Shoes, Shoes, and Happy Feet- Tips on how to have blissful and blister-free runs!

Whether you are a new runner or experienced runner, there is a common denominator: SHOES.  Let’s face it: shoes can make or break our runs, which is why shopping for the right shoes is the most important aspect of running.


I have to say that I was quick to go to our specialty running shoe store Fleet Feet when I became a runner, which was a good thing, but I was also quick to ask one of my good friends for shoes recommendation, which is the biggest mistake you can make as a new or experienced runner, and these are the 10 reasons WHY:

  1. Your feet are different.
  2. Your running mechanics and pace differ.
  3. The shoes that work for your friend’s feet, might make your feet miserable, or even cause you injuries.
  4. Shoes need to match your specific running goals, such as running 5K races, half marathon, or marathons.
  5. Road and trail shoes are totally distinct, so you need to know whether you will do road running, trail running, or both.
  6. Running is a unique experience and needs to be customized to your feet and body mechanics.
  7. Shoe brands and models change all the time, so your friend’s shoes might be an older version that is different from the newer/updated version of the same shoe brand.
  8. Do your own research and understand your foot type, whether you are a pronator, a supinator, or have a normal foot (I’ll explain the difference below).
  9. Only buy shoes that you can return in case they don’t feel good after taking them for a short and long run.
  10. Your friend’s experience with a certain pair of shoes is not your experience, so rely on yourself and the salesperson’s advice and recommendation when buying shoes.

Although there are many shoes that work for people with various feet, it is critical to know what type of feet you have, so spend a few minutes checking your feet before even heading out to your local specialty shoe store. These pics will help you, as well as the detailed article attached below.

Arch types
Arch types

After I bought the wrong type of shoes when I first started to run, I experienced knee pain, blisters, ankle pain, and just uncomfortable running, so I think we can all benefit from following Dusty Robinson’s advice regarding buying the right shoes. Robinson is the General Manager of Fleet Feet store, Sacramento, and he answered my questions regarding finding that right pair of shoes that will make you run blissfully and hopefully blister-free.

  1. What is the most important thing when buying new shoes for new and experienced runners?

“FIT, which means more than length of shoe. The most important aspect of any fit is the shoe shape matching your foot shape. From this starting point a new or experienced runner has a lot of options based off their own preferences, and, of course, shoes that will reduce their chance of injury.”

  1. How can you tell what type of shoes work the best for the way a person runs?

“This is truly a loaded question. Fitting of shoes is as much an art as it is a science. Sure there are mechanics involved, but there is also the runner’s history of training, injury, the type of experience they want to have in a shoe, etc. The only way to really tell is to be assisted by a FIT Specialist. With that said, a good rule of thumb — be sure you feel like you are sitting “in” the shoe not “on” the shoe. This is the first sign that shape of shoe doesn’t match your foot.”

  1. Please explain the pronation and supination and what type of shoes those runners should buy and what type of shoes should they avoid?

“Pronation is the foot’s natural movement from outside to inside in an effort to adapt to the ground and absorb shock. Supination is the movement from inside to outside that occurs towards the end of the gait cycle allowing the foot to act as a propulsion device. Typically those who “over”-pronate (pronating is normal, over-pronating or moving beyond a neutral position is when we have a point of concern) will utilize a range of stability shoes that help in slowing the rate at which the foot is pronating. Those who supinate (or “under” pronate) typically utilize a neutral and often times more flexible shoe.”

  1. What is a stability shoe and what is a speed workout or track shoe? Please explain the difference they make when running a 5K vs. a half marathon.

“As stated above, a stability shoe typically assists in slowing the rate of pronation. With that said, this is a complex issue and in a proper personalized fitting the solution for each person can vary quite a bit. As for a speed workout or track shoe, in most cases this simply means something that is lighter. When trying to run faster you don’t want to carry more weight than necessary. You are also often times going a much shorter distance so you can afford to be in a shoe that is less structured (or protective). This shoe can be relative to your current training shoe. For example, someone wearing a stability shoe for training could workout in a lighter yet stable light weight trainer as their “speed shoe,” whereas, a person who trains in a neutral shoe, may opt for a racing flat for their speed days.”

  1. Why should runners be careful about the unconventional shoes so to speak, such as Hoka, Altra?

“The main reason runners should be careful is that there is no ‘best shoe’ out there. It is an individual process in finding what will work for each person and make sure that the  mechanics match up to the runner’s preferences. The shoe your best friend uses most likely is not the best shoe for you. This is where a proper fitting is where the real answers come from.”

  1. What are your top three tips when someone is looking to buy a good pair of running shoe?

“Well of course, visit Fleet Feet Sacramento and work with our trained FIT Specialist would be my first tip. But in all seriousness, people call professionals when they need help with real estate, plumbing, mechanics, etc. Yet, with all the advances in shoes, people continue to think that simply picking shoes out on their own is a good decision. In walking and running we land with 2 – 4 times our body weight and take 1400-1600 steps per mile. We should want the absolute best solution underneath us when we do this wonderful activities.

Robinson’s most important tip: your fitness shoe is likely to be a half to full size larger than your everyday shoe and pay attention to shape and comfort.




Another important aspect of buying the right shoes is the heel drop. The article from REI website is quite good to explain this, as well as how to get the proper fit for your shoes.

It took me more than a year to realize the mistake I made this summer. I wanted lighter shoes for my 5K races and track workout. Without doing much research, I found a light pair of Saucony online and bought them. I ran in them on the East Coast during our vacation and experienced calf pains. At the end of June, I developed plantar fasciitis, for the shoes had a very low drop, instead of the regular 10 mm drop that my other Saucony shoes had. Having such a height shoe drop is unfortunately a quick way to develop plantar fasciitis along with other factors, such as sudden increase in mileage, calf tightness, and overuse.

Now that we have so much more knowledge about shoes and feet type, we have to remember to wear the moisture wicking pair of socks. Balega brand is my very favorite, as my feet are comfortable in my shoes and stay dry, blissful, and blister-free.


We all know how easy it is to spend $100 or more on a good pair of running shoes, but as much as we try to save money by owning just one pair of shoes, this could be a super costly mistake. According to a 2013 study, runners who rotated among two or more different pairs had an injury rate 39 percent lower than single-pair runners. That is quite a study and a revelation for some runners who might want to get at least two pairs of shoes to rotate.

And if you are like me and already made this mistake, don’t feel bad. We’re here to share and make one another stronger. I also have to admit that it took me a year before I really bought my second pair of shoes and started to rotate them. I can tell you that I have had my strongest year so far winning many 5K races, finishing second in my age group in the Pony Express marathon in May, and just running faster and stronger. Another great change I made was to buy a very light pair of Nike shoes for my track workouts and 5K races, which has also made me faster.

What can I say? Shoes, shoes, and more shoes!


For more info on running and real estate, whether buying or selling, please e-mail me at, or call me at 916-342-2446. Running for real estate with joy!

Ten Steps to Start Running at any Age!

According to the Runner’s World magazine, there are eight crucial steps to help someone start running.

I agree with all their steps, but I have come up with my own 10 steps to help you start this amazing journey. First, I need to share with you my mom’s story and how she started to run at 63 years old after never having exercised in her entire adult life, other than taking short walks to get places she needs to go, since she does not drive.

Mom’s Running Story

On Wednesday evening, September 7th, 2016, I came home elated from my track workout with Fleet Feet Fit running group that I joined to prepare for the California International Marathon that I will run this December, hoping to qualify to Boston. I sat next to my mom and told her what a great workout I had. I also told her that we have a few ladies in their 70s running with us and that they  were amazing. I added that running makes your knees stronger and that’s when my mom clicked: “I guess I should start running, too.”

