Perfectly Imperfect

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Wow! It’s been over 3 months since I’ve written here…

I know that the main reason is that I was waiting for an opportunity to come and type out a wonderfully written upbeat, positive post with beautiful images. For years I have called myself a “procrastifectionist”. I don’t know if that’s a real term used by others but I know it perfectly describes me and some of my tendencies. I procrastinate because I’m a perfectionist. If I feel I can’t do something perfectly or ‘just right’ I will put it off. I know I’m not the only person who does this but I can’t help to get frustrated with myself when I notice myself doing it.

These past few months have been a roller coaster. There were changes to my husband’s job, the excitement of coaching my Start Training participants (which is coming to a culmination with their participation at Giant Race this Sunday), three months of medical mystery hell, and more. Emotionally, it has been draining. Physically, it has been exhausting. Spiritually, I feel disconnected. Mentally, I feel scattered.

I convinced myself, while I couldn’t sleep last night, that I am perfectly imperfect, that I can embrace my imperfections and love them, that I can work with myself instead of against myself, and that NO ONE is perfect. We all have struggles and challenges. We all have different ways of coping with everything that happens in our lives, whether we perceive it as good or bad. And as I told Mr. Skinny the other day, we have a 100% track record of getting through a tough time. We always do!

In spite of all of this I’ve found my crafting mojo! I’ve been knitting through a lot of it – I’ve got a pile of items to photograph. I’ve sewn some bags with plans for more. I asked my cousin to help me make a handmade notecard for a swap since she’s into Stampin’ Up and now I’ve been bitten by the papercrafting bug. I signed up for the Paper Pumpkin monthly subscription and got some supplies to make some cute paper stuff. I’ve been looking up Zentangles because I love to doodle when I’m bored and I like the way they look. And I bought some coloring books for adults because who doesn’t love to color?

I’ve got a lot of things going on and honestly, as much as I want this blog to be about rainbows and unicorns our life isn’t like that. We live a normal life, one filled with ups and downs. We cope with it all and we get through it. Is it fair to think that I will always have something great to blog about? I don’t think so but I can share about what normal looks like for us and how we get through all the ups and downs.

Here’s to being PERFECTLY IMPERFECT!

 


Our future is why

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Our story may be familiar to yours, or someone you know. It is one of the many reasons why I joined the American Heart Association’s Start Training Program as a coach in an effort to promote physical activity and to raise funds for the American Heart Association towards carrying out the mission to build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.

My mom, Irma, has always been a strong, independent, hard working woman. On August 11, 2012 our world got turned upside down when she had an ischemic stroke that affected one-third of the left hemisphere of her brain. Initially, she had no sensation or movement on the right side of her body and she could not speak. The first doctor who saw her gave me no guarantees that she would be able to walk again or use her right arm again. He wasn’t sure if the extent of the stroke would lead to full paralysis of her right side.

Thankfully, she received excellent care at the Rehabilitation Facility where they helped her make vast improvements. My mom is now walking with the use of a cane, and is able to use her right hand for some tasks even though her left hand is now her dominant hand. She still experiences expressive aphasia; she knows exactly what she wants to say but the way the stroke affected her brain makes it difficult for her to get the words out. This is probably the most frustrating aspect for her, in addition to needing assistance for all her daily living activities. The loss of independence has been a tough adjustment for her. To make things more complicated, my mom has developed a seizure disorder that is possibly caused by the scar tissue surrounding the area of her stroke; this is under control due with medication. I am grateful for the excellent team of medical professionals we have to help us. Our focus now is on regaining whatever she can through regular activity. My mom will never be at 100% like she was before this stroke, but I hope to be able to get her as close as I can.

I’m a coach for the AHA Start Training program to support my mom and other family/friends who have experienced heart disease or stroke. I also know firsthand the positive impact physical activity can have on someone with a chronic condition. I live with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia, both conditions which were severely debilitating to me, requiring me to quit my career and almost putting me in a wheelchair. I started walking on my treadmill in September 2012 with a goal of completing a half marathon in June 2013. I ran my first 5K in December 2012 and I completed my first half marathon on June 8, 2013. Running has put my conditions in remission, allowing me to care for my mom full‐time. In less than 2.5 years I have run 26 half marathons, many 10Ks and 5ks and countless training miles. I have also lowered my blood pressure and other risk factors for cardiovascular disease and stroke.

