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>I started the month off with a dog post and I’m finishing it (and the year) with another. Nothing, absolutely nothing, in between. I’m not one for resolutions (although I do make plans and goals), but I will get back to regular blogging after the first of 2011. It’s been a busy month, and although that is not an excuse (I know it’s a busy month for everyone, even those bloggers who keep up with their daily/weekly posts), it is what it is. I’ll try to do better.

For now, I will leave you and 2010 with a video of my Dalmatian, Penny. We used to call her Perfect Penny, because she takes care of the other dogs, and is always trying to please us. In recent months, though, she has become Trash Penny, digging through our garbage whenever we leave the house. I’m sure there is some deep psychological reason for this and that we are failing her in some way, but short of hiring a doggy therapist our solution is a (covered) mousetrap taped to the top of the trashcan.

Now, the idea of this is not to hurt the dog (that’s why it is covered), but to scare them enough so that, like good little canines, they decide that it is in their best interest not to mess around with forbidden fruit.

We have had mixed success with this. We came home the other day to a wonderful mess left by Miss FPP. She had somehow ignored the snapping of the trap and managed to tip over the trash. She acts so guilty when we get home, you’d think she’d just “get it” and not do this thing that pisses us off makes us so unhappy. Maybe it is a cry for help, or a call for attention, but so far, nothing seems to work.

The mousetrap has been the closest thing to a solution, though. Which brings me to the point of this post. The other day I was in the kitchen, when I heard a dog growling. When I looked over at Penny, she was baring her teeth and snarling. As you will see, the mousetrap had already been snapped (be sure to turn up your volume):

I hope this helps you finish 2010 with a smile on your face.  Happy New Year to everyone!

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I have both good and bad to report for this training week.  The good: I finally made it to the gym. The bad (let’s just call it the not-so-good): I missed my long ride due to some heavy duty winds on Saturday. My report:

Monday, October 25: Scheduled to hit the gym, which is exactly what I did. Quick workout, but managed three sets of all the major muscle groups (upper body).

Tuesday, October 26: Scheduled to run five to six miles. I ran one mile with the dogs, then followed that up with four more with the cross country team. I also taught my Super Ball Class. Total: 5.1 miles/49 minutes.

Wednesday, October 27: Scheduled 25-30 mile bike ride. I got out really early (it was still dark) and rode 26 miles. I got to enjoy a beautiful sunrise and was home by 8:00. Total: 26 miles/2:01 (pretty slow, but it was really windy out there!)

Thursday, October 28: Scheduled to run with the team in the afternoon, but I didn’t do it. I really hate running in the latter part of the day and I just couldn’t get up the motivation. I did teach another Super Ball class though.
Friday, October 29: Scheduled to ride for an hour or so after work. Again, I didn’t do it. I’m definitely a morning exerciser and it takes me a while, once the weather has cooled down, to get back in the habit of afternoon bike rides. I’ll get there, though.
Saturday, October 30:  I was supposed to ride 60 miles on Saturday. I first got up and ran two miles with my dogs. Then, I changed into my bike clothes, watching (and hearing) the wind outside get stronger and stronger. Still dressed to ride, I did some chores around the house, hopeful until it was close to noon. We finally gave it up after that. I’ve ridden in the wind before, but it isn’t fun and I didn’t feel too guilty about skipping the ride. Total: 2 miles running/20 minutes.
Sunday, October 31: (Happy Halloween, by the way) Scheduled 6-8 miles. I ran two miles with the dogs before we met the team at 7:00 this morning. They were running to the cross, I followed behind, did not go to the cross, but did run 7 miles. Counting the two with the dogs, this was the longest I’ve run for a while. I felt pretty good! Total: 9 miles/1:35

Weekly mileage totals: 16.1 miles running/26 miles cycling

Plan for the upcoming week:

Monday: Gym
Tuesday: Last run with the cross country team! Season will be over after Wednesday’s finals. 5 miles
Wednesday: I’m taking the day off for the cross country meet, but should have time to ride at least 30 miles.
Thursday: Gym
Friday: Riding after work, at least one hour.
Saturday: Cycling, 60 miles
Sunday: Running, may as well go for 10 miles!

I’ll let you know how it goes.

