Blog Tours and Linkups


It’s January, a new year, and time for All of the 2019 Things, which includes participating in #RIOTS. #RIOTS is an acronym for “Running Is Our Therapy Sisters” (or “Running is Our Therapy Squad”) and I, along with five strong, amazing bloggers, are throwing #RIOTS every week. You’re totally invited to play. While there isn’t an A in #RIOTS (I leave you to decide what kind of “A” we might want to exclude, ha ha!), the true meaning of #RIOTS is Accountability. #RIOTS was born when Anna Louise of Gracious Warrior Princess reached out to us and proposed some ACCOUNTABILITY for all of the great goals and works we have planned for the 2019 calendar year. We’ve all got goals, and together we have a #SquadGoal which is to band together as a support network so that we each reach our 2019 goals.

Here’s how it works: every Sunday (or whenever afterwards we manage to get the blog posts ready), we share both victories and setbacks. We are counting on each other to keep on track this year and the results are going to be epic!

If you want to play, head over to Jenn’s blog, Runs with Pugs. Grab our graphic, drop your link in the linkup, comment on the host blogs and as many others as you can, and play along!

Next, Meet the Accountability Squad:

Brandi at Funner Runner

Anna Louise at Gracious Warrior Princess

Briana at Mat.Miles.Medals

Meghan at Meghan on the Move

Jenn at Runs With Pugs

Elizabeth (that would be me!) at Train With Bain

One Week Into 2019…

I heart running 2019 poster
My refrigerator mileage poster

This week I’m recapping my running and fitness goals. I have plenty of other goals–dutifully outlined in my 2019 planner–but let’s start with these! I’ll start by saying I am having total FOMO as all of my friends head off to Florida for the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. This is my first year NOT running Dopey, and it sort of breaks my heart to lose that “perfect” status. I’m trying not to dwell on it by setting other goals and planning for other cool events.

Running Goals.

Blue Ridge Marathon. I’m returning to the FootLevelers Blue Ridge Mountain as an Ambassador! This is the only race I have taken a HARD “get on the bus” DNF. To be fair, the course was black-flagged (due to lightning), but in all honesty the race was kicking my butt. I’m going to write more about that later. In the meanwhile, plan to join me in Roanoke, Virginia on April 13, 2019. (Psst! There’s a discount code on my deals page. Use AMBASSADORBAIN20 for 20% off!) How it’s going:  It’s day 8 of the year as I write this. I have run three of those days (2.1, 6.2, 3.1–not necessarily the distances I had planned!) and not the five days called for in the training plan. On the one hand, I could beat myself up. On the other hand, that’s three more days than I would have run without a training plan.

Chicago Marathon. This year I joined Team Imerman Angels to run my first World Marathon Major: Chicago! I made a pledge to raise at least $100,000 in my lifetime to fight cancer and to help those who are fighting it, in honor of Mom. In 2012 I ran the Detroit Free Press-Talmer Bank International Half for the American Cancer Society and raised almost $25,000. I’ve raised $10,000 for The Susan G. Komen Foundation by participating in the San Francisco Bay Area 3-Day Walk for Breast Cancer. I raised $2,500 for Noah’s Light Foundation to fund a cure for pediatric brain cancer at the Walt Disney World Princess Glass Slipper Challenge. This year, I’m helping Imerman Angels connect those fighting cancer to an “angel” who knows what they are going through. How it’s going: I set up my fundraising page (though I accidentally deleted the big, long post I wrote so I need to re-do that) and successfully guilted both of my brothers into donating to my fundraiser! Now it’s your turn: Give Money Here. I have raised $170 of my $2,000 goal, which is about 10%. (i will donate $205, the cost of a bib for the race, this fall.) If I can hit 10% every month, I’ll reach my goal.

screen shot from the Vi app
Not REALLY my fastest mile….but Vi doesn’t track on the treadmill

Run The Year 2019. Every year (well, this is the fifth year), Run the Edge has a “Run the Year” challenge. You can choose to run 2019 miles (or kilometers) yourself, or with a team. You also don’t HAVE to hit 2019. There are no prizes for reaching the end–the medals for this year have a spinner where you can insert a special coin when you reach various mileages, and they came out already so they can motivate us!–and no penalties. The entire point is to join a limitless running club where people are helpful and positive. (And “positive” includes things like, “Dude, do NOT trust ‘pixie dust’ to get you through a race you are not trained to run.”) How it’s going: So far, I have just under 12 miles. I am tracking on a poster on my fridge, and the RTY challenge poster is on my wall. I’m also the “Lead FITster” for Portland, so I’m moderating the Facebook group and keeping it positive. It’s not too late to join us, and if you use my affiliate link you get $3 off (how much you spend depends on which swag you choose). My actual goal is 1200+ miles, because the Oregon Road Runners Club has a 1200 mile challenge and if you finish, you get a sweet 1200 miles club jacket. (Every year after that, you get a patch to add to it if you finish another 1200.)

