Part 2: Let There Be Light (and rain) On My Wedding Day

Today is August 21, 2014, 5:00 pm. Exactly one month ago, on top of a mountain, next to a creek, surrounded by loved ones, I made a promise to join hearts with Brad Light forever. After months of wondering how that moment would feel and being open to every possibility, I can honestly say it was the most beautiful moment of my life.

There’s a danger in wedding planning. Many dangers, truth be told. It is after all a multi-billion dollar industry intent on making you feel it absolutely necessary to have that hand-painted rustic backdrop for your photo booth and out-of-season soft pink peony centerpieces. If you want your wedding to be the happiest day of your life, you must have those things. Right?

Wrong.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not one to denounce the details. I’m HUGE on details. I’m a person who prioritizes aesthetics in life. I relished every moment of planning the details of our wedding. Every late night making paper flowers. Every ounce of stress wondering how to make the seating chart fit into our theme. Every penny spent on the wire hot air balloon card holder. All worth it. However, I have one image for you:

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” Every Who down in Whoville, the tall and the small, was Singing! Without any presents at all! He hadn’t stopped Christmas from coming! It CAME! Somehow or other, it came just the same!”

I loved every detail of our wedding. I loved our hot air balloon card holder, and my beautiful centerpieces, and the starry sky seating chart, and my gorgeous precious wonderful dress. But take them all away and I would have still ended the day married to Brad. I would have still shared that moment with our friends and family. That is what made it the most beautiful day of my life. Such a simple lesson, but one that brides seem to easily forget in the yards of chiffon and cake samples. Sometimes we need Dr. Seuss to remind us.

“It came with out ribbons! It came without tags!”

“It came without packages, boxes or bags!”

And she puzzled three hours, till her puzzler was sore. Then the Bride thought of something she hadn’t before! “Maybe Weddings,” she thought, “don’t come from a store.”

“Maybe Weddings…perhaps…mean a little bit more!”

And what happened then? Well…in Leadville they say, that the Bride’s anxious heart grew three sizes that day!

And the minute her heart didn’t feel quite so tight, she whizzed with her vows through the bright morning light,

And she brought back the flowers! And the food for the feast! And she, SHE HERSELF! The Bride carved the roast beast!

So that’s the truth. I married Brad and everything else was gravy. Lovely, fun, beautiful, delicious, gravy.

I don’t want to go on and on. I’ll just highlight a few key details of our wedding day.

1. I had a cinnamon roll for breakfast. And a banana. And a fruit salad. Yum.

2. I had so much fun on “Operation Baby’s Breath” with Dana and Russell.

3. Somehow the keys to my parents rental car got lost. They had to tow a new care from Aspen. THAT was fun. The Treadwells are angels for letting us borrow their car to run errands.

4. I watched Doc Hollywood on TV while getting my hair and makeup done. Dana did my hair and makeup and it looked Gorgeous!

5. I felt a bit rushed getting ready. That darn lost set of car keys put us back.

6. I texted Brad back and forth all day about details, every time giddy as a schoolgirl getting a love note from her crush.

7. I cried. A lot.

8. I cried when the florist showed up with my bouquet. It was so beautiful. Those flowers made it real.

9. I cried when I put on my dress. It was so beautiful.

10. I cried repeatedly when I would look at my mom, my cousin, and Dana, because they would be crying.

11. My cousin said a prayer for me, holding hands with my mom and Dana all in a circle. I cried again. It was beautiful.

12. The weather forecast said it wasn’t going to rain but at about 3:30 it started sprinkling. I didn’t care.

13. At 5 o’clock when it was time to walk to the meadow I couldn’t believe the time had come. Were my friends and family actually all out there waiting for me? Was I actually about to get married? I felt like I was about to go skydiving. A mixture of nerves and excitement tempered by deep breaths and open eyes that would keep my heart open to knowing that in a few minutes I couldn’t think about it anymore. I would just have to jump.

14. As I walked to the meadow strangers around the resort clapped for me, congratulated me, and told me I looked beautiful. My heart swelled.

