Discovering the Mendocino Coast

Sunset over the Mendocino coast

Sometimes you just have to push the pause button on your work life and remember how humbling it is to stare into the vastness of the ocean. Or recognize how extraordinary it is to feel really tiny standing among and being swallowed up by a bunch of gigantic trees.

Fortunately, I was able to enjoy this splendid feeling recently as I celebrated my boyfriend Michel’s birthday with a two-day trip to Mendocino, a tiny, charming coastal town in California about three hours north of San Francisco.

Celebrating Michel's birthday along the Mendocino coast

The drive up to and through Mendocino boasts some of the most beautiful stretch of coastline I’ve seen. If you’re looking to get away from the Bay Area bustle for a day or two for some R&R or quality time with Mother Nature, I couldn’t recommend it more.

There are so many things to do in Mendocino and the nearby area. For the active types, there is hiking, kayaking, and tons of trails to run along, and for the gourmands in the house, there is some truly delicious food available here. Plus, sunsets. Everyone needs to stop moving and just sit on the beach and watch the sunset every now and again.

Here are some of my favorite recommendations for spending a couple days in Mendocino.

Eating breakfast tacos and a burger at Circa '62 restaurant in Mendocino County

Food

We enjoyed breakfast as Circa ’62 at the Inn at Schoolhouse Creek, which is just a few miles south of the town of Mendocino. And when I say “enjoyed,” I mean enjoyed. I had the Mexican tacos, which included pork carnitas, scrambled eggs, caramelized onions and jalapenos, a cherry tomato salsa, and cojita, served with corn tortillas and spicy papas bravas. Michel had the breakfast burger, which is the largest burger I’ve ever seen. And by biggest burger, I mean it was taller than his head. The ingredients were fresh and the flavor was hard to beat.

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Thoroughbred Treadmill Studio – A Treadmill Workout You’ll Love

thoroughbred-treadmill-studio-and-represent-running-ambassadors

Treadmills and I have a love-hate relationship. The use of one is obviously awesome for working on intervals and prepping your body for hills, since, you know, you can control your speed and incline manually. In fact, running hills on the treadmill in preparation for the San Francisco Nike Women’s Half Marathon saved my butt (literally) for the notoriously steep Mile 10 haul of the race.

But until this past weekend, my opinion has always been—and I think many people will agree—that treadmill workouts are just kind of boring, and not as enjoyable as getting an outdoor run in.

However, that opinion was rocked last weekend. I took a 45-minute treadmill class at Thoroughbred Treadmill Studio in Mill Valley on Saturday, and no joke, this was seriously one of the most fun and rewarding cardio classes I’ve ever taken.

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Super Simple Green Smoothie Recipe

super simple green smoothie

You know how sometimes you’re running reallyyyy late in the morning, but still want to start your day off with a healthy breakfast?

If you don’t know this feeling, I deeply admire you and wish you could teach me your ways. For the rest of us who tend to hit the snooze button hard and often, I want to share my super simple green smoothie recipe that only takes a mere 4 minutes to make. Yes, 4 minutes!

From gathering your ingredients, to twisting the lid on your mason jar before running out the door, this green smoothie is easy, nutritious, and so quick to make you’ll have no excuses for not having a healthy start to your day.

Four ingredients are all you’ll need: spinach, banana, almond milk, and chia seeds.

Spinach is one of my favorite greens to add to a smoothie, because it’s not very bitter. Plus, the sweetness of the banana mellows the spinach out so that it doesn’t taste like you’re drinking a salad. I promise, this drink is super tasty!

Also, this smoothie is loaded with fiber, which will help keep you full until lunch. #ALLthebenefits

SUPER SIMPLE GREEN SMOOTHIE RECIPE

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup organic almond milk
  • 1 1/2 cups loosely packed organic baby spinach
  • 1 banana
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds

DIRECTIONS

Combine all ingredients together in a blender, cover, and blend until smooth. Pour into a glass and enjoy, or into a mason jar for an on-the-go breakfast.

San Jose 408K Race Review

Posing with our medals after finishing the San Jose 408K Race to the Row

I ran my third race of the year on Sunday morning (what, what!), the San Jose 408K. It’s also my third time running this particular race. It’s so good, I just keep coming back!

