running in a rut.

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(stuck) in a rut: kept in an established way of living or working that never changes.

I never thought it would happen to me. After running consistently (every week and sometimes daily) for over 3 years I’ve finally managed to get myself in a running rut. Blame it on no upcoming races on my calendar. Blame it on no motivation. Blame it on the streak of 100 plus degree days that we had last week, but I am here. And I don’t like it. I feel fat and lazy and unaccomplished. And now with a batch of blood work, x-rays and an MRI, I feel like I’m being forced to take it down a notch. My doctor even called me last night and actually told me not to work out for the next couple of days due to the results of my most recent blood work. Sigh.

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Like Disneyland, running used to be my happy place. And the sad thing is, I haven’t even been going to Disneyland as much anymore.

Maybe I need to find a new happy place? (insert sad face here…..)

I need to be happy with where I am, not where I think I should be. My slow and steady progress with running has me frustrated. Without the atmosphere of The Happiest Place on Earth, I feel lost. Maybe it’s time to make a change?

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If any of you really know me, I despise change. I drag my feet and leave kicking and screaming…… until I realize that the new thing/place/experience is actually okay. And then I realize….

Why didn’t I do this a long time ago?!?

My problem is, lots of times I don’t listen to my intuition. I think that others know better. I feel like society pushes me in a different direction. And then there’s the bigger reason…. I feel fear. Fear of the unknown stops me dead in my tracks. Keeps me in my rut. But what was it that Nietzsche said?

nietzsche

After I get my health issues straightened out, I think I need to put on my favorite pair of Brooks Pure Flows, put Kanye’s “Stronger” on repeat and just go. Find a new route. Do more yoga. Run some trails. And then maybe I’ll find my new happy place.

oldandnew

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running as a means of transportation.

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Yesterday I challenged myself to do a run with a purpose. My XTerra was in the shop and my husband was out of town. My goal? To run from my house to the Nissan dealership to pick it up. I mapped out a course on Map My Run and found that it was close to 8 miles. Very doable. I decided to plan my route based on the way that I drive every day to take my son to school so I would be really familiar with the streets and wouldn’t have to worry about which direction to go. I had been on these streets hundreds of times. I was excited. I felt challenged. I couldn’t wait for the next day when I could tackle my goal.

Then the next day came and I wondered if my goal was smart. After all, if something happened to my son halfway through my run, I’d be stuck. If I got injured or something I’d be stranded. All of my friends were busy and/or working/not available. I then had a thought that maybe I should just wait for my husband to get home so that he could drive me there to pick it up…. It would only be one more day. I almost chickened out. But then I decided to think of it as a little more than a 10k or a little less than a half marathon, both distances I have tackled before. I just had to get out of my own head.

So, I decided to give it a try.

After work, I filled up my water bottles, strapped on my hydration belt, grabbed my Garmin and headed out the door. It was noon. I had 4 ½ hours until I had to pick up my son from school. Plenty of time. I felt myself stalling. I kept on forgetting things (headphones, visor, sunglasses). Finally I made myself just go.

The first few miles flew by (oh, I just did a 5k!). Then around mile 4 ½ I saw some dude make a beeline to cross the street, in the middle of the street, when he saw me. It looked like he wanted to say something to me but I just picked up the pace and didn’t make eye contact. As soon as he was out of sight I stopped to walk so that I could catch my breath. Then I picked up the pace again for another half a mile until I knew that I was far enough away from him.

A mile later, I stopped at my son’s school to refill my water bottles. I only had 2 ½ more miles to go, but I didn’t want to repeat my urgent care IV experience. A half a mile later, I saw the Tustin Nissan shuttle van stopped at a light! I had thoughts of just running over to him and asking him for a ride! But then I thought “no, you’ve come this far, don’t give up”. I kept going.

The rest of the run was simple. I made it to the dealership, all sweaty and flushed, picked up my truck and headed home. I felt so proud of myself that I went to Provisions and had a celebratory beer.  Okay, maybe I had two.