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>Just a Quickie

>Man, I love how a naughty name gets your attention.

But that’s good because I want to let you know about a chance to win free stuff!  On the line is a $35 to CSN Stores. You need to head on over to the Queer Vegan Runner blog to find out how to enter.

Go. Now!

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>Dear Sarah,

I was thrilled when you told me that you were interested in participating in San Diego Veg Week, October 2-9. As you know, I feel very strongly about this topic and I am so happy that you are going to give it a try for a week. Of course, it is my hope that once you’ve discovered how delicious, healthy and easy it is and how good you will feel morally about a cruelty free diet, you will continue on this path.  The website has tons of useful information, so I hope that you have fully checked out the recipes, restaurants (a lot of the are offering discounts for veg week!), and other tips available.  I decided that I would add a little advice of my own (I am going to be your mother-in-law, after all!).

I’ve written about my reasons for becoming a vegetarian, and also why I made the decision to remove all animal products from my diet. You can link to those posts so I won’t go into details here. I will suggest a little reading, though. Eating Animals, by Jonathan Safran Foer, is a good place to start your education about the food that you eat. I just so happen to have a copy that you can borrow (I have a couple, so if anyone else who reads this would like to borrow, let me know). Or you can follow the link and purchase a copy for yourself:

Eating Animals 
Of course, I’m hoping that my son will be joining you on this endeavor. One way to encourage him is to show him how delicious the food options can be. One of the most helpful resources when looking for a vegetarian restaurant is Happy Cow. In addition to restaurants, you will find supermarkets and health stores, and they are all described and rated by the Happy Cow users. (I know you use a Droid, so you’ll be interested to know that there is also a Happy Cow app in the Android Market.) I took the initiative and put in your address for a search and here are a couple of the Vegetarian/Vegan options that came up:
Loving Hut (4 miles)
Evolution Fast Food (Yum, vegan burgers and fries!) (5 miles)
There are quite a few more, including Pokez, which I’ve been to and enjoyed. It’s is not vegetarian, but it is defintely veg-friendly, plus it is funky, fun, and cheap! It’s downtown, only about six miles from your home.
Aside from Pokez, I’ve not been to any of these restaurants. They are reviewed on the Happy Cow site, but the best vegan restaurant reviews ever can be found at Quarrygirl.com. She mostly covers the Los Angeles area, but there are many San Diego area restaurants listed on her website. She tells it exactly like it is. Whenever I travel, I use Happy Cow to find a potential restaurant and Quarrygirl to check the review.

Remember there are many mainstream restaurants that have vegetarian options. Z Pizza has the Berkeley Vegan Pizza,  but they can make almost any of their pizzas vegan. Even Denny’s, believe it or not, just introduced a veggie burger!  I’d suggest staying away from the fried cheese melt that they show on their home page, though. And I’m sure you’ll be happy to hear that the Yardhouse has introduced a vegan meat replacement at many, if not all, of their California restaurants.

One thing about mainstream restaurants, though. While Z Pizza will stand by their vegan options, many restaurants will cook your vegetarian food right alongside the other meat on their grills. If you’re going veggie, even for a week, you don’t want your veggie burger soaking up all the juices from another guy’s Angus burger.

If you plan on cooking during veg week, you have a lot of options. With an array of tasty “mock meats,” you can take almost any recipe that you enjoy and make it vegetarian. Best of all, they are available at most supermarkets.  Of course, you are lucky enough to be close to a Whole Foods, which has a wide variety of prepared vegetarian and vegan options in addition to their grocery items.

If you’d like to go a little farther and explore true vegetarian cooking, my blog list has some of my favorites, including:
Fat Free Vegan Kitchen
Healthy. Happy. Life.
Vegan Dad
Almost Vegan
Meet the Shannons (they’re veganizing the entire Betty Crocker Cookbook!)

And there are many, many more, yours for the tasting.

So there you go, dear Sarah, my motherly advice to help you fully enjoy San Diego Veg Week. I hope you enjoy both the food and the experience of eating cruelty free.



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Last weekend, Alan and I headed south for the 26th Annual San Diego International Triathlon. Now, as you know, I am not a triathlete and did not participate, but Alan competed for his third year in a row.