Yoga Goal.

Do More Yoga. This is exactly the type of “not-SMART,” vague goal everyone tells you NOT to set. So don’t follow my lead here. Essentially, I want to do yoga more often. That definitely means taking more classes, and I joined the brand-new PDX Power Yoga studio that just opened near me. It’s a Baptiste-affiliated studio, so the sequencing and the adjustments are solid, and I love the vibe, plus I love supporting a local studio. It doesn’t hurt that I got in on the opening special, either. Yet it also means taking a moment here and there during the day to engage in some of the yoga stretches that my body needs to stay in alignment and balanced. How it’s going: I’ve slept through every 6 a.m. class, which means I need to go to bed earlier! On the bright side, I went to see a new chiropractor (Meghan Bodnar at Luna Wellness–I highly recommend!) and have been incorporating the stretches and yoga poses she prescribed after putting my angry SI joint back into a happy place. I renewed my Yoga Download membership as well as my Yoga International membership, so I have NO excuses–I can stream on demand anywhere I have wifi. Also, I moved a yoga mat into my office!

Challenge Goals.

Blogilates #100AbsChallenge. Cassey Ho, the amazing Blogilates, posts free workouts on her YouTube channel. If you subscribe to her newsletter, every month she posts a new calendar with suggested workouts in rotation. Starting January 1, she has an abs challenge to do 100 reps of an abs move each day. Each day is a new move, and there are no rules about doing them all at once. (In fact, she encouraged people to break them up into sets if necessary.) How it’s going: Basically, it’s not. I haven’t done a single day’s video. I can’t say “I’m too busy,” because we all know what that REALLY means. (“I did not make it a priority.”) I think I mentally opted-in because I have a bunch of friends who were doing it. I may pop in from time to time, but I think I am going to let this one go–my heart is not in it.

Grokker 30-day Be a Better You Challenge. Grokker is an online streaming platform with a ton of fitness content on it. I intend to poke around and write a review one of these days. In the meanwhile, Grokker offered a free month through January 31, after which you can either cancel or pay for a membership ($14.99/month if you pay month-to-month, or 30% cheaper at $9.99/month if you pre-pay for a year). To kick off 2019 they offered four challenge options, and I picked one. How it’s going: I’ll tell you next week. No really, after seeing how last week was going, I decided to start THIS week. Yes, it’s Tuesday. Whatever. I can start today.

Bain selfies with a cow or two
When the run gives you an opportunity to selfie with a cow, I do!

OrangeTheory Fitness Transformation Challenge. This hasn’t started yet–my studio starts January 21–but I’m signing up. The challenge is essentially a weight-loss challenge (which I hate), where the winner is chosen by total % of body weight lost. Sure, I have a few pounds to kick, but six weeks isn’t realistic for long-term success here. Anyway, the real challenge is committing to 3 classes per week during the challenge period. Last year I missed ONE class during the last week due to a work issue. Otherwise, I kept with it, even going out of my way to take classes on a family trip to Florida and a work trip to Rhode Island. Time to return to this and UP MY GAME.

Miscellaneous News and Updates

  1. I joined the ORRC and signed up for the 10k series, so I have plenty more runs on calendar! The first was called the Y2K 10K (there was a half marathon option as well) and I loved it.
  2. After the “Run and Retox” with the W’yeast Pack on New Year’s Day, I introduced myself to some runners and made new friends. They invited me to join their weekly runs, so now I have some extra motivation to get out there.
  3. It’s just over two months until I leave for the Vikara 3-Day Fitness and Yoga Party! I’m excited to spend three days in Arizona with poolside yoga, healthy food, and studio/boutique fitness all over the city. The event takes placeFebruary 28-March 3, 2019 and you can use code Elizabeth10 to save 10% on your registrationl Learn more and register at

Until next week…

medal and two race bibs
First Medal Monday and both race bibs

Welcome to the September coffee link-up! If you’re following the loop, hopefully it has been fun so far.