A few notes afterward:

– Even though I had traveled the route dozens of times before, I had never paid attention to the sidewalks and pedestrian routes. There were places that the sidewalk disappeared or wasn’t safe. There were some places where utilities made it difficult to run (meters, utility poles, drains, etc.). If you’re thinking about running a new route, drive it in a car first to make sure that there are safe places to run. Unless you like the adventure of running in the street…… I do not.

– Make sure that you plan your route on well traveled streets. I chose streets that were well traveled but they weren’t very residential. High concrete walls enclosing developments and bridges over freeways made me feel isolated.

– I made sure to text my husband to let him know when I was leaving and told him that I would text him when I got there. I also spoke with the receptionist at my son’s school and told her my plan (she was both impressed and shocked). I wanted to have points of contact in case, heaven forbid, anything happened.

– Always wear your RoadID.

Afterwards, I told my husband that it was totally a mental thing for me to do that run and he asked me why. I told him that I felt completely on my own and that although I had done that short distance many times, it wasn’t a protected route, like on a race course.

I know, I know, sounds like a lame excuse. And maybe it is. But somehow I feel more confident as a runner. Maybe I need to step out of my comfort zone a little more to become better. I now know that I can rely on my running shoes to get me somewhere in a pinch if I need to. And that makes me feel stronger.

The ironic thing about my trip…. As soon as I left the parking lot of the car dealership, the shuttle van was pulling in.

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i am lazy.

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I’ll be the first to admit, when it comes to fitness, I am lazy. I need a motivator, like a trip or an event to get in shape. I love to run, but the motivation isn’t there for me to completely push myself. Sure, I want to PR every race, because it shows that I’m getting better, but some goals in my mind are unattainable right now. I still haven’t conquered the “mind over matter” thing with every aspect to running. Like right now, I see no way how I can complete a full marathon, a triathlon or even a duathlon (nor do I have any plans to sign up for one any time soon). I even have this shirt that proves how lazy I am……

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I have to be honest with myself though. Right now, I’m not willing to do what it takes to ”step up my game”. There are certain things that I like too much:

– I love beer
– I don’t watch what I eat
– I do not follow a fat free, gluten free, caisson free, whatever free diet
– I drink a lot of coffee
– I don’t drink enough water (beer has water in it, right?)
– I don’t cross train enough

Ok, that’s enough for now, since just compiling that list made me feel worse about myself. And I’ll also admit, in the midst of all this, all of this makes me feel like less of a runner. Who cares if I’ve completed seven races so far this year, four of them being half marathons? I remember reading one post last year that has stuck with me, “half marathon = half assed”, and it really made me mad. But what I can’t seem to get over is ”why does it make me mad”? Really, in the grand scheme of things, who cares what they think? I’m not running for them. I’m not trying to compete with them. And hell, if they’re that ignorant to say such a thing, I don’t even want to be them. I feel sorry for them, that they can’t accept lowly half marathoners as people who just want to do their best too. Anyway, I digress. My main point is:

henry ford

And right now, I don’t think I can. Maybe I’m afraid to fail. Maybe I’m afraid it will hurt. Maybe I’m afraid of trying something new. But then again “WHY”?

To be continued……… (yes, my truck needs a bath)

all the way

best birthday ever.

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A few weeks ago I turned 40.  And ran a half marathon on my birthday.  Through Disneyland.  With my twin sister.  It was her first one.  What could be better?!?!

It was honestly my best birthday ever.

#1 I have never run a half marathon on my birthday.

#2 I haven’t spent my birthday with my twin since our 30th.

#3 My dad surprised me and came out to to visit from Ohio!

#4 I got to spend my birthday at my favorite place, Disneyland!!!!

As soon as I got my sis to agree to a half marathon with me I KNEW it would be special. Especially since it would be her first runDisney race too!  AND our 40th birthday?  C’mon, how often does THAT happen?!?

I started off my race weekend as Princess Leia, running the Tinker Bell 10k with my husband, who was Han Solo.  We got a lot of compliments from the Cast Members.  We got some awesome pics in front of the Castle and with some characters.  My favorite was the girls from The Haunted Mansion.  They looked EXACTLY like the images from the Stretching Room and sounded and acted like them too!  Then, after the race, we checked into our hotel (only a few miles away from our house, lol) and my DAD showed up, surprising me with a visit from OHIO!!!!  My husband and dad has been texting all week long about him coming to visit.  What a great surprise!!

