Category Archives: Goals

Ask and You Shall Receive

Do you ever have those moments that are so coincidental it’s scary? A couple months ago, I remember thinking that I really wished I had a nice DSLR to take some better pictures on vacations and for my blog. I had an issue last year where Barnes and Noble (die B&N, die!) advertised 50% off the Canon Rebel XS for Black Friday so I jumped on the deal, ordered the camera, my credit card was charged, and two days later they sent me (and tons of other people who ordered the same camera) an email saying they made a mistake in the price and had to cancel my order. No apology, no coupon for future purchases, no discount off the full price of the camera, nothing. It left a very bad taste in my mouth.

Luckily, right around Black Friday 2011, I was reliving that bitter memory when Woot came to rescue. Same camera. Same price. $5 shipping. No sales tax. I love you Woot! Now I just need to learn how to use it properly.

My "Artsy" Photo

Then, just a couple of days after my camera arrived I remember thinking about the old treadmill we used to have at my house and wishing we still had it. Our insane wind was back and making it very difficult to get in a long run before my race. The next day, Woot had a treadmill for sale! Unfortunately, I didn’t have an extra $500 lying around, or a place to put the treadmill, but it was a weird coincidence.

The point of my long, drawn out story is that I really believe that sometimes if you really really want something and think about it hard enough, an opportunity can just kind of appear.

One thing that I have had on my mind quite a lot lately is my next race in March. I made it public knowledge that I want to run a sub-2:10. I really had no clue how to actually go about achieving this. I mean, it’s simple right? Just run faster. 

At first I thought I would just hit the treadmill and not allow myself to run anything slower than a 9:50 pace at all times. Well, usually about a mile into that I remember how much I hate the treadmill.

Luckily, as I sat down at my computer this morning ready to search for training plans that help knock off minutes on my half marathon time, I saw PBF’s new post for the day:

So You Want to Run a Half Marathon

Where she linked back to some of her older posts, leading me to discover this:

After inputting my previous half marathon time of 2:18, selecting the day of the week I wish to do my long runs (Saturday), and the intensity at which I want to train (I originally did moderate then switched to hard to get closer to my goal time), and date of the anticipated race, I had my own personalized training plan that will lead me to an estimated finishing time of 2:11. Now, I know that’s a minute more than my goal, but the training plan it gave me actually has be running my long runs at an 11:54 pace (???) so I know I can increase the speed on those.

Get your own plan here!

What I really like about this plan is it incorporates more speed training, which is something I’ve never done before and really want to test out. If I can run a sub-2:10 half marathon with the help of my SmartCoach plan, I will seriously be so stinking happy I might be delusional enough to consider running the LA Marathon next year. Maybe.

It was just such a coincidence that PBF’s post lead me to find exactly the kind of training plan I need to accomplish this goal. I also love that it has me running 3-4 days a week instead of 5 like a lot of other training plans. Physically, I’m sure I could run 5 times a week if I was training properly, but half the time it is so hard for me to find the time. I’m not a morning person, and if I try to run at night after work I spend the whole run imagining things chasing me in the dark. And I hate running on the treadmill most days. Again – so boring.

So now I promise to try to post a little more frequently since I’ll be testing out and reviewing this training plan.

Also, I recently joined DailyMile and rarely remember to update it, but if you’re on it please come find me (Danica V)! Maybe if I have more DM friends I’ll update it more too 🙂

Has anyone used the Runner’s World SmartCoach to train for a race? Did it help you reach your goal?


Filed under Goals, Half Marathons

I’m so motivated I’m scaring myself

I just did something so out of character for me I’m still in shock. It’s only the second day of January and I’ve already paid all my student loan, car payment, and credit card bills. I usually wait until the day they are due to scramble home and pay them on time, but miraculously, I paid almost 2 weeks early this month.

Things are getting crazy!

I also signed up for my next half marathon on March 24:

I’ll be running in the Pacific Half Marathon and I’m really hoping to run it in 2:10 or less.

In an effort to help prepare for this race and work on getting a bit faster, I just placed an order for these beauties:

Runner’s World Complete Book or Women’s Running

Runner’s World The Runner’s Diet

I’m not a natural athlete or a particularly fast runner, but considering that much of my training for my first half marathon consisted of the trial and error method and some skipped long runs, I think I can definitely step it up with a little guidance from these books. A sub-2:10 half would feel like an incredible accomplishment for me and might be the next step to (possibly) attempting a full marathon in the future.

Other Productive Things I’ve Done in 2012\

– I haven’t bitten my nails since I sucked it up and got a gel manicure on 12/30. 3 days and going strong!

– I painted my toenails dark purple so that my two black toenails are no longer visible. Lovely right?

– I picked up a pair of $15 Nike Hero Shorts (one of my faves) at Sports Authority today. They were in my size. I left without buying them. Truly a New Year miracle.

