Vacationing in Aruba, 8/10 to 8/13

Guys, Aruba was a much-needed breath of fresh air. This was my first view of the ocean and I was utterly enchanted.Our hosts, Deno and Helen, very generously picked us up at the airport when we arrived on Saturday and delivered us to their timeshare at Marriott’s Aruba Surf Club. The drive to the resort was such a visually interesting experience. Aruba used to be a Dutch colony, and there was a great contrast of gingerbread-y architecture and open air island markets.

driving in Aruba

If I had to change anything, I would only have asked for more time, but we made the most of what we had. Bags were dropped off, swimsuits and cover-ups were donned, and we made our way down to Hadicurari, a restaurant on Palm Beach. I ordered a grouper sandwich off the lunch menu, and could not believe how delicious it tasted. At first I thought they added special ingredients, but then I realized it was just slathered in mayo. I always hold the mayo these days and I had forgotten how creamy and tasty that stuff is! We settled back to soak in the island life and the local beer, Balashi.


beach lounging

That first night, I had a near-gout experience. Deno treated us to an unforgettable meal at Texas de Brazil. It was my first time at a Brazilian Steakhouse, and I wasn’t ready. Let me repeat, I was not ready.

We had a bit of a wait time before we were seated, and when we were shown to our table, I was ready to get down with some food. The meat was succulent and juicy (especially the chicken sausage), and before I knew it I had consumed at least 48 lbs of it. True story. And then I decided to top it off with creme brulee because why not. We had planned on going out that night but by the time we made it back to our suite, meat coma had struck us all. It was a rough, uncomfortable night.

Texas de Brazil

Despite having gained 10 lbs overnight, I fearlessly threw on a two piece the next day for some fun catamaran action. This was the only excursion we did while in Aruba, and it was easily the highlight of the trip. Our first snorkeling stop was over a shipwreck which totally made me feel like a treasure hunter. The water was pretty deep so I couldn’t see a lot of the WWII ship, but it was still pretty awesome. These black and white fish were the friendliest and if you held your fingers out like you had food, a school of them would come up and swarm around in front of you. Some people on our boat saw a sea turtle!


The thing I ended up loving the most about the excursion was the rope swing on the boat!! I’ve never in my life used one of those things, and for my first swing over the water I screamed bloody murder (I almost drowned out the laughter from the boat). The second swing was rough too, our fearless captain was attempting to give me a good push for more speed, and instead I slipped off the boat before I was ready. By the third go round I was a freaking pro!

rope swing

When we made our way back to the beach and the resort area, we headed over to MooMba Beach Bar & Restaurant for a few libations. I loved the vibe of this place. It’s an open-air palapa right on the beach, and a perfect stop after a dip in the ocean. The bartenders were friendly, prices decent and hamburgers were surprisingly large and tasty (again with that mayo!). MooMba is the place to be on Sunday nights, for visitors and islanders, and when we made our way back there later that night, it was packed.


I had been hoping to make the 6ish mile round trip run to the California Lighthouse, but I just couldn’t work up the motivation in the face of all that humidity. I wasn’t going to go my whole trip without doing something active (besides posing for pictures), and Monday morning happened to be Zumba morning at the Marriott. The class was a sweaty good time.

Zumba and cool runnings

The rest of the day was all about take it easy mode. We did a lap at the swim up bar, lounged, chilled with some of the fellow resorters…

iguanas in aruba

…and did some souvenir shopping.

souvenirs in aruba

I didn’t spend all of my money on souvenirs; I saved a little to play with later that night at Stellaris casino. My roulette skills had been hyped up all day, so of course I lost twenty bucks in two minutes. I didn’t lose it at roulette though, I lost it by sitting down at a machine that I thought was penny slots but was really dollar slots. D’oh. Does that only happen to me?

Stellaris casino

Waking up Tuesday was a cold dose of reality. Ashley and James headed out early to catch their flight, but Yvette, Corneka and I had almost a full day to say goodbye to beautiful Aruba. We made our way to a restaurant we hadn’t tried yet, Nos Clubhuis, and it was easily my favorite meal of the trip. We ate lionfish, bony but delicious! We also tried pastechi (like hot pockets only twenty times better) and funchi.

Nos Clubhuis

And then it was time to wish Aruba a fond farewell.


Always, Sierra

For another take on Aruba, check out Ashley’s travel log here

Workout Recap, 8/19 to 8/25

It felt great to get back into routine this week! Work was crazy every day, and every day it was tempting to tell myself I “deserved” a rest day. I just kept reminding myself that being active is my way of de-stressing, and that I would feel better after getting started.