15. It was still raining. Damn. Oh well, I don’t really care. It will work out.

16. The ceremony began. The sound was great. I was so worried about the sound. No reason to worry.

17. I stood with my Dad, waiting on the bridge. Waiting to walk down the aisle. Grateful to share this intimate moment with my Dad. Feeling like I could lean on him. My Dad asks me “Are you nervous?” I say, “Yes.” And he just smiles. Somehow my nerves are spiced with peace. There is grace present. I feel something present in the rain drops and the sound of the creek and the sun poking through the clouds. Something magical.

18. It’s time. The music begins. “Here, There, and Everwhere.” My favorite song. Everyone stands. I breathe and I cry. I’m overwhelmed by the thought of seeing everyone’s face. I make my way over the bridge. Through the raindrops I see only one face. The world around me is swirling and transforming in a vortex and Brad’s face is the tether on the other end of the line. I hold onto his eyes, the only eyes I want to see right now. I feel everyone else looking at me and how grateful I am for their presence. I can’t believe they’re here for me! For us. I can’t believe it. I can never be thankful enough.

19. I make it down the aisle with my Dad. We hug and kiss, and then let go. I feel a wave of peace wash over me. I’m ready.

20. The ceremony begins and it’s perfect. The rain still gently mists its way down from the sky. My aunt begins the ceremony with a blessing. A Cherokee blessing calling on the elements. As she speaks of the sky and water, a drop of rain falls on her page. It’s serendipity. The blessing ends, and the sun begins to peek its way out from behind the clouds. There are little stubborn raindrops that don’t want to be left in the sky and they fall down in the sunbeams, making the air on my Brad’s face sparkle. The air is glittery with water and sun. It could not be more beautiful.

21. Instead of lighting a unity candle we water our “wedding tree.” A tree which signifies resilience, patience, endurance, and flexibility. We named our tree Wilbur. He’s now planted in my In-Law’s front yard in Buena Vista, CO. We hope he is not eaten by a deer but if so, hey, circle of life.

22. Brad’s sister reads from The Alchemist. Our dear friend Joe reads ee cummings’ Somewhere I Have Never Travelled, Gladly Beyond. My brother sings “Storybook Love,” the song from my favorite movie. My step-dad plays the guitar. My uncle, the officiant, speaks so beautifully about love and marriage. He has such poise and grace. The perfect officiant. I look at him and think, he was there for my baptism (he is also my Godfather). How right that he be here now in this role.

23. We read our vows to each other. Brad puts my hand on his heart. My favorite thing to do is to listen to Brad’s heartbeat. We exchange rings. We say our I Do’s. Each step completely surreal and FUN. How fun to partake in these rituals. I do! My proudest two words.

24. My Uncle pronounces us husband and wife. How did that go by so fast?! We kiss! I’m so happy. I feel a wave of bliss. We turn to our friends and family. Everyone clapping and smiling. I wonder if the recessional music will begin. It does. Mr. Blue Sky by ELO. “The sun is shining in the sky, there ain’t a cloud in sight, it stopped raining… It’s a beautiful new day.” Could the song be MORE perfect?

25. We dance down the aisle. I almost trip on my dress. That would have been bad. I didn’t though. I’m still smiling and dancing.

26. We’re married.

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Wow.

There’s a perfect metaphor for the anticipation of our wedding day, and that is the Colorado summer weather. It rains almost every day. I spent the last year worrying. I worried SO much that it would rain on my wedding day, as if somehow my worrying would make a difference. I just wanted to have the ceremony outdoors so badly. I would fret and worry and stress and plead with the sky, but when you get right down to it there is nothing I could do to control the weather. To some things we must simply surrender. Things like whether or not it will rain on your wedding day. Things like how you will feel on your wedding day. Surrender.

You know what? It did rain on my wedding day. And it was perfect. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

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Let’s Talk About Shoes

The internet is fraught with loss and grief over the past few days. I thought about writing my own post in memoriam of both the indelible Robin Williams and the legendary Lauren Bacall. But it’s all been said, and better than I could ever say. I’ll just say two things. To Robin Williams, your empathy as a performer drew me in so close. Watching you perform I witnessed what it costs an actor to truly live and breathe your character, the heart pain, well it was in your eyes. I’m sorry the heart pain was in your life as well. And to Lauren Bacall, Betty, you were so divine. When I fell in love with my man it was not too long before I picked up your autobiography. I wanted to hear all about your romance and love for Bogie. Perhaps I wanted a little inside peek at the most notorious December-May romance of all, finding myself in a similar situation without the notorious part. I wanted to read about a love like that, one that sort of looked like mine. A love that was not fraught with scandal or intrigue, but seemingly made up of true-ness, a love that defied time, defied age. Your story did not disappoint. From By Myself:

“No one had ever felt like that about me. It was all so dramatic, too. Always in the wee small hours when it seemed to Bogie and me that the world was ours—that we were the world. At those times, we were.”