Growing up, I didn’t drink coffee. I suspect this is because in those pre-Starbucks days the only coffee I really had access to was either at Denny’s (one of the choir hangouts) or at home (that coffee came pre-ground in cans). Since the coffee I love now is typically some medium to dark roast bean, ground just before the coffee is made, no surprise, right?

Why yes, I would drink it with a mouse, I would drink it in his house!
Why yes, I would drink it with a mouse, I would drink it in his house!

Dad drank coffee, Mom didn’t. Each morning, Dad made a pot of coffee and drank it while reading the newspaper, sometimes with my brother Bruce’s pet cockatiel sitting on his shoulder. (He was like slacker pirate, mug of coffee not grog, cockatiel not parrot, glasses not eyepatch, and a bathrobe instead of swashbuckling clothes.) I was the first up, since I had to leave for the bus at 5:30, so I’d read part of the paper with him while I ate  breakfast. Even now that he is retired, each morning Dad makes a pot of coffee and reads the paper, though now he fills a thermal carafe (adding milk and a wee bit of sugar) to take outside to the patio in the summers, to let the dog play while he reads the paper. He’s since moved on to buying locally roasted, quality beans (thankfully!) so in theory the coffee is better.

On a typical morning I make coffee in my itty-bitty 4 cup coffee pot using four generous scoops of beans, ground just before dumping them into the filter. I heat up a cup of milk (sometimes unsweetened coconut milk) and add some quality cocoa mix to my mug before I add the milk, stir, and add coffee. By the way, old-fashioned coffee cup sets crack me up–they are like little thimbles!–I prefer my big ol’ Whirley Mug Company travel mugs. Anyway, my current cocoa love is Dagoba’s xocolatl, which has cacao powder, dark chocolate, cane sugar, chili, and cinnamon. Spicy and warm for fall. During the rest of the year I like some cocoa powder and a little sugar, with Penzey’s cinnamon. Sometimes I’ll make a pumpkin pie spice latte, using milk, pumpkin pie spices, and a dash of extra cinnamon with a grating of nutmeg. That demands whipped cream, of course.

I remember the day I first figured out why I didn’t like Dad’s coffee. Dad was visiting–I think he was in town to run the Portland Marathon with me–and I made a pot of coffee. Dad poured a cup, put in a splash of milk and sugar, took a sip, and then made the most hilarious “ewww!” face. “WHOA!” he said, “did you use the whole pound of beans in this?!??” (This, I learned, is not that unreasonable of a question: for a 10-cup pot, my brother Alex uses half a pound of beans.) Turns out I like my coffee strong, since I’m adding a lot of stuff to it and typically take it with me to work in the morning so I only get one cup. (One more reason to love my giant mugs.) Dad, on the other hand, likes to drink cups and cups and cups of coffee while he reads the paper. If he made the coffee as strong as I do, he’d be wired for a week!

Coffee in the airport
Coffee in the airport

For as much as I say I love coffee, it’s not that I can’t live without it. I’ve gone whole weeks without a single cup and while that makes me sad, it didn’t make me sluggish or give me a caffeine withdrawal headache. I suspect I have the gene variant that quickly processes caffeine, since on the weekends I’ll enjoy my mocha, finishing the pot of coffee, and then take a nap with my cat. I do really enjoy something about the combination of flavor, warmth, and texture that is unique to coffee. Breakfast tea with milk is nice, but it isn’t coffee. Chai is delicious! Also, not coffee.

I don’t have a lot of “food rituals” and often find myself traveling and eating out, or eating somewhat oddly because it is a race weekend. When I’m home, I love my little coffee ritual, and I especially look forward to the weekend coffee. When I put whipped cream on it, my cat likes to “share.”

He looks innocent while sleeping, but he wakes up when he hears the whipped cream can!
He looks innocent while sleeping, but he wakes up when he hears the whipped cream can!

How do you like your coffee? Do you have a certain recipe you follow with your add-ins, or do you drink it black? Tell me, and then head over to Coco’s post on Why Starbucks Is My Home Away From Home.  If you follow the link at the end of each post, you’ll make your way through the entire loop.