Sunday morning greeted me with a 3am wake up call.  Time for me to transform into Mickey and my twin as Donald (I made her costume for her).  I wanted her to be her favorite Disney character for her first runDisney race, just as I was for mine last year (Goofy).  We got to our corral and we were off.  We ran right past my hotel too, so my husband, son and dad were able to cheer us on!

We made friends with our Clif Bar pace runner, Mike, and were able to meet up with him at mile 13.  He was so cool to get to know and talk to throughout the race.  I’m glad that I was able to find him on Facebook.

At the end of the race, my sister said “So that’s it?!?” (haha).  I was so proud of her.  After making it through the finish line crowd, I heard someone calling my name.  Throughout the race, I was giving my co-workers updates as to when we would finish.  Little did I know, they had a birthday surprise waiting for us.  A donut cake, birthday sash, pin and a bunch of strangers singing “happy birthday” to us.  What a wonderful surprise.  A special thanks to the girls of Sparkle Athletic for making my 40th extra special.

The next day I got to visit more with my sister and dad and we had some yummy breakfast birthday cake.  After that, the clock struck midnight and my sister had to leave.  The next day my dad left.  I want to be 40 all over again.

The consolation?  I’m running with my sister for her second half marathon in 2 weeks and I even got my husband to sign up for one.

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power in numbers.

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Since it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything I thought, what better time than New Year’s Eve?!?  It’s a time when we all reflect on the past year and try to figure out how to make the following year even better.  But before I delve into all of that, I wanted to thank everyone who has pushed me to become better.  I want to thank those who accepted my love of running and those who were willing to push themselves to become better.  StrongerMore confident.

It all started for me about a year ago.  I had a neighbor who had been pestering me to do a half marathon with her for years.  Finally, in the second week of January, 2013, I accepted her invitation.  Two weeks before the race.  If it wasn’t for Annie and Sasha, I probably would not have done that first half marathon.  And now they’ve pushed me to complete more.  Two weeks after my first half, I ran another one.

I gave my running bug to my best friend and a good mom friend of mine, who completed their first 5k’s this year.  One of them is already signed up for another race.

I ran with my twin sister in her first 5k last March and pushed her to strive for more also.  Since then, she’s signed up for multiple 5k’s and we ran in our first 12k together this past month.  In January, I’ll be running with her for her first half marathon, on our 40th birthday.  What could be better?

I’ve also gotten my husband to run in more races with me.  I’m even getting him in the spirit of dressing up for them.  A little #TeamSparkle goes a long way…..

I’d like to think that I’m the catalyst for all of this, but I can’t take all the credit.

“If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together.. there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

Winnie the Pooh said it best.  All we need is one spark of an idea, one suggestion from a friend, one small belief that we can do it! And that’s all it takes.  We can fly.  In the running world (as with anything else),

there is power in numbers.

So on to my own goals for 2014.  Last year my goal was to run in at least one race every month in 2013.  I almost reached it.  Since I did not run a race in the month of June, I ran the equivalent of a 6k by myself at the beach.  I completed 3 more half marathons than I thought I would.

In 2014 I hope to complete more half marathons and join the Half Fanatics club.  So far I’ve got 4 half marathons scheduled, just in the first 3 months.  I may even push myself to do the SoCal Ragnar Relay.  Talk about doing something out of my comfort zone.  Now what to do for the rest of 2014?  Only time will tell.

Congrats to all of my running friends who made all of their dreams come true in 2013.  Here’s to a new year of hitting the pavement, the trails and the timing mats!

zen and the art of sparkling through life.

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This post is long overdue…

A few weeks and ago I participated in my second Stair Climb for Los Angeles with all proceeds benefiting the Ketchum-Downtown YMCA.  And the money in this area makes a difference to the community.  Each step helps raise vital funds to support critical programs for children, teens, families and seniors in the community.

