Archive for atlanta

Peachtree. Again. 

Posted in photos, races, road, running, shoes, travel with tags , , , , , , on July 9, 2015 by afuntanilla

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We gathered on the 4th day of July.  the day so historically significant, marking the United States independence. Freedom. Freedom. Freedom. I think of the many people who live in places where they are not so free….

We lined up. Some for the 37th time. Some for the 1st time. Or like myself, the 8th time. My 8th go at The Peachtree Road Race. The crowd so full, lively, ridiculously energetic on this early morning holiday. The famed start there at the corner of Peachtree and Lenox Ave…on your mark….

I felt happily light as I had no water bottle, no earphones, nothing with me or in my hands. The sky above was gray & a typical Atlanta thunderstorm was threatening. Bring on the rain, I said. If you know me, than you know I love running in the rain…especially a southern rain. Nothing. Like. It.

My goal was to run solid, have fun, soak it all in and push! All week my legs had been feeling heavy, but this morning, all was good. I had a feeling I would have a good day. Sometimes, I can just feel it as soon as I wake up whether I will run well or not….and this morning as I readied myself in the hotel room, I had a good feeling.

Off we went and the miles were passing by. I was keeping 9 minute mile pace, conscious to not go to fast as I didn’t want to lose steam later in the race as I have done so many times in the past. This course, this damn course…often times, it just gets me miles 4-5.5! I was determined not to let that happen. Well. The 3rd mile was even faster at 8:43. I didn’t want to go that fast, but that’s what happened…

As we started the initial climb up the major hill (Cardiac Hill), I was feeling strong and kept my pace strong throughout…up and over…and onto a flat stretch to mile 4 which starts the long, gradual ascent til about 5.8 miles. It doesn’t ever look difficult but often times in the past I have just really slowed down during this stretch….

Not today;  legs in great stride, pushing, feeling my breathing, my heartbeat beating….so happy to be alive and running as a harder rain fell on us all. Ahhhh….that was the moment, my moment…LOVE IT!

I turned the corner at Peachtree and 10th and headed fast on the last downhill stretch into the finish next to Piedmont Park.

Done, done, done. Another Peachtree in the books. One of the best races I’ve had here and happy with my finish of 56:08.

 

The shoes in the picture where new…bought just the day before and had no problems whatsoever. I was able to walk around in them a bit day before race, so all was good. They are NEW BALANCE 1400v3, a racing shoe. Good stability and enough cushioning for this day. Super light and fun to run in. Got ’em at The Big Peach Running (of course!) store in Decatur. Best running store ever! (multiple locations…i love the decatur store best)

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Happy to be healthy and out enjoying life on the roads….

What’s Next??

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Catching Up

Posted in bike, photos, road, running, trail, travel with tags , , , , , , on August 16, 2014 by afuntanilla

These past few weeks: Another awesome bike ride with Jason. Went out on an mid week early morning. Weather was cool, foggy. I added arm warmers to my body but other than that, stayed with just shorts and bike jersey.

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(Jason in fog)

We did our same 25.5 mile loop and I felt good. The route was the same but the scenery changed due to the foggy conditions. A different kind of beautiful. So peaceful out there…I love it!! Awesome way to start my work day.

The next 2 weeks I traveled to Kansas City, MO & then Atlanta, GA. Obviously, both not easy places to run in during the summer months. I also have learned that for me to try to run the day after a long travel day is absolutely useless. I ran the day after I arrived in KC after long day of getting there. Run was painful. I also ran the day after I arrived back in CA after super long day of travel. That was doubly painful. I think I have learned my lesson. I can do the run of course, I just don’t find it enjoyable after such long travel days….but I feel like I just have to exercise because of all the sitting, etc…hello….conundrum! Anyways, in between those instances, I ran 3 days (4 miles each) steadily in Atlanta and was glad to get those morning runs in before work. Did a lot of driving while there, so moving my body beforehand was perfect! Humidity/heat was not as bad as expected for this time of year. Bonus! I ran on the same path each day….a flat path with a gazillion trees hovering around. Ahhhh….THIS I miss very much!! The plethora of soooo many trees! Beautiful, luscious, invigorating, and yes, thank you for the shade! The last day of running there was eventful in that I tripped and fell AND then narrowly avoided a snake. I’m sure the snake was harmless, but a snake is still a snake. Also, no scars or nothing from the fall. A tiny bruise, if that. Darn it.
Much of the path is laden with wood planks because the area is basically akin to a swamp. Every morning, it was deliciously quiet out there with just my footsteps and the soothing & familiar sounds of the cicadas.