Imagine the impact if we reduce death and disability from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20% by 2020! Please support me and my mom in helping to reach this lifesaving goal by giving a donation to the American Heart Association today! Any amount big or small can make a huge difference. I don’t want my kids to see a family member in the hospital due to a heart attack or stroke ever again, they’ve been affected enough already. Thanks in advance for your support.

The link to donate online is: http://starttrainingbayarea.heart.org/simplygabriela

If you’d like to help me by hosting a fundraiser, I’d truly appreciate it. Contact me! Email is livinglavidanormal AT gmail DOT com


DEAR Monday: Catching up on 2015

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DEAR graphic

 

 

Every year I set a reading goal, usually I set out to read at least one more book than the year before or 52 books whichever is higher. Last year I didn’t read as much as I would have liked. I finished 27 books during the 2014 calendar year. I have two goals for 2015. I’ll be happy to read at least 28 books and after that a minimum of 52 books would be great. I’ve read seven books so far, according to my Goodreads 2015 challenge I’m 10 books behind schedule towards the 52 book goal.

Most recently I read the Fixed series by Laurelin Paige. There are four books in total – Fixed on You, Found in You, Forever with You, and Hudson. I really liked this series dealing with Alayna and Hudson, the strange beginning to their relationship, all the twists and turns they went through, how raw and real the characters were as they were developed, and their triumph overall. I loved that the fourth book was written from Hudson’s perspective as the first three books were written from Alayna’s perspective. I liked reading his point of view and what was happening with him when we didn’t have that insight in the other books. There’s another series that came out of this one that has to do with another one of the characters. I’m on the lookout for those books so I can read them next.

I highly recommend these books, they were a quick read and very engaging. I read all four books in two days. Granted that I didn’t have much scheduled those two days, I can read very fast, and I stayed up late to finish. Warning: there are some scenes with graphic descriptions of a sexual nature, it’s pretty obvious from the covers. So if you don’t like to read those types of books then don’t read these.

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What are you reading? I’m always looking for book recommendations.

 

 


Field of Daisies: WIP Wednesday

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I am so spoiled! For many reasons but the ones that relate to this post are two-fold. First, I’ve found my knitting mojo, the same knitting mojo that was lost for the better part of 2014 has now returned in full force. The second is that I am spoiled by awesome designers who allow me to test knit patterns for them.

My friend Tabitha is an amazing knitwear designer. I met her years ago on Ravelry and I’ve tested several patterns for her. Remember the Amazing Traveling Owen Hat? That is one of Tabitha’s designs. Anyways, right now I have the pleasure of test knitting the Field of Daisies Shawl for her. This pattern was previously published in a book and Tabitha is going to be offering it as an individual pattern very soon. It is an absolutely stunning pattern and I’m so happy I’m working on it!

At Stitches West in 2011 I purchased this skein of Creatively Dyed Yarn’s Sami (100% superwash merino) in the color way Willowemac. (Unfortunately, as I was looking up the website to link here it seems that Dianne is no longer in business as of 7/31/14.) It has very generous yardage – 510 yards in a 184g skein, so it had always been either too much or too little for other shawl projects. Since this shawl calls for 450 yards of fingering weight yarn this is the perfect project for this yarn. It only took me 4 years to wind the yarn and cast on with it…


And this is what it looks like knitting up into a Field of Daisies… Isn’t it pretty?


I only have two more rows of daisies to knit and then I’ll move on to the border. I’m hoping to finish the daisies today so that I can work on the border at my IV infusion tomorrow. I really hope that the IV goes in a spot where I can still knit. It doesn’t always happen but I’m so glad when it does. Knitting is my favorite way to make the time pass while connected to the IV machine.

I’m back to linking up my posts. This week I’m linking up with Tami for WIP Wednesday on Tami’s Amis and with Ginny for Yarn Along on Small Things.

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What are you working on? Please share in the comments, I love to find inspiration in all of your projects.


