embrace the neon

an average runner's running blog

Here We Go

One week til the Mountains2Beach half – my goal race for the year. And then it’s downhill to our wedding! I’m feeling ok about the race, but not hopeful that this will finally be my sub-2 hour race.

This is due, in large part, to a loss of motivation. For various stupid reasons I skipped some long runs during this training cycle, and while my shorter runs have felt great and speedy, I’m not sure I can maintain for 13 (point freaking one) miles. One of the skipped long runs was last weekend, and that was for a good reason: Fiancé and I had a little getaway to Avila Beach!

Avila Beach

My dad gave us a bunch of gift certificates for our birthdays last fall, and we finally carved out some time to use them. We made our way up the coast stopping in Santa Barbara for breakfast.

Post Long Run Breakfast

Then stopped at a winery not too far out of town for some really great pinot noir tastings.

Runners Who Love Wine

Spotted in the parking lot at Laetitia Winery:

Runners Who Love Wine

I need this.

We still had some time before we could check in, so we stopped for lunch.

Drinks at Mr. Rick's

We got an oceanfront room at the Inn at Avila Beach, and it was stunning.

Avila Beach Pier

Then headed out for another drink.

Runners Who Love Wine

Then dinner, which was fantastic (and also out on the patio overlooking the water).

Runner Fuel

Bacon-wrapped filet. Worth every calorie.

We danced the night away to an 80s cover band, so the next morning was not an early one. But we got to enjoy coffee overlooking the water.

Inn at Avila Beach

Then grabbed more coffee and a cinnamon roll the size of my head.

Runner Fuel

Finally, before heading out of town, we stopped and spent an hour in these amazing mineral spring hot tubs – you get your own two-person sized tub up on a hillside, and it feels like there’s no one around for miles. So relaxing.

Average Runner Blog

It was a much-needed getaway from work and life, and we are so grateful to my dad for the opportunity!

But then it was back to reality, and training. Sunday was lost due to a 6-mile hike (the distance was my fault, I got us a bit lost) and being tired from the trip. So I had to get in at least one double-digit run during the week. I managed 10 miles on Wednesday, but it felt really hard. I somehow managed a 9:04 pace, but I left everything out there. Yesterday, however, I got in 8 miles and felt pretty good! 8:48 average pace, and I wasn’t dying at the end.


So, I am still going for my sub-2 half next Sunday, but my B goal is just to PR. After that, I have no races on the books at all – I know the months leading up to October will fly by, so I’m letting myself take it easy and do wedding stuff. = ) (Who knew, this girl who had never even seen the inside of a Michael’s now owns embossing powder and is a regular Etsy stalker… and I’m actually having fun with it? If anyone finds the old Hilary, please send her home.)

Anyone else racing next weekend? Or have fun holiday weekend plans?

What’s your favorite place to get away to for a night?



On Digging In

Hi all – sorry for the absence. I actually wrote this post two weeks ago, but every time I try to log in to finish the post my hosting service has been down. Sorry if you came looking for me! I’m working on getting it fixed. Anyway…

Holy butt-kicking work week month quarter.

The good news is that I’ve taken it out only (well, mostly) on my running. Running is fantastic for channeling stress, which is a major reason why running is my favorite.

Average Runner Blog

Upside: extended periods of stress have taught me to dig in during my long runs and harder workouts. I know that I am improving physically now that I’ve had a few months of consistent challenging workouts. But my biggest improvements have been in the mental toughness department. I refuse to let up, I refuse to quit.

Brutal Friday? Sneak in a 2-mile run and channel that aggression at lunch – and end up with your first mile at 7:48 without breaking much of a sweat. Or reward yourself for making it all the way through Thursday with a RoadRunner Sports Adventure Run!

RoadRunner Sports Adventure Run

Post-Adventure Run!

Feeling daunted at the never-ending pile of work you face? Make a dent in the pile and then reward yourself with an Orange Theory workout or hill sprints – those thoughts about work will get pushed out because your brain will only be able to think “Don’t throw up. Don’t pass out. Don’t throw up. Don’t pass out.” I even got some gloves to save my hands during my Orange Theory workouts – how cute are these from Sparkle & Sweat? = )

Sparkle & Sweat

Orange Theory = lots of rowing –> blisters and calluses. No more!

