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Open Mic Friday: Meet Julia of Chocolate Shoestrings


Get your cup of coffee and sit down to enjoy an interview with a high-energy interview. 

Known for her blog, Chocolate Shoestrings, our guest is Julia, who is preparing for her first marathon.  Just by reading her experiences you'll feel her enjoyment for running and for discovering new lessons about her running--and her unabashed love for chocolate.

Welcome Julia!

Cimg1202u What’s the story behind the name "Chocolate Shoestrings" you’ve selected for your blog?

Would you believe me if I told you the name Chocolate Shoestrings came to me in a dream? It’s too wacky of a story to make up!

I had been thinking of starting a running blog for a couple of weeks, but hadn’t the slightest clue what to name it. One random night I dreamt about blogging, and in my dream I called it Chocolate Shoestrings. Totally random, I know, but I have really vivid, ornate dreams sometimes. Had I come up with the name in my conscious thoughts, I would have named it Chocolate Shoelaces, because that’s a more common word. But I really liked it, so I went with it. It highlights the two loves of my life; running and chocolate! (and yes, I have run and eaten chocolate at the same time!)

As readers, we’re having fun reading about your preparation for the Santa Barbara International Marathon.  How is your marathon training going?

Training is just about to get intense now. I am now in the 16+ miles zone. I’m terrified and excited at the same time. But I have a great training partner who keeps me entertained on the runs, so the miles don’t seem too long. Some things we do to make time pass is sing songs, pretend we’re running along some exotic location, think of the yummy foods to eat post-run, and the best one is fighting. Boy does that get your blood pumping! Haha (I’m only joking…. Kind of!)

Medal Why did you select Santa Barbara above others?

The Santa Barbara marathon was an easy choice for me. For one thing, I’ve been living in Santa Barbara for over five years now. Santa Barbara is where I first learned how to run, and is where I do 99% of my running.Also, it is going to be the first ever marathon in Santa Barbara. That made my decision easy for me. I didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity to run my first marathon in the inaugural marathon in my city! I feel like both the city and I are popping our marathon cherries together! Haha. Plus, I get to practice the course every week, and I am hoping that will give me some home turf advantage! And when James my boyfriend/training partner decided he wanted to run it too, it was a no brainer.

What are you most excited about running Santa Barbara?  Most nervous about?

I am most excited about being able to call myself a “marathoner”. Running a marathon is a huge milestone for me. I had thought that only gnarly, hard-core, professional runners ran marathons. I had no idea that regular old people like me could run in them! I’m excited to see what my body and willpower is capable of. I’m also excited for the bragging rights, slapping a “26.2” bumper sticker on my car, and eating a mountain of pancakes and donuts post-run!

I’m most nervous about fitting in enough runs without getting injured. I feel like right when I get into the groove of things, I get sick, life gets too chaotic, or a bummer like tendonitis happens. But, I’m trying not to get bummed out about it, and just enjoy each run whenever I can fit it in. My goal for the marathon is merely to survive it! Haha. If I can enjoy it on top that, well, that would be like having the cake and eating it too!

Beach What are some key things you’ve learned about yourself and about running since starting your training for marathon?

One thing that I’ve had slapped in my face again and again are all my muscular imbalances and weaknesses. I thought I was relatively fit, but I had no idea my lower back was as tight as my purse strings and that my hips were so weak. This led to a pinched nerve in my spine and tendinitis in my right knee.

This was a wake up call that reminded me of the importance of stretching and strengthening all my ‘inner” muscles, not just the biceps, abs, and butt that I went to the gym for. Running has made me more aware of the intricate relationships between all the muscles, food, sleeping patterns, and the mental and emotional fluctuations I have. I have a tremendous newfound respect for my body.

Favorite chocolate foods?

Wow. How do I even answer this question? Hmmm….. Chocolate is an entire food group for me. One time in college, I went a whole week eating nothing but chocolates. Reese’s PB cups, Butterfingers, Hershey’s bars, Kit Kats…. Of course, it ended up being a horrible idea and I felt sooooo bad by the end of the week! Haha. But that just shows you how much I love me some chocolate.

Right now, I don’t eat nearly as much chocolate as I used to (it’s not that conducive to running well) but my all-time favorites include the Apple Pie Truffle from See’s Candies, Milky Way Bars, brownies, and Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Therapy. Oh boy oh boy oh boy is that ice cream delicious!