Pardon my dust!

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<blowing on the keys>

Tap, tap, tap… is this thing on? Oh good, it still works!

Oh boy! It’s been some time since I’ve stopped by here and posted about all of the things that are going on in our oh so normal life.

With so many things going on, at all times, and with me feeling like I’m ON 24/7 I haven’t had the opportunity to sit and write the way I like to. I generally like to sit for a block of uninterrupted time to get a post out. And I don’t often do a lot of editing to a post once I’ve written it, that just doesn’t work for me. Once I start editing then it gets complicated and I never hit publish on the post. Well, I will go back and read it and make sure I didn’t spell anything wrong or forget a word because sometimes my brain goes faster than my fingers but you know what I mean…

The second half of 2014 turned out to very eventful. We were working on settling down after my mom had some health concerns that we kept going back to the hospital for. We had lots of doctor’s appointments to figure out what was going on and making adjustments to medications, etc to get her back to some medical stability. I’m very happy to say that physically she has been stable since early June of last year. I’m glad we have a good team of doctors who are monitoring her and who really take what we have to say into account, since we are with her 24/7 it really is important for them to truly take what we say into account. However, that did keep me very busy.

Last year there was also a lot of running. And business launching. And education. And RRCA Certification as an Adult Distance Running Coach. And personal and professional development. And room parent, again. And some reading. And some crafting. And a broken sewing machine that needed a full overhaul. And a new job for hubby. And a new job for our 19 year old. And finally deciding and following through with cutting my hair short – I should have done it years ago when I first wanted to. And probably a whole lot of other things that I’m forgetting. I’m glad to say that we have been LIVING life as normally as normal can be for our family.

Cheers! Here’s to an amazing rest of 2015. The first 2 and a half months have been great already. Stay tuned for more coming soon including See Jane Run Ambassadorship for 2015 with a race entry giveaway and the American Heart Association Start Training Program.


Merry Go Round

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The past month and a half has been a whirlwind, I feel like we were set on a ridiculously fast merry go round that was set to spin and we’re finally slowing down to a standstill.

 

Image courtesy of cbenjasuwan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of cbenjasuwan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The biggest impact came from my mom having to go to the hospital a couple of times. She had a couple of seizures break through. The current theory is that she is having seizures due to the scar tissue left over from her stroke. They have now adjusted her medications again and it seems that this time she is on the right dosage. There are no identified triggers for her seizures so nothing for us to do prevent them in terms of lifestyle or environment. I’m hopeful that this dosage will continue to be effective so she doesn’t have to deal with these anymore.

I am way behind on race recaps but they’re coming. My plan is to work backwards so I’ll start with the June races and go back to February. I have a lot of pictures to prepare for these posts and I’m excited to share them with you.

I haven’t been reading as much as I thought I would. We have been going to the library regularly this summer. Mr. Snugglebunny and I have both completed the library’s summer reading challenge. Mr. Bubbinsky and Mr. Snugglebunny have been enjoying checking out all sorts of graphic novels. They love superheroes so they’ve been catching up on all the stories. I am a HUGE Wonder Woman fan but I don’t enjoy the newer comics, there’s something about the way she’s drawn. They found a collection from the early 70s so I’ve been reading that one. There are 12 stories in the collection but I’ve been reading them one at a time. I seem to be enjoying it more that way than just powering through the whole thing at once.

I’ve also been doing a lot of work behind the scenes to establish my own business. I will be unveiling the website for “Simply Empowered Wellness” soon. My business will be focusing on wellness, taking our power back to be healthy and live life as fully as possible. Incorporating movement/exercise, nutrition and natural healing. Working towards healthy bodies and healthy minds.

I’m working on Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) Coaching Certification. I took the course on July 12th and 13th and I’m working on the exam. I will complete the First Aid/CPR/AED training on August 1st and then I should receive my certification shortly after that. I’m excited to share my love of long distance running with others and helping them train towards their goal races. I’m going to be pursuing a personal trainer certification and also a sports nutrition certification. I am also adding other complimentary businesses that support the mission of my business.