Just in case you’re impatient or get lost in the loop, the other links in the loop this month are An Eventful Weekend, Torani Sugar Free Coffee Syrup, Thunderstorms and a Warm Cup of Coffee, Free Coffee (a giveaway for national coffee day), Coffee Brain or Beer Brain, and Fancy Coffee.

If you’re anything like me, you probably see all sorts of articles about coffee.  This week it’s good for preventing colon cancer, last week it was bad for your heart or your stomach or something. I’m going to start filing those studies and read the actual papers…later. In practice, I LOVE coffee. In moderation, of course.

Speaking of courses, if you’ve read my reviews for Rock ‘n’ Roll Dallas and Rock ‘n’ Roll San Francisco, you know I’m not above making a java stop during a race. It turns out there are others out there who firmly believe that coffee and running (hello, coffee and anything!) are a great mix. At one of my recent races, my goody bag had a flyer for Hammer Strength Nutrition coffee. No joke! Nice to know I’m not the only one crossing the streams.

Then something crossed my social media stream called the Rook Run 5k. The logo was so cute that I just HAD to look for more information. (A little rook bird wearing a headband and sneakers!)

Seriously, is this not adorable? (Credit: Rook Run website.)
Seriously, is this not adorable?       (Credit: Rook Run website.)

A wee bit of research reveals that the run is not only a charity run for a worthy cause–The Valerie Fund, which helps provide comprehensive care for children with cancer and blood disorders–but the “Rook” part is a coffee company. If I lived in New Jersey, I’d be there like white on rice. (By the way, you can donate to The Rook Run’s fundraising for The Valerie Fund by clicking here.)

I knew right away I had to order some coffee from Rook. (You should, too. Rook Coffee turned out to be delicious!) Rook offers light, medium, and dark roasts. Since I add a little hot chocolate (or cocoa and sugar) and about as much milk as coffee, I tend to stick to dark roasts. After reading the coffee descriptions, I settled on the Bali roast.

Two very cool things about ordering from Rook Coffee: One, shipping is FREE. Two, you can choose from whole beans or ground coffee, and if you want it ground you can specify fine, drip, auto drip, french press, espresso, electric percolator, or stovetop percolater. Did I mention you can also order a five pound bag? Since I’m just testing–and I plan to be trying a lot of coffee over the next few months–I decided to stick with the 12 oz. bag.

When the coffee arrived, I was impressed to discover it had a birthdate on it! (Okay, technically it isn’t labelled birthdate. If you’re a coffee lover, you know that coffee can actually go bad, and freshly roasted coffee is way better than stale coffee.) It was roasted pretty much right before they put it into the package to send to me.

Birth date AND social
Birth date AND social

It also came with a hand-written note. Seriously, when is the last time you ordered something online and it came with a note from a real person?

A coffee love note!
A coffee love note!

The beans are a gorgeous, dark color. The Bali coffee has such a delicious scent that I kind of wanted to just sit around and sniff the bag. Actually, I could smell the coffee perfume before I even opened the package. I could have just hugged it. But I had to make some coffee with the beans! Fortunately, grinding the beans also releases that delectable scent, so I got to savor the scent as I made my first cup.

Rook Coffee before it was roasted
Rook Coffee before it was roasted

While I’m not sure I get the strawberries (go read the description), I do get the chocolate. Rook’s Bali coffee is quite delicious with just a smidge of chocolate and some milk. I can’t quite go as far as to say this is my favorite coffee, but it is definitely right in my coffee-love-wheelhouse.

In celebration of all things #CoffeeYesCoffee, why not take a trip around a few other cofffee-related blog posts? Think of it as a Coffee Shop Blog Hop. Next in line is MCM Mama Runs. Rumor has it she’s writing about coffee beans, too. (Bonus: head there next, then follow the link at the bottom of her post…you’ll eventually end up back here.)

So really, which coffee do I try next? Do you have a running-related coffee to recommend?


But if you absolutely insist on going out of order, here are a few other coffee-ish delights to caffeinate your Monday…


Disclosure: I presented Legal Advice for Bloggers at IDEA World BlogFest 2015 and am a member in good standing of IDEA. This post and the accompanying giveaway are unrelated to my presenter duties, and are not sponsored by IDEA, Sweat Pink, or any other entity. All opinions are my own–you know I’ve got plenty to go around!

BlogFest and IDEAWorld gave me enough to write about for a year (but not the extra hours in the week to #writealltheposts). This is just a re-cap of my top take-aways from the BlogFest portion.