– My NYE dress is sitting on my bed and I am absolutely planning on hanging it up before I go to sleep instead of tossing it onto the floor.

Has anyone read any good or motivating running books? 

What is your favorite book ever? J and I just finally finished the whole Harry Potter series and they are the best books I have ever read. I think the last one was my favorite. I bawled my way through the final 100 pages and now I’m dying to finally watch the last movies.



Filed under Goals, Half Marathons, What I'm Reading

Turkey Dash PR!

Happy Thanksgiving!! This morning my dad, brother and I ran the Annual Conejo Valley Turkey Dash. The motto is “Fitness Before the Feast” but I think the only thing I burned off was half the helping of stuffing I plan to eat tonight. Then there will be about 5,900 calories of turkey, potatoes, cranberry sauce, and pie (my Mom’s homemade pumpkin with home grown pumpkins).

We woke up bright and early to make the 20-minute drive to the race. My mom took these great pictures:

So tired/squinty/shiny

I was convinced my bib number was somehow a lucky number for the race:

My goal was to beat my previous 5k PR of 30:59 and run this 5k in under 30 minutes. I was hoping my PR playlist would help motivate me and pull me through so I could cross the finish line with a 29 on the clock.

The weather was perfect – cool and cloudy. We did a quick warm-up run at 8:10 then got in the line for the 8:30 start. 8:30 came and went and I was getting SO antsy for the race to start. Then some lady decided to push her way through and stand right between my Dad and I. That didn’t bug me too much until I starting smelling her – and intoxicating mix of Icy Hot and sunscreen. I cannot handle strong smells in such close proximity so the ten extra minutes it took for the race to start were aggravating. Finally, the gun went off at 8:40 and we took off.

I hit the 1 mile mark at 9:15 and felt pretty good. The 2nd mile had more uphill and I hit the 2 milk mark at 18:40 (my brother was done before I hit 2 miles with a time of 16:54, and he was taking it easy after not running for 2 weeks). I kept trucking along and I could feel the tinge of a side ache coming on, but I just kept breathing through it. I hit the 3-mile marker at 25 minutes and that’s when I know there was no way they set up the mile markers correctly because I did not run a sub-7 minute mile. Also, I could see the curve before the finish line and it was way more than .1 miles away. I started freaking out not knowing how far I really still had to go. I saw my brother on the sidelines right around 26 minutes and I figured I could make it under 30 if I kicked it hard so I gave him a thumbs up and started really pushing. I have no idea how many people I passed before the finish but I sprinted as soon as “Mr Brightside” started playing. When I crossed the mats at the finish the clock said 28:50, then I hit stop on my watch and saw it said 28:24. Um what? THEN, after waiting around for a bit they started posting the time sheets. My dad PR’d with a 26:08! Then I looked at my chip time:

Official Chip Time – 28:16

Holy-freaking-PR! I beat my previous time by 2:43! Way better than I thought I’d do. I went from a 9:52 pace on 4th of July to a 9:05 pace today. And I felt GREAT! If I hadn’t had that side cramp creeping up on me I think I could have broken a 9-minute pace. I can’t wait to kick butt on another 5k soon. I’ll be shooting for a sub-28 minute race.

I also feel a lot more confident about the half marathon coming up. I know 13.1 miles is way more than 3.1, but if I take it easy at the beginning I am really confident I can run it in close to 2:20. Anything under 2:30 and I’ll be super happy.

After the race, we hit up a gourmet breakfast restaurant where I pretended to be a professional still-life photographer.

So in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I want to say that today I am thankful for my amazing parents that let me live at home rent-free so I don’t have to be poor, my hilarious siblings that always make me laugh, my wonderful boyfriend who is so sweet to me and put up with my 18 “I’M SO HAPPY I PRed!!!!” texts today, his great family that let’s me come over to drink their peach champagne and eat all the chocolate sprinkles in the house, my awesome friends that don’t mind my grandma habits of leaving them to go to sleep at 9:30 before runs, my dingo dog Heidi that drives me nuts but is so loving, and PRs. I am thankful for my PR today because it means I am spending my last day of being 24 in a very good mood instead of moping around and looking on for a late in the day Turkey Trot to redeem myself.

Did you run a Turkey Trot today?

What are you most thankful for?


Filed under 5k, Goals, Halloween, Running

PR Playlist

On Thursday, I’ll be running my last race as a 24-year-old.

I walked over to the craft store during lunch break today to see if I could find a turkey hat to run in but they only had penguins and reindeer. I’m all over the Christmas music and Starbucks red cups, but why is there no love for the turkey 3 days before his big day?

Since I couldn’t find any turkey apparel, I decided to make a Turkey Dash 5k PR Playlist for the race. With the weather looking like it’s going to be on my good side on Thursday and the added benefit of 3.1 miles now being “short” in my list of running distance, I think a PR is in the cards for my last day of not being 1/4 of a century.