El Niño hit hard and it poured rain ALL day and evening the day before the race. It was so bad, Oakland had rolling blackouts and my neighborhood was affected…while all of my running clothes and socks were in the washer, mind you. Fortunately, power came back on within the hour, I was able to finish washing and drying my running gear for the morning, and we woke up to a gorgeous, sunny day.

The 408K is a quick 5km run (4.97 miles) that starts at the SAP Center in downtown San Jose and ends in Santana Row, the perfect setting for enjoying a post-race mimosa or two. It’s an incredibly flat course sprawling the suburbs of San Jose, with only two minor hills along the route.

408K_Map

I ran this race with my sister Mikayla, who has made it her goal to run more this year. We arrived early so that I could take a few photos with the Represent Running ambassador team (which I’m excited to be a part of this year!), get warmed up, and take in the race day energy.

The San Jose 408K starting line in downtown San Jose

We crossed the start line at 8:19 and headed down the Alameda, then down neighborhood streets lined with beautiful blooming trees.

Around Mile 4 we hit Memorial Mile, which always gets me all emotional. Veterans and active military line the street to cheer on the runners, and it’s such an awesome opportunity to thank them for all that they do. It’s also a great tie-in since the 408K benefits the Pat Tillman Foundation.

The San Jose 408K Memorial Mile Sign

Then it’s onto Mariachi Mile, the last stretch of the race. At this point, the sides of the route are dotted with various mariachi bands, all playing music and cheering you on to the finish as you pass by Valley Fair Mall, down Stevens Creek Boulevard and into Santana Row where you can collect your finisher’s hardware.

2016 408K finisher's medal

Reasons Why I Love Running the 408K:

  1. It’s SO well-organized. Shout out to all the volunteers and Represent Running staff!
  2. Veteran’s Mile and Mariachi Mile are great.
  3. The shirts and medals are always unique and well-designed.
  4. It’s fun, easy, and flat, which makes this race inviting for new or non-runners.
  5. I think I really realized how much I love running as I waited to cross the start line at last year’s run. I even wrote a blog post about it.
  6. The 408K is one of three races in the Run the Bay Challenge. If you run all three races (one in San Jose, one in San Francisco, and one in Oakland), you’ll receive a super medal.

After the run, we drove out to Willow Glen to enjoy a post-race Swirl at Aqui’s, followed by brunch at Bill’s Cafe. Truth: frozen margaritas and crispy hash browns are all you need after crossing a finish line.

Swirls from Aqui Cal-Mex and an omelette and hashbrowns from Bill's Cafe in Willow Glen

Overall, it was a great way to spend Sunday; plus, the 408K got me all kinds of excited for my upcoming races in 2016!

The next race that Represent Running is hosting is the Across the Bay 12K and 415K, held on July 10th, 2016 in San Francisco. (If you run the 12K, you’ll get to cross the Golden Gate Bridge, which offers amazing views of the city!)

If you’re interested in signing up for the Across the Bay 12K and 415K, use REPRESENT2016ML to get 10% off registration.

Let me know if you’re going! Hope to see you there or out on the pavement sometime!

Until then, I’ll be working on upping my weekly mileage so that I’m ready to run a half…and dreaming of the next time I can brunch in San Jose.:)

xoxo,

Melissa

Valentine’s Day Weekend Recap: Running, Sunshine, and Picnics

With temperatures in Oakland and San Francisco reaching (and happily relaxing into) the high 70s this past three-day weekend, my last few days have been filled with morning runs, long walks, Valentine’s Day indulgences, and picnics every freaking day. If there’s anything I love more than Mexican food, chocolate, and running, it’s a good picnic.

Saturday morning Michel and I woke up early to go to a Valentine’s Day fun run/scavenger hunt hosted by Fleet Feet SF in the Marina, which had us running all over Chestnut Street, up the Lyon Steps, and through the Presidio along with some other great singles and couples.

I met an amazing woman named Monica who, like me, has never been what you’d call a “natural athlete.” But what she lacks in athletic upbringing, she makes up for with an intense drive and sense of self-competition. She’s now running 50ks and has her first ultra coming up this spring! She left such an impression on me, telling me to “NEVER let anyone tell you that you can’t do something, or stop you from doing what you want to do.” This woman is a boss.