Be your own flower
Be your own flower

#1: Authenticity is the new buzzword.

The word “authenticity” must have come up at least as many times as I am years old. As an undefined intangible in a culture that highly values individuality, it’s a perfect addition to the word collection that includes “disruptor” (formerly known as “paradigm shift”). Everyone said “authenticity” and no one defined it. At the risk of being glib, I would say it is now-speak for “be honest.”

One of my great teachers once said, “Be yourself. All the other jobs are taken.” (Yoga, philosophy, and Sanskrit expert and academic, Douglas R. Brooks.) It is just as true in the blogging world as it is in every other part of the world. The world is filled with blogs, but trying to imitate another blog (or another blogger) is pointless. You can never be as good as they are at being them. Why not be yourself? When I created my blog, I sat down and thought about what is important to me, who I am, and how to keep my blog in line with me.

For example, I’m not obsessed with partnering with brands or accruing swag (not going to lie, I do like both), and it doesn’t make sense to me to pretend to be something or someone I’m not in order to land a partnership. Seriously, if a brand wants a hardcore dedicated runner, they’re going to be disappointed. Even if the brand and product seem like a good fit, I will only promote products and services I use and truly believe in (my recommendation is my reputation, so why would I throw that away for someone else?). Another example is that I don’t like reading “breakfast lunch and dinner” posts (it seems we are calling them “lifecasting” today) so I’m not going to write them. I just don’t enjoy it. If you do, that’s fine–go be you!

Not everyone is going to love you, and that’s okay. Love yourself, be yourself, and remember that what other people think of you is largely none of your business.

Just like lunch, there is plenty to go around.
Just like lunch, there is plenty to go around.

#2:  Stop living in a scarcity mentality.

No one expressly stated this during BlogFest, or at any session I attended at IDEA, yet I thought about it all weekend.

There is enough of EVERYTHING to go around. No matter what you hope to get from your blog–a job, an ambassadorship, a certain number of regular readers, a pat on the back–there is enough for you, and me, and every other blogger. (This is, in part, because we are all different–that pesky “authenticity” thing–so we’re not really competing against each other.)

When I started teacher training at Yoga Kula in Berkeley, one of the teachers there used to collect information on all of the yoga classes in that style taught all over the Bay Area and put them into a single schedule including all teachers and all studios and locations. Some people thought she was nuts (“won’t that drive students to other classes?”) but she explained that (1) that is a scarcity mentality, based on the assumption that there are not enough students to fill all those classes, and (2) there is no “my students,” because you don’t own or control who decides to come to your class. The same is true of blogging. Sharing, promoting, or helping another blogger is not going to drive “your readers” or “your partnerships” away, and you know what they are not really YOURS in the first place! If anything, helping someone else benefits you; you look good for being kind and helpful, and you stick to being who you are and what you do best. Everyone wins.

I regularly tell my yoga students, “hey, I’m an acquired taste. If you don’t like me or don’t like my class, come talk to me. I’ll help you find another teacher and another class that better suits your needs.” Trying to keep every single student happy and returning to my class is exhausting and doesn’t serve me, but more importantly it does not serve my students. There is lots of yoga in the world. To help more people do yoga, the best thing I can do is help them find their yoga. The same is true in blogging. Sure, I know I’m going to keep evolving over time and things may change, but it’s not in my nature to write very short posts (I have Twitter for that!), I don’t rock a highly artistic and sensually beautiful design, and I’m not going to promote meat-based recipes (dude, I’m a vegetarian). If that means my blog is not for you, thanks for visiting. There’s a blog out there for you to read. If you tell me what you’re looking for and I know where you might find it, I’ll tell you.

A rising tide lifts all boats, says the proverb. As the blogging community grows and each of us gets better at what we do, we all win.

Rise and shine!
Rise and shine!

#3: Commit and Follow-Through:
Hard work is always in style.

Ignore the “under promise and over deliver” mantra of the “I’m too cool to sleep” decade. Instead, do what you say you are going to do. If you have time to throw in some bonuses, great. If not, don’t fret.

Personally, it is important to me to follow-through on what I say I am going to do. It is like keeping a promise: the best way to ensure you keep it is to think carefully about what you are committing to do before you make the promise, and then creating a plan to get it done. I’m always surprised when I hear that bloggers who committed to a campaign, or event, or whatever, simply flaked and didn’t do the work. What the what? Guys, unless something truly serious and unanticipated happens–thing emergency, injury, computer goes for a swim in the ocean–follow through on what you say you will do.