Thank you weather gods!

My best 3-mile run at home I came in with a time of 28:45 and I sprinted the last 2 minutes as hard as I could. Why? Because I got super pumped up by The Killers’ song “Mr. Brightside” and totally pictured Cam jamming to the song in her PJ’s with a glass of wine before falling madly in love with Jude Law (anyone else love The Holiday and watch it year round? Just me? OK.)

So naturally, I needed this song to start up right around the 25/26 minute mark so I can know exactly when I need to really start kicking to get to the finish line.

After much tweaking, calculating, and realizing that a 3:46 song was actually 3.75 minutes on the calculator and not 3.45 like i originally thought, I’ve now got this 5k PR Playlist ready to go for Thursday:

If I start hearing Cute Without The “E” before the tag is being cut off my shoe, I’m going to spend my Thanksgiving very mopey and drowning my sorrows in gravy. So here’s hoping I end 24 on a high note!


Filed under Goals, Music, Running

I’ll Probably Regret This Later

This could refer to so many things right now. I’ll probably regret the 18 mini Twix and Snickers I chomped at work today while battling Murphy’s Law. Seriously, try working in a job that has a large majority of their goals relying on 2 days in the holiday shopping season – stress much?

But that’s not what I’m referring to…

Tomorrow, I may regret the glass(es) of wine at dinner tonight… but no, that’s totally worthwhile and justified when laughing and catching up with old girlfriends (and it helps when the bill is discounted by, like, $30 randomly).

I also might regret blogging at 10:30 instead of sticking to my normal 9:40-in-bed-watching-NCIS schedule. But tomorrow is Friday, so I can suffer through one day of trying to not fall asleep at work.

I do love me some Dinozzo…

The thing I might regret come tomorrow is my decision to declare this to the (blog) world:


Yes. I am clinically insane. I’ve decided to attempt to participate in this ridiculous challenge that includes running at least a mile a day from Thanksgiving to the New Year.

Now, one mile really isn’t much. Three years ago I would have looked at anyone determined to run a mile a day like they were out of their mind. Today, I see a one mile run as merely a 9-10 minute (depending on my mood/food I ate/weather) blip in my daily schedule. I’ve reached that whacked out runner’s mentality where anything less than 5 miles seems “short” and “easy”. The challenge for me will simply be finding the motivation and time in each and every day for over a month to change out of my boots and leggings, put on workout clothes, and get going. Whether that means waking up a few minutes earlier to run before work on days that I have after-work plans, or knocking my 3-day-per-week elliptical workout down by 10 minutes to fit in a treadmill run, I just need to do it.

This half marathon training is, and I kid you not, the first thing I have attempted to do since high school that I have (almost) seen through to the very end. I set this goal and as of December 11, I will have achieved it. So why not get a little crazy and force myself to run every day for 19 more days after the half?

Seriously, what am I thinking?

I don’t know how this is going to go, but what I do know is that if I seriously step up to this challenge and meet my goal of running 1 or more miles a day from Novermber 24th (5k Turkey Dash – check) through December 31, then on January 1 I will be treating myself to one of these breakfast every day for a week.

Is anyone else planning to partake in the Runner’s World Run Streak? If so, please tweet me @@GTR_Danica every day during the month and yell at me to get my butt out the door and run.


Filed under Goals, Running


I FINALLY ran the 9-mile training run I’ve been struggling to get through – and it was GREAT! I got up yesterday morning to see the temperature was 47* – such an improvement from the last few weekends that it was 80+. I ate half of a Blueberry Crisp Clif Bar and out on my awesome Don’t Stop shirt from SkinnyRunner for some motivation.

Demonstrating my awesome running pose and self-timer picture skills.

I briefly debated wearing a light hoodie because it was SO much colder outside that I’m used to, but I’m glad I didn’t. During the first mile I thought my ringers were going to get frostbite and fall off and I swear my nose had a layer of ice in it, but once I warmed up I felt great and was glad I hadn’t worn any extra layers.

I took Shotbloks at miles 3 and 6 and starting sipping my lemon-lime NUUN along with them. I ended up finishing the 9 miles in 1:30! My goal was to keep a 10-minute pace the whole time and thanks to remembering my Nike+ I was able to do just that. I will admit, I pause my + at every stoplight and I am so looking forward to the half marathon when I won’t have to deal with ridiculously long lights!

When I got home, my mom was heading out to take my sister to a local breakfast spot called Chef Burger and said she’d treat me to breakfast if I came along. I got the All American Breakfast – 2 eggs, hashbrowns, 2 pancakes and bacon and I inhaled it (with a little help from my mom on the pancakes and hashbrowns).

There was so much food it came in 2 separate containers! I have to say, the pancakes were some of the best I have ever had – partly thanks to the amazing VANILLA maple syrup. To. Die. For.

After breakfast, I decided to do the right thing for my tired legs so I foam-rolled like it was my job and took the time to do 15 minutes of stretching after. This really paid off because I’m not sore at all today!

The rest of the day was spent out and about in Westwood with J as we had to use a Groupon to a framing store before it expired (in two days!). We dropped off the poster we were framing, split a sandwich at a cute little deli, then I had to swing by my 3rd home for a hot chocolate in a HOLIDAY CUP (YAY!!):

Those “No Peeking Until the Holidays” boxes are really doing a number on my already major lack of patience. I am itching for a new Starbucks Holiday Mug and I can’t wait to see what is in those boxes! I have a special requirement for my coffee mugs – the handle has to be big enough for me to get my whole hand through it for optimal hot drink comfort. I hope the new Christmas mugs are nice and big!

Last night was spent playing with the stray cat that lives in J’s neighborhood (we named him Paul):

After petting Paul for a bit, we headed over to Jodi and Casey’s for a delish dinner of Chicken Parmesan, spaghetti and salad with cookies and ice cream for dessert. The food was so good and I scarfed it all down before remembering to even get my camera out!

Today’s plan is to just be as lazy and possible and watch Harry Potter and The Walking Dead with J. I’m already meeting th elazy requirement with my outfit of yoga pants, a sweatshirt and UGGs 🙂

Congrats to everyone who ran RnR Savannah and the ING NY Marathon!!! I can’t wait to read all the race recaps from the weekend!


Filed under Goals, J, Running, Training, Weekends!

Dedicating Miles

Yesterday I planned on running 2 miles at the gym because of the insane wind we’ve been having hear, but my iPod had other plans. My little green friend was totally dead by the time I jumped onto a treadmill. I wasn’t going to totally give up, but then the treadmill I was on wouldn’t let me set a speed over 4.0, so I took it as a sign that I needed to just get my butt outside. I grabbed my stuff, threw it back into my trunk, secured my car key and took off.

I ended up running 2.5 miles in about 24 minutes (using my phone as my only watch). It felt great to just take off running with no real plan. I just ran on a straight, uphill road until it started to get dark, then I turned around and headed back.

Today was an easy day of cross-training – 50 minutes on the elliptical.

Dedicating Miles

I read an interesting article today on Runner’s World about different ways runners deal when the going gets tough. Some of the tips I have already tried out and found success with, like having a mantra and setting mini-goals (“Just run to the next stoplight” and “Now you can totally make it to the next one!”).

One tip in the article that really caught my attention was this one:

“I dedicated each mile in a marathon and kept running so I wouldn’t have to fess up to walking anyone’s mile!” -Annie Tindall Birmingham, Alabama

Genius! The whole reason I started this blog was to keep myself accountable to my goal of running a half marathon. I knew if I told enough people, I would feel really embarrassed if I didn’t succeed due to laziness or just giving up. I’ve decided that I’m going to dedicate each of the 13 miles to various friends and family, and send them a Christmas card letting them know which mile I will be running for them and why. I think it will be a great way to get me through tough moments or mental fatigue, and help me push harder. The last .1 mile I’ll be doing for myself – pure determination and selfish pride 🙂

Santa Ana Insanity

If you’ve ever read the book or seen the movie White Oleander, then you know the beginning scene where Astrid talks about how the Santa Ana’s can make people do crazy things. I will say, I think the craziest thing I did today was go outside! Oh, and go to work on about 3 hours of sleep. The winds were howling last night and I was up at 2:30 in the morning, wide awake, watching Enchanted to try to drown out the noise outside.

This morning was quite hectic. We heard a knock at the door at 7:00 and it turned out to be our neighbor telling us that our back gate had been torn open by the wind and Heidi had taken that as an opportunity to bolt out of the yard and down the street. Luckily, I got her back by bribing her with treats (a girl after my own heart). The problem was that my mom and I were both leaving for work and we couldn’t leave the Dingoid inside all day because she would just eat all the toilet paper and paper towels in the house. We ended up MacGuyvering the gate back together using my brother’s climbing rope tied down to our tent trailer.

Luckily, it held all day despite the numerous trees that were torn out of the ground (or snapped in half! Poor Christmas tree!)

Pictures don’t do it justice, but I had quite the windy ride to work this morning. Stuff was blowing everywhere – including shopping carts and tumbleweeds!

We did get lucky though – no crazy brushfires like we had when I was in high school. I just had to spend the day trying to not let the wind slam the car door on my leg each time I got in and out.

Is your town known for any crazy annual weather?

Simi is just known for insane wind and BIG brush fires. Although it did randomly hail AND snow last winter.

Do you have any tricks you use to motivate yourself during runs and races? Would you ever dedicate miles to people to push yourself?


Filed under Goals, Half Marathons, Running, Uncategorized