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(playing w/ the shadows)

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After a full travel day back home from ATL, I desperately wanted to move my body the next morning. I knew I would be sluggish, but I just HAD to move. You know that feeling, right?? Also, after the flat path in GA, I was hungering for the dusty trails of Marin. I opted for the Dipsea steps and trail. Ahhh….the steps I crossed with happy, gentle, tired feet…the steps that took my breath away….over to the windy trail with scores of scattered fallen Eucalyptus leaves under my stride. Down and then back up the steep, dusty, rocky, section….my legs happily aching…running over to a section I had yet never been…the sunrise trail that goes .7 mile out and then the same return. An easy runnable section with fantastic views (even with the cool foggy morning). Taking some deep breaths and smiling, happy to be home again…happy to move my legs, grateful for everything.
Back down the Dipsea steps after a slow 5 miles. Just what I needed.

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Part of the Dipsea Trail

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Part of Sunrise Trail

me & the rain

Posted in motivation, photos, races, road, running with tags , , , , , , on February 10, 2014 by afuntanilla

Me & the rain…we got a special relationship. Much more love than hate. Much much more. In face, no hate at all! I cannot recall exactly when I first fell in love here but I can tell you this love affair has been long. When I first got seriously into running in the late 90’s, I didn’t belong to a gym and therefore didn’t even have the option to run on the treadmill on rainy days. I put on a cap and a rain jacket and off I went. I remember the very 1st HALF-MARATHON I ran in SF in 1999 was partially run in rain….I couldn’t have been more delighted. The freshness, the challenge, the beauty of it all still sticks with me today, 15 years later. I ran MANY times in rain while living in Atlanta. How could one not with all the random yet not so random Thunderstorms coming down all around you. Not little droplets, no “light” rain there….heavy duty, gigantic raindrops thru the often thunderous crackling of lightening across the southern skies. Delicious, formidable drops that i could not keep myself away from….so many spring & summer days…the wetness would fall on my body and just wash over me — the warm waters felt like a soft sponge on my bare skin. There is NOTHING like running in the rain in the southern heat & humidity! The vast lushness all around that becomes even more so after mother nature gives an impressive spill. I remember days of running along Ponce de Leon, a main corridor in Atlanta, and being able to see off in the distance the falling drops in the sky and the awesome backdrop of the deep green that lined the famous street. I remember steps along the Silver Comet Trail when the wetness would create more space than usual…the walkers, cyclists and others would stay away on rainy days. Just me and the path that became my trusted, stable friend. And our other friend, the rain. Many miles I have run through such magnificent conditions.

And then running in the cold rains! I recall possibly my toughest race ever in terms of weather conditions; the Half Marathon in Chicago in May 2011. Damn that was tough. Rain and serious wind on a course that was out and back along Lake Michigan. 25-30 mile winds! It was ridiculous. It wasn’t fun, it was really freakin’ cold and it was so mentally challenging, but I still relished the experience. I still wonder how I made it through that one… it was one of those experiences where you tell yourself, “if i can run though this, i can run through anything!”

Following my jaunt today, I just stayed outside of my house for a bit. I removed my cap and glasses and just hung out on the corner….marveling at the elements and blissed out after my run. I forgot myself and just started to spin and twirl around a few times, head back, letting whatever wanted to come, come. My smile was huge!

I think there is definitely a spiritual element I find through running and even more so, in the rain. I feel more connected to myself, my truth, and a spirit that goes far beyond little ole me and my world. The quiet, abandoned  streets beckon me to come on out…the life that i feel pulsing through me on such days like during today’s 6 miles in steady rain is incalculable in its reward and how it fills my soul.