It’s ridiculously easy. For example, as a member of the BibRave Pro team, I am sometimes given the opportunity to test out products or services (or run races) related to running. If I accept an assignment, I know that means I am responsible for tweeting about the item/event, attending the #bibchat sponsored by that item/event, writing a blog post, and tracking my social media engagement. If I can’t do those things for whatever reason (maybe the time frame is wrong, for example), I don’t accept the assignment.  Going back to point #2, there is plenty to go around. I don’t need to do everything, but the things I do, I need to do well.

#4: So are genuine kindness and generosity.

This weekend many people generously shared their stories, their advice, their experience, and their knowledge. “Generosity” means freely giving what you are able to offer, without any expectation that the recipient(s) will reciprocate. Mom used to explain to me that life puts you in situations where you are absolutely forced to ask for help or rely on others. (This was definitely true when I was in high school and in a serious car accident that put me in the hospital for two weeks. My terrified parents came to visit me every day. While they were away, other people cooked meals for the family, did the laundry and the dishes, drove my brothers to sports practice and to pick out a new coat; it was actually Mom’s first day at a new job, and the man she was to replace stayed on longer in order to let her spend her time with me. Some of these others were neighbors and close family friends, but even people we did not know well at all–people who were friends of friends of friends–stepped in and did things.) Realistically, there is no way you will ever get to pay back all the people you “borrow” from, and in many cases you won’t even know who they are. Instead, Mom would say, you “pay back” by lending a hand to anyone who needs it when you are able to offer it. (This was long before “pay it forward.” I guess it is a similar idea though.)

During BlogFest, bloggers taught how to do many things (grow a social media following on different platforms, optimize SEO, work with brands). In most cases, this was less textbook information and more “secret sauce”-like things that these bloggers learned by trial and error and trying again. Sometimes it was specialized knowledge from experience in a specific industry, such as my presentation on basics of law for bloggers.

When I first started blogging, I had no idea what I was doing. I don’t have a technical background, and each new thing I try to do still involves some learning and moments of painful frustration. Heck, I still run into “why does the picture keep doing that weird thing?” and “how do I do that?” I’m fortunate to have developed a nice network through Sweat Pink, FitBloggin‘, and groups like Rock ‘n’ Blog, and when I have a question, I ask.  If by some miracle there is a question I can answer, I do.

My favorite slide from BlogFest. Thanks, Melissa Burton!
My favorite slide from BlogFest. Thanks, Melissa Burton!

#5: Page Views and Followers: Not The Only Thing (Maybe Not A Thing)

If you are a blogger, you know that any discussion of blogging inevitable includes at least some mention of SEO (search engine optimization), promoting your blog, and analytics. It kind of makes sense, because most people writing a blog would like it if other people read the blog. New bloggers often find this aspect overwhelming (especially if the actual blogging is already more than enough work!). Going back to that scarcity mentality, many bloggers also worry that their low page-views will prevent them from getting the “good” opportunities.

Seriously, that can’t be the case–because I’ve scored some great opportunities and I don’t have a huge readership. I’m fortunate to have had the opportunity to try and review new Clif Bar products, serve as a Nuun ambassador, and be on Team Rock ‘n’ Blog. If all opportunities were based just on page views, I’d probably never have any of that because when I applied I didn’t even have an analytics widget installed.

Several of the presenters at BlogFest brought up the idea that bloggers and companies are catching onto the reality of blogging: it’s not a numbers game. One of the presenters, Katy Widrick, asked, “would you rather inspire 10 people, or have 10,000 pass through your blog?” Sure, we’d all like BOTH. But if you had to pick, which would you choose?

Bonus #6: each one of these points is applicable to the unwritten blog that is your life.

Two winners will share these goodies.
Two winners will share these goodies.

BlogFest “wish you were here” pack giveaway!

Please note that to win this giveaway you must NOT have been at BlogFest. (If you were there, you already have this stuff–so share the love! Invite your friends who were not there to win some swag.) By entering this contest, you expressly and affirmatively state that you were not at BlogFest 2015. I am obsessed with water bottles, and they are starting to take over my kitchen. Because of this, I’m going to give away the two water bottles I got at BlogFest. I’m throwing in a bunch of freebies, coupons, and swag too.

