Conquered my run

This past Saturday, I ran my first race in two years. The last time I competed in any sort of race, it was the LA Marathon and that was to prove to myself that I could run 26.2 miles.

This weekend was all about setting the bar to compete against myself. I wanted to see how fast I could run a 5k so that I can start training to beat that time. As most of you know, I recently got back from two months of traveling in Europe (and if you don’t remember, refer to my most recent post here). I haven’t been this out of shape since before I started working out 7 years ago.

The last month and a half has been a lot of sweating and pouting over the fact that I’m not physically at where I used to be. However, regardless of how painful it was, I laced up my workout shoes 6 days a week and went for as long of a run as I could and as difficult of a weight training session as I could handle. I felt like I was in slow motion. Nothing seemed to be getting better. My strength wasn’t improving. My lungs weren’t burning any less.

Then one day, I didn’t notice the fact that my legs no longer felt like lead or that sweat wasn’t pouring down my face. Slowly but surely, I was getting back into the shape that I was before.

That’s what inspired me to run this weekends race. I wanted to set the bar for myself to have something to push for. It wasn’t about winning the race, but seeing where I was at so that I could work to beat myself.

But then I did win the race. And it felt pretty good.

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*Notice me yawning? It was 6:45 am. Give me a break.

To be fair, there were only 60-ish people running this race but still! I started off the run thinking “dear god, why did I stop drinking coffee right before this. I could really use the caffeine. It’s 6:45am on a Saturday. This is un-godly.” My legs felt heavy and under-used. To top it off, it’s been unseasonably hot in LA. Even at 7:00 am when the race started, it was 77 degrees with a hot breeze rolling through. People passed me and that was okay. I wasn’t in it to win it. I was in it to finish it.

My steady pace eventually brought me to the halfway point and my legs suddenly felt light and my energy high! I made the turn and I pushed myself to pass the 8-10 people in front of me. Eventually, I wiggled myself to the first place position. As I neared the finish line, I kept looking behind me, expecting someone to get a second wind and pull me out of the first position slot. But that didn’t happen. And I crossed that chalk finish line in first!

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I was greeted at the end by a small medal and an envelope for an hour long massage. Whaaaaat!

And I will need that massage. I walked home after the race and slept for an hour while the sun blazed to 95 degrees.

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And so did Trevor 🙂

So, I finished with a fairly decent time of 24:10 and room to improve!

Look forward to some posts on how to improve your own 5k PR as I work toward beating my own!

And remember, no matter what state of shape you are in now or how hard you have fallen off of the wagon… you can always get back to where you once were. Not a single person has ever said it will be easy (and if they did they’re liars) but don’t let the challenge hold you back from getting to where you want to be.

Now lets go PR!!

Conquer this.

It’s been a while.

I made my way through 14 countries and over 30 cities in Europe for two months over the summer. It was a crazy ride and something I’ve always wanted to do.

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Have you ever completed something that you’ve always wanted to do or see or experience? Sometimes you’re lucky enough to have it be everything you’ve imagined. This trip was that for me.

The one downside to having the life experience you’ve always wanted… What do you do after it’s over?

I went through a weird stage for a couple of weeks where I didn’t feel part of the picture back home. I was there, but I was just going through the motions. It was as if I wasn’t fully committed to anything I did because I knew I would wake up and be back on a rock in Loch Ness or free diving for sea urchins in Cinque Terre.

But this reality of being back home IS really life. One day, in a haze of under-appreciation of my current situation, I snapped out of it. I needed to get my life, my REAL life, back together.

I didn’t have much of an opportunity to workout while I was in Europe and eating healthy was a constant struggle (except that the app Happy Cow definitely saved me a few times) so I was out of shape. This probably contributed to my ghostly presence back home. I forgot about my passion for everything health, fitness and competition.

I slipped on my running shoes that had mostly only been recently used for traversing foreign streets and headed down to the strand for my first run.

It.

Was.

Miserable.