75 stories, nearly 1,700 steps to the top of the U.S. Bank building.  Last year I did not do any training and finished in 30 minutes.  This year I beat my time but next year I know that I can do better.  I have to admit that my Sparkle Athletic skirt helped me race to the top.  When the emcee announcing my ascent commented “Oh look how awesome your outfit is!  I bet she doesn’t even sweat!”, I replied with “I don’t sweat I SPARKLE!”.  Check this awesome, comfy sparkly goodness out for yourself at http://www.sparkleathletic.com.

This year we had an earlier start time so the crowd at the base of the building was minimal.  We had two teams climbing on behalf of Enemy Cat Productions.  There’s a whole street shut down with food trucks, a beer tent, a live band on stage and vendors.  Afterwards we always go to a dive bar in downtown LA called La Cita (www.lacitabar.com).  We meet with a group of friends that are kind of our groupies (they hang out and support us but don’t climb).  At one point one of our friends cornered me at our booth and said to me “So how do you do it?”.  “Do what?” I responded.  “Climb these stairs, run half marathons, keep such a good attitude about it?”.

Honestly, I don’t know.  I just DO.

She told me that she really admired me.  I was flattered!  I told her that one day I just decided to run a half marathon.  One day I just decided to take on climbing the top of the tallest building in LA.  One day I just decided to start running.  It seems so easy to me when I think about it.  But then some things for me aren’t so easy.  Doing things like races are pretty physical but also a lot of it is mental.  I need to figure out how to apply that same mental grit to my every day life.  Sometimes when I’m running I’m in a zen-like state.  I get goose bumps at the starting line.  I love seeing a sea of people in front of me all bobbing up and down.  I love the sprint to the finish line.  If only I could apply this type of thinking to my every day experiences.

I think if I added more Sparkle to every day then I could accomplish anything.  J

eyes on the prize.

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Ever since I caught a glimpse of it, I knew that I had to try for it.

The pink Coast to Coast Medal.

I thought, “I would love to have a C2C some day”, why not try for the pink one?  These thoughts started swirling through my head as soon as I signed up for Tinker Bell 2014.  “What if” I thought.  Soon after that, I forgot (or tried to forget) all about the pretty, shiny thing because I thought it wouldn’t be possible.

Now here I am, newly signed up with Noah’s Light Foundation, ready to give it a try.

It’s an awesome organization.  They raise money to help fight pediatric brain cancer, a devastating condition that we too often think about as something that doesn’t happen to kids.  But it does.  Of the approximately 4,200 children diagnosed with these lethal tumors (of which approximately 2,000 are brain cancers) each year, fewer than 20 percent will survive (this statistic is taken directly from NLF website: http://www.noahslightfoundation.org/).

While I am excited to be a part of this great organization, I am anxious.  I most likely will be making the trip by myself, as we cannot afford the trip for our whole family.  I need to raise a lot of money in order to make this happen. The last time I raised such an amount was ten years ago when I participated in the Breast Cancer 3 Day.  I have not been to Walt Disney World/Epcot in 20 years, so I have no idea what to expect, where to go, or how to get around.

But here I am, facing all of these unknowns, for a simple mental and physical (and financial) goal.  All of which are nothing compared to what the children and their families have to endure.

Here is the link to my personal donation page:

https://www.noahslightfoundation.org/donate/index.php/component/civicrm/?task=civicrm/pcp/info&reset=1&id=180

recreating the magic.

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The Disneyland Half Marathon weekend is over.  I did it.  I completed two more runDisney races and earned three more medals.  And it was rough.  The heat was excruciating.  I ran out of water.  Twice.  My friend who signed up to do the race with me was able to keep a faster pace so I let her go on without me.  So somewhere around mile 7, I ran alone.  All the way to the end.  Something else I didn’t expect to do.  It was hard.

My first half marathon was a runDisney race.  It was the day after my birthday and the weather was considerably cooler.  Comfortable.  The entire race was magical.  It’s the first time that I ran entire race while smiling.  The expo was relaxing.  Everything about the experience was so wonderful, that I was hoping to recreate that experience for the Disneyland Half Marathon weekend.