Runners who Row

Worried that you’re stuck? Push yourself and see your paces DROP as the miles add up. What work stress? You’re a running beast!

Average Runner Blog

Cheesy as it all sounds (I know), digging in when things get hard makes all the difference. Sure, sometimes I still want to give up and sit on the couch and have a pity party. And sometimes I do that. But the more I push, the better my results are, and the more I want to push. Funny how that turns into a cycle.

And then you want to eat healthy, too…

Runner Fuel

Homemade Acai Bowl

Runner Fuel

Spicy Eggplant with Tofu

Does running/working out help you with stress?

Anyone else doing Orange Theory?


Runner’s High

It’s a little weird to write this, but I’ve been in a really good place running-wise lately. Usually I’m whining about how I’m over training, or tired, or it’s too hot. But, not this week.

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Not that it hasn’t been hot. We had a few brief days of what most of the rest of the country would think of as fall (rain and temps in the 60s) and then skipped straight ahead to summer. Flowers blooming, sunny and warm every day.

Running in California

I assume it’s due to all the cross training (barre, and I recently started trying some Orange Theory classes), but I feel really strong on my runs. On our Sunday run to the bagel shop, my legs felt great and I was able to really push my pace. I was supposed to do my one-mile time trial on Tuesday, but in the battle of work versus Hilary’s soul, work won. So that was a rest day. Wednesday I got in a barre class at lunch, and decided I wanted to attempt the time trial after work.

It was pretty warm out, and my muscles were tired from the class earlier in the day. My abs cramped up almost immediately and stayed painful for the whole run. I also hadn’t eaten much before the run and was feeling hungry and nauseous at the same time. But I went for it anyway. (Runners are crazy.)

average runner blog

I did my mile warm-up, which included walking to try to get rid of the cramp in my left side and ribcage.  Didn’t let myself look at any splits until after the workout, just pushed as hard as I could for a mile then took a nice, leisurely jog for the final mile home. My old mile PR was 7:25.


average runner blog

Something about a doing well makes you want to keep going. I was NOT feeling like working out last night. I didn’t leave the office in time to get to my planned Orange Theory class and had decided it would be a rest day. Then I got back from walking the dogs and thought about how I’d feel if I just sat in front of episodes of Chopped all night… the next thing I knew, my Garmin was beeping to let me know it had found a satellite.

average runner blog

I tried to take it easy, and even stopped a few times – to give an elderly gentleman directions, to take pictures, and for a stoplight, and still wound up with an elapsed time of 25:55 (an 8:38 pace). I don’t know what’s gotten into me, but I hope it sticks around for the rest of my Mountains2Beach training!

Have a great weekend!

Ever find yourself in a running groove?

Speedwork – fun change, necessary evil, or no thank you?


Zion Half Marathon Recap

Happy Friday!

Way back last summer, my friend Caitlin suggested we run the Zion Half Marathon. Never one to miss out on a chance to run with a friend, I was totally in.  It was an incredible race, and I definitely recommend it! (And sign up early – it sold out months ahead of time!)

My stepdad ran the race with us too! He and my mom graciously put us up at their timeshare in St. George, about a 45 minute drive away. Friday I got in a quick shakeout run at the resort’s gym:

Average Runner Blog

Nice and easy.

Stopped at the expo to pick up bibs, and check out the scenery:

Zion Half Marathon Recap

Zion Half Marathon Recap

Then hydrated like a champ.

Average Runner Blog

We set alarms for 4:15 (3:15 California time!), and woke on Saturday to rain and texts from the race organizers saying that the parking lot was really muddy at the start – so unless you had all-wheel drive, you needed to park at a different location. Thankfully, mom drives a Subaru. Because of the rain and parking logistics, the race started a bit late – but it was kind of nice because the sun was just coming up as we took off.