The San Diego International Triathlon is one of the oldest triathlons in the country, held in the city that hosted the very first such race back in 1974. The race starts with a 1000 meter swim, followed by a 30k (about 18 mile) bike ride, and finishes with a 10k (6.2 mile) run. They also have a Sprint race, which is about half the distance in each segment. The swim starts at Spanish Landing at the San Diego Bay. The ride heads out through Point Loma to the Cabrillo National Monument, and the run starts at Spanish Landing Park, runs through Harbor Island, finishing up at Seaport Village.

We drove into town on Saturday, stopping by the race expo to pick up Alan’s race numbers, goody bag, etc. You are supposed to drop off your bike as well, but Alan wanted to change the tires before the event, so he decided to bring it in the morning. We got his stuff, bumped into a few friends and chatted a while, then headed up the coast to Encinitas.

We always stay in Encinitas when we are in the San Diego area. As my husband would say, we like the ‘vibe’ there. It is more laid back. There are certainly plenty of people, but it seems a little quieter than farther south. We like it. We had lunch at one of our favorite spots, St. Tropez Bistro, then stopped by Nytro and Movin’ Shoes. Didn’t buy anything, just said hi to the folks that run those shops.

Early dinner, early to bed, early to wake up. Alan likes to get to the venue early, giving himself plenty of time to prepare before the race. We were out the door by 5 am, heading south again.
I dropped Alan off at Spanish Landing Park, then went to park the car. My plan was to get into my running clothes, run over to the race start, making sure my husband had everything that he needed. Then I planned to take off for my run, more or less along the race course, hoping to run about six miles. I got in a few photo ops, then took off.

I got back to the park shortly before Alan’s 7:05 start. I found him chatting with Bill Bell, who is a legend in the Ironman Triathlon world. Back in 1974, his doctor told him to start running for his health. Well, he hasn’t stopped since. After completing about 62 marathons over the next seven years, he figured, “well, let’s just try an Ironman.” Now 87 years young, after completing 32 full Ironman races, 26 Half Ironman and 158 marathons, he has retired from long distance competition, but still competes at shorter distances.

Soon after, Alan was off on his race. I waited at the water’s edge for him to finish the swim. He wasn’t very happy with his performance, but he made it out of the water in pretty good time, then it was off on his bike. He had a good ride, then it was time for the run. It is always a challenge to start running after you get off your bicycle, but he ran very well. As soon as he took off, I did as well, back to the car so that I could drive to Seaport Village–the finish line.

Alan had a good run and was able to pass many runners along the way. One of the great things about triathlon, as a participant, is the body marking. Right there on the back of each athlete’s calf, is his/her age. You know right away if it is worthwhile to make the effort to pass the person in front of you. This happened to Alan in the last part of the race. He saw that the man in front of him was in the same age division. So he pushed. He passed him. As a result, Alan finished third in his division, good enough for a medal. The man he passed finished fourth. Good enough for…well, fourth. One second behind!

As we waited for the award ceremony, we saw a few friends from La Quinta and elsewhere around the desert. Jeremiah, who recently had knee surgery and is just getting ready to race again. (He’ll be up at Vineman 70.3 in Santa Rosa with us.) We saw Tim, an excellent athlete, who will be joining Alan at the St. George Ironman next year. Christa, an old friend, getting back into racing. Betty, fairly new to the sport in her first International distance race.

Finally, the award ceremony, and Alan was able to pick up his first medal as a triathlete. He has earned hundreds in running events, but after three years doing triathlons he has finally climbed the learning curve. Congratulations to my husband!

They also had a special award for Bill Bell, for his accomplishments and longevity in the sport of triathlon. Bill didn’t stick around. He’d picked it up and left, skipping the accolades. Guess you can do that when you’re 87.

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>Last weekend, during my June century ride in Malibu, there were at least 16 flat tires during the ride. I was fortunate that I did not join that particular group. Until the next day, that is, when I noticed a flat as I wheeled my bike out to my car.

Well, this morning, as I was trying to get ready for an early “beat the heat” start, I found that I had another flat tire. The back tire, this time. As I checked it, I found a little thorn that did not even poke out on the outside of the tire. It must have worked itself all the way in. I feel sure that it was a left over from the ride last week.