The first complimentary business is with DoTerra Essential Oils. I have used essential oils for a long time at home. Most of us are familiar with scents like Lavender for calming but there are so many essential oils. Their uses are just as varied as their scents. My DoTerra site has a lot of information. Please let me know if I can help answer any questions for you.

I’m so excited to get all this business stuff settled so I can concentrate on working the businesses and taking care of my family. I’m running the 2nd Half Marathon for the San Francisco Marathon on Sunday. I’m excited to get out there and run another half marathon… it’s been almost a month. You know you’re a half fanatic if you have withdrawal symptoms because you haven’t run a half marathon.


End of May already!

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I can’t believe it’s already the end of May! This month has been so busy with end of the school year activities. Mr. Snugglebunny has 2 weeks left of 5th grade and Mr. Bubbinsky has one more week left with students. There have been lots of field trips, projects, activities.

This month just flew right by me. I think part of the reason was that I proctored AP exams at one of the high school’s for the first two weeks of the month. That ate up all my mornings and I had to squeeze everything in during the afternoons.

I did run half marathon #7 of the year – the Capitola Half Marathon in Santa Cruz, earning myself a PR and mooning up to Saturn in Half Fanatics. I also volunteered at the Brazen Wildcat race. It was nice to be on the other side and to help out a great organization at a great race. Not a lot of miles run total for the month, just over 25 miles but I feel ready for another half marathon tomorrow.

I read a couple of books and I started a new one. I haven’t been able to finish it even though it’s a fascinating subject. I’m reading Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom. As soon as I started reading I was highlighting text in it. Mr. Snugglebunny’s school participates in the Accelerated Reader program as part of their reading grade. They take quizzes after finishing books to get points. On the last printout we received it said he’s read over 1,000,000 words this school year, and that’s just in books that count for AR, not all books are in the program. We’re raising a reader! I love it!

Crafts and sewing revolved around alterations this month with dance costumes and prom dresses to alter. My mom found some ruffle yarn at JoAnn crafts in orange and black so I’m working on knitting a scarf for her to wear for SF Giants games. I have a hat on the needles too but my mom wants her scarf first.

Here’s to starting June with a bang! I’ll be running half marathon #8 – the Divas Half Marathon San Francisco Bay Area.

 


See Jane Run Half Marathon & 5K: Entry Giveaway

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On June 8, 2013 I ran my first half marathon – The See Jane Run Half Marathon in Alameda, CA. I had signed up for the race in October 2012, just one month after I decided to start putting in some miles on the treadmill. At first, I thought I might walk it due to the limitations I had experienced with training for a long distance before. Two times I had attempted to train for a long distance event I had plantar fasciitis that required me to spend 6 weeks in a walking boot cast. All of this was complicated by the increased inflammation of the Rheumatoid Arthritis. I looked up so many training plans and I decided that 8 months would give me plenty of time to train and allow for any setbacks or extra rest days to accommodate whatever my body dictated.

See Jane Run 2013 was an amazing experience! Even though I fell at 4.78 miles in after stepping in the crack in the concrete. So grateful for all the ladies running around me who offered help, water and to hang with me for a bit to make sure I was ok. The sky was clear and the sun was out, it got really hot at about mile 9. It was nice that there were families in their backyards spraying their garden hoses to help cool us off. I established my half marathon time at 3:07:28.

It was a great course, we had beautiful views of the Bay:

See Jane Run View of the Bay

 

And views across the Bay to downtown San Francisco:

Downtown San Francisco across the Bay

Downtown San Francisco across the Bay

 

We got a nice medal:

I Ran For Chocolate

I Ran For Chocolate

 

Actually, I ran for chocolate and champagne:

See's Chocolate and Barefoot Bubbly Champagne

See’s Chocolate and Barefoot Bubbly Champagne

 

I had a great time and as my first half marathon this one will always hold a special place in my heart. When See Jane Run announced they were accepting applications to their ambassador program for 2014 I jumped on the opportunity. I was selected as an ambassador and I have a giveaway for you. One lucky person will receive a free entry to the San Francisco Bay Area See Jane Run Half Marathon and 5K on June 22, 2013 for either race distance. Enter below using the Rafflecopter. You can also use code SJRAMB265 for 10% off. It will be a great race, come join me! See Jane Run will be my 9th half marathon of 2014 .
a Rafflecopter giveaway


DEAR February and March Recap

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DEAR graphic

I’m working on catching up since I have fallen behind. I have read 8 books so far, I’m 5 books behind schedule to read 52 books in 52 weeks. In February and March I didn’t read as much as I would have liked, life happened, I got busy and I wasn’t able to dedicate the time and focus to reading. Here are some short reviews of the books I did read.