The course is incredibly beautiful. I didn’t take any pictures along the course (I usually don’t take out my phone when I run, plus it was raining on and off the whole way), but I kind of regret that now. The first six miles actually felt mostly downhill, though the elevation profile shows otherwise. I really felt the change in elevation though – I normally run at 800 to 1000 feet above sea level, and we started at just over 3500 feet. I tried pushing it in the first few miles and thought I was running a sub-9 mile based on feel – it was closer to 9:20. Unfortunately, due to the late start I think I was a little more hydrated than normal, so I had to make a pit stop right after the mile 5 marker. I lost about a minute – looking back, if I hadn’t stopped, I probably would have PR’d!

Zion Half Marathon Recap

Just after you pass the mile 6 marker, the hills begin. Honestly, it never felt impossible, and the hills were definitely not as steep as some I’ve run before (Baltimore and Raleigh come to mind). But the last 6-7 miles are a pretty steady march uphill. I was feeling like a rockstar after running down that big hill in the middle:

Zion Half Marathon Recap

And then it was time to push through:

Zion Half Marathon Recap

Ok this part felt hard.

By mile 12, the smile had faded and the elevation had me on the struggle bus. The finish is downhill though, and in the end I pulled out a 2:03:19 – one minute and one second off my PR! And that was 3500 to 3900 feet above sea level, with 832 feet of elevation gain through the race.

Even though I stopped to walk a couple times and had a few why-do-I-do-this-to-myself moments, I really felt great through the whole race. Anytime I started to think about the miles ahead, I’d just look around at the beauty of the canyon. The weather was perfect for me – in the low 40s with some light rain. The logistics were great too: aid stations with energetic, supportive volunteers, and potties at each station; shuttles; post-race goodies and a great medal; and even a clothing drop at a couple of the aid stations. I had a jacket with me (I was shivering at the start) that I dropped at mile 3. You had to sift through a bunch of clothes at the end, but it was so great to not have to carry it the whole way.

It got really cold at the finish, and it didn’t seem like many people stuck around.

Zion Half Marathon Recap

After the race, we got our snack boxes (rad) then headed home for real food and the hot tub, followed by naps. And then, of course, wine.

Average Runner Blog

The Painted Pony in St. George – yum.

I hope to go back next year (Cait, yes?). Congratulations to Caitlin and Peter on running awesome races themselves!

Ever run a Vacation Race?

What’s the hilliest race you’ve run?


Barre So Hard

***Disclaimer: I was not asked to write this post by Studio Barre or any other company. I have not and will not be compensated for this post in any way. I just love barre, Studio Barre in particular, and wanted to blog about my experience.***

Average Runner Blog

So, sometimes I have to learn things the hard way. Ok, I pretty much always have to learn things the hard way. For some reason I just don’t really believe things until I go out and do them myself. In cooking (yes, baking is exact – or you will end up with some weird-looking cakes); in law (I’m sure defense counsel will be polite, I mean – we can all just get along, right?); in traffic (an hour is PLENTY of time to get to LAX…) – I never really get it until I go out and do it.

This could not be more true, though, than in the case of The Importance of Cross-Training.

Runners who do Barre

After around three months…

In 2014 I had some injury setbacks – a stress fracture/reaction, issues with my left hip, and shin splints. And looking back, I did almost nothing but run that year. I had a barre class and some spin classes thrown in here and there, but I was not consistent. Then, in January 2015, I found out there was a Studio Barre nearby!

Over the past year, I committed to a barre class twice a week, and then three times a week. And, sure enough, it’s paying off (and not just in new arm muscles). Knock on wood, I have not had any real injuries in the past year; I can only credit barre for that. I should note that ANY cross-training is a good idea. I’m going to talk about why I like barre so much, but that’s not to say it’s for everyone. If you’re diligent about strength training, or if you love BODYPUMP or boot camp classes, that’s awesome. But if you’re thinking about trying a barre class, here are some things you might love about it:

1. Barre is low-impact. Running is awesome, but it does put a ton of pressure on your feet, ankles, legs, knees and hips – and all of the joints therein. Barre uses only your own body weight for the majority of the class. And you spend most of your time in one small space near a ballet barre.

Runners who do Barre

Love that whole-body-is-tired feeling after a class!

2. Barre is motivating. The teachers are really positive, and happy to help you master the weird barre technique (this is especially true for Studio Barre – I’ve tried other classes too, but they are my favorite). I love being in the middle of a particularly tough exercise and having the instructor yell “You got this, get it ladies!” – makes me smile every time, and push through. The music is poppy/electronic and upbeat, and loud when you need it to be!

