Adventuring with Alia

Chronicles of a distance runner

Holy wow, it’s been awhile!


The last time I posted, I was scrambling to get my wandering ass back from the mountains of Mammoth and into San Francisco for an interview, the longest distance I had raced to date was a mere 10k, and I had access to a sun-spotted, but well-functioning car.

…now, I’m five weeks into a full-time internship at a PR agency in the Financial District of San Francisco, in my first week of down-time post-marathon, and simultaneously holding my breath and pleading with a finicky car battery each time I attempt to start my ’96 Toyota Camry.

My, how quickly life can change!

Never a dull moment, that is for damn sure.

Life in San Francisco

My experience in the city so far has definitely been an adventure in itself.

I’ve been interning for the tech/gaming/consumer electronics public relations gurus over at TriplePoint PR. No, I don’t know a damn thing about gaming, but I am getting a crash course in tech PR.

Honestly, I couldn’t have asked for a more welcoming, knowledgeable, kick-ass group of professionals to be surrounded by while I get my own professional feet wet.

I’m definitely still settling in, enjoying the colorful scenery/people that the city has to offer, and getting used to an exorbitantly different paced life than I was living. Between work and training, I haven’t been left with a hell of a lot of free time to fully explore, but I’m looking forward to having a little more time to play with.


A bit of random street art on my commute into work via Muni. 

So far, I think one of my favorite parts of San Francisco has been living in what has to be a people-watching hotspot and discovering its widely distributed oddities, like the sign I pass on almost every run from my apartment, pointing me in the way of ‘nipple justice.’

I’m not exactly sure what nipple justice is, but I’m pretty sure that I want it.

Marathon Business

Ah, the marathon: a distance that even those who know next to nothing about distance running regard with devout respect.

The 26.2 mile race obviously calls on endurance-based athletes for the challenge. Almost immediately after I began running, it became evident that my strength in the sport lies within, well, my strength.

During my brief years of high school running, my two mile mark was far superior to my mile. My collegiate years didn’t prove to be too much different, generally yielding superior 10k marks than my 5k attempts.

In other words, I’m about as endurance-geared as they come. The transition to the distance was definitely a long-anticipated one for me.

I managed my first semblance of a season outside of collegiate athletics this fall. In fact, I managed it pretty damn well, and got myself into arguably the best shape I’ve ever enjoyed. As an athlete, you really can’t ask for much more than that in terms of growth.

I ran some low-key cross country races and a strong half-marathon mid-November, but kept my eyes on December 2, when the gun would go off for the California International Marathon.

Now, here’s the thing. December is a known winter month. I have personally come to associate December with the holidays, long coats, scarves, hats, heated blankets, peppermint lattes, and about 23 separate renditions of “Santa Claus is comin’ to town.”

Christmas music aside, to me, December=Cold.

Simple enough, right?

Here’s the thing. Predicting weather in Northern California has proven to be tricky and/or impossible. Sometimes the winter months are rainy/windy/cold, and sometimes they feel like the first day of autumn.

December 2, 2012 was both. Unfortunately the latter of the two weather varietals didn’t come until about a half hour after the race was done.

This year’s event will be remembered as one of “the storm” years of CIM, with flooding and 30 mph winds to hammer through. Some of the buses didn’t make it to the start line in time because of accidents caused due to flooding, and apparently part of the race was re-routed at a certain point because of a down power line.

Despite the less than perfect conditions, I managed a 9th place 2:44.22 debut, and enough excitement to have me dreaming about what kind of marks I can get after in better conditions and with gained experience.


Photo Credit: Gary Towne

I left the race with a severe fear of stairs for the next several days, a purple toe nail, and an ear-to-ear grin that sure as hell is carrying me over into my next round of training.


Enjoying a mimosa post-race…because I’m classy like that. And lucky enough to have my high school friend Michaela brave the conditions and make it to greet me at the finish line!


I’ve experienced huge shifts in life within the past half year, kicking it all off by bidding the student lifestyle adieu and jumping into a wonderful stint of travel and non-location specific living. Then (slightly unexpectedly), I got my foot in the door professionally, interviewed, accepted a position, and started the 40 hour-a-week life within less than a three week span.

I wish I could say that I’ve effortlessly jumped into my new life in San Francisco.

I wish I could say that I’ve instantly perfected the balance of full-time work and intensive training.

I wish I could say that I’ve mastered the art of time-travel, managed to live out several lives in the span of one normal one, and have been nominated for a Nobel prize.

…I could go on for awhile.

Pure and simple, the change has been a lot to take in, and has definitely been the most drastic life shift I’ve experienced in awhile. More than ever, I’ve been forced to evaluate my priorities, what makes and keeps me happy, and ultimately take responsibility for them.

You know what? Life could be a hell of a lot worse.

Just because it isn’t easy doesn’t mean it isn’t good. To say that I’m “learning a lot” seems a gross understatement of the concept. And isn’t that what life is all about-learning?

A little cliché, but clichés stand for a reason, right?


Author: Alia Teixido Gray

I like reading, writing, running, and drinking coffee. Lots of it.

10 thoughts on “Holy wow, it’s been awhile!

  1. this is awesome Alia! Sounds like you’re doing well…I hope I get to see you over Christmas!

  2. Right! Bravo and nipple justice for all!

  3. Life is all about the Journey… not the destination. Embrace the Journey! I am so proud of you!

  4. Alia,

    Somehow I lost the link to this blog, so thank goodness I follow you on twitter! 🙂 Anyway, I’m not sure if GTowne will pass along my comments, but great first marathon! You have such a bright future in running as long as you continue to be excited about the opportunities that present themselves. If so, the road ahead of you looks great! At any rate, super proud and pumped about your first ‘thon and know that you’ll be in the 2:30’s well before you know it.

    Lastly, keep writing. I generally don’t read too many blogs, but I thoroughly enjoying reading yours. Hell, I even have it on my speed-dial! Boom! That’s saying something, so keep up the great writing! You rock, so keep rockin’ like all the other Chico Alumni I know.

    Vernon Ruiz

    • Thanks Vern, LOVE the support, and Mr. GTowne did actually pass along some comments! I’ve been having a blast so far, and the writing is a fun way to share that with everyone. Gotta get this blog on a schedule!

      Keep rockin’ yourself.

  5. Wow, Alia I am in total awe if you and all you have accomplished!!! And so much fun to read. …Write more! ❤ Nina

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