I was speechless, as my mom usually refuses any kind of physical activity, but then I realized that this was the moment that I was waiting for: my mom’s desire to change and try something new. I immediately transcended my surprise and shock and replied: “Awesome! We’ll go tomorrow morning on a very easy run/jog/walk around our neighborhood.”

“I’ll be ready and wear my good shoes,” my mom said.

The next morning after I dropped the kids off to school, my mom and I took off, after doing a few stretches. My mom started to run with a straight back, relaxed shoulders, and a perfect stride. She ran about a quarter mile, after which we stopped and walked a little bit. Once she started again, I took this amazing video of her first run ever at the age of 63 (she’ll turn 64 in December), which shows that we don’t have to be athletic, strong, gifted, or special to start running. We just need a gentle push, the motivation to better our health, our bodies and minds, and the desire to try new things, as you never know what you like if you don’t try and experiment with life’s joys and surprises.

In reading about Dr. Walter Bortz’s exercise dictum in the Runner’s World magazine: “It’s never too late to start, and it’s always too soon to stop,” I knew that my mom’s timing was perfect and was so happy for her. Her lower back and knees have been giving her a hard time for many years, so she decided to get her body stronger, which is what we all need to do: counter any weakness in our body with new strengths that come from running. We can overcome an aging body and can sharpen our minds at any age.

Carmen’s advice and 10 Steps to Help Non-Runners  Start Running:


  1. Share your running excitement with your non-runner friends by showing them your Strava app, telling them about your beautiful running routes, your races, etc.
  2. Do not ask your runner friends to start running unless they are very open to trying new things. Instead, let your friends ask that they go running with you, or let think them it was their own idea to start running at their own pace and in their own way.
  3. DO NOT tell your non-runner friends that running is EASY like I did with one friend I turned away from running, even though I meant to say that it is easy to go out wearing a decent pair of shoes and just run.
  4. Encourage your friends to start slowly and with only one mile or less on their first official run, as well as to take walking breaks until they build up their stamina and strength.
  5. Emphasize the need to go to a specialty shoe store, such as Fleet Feet in Sacramento to be evaluated by a running specialist and buy the right shoes, as they will make or break your non-runner friends.
  6. Encourage them to join running groups after they can run for at least 30 minutes without stopping. Running with others builds confidence, excitement, and most importantly, commitment.
  7. Encourage them to eat real food and hydrate properly.
  8. Challenge your stubborn non-runner friends to a 5K race by telling them that it is too hard for them to do it and see their ambition go up.
  9. Encourage your friends to read articles in the Runner’s World and other publications, watch videos, and learn more about nutrition, as knowledge is power.
  10. Share the mental, physical, and spiritual benefits that come from running and be your friends’ running ambassador to help them change their lives with running.
Running with my mom! What a special feeling and moment! Running is life!
Running with my mom! What a special feeling and moment! Running is life!


My mom's second run on the American River Parkway.
My mom’s second run on the American River Parkway.

And if you wonder about my mom’s commitment whether to run or not to run, please watch this video. Running is a CHOICE to feel infinite JOY. Running is also a CHOICE to be healthy and strong. Running is LIFE.



For more info on running and real estate, whether buying or selling, please e-mail me at, or call me at 916-342-2446. Running for real estate with joy!

Running is Oh, so Easy, and Oh, so hard!

“If you want to become a runner then get onto a trail, into the woods, or on a sidewalk or street and run. Go 50 yards if that’s all you can handle. Tomorrow, you can go farther.”

Scott Jurek

My first month as a runner when miles felt double and sometimes triple the distance.
My first month as a runner when miles felt double and sometimes triple the distance.

That’s pretty much how I started running down the street for like a quarter mile in March 2015, after which I increased the distance, my stamina, and so on. Therefore, if you hear me say running is easy, I refer to this aspect of running that allows great flexibility, a road right outside your home, and a decent pair of running shoes.

A month after I started to run, I ran the Zoo Zoom 5K race and finished third in my age group. I guess running is easy- ha!ha!
A month after I started to run, I ran the Zoo Zoom 5K race and finished third in my age group. I guess running is easy- ha!ha!



I don’t know how many non-runners I can convince with the above-mentioned statement before I actually make them run away from running, but I will explain my reasoning and my positive affirmation about running as an easy, healthy, and even highly enjoyable activity.

  1. Most running takes place right outside our doors, so we don’t need any special places to start running.
  2. Running is easy to do on your own.
  3. Running does not require much planning, as you can always lace up your shoes and bolt outside your home.
  4. Running is plain fun every time we decide to venture outside of our homes, our worlds, and our comfort zones.
  5. Running is powerful, as it opens our hearts and souls to new possibilities, while we continue our journeys down the path of exploring life with curiosity, mindfulness, and awareness.
  6. Running is social and can bring people together.
  7. Running is blissful and puts us in a great mood after we are done.
  8. Running is healthy for the mind and the body.
  9. Running helps us live longer.
  10. Running makes us smarter.
  11. Running makes us happier and more content.
  12. Running is an easy way to explore new places.
  13. Running is time efficient.
  14. Running burns a lot more calories than other activities about three times more than biking, for example.
  15. Running makes us sleep better.
  16. Running increases the good hormones in our brains.
  17. Running takes us closer to nature.
  18. Running brings us closer to God.
  19. Running is healing.
  20. Running is LIFE.
Enjoying nature and the deer at Ancil Hoffman Park, my own running Paradise.
Enjoying nature and the deer at Ancil Hoffman Park, my own running Paradise. Picture taken by my friend Holly Macriss.


One of my good friends from Sac State Kellie Edson shared this wonderful story about the butterfly and the chrysalis and their metaphor for life’s struggles. So powerful! It applies to running, too, as we struggle sometimes, but then we finish our short and long runs, our races and marathons as changed people, light, beautiful, and victorious!

“Along a dusty road in India there sat a beggar who sold cocoons. A young boy watched him day after day, and the beggar finally beckoned to him.

“Do you know what beauty lies within this chrysalis? I will give you one so you might see for yourself. But you must be careful not to handle the cocoon until the butterfly comes out.”

The boy was enchanted with the gift and hurried home to await the butterfly. He laid the cocoon on the floor and became aware of a curious thing. The butterfly was beating its fragile wings against the hard wall of the chrysalis until it appeared it would surely perish, before it could break the unyielding prison. Wanting only to help, the boy swiftly pried the cocoon open.

Out flopped a wet, brown, ugly thing which quickly died. When the beggar discovered what had happened, he explained to the boy “In order for the butterfly wings to grow strong enough to support him, it is necessary that he beat them against the walls of his cocoon. Only by this struggle can his wings become beautiful and durable. When you denied him that struggle, you took away from him his only chance of survival.”

The butterflies swarmed around and filled the day with the beauty of their colorful wings.
The butterflies swarmed around and filled the day with the beauty of their colorful wings.

From this story, here are 10 hard and yet beautiful aspects of running:

  1. Running is hard, or I should say challenging, since I don’t like to use the word hard.
  2. Running is a struggle on some days depending on our mood, pace, environment, weather, the alignment of the planets, etc.
  3. Running reminds us of our own fragility before we can feel our strength.
  4. Running leaves us breathless literally, not figuratively.
  5. Running takes a lot out of us.
  6. Running can take a toll on our bodies.
  7. Running takes courage.
  8. Running is not for everyone, and yet we were born to run.
  9. Running means getting outside our comfort zone and that’s challenging.
  10. Running is sweating.
The love of running!
The love of running!

Yet, when we run, whether it feels easy or hard, we can all ask ourselves: “How can we disrupt our complacency and satisfaction with things we do on all levels of our lives?” Answer: “By gently pushing ourselves to do more and to require more of ourselves, as we are all perfectly capable of reaching higher professional, fitness, intellectual, and any other goals we set our minds on achieving.”