Important tip: if you win, you might have to wait a little while before I am able to ship the goods. Patience, grasshopper!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Welcome to the Run Where I Live tour!

The San Francisco Bay Area is a runner’s paradise. The City itself is filled with so many places to run. Like big hills? I don’t. But if you pick any street with a cable car, such as Powell, you are guaranteed to run up a major hill. (If you’ve got some free time and want even bigger hills, drive over to Tiburon and run through the neighborhoods.) Prefer a flat course? Run The Embarcadero. You can start at the Ferry Building (a major landmark) and head East, running past and around AT&T Park, home of the Giants. I particularly like this stretch at night when there is a ballgame, or just to see the East Bay Bridge lit up at night. The Embarcadero is a popular spot, so you’re sure to run past other runners. Another popular spot to run is the trail through Chrissy Field and Fort Mason; it is connected to the path up and through The Presidio and up to the Golden Gate Bridge. You can opt for a flatter run through Chrissy Field, or take the hills through The Presidio and Fort Mason. You can park at or near Sports Basement, which hosts a number of running groups (check the calendar) and is an excellent source for running supplies from socks to fuel to shoes and everything in between.

Running is very popular in the Presidio, Chrissy Field, and oh yeah, we have a bridge. (Picture of the starting line for Run 10 Feed 10 2014)
Running is very popular in the Presidio, Chrissy Field, and oh yeah, we have a bridge. (Picture of the starting line for Run 10 Feed 10 2014)

The San Francisco Bay Trail is a project that aims to connect a loop all the way around the Bay. It’s not there yet, but it does provide 500 miles of gorgeous views from relatively flat trails. You can download maps, narratives, and more information than you ever wanted to know by visiting the official website. While you can buy maps at various locations, your smart phone should be more than sufficient to get you where you need to go—and if you plan to do an out-and-back, you don’t need more than directions to the starting point–or you can just check out the map of the whole trail. The parts that are NOT in San Francisco are pretty amazing.

Alameda: Bay Farm Island

Since I live in Alameda, I’m partial to the Alameda portion of the trail. The easiest place to find parking is probably near the Alameda ferry terminal; if you’re taking public transit to Alameda, the ferry is the only direct connection to San Francisco. (I don’t park there, so use your favorite mapping app to find it.) Since I work at the Harbor Bay Club, I tend to park near the dead end of Packet Landing Road and walk the few feet from the dead end to the trail; if I go for a run after I teach 6 a.m. Monday yoga, I share the trail with some cyclists, a few other runners, some walkers, and locals walking their dogs. (To get to Packing Landing Road from 880, exit High Street towards Alameda—that’s right if you are going South, and left if you are head North. After you cross the bridge into Alameda, BEWARE! The speed limit is 25!! Continue on High Street until Otis Drive, then turn left onto Otis Drive. Follow Otis as it curves around to the right, and cross the bridge to Bay Farm Island. Take the very first right available after you cross the bridge, to Island Drive. Turn right at the first light, onto Robert Davey Jr. and then turn right again (there’s a light) onto Packet Landing Road.)

Packet Landing is a dead end street. I park in the road, walk to the end of Packet Landing until I hit the trail, then I head to the left, which gives me a view of both San Francisco and Oakland as the sun rises behind me. You’ll run past little parklets and inlets, through to the ferry landing and parking lot. If you run this in the morning you should pack sunglasses—the sun will be in your face as you run back to Packet Landing Road.

View of the city (and Karl The Fog) from the Bay Trail, Bay Farm Island, Alameda
View of the city (and Karl The Fog) from the Bay Trail, Bay Farm Island, Alameda

You can also opt to run right from the end of Packet Landing, as the Bay Trail stretches in both directions. As you come to the bridge from Bay Farm Island (where Packet Landing Road is) to Alameda’s original island, you can choose to either run over the bridge (there’s a separate pedestrian/bike bridge) or continue around Bay Farm Island. I like to run around Bay Farm, as the trail starts to get a little tiny bit hillier, through protected parkland filled with chirpy birds, and eventually to the model airplane field. If you choose to take the bridge, bear left after you cross (crossing the street with care and WITH the light) to stay on the Bay Trail.

Standing at the end of Packet Landing Road, looking down the trail towards the bridge between Alameda and Bay Farm Island.
Standing at the end of Packet Landing Road, looking down the trail towards the bridge between Alameda and Bay Farm Island.