So, changing the tire kept me from starting quite as early as I had planned. I headed out about 6:15 am, but I was fortunate. In spite of our weather heating up out here in the desert (high of about 101 today), we had beautiful, cool temperatures throughout the morning. I was able to finish my 50 mile ride before it got too hot. In fact, it was pleasantly cool during my whole ride. Lucky me!

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>I had an interesting experience on Thursday. Although I’ve been a personal trainer for over 10 years, I had never been ‘trained.’ Oh, when I’ve interview trainers I’ve had them do an audition session, where I basically look at how they cue, how they work with people, and safety factors. But I had never had a real personal training session.

Until now. When I joined World Gym, they promise a free session with a trainer (basically, it’s an opportunity for the trainer to sell their services). I probably wouldn’t have bothered, but since one of my employees also trains at World Gym, she offered to do my “orientation.”

It took us a couple weeks to find a time when both of us had free time, but we finally settled on Thursday at 2:00. She had a meeting, which kept her busy until 2:15 (I knew in advance that might happen), so I started my workout on my own. When Brenda finally arrived, she showed me several exercises that I can use for my legs to strengthen my bad knee. Plus, she instructed me on a new Nautilus machine, similar to a cable machine, which really works your core, balance, and stability. I really enjoyed the experience, and I took away a lot of information that I can use when I work out on my own.

On Friday, I had hoped to get out of work early (to us up some comp time), get to the gym and maybe ride my bike. Well, best laid plans, and all that. My assistant called in sick, and for a while, it looked like I’d be working a 12 hour day. Fortunately, I was able to get someone to come in and work for a few hours. I still got out late, though, so I decided to forgo the gym.

I met the hubby for lunch after I finally left work, but I was determined to take a ride. It would be my first really hot ride of the summer. The weather has been so pleasant, and my schedule so full, that I haven’t ridden in temperatures over 85 or so. That would change on Friday, when the thermometer in my car read 102 as I arrived home after lunch. As soon as I walked in the door, I headed back to change into riding clothes. I knew if I sat down it would be way too easy to back out of the ride.

I only rode for about an hour, 15 miles. Yes, it was hot. Look at the picture; it looks hot, doesn’t it? But I did it. I drank both bottles of fluid (one water, one Cytomax). I was kind of proud of myself for getting out there. Last year, after my surgery, I never did adapt to the hot afternoon riding weather like I did the year before. I want to do so this year, and Friday’s ride was the first step.
I had to work Saturday. I had planned it this way, in order to give my assistant a weekend off, so when she called in sick on Friday, with Bronchitis, I didn’t have to make any changes, because I was already scheduled to work. I do feel kind of bad, though, that she ended up sick on her three day weekend.

Instead of riding, then, I decided to go for a run before work. I hauled all my stuff into work and did my run around the perimeter of the country club. About 4.5 miles, then I showered and ate breakfast before I opened up the gym. I actually had time to hit Starbucks for a latte!

I prepared a salad for dinner tonight. I sometimes feel like the salad queen, I do so many variations. When the weather is hot, a salad just seems cooler somehow. Tonight’s salad had mixed greens, grape tomatoes, mini peppers, avocado, raisins, roasted sunflower/pumpkin seeds, radishes. No meat substitute tonight.

Tomorrow I will ride my bike. Hoping to get out very early, because the weather is finally heating up and the humidity is pretty high. If I can get going by 5:30, I can ride for three or four hours before it gets too hot. Hopefully, a long time before it hits 102.

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>On Saturday, my hubby and I headed to the coast to ride with a group of cyclists that I know through a bike forum on the internet. I had met and ridden with a few of them, but for the most part, my only acquaintance with them was through web postings.

Not that it mattered. Within a few minutes, I felt like I was with a group of good friends. The ride was organized by Herb, from the bike forums. The route started in Malibu and ran up the coast to Carpenteria and back again. Very flat. One of the gals that I had ridden with before, that I was looking forward to riding with again, was M.E. Even though I had only met her a couple times, we had communicated through blogs and forums and I enjoy her sense of humor and outlook on life. Other riders that I met for the first time were Jason and Lisa, a very sweet couple, Mitch, Jim, Maureen, Peter, Tom, and many others who’s names, I’m afraid, I have forgotten.I’m not going to go into detail about this ride. We had a near tragedy about 30 miles into the ride that changed the whole experience. Peter, who I had just met, was with a faster group (ahead of my group), riding along at about 22 mph, when his bike just fell apart. Seriously, I saw the frame, and it had broken into several pieces. He went down, along with Jason, who was right behind him. Peter hit his head as he crashed, sliding, with Jason pretty much on top of him, for about 15 feet. Jason was very fortunate, even though he did hit his head and get a few scrapes. Peter was not so lucky.