After this weekend, I realized that for some experiences, you just can’t recreate that magic.  Some experiences live in the history of your life just as magical moments.  All of the stars and the planets and the angels align and make that one thing so special.  Like my favorite Dave Matthews Band concert where they played all of my favorite songs.  Now every time I go to another one of their concerts, I expect to have that same experience.  It has not happened since.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, maybe I should look at my experiences differently.  Maybe I should stop trying to recreate the magic and work more on creating new experiences. There are things to be learned.  Like after running in the humidity and the heat this weekend, maybe I can endure a race at Walt Disney World to get that coveted Coast to Coast medal.  Maybe I can even push myself even more.  Sometimes I don’t know what I am capable of and I’m afraid to find out.

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(self induced) stress.

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I am no veteran to runDisney races.  I only have two under my belt.  After this weekend I will have added two more.  I love Disneyland and I love to run.  For my first experience, I didn’t know what to expect.  And since I had no preconceived notions or expectations, it was awesome.  Now that I have (limited) experience, I feel so much pressure and stress! (All brought on by myself of course).  First, there’s the “putting together of the costume”.  I mean, you don’t have to run in costume, but what the heck, right?  You choose your favorite Disney character or your favorite super hero or whatever and you can get away with it for these races.  (Themed races seem to be all the rage these days, but that’s another post for another day.)

So I’ve been planning my costume ideas for months only to find that my original idea is not working out so well.  So I’m trying to come up with another solution, but I really only have 2 working days left.  Anyway…..

Then there’s the “GET TO THE EXPO VERY EARLY SO THAT YOU CAN GET THE MERCHANDISE THAT YOU WANT!!!!” threats.  I had early access to the expo for my last experience and it was really nice.  This time I’m not so lucky, so now I’m stressing about that.  And the lines and the crowds.  You might say “well why in the h*ll did you sign up for the races in the first place then?!?!?”.  Well it’s because….

I love Disneyland and I love to run.

I realized that the less I know about something, the less I stress about it.  When you lop on all sorts of information?  That’s when I start to get information overload and start to stress out.  Take my virgin experience.  I wasn’t worried about lines or sweeper vans or the dreaded balloon ladies that keep the 16 min/mile pace after the last corral starts (gulp!).  But now, all of this social networking has me in a tizzy with peoples’ posts about this and that and where meetups are and who’s wearing what and what they’re buying.

The other thing that I realized about myself…. Is that I love the thought of Disney.  I know it sounds stupid.  That’s okay.  But I honestly tear up every time I see that famed castle at the beginning of every Disney movie.  I get a lump in my throat whenever I hear When You Wish Upon a Star.  I have a mouse ear necklace that I try to wear every day (except when I’m running so that I don’t ruin it) so that I can keep that magic with me wherever I go.

So my new plan is (at least for the next 4 days) is to just keep on believing in that magic.  To not stress about what I can’t control and just have fun!  Because that’s really what it’s all about right?  And life should be fun.

I’m gonna kick a$$ at this Dumbo Double Dare and it’s gonna be fun and awesome.

mind over matter.

Per the Dumbo Double Dare training schedule, I was slated to run 14 miles this past weekend.  I researched different routes to take near my home and I was actually looking forward to it.  The longest distance I have ever run is a Half, so I was somewhat intimidated, but still up for the challenge.

So I found a route that would be just a little over 14 miles, from my house to my friend’s house and then back.  Lots of flat, and then a big hill.  And then I figured that I could take a rest at my friends house and make the trip back.

I started out and then at mile 2, I got uncomfortable.  You know, that feeling you get when your stomach is bothering you a little and you wonder if going out for a long run was such a good idea.  I had prepped myself with a small breakfast, because I know what works for me, but something was still bothering me.

And then I made up my mind to just feel better.

Now I know that it’s not possible to have this attitude toward infectious diseases, cancer or the like, but for minor, piddly little stomach issues, I found that it works.  By mile 3 I had hit my stride and I enjoyed the run.  All the way (almost 8 miles) to my friend’s house.

Now as it turns out, I did not run back.  I started out too late and it got way too hot for me to continue.  But I don’t feel like a failure.  I feel good for knowing that with the right attitude, I can tackle anything.  The fact that I was looking forward to a 14 mile run speaks volumes for someone who a year ago had no intention of running a half marathon.

So if it works for me with running, what else can I accomplish?!??!