came the 16 mile bike ride around the reservoir. It was super cold at times, being dripping wet as I was, especially on the downhills. I like the bike part a lot, even though I was constantly getting passed by people who started swimming way after me. I was going faster than i had expected to, though, which was encouraging. Plus, the route was really nice – beautiful rolling hills and only one really bad uphill followed by a long and winding stretch of down.

My family had been planning to show up a little late (because getting up at 430 is just ridiculous), and I saw them standing by the finish/start line right as I was coming to the end of the bike portion. I gobbled down an energy gel and got to running. It’s always a weird feeling at first – running after biking gives you major jelly-leg syndrome, and my legs were completely numb from being soaked and biking around. Oddly enough, I think that help, because I just got into a rhythm and started going. I was completely warmed up by this point (obviously!) so the running was a lot more painless than I was expecting. I paused at every mile marker to walk a minute and have some water or gels (they had stations with people handing stuff out) and found the whole thing went by quite fast. I was dreading the long time it normally takes me to do 5 miles, but I barely noticed it, I was so high on endorphins. Towards the last mile I started wearing down, but at that point I saw my mom, who had walked up the road to meet me. She ended up jogging with me the last mile or so, which gave me the energy to keep going. Thanks mom! :0)

All in all, I finished a half hour faster than expected (as did Sean) and was really quite proud of myself. Mostly, I was thrilled that the hard work I put into training paid off – so what if I was second to last? I know for a fact that I did better than I would have at any other time in my life, and that is very encouraging.


After the tri we all went out to lunch, and then we parted ways. The family headed back to San Diego and I….probably slept the rest of the day. Except for going to a work meeting, which made me very cranky, and was kind of an anticlimactic way to end such an eventful weekend.

Now, I am training again. Doing mostly running though, as that’s my wort sport. Looking forward tot he next tri!

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Today, Sean and I decided that after church we would head over to the UVAS reservoir in Morgan Hill to bike the route we will have to do for our triathlon in May . It was a perfect day for it – warm, but not too warm. Sunny, but not yet baking-your-head-sunny. There was even a slight breeze. The area is beautiful, I’d never been there before: lush green hills with small outcoppings of trees, little silty ponds and weary old houses. I love places that make me think of childhood summer trips to Lithuania, and this was one of those places. Quiet, idyllic.

We weren’t the only ones who had the idea – the place was positively crawling with spandex-clad multi-colored, fancy-road-bike-toting folk going on a ride along the tri route. I’m not positive they were all there to train, but they could have been, and it made me nervous thinking “this is what we’re up against”. Or, if you prefer the less competitive, “these are our co-triathletes, our comrades in the quest of bettering yourself and enjoying life to the fullest by pushing yourself pas your limits into a world of pain, sweat, and victory”.

So basically there were other bikers there, but we remained unfazed :0) Us, with our touring hybrid bikes that can’t even *reach* speeds these guys coast at. But I digress. we had a beautiful hour and a half ride through fertile farmland and peaceful country lane. For the record, most people did this ride in under 45 minutes last year….but who’s comparing? We had intended to do the 5 mile run there as well, but since that course is going to be down the middle of a 2-lane road, we thought better of it and headed back to the familiarity of our local track. There, I accomplished the single greatest person fitness feat since the completion of my first sprint tri last september – I ran a mile. I ran the whole way! Now, I know many people think that being able to run a mile must come before completing your first triathlon, but I assure, this is not necessarily the case. I ran/jogged the rest of the 5 miles, and ended up having run a little over 2 of those miles. I was so overwhelming proud of myself – I have never done that. Not in my entire life.

Today, I am not only a biker, a triathlete, and a slow swimmer. Today, I am a runner.

Furthermore, and most important, I am a runner who has had a great workout day and is now showered and cuddled up in bed planning an exciting evening of movie-watching and tea-drinking.

C’est La vie :0)



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