Average Runner Blog

Such an awesome group of women!

3. Barre placates my inner control freak. I’m a little type-A. I like things to look a certain way, be organized a certain way, and be done in the most efficient manner possible. So spending an hour focused on moving one particular muscle at a time is weirdly satisfying. In barre, you focus on very small contractions of very particular muscles.

Runners who do Barre

I’ve always got at least one pair of socks in my purse, just in case.

Last night, I hit a big milestone for barre – I became a Centurion!! This means I’ve taken 100 classes with my current studio. The owner and the instructors (barre tenders) there are all so sweet: Centurions get to sign the barre and get a special shirt.

Barre Centurion

I’m so lucky to have found Studio Barre. It’s truly changed my body and the way I carry myself. If any of this appeals to you, definitely give barre a try!

What’s your favorite way to cross-train?


Trying Out Race-Pace Intervals

Training recap first, then life stuff – this post is not just Garmin Connect screenshots, I promise!

So after that awesome run that inspired me to sign up for a goal race, I had a bad run. An I-don’t-want-to-do-this, every-step-is-hard, please-just-let-me-finish run. (It didn’t help that instead of all the rain we were promised this year, the sun has returned in full force with temperatures in the 80s every day – I know, poor me.)

Average Runner Blog

When my 10-miler came around the following weekend, my heart was not in it. I started out by just trying to settle in for an hour and 40 minutes of discomfort. And then I decided I needed something to try to make the miles go by more quickly. Beginning with mile 5, I aimed to get three of my long-run miles under a 9:00/mile pace.

Average Runner Blog

That was fun! And FAST (for me).

I figured I could get five race-pace miles in my long run last Friday.

Average Runner Blog

I was right – and I actually wound up with six!

Average Runner Blog

Ignore that part where I accidentally hit the lap button in mile five.

Friday’s run felt AWESOME. The intervals helped me mentally by giving me small goals and breaking up the run, and my body seemed to be adjusting to a faster long-run pace (fingers crossed). I keep reading that in order to get faster, you have to push yourself; but I haven’t been pushing myself much lately. This is partly due to the fact that real life is really busy. But also partly because I have just been lazy in my running. I am amazed at how great I feel after pushing myself through a hard workout.

Real life continues to be a mix of work, wedding planning, and more work. It’s HOT. Again. I know I am the only Southern Californian who doesn’t like the heat – only because the heat destroys my ability to run fast. The dogs love it, though:

Average Runner Bog

The warm weather has not been lost on Fiancé and me, however. We got in a hike at a new-to-us trail a couple weeks ago.

Running in California

Presidents’ Day weekend included cookies-and-cream milkshakes, craft beers, and a Valentine’s Day dessert.

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Recipe from Martha Stewart, of course.

And last weekend Fiancé had a friend from Connecticut in town, so we enjoyed the sun and outdoors as much as possible. And I bought some lilies to make it seem like spring inside too.

Average Runner Blog

Last night, I came so close to not running. Tuesdays are hard – traffic is usually terrible (yesterday was no exception, I spent a total of 3 hours and 9 minutes driving to and from work, whereas Monday was only 2 hours and 38 minutes). I am physically and mentally done by the time I get home. And it was hot outside. And I was tired. But I gave myself the “it’s not an option” talk, and wound up having a great run with a gorgeous sunset.

Average Runner Blog

Now I am actually looking forward to my long run this weekend! Amazing how a few miles can change your whole outlook.

How do you push yourself on long runs?


2016 Goal Race Set!

It’s a rainy Sunday here in Southern California, a perfect day for catching up on blogging. And mulling over race goals.

Last year my big goal was to run a half in under two hours. It didn’t happen, but I came pretty close (and took almost two minutes off my old PR). I also signed up for the Zion Half several months ago. I’m really excited to run this race with my friend Caitlin and my stepdad, but with 466 feet of elevation gain and 13.1 miles at 4000 feet (when I typically run at 800-900 feet of elevation), I’m not sure this will be the race to try to PR. I’d rather enjoy the scenery, company, and the run.