When I arrived at the site, some wonderful motorists had pulled over, using their vehicle to block the crash site and were directing traffic. Two other men, apparently off duty EMTs, also pulled over and were working on Peter, keeping him still. When the ambulance arrived, the paramedics quickly took over. As they loaded him into the ambulance, they assured us that he would be okay, that he was concious, and that he would recover. With that reassurance, we decided to continue the ride, but for most of us, the heart had gone out of it.

Don’t get me wrong. I still enjoyed riding with Herb, ME, my husband, and all my new friends. It’s just that some of the joy had gone out of the day. We also experienced more flat tires than I can ever remember on a ride, at least 16, which slowed us considerably. In the end, in spite of fairly fast riding time of 6:15 for 98 miles, we were out on the road for over nine hours.

We got back to our car shortly before 5:30. I was so exhausted and emotionally drained that I didn’t even change my clothes. We just packed up the bikes, bid a fond farewell to all, and headed to our hotel. I had made a reservation at a hotel in Calabasas, which, presumably because it is inland, was a lot less expensive than anything in Malibu. A lot less expensive. We had a slight delay on Malibu Canyon Road, as an auto accident was cleared (I hope they were okay, too). By the time we opened the door to our hotel room it was 6:30!

I would have loved to just have fallen into bed, but, sweaty, stinky and very hungry, I attended to my body’s needs. Shower first, then we found a restaurant about .25 miles from the hotel, ordered take out and ate dinner sitting on the bed watching tv. Almost heaven. No, heaven was finally slipping under the covers and giving my body its well deserved rest.

Alan and I slept in until almost 7:00. That’s probably the latest I’ve slept in 10 years, including while on vacation. It felt so good. We headed out for a five mile run, just to get our legs moving. By then, we were ready to clean up and head home to our dogs.

Ironically, as I loaded my bike into the car, I noticed that I had a flat tire. I was just happy that I managed to make it through a flat-filled 98 mile bike ride.

As for Peter, the latest news I have is that he has some bleeding on his brain that is being monitored. He also hurt his back and may need surgery, plus he has fractures in both hands. His injuries are very serious, but hopefully he will recover completely. I know that my prayers are with him.

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>Hormone Jungle?

>Those of you who have been reading my blog know that last August I had a hysterectomy. After surgery I was thrown headlong into menopause. For most women, menopause is a process that happens over the course of months or years. A woman has a chance to learn about her body and educate herself about hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and its benefits and side effects. I suppose as a woman entering my 50s I should have been more cognizant of HRT alternatives, but I hadn’t even started with menopause symptoms, so I just floated along in my hormone-rich cloud.

When I discovered that I needed to have my hysterectomy I went into overdrive self-education. The one thing I learned? It’s a jungle out there! There is so much conflicting information, studies, and advice that I felt that I was basically led in a big circle, ending up right where I started–clueless. I did find an excellent web site–Hystersisters.com (yes, it is really called that). Hystersisters is a web community of women facing this major, life-changing surgery, and women who have been through their surgery, all sharing questions, answers, support, and information. It is a wonderful resource, and has tons of information for both before and after the operation. Again, though, there is really too much information. It was difficult to know what was the right answer for me.

Of course, every woman has a different story and different advice. I would listen to their stories, file away the information, but still, I realized it was all about me and my experience.

So, after my hysterectomy, I plunged headlong into almost unknown territory. After reading some of the recent studies, I had decided that I would try to go HRT-free, at least at first, until I had a chance to see how my body was going to react.

The first two months were wonderful. I had few, if any, symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, anxiety, etc. And, best of all, I had no headaches. I have had frequent headaches, including migraines, since I was about 10 years old. I felt that they were hormone related, as there had always been a cylical nature to the headaches. Plus, after talking to other post-menopausal women, I learned that many times headaches disappeared, or at least eased up tremendously, after menopause.