  • Kismetology by Jaimie Admans – Mackenzie has moved out of her mother’s house and in with her boyfriend, the problem is that her mother found them the house just down the street from hers. Mackenzie decides to look for a match for her mom so that she’ll stop showing up at her house. She tried online dating, placing personal ads, speed dating. An unexpected plot twist at the end. All this leads to Mackenzie and her friend making a business out of it.
  • The Mother Load by Keeley Bates – From Goodreads: This momedy tells the story of three women at different stages of marriage and motherhood. Former lawyer Sophie is the mother of two young children and a workaholic husband. Much to her chagrin, her pastimes now include fantasizing about Disney princes and the destruction of an evil queen, her tongue-clucking mother-in-law. Sophie’s older sister Emma shares a home with their 70-year-old, pilates-loving father and is single mom to a 12-year-old boy with a deadbeat dad. Sophie’s sister-in-law Bridget is a happily married pediatrician trying to conceive a child of her own through fertility treatment while remaining committed to her patients. Each woman struggles in her own way to balance her role as wife, mother, sister and daughter with her desire for personal fulfillment. ‘The Mother Load’ is a comical tale about the complexities of modern motherhood.

It was a nice story that showed the different viewpoints of what trying to balance our different roles as women can be like. It was integral to the story to have the three women be a part of the same family and to be in different stages of career and motherhood.

  • Cafenova by S. Jane Scheyder – Maddy moves to the coast of Maine to escape the heartbreak of a break up in Seattle. She intends to fulfill her dream of buying a house to turn into a Bed & Breakfast. There is great chemistry between Maddy and her contractor. While there were some religious overtones to the book it was tolerable for me.
  • Baking Bree by Sarah West – Bree has a loser boyfriend and a dead end job. Her grandmother dies and leaves her a house and a good amount of money. Bree is looking for some direction in her life so she decided to try a cooking class so that she could get through the recipes she found in her grandmother’s journal. She had a hard time with self-confidence and standing up for herself, especially to her mother. A little predictable that she fell for the cooking teacher who kept trying to help her see herself as a confident, beautiful, wonderful person. Some interesting events lead to a wonderful ending.
  • Mommy had a Little Flask by AK Turner – A collection of essays written from the mom’s perspective, mainly of her family’s three month stay in Mexico. There were some laugh out loud moments, it truly was an enjoyable book. I’m looking forward to reading more from AK Turner.

This brings the grand total to 8. I’m not counting the book that I read a couple of chapters of and then I deleted off my Kindle.

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What are you reading right now? Please share in the comments, I’m always looking for book recommendations.

 


Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon 2014

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On Sunday, February 2nd, I woke up to the sounds of rain. That’s great, right? We’re in a drought in California, we had one of the driest years in history in 2013. So you would think I’d be ecstatic that it was raining. Well… not so much, not at first. I was actually really annoyed. Didn’t Mother Nature know that I was getting ready to go out and run a half marathon? I was not looking forward to a soggy 13.1 miles through Golden Gate Park.

Rainy Start

A rainy start to the race

I had to get to the race early to pick up my bib since they ended up not having the Sports Basement bib pickup nights. Generally I like to pick up my bib ahead of time so I can have it ready with all of my race gear the night before. It was funny to see everyone camped out under the trees and near the bathrooms trying to stay out of the rain. I figured that once we were wet, we weren’t going to get any more wet. Some people were creative and had made themselves ponchos with garbage bags. Other people were wrapped in the thermal blankets from previous races. This was my first ever run in the rain so I didn’t think about any of that. Once we got moving it wasn’t so bad, it wasn’t pouring rain to begin with, it was more of a light steady rain. It felt worse when we were just standing still.