Zion Half Marathon

From Zion Half Marathon’s Facebook page – click for source

I went hunting for hills yesterday to try and get my legs in shape for the Zion half. Eight miles with 313 feet of elevation gain – and I managed a 9:09 overall pace! (Helped by the downside of those hills, but still.)

average runner blogs

I was feeling pretty awesome after that run. My legs were tired after kicking up the training the past couple of weeks, and I was pretty proud of what I could do with a hilly run. Especially after I did a mile time trial on Thursday and felt like this after:

average runner blog

My confidence for Zion went up, and I started thinking about PR-ing there. But the elevation scares me. The Mountains2Beach Half Marathon, on the other hand, is a net downhill course in familiar running territory.

Mountains2Beach Half Elevation

I went to bed thinking about what I could realistically do over the next few months with my work schedule. This morning, I woke up to a reminder email that I have a 25% discount on running stuff, and my favorite shoes have been discontinued (GRRRRRRR – why adidas, why change a perfect shoe after only one year???). I don’t need new shoes yet, but they had a pair left in my size and they were on major sale… and I don’t want to think about having to try new shoes anytime soon. I decided it was a sign. I settled in with some coffee, bought a new pair of (now discontinued) mint and grey adidas Supernova Glide 7s, read some race recaps, and bam:

Mountains2Beach Half Marathon

See you on May 29.

My plan is to work on increasing mileage and getting my legs hill-ready for the next six weeks, then after Zion keep up my mileage and zero in on speed. I need an average pace of 9:10 to sub-2 – BUT, really, I need to run faster than that. I always end up running more that 13.1 miles in a race.

And now I’m going to make an offering to the running gods to ward off injuries and sickness and mean opposing counsel for the next four months. Thanks in advance.

How are you enjoying your Sunday?

Don’t you hate it when you fall in love with a running shoe and then the maker decides to “improve” it?


Zion Half Marathon Training

Happy 2016!

On the other side of January 1, that first race of 2016 looks a lot closer. I’m finally back in the groove of training and feeling good. A few minor twinges and aches, but overall good. We’ve been enjoying cool weather over the last few weeks, which has made for some great runs. Yesterday’s 7-miler was awesome! (I promise I’ll write more about the Vivosmart HR soon… but I love it.)

average runner blog

Bob, however, is not a fan of the cold mornings.


I don’t wanna get up, mom…

Wrapped up the week with a recovery run that felt harder than it should have. I’m going to blame that on the warm(er) sunny day and the increase in the number and intensity of workouts over the last couple weeks.

average runner blog

(Side note – my fingers swell a ton when running. My ring normally slides on easily, but even after a 2 mile run it’ll be uncomfortable!)

IMG_4898 (1)

Next up – adding in some hill training, because the Zion Half is an uphill race. Literally, uphill the whole way.

Zion Half Marathon Elevation Map

Running, incidentally, is an excellent way to relieve wedding planning stress. (My wedding-planning spreadsheet is up to 32 tabs. I’m not exaggerating.) Another good way? Shopping for wedding dresses. I had no idea what a girly-girl I was til I was in a room full of lace and tulle at BHLDN in Beverly Hills. Swoon.

Wedding Dress Shopping

Can’t post pictures of dresses, of course, in case Fiancé reads this!

Running also means I can eat Fiancé’s awesome cheeseburgers and still fit into my dress.

Smoked Cheeseburgers

The man can cook.

I’m getting pretty excited for the Zion Half – destination races are the best!

Anyone else training right now?

Anyone else get swollen fingers after running?


Not with a bang…

The very last day of 2015, and I stand at 739.6 miles for the year – a significant improvement over last year! But not the nice round 750 I thought I’d be able to achieve two weeks ago. The last month has been a blur of best-laid plans gone astray. (Like how I brought in two authors?)

nerd alert pitch perfect

Click for source

Santa to the Sea was a blast (I will do a recap one of these weeks, really), but the following week of work destroyed any renewed running ambitions I had. Then my Saturday morning long run plan changed when I got hit with a stomach bug (just a few days before a red-eye flight to Ohio to spend Christmas with my dad’s family, no less). A flight delay brought me home at 2:30 in the morning the following Saturday (Sunday?) with the start of a nasty chest cold. I tried to run on Sunday, which left me coughing and struggling for air – and so now I am stuck waiting out this darn cold. Patience is not one of my virtues, but I know that it’s better to skip a week of working out than to be stuck with this cold for a month.