Couple What would your family and friends tell us about your passion for running?

I’m still new to running, so my friends and family are mainly surprised to find out that I’m a)even running, and b) racing long distances. My mom is freaked out about my health (maybe she thinks running is bad for my me?). My brother, a man of few words, said “good for you”. My father, who is an avid cyclist and runner, has been pleasantly surprised. My boyfriend and housemate have since picked up the running bug as well. Maybe I am contagious!

Any quirky running traits?

I am incapable of rounding up my distances when I run. My boyfriend makes fun of me about the time I got sooooo upset at only running 9.99 miles when we had planned to run 10. A 9.99 mile run is NOT a 10 mile run. (Even if it's only a difference of 10 steps!)

And when I run on the treadmill or with my Garmin, I have an inability to randomly finish my run. I can’t stop at 5.18 miles. I can stop at 5.0, or 5.25, but not 5.18. I don’t know why, but I only want to stop at convenient quarter mile marks, or a specific distance, like 5K, or 10K. So if I get back to my house at 5.18 miles, I’ll have to run a little bit past my run to make it 5.25. Yeah. Go ahead. Call me a weirdo! J

What have you not done with your running that you’re still looking forward to?

 I would like to start doing triathlons.

What gets you excited about running?

The runner’s high! And the fact I get to stuff my face with pancakes  :)

What’s your secret to running success?

I think having races to prepare for has been a key to my “success”. Without concrete goals, I don’t know if I’d be able to stick to any sort of running plan for too long. Having a race to look forward to keeps me on track, and thinking of finishing that crossing line gets me through the tough runs. I think if anyone is interested in starting running, signing up for a race of any distance is great motivation to help you get off that couch!

Favorite distance?

10K. It has all the makings of a great drama. There’s a beginning, a middle, a climax, and an end. A 5K is too short for all the intricate complexities. A 15K drags on too long. 10K is just perfect; you have the slow beginning. You pick up a little speed, get into the groove, and zone out. You see the end is near and kick it up into high gear, letting out grunts and panting hard. You sprint to the finish, and have a nice warm down. 10K gives me enough time to think, to lose myself, to love running, and to hate running, all in a nice little package.

Current running goals?

To not die in the marathon!

Market Non-running and non-blogging interests?

I absolutely love to cook and experiment in the kitchen. I actually think I enjoy the process of cooking more than the act of eating. I’m just a “throw everything together’ kind of cook; measuring cups and spoons don’t exist in my kitchen. Even when I bake, I don’t measure anything, and yet everything still turns out great! It’s so much fun to try different ingredients and flavors. I mean, who would’ve thought that barbeque sauce and teriyaki sauce tasted so good combined? Or curry powder and barbeque sauce? Or ketchup in your marinara sauce? If I had a few extra thousand dollars lying around, I would loooooove to attend culinary school some day!

What is one unique thing about you that most people don't know?

That my body represents three different countries on three different continents. My dad is from Denmark, my mom is from Japan, and I was born in the USA. I’m proud to be a hapa :)

What’s going on in your life outside of running?

I just got back from a great trip to Hawaii. Hawaii is my absolute favorite place in the world, and I am currently busy scheming plans to move there! If there is a job that could combine my love of running, exercise, and Hawai’i, I’d move in a heartbeat!

I’m also moving out of my house today… moving boxes counts as exercise, right?

Road If money could buy you a running dream, what would it be?

I would pre-pay all the registration fees and travel and lodging expenses for all my “dream” races. Those races include the Honolulu Marathon, the Disney Princess races, the Kauai Half Marathon, and all the California wine country races. And I would buy a different running outfit for all the races!
Best running advice you’ve ever been given?

Nicole from the Marathon of Life suggested to me to put a Shot Block in my mouth and just nibble at it slowly, instead of eating it all in one bite. This is seriously a genius idea. I once nibbled on one shot block for two whole miles. It’s like candy in your mouth, and just having that sweetness makes the miles pass by much more enjoyably.

Best running advice you’d like to share?

Go get a running gait test and get properly fitted for your shoes! Running in the wrong shoe can really hurt. I recently found out the hard way, when after 4 months of running in stability shoes, my feet stated to hurt. Turns out I need neutral shoes. It was such a D’uh moment.

                                                    Thank you, Julia!

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heather C

great interview Julia!!! I loved reading about some of your "outside of running" stuff :) Congrats, again, on the Maui half!


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