One of the great things about this race is that they get everyone moving and through the start line very quickly. The 5K and the half marathon start at the same time and once we get moving the half marathoners stay on the left and keep going east out of the park, the 5K participants make a turn through the park to end at the same finish line, the 5K is actually a 3.2 mile race in order for the finish lines to coincide.

Waterfall inside Golden Gate Park, lots of water due to the overnight storm

Waterfall inside Golden Gate Park, lots of water due to the overnight storm

The half marathon loops around the panhandle and back in to Golden Gate Park, then heads west out to Ocean Beach. We run south along side the beach past the zoo to the turn around and back north along side the ocean to a finish in Golden Park.

Stormy Pacific Ocean at Ocean Beach

Stormy Pacific Ocean at Ocean Beach

As we turned out of the park to run along the beach it got so much colder because it was very windy, we weren’t sheltered by all the trees in the park anymore. At one point I thought to myself “Why am I running in a hurricane?” The wind was making the light rain whip around too making it seem like it was raining much harder than it was. I noticed that my form was way off while running through the wind and rain, I had my shoulders up by my ears and I was running with my head down as if bracing against the wind. I thought that after the turnaround we’d be running with the wind at our backs and that it would get easier. Think again… The wind turned and it started raining a bit harder with the rain coming down at an angle instead. It was just a matter of buckling down and getting it done. After we turned back into the park I just wanted to get to the finish line, I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to see a finish line in my life.

Crossing the finish line, at last!

Crossing the finish line, at last!

 

My husband is a great finish line photographer! And this time we had to pay tribute to Marco Scutaro of the San Francisco Giants and his iconic photograph in the rain at the end of Game 7 of the NLCS in 2012 that sent them to the World Series for another championship. I like that Nike+ lets you add a picture to your workout and it will add some stats to it if you like. According to the GPS on my phone, I actually ran 13.3 miles at a 13’47” pace. The official results came in at 3:03:41 – I missed my PR by 1 minute and 12 seconds! If only the bathroom stop hadn’t taken so long… Half marathon #2 of at least 14 in 2014 finished! I also didn’t realize it until I updated my information on the Half Fanatics site but this half marathon also bumped me up to 2 moons for finishing 6 half marathons within 6 consecutive calendar months!

Tribute to Marco Scutaro

Tribute to Marco Scutaro

One thing that annoyed and frustrated me was that by the time I finished there were a bunch of booths at the finish line area that had already packed up and closed down. It’s a pet peeve of mine, there were more people still running when I finished and it makes it seem like those of us who take our time and run a bit slower than others aren’t worth the trouble of waiting around for. It’s frustrating because we’ve paid the same race fees as all the faster people, we’ve covered the same distance that they have and maybe even worked harder to get there. Ok, off my soapbox now.

While running along the ocean, I felt a sharp pain in the arch of my left foot, it almost felt like I had a pine needle in my shoe that was poking me. After the turnaround, while heading back towards the Park it stopped and I knew then that it had been a blister that popped. I have never had a blister in the arch of my foot before and I could tell this one was a doozy. Once I got back to the car and changed into the dry clothes I thought ahead to pack I saw it once I took my socks off. I had formed a blister on the arch of my left foot, the blister had popped and the skin was moved around all over the place, leaving raw skin the size of a quarter exposed on my foot. I didn’t realize it was going to be so bad until I got in the warm shower. Yowza! I yelped so loud my husband ran into the bathroom to make sure I hadn’t slipped and broken my leg or something. I ended up having to shower while balancing on one foot with the other foot up on the side of the tub. Logically I knew that the warm water would sting but I was so desperate to get in a warm shower to warm up that I didn’t give it a second thought before I got in.

After the warm shower I pulled on my compression sleeves and got dressed because Mr. Snugglebunny had a basketball game. There’s no rest for the weary! Overall, a good race. I ran it this year because it’s the “runniversary” race of my first timed race. Kaiser SF 5K was my first timed race in 2013. At the end of that race I decided that I would be back in one year to run the half marathon. Mission accomplished!