For more info on running and real estate, whether buying or selling, please e-mail me at, or call me at 916-342-2446. Running for real estate with joy!

10 Pros and Cons of a 101-mile week in the life of a regular runner!

Monday Run and the idea of running 100 miles

I started the week with a 14-mile run on July 18th so that I would get the long run out of the way. The morning was crisp and cool. The American River Parkway teemed with trotting, walking, jogging, running, and pedaling. I had a pretty good pace, but I made too many stops taking in nature, the animals, the river, and foraging for blackberries as the perfect energy snack.

Eating blackberries on one of my stops
Eating blackberries on one of my stops
I stopped first to catch my breath and then I saw the deer. Perfect stop!
I stopped first to catch my breath, and then I saw the deer. Perfect stop!

Around mile 10, an idea came into my head. I’m sure you all have experienced increased creativity on your runs and all kind of ideas buzzing around. I wondered if I should take advantage of this week with light work and decent weather conditions and try to run 100 miles and train like the elite runners  (I am pretty far off from them, but can try to imitate their good habits once in a while). It was possible if I could get a second run in that evening. I could already tell that elation got stuck to my running shoes like a waddle of chewing gum.

That evening, I went on a 6-mile trail run at my favorite park Ancil Hoffman.  After running a tough 14 miler that morning, I doubted I could do another decent 6-mile run, but I did it. I even came up with my own quote about doubting and pushing ourselves for more: “When you doubt you can do something, just do it anyway. You’ll be glad you did.”

Tuesday Run

I woke up at 6:30 to get in a 5-mile run before my doubles tennis match. I ran again around Ancil Hoffman Park and wondered how I needed to juggle the miles to get to 100 by Sunday. I also wondered if I should do it or not, but an inner voice told me to just stick to the plan and see what happens. After tennis, I managed to run another six miles and was surprised that my body responded well to this. My mind was calm and focused, and my Marathon Training Academy podcasts kept me great company.

Wednesday Run

I woke up excited and terrified of the 15-mile run ahead of me that I did on the bike trail from William B Pond past Sunrise Bridge and back. I even met one of my tennis friends on the trail. She biked right past me and said “Hi” to me surprised to see me huffing and puffing on the trail. My pace was good, but I felt the need to take a few picture and rest stops. See what I did here? I said picture stops, as if the pictures were more important than my rest stops. Who am I kidding?


Running on the 23-mile long American River Parkway, one of the largest trails in the country
Running on the 23-mile long American River Parkway, one of the largest trails in the country


On my way back to W.B. Pond, my starting point, I stopped to drink water and take a small break. A cyclist was also filling up his water bottle and we started to talk. I told him that I was running 15 miles that day and that I was going to run 100 miles that week.

“Wow!” he said and tilted his bike helmet back. “I don’t bike 100  miles a week,” he continued.

His comment boosted my ego- ha!ha! I started my run again determined to finish as fast as I could, as the sun burned through my tech shirt and made me a little sluggish. When I got back to the car, I felt totally depleted. I was super glad my run was over and headed home, where I fixed myself a salad topped with black beans and yummy corn meal pizza with mushrooms and olives. I sure needed my proteins and carbs for muscle recovery!

Gobbling down a whole pizza after my long and hot run!
Gobbling down a whole pizza after my long and hot run!

I could tell it was mid week, as my body was revolting at me, so around 2 p.m., I told the kids that I would take a short 45-minute nap. I fell asleep in less time than it took me to feel me sore legs. Head spinning at the next days’ high mileage still coming.

In the evening, I went to bed early. I knew I had to get 12 miles in the next day and that I was on the right path to accomplish my 100-mile week crazy running goal.

Thursday Run- shorter and sweeter trail run

I decided that a 12-mile trail run around Ancil Hoffman Park, or what I call my slice of Paradise, was just perfect. I was surprised that my pace was strong, even though my glut muscles signaled left and right that I was abusing them, but I wasn’t in the mood to cut them any slack. My run was buoyed by two people on the trail who told me that I ran fast and that I had a strong pace. Their kind remarks came at the perfect time and made me run faster. 

Nature at its best, including one coyote, many deer, and my foam roller for after the run
Nature at its best, including one coyote, many deer, and my foam roller for after the run

I had to run three loops to hit my 12-mile goal and that felt long, so I decided to stop and take a video of my 100-mile journey.

CarmenRunning_100 milesvideo

At the end of my run, I felt good and ready for my last three days of long running.

Friday wisdom thoughts

I decided to run another 12 miles today, which got me to 70 miles for the week. That meant I had to run 15 miles on Saturday and another 15 on Sunday, but I planned to continue doing trail runs, since they were a little gentler on my body, even though I had some hills to conquer.

I learned this week that training on softer and various surfaces allowed me to complete my crazy running adventure and this article from Runner’s World analyzes each surface and why we become stronger runners by mixing up road running with trail, sand, grass, and water.

Today’s run felt longer for some reason. I ran the same 12-mile loop at Ancil Hoffman Park and I stopped a few times. My favorite stop was sitting on the bench by the river with Richard, a gentleman in his 80s, whom I had met before. He recognized me and we started to chat right away. We talked about his walking, my running, and life. His blue eyes spoke in glitters of hope making up for his lack of body gestures. His much younger looking face shone mischievously and matched the sun peeking through tree branches. His hand held the cane loosely and gently, as if holding a delicate rose. His voice calm and soothing as the river made me listen to his wise words about getting older.

“When you are older, you are happier,” he said. “You live with joy and learn to accept a less stronger body and mind.”

His contentment and vibrancy filled me with renewed optimism for the future. His weekly walks and sitting on the same bench in front of the river turned into spiritual symbols that pointed to one direction: gratitude and happiness for the simple joys of life. That bench. This conversation. This closeness to nature and to the heart of matters. This inner peace that radiated out of his much younger heart than his actual age. The older age vibrancy that we should all strive to achieve as a result of a life well-lived, treasured, and cherished. I wanted to just stay there  and talk to him, but instead, I got up, said my good-bye, and bolted back on the trail.

My enchanted trail winding through Paradise
My enchanted trail winding through Paradise

On my third 3-mile loop,  I stopped at the end of the trail and met a wonderful lady who is a nurse. She told me about the project in Kenya helping women with their birth, as only one in 18 babies, make it alive, which made me grateful for having two wonderful children, a great husband, and two strong legs to carry me on these amazing runs.

Saturday beautiful Folsom Lake run

By the end of the week, I was  mentally and physically exhausted. I tried to connect with my friend Holly and my Trail Mix runner friends to run together, but our schedules did not work out. I ran by myself from Cavitt school on the Granite Bay trails twice to make my 15 miles goal. I loved seeing the lake and the beach below. I almost wanted to jump in and then continue my run, but I already had a few small blisters, so I kept on running with a few stops.

So many trails leading to wondrous places
So many trails leading to wondrous places
Folsom Lake
Folsom Lake

After my run, as I was driving home, I received a phone call from Family Fitness offering me three discounted training sessions. I thought to myself: “Whether I am on a runner’s high or not, the universe is sending me a message that I need to get my body stronger,” so I took the offer. Change is never easy, but you have to be willing to put the work into it and become a new YOU. Below I included a short video of my workout the week after all my long runs.


Sunday last long run- Celebration time and bragging rights

For my last run, I decided to do the Ancil Hoffman loops again. This time, I had to run four loops. They felt so long! The trails embraced me, but I was not going to embrace them back. I wanted to keep stopping, but I also knew that I would make it!

Last day of running with deer and the beauty of human nature
Last day of running with deer and the beauty of human nature

I even ended up with 101.9 miles for good measure. The realization that I had run a little over 100 miles that week swept me off me feet. It made me marvel at the strength and resilience of our human spirit. It also made me acquiesce that our bodies and minds were meant to work as a team and not against each other, as it happened to me a few times when I got tired.

I enjoyed the toughness of my running week and I would love to offer a few pros and cons about trying this as a regular runner, or as a mortal, as many elite runners seem immortal.

  1. Stamina
  2. Endurance
  3. Perseverance
  4. Learning to run on tired legs
  5. Increased mental strength
  6. Increased body strength, unless you get hurt
  7. Increased focus and concentration
  8. Long meditations in motion
  9. Meeting and talking to wonderful people during your runs
  10. The feeling that you are SUPERHUMAN after running 100 miles in one week, which not many mortal runners attempt to do, or ever do it.
  1. Increased risk of injury
  2. Physical burnout
  3. Mental exhaustion
  4. Fatigue
  5. Not eating enough to fuel those long runs
  6. Increased risk of becoming dehydrated
  7. Muscle soreness that slows down your pace
  8. Fear of running
  9. Lack of desire to run the next day
  10. Feeling DEFEATED.

My whole high mileage experiment brought me an increased respect towards the rigorous training of elite runners. I don’t think I want to do this again. Yet, it felt great when many of my runner friends called me an animal and a beast on Facebook after I posted about my crazy running week and thought deeper why I chose to do this and came up with 10 reasons, although there are so many more.

10 Reasons to run 100 miles a week for the first time as a runner:

  1. As a lesson in humility.
  2. To dispel any fears and doubts.
  3. To be an elite runner for a week.
  4. To fortify the body and the mind.
  5. To prove “you’ve got this!”
  6. To enjoy separate workouts and experiences by running twice a day.
  7. To experience bewilderment at your strong selves.
  8. To train your body to run when tired.
  9. To challenge your mind.
  10. To inspire others to go the extra mile in running and life.

Remember, when in doubt, do it anyway! Stretch your wings in life and running! You will be surprised how much you will learn about yourself and others. CHEERS!

BIGGEST LESSON LEARNED: When doing long runs every day and having a 100-mile week, you are going for quantity over quality. Therefore, doing three or four great quality runs a week will be better in the long run for your body, mind, and spirit.

My long running week - Oh, my!
My long running week – Oh, my!


For more info on running and real estate, whether buying or selling, please e-mail me at, or call me at 916-342-2446. Running for real estate with joy!


Speed Interval Workout Joys- How to Get Stronger and Faster!

I ran my very first marathon the California International Marathon in Sacramento in 2015 at the age of 42.  I hardly ever did any intervals or speed workouts (see definition and types of intervals),, as I felt running long and steady runs were the golden keys to unlocking marathons. Yet, in November while on vacation in Palm Springs, less than a month before the marathon, I discovered the freedom and joy of running intervals  just because I didn’t feel too good that day and I wanted to do a short but speedy run.

As I kept running faster than 5K pace from one point to another on the winding path lined up with swaying palm trees and colorful desert flowers with short breaks in between, I realized that I was running my fastest mile in the high 7s at the time.  I also came up with my own little poem that I wrote it in my mind while running and marveling at the speed of my thoughts intersecting the speed of my feet:

Running Dreams

“Best way to chase

dreams through course sand:

Quick feet, happy heart, and a resolute mind. ”

Enjoying the speed around Palm Springs, where I first discovered the power of interval training.
Enjoying the speed around Palm Springs, where I first discovered the power of interval training.

In 2016, I continued running intervals consistently about once a week. At first, I did not realize that we lived less than 3 miles away from a high school with a new track field, so I discovered a quiet app. 200 meter-path through Jensen Botanical garden, where I ran at full speed, squashing olives under my feet during the winter months.  I usually did about two to four intervals there, accelerating through nature and marveling at my kick that seemed to get stronger and more assertive than the previous week’s workout.

The end of my interval run, a bench in Jensen's Botanical Garden
The end of my interval run, a bench in Jensen’s Botanical Garden


  • With speed, came liberation and total joy.
  • With speed, I squashed fears and doubts about what I could do and could not do.
  • With speed, I could feel younger and stronger, kicking dust in death’s face.
  • With speed, I erased  the wrinkles of time  and recreated a  new speedy Gonzalez:  ME, as my tennis friends had already nicknamed me.
  • With speed, came the tiring of every fiber in my muscles, while the heart rejoiced in the new fountain of youth.
  • With speed, I became breathless at LIFE and its adventurous paths.

    My perfect interval path through Jensen's Botanical Garden
    My perfect interval path through Jensen’s Botanical Garden

Towards summer, as I looked to expand my speed workouts, I decided to run to Del Campo High School (less than three miles away from our house) to use the track.  Getting your muscles warmed-up before speed workouts is key. The first time I went to the high school, I asked an older gentleman about the distance of the track. I found out that four loops make a mile, so I decided to run 4X 400 meters, which was exhilarating. I blasted every lap and took a short break after each repetition. For more ideas on marathon specific track workouts, check out this article that will give you tons of ideas and ways to get faster!

3 Track Workouts Guaranteed to Kick Your Ass

I ran that mile in the low 6s and I was ecstatic! With interval workouts, there are so many possible combinations and variations: 200, 400, 800,  1,600 meters that you can repeat as many times as you wish, which is why I think interval workouts are one of the most exciting in running. They also burn the most calories.  For an idea on a more advanced speed workout and how to stay fully focused when doing intervals, check out this article from Runner’s World.

Running track 4X400 in 6:22 minutes.
Running track 4X400 in 6:22 minutes.

Whether you do your speed/interval workouts on the track, at a local park running from one tree to another, on any trail, remember to go for speed and the results will astound you, as you will run faster and stronger. Kick it up a notch, and don’t forget to run a few 5K and 10K races to test your new speed!

For more info on running and real estate, whether buying or selling, please e-mail me at, or call me at 916-342-2446. Running for real estate with joy!






Visiting a New Place? My own running tour of Hilton Head Island, SC – Part One

Before becoming a runner, I would look for trolley, walking, bus, and biking tours to explore a new place on our vacation, but since I have become a runner, I look for trails and paths that lead to new places I can enjoy during my runs. When I came across this map of the island, my head swam in running ideas. I felt elated at the description of paths all around Hilton Head Island that we were visiting for the first time. According to the visitor’s guide, the paths to explore the entire island stretched for 24 miles, but the public nature and bike trails extended for 50 miles.

Map of Hilton Head Island and its trails
Map of Hilton Head Island and its trails

Hilton Head is a shoe-shaped island that boasts 12 miles of beachfront on the Atlantic Ocean. Although many visitors think of the Hilton Hotels when they hear the name of the island, according to Wikipedia, Hilton Head received its name from British explorer and seaman, Capt. William Hilton, who investigated the lower coast of South Carolina in 1663 (the official guide of Hilton Head says this happened in 1665) for a group of Barbadian planters who were interested in expanding.,_South_Carolina

To me, the explorations of the island were more metaphysical and spiritual in nature, so together with my sweet husband’s help, we set out to devise my running tour. My hubby who is outstanding with maps, roads, shortcuts, and so on, immediately drew my attention to Marshland Rd., or the dotted line that marks the half loop of the island, app. 12 miles. That half way point demarcation helped me decide to run the island in two days, instead of stressing to cover all 22 miles running in the humid subtropical climate of South Carolina. The thought of running and not using a bike, the most popular way to see the island, tickled me. I was excited to run on the wonderful well-marked trails winding around Hilton Head.

One of the many bike/walk trails around Hilton Head
One of the many bike/walk trails around Hilton Head

Enchanted to set out on my island exploration, I woke up at 6 a.m. and started my run before 7 a.m., trying to beat the heat and the warm sun. It was actually a cloudy morning, which was perfect for my run. I started strong and ran to the Carrabba’s Italian restaurant just about a mile from our resort, where my husband told me to make a right, or a left to explore either half of the island. Instead, I decided to cross the street and run straight ahead. The shady paths and trails enchanted me, as well as the live oak trees draped in Spanish Moss. According to the website below about nature on Hilton Head, I have learned that Spanish Moss is just an epithet for the air plant that derives all its needs from rainwater and sunlight. The moss is not parasitic and does not harm trees. PondFountain_14miles

Running felt good that morning, but I still stopped to catch my breath and marvel at the beads of sweat that bounced off of my skin like bullets. I was not used to the taste of my own sweat, as I barely sweat when exercising. I also learned to avoid rubbing the sweat into my eyes, as it sure had a stinging and temporary blinding effect on me. CarmenBridge_14mile

Around mile five, I realized that I  was lost, so I pulled out my I-Phone with the picture of the map. I realized that I was doing the top part of the island instead of the bottom part. However, during my search for the right paths and streets, I came across quite a few historical monuments on Beach City Road.  And that was my Aha! moment, too. I realized that my getting lost, which is nothing new for me… after all, I managed to get lost running the Pony Express Marathon this May, took me on a historical tour of the island. “Wouldn’t it be fun to be able to join organized running tours for the novice and avid runners ?” Running and stopping to learn about various cities’ history, anecdotes, architecture, and so on. What a treat that would be!

The oldest Baptist Church on Hilton Head Island
The oldest Baptist Church on Hilton Head Island

As I hit the end of Beach City Rd, I ran back and came across the oldest church and school on the island. I also came across old fortresses, which had been important points of defense during the Civil War. I did not expect to come across such rich historic tapestry, which is why I read more about it to understand the island’s history better. Apparently, besides my own running explorations, the island had waves of explorers that ranged from Native Americans to the French Huguenots, the English, the Spanish, pirates, and African Americans.

Fort Howell, an important defensive place during the Civil War
Fort Howell, an important defensive place during the Civil War

Not knowing which way to go, like most of the above-mentioned explorers, I stopped a lady in her 50s, or so, dressed in her Wal-Mart uniform to ask for directions. She immediately came right close to me to see my map. I was dripping wet and I took one step back, but then she came right next to me to explain directions. I appreciated her kindness and closeness and realized that we Californians are more into our personal space and privacy. After she showed me which way to go, I started to run again and realized that my run would be much longer than I had prepared for, but I wasn’t going to quit. I kept running and made it to Marshland Rd. that cut through the middle of the island like a river.

Getting Tired and the Tropical Storm

My legs felt like lead, my speed workout shoes did not provide enough support for my long run, and the sky frowned above like a disgruntled old man. Then the rain came: heavy and warm. I ran through puddles. My socks and shoes got soaked, while I worried about my cell phone that got a little wet inside the pocket of my hydration pack. As the rain came down hard, I decided to stop and take shelter under the eaves of a church for about 10 minutes, after which I realized that the rain was not going to stop, so I started to run again.

I made more stops, which helped me speed up for a mile or two before I would stop again. Soon I came to Matthews Road and knew that I was less than two miles away from our resort, so I picked up my pace. I got lost one more time making a left, instead of a right, after which I ran the last mile and made it to the resort, after my own 20-mile historic running of the island. Getting lost, while running by the island’s oldest Baptist church, school, and fortresses added more adventure to my running expedition and made me look forward to part two of my island’s exploration.

I hope you enjoyed my historic running tour of Hilton Head Island and hope you can share with others some of your running tours and adventures. Also for more information on running and real estate, whether buying or selling a home, please e-mail me at, or call me at 916-342-2446.

Running for real estate with joy!


Running Tour of Hilton Head – The Southern Smile- Part Two

After my 20-mile historic tour, I was determined to not get lost again running the second half of the island. I followed my hubby’s advice and made a left at the Carrabba’s Grill to stay on the trail, which was supposed to be a straight loop of the bottom part of the island about 13 miles.

Map of Hilton Head Island and its trails
Map of Hilton Head Island and its trails

Unlike the cloudy and rainy day that I had during my first part of the tour, this time the sun bounced its orange globe and peaked through the clouds before 8 a.m. I knew that I had to finish before it got too hot, as the air laden with the salty smells of the ocean and marshes already felt heavy and sticky. I started my run at a low 8s pace and felt great. This time, I brought my wireless headset with me so that I could listen to podcasts and not focus on my profuse sweating and uneven breathing. Along the way, I made a few quick stops to take pictures and catch my breath. I knew that due to the humidity, my breathing felt shallow and not too synchronized with my stride.

Art_14miles - Copy

Hilton Head’s gorgeous views

After about six miles, I made a right on Arrow Rd. that was going to take me over the Broad Creek Bridge, long and arched like a cat’s back. The views of Broad Creek where we had been on a sunset dolphin cruise the previous evening encompassed both sides of the river with long piers and homes in the distant background. I finally found a hill on this bridge, as the entire island was as flat and smooth as the boogie board we all used to ride the waves every day. After snapping a few panoramic pictures, I made a right onto Marshland Rd. and knew that I had another six miles, or so to complete my full tour of Hilton Head. Although my face, arms, and my whole body felt as salty as the marshlands I ran by, my stride and cadence were stable. My body felt strong; my joy reverberated and crashed on the shores of sanity that running so readily provides.

Board Creek Pier
Board Creek Pier



As I felt on track, I even stopped and chatted with a local woman who was walking her dog. We also both passed a legless lizard and were careful to make room for it. The woman who seemed to be in her early 20s and as warm-hearted as South Carolina’s beach sand  took this picture of me jumping with joy.

Carmen jumping with joy- running is life!
Carmen jumping with joy- running is life!
The love of running!
The love of running!

The young woman also started to talk to me as if we had been friends forever. She told me about her boyfriend who owned a large Kayak company by Broad Creek. She also asked me questions and gave me her undivided attention every time I formulated my answers. Her listening – attentive and unhurried – made me want to keep talking and take in that perfect still morning next to this polite and engaging young lady who had just become part of my Southern tour. By the end of our three-week trip in the South, (we also visited Orlando and Sevierville, Tennessee) the young lady’s wide and unaffected smile made me understand that my second running tour of Hilton Head island was an immersive journey into the Southern hospitality and way of life. My first half tour of the island was steeped in history, whereas my second half was a tour of the human nature. Running and observing. Observing and running.  Taking mental notes and even writing a poem in my head entitled:

The Southern Smile

“A greeting, warm smile

as wide and serene as the blue sky

With no shadows or fake ridges

makes the Southern smile

so beautiful and worthwhile. “

By the end of the trip, I could see that our children applied the Southern politeness and consideration and were less forgetful to say “excuse me,” “thank you,” and “please,” which was pointed out by one of the flight attendants on our way back to Sacramento.

“We love your children. They have such good manners,” she told us, as Alex and Sophia used their most polite language.

I smiled and replayed an ad in my head about Cracker Barrel restaurant that goes like this: “Cracker Barrel, a yummy Southern treat.”

I hope you enjoyed my running  tour, and wish you to create as many running tours on your trips all over the world. Also please share your short stories about your running tours here.

For more info on running and real estate, whether buying or selling, please e-mail me at, or call me at 916-342-2446. Running for real estate with joy!


Folsom Gold Rush 50K – My first ultra marathon

Two weeks after I had run the Pony Express Marathon, I ran Folsom Gold Rush 50K, my very first ultra marathon. Although experts recommend about 30 days before running another race after a marathon, I refused to accept this wise advice. Instead, I chose to view my marathon race and big PR (personal record) as a perfect training for my first 50K race (31 miles). Besides, one of my trail mix friends John Bressan made the perfect point when he cheered for me at the marathon finish line: “Remember, all you need to do is finish your first 50K, as it will be a PR, for sure. Your goal is to qualify for Boston, so you don’t want to injure yourself. ”


Another Trail Mix friend Sharon Hampton who has been running races for over 30 years offered me the best advice that I would pass onto other runners who wonder whether they should rest the week of the big race, or whether they should run lightly. Sharon urged me to do the following:

  1. Rest the whole week of the race and let your body fully recover from running so that you can have enough stamina for your big race.
  2. Fuel, hydrate well, and eat some extra carbs, as your body will need it and use it.
  3. Last, but not least, my favorite advice she offered: do not even think of the total distance. Instead, focus on running from one aid station to another (fuel at each aid station) to break miles into smaller increments and finish the run strong.

With most trail races being on Saturday, I was glad to run my biggest and longest race I have done in my life one day earlier than road races, which happen mostly on Sundays. I did not run at all the week of the race and I just gobbled up my carbs. Even though I viewed my taper as being lazy and not working hard enough, deep down the voice of reason kept me honest. I had to acknowledge the hills, the rocks, and uneven terrain, the heat, and the long distance. Moreover, I had to trust that a rested body would find more strength and energy than a tired body.  I continued to load up on brown rice and Quinoa pasta, fresh fruit and vegetables, some salmon, and my vegan pancakes that I made with almond milk.

As to the mental preparation, I did the following:

  1. I kept my entire week on a positive note, avoiding any negative interactions or situations.
  2. I visualized myself running with a big smile while my sweet husband and our kids were waiting and cheering for me at the finish line.
  3. Buoyed by my recent marathon and quick recovery, I had total faith and trusted that I could complete my first ultra, as long as I did not get injured and kept my focus on the breath and positive mental images of crossing the finish line strong.
  4. The big d-word DOUBT was banished from my mind and vocabulary and replaced with BELIEVE.


After a good night rest, a hearty pancake and banana breakfast, and careful preparation for my 50k race the night before, my sweet husband dropped me off at Skunk Hollow in El Dorado Hills from where our race started on the Darrington Trail.

My husband parked and stuck around for a few minutes to make sure I had everything I needed. To our surprise, we met Shawn, one of our soccer friends who works with my husband. He congratulated me for upgrading my running. My husband beamed with pride and joked around with his friend, while I thought to myself: “Isn’t what our lives are all about? Upgrading our old selves to newer and better ones?”

My husband gave me a big hug and a kiss. He wished me good luck and said we would keep in touch so that he knew when to wait for me with the kids at the finish line. I spent time talking to other runners and was happy to get some great advice from Karyn Hoffman, an amazing runner, pacer for marathons,  tremendous athlete, and an icon in our Sacramento running community.  She advised me to start slower and then pick up my pace and pass people. She knew my rabbit style of running fast from the beginning, which was not conducive to the length of the course.

At the start line of my first 50K run
At the start line of my first 50K run


I did not start slowly at the beginning of the race, as I knew my engines would slow down later and wanted to make sure that I would make good times for all the aid stations, but Karyn was right. Starting slower ensures more strength later. The first 8 miles of the race were technical and the rocks seemed to bare their sharp edges like sharks. I almost fell at least five times, but managed to catch myself. I kept running to make a good time for our first big aid station at Skunk Hollow, where I ate banana, peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and used the restrooms.Lake_May14


After this quick stop, I ran strong and passed a few runners heading towards Salmon Falls on winding trails flanked by exquisite views of the Folsom Lake. The lupine, vetch, and golden California poppies crowned the meadows and reminded me why I fell in love with trail running: nature at its best, as well as my desire to match nature’s outer beauty with my inner beauty. During my run, I constantly reveled in nature’s sheer magnitude and stopped to take pictures while power hiking a steep hill, taking a short break, and thinking of a little poem about the trails that I wrote after the race.

The Song of the Trails

The trails enchant and attract

the runner’s soles into their deep forests

like a siren’s song – inimitable and unforgettable.

Lined with rocks, protruding roots,

multicolored wild flowers, and poison oak

the trails chirp the song of the wild at heart.


Oh, the beauty and serenity of wild flowers!
Oh, the beauty and serenity of wild flowers!


After 15 miles of running, I kept my focus on avoiding falling by all means, as well as looked forward to hitting all the aid stations. At mile 16.1,  I reached New York Creek aid station and made sure I ate bananas, pretzels, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. At this point, my mind started to show up signs of fatigue, or was it my body getting tired? Having  a black belt in Taekwondo, I knew that I had to use my mind to control my body, so I told myself that I needed to run steady to hit mile 20 strong. From there on, I had to keep running a meager 11 miles- ha!ha!

The trail flanked by wild flowers! Pure bliss!
The trail flanked by wild flowers! Pure bliss!

The views of Folsom Lake kept me company and comfort. The blue sky and water,  peaceful and tranquil images, followed my strides and gave me renewed hope and energy. Yet, the hills seemed to multiply at every corner, leaving me breathless while climbing them.


At mile 22.9, I crawled to Brown’s Ravine aid station and felt every muscle in my body having something to say to me, but I was not interested in listening. However, I felt a little lonely running by myself and only talking to people at aid stations, so God probably heard my prayers and sent Leslie Niels my way around mile 23, or so.


A young woman with a happy and steady stride, Leslie seemed to be especially strong on hills, so I followed her. We started to talk about our running problems, as well as curse the endless hills. Leslie was doing the relay and running the second half of the race, which was music to my ears, since her legs were not as tired and she could propel me to finish a race that was the most challenging event I have ever done in my life so far. I am sure harder events would come along, but this was my first.

Leslie, a super athletic and fun person to hang around, pointed out that after this race, we can definitely call each other “bad ass” ultra marathon runners. Yeah! We both repeated those words that had become the running leitmotif of the day. The “bad ass” mantra empowered and emboldened us to keep running, while joking and commiserating with each other.

At mile 28.9, Leslie and I reached Folsom crossing by the American River bike trail. I texted my hubby to tell him that I was 3 miles away. To my great delight, the last three miles were all on flat and fast surface, so I powered through with Leslie running right behind me a little slower, as by now her blisters gave her trouble. I could tell that every stride Leslie took hurt her, but she continued to maintain her joviality and positive attitude. I also felt that we both functioned as perfect crutches for each other and that really made our finish smoother and stronger.

Leslie and I about 3 miles from the finish line! Yeah!
Leslie and I about 3 miles from the finish line! Yeah!

As we turned on Sutter Street in Old Folsom, I knew the finish line on 200 Wool St. was around the corner, so I felt a strong surge in my cadence and pace. Clip-clop, clip-clop! Just like during Pony Express, our daughter Sophia joined me and ran with me towards the finish line, making my day. Our sweet son Alex was again the race photographer taking great shots of me. My hubby was beaming with pride. He hugged and kissed me right after I crossed the finish line. Wow! I did it! I ran my first 50K in 7:11 and felt pretty good. I could walk, so that was a good sign.

Crossing the finish line of my first 50K race!
Crossing the finish line of my first 50K race!
My beautiful family celebrating with me!
My beautiful family celebrating with me!

Leslie finished seconds behind me. We both hugged and congratulated each other, as well as promised to keep in touch with each other.

In the end, resilience and perseverance shone through, reminding me that there is always more I can give and that human nature is just as resplendent as nature.

For more info on ultra marathons, please check out these links:

For info on real estate, please go to my website Also mention this blog when buying, or selling with me, and receive $100 gift card to Fleet Feet, or the store of your choice. Other discounts and offers apply, so feel free to contact me. Happy to answer any of your running and real estate questions. No strings attached!

Global Running Day and My Birthday!

To me, June 1 is not only special because it is my birthday. It is also the International Day of Children in my native country Romania, as well as in many European countries. This year, June 1st became even more special, as it was Global Running Day, so I had at least three big reasons to celebrate, and who doesn’t want to find reasons to rejoice?

And if you missed having a great runch (Run+lunch), or even running to your work place if close enough, there are still plenty of events you can sign up and more info about Global Day of Running.

For ideas and info on International Children’s Day and how you can celebrate this day with all the young and adult children in your life, check out:

My birthday run and celebration made me jump with joy and appreciation for being a runner, as well as being in great shape and health. My good friend Holly  Macriss was kind to make my birthday special by driving us to Pilot Hill from where we took the Magnolia Ranch Trail and ran to Cronan Ranch and back.

Holly and I at Magnolia Ranch, celebrating my birthday and Global Running Day
Holly and I at Magnolia Ranch, celebrating my birthday and Global Running Day

Although we started our run around 9:20 a.m., we could already feel the heat.  Later on that day, temperatures hit 100 degrees, so we decided to enjoy the scenery and walk the long hills, as we needed to conserve our energy. The American River views followed the trail and sure dazzled us. We felt grateful we chose to do a trail run that day, so we could revel in the beauty of nature, as well as be in perfect running unison with millions of people who were running in amazing places all over the world.

Rivers are the quintessential symbols of change and running or going with the flow
Rivers are the quintessential symbols of change and running or going with the flow

AmericanRiver_June1During our run, we came across horse riders and mountain bikers, as well as a dead gopher snake and a bobcat that ran in front of us and disappeared into the thick bushes and trees. Once we reached Cronan Ranch, we could really feel the sun’s heat on our necks, bodies, and legs. We joked around about our run and my birthday celebration in 100 degree weather. Holly said to me: “I think it’s hot enough, so you can blow out that candle, Carmen.”

“Good one, Holly,” I replied and laughed. It was good to redirect our attention from the heat and our tired legs by resorting to laughter and joking around.

The highlight of our fantastic 8-mile trail run was our stop by an old movie set that had been used to shoot some big Western movies.


“Wow! Being part of this old movie set sure makes my birthdays special,” I told Holly, who smiled, knowing that I was thoroughly enjoying my birthday and global running day.

Towards the end of the run, the sun turned into a fire-spitting dragon, but we did not melt or wilt away, as we came across a creek and cooled off.

Beating the heat!
Beating the heat!

We finished our run back at Magnolia Ranch, after we headed to Scott’s Seafood and Grill and had a great birthday lunch.

What an honor to have my birthday on Global Running Day and The International Day of Children! Cheers to all the Global Runners out there! Make every run special and make every mile count! Happy strides!

For more information on running, please contact me here, or e-mail me at Also for more info on real estate, please visit my website http://www.dynamicsacramentohomes. com.



Running for Real Estate-what’s in a blog’s name?

When our work and hobbies intertwine, we feel satisfied and happy. Having been in real estate for 16 years, I have learned to appreciate the dynamic aspects of my profession and the diversity of the people I meet and help buy or sell, for which I am very grateful. In other words, I am always stimulated and do not get bored with my work the same way running cannot bore me, because of the variety of workouts and the many physical and mental benefits that come with it .

Talking about real estate on Real Life Lending radio show.
Talking about real estate on Real Life Lending radio show.

Title of my blog:

Ancil Hoffman trail run with deer in the background. Pure bliss!
Ancil Hoffman trail run with deer in the background. Pure bliss!
  • It describes two passions: running and real estate.
  • Running and real estate have one common denominator: it is dynamic, which matches the name of my real estate company that I founded in 2010, Dynamic Real Estate.
  • Running and real estate are both adrenaline driven, especially when my buyers get super excited about becoming homeowners. As to running, we all know about runner’s high, which is pure bliss and increased endorphins that runners get during a run.
  • Running and real estate are both enriching on a financial level when my clients acquire equity in their homes and a spiritual level for runners, who find running the perfect meditation in motion, as I like to call it.
  • Running and real estate are super powers, as they change people’s lives.
  • Running and real estate are great securities for the future. Real estate can build up one’s portfolio and increase wealth, especially when clients take advantage of the lows and highs of the market, whereas running can increase one’s physical and mental well-being, which can add quality years to someone’s life.
  • Running and real estate are year-round affairs, especially for us living in California and being able to run year-round.
  • And last, but not least, running and real estate are LIFE. A positive, dynamic, joyous way of living.

For any questions on running, or real estate, please contact me at 916-342-2446, or e-mail me at Also don’t forget to follow and subscribe to this blog! Happy feet!


Pony Express Marathon & history- My Second

“Men Wanted” “The undersigned wishes to hire ten or a dozen men, familiar with the management of horses, as hostlers, or riders on the Overland Express Route via Salt Lake City. Wages $50 per month and found.” – Ad in Sacramento Union, March 19, 1860.

Maybe our modern day Sacramento Bee newspaper ad should have read this way: “Runners wanted! The undersigned wishes to complete 26.2 miles by running on both sides of the river and be familiar with the management of steady feet, controlled breathing and pace, as well as muscle fatigue, body aches, anger, and lots of swearing from miles 18 and on. Wages $0 per month and a huge shiny medal at the end.”


I first heard about Pony Express, the new marathon galloping in town May 2016 at last year’s Expo for the California International Marathon. At the time, I was so overwhelmed and focused on completing my very first marathon that I just obliterated the amazing offer to run this historic marathon for about $80, if I had signed up at the Expo, but here is what I found out later about this new marathon that I did not think I would run.

A few historic facts about Pony Express as outlined on the National Park Service website


Pony Express was in operation for only 18 months between April 1860 and October 1861, but it became synonymous with the Old West.

More than 1,800 miles in 10 days! California the Pony Express could deliver a letter faster than before from St. Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento!

On June 16, 1860, about ten weeks after the Pony Express began operations, Congress authorized the building of a transcontinental telegraph line to connect the Missouri River and the Pacific Coast.

The passage of the bill resulted in the incorporation of the Overland Telegraph Company of California and the Pacific Telegraph Company of Nebraska.

November 7, 1860: Pony Express riders carried word of Abraham Lincoln’s election as President from Fort Kearney, Nebraska to Placerville, California in a record 5 days. This was considered one of the most significant accomplishments by the Pony Express.

On October 26, 1861 the Pony Express was officially terminated.

Most of the original trail has been destroyed by time or human activities. Short fragments of the trail can be seen only in Utah and California. However, approximately 120 historic sites may be available to the public, including 50 existing Pony Express stations or ruins.

After having completed the CIM, my first marathon in 4:13:21, I decided to train the whole winter to get stronger and faster for my first ultra marathon Folsom Gold Rush 50K for which I had signed up right after the CIM while on runner’s high- ha!ha! I also ran Super Sunday Run, ZooZoom, and American River Parkway 5Ks and placed first and second in my age group, so I decided to test myself by signing up to run the inaugural marathon in Sacramento, Pony Express on May 1.

My goal for this year was to run a 50K trail run, Folsom Gold Rush on May 14 and the California International Marathon in December to try to qualify for Boston. Yet, at the encouragement of a few good runner friends, I thought it was a good idea to try to qualify for Boston by running the Pony Express that was hosted by the Rotary Club of Sacramento and benefited Courage Worldwide and Alpha K9. It also promised a flat and fast USATF-certified course that started and finished on Capitol Mall and ran along both shores of the Sacramento River. It hit many points of interests in our beautiful Sacramento, such as Old Sacramento, Tower Bridge, Raley Field, and Land Park.

My main goals for my second marathon: to beat my last year’s time and set a new PR (personal record), try to qualify for Boston, which I knew would be challenging, but doable, to use this marathon as a benchmark for my CIM, and last, but not least, to use this as training for my 50K. With my plan to run Pony Express, I felt I was scoring on many levels.

The week of the marathon

I ran lightly two days that week and prepared myself physically and mentally. I visualized myself running smoothly and efficiently in the low 8s per mile, which I needed to qualify for Boston. I also slept well, ate my carbs, brown rice spaghetti with vegetables, fruit, and hydrated well.

The day before the marathon

I went to pick up my bib number and spent time at the Expo. As opposed to the CIM (California International Marathon), the Expo was quite small, but had some nice booths and vendors. I even bought myself a crafted neck cooler from Artful panache that contained tiny, non-toxic, water-absorbing polymer crystals. The crystals can go from dry to wet hundreds of times and will last for years.

My bib and bottle of beer
My bib and bottle of beer


After a good night rest, (I am blessed to sleep very well the night before big events) the morning of the event, Catalin, my sweet husband, dropped me off at the start line on Capitol Mall and 6th Street. We arrived at 6:20 a.m. We stayed in the car a little longer and chatted. It was pretty quiet around there, which felt so different from the CIM. Last year when I ran CIM on December 6th, the event felt like an ocean with towering waves crashing against the shores of inactivity. The excitement from the CIM was definitely absent. I acquiesced the stillness of that May 1st cool morning right before the start, but knew that we would have some noise, cheering, and hopefully some more excitement as we got closer to our 7 a.m. start time. I went to the restroom – always a good idea before races. I also wanted to find some of my CIM runner friends, so I kissed my husband good-bye and told him that I would see him and the kids at the finish line.

To my great delight, I came across my friends Jennifer, John, and Robert who were all doing the half marathon, as the Pony Express had four events: marathon, relay, half marathon, and Running for Rhet 5K kids’ run. We took pictures together. My CIM friends
I promised to post them on our Run4Ever Facebook page that I had created after we finished our CIM training so that we would keep in touch and continue to run together whenever we could. We wished one another good luck. My friends also told me to go for my BQ (Boston qualifier time), which needed to be 3:45 minutes based on my age, but I needed to run it in 3:40 minutes to be accepted. They told me that I could do it! I smiled and looked down at my shoes, as if checking for growing wings. I believed in myself and having others believe in me was huge, too.

There were about 8 minutes before the start, so I proceeded to find my pacers, two gentlemen who promised to take us to the finish line in 3:38 minutes, which was my plan, too. They both seemed nice and experienced, but one of them kept fiddling with his watch, which got me a little nervous. The start happened about 5 minutes later than 7 a.m., as the organizers kept talking, which also got me a little antsy. Two men on their horses led the way, reenacting the original Pony Express. This placed me back into history and made me feel grateful to be running this marathon healthy and happy. I started strong, running with joy and a huge smile on my face. Our pace group was small and cozy with one more woman and a guy who was running his first marathon. After going over the Tower Bridge, we had a little more room to run and keep a steady pace of 8:16 per mile. I felt downright elated from the start. I kept talking about the Boston qualifier and how I had my mind set on it that day. The pacers and the other two runners were super encouraging (maybe too encouraging- ha!ha!). I felt in control of my pace, breathing, thoughts, and the running universe. We ran by the river, admiring the stillness of the water and its smooth flow that matched our even pace. The morning was as quiet as the marathon. Hardly any spectators and cheerleaders on the course, as not many people even knew this marathon was happening. The temperature in the low 70s was pleasant at first. Half-way into our marathon, it got into the 80s, making it hard to keep our pace.

During the marathon

Around mile 10, I felt invincible. “Keeping this pace is easy,” I said to myself. “I can do this and make it to Boston,” I continued. Never a good idea to let your mind race, or feel overconfident. At mile 11, my amazing Trail Mix friends greeted me with loud cheering and “Go Carmen.” They worked that aid station as volunteers, best ones in the event! And, yes! I am biased! I was finally able to eat real food, which I like the best during my runs. I grabbed four slices of oranges and pretzel sticks and gobbled them up. I was looking strong. My friends’ cheers propelled me with renewed energy and enthusiasm. I kept going strong till half point.

Around mile 15, I lost our pacers. They continued to run with their 3:38 min. sign up like a torch of torture, a reminder that steadiness and humility are more valuable in life than short-lived speed and overconfidence (one of my favorite lesson from this marathon!).

Around mile 18, as we came back over the Tower Bridge, I got mixed up with the kids doing their 5K race. I did not see any signs for our marathon route and ended up crossing the finish line with the 5K runners. I realized that I got lost. I kept asking people until finally someone pointed to the right side of the bridge, where I needed to make a right. I was demoralized and upset on myself for being ME: not always paying attention and having my head in the clouds, dreaming of Boston, philosophizing, or writing poems in my head. At that point, I realized that I had missed my chance to make it to Boston, as I got detoured by .7 miles, or about a good 6 minutes. Yet deep down, I knew I would have a nice PR at the end. I had to keep going and forgive myself for getting lost. The course was well-marked overall. However, at that crucial point when runners from different races mingled, I felt they had no volunteers to direct us and make sure we did not miss making that right turn, but then, I don’t like to point fingers. I needed to take responsibility for my own mistake. My feet felt heavy. My heart sank in resignation. My mind continued to chatter about irrelevant things. However, after being back on track and on the course, I needed to pull the reins of my being and regain control. I started to run steadily again and focused on finding equanimity and serenity inside my heart, mind, and soul. I had to chase a different goal: a big PR from last year’s marathon. Life was still good and my getting lost was not the end of the world. It could always be worse, one of my favorite things to say in life, as cheesy as it sounds.

Around mile 22, I got another small joy and victory seeing my friend Ashley, one of our CIM runner friends who cheered loudly for me as I ran through quiet Land Park neighborhood. Most of its residents did not know about the marathon, for it was barely advertised. I already got over being upset for running such a quiet marathon with almost no cheering, so I decided to withdraw in my Zen universe: my strong mind. I had to pull some strings to finish strong.

After mile 23, I decided to leave any worries behind and run one mile at a time. I started to run in the 9s at mile 18 and continued that way till the finish line. My gluteal muscles were a little sore, but my knees were strong, so I kept running and looking forward to see my family and friends at the finish line. As I crossed Broadway Blvd., I got closer to the Capitol and 10th St., where the finish line was. I started to pick up my pace, realizing that I would finish in 4 hours! As I made a left to run towards the finish line, I saw my family! Sophia peeled away from my husband and ran next to me holding hands towards the finish line. She wore her white dress shoes, not her tennis shoes, but she kicked her legs high with delight, joy, and great pride to see her mom finish her second marathon. All my troubles had drifted away like summer clouds. I laughed and smiled as we ran together. This was definitely the most favorite and cherished moment of the marathon!

Crossing the Finish Line

Pic taken by Alex Micsa, our son and my favorite race photographer
Pic taken by Alex Micsa, our son and my favorite race photographer

Our son Alex was running on the sidewalk and took tons of pictures of me crossing the finish line. He has been an amazing race photographer in many of my races. I kept waving and smiling at him with great joy and gratitude. I also saw my husband hurry towards the finish line, as I seriously picked up my pace and crossed the finish line in 4:00:11. I finished second in my age group, which I never expected! This was my pleasant surprise of the marathon. Award_PonyExpress_16

What a great marathon and PR! I did it! Boston will have to wait till I will run the CIM this December. I lost and found myself during my second marathon. I made my own history of humility, serenity, composure, determination, strength, and inner peace. Pony-up, Sacramento! Kick up those hooves!


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