After a couple months, though, I began to have what I called “warm flashes.” No big deal, just an occasional warm feeling a few times through the day. As time went on, “warm” became “hot,” and quite uncomfortable. A hot flash at night, becomes “night sweats,” because you are under the covers, get hot, sweat, throw off the cover, get cold, then start the whole cycle all over again. Not conducive to sound sleep! But again, thinking of the potential side effects of HRT, something I felt that I could deal with.

Then the anxiety attacks began. These were something totally new to me. They made feel edgy, like I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. It got so I was feeling nervous most of the time. At that point, I decided, enough is enough. Bring on the hormones!

But, which ones? There are a multitude of choices out there. When I called my doctor and told her that I wanted to begin HRT, she first wanted to prescribe Premarin. I won’t go into details, but as an animal lover and vegetarian, I knew that was not the route I wanted to take. (If you want to know why, follow this link.)

So she suggested a similar synthetic hormone, made from plant sources. I was fine with that, and so I started taking Cenestin. Soon, the hot flashed dissapated, the anxiety went away, and I was sleeping comfortably. Then, the headaches returned.

They returned in a big way. Although I seem to have fewer major, knock me down flat, throw up all night, hide in a dark room headaches (only two since they came back), I now seem to have daily headaches. They are not major, but they they interfere with my life. Who feels like working out, running, talking, when dealing with a headache? Aside from the fact that it is really unhealthy to take over-the-counter medication so frequently, it didn’t even make a dent in the headaches. Taking my prescribed migraine medications too often is also not healthy, plus they are expensive (not to mention that the insurance company only allows a certain amount per month).

I began to feel that I was at the end of my rope. I called my doctor, but she didn’t return my call (that can be a whole other blog post, she did a great job on my surgery, but I really don’t like her). Finally, I took myself off the hormones. That lasted about two weeks. The hot flashes quickly returned, along with mental cloudiness. Then, last Tuesday, the day after I gave in and picked up a new prescription of the Cenestin, I went for a fateful run.

My hubby and I went for a run before work. I was running less the he was, so as I turned around, it so happened that another women, heading the other way, and I started running together. Amazingly, because we only ran together for about a mile, we, as women will sometimes do, managed to discuss menopause, hysterecomies, hormones. It still makes me smile to remember how quickly we covered all these topics. Most importantly, she started to tell me about bioidentical hormones.

After my chat, I began some research, finally with a purpose. Bioidentical hormones are basically identical to those that your body makes. A doctor will measure the balance of hormones in your body, then prescribe treatment that will address your body’s actual needs. Although they have been around for a long while, recently celebrities such as Suzanne Somers and Oprah have helped popularize and publicize their efficacy.

So, after a little more research, I found a local doctor who prescribes bioidentical hormones and is also in my insurance network. He is also an OB/GYN, so if I like him I can replace the doctor that I don’t care for. A win-win! My appointment is on June 8. I’m waiting for the new patient forms that they will be sending. I am so excited, that I feel like a kid waiting for Christmas (which should give you an idea about how discouraged I have felt!).

Keep your fingers crossed for me. I will keep you informed.

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>I am attempting to blog from my phone, so this may be very short. Hubby and I were in Irvine today for the Cinco de Mayo Half Marathon, 10k and 5k Runs. No, not actually racing, although I did run 7 miles this morning. My husband does race announcing as a side gig, and he’s very good at it. A natural, in fact. Put a mic in his hand and he’s off and running, so to speak.

This race raises money for PCRF, the Pediatric Cancer Research Fund and they raise a lot, although I don’t have the data here as I am blogging from my phone, but I heard mention of over $1,000,000 a year from various events, so it is quite a successful fundraiser. About 5,000 runners and walkers participated.

The weather was great and we were entertained by some wonderful young performers. First, some budding Mariachis from San Juan Capistrano and later some teenage dancers. I have photos and video, but I’ll have to edit them in later, as I can’t figure out how on my phone (that would be italicized, but I can’t figure that out either). Note: Done

Anyway, we had a free stay in a nice hotel, I had a great run in perfect weather, and hubby made the event even more enjoyable for thousands of folks. An all around good day

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