I haven’t been this out of shape since I started seriously working out 7 years ago. My chest was on fire and my muscles ached. I stopped after only a mile and nearly fainted on the ground.

Plenty of people have similar experiences like mine where you lose your way and try and find it back again. Whether it be having kids, a family loss, a big move, divorce or a new job…The initial struggle is discouraging and makes you wonder how you ever got past this in the first place. The important thing to remember is that you got past this before, you can do it again.

That was my mantra during my sad little one mile runs for the first few weeks. And then one day I pushed myself to two miles. It was hard, but I made it. And then a week went by, and I added in an extra half mile. My legs were screaming, but I pushed through it. My mom told me that while she was getting into running shape, she used me as her inspiration(click here for the full story). She said that if I could run 26.2 miles with no food, no sleep but a whole lot of will and determination, she could finish her extra 6 blocks of running.

My mom’s a smart lady. What’s that quote? Something about half the battle is with your own mind? I’m probably getting it terribly wrong, but you get the idea. My mom reminded me in that moment, yes, the pain is real and yes, it is going to be hard… but you can do it.

I’m not back into the shape I was before I left, but I decided to challenge myself and start training for speed, not distance. I signed up for my first 5k in a very long time to set the time bar and start my competition with myself again.

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I’m competing in this weekends “Conquer Our Run” 5k in Manhattan Beach. For any of you locals, come run with me or cheer me on as I attempt to get my groove back! And for any of you who have lost your health and fitness way, come join me! The first step is the hardest but making any move (whether it be graceful or not!) is better than no move at all.

See you at the start line 🙂

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No-Bake Hiking Cookies!!

HIKING COOKIES! Not volleyball cookies… but hiking cookies. They obviously can be eaten where ever you want, but I was trying to force my friend into going hiking with me today so I was bribing her with these non-bake “hiking” cookies. She insisted that they could be volleyball cookies (because she wanted to play volleyball) and I insisted that no, they were hiking cookies. So now, in tribute to my stubborn-ness, these cookies will forever be known as HIKING COOKIES!!

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They are ridiculously easy to make and packed with superfoods. When I eventually went on my hike today up at Runyon Canyon, I had just one of them for my “lunch-snack” and it completely filled me up. Because it isn’t baked, the enzymes and heat sensitive vitamins contained in the ingredients of the cookies are retained and therefore accessible for your body to soak up! Part of the ingredients must be heated slightly just to maintain a correct consistency, but its only for a minute and on a very low heat. The rest of the ingredients have no heat applied to them whatsoever.

 

Because of the hemp seeds and chia seeds, these “cookies” are high in protein and omega 3 to help power you through your day. Plus, it contains maca which not only regulates your hormones, but also boosts your fertility and libido. I bring these with me to work paired with a small piece of chicken and salad and it provides the perfect amount of sustained energy. Plus, they taste spectacular which is always a plus!

This recipe makes 12-13 cookies so it will easily last you a week of bringing them to work or school. Just make them on Sunday and enjoy your little healthy treat the rest of the week!

No-Bake Hiking Cookies

makes 12-13 cookies

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Ingredients:

1 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup chia seeds

3/4 cup almond butter (or peanut butter)

1/4 cup maple syrup (real maple syrup. not aunt jemimas)

1/4 cup almond milk

2 tablespoons maca powder

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

a pinch of salt

 

1. In a large bowl, mix the oats, cranberries, coconut, hemp seeds, chia seeds, cinnamon and salt.

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2. In a pan over low heat, mix the almond butter (or peanut butter) with the maple syrup and almond milk. It might be easiest to use a fork with this because it helps break apart the almond butter and  combine the ingredients.

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3. Once the ingredients are combined, turn the heat off and stir in the vanilla extract and maca powder.

4. Pour the wet mixture in with the dry and stir until combined.

5. Put a parchment paper sheet on a cookie sheet. Scoop two heaping tablespoons of the mixture and form into a cookie shape. Put onto the cookie sheet and repeat until the batter is gone.