Pre-work craziness and sickness, there were some good runs and I was good about my strength training, too (Bob and Nancy love to help challenge my stability when I plank):

Christmas Lights

Saw lots of lights on my runs!

Dachshund Helping Plank

The trip was wonderful though. We stayed at my aunt and uncle’s cabin on a lake. The cabin itself is amazing, and being in the middle of all this nature was exactly what I needed.

Lake in Ohio

Added bonus: no cell service, so I checked out from my electronics more than normal. (Sadly there was still wi-fi, and I still had to deal with an obnoxious email from opposing counsel informing me that she was going in ex parte on a motion the Monday after Christmas. WHO GIVES EX PARTE NOTICE ON CHRISTMAS EVE?! Total Grinch move… sorry, lawyer stuff. But still.)

grinch lawyer

Click for source

I did get in a trail run one afternoon, which felt fantastic.

Ohio Trail Running

Christmas day, we went into town to spend the day at my aunt and uncle’s condo (which is larger than most houses where I live). Fiancé gave me a Garmin Viviosmart HR for Christmas, and we went for a walk after lunch so I could sneak in some steps. We were incredibly lucky with the weather – turned out it was colder at home in California than in Ohio!

Ohio Geese

Come dinnertime, we were treated to a stunning sunset.

Ohio Sunset

So far my Vivosmart stats are pretty pathetic. But I know once I kick this cold/cough I will rack up some serious steps. (Also, I LOVE this thing. So much fun data to analyze and it buzzes me to move when I’ve been sitting around for too long.) As for resolutions and goal setting, right now I’m focusing on getting better, and then starting to train for the Zion half. I’m hoping the chilly weather we’ve had (read: highs in the 60s) will hold so that I can get some winter runs in after I get better.

Thanks to my family for being such great hosts last week! And a very Happy New Year to everyone!

Anyone else travel for the holiday? Do you try to run or just enjoy the time off?


Trucking along

Hope you had a very happy Thanksgiving! I know the blogging has been pretty sparse these days… The thing is, this is a running blog. Not a lawyering blog or a wedding planning blog. And my life has been more full of the latter lately.

Not that I haven’t been running, but now I’m just happy to squeeze in two to three runs a week. Mostly at night of course.

average runner blog

The barre studio I go to (Studio Barre) organized a team for a local mud run – it was a blast!

mud run

Fall has finally made an appearance here in California, and it’s made for some lovely runs.

fall running california

fall running california

My brother, sister-in-law, Fiancé and I got in a solid five mile run early Thanksgiving morning. It was chilly, which made me very happy! (I did not make them pose for pictures – but I did document the fact that it was cold enough to wear a headband! And gloves!) Also, I love starting Thanksgiving Day with a good run. I’m less likely to over-indulge in snacks all day because I feel good after running, and then I have zero regrets about eating a huge dinner. = )

average runner blog

average runner blog

Bob and Nancy helped me clean up after, of course.


And Fiancé and I avoided the Black Friday chaos and headed out for a hike instead.

black friday

I also joined up for the Fit Approach Holiday Sweat challenge! I’ve been terrible about logging my minutes (and only marginally better about posting them on Instagram)… but I have been getting in my workouts! This is why I love the Garmin. All I have to do is turn the thing on and make sure it finds a satellite – it logs everything for me! Click the link or the picture if you want to join in on the fun.

FitApproach Holiday Sweat

Wedding planning is coming along, but holymotherofgod it’s a lot of work. When I first got engaged, my married friends warned me that planning a wedding is a part-time job. No joke! My dad was kind enough to take some engagement pictures for us, so Bob and Nancy got some new accessories for the occasion.


That’s about as exciting as it gets around here lately… I can’t believe it’s December already!

Do you get in a run or other workout on Thanksgiving? Or is it a day off?

Anyone else feel like time speeds up at the end of the year?


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