Another option is to start on Shoreline Drive, on the main island of Alameda. This is where I live, so I tend to start here and then choose to either run to Bay Farm and back, or to run into the sunset until the sun is gone and then turn around and go home. You can run through Crown Memorial Regional Shoreline, and along the edge of the commercial South Shore Center. There is a ton of (free) on-street parking in this area as well. I live about a mile away, and I love to do evening runs on this path so I can watch the sun set over San Francisco.

Alameda has a long history as a Victorian-era vacation spot. While the spas and amusement parks are gone, and trolleys no longer bring in city vacationers, much of the architecture remains. You can take a run to follow this walking tour from the SF Chronicle, or you can pick up the local American Volkssport Association club’s map and directions for a 10k featuring Victorian Alameda at Cafe au Lait (3215 Encinal Avenue).


Oakland lives in San Francisco’s shadow. If you’re from outside of California, you probably only hear about Oakland in a negative context. Oakland is, however, a really cool town. It boasts two huge half marathon events–Run The Town and The Oakland Running Festival–and has one of the best simple and flat runs: Lake Merritt.

Fall colors in the park surrounding the Lake Merritt loop
Fall colors in the park surrounding the Lake Merritt loop

Get to Lake Merritt from San Francisco via BART, exiting Lake Merritt station or 19th Street Oakland station (both are a similar walk from the path around the lake). One loop around Lake Merritt is 5k. This is now a popular spot for runners in the evenings, now that there are strings of lights all the way around the lake. If you’re looking for a timed loop or two, come out to the Lake Merritt Joggers and Striders’ Fourth Sunday Run. Bibs and timed results for just five bucks.


Recently I found a gorgeous section of the Bay Trail in Emeryville (where I used to live). Emeryville makes a nice start for a run because there are so many options for post-run refreshment, including my favorite, Rotten City Pizza. (Did you know that Earl Warren, future Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, once called little ol’ Emeryville “the rottenest city”? True story!) But run first, pizza later. To get to a gorgeous section of the Bay Trail, you can drive to Powell Street and towards the marina area (use Trader Vic’s for an address, but park along Powell Street after you cross under the freeway). You can choose to run towards San Francisco or Berkeley marina–both provide flat, paved trails and gorgeous views of the Bay.

If you are looking for a group run (or workout) in Emeryville, check the calendar for Athleta in the Bay Street shopping complex. They often host a Saturday morning group run. If you start from Athleta, you can park in the Bay Street parking garages, and run from there, towards IKEA, and on to the new span of the East Bay bridge. This route is largely unshaded and has no water sources, so please take water if you run in the summer.

Group Runs

Prefer to run as part of a group? Check out the following options:

  • A Runner’s Mind is a fantastic local running store, owned and operated by people who love running more than I love pizza. (Which is to say: A LOT LOT LOT.) Locations in Burlingame (near South San Francisco and SFO) and San Francisco (on California Street). They have group runs (and do hill repeats, if you’re into that sort of thing). A Runner’s Mind also hosts other run events, call them to find out what’s going on this week–there’s probably at least one thing not listed on the website.
  • Marathon Matt’s Run Club has evening runs and track workouts during the week, with long runs on the weekends. While these are part of a paid seasonal series–a bargain, at 50 workouts/runs for $150–I bet you could join in for just a few bucks, and meet the funnest bunch of runners in San Francisco. Contact him at marathonmatt2 @ hotmail (.com)
  • Road Runner Sports Berkeley hosts the Thursday night monthly Adventure Run series. It is also the starting point for the local Team Red White and Blue runs. Call the store, as the Team RWB events are not listed in the online calendar. (Road Runner is also a good home-base location for a run around Berkeley. Ask the friendly staff for recommendations. After your run, treat yourself to coffee from Philz or a Farm Burger, both of which are just around the block.)
  • Dolphin South End Runners is a club that sponsors Thursday evening races all over the city during the summer. Check the instructions; Thursday races are cash-only so please bring exact change.
  • See Jane Run has stores in both San Francisco and Oakland. Check their calendar for weekly runs and workouts, then check out their gear.
  • Nike Run Club (and Nike Training Club) launch from both of the San Francisco stores. If you’re staying near Union Square, go eat some hills with this crew.

The Run Where I Live Tour

Next tour stop, Australia! Your run-tour guide will be Erin Runs Around. You can find a list of all of the tour stops at Live Run Grow.