Monday: Easy recovery run, 2.19 miles at 11.14 avg pace. Dynamic warm-up, 10 min foam roll, hip strength 3 x 12 each move, clamshells 3 x 20 each side and bridges 3 x 20.

stank face

Tuesday: Strength workout. Two rounds for time:

  • 2.5 min jump rope
  • 25 squats (alternate 5 regular, 5 plyo)
  • 25 shuttle runs
  • 25 incline push-ups
  • 2.5 min jumping jacks
  • 25 tricep dips
  • 25 burpees

Round 1 – 13 min, 3 min break, Round 2 – 15 min

Wednesday: 3.98 mile run, forgot my watch! Was tempted to run nekkid, but ended up using My Tracks App on my phone to keep track of the stats. Not sure how my average speed ended up being faster than my average moving speed? Skipped foam rolling/hip strength in favor of quick rinse and food to my face. Was exhausted!

no watch

Thursday: off

Friday: Intended to go out for a nice, easy 3 miler, and it felt so good I turned it into 5.01! 10:56 average pace. And! Check out the pace times below. That’s one of the most consistent runs I’ve ever had pace wise! Stomach started getting a little sloshy around 4.25 miles. Dynamic warm-up, 10 min foam roll, hip strength 3 x 12 each move, clamshells 3 x 20 each side and bridges 3 x 20.

long run

Saturday: Strength workout. Switched up the order this go round to try to balance out arms and legs a little better. Two rounds for time:

  • 2.5 min jump rope
  • 25 incline push ups
  • 2.5 min jumping jacks
  • 25 squats (alternate 5 regular, 5 plyo)
  • 25 shuttle runs
  • 25 tricep dips
  • 25 burpees

Round 1 – 13 min, 3 min break, Round 2 – 16 min

Sunday: off

Run: 11.18 miles

Overall: A really strong, successful week. Increasing my mileage, and getting back to incorporating strength. Was going to get back to four days of running and get out there today in the misty morning, but my back was a little grumpy after a week of pushing hard so I decided to give it the extra rest day. This was one of my favorite strength workouts I’ve put together for myself, I was sweating buckets at the end. I look forward to coming back to it in a few weeks to see if my times improve and working up to completing three rounds.

Always, Sierra

What inspires your strength routines? I used to love keeping a folder of workouts from magazines and just randomly picking one whenever I felt things were getting stale.

Quick, Functional Workout and Groupon Half Marathon

The only thing that saved me from turning into a couch sloth yesterday evening was the lack of red wine in our house.

empty wine holder

After a long, mentally draining day I was tempted to throw the towel in on my cross-training/strength workout. I hadn’t planned out exactly what my workout was going to be, and you know what they say…


But there have been some inspiring posts up in the past week or so, including this functional workout posted by Julie at Peanut Butter Fingers, and this post on how to design a workout by Taylor on Lifting Revolution, so I sucked it up and got a little creative.

always sierra workout

I had planned going for three rounds, but by the end of the second my arms were like jelly and my stomach was grumbling for dinner. I was pretty shaky on the last few burpees, but the benefit of doing burpees on concrete is the added motivation from fear of scraping layers of skin off your knees/hands/face.

always sierra

By the end of the two rounds sweat was dripping and I felt 100% more energized.

For all you Bay Area folk, had any of you seen this Groupon deal for the inaugural Tiburon by the Bay Half Marathon? I’ve been debating over whether I was going to get it all week, and now I’ve missed my chance.


The timing wasn’t that great as it falls on the weekend of a good friend’s birthday, but I’ve really got to get over this idea that a beam of light is going to shine down on me when I’ve reached the perfect amount of readiness for a half-marathon. Suck it up, buttercup! (I’ll take a medium, thanks.)

Always, Sierra

Any half marathons on the horizon?

Do you create your own workouts? What’s your favorite?


Run for the Seals 2013 Race Recap

On Saturday, The Marine Mammal Center hosted their 29th annual Run for the Seals, a 4 mile run (or 2 mile walk) through the Marin Headlands. A couple of years ago I participated in the 2 mile walk and I remember watching the runners take off  and thinking that’s going to me someday. Saturday was my someday.

Being in the Marin Headlands, I knew the course was going to involve some inclines and hills, so my goal going in was to have fun and enjoy the views. I did very little pre-race prep. There was no laying out my clothes the night before, no easily digestible carb loading (wine and steak for dinner, cinnamon rolls for dessert), no waking up super early to drink coffee and get my mind stomach in line. I did have my traditional pre-race breakfast though.

pre-race fuel

Yvette and Ariana picked me up at about 7:30 a.m. and we made our way to the headlands. We got there around 8:00 a.m. and were fortunate in getting a close parking spot. Although the emcee said 1100 people had registered for the run/walk, it didn’t seem like there were that many people there. We had no wait to pick up our bibs, and no crowd at the pre-race fuel tent. Yup, they give you food and water before the race even starts!

food tent

There were only about 10 porta potties. We hit them up early and didn’t have to wait in line. Ten doesn’t seem like very many at all if you’re expecting 1100 people, and not long after we went the line backed up quickly. There was no bag check, but this didn’t really seem to be an issue for people.