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6. Once the cookies are all done, put them into the freezer for 1-2 hours and then transfer to a sealed container and put them into the fridge. They can be eaten for up to a month as long as they are kept in the fridge! Enjoy!

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I brought my cookies along during my hike with a friend and my dog on Runyon Canyon. Such a great hike on a beautiful Saturday morning! My friend (not typically a healthy food eater) LOVED the cookies! Go take a hike and bring the hiking cookies along with you!

1/2 Marathon/Full Marathon Tips: basically… don’t do what I did the first time

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The Asics LA Marathon registration opened this week so I thought it would be appropriate to give all you first time-marathoners some tips on how to prepare for one of the most mentally and physically challenging days of your life.

Before I give you the life-saving tips that you absolutely MUST listen to… let me tell you a little story about my first time training for the LA marathon…

It all started almost exactly two years ago when one day I was watching a movie and for some reason the thought popped into my head that I wanted to do the marathon. This may or may not be how most of you decided to run your first marathon, but I digress…

So up to this point I had done countless 5ks and sprint triathlons. I hadn’t really ever done long distance running but for some reason in that moment watching “Shawn of the Dead” I decided that running a marathon might or might not change my life.

With only a max of 8 miles under my belt as of that moment, I signed up for the LA marathon and started doing research on exactly how to go about this thing. I also signed up for a 1/2 marathon in my hometown at the same time that was the day after Christmas. I read three books, followed around 12 blogs about running and subscribed to runners world magazine. I knew pretty much all you could possibly know about running a marathon-in theory. I also worked my butt off during my 6 months of training. I never missed a single long run and I stuck to the schedule that I had laid out for myself. I even completely changed my diet to adhere to a more long distance running friendly workout schedule. I was 100% committed.

Then the first 1/2 marathon rolled around. I had done about 16 miles up to this point so I knew that I could do the 1/2 no problem. The race took place about 4 miles away from my house, so the morning of the race I got up at 5 am and did exactly what any other sane person wouldn’t do–I rode my bike with my parents to the race before running 13.1 miles. THANKFULLY the ride was mostly downhill so it didn’t tire me out before I had to run. I was so excited for my first long distance race and to put my training to the test.

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(The final 5k stretch of the half marathon. It was a really small race with only a couple hundred people, but you can’t beat that scenery!)

I ended up doing better than I expected on this race! I finished with a time of 2:01 (which isn’t remarkable, but I’m not a fast runner so I was proud). The one bad thing about this amazing race… it put my expectations up way too high for the marathon. And you’ll read this all over the internet when searching for tips on marathon training– run slower than you think you can; just focus on finishing for your first race; it’s a marathon not a sprint. And yet for some reason, we all seem to think that we’re different and that the advice doesn’t pertain to us. It does. It always does. Really. Trust me. Don’t make the mistake that I did.

So… what was my mistake?

I got cocky. The week before the marathon, I dropped my nutrition plan that I had been adhering to for the past 6 months and instead ate way more protein and way less carbs. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. They call the week before the big race the “carbo loading” week for a reason. So yeah, that was stupid mistake number 1.

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(At the LA marathon expo to get my number for the race. That’s my dad with me too. He’s a ridiculously proud dad and I love him! Quick side story- my dad flew out to Tucson-where I go to school- to be with me during my longest long run before the race. He biked 20 miles with me while I ran to keep my company. He’s amazing.)

Anyway, the night before the race, instead of eating my typical meal of sweet potatoes, tons of veggies and quinoa, I ate at a brand new restaurant that I had never eaten at before. Mistake number 2. Why is that a mistake you ask? Well the portions were tiny. And I was about to run 26.2 miles the next day… while burning about 2600 calories during one workout. I needed big portions. I also have a pretty sensitive stomach when it comes to being nervous. I can’t eat when I’m nervous. At all. So needless to say, the next morning at 3:30am when I woke up for the race, I was nervous and bailed on my normal breakfast. I was scared that I would throw up or something because my stomach was so upset. Mistake number 3. ALWAYS EAT BEFORE YOU RUN 26.2 MILES!!! Now that’s just common sense.

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(Me at the very start of the race. Just before everything went to sh*t)

Mistake number 5: Obviously I knew that not eating before this huge workout was a bad idea. So at the start of the race, I tried to force some bagels and bananas that they had available for us down my throat. I don’t eat bagels. I haven’t eaten a bagel in years. And yet I ate one before the biggest workout of my life. Don’t do that. DON’T CHANGE YOUR DIET AT ALL RIGHT BEFORE THE RACE!!

So that was dumb.

You might be asking, what other POSSIBLE mistakes could you have made?

Well, you know those GUs that long distance runners are supposed to eat in order to give them glucose to refill their glycogen stores? I made my own because I didn’t like all the junk that was in the premade ones. That isn’t the bad idea part. The bad idea is that I had never practiced holding onto them while running to make sure nothing bad could happen. Well it turns out something bad can happen. All of my GUs that I had prepared exploded in my little runners belt. I was running on almost no food other than a few bites of bagel before a 26.2 mile run. You know those days when you try to run and it feels like your legs are made of lead and you can barely get them to leave the ground? That’s what I felt like for 26.2 miles. I had been expecting to finish with a time of around 4 hours and 20 minutes (because of my first time during the half). I ended up finishing at 5 hours and 11 minutes. I have never experienced such agonizing pain in my life. I was running so slow that even this little man wearing mini shorts and power-walking was beating me! I’m still so amazed that I was even able to finish in the first place. As soon as I stopped running after I crossed the finish line, it felt like tiny daggers were piercing each and every section of my legs. The full WEEK I could barely walk. The part that’s absolutely absurd is that when I did my 20 mile run, I felt great! That means I could’ve had a way more incredible experience my first time if I had just followed a few SIMPLE tips…

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(Right after I finished the race. You might be able to tell that my nose and eyes are red from trying to hold back tears of absolute pain)

PLEASE FOLLOW THESE TIPS IF YOU PLAN ON RUNNING A MARATHON!!!

1. Don’t change your diet!!

Once you’ve found a way of eating that works with your body and allows you to do long runs with full energy, DON’T SWITCH IT UP!!! Trust me. You don’t want tiny daggers piercing your leg muscles from a lack of glycogen stores.

2. Practice eating and running with your GUs during the long runs.

You really don’t want to have any explosion issues like I did. The race does provide you with GUs, but not until mile 20 or 21, so trust me, you’ll want your own.

3. You’re running a MARATHON. Not a sprint.

Even if you felt great during your 20 mile practice run and you think you can push yourself, just don’t do it. Running 26.2 miles is pushing yourself. At least for the first one, run waaaaay slower than you think you can run. You’re legs will thank you at the end. Nobody really cares what your time is anyway. When you say you ran a marathon, people are already amazed at that ridiculous accomplishment.

4. Even if you don’t feel like eating the night before or the morning of… EAT.

You read my horror story of not eating. Don’t let that be you. It’s terrible and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

5. You’re running a marathon… have some fun!

The ONLY reason I was able to complete my marathon is because I had family members riding their bikes next to me while I was running to keep me going. That, and I ran with “Marathon Man” (if you don’t know who he is, look him up. He’s one amazing man.) for about 3 miles and he really pushed me to keep going even though I wanted to just lay down on the ground and melt away. Talk to other people around you. Everyone is excited to be running the race and most people are doing it on their own, so find someone to be your race buddy. The miles go by a lot faster when you have someone distracting you.

Running the LA marathon was one of the most physically and mentally challenging experiences of my life. I didn’t expect myself to get emotional when I crossed the finish line, but as I rounded the corner for the last 1/4 mile stretch and saw that the end was in sight, I broke down and cried the rest of the way. I was crying because I was in pain, yeah, but mostly I was crying because my six months of dedication and training had paid off. I was about to cross the finish line and be a “marathoner”. I did it and no one could ever take that away from me. To all of you who are starting your months of grueling training know this: It’s all so worth it.