Feeling inspired (thanks, Monica!), slightly exhausted (the Lyon Steps are no joke), and increasingly hungry, Michel and I grabbed coffee and took a stroll down Union Street before hitting up Whole Foods for picnic staples and going to Dolores Park for our first picnic of the weekend.

Cheese + crackers + people and dog watching = the recipe for everlasting happiness.

Sunday included an early leg workout at my gym, church at Canvas in San Francisco (so good!), then a solo interval run and coffee shop time. After this, Michel surprised me by taking me to Lake Merritt in Oakland and pulling out flowers, as well as a bottle of wine and chocolate for a sunset picnic in my favorite place in the world. Perfection.

On Monday, we woke up really early, walked around the lake, got coffee, and made a plan to go to Grand Lake Kitchen, a well-reviewed brunch and lunch spot in Oakland that ALWAYS has a crazy-long wait. In fact, we arrived 20 minutes before they opened, and there was already a line! However, if you have tastebuds, don’t let this line deter you from this amazing place. I had the chilaquiles (!!!) and Michel had the pork belly hash, and both were AMAZING.

After that, I hit the park again with a good book and some sparkling water to soak up even more sunshine. (My white legs were thankful.)

I start my new job next Monday, so I’m kinda still on a mini-vaca and will be continuing to try to soak up as much sun as possible  over the next couple of days.

This morning’s agenda includes a long run through Golden Gate Park.

How did you spend your Valentine’s/President’s Day weekend? Whatever you did, I hope you treated yourself to something special and enjoyed being wherever you are.

With love,

Melissa

 

What I Learned from Whole 30

Michel and Melissa from Cook Slow, Run Fast excited about just finishing a Whole30

Guess who you’re looking at? Two people who have recently finished the Whole30!!  (We’re also mid-run, so there’s that too…)

I completed one last year by myself, and Michel decided to join me for my second time around because: 1. He saw how awesome I felt after finishing Whole 30 last July and 2. He felt ashamed about the ridiculous amount of cookies, cheese, and wine we consumed in December.

Parts of the last 30 days were incredible; I was full of energy, I was stoked on eating delicious breakfasts (eggs again, wahoo!), and I felt stronger at the gym. On other days, I dreamed of pouring Nutella over every single sugary food known to man and couldn’t stand the sight of another egg.

Since reflecting on these ups and downs, I’m here today to share a few things I learned while on the Whole 30.

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runDisney Star Wars 10K Recap

Dressed as Princess Leia and Han Solo, enjoying a RunDisney Star Wars 10K photo opp with Boba Fett in Disneyland

Last weekend in a galaxy not so far away (ahem, Anaheim), I completed my second runDisney race, the Disneyland Star Wars 10K.

I ran the Tinker Bell 10K last May with my sister (check out my recap here) and was excited to run this one with a group of friends and the Han to my Leia, my boyfriend Michel.

We arrived about 45 minutes before our 5:30 AM race start to go through security, check bags, get the our corral, and (in my case) admire everyone else’s costumes. I was super excited to see all of the Rey, Leia, and female Han costumes, and loved being my own Señorita Leia alongside my one and only Juan Solo.

Michel and Melissa waiting at the runDisney star wars 10k start line

A word of advice: if you don’t plan on walking or walk/jogging a runDisney race, I recommend trying to get into Corral A or the front of B so that you can run or jog without having to weave around others. Someone in our large group was placed in Corral C, which put us behind a lot of people. By the time we reached some of the last photo opp lines, they were already closed off, which was kind of a disappointment. Plus, the course path was surprisingly narrow, and within the first few minutes of the race we were already struggling to maintain a decent pace. In fact, I had to weave so much that my run tracker reported I ran almost 7 miles (instead of 6.2).

My other advice for a runDisney race is to stop for the open photo opps and take pictures in front of iconic backdrops (like the ferris wheel at California Adventure). Storm troopers, BB-8, Boba Fett, and more were all stationed along the course, and getting pictures with these characters are all part of the experience!

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