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I hope you are together again. Bogie and Bacall.

So what to do, what to say, now that world is just a bit darker. Remember, say a prayer, and keep living. That’s all you can do.

I wanted to lighten things up today. I wanted to depart from the philosophizing, the mourning, the analyzing. I wanted to get back to running a bit. So today I’m here to talk to you about shoes. Yes, shoes.

My name is Rebecca Light, and I have a running shoe addiction.

Hi Rebecca Light. (I just love to write that out).

I keep my addiction pretty well in check, but I think about running shoes waaaay too often. It comes in waves. I’ll buy a new pair, get my fix, as it were, and I’ll be good for a few months. Then suddenly the bug will bite me all over again and I’ll see this new pair, or new model, and it will just get into my head and won’t leave.

It’s a problem.

Like I said though, I keep it pretty well in check. There are problems to acquiring running shoes, however, that really just make the addiction worse. The biggest problem being that you simply don’t know if shoes are going to work for you until you run several miles in them, and of course everyone knows that once you’ve run several miles in new shoes you can no longer return them (save a few exceptions which I’ll get to later), so every new purchase is fraught with risk and requires a great deal of research ahead of time to mitigate said risk. In short, shopping for running shoes is a big ol’ time suck.

But I love it so muuuuuuch. I thought I’d walk you through my madness a little; give you a little inside glimpse at the shoes that are running through my mind.

Let me start by saying something pretty controversial. Part of me truly believes that we have all been duped by the most ingenious marketing strategy of all time. The running shoe industry has it made. Runners are into shoes. Makes sense. It’s arguably the most important accessory a runner could purchase. I however, have been running for over 15 years and only recently taken any interest whatsoever in running shoe technology. The only criteria I would previously follow in my purchase of running shoes was did I like the color, and were they on sale? I have also never endured a use injury. I’ve fallen on my face and twisted my ankle, but only my clumsiness and lack of spacial awareness can be blamed for that. I’ve never had plantar fasciitis, no knee trouble, shin splints, or back pain. Now, I realize that perhaps the resilience of my youthful limbs has been a credit to my dodging of injury, and not my discount neon green New Balance’s from Nordstrom Rack, but who knows? Maybe we’ve all been hoodwinked by the likes of Nike and Saucony. I do know that since I started to invest more heavily in researching shoes and their respective technologies and bells/whistles, I have had some subtle pain in my arches, crinks in my lower back, and numbness in my forefeet. What gives? Perhaps it’s my 30 year old muscles and bones catching up with me, but sometimes I wonder if it’s these fandangled shoes.

There are many factors that may also contribute to my new aches and pains other than my shoes, so I don’t want to smear any names here. A little over a year ago I read Born to Run and it kind of blew my mind. It all just made so much sense. I started to change my running gait to consciously strike more on my midfoot than my heel. You may be wondering, hey Becky, if you’d never been injured and you’d been running for years why would you change anything that you’re doing? If it ain’t broke… Well, maybe you’re right. I guess after reading Born to Run and doing some more research about the concept of where you strike on your foot (I know, more research, ugh) I honestly started to believe that a midfoot strike would be a more sustainable gait. Like Haruki Murakami said “I hope that running and I can grow old together.” I didn’t want to run recklessly, getting by on the agility of my youth. I wanted to develop a stride that would last my entire life.

There’s just one problem, 99% of running shoes are not developed for a midfoot strike, they’re developed for a heel strike. I totally made up that 99% by the way. I have no idea what the actual statistic is and I’m sure it’s different now that the industry has caught on to the newer midfoot theories but you get my point. Most running shoes have that big cushy chunky heel; so purchasing discount shoes from Ross in pretty bright purple worked for me most of the time because they had that big squishy heel and I was a heel striker and so it all pretty much worked out. Now, however, I’m not striking on my heel and those shoes from TJ Maxx just don’t do the trick anymore. Have you ever tried hitting a midfