Mount Diablo Trail’s Challenge – Race Recap 4/15/2017

I don’t think I’ve ever shown up to a race and been so calm. No pressure, no expectations. Just me, dirt trails, creek crossings, and steep elevation. Typically I race for results, particularly goals that I have set for myself. But today marked a little over a year of dealing with these never ending leg injuries and I decided it wasn’t worth it. Not at this race, to experience that all over again. Plus, I just didn’t feel like going all out, it was too beautiful out to miss out on some Mother Nature loving.


I was shocked by the volume of participates. I missed the start for the 50K but the half-marathon start line was packed! 30 minutes later we lined up for the 10K. Maybe that’s why my motivation took a bit different tone, this was only a 10K. I run 10Ks on Mondays! So the ‘race’ for me was more of a fun weekend cruise. And I took that cruise to heart.



9:00 sharp and we were off. It took a couple of minutes to finally make my way past the those who really need to learn to not start at the front of the pack. Regardless, props for being out there, but common courtesy is, if you are going to have to start walking after 200 feet, please line up towards the back of the crowd. Especially for a trail run, this makes for a bit of a challenge to pass when the terrain isn’t ideal.


This marks my 3rd official race on Mount Diablo. Time Trail to Junction ✓ Mount Diablo Challenge Road Race ✓ and now Trails Challenge ✓.


I started off steady. Slow pace, remember – not racing here. Immediately I knew the course, I’ve mountain biked this section too many times to count. Up the sandy rocks, down the mini rock garden and continued forth on the fire road. It is a slight downhill before making our way to our first of many creek crossings. Now, when riding these trails during the summer there is always some water. But this was spring….the creeks resembled rivers, and we got wet. Very wet. Calf Deep. Screw crossing gingerly, this was part of the fun!


Creek crossing #2, #3, #4. It was as if behind every turn was more water. Then we turned #5. Elevation. Great, now we are soaking wet, on single track, making a nice muddy slip-in-slide. The pace came to a crawl as we bottlenecked up the steep grade. There was no opportunity to pace, and we were all trying to just stay on two feet.


Oh look, poison oak! Looks like it’s been doing well with the season this year.


The single track eventually made its way up to some open space. The views were spectacular. The trail was starting to try so running was back in the picture. Heading down the mud was causing many slide outs. Man, where’s my all-wheel drive when you need it!


Continued onward. The trail looks back around with views of North Gate Road before making its way back town to the main loop. A quick out and back was all that was left and then 2 miles back to the finish. One problem, you have to follow the creek to the out and back. Solution? It’s time to get wet. Bonus? It cleaned my shoes!


Right before the turnaround, I spotted my handsome dad ringing his classic cowbell. He mountain biked to the turnaround and was a great single-cheer squad. At least this time I didn’t have ‘racing-bitch-face’ because I was just out having fun and enjoying my run. After half a mile we met up with the 5K ‘runners’. We crossed some more water and headed back up the mini rock garden. .25 left and I picked up the pace, I mean, I can’t finish and not look like I didn’t run at all….



I believe this is officially my slowest 10K race time and I’m pretty excited about that fact! 🙂 It was fun racing with my neighbors. J-bean killed it (totally not surprised) at her first 10K race and placed 2nd in her age group. It was a beautiful day out supporting my childhood mountain. Maybe next year I can actually race and do the half-marathon.


Santa Barbara – San Diego Road Trip

One night while watching TV, Stewart told me that he was going to need to go down to San Diego for work. Typically this meant a few days apart but with my new employment situation (thank you Strava) I could join him! We decided to make a week vacation out of it and make some stops along the way. We brought our road bikes, despite a rather pessimistic weather report and hit the road.


Santa Barbara

We both received our undergraduate degrees from UCSB, but no we did not meet there. Our first stop was campus as we traveled down 101. I missed the sound of the waves.



We stayed the night in downtown Santa Barbara, near the coast, at a little B&B. Although, I don’t think you can really consider it a B&B. Sure it has some ‘wine’ and cheese in the evening and bagels with coffee in the morning but I think calling it a B&B was a bit of a stretch. Regardless it fit our needs for two nights. The rain started moving in that evening so we called it an early day after hitting the store for some quick dinner options.



We woke up pretty early to the sound of a crazy downpour. We started to think that maybe the weather report wasn’t lying….that didn’t stop us though. Always up for an adventure, we ate a quick breakfast and realized that biking was out of the question so we laced up our shoes and headed out the door.



The wind alone was powerful enough to make our ‘0.7 mile run’ difficult. The rain hit us like pebbles so we had a change of heart and decided our day was going to be a bit different than scheduled. We headed down to State Street. The streets were already flooded. As prior UCSB’ers, we knew how to dress for the weather….shorts and flipflops. We waded our way across the streets and made our way into Peets where we enjoyed some warm coffee and played cards for an hour or so. We then walked in and out of some of the shops that were still open before taking a drive through the hills. I decided I had enough driving after seeing a couple of mudslides so we headed back to home base.


2017-02-17 14.06.22


That evening we enjoyed a very nice dinner with one of Stewart’s co-workers and his wife. The company was great and the food was very good as well. We called it a night and headed back to the ‘B&B’. The rain finally started to let up after nearly 24 hours of straight rain. The next day it was dry enough to put on the kits and venture up to campus. I am always amazed how quickly a place can change….


That afternoon we packed our bags and headed down famous Highway 1 to Los Angeles where we stopped at my grandparents for the night. That morning we played tourist via bikes. We made our way to Griffth Park, saw the Hollywood sign and road up on Mulholland Dr. No Celebrity Sightings.



The weather stayed calm, making for dramatic skies and cooler temperatures. I wasn’t a big fan of the ride down through Hollywood on Ventura Boulevard but we survived so I guess it wasn’t too bad…



We both agreed that the only way to see Griffth Park is by bike, for future reference. Next task is to hike to the Hollywood sign 🙂


That night we had dinner with my grandparents and Aunt & Uncle. We said our goodbyes and continued our journey south. San Diego. We got in late but that didn’t stop us from wake up early to tour around. We headed to the coast with Stewart’s grandfather and had a late lunch. That evening we drove around San Diego and ended up on Coronado Island. Immediately we both said we wanted to move there….then we stupidly looked up the house prices, never mind.



We grabbed some ice cream and went up to Point Loma to visit Stewart’s really good friend. The visit was another short one before we found ourselves back on the road to grandpa’s. That morning we visited the US Campy office. secrets secrets. The riding was spectacular. The weather was a much-needed improvement from what we were seeing on the news for our hometown so we took as much of an advantage of it as possible.


That night Stew headed off on his business trip while I held down the fort at Grandpas. I made dinner and worked a bit. We watched some TV but it was off to bed quickly for me. The next morning I enjoyed a peaceful walk around before we headed to dinner with Stewart’s extended family. Stew eventually made his way back as we celebrated our last day of our trip. Visiting family was great and it was hard to leave.



4am came quickly as we packed the car, loaded the bikes, and looked up the nearest Peets. We got on the road and tried to get ahead of the LA morning commute. Yeah, didn’t go exactly according to plan but it could have taken a lot longer to get out of the Valley. It is always hard coming home from an amazing trip and getting to spend so much time together, but it always makes me look forward to the next vacation!

South Bay Duathlon – Race Recap 3/12/2017

I’ve competed in only 2 triathlons up to this point. Repeated wildflower two years in a row. So today marked my first ever duathlon and the description seems like a better match (in other words no drowning) unless you want to count the fog this morning we have to shlep through.

The race started earlier than usual thanks to daylight savings time and losing an hour of sleep so the roads were still dark with the light glow from the stadium lights reflecting off the thick morning fog. I picked up my packet and got situated in the transition area. What a difference it is not having to sort through all your gear when it’s just a run bike repeat!

7:04 came quickly as we lined up. The group wasn’t big but I could tell there was some strong competition that showed up. The nerves set in as we began the 10K, turning out of the parking lot onto the main road. Daylight was just starting to break. I kept a steady pace, which is saying a lot because typically I push it too hard at first but this time I slowed it down. This paid off in the end as I didn’t allow too many people to get away from me and I managed to sneak in a PB (Strava) 10K time. The course consisted of two loops around Live Oak Highschool, the backside had a slight incline before making the turn down a gradual hill before coming across the finish. The last two miles started to take a toll on my ankle, seriously? Another injury? My motivation was that my bike was waiting for me and I would get to spend some quality time doing 5 laps very shortly.

The fog started getting thicker in the transition/finish area, which made our range of sight a bit difficult. This may have actually been a blessing for me because it meant I had no idea who was in front or behind me as I turned into quickly change shoes and get moving. This was one of my slowest transitions. I had a hard time deciding if I should shed a layer. While running I noticed that the sun was peaking through on the other half of the course and that I would be pushing it harder on the bike than the run…2 minutes. Yes, this decision took me a total of 2 minutes before I was back on the course, embarrassing!

The bike is where I feel the most at home. I had minimal hip pain so I pushed it hard, but knowing that I was going to have to give my ankle one more 5K I pulled back on the slight climb on the back side. 40K of smooth sailing. I was in my zone and I did my best to stay as consistent as possible. I did pretty well, each lap was about 15 minutes on the dot averaging roughly 19.3mph. Not bad for a first race post injury.

I was focused and determined but I had no idea how many people in my age group were in front of me. I was pretty certain I was at least in the top 5, but thought this was maybe my imagination. I knew I had a good lead on the women behind me that I had passed on my bike but wasn’t sure if it would be enough once we got back to running. I worked my ankle out on the final descent behind coming to the last transition. I quickly ran, in cleats its more of a hobble, to my station and changed shoes. I grabbed my sunglasses because the beautiful (is it spring yet) sun made its morning appearance. Only 3.1 miles let. Or 3.10686 to be exact. I ran that distance with Christy on Wednesday, I could do this. My pace really slowed down, my ankle was throbbing. I told myself I couldn’t stop, it was the Ragnar all over again. If I stopped I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep going.

My Garmin chirped. 1 mile down. 2 miles down. Only one more ‘mile-a-day’ left. Easy. I tried picking the pace up a little bit and the slight downhill helped with the motivation. I crossed the finish line. Medal. Banana. Done. I grabbed my stuff and found Stew. After a few, I went to go check results so we could head home. I turned around and motioned to Stewart that somehow I placed 3rd. Sweet! Typically I’m a 4th place kind of person and last year I was definitely stuck in that rut. I’ll take it 🙂



Overall my first Duathlon was a success. My legs held up. There was no swimming portion to lead to drowning and the course was really fun, especially because you basically do 8 loops so it’s great for spectators. It showed me that while my biking is quickly getting back to its race shape, my legs in running have really taken a hit. However, I think I have spent enough time in recovery mode that it is time to start hitting the track and gym again. Full speed ahead!





[Review] Shoes are a Girls Bestfriend

As a cyclist and a runner, my collection of shoes may be a bit different from the average female stereotype. In fact, looking in my closet, I don’t even own a pair of stilettos…


Instead, the majority of my shoes have mud, scratches, and hundreds of miles under their laces (or Boas). Of course, it shouldn’t come as much as a surprise that all of my cycling shoes are under the Specialized brand. Today I have three shoes that I want to highlight as my favorites that meet three genres of cycling: Road, Mountain, and the occasional Jump Track.



Men’s Blue S-Works – Product Link
Why men’s? Call me picky. I don’t like shiny and I don’t like white. Especially when it comes to my shoes. At the time, there wasn’t anything solid black on the market for women and the men’s shoes that I really wanted (matte black throughout) did not come in my size. Initially, I was a bit skeptic of the color choice, as it had some shine. However, that went away as soon as I put these sleek ‘slippers’ on. They are by far the lightest road shoes I have ever owned and by far have the best fit. They don’t sell this version anymore so if they were to have a tragic accident tomorrow I would go out and get the all black or black/pink men’s S-Works as a replacement. That’s right, they still haven’t improved the women’s S-Work shoe choices it’s still just white.


Boa Closure System – Product Link
I will never go back to only velcro shoes. Boas not only allow me to quickly reach down for the minor adjustment without wasting any time or energy chasing my husband on the flats. But they also allow me to adjust with shoe covers on. For someone that is known to have cold feet and hides her beautiful shoes under shoe covers, this is a must. I probably adjust my shoes an average of 3 times every bike ride, I am just that picky. I’ve had these shoes for over a year and have had no trouble with my Boa closures.



The ‘Soul’ of the Shoe – Product Link
Inside the belly of my S-Works I have replaced the standard inserts with Specialized’s Body Geometry SL Footbeds. “Body Geometry Footbeds are ergonomically designed and scientifically tested to increase power, endurance, and comfort by optimizing hip, knee, and foot alignment.” Which is 100% what I need, doctor’s orders actually. My doctor recommended new inserts in all my sports shoes (cycling & running) that would optimize my hip and knee alignment to help correct my IT Band Syndrom. Unfortunately, it is taking a while to see the true results but I do feel and see that my left knee rotates straighter with these inserts than without.


The first time I road with the Body Geometry SL Footbeds it hurt. I’m not going to sugarcoat it, it took 35 miles in a headwind to finally start getting used to them. The elevated arch felt like there was a wad of paper stuck under my foot and every pedal stroke was painful. A few months later and it feels natural. They help keep my posture and will hopefully help my performance in the long run. I probably should have started with the slightly lower *red* footbed and worked my way up to *green* but too late for that.



Look – Product Link
I’ve been rocking the Look cleats since before my first road bike. I ride with the Grey KÉO Grip cleats as it provides a good balance of float (4,5°). I’ve never had a problem with my Look pedals and cleats, only when I was wearing shoes that were just a bit too big and it was difficult to unclip. There were a few emergency rollovers but nothing too bad. They have been reliable and they don’t make as much noise as previous cleats I’ve tried out, yay for no squeakiness!





Women’s 2FOs ClipLite Mountain Bike Shoes – Product Link
I started out mountain biking with your standard XC shoe. After about two years on the dirt, I made the switch over to 2FOs. While I would prefer XC shoes for racing or riding my hardtail, for the casual riding I do on weekends the 2FOs are a better choice. [of course this really just means I need another pair of shoes soon]. These shoes have a lot of dirt miles under their belt and a lot of those miles have included running up hills, walking in streams, and sliding down a hillside that I swear is just too steep to go down…they have held up great and still feel as comfortable as the day I got them.



They’ve got some great ventilation throughout the shoe design, which is great for hot summer days in Tahoe or on Coe but does result in some pretty dusty toeies by the end of a ride. They kind of appear to be a magnet for dirt. Despite this, the hard toe and platform design bring comfort and protection. Even with the few minor crashes my feet never take any of the force. I’ve kicked my fair share of rocks and branches and my feet continued on. This protection and sturdy build helped give me the confidence to ride over features I never thought I could before.



Boa Closure System – Product Link
Just as the same for road, I will never go back to velcro. These flashy pink Boas were my first pair! Of course, they did not come with my shoes but switching them over was extremely easy. I get a lot of compliments on them.



The 2FOs do a good job of keeping me going, even when I can’t seem to find the pedal to clip in right away. They’ve got plenty of grip for walking over rocks, up steep terrain, or just casually standing around with the crew after a ride.



Mountain/Jump Track & Flats


Women’s 2FOs Flat  Mountain Bike Shoes – Product Link
These had to be included in the line-up, because they photograph so incredibly well. They mimic the design of the ClipLite shoes with the only difference being designed as lace ups and designed as flats. They are great if you are not comfortable exploring the trails clipped into your bike but rather experiencing the ride on a platform pedal without the weight or comfort being jeopardized. They also over the same grip and protection as the ClipLites.

Plus they just look really cool! They are great for riding on the jump trails as I continue to build my confidence. Did I mention how awesome these things look?


Coming Soon: Review Commuting via Bike

Part-Time Paleo

Besides reaching for the occasional glass of underpriced wine or gorging myself on sweetheart candies, I tend to keep to a Paleo diet. So yes, I’m what you would call ‘part-time paleo’ and proud of it. During the week I keep to about 90% of a Paleo meal plan, sometimes I throw in some rice or rice pasta, sprinkle on some shredded cheese, or have dessert consisting of greek yogurt. Weekends are a bit harder with traveling and meals out but I don’t worry myself too much because of it, plus hubby’s pancakes are totally worth the cheat days. Someday I may hop on the full Paleo wagon but for now, eating smart with less sugar and whole foods is good enough for me.


Going part-time Paleo just made sense. It wasn’t a diet choice or to be part of a Pinterest fad, but rather to lead a healthy lifestyle, feel better, and it just worked with being Celiac. I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease the summer of 2009. Nearly 8 years later, I’m finally figuring out what works and I’m actually getting creative with it. I still may not know which spices go well together but I’ll get there.


The hardest meal moving forward was breakfast. For 20 years breakfast consisted of oatmeal with a very generous side of brown sugar. In 2009, gluten free oats were hard to come by and quite frankly did not do the Quaker Oat justice. In fact, to this day I still have not been able to find an equal to my Quaker Oats. So breakfast took a hit. Throughout college, I started skipping the most important meal of the day because nothing sounded good. While teaching it was even worse, where I wouldn’t eat until lunch most days. Now, breakfast is one of my favorites. There are so many options as soon as you get past a typical ‘American’ breakfast of the quick, sugary, with a bowl and spoon standard.


Here is my favorite breakfast thus far:


Pork Sausage
Sweet Potatoes
Coconut Oil

Easy and quick. While the sausages start browning on the stove, I pop the cut sweet potatoes in the microwave for about 4 minutes. From there they join the party in the pan and soak up the juices and coconut oil. I break two eggs on top and cover the pan for 3 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked just right. I slide it onto a plate and eat it up with my hot mug of lemon water 🙂


I am continuing to explore and experiment with food to find the perfect recipes.


Meet Us

Erikaceae. Strava Employee, cyclist, runner, and teacher.

Stew. Specialized Employee, amazing husband, and cyclist.

And welcome to our crazy little world. Follow us as we juggle married life with our careers, starting a family, crazy adventures, experiences, and a little of everything in between. It’s our life just maybe a little edited.