Why do I run? Well, isn’t this enough of an answer?

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 Oh, Peachtree…

Posted in motivation, photos, races, running, travel with tags , , , , , on July 7, 2013 by afuntanilla
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I have not found a way to successfully “race” the Peachtree 10k Road Race. I lived in Atlanta for 13 years and ran the race 4 times as a resident. I’ve now completed my 3rd time running the event as a non-resident. It was not “easier” as a resident who had the time to acclimate. My finish times were a bit better while residing in the languishing heat and sultry humidity, but the running the race itself has always been for me an experience of knowingly putting my body under duress. Because even though I haven’t felt like I was actually “racing” like I can in other 10k races, I have always gone out there trying to do my best and go as fast as possible on the given sweaty and patriotic 4th of July morning.
It had been a rain of frequent rain before Peachtree and the forecast for race time was 100% rain forecasted. I welcomed the forecast as I LOVE to run in the wet stuff in Atlanta. I love the feel of the large, heavy drops plopping on my skin in the hot summers. While a resident, I was caught in more than a few rainstorms on my training runs and I got soaked and SOAKED in the experience on all of them. It always felt a bit magical to me….running along a quiet Atlanta street, so many trees near and far, the green leaves glistening in the distance and the rain pouring down in front of me. AHHHHHH…..no where near a nuisance, but a gentle companion (except those FEW exceptions when there may have been hacking thunderstorms)
So, yes, I would not have minded the rain. Unfortunately, the rain did not grace herself for us; nor did the heat. The humidity did show up, though, in full force. Temperature on race morning was about 72 degrees, 95% humidity. Ouch.
Welcome to Atlanta!
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 PRE-RACE
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I walked the short distance from the hotel to the starting line. Along the way, the Elite Women had begun. They were the 1st group to start. A large group of us who were walking to our respective start areas all stopped, dead in our tracks, to watch these phenomenal women athletes. The small group of women ran swiftly by us, looking like a pack of gazelles….their strides so graceful, smooth, and fast! After they passed by us, we all kinda turned to each other and smiled that “wow” smile when you witness something great! Pretty cool!
Onward toward my starting wave, Wave C, start time to be 7:41 a.m. Well, as group A began, group B and C moved up, but my area of Group C somehow got lumped in with group B, so my start time moved up 5 minutes and as such, my Garmin was not ready when I started. I had been waiting for it to calculate my position for GPS purposes, but by start time, it was still “thinking”, which was frustrating. So, I began.
Mile 1 – from Lenox Mall and through Buckhead. Flat. Just feeling my way into it. PACE Unknown
Mile 2- by now, my gps was working so I began my watch at this time. This mile is flat to downhill. At 2.8 miles, my client, who is 88, had been along the route to cheer me on. How cool is that??! I was delighted to see him. I gave him a big hug and he said, ” go get ’em, kid!” PACE 8:44
Mile 3 – the gradual then steep climb up to Piedmont Hospital and then flat for about 1/4 mile. PACE 9:07
Mile 4 – really started to feel sluggish here. thinking i probably needed more to eat than just the 1 Powerbar for breakfast. Not sure what I was thinking. Legs didn’t feel too bad, just feeling like I needed some energy. PACE 9:46
Mile 5 – always a deceptively difficult mile. looong gradual uphill mile. more sluggish. they had water stations at every mile marker and i took a few sips at each one….slowing down a little bit more at each station. PACE 10:22 (ouch)
Mile 6 – flat, short super small incline, and then downhill across the finish line. PACE 9:17
Finish Time: 58:56
Happy to have completed another Peachtree, but a bit disappointed I did not have a better finish time. While running, I actually thought it was a little faster. I just went through my computer to see what my best result was here and I CANNOT BELIEVE IT, but my best finish time at Peachtree WAS in FACT when I was a NON-RESIDENT!! I ran the race in 2003 with a finish time of 54:09
Well…what does that tell ya??!
NOTHING! Just gotta laugh.
POST – RACE
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Thanks to my buddy in Sharon, in Atlanta, for hanging with me and cheering me on!
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The SF Half Marathon

Posted in motivation, photos, races, road, shoes with tags , , , , , , , , on June 22, 2013 by afuntanilla

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And, so…the day began. 5:30am start in San Francisco. Starting line just south of the Ferry building. A gorgeous morning as you can tell from the photo. I had run down to the starting line as my little warm up. The city streets filled with fellow runners….love it! As I ran along to the start, became more and more awake, enlivened…to do my thing. RUN.