Around 8:50 a.m. we lined up in the corrals, and had plenty of space to stretch and take a few pics.

run for the seals 2013

In addition to the 2 mile walk and 4 mile run, there’s also a costume contest, and I was a fan of this guy’s choice.


What better motivation is there than being chased by Jaws?

The course was well-marked, with lots of volunteers to point runners in the right direction. Despite only being 4 miles, there were also 3-4 aid stations set up with water. I had brought my Garmin Forerunner 405 with me, but was never able to get a satellite signal, which was the first time that had happened to me and caught me a little of guard. It still let me track time, so I spent most of my race calculating paces and trying to remember the times I hit each mile marker. This ended up being a really great way to keep my mind off the inclines, and to not play the “it’s already been a mile, right?” game.

run for the seals course

The inclines started at the end of the first mile, with another at just after a mile and a half.

Run for the seals course and elevation

I don’t do very much hill training, so my main goal was to try to keep a steady pace up the inclines and avoid walking. I did a great job at that, but I paid for it in Mile 3 when things evened out and I took a walk break.

Mile 1: 11:26

Mile 2: 11:00

Mile 3: 12:14

I know I told myself before I started that I wouldn’t worry about racing and focus more on enjoying it, but once you’re out there on the course it’s hard not to push yourself. I was a little disappointed by the walking, but when I realized that the last quarter-mile to the finish line was all uphill I was glad I took the break!

Mile 4: 12:06 – no walk break, but slow on the last quarter-mile that had about a 100ft elevation gain. I don’t know if that’s a lot but it felt like a lot!

After we crossed the finished line, we snagged a few oranges and made our way to pick up our race shirt and bag.

run for the seals t-shirt and bag

How cute is that shirt? Do you see that guy yawning? I really love when events give technical t-shirts, but I can’t hate on this cotton one at all. The money they save on shirts is more than made up for by the food they provide. Whole Foods was one of the sponsors, and they put out some great post-race fuel.

Whole Foods Run for the Seals

All those baked goods? Those are baked by the employees/volunteers of the Marine Mammal Center. How cool is that?

end of race, elephant seal

We stopped for a quick photo op with an eligible bachelor, and then wandered around the center. I mentioned before that I used to volunteer here. Being back brought back lots of memories of tubing and boarding, and I’m so grateful for the time I had here.

The Marine Mammal Center currently has an art exhibit up in their main courtyard area, called The Ghost Below.

The Ghost Below Marine Mammal Center

This “monster” is composed of ghost nets, nets used for fishing that get lost in the ocean one way or another. The nets float at various levels in the ocean and are hard to see in the deep, dark water, making it easy for sea-life to get entangled. The nets used to create this monster were found in the stomach of a dead sperm whale; it had consumed more than 450 lbs of net and trash! How crazy is that?! For more information check out

We ended our day with a walk on the beach. The sun had come out, and the views were gorgeous.

Marin HeadlandsMarin HeadlandsNext year’s Run for the Seals will be the 30th anniversary, and I’m looking forward to running the course again!

Always, Sierra

Have you been to the Marine Mammal Center? What’d you think?

Have you Run for the Seals?


Weekly Workout Recap, 8/12 to 8/18

I knew it was going to be a light week because most of Tuesday and Wednesday were devoted to traveling home from Aruba, so I’m not too upset about all the rest days. It’s been warm in the East Bay, and it’s been kinda nice just to kick back and enjoy it. I did manage to be somewhat productive!

Monday: 60 min Zumba at the Marriott Surf Club in Aruba. So humid! I don’t Zumba often, but I love it when I do. Everyone puts their own unique spin on the dance moves and it makes it so fun!

aruba zumbaTuesday: off (travel)

Wednesday: off (travel)

Thursday: off

Friday: off

Saturday: Run for the Seals 4 mile run! Roughly 11.54 min/mile, lots of inclines. Race Recap on the way. Half-assed dynamic warm-up, 10 min foam roll, hip strength 3 x 12 each move, clamshells 3 x 20 each side and bridges 3 x 20.

Run for the Seals 2013

Sunday: Yoga at home, 60 min

Run: 4 miles

Overall: Vacation-itis got the best of me when I returned from Aruba, but I stuck to some of my goals including: yoga, hip strength, cross-training, and more races so I’m happy with that. Vacationing in humid spots really throws me for a loop! I get into that humid weather and just want to lounge and drink and exert as little effort as possible. Here’s to getting back on track this week!

How do you get back on track after vacation? Do you struggle to work out in humidity or are you a pro at it?

Always, Sierra