It had been a long time in between races…the last one I did was very different; a super small trail race in Pacifica. The starting line was packed with those running the Full Marathon and those like me, running the Half. (This was the 1st half of the course, last year I did the race but ran the 2nd half of the course, which is actually easier in may opinion.)

My “starting wave” didn’t actually cross the starting line until about 5:50am, so I had plenty of to stretch, warm up and get comfortable. I felt relaxed and at ease with my “game plan”….which s simply run, enjoy and do my best. In contrast to last year when I had specifically trained for a personal best, I did not train much this time. I mean, I got many runs in, but I didn’t focus on speed work, I didn’t get the specific training in that I would have needed to keep pace with my 1:58:42 from last year. And, I was ok with that. I knew when I signed up this would be the case. So.

There was a Cable Car bell ringing to signify the start and off we went. The first 5-6 miles are almost entirely flat as we run all along the Embarcadero, past Fisherman’s Wharf and along the Marina Green and Chrissy Field. Felt easy and comfortable. I kept looking out into the bay….feeling loads of gratitude and appreciation for where I live.

And, then the climbs started. The steep climb up from the marina and onto the Golden Gate Bridge. Contrary to popular opinion, I did not enjoy this part. I knew I wouldn’t as I remembered this portion from when I ran this Full Marathon back in 2005. To me, running across the bridge is very loud and it FEELS like a constant steady slight uphill in both directions! I guess the path is like a slight arc, but honestly it doesn’t feel easy. I guess I also feel like it’s a bit chaotic because the bridge is not closed to traffic. So, lots of cars swooshing by and other runners headed in the opposite direction since it is an out and back portion. The remaining 4 miles were not easy.  Once off the bridge, we made a steady climb into the Presidio which is followed by a nice downhill section into the final Richmond District neighborhood and finally into Golden Gate Park. I was not comfortable on the climbs as any climbing has been almost non-existent in my training. Ahhh… A good kind of hurt, eh? But, even around mile 10, I remember thinking, “I am actually feeling ok…i would be curious to see how i would fare for the FULL course today.” And then, something happened in the last 2 miles where i just started to feel very tired…like seriously running out of gas!! I was surprised but probably shouldn’t have been since my longest run pre-race was only 10.5 miles. So, as we made the ran the final steady uphill mile into the park and into the finish line, I was Happy I was NOT running the FULL course. Today.

My finish time was right along what I expected in 2:09:42

My main goal while running races is always to see what I can do on a given day. How will I show up? How will my body perform? How am I mentally? As mentioned in previous posts, I had not felt the greatest mentally or physically before this race and I did in fact, have some fears that I would just crack and not finish. But, as I woke and got prepared in my hotel room….as I made my way to the starting line….as I stood there with thousands of my fellow mates,  I knew I was instantly stronger in every way. THAT’S why I do this. It was great to get out and be a part of the race and feel the enormous energy and camaraderie. I needed that.

I never really care how I finish overall, but I do care and like to see how I fare among my sex and age group: women 40-49.

Here were my numbers from this year :

Females 40-49    121/618

Which I think is good, especially on the tougher part of the course.

To contrast, here are my numbers from last year when I ran the 2nd portion of the course and had a PR

2012 Females 40-49    54/415

Which I also think is good.

Some comments about the race logistics, etc: Race Expo was ok, but it was VERY, VERY hot in the building so that made it uncomfortable to stay long. I was also super aware of how commercialized it all is….seems like every year, the feel of an expo appeals to me less and less.  I used to love going to these things and now I have more like a “get me in, get me out” attitude. But, that’s definitely the nature of big races and I have to expect that….if I want something low key, there are plenty of options for that!!

The Race organization itself was awesome. Even their communication per-race, with sending emails and letting us know security would be enhanced and to arrive earlier than usual. And yet, there was no waiting or anything at the starting line, everything was clearly marked for each different starting wave and just simply well-organized. There was enough of water, Gatorade, etc on the course and the volunteers were terrific, as usual. Massive thank you to all the volunteers. I realize some were probably starting their VOLUNTEER shift at 4am or earlier. THANK YOU! The finish line and snacks afterward were more than sufficient. I took a shuttle bus back to the starting line and that was easy as can be. So, overall the WIPRO SF HALF MARATHON was terrific.

I made my way back to my hotel, changed and met a friend for breakfast at the Dipsea Cafe in Mill Valley.  A great Sunday morning.

Thank you to my friends who cheer me on, near or far, in person or in spirit. Thank you!

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Shoes: Brooks T-7 Racer. super light shoe, felt good but would not want to run in full marathon, but good for this distance. Would want more support for longer distance

Also wore: compression socks for the first time. loved them and will use again.

Next up: The Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta on July 4th!!

“Running to him was real; the way he did it the realest thing he knew. It was all joy and woe, hard as a diamond; it made him weary behond comprehension. But it also made him free.” –John L. Parker Jr.

On The Road

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 29, 2012 by afuntanilla

I thought I would be supremely inspired to write now that I am on the road, but truth be told, I have not been inspired in the least! But, perhaps…that is where to begin. 

I left Atlanta this past Monday, Jan 23rd.  The “yellow brick road” was a very wet one. Rained for the first 2 hours until I hit Birmingham, AL. Afterwards, smooth sailing into my first destination, Oxford, MS. Notes about Oxford: a quaint, clean town. Home to University of Mississippi or more commonly known as OLE MISS. Lots of red brick buildings (typical of the south) and a cute “historic”downtown square. For you readers out there, William Faulkner made Oxford his home as did John Grisham for many years. Surprisingly, I did not find the locals there to be all that friendly. Strange, I thought. I did find a good bookstore and a place for breakfast. The breakfast place is called Bottletree Bakery! Wonderful granola! I did go for a run there, but will share about the running in my weekly recap. 

Next stop: Little Rock, AR

I departed Oxford and headed west, then northwest to Little Rock, AR, bypassing Memphis. I chose this more northerly route because all the other times (3) I have been across country, I have traveled thru Texas and wanted to see some other states this time. Unfortunately, there was not a lot to see on this drive to Arkansas. I pulled into Little Rock late in the day and actually just ate dinner at my hotel. I wish I had something more exciting to tell you, but I don’t. I’ve been staying at Holiday Inn Express Hotels and so far, all have been pretty good places to stay. You know I am a coffee snob, so I have not had too much of the hotel coffee and the next morning, I went in search of a coffee shop in little rock. I actually wanted to serif I could find alternate places to Starbucks. I tried. I found a place and ordered a regular coffee. I hate to say it, but I left and had to chuck the coffee…yikes. Ok…where is nearest Starbucks…

..I found it! Ok…onward to Oklahoma City! 

More rain greeted me on this third day of my journey. Rained a good bit, but pulled in OKC with blue skies and sunshine.  I easily found the main downtown area and more specifically, the basketball arena. I had considered going to the NBA game that night, but then decided against it when I could not find a hotel room anywhere nearby! Bummerstay had to stay on the outskirts of town and saw a Mexican place within walking distance. I thought maybe this place would have good food and margaritas, but no…damn! Well, at least the meal was cheap…I am without a job, you know! 

I ran the next morning and then took off for East New Mexico. I mean no offense to anyone who lives in either OKC or Little Rock, but as I spent just a little bit of time there, I found both places to be rather dreary and depressing. Perhaps, it is because of winter. All I can say is that being there made me appreciate where I have lived (Atlanta) and where I am headed to next (SF)

From OKC, I headed west and then Southwest and stayed in a very small town called Santa Rosa, NM. I could have gone longer, but I am trying not to drive more than 6-7 hours a day. Beyond that, it just isn’t too much fun! I got a recommendation for dinner and margaritas from the hotel front desk clerk. Both the food and margaritas were better than my previous 2, but still far from what I am accustomed to….I guess I am becoming a margarita snob in additon to a coffee snob. OK. I can probably live with that….

I love the SouthWest. When you drive across it, it’s hard not to just continuously drop your jaw in disbelief over the beauty of the landscape. And the quiet….ahhh, it’s so amazingly quiet. One of the things I have noticed since I have been traveling is how my mind has just been quieter and quiter….the inner noise is virtually non-existent. It’s as if the driving has been my traveling meditation. Wonderfully peaceful. 2 weeks ago, my head was filled with so much stress, noise, worry….and it has all but simply fallen away….no doubt some of it will come back, because actually a certain amount of stress is good, but it’s nice to have the quiet for now, both internally and externally. 

I left early the next morning and headed towards Flagstaff, with a brief stop in Albuquerque. I thought I might stop and stay in Santa Fe or Taos, but as I got closer and closer, I was just now drawn to do so….I think I just want to get “home”. I stopped for a cappuccino and a couple of grocery items in Albuquerque and then kept truckin’ on to Flagstaff, AZ. And that is where I currently am, Flagstaff. Cool little town in Northern Arizona! Decided to stay 2 nights. Ran this morning and will catch up on the running posts tomorrow. Hope to get another run in tomorrow morning before heading to Las Vegas! 

 

Week 2 Run Report

Posted in road, travel with tags , , , , , , , on January 20, 2012 by afuntanilla

Only ran 3 days during the 2nd week of the year. Had a lot going on and plus Week 1 was a pretty good start in terms of volume. Best runs was on Sunday. Ran outside on one of my normal routes and didn’t have to much of a plan regarding pace, but I wanted to do 5-6 miles. I was feeling ok but really couldn’t judge my pace because my freaking GARMIN 110 has completely died and I am wearing my regular NIKE watch with doesn’t have GPS.
Let me take a moment to gripe about GARMIN for a minute. My first GARMIN watch was the 205 which I wore for quite sometime without much problem except that it did take a while to find the GPS signal much of the time. It died about a year ago and I felt like I got good “mileage” out of it. I bought my first 110 about 18 months ago and within a few months, it was giving me problems. Luckily, Garmin replaced it, without requiring a receipt. However, they replaced it with a different color. The gave me the one with a PINK stripe on it, as opposed to the all BLACK one which is the one I bought. PINK! ICK! But, oh well right…was glad I got it back and it worked fine for about a year. Then, the HR monitor stopped working. OK. I just let it go and moved on. Then, the whole damn thing just DIED. BLANK. Nothing there! Should have been fully charged. BLANK.
Suffice it to say, I am done with GARMIN. To pay their prices for a product that lasted a year is just not worth it. Until I get super anal about having my pace at my disposable every second of every run, I will be fine to just run with my sturdy NIKE watch…which I’ve had for about 6 years and no problems, by the way. I map the distance in my car afterwards or on mapmyrun.com — same thing i did before having a GPS watch. Ok. enough about that!

So, the Sunday run…I felt good first couple of miles which are the ones with the most hilly portions. I knew after about 2.5 miles that my pace had accelerated, but couldn’t tell how much. I was feeling good and happy and it was a gorgeous day and good running temperatures. As I approached the 40 minute mark, I knew from past runs approximately where I was in terms of mileage and I figured my pace was pretty good. I came to a short downhill section and sped up and then finished with a about another half-mile of a rolling section. That last section, I just turned it on a found a deeper gear. Lungs were stretching, thighs were burning, heart was pounding. End result = 5.2 miles @ 8:41 pace. BEST PACE IN A WHILE. HAPPY RUNNER!

2012 Week 2 – approx 13 miles

**Big things happening. Last day at my current employer/job is tomorrow, FRIDAY! Next Monday, I plan to leave Atlanta and make my way back home to San Francisco in my sporty BMW. Hope I don’t hit any snow. Everyone keep their phones handy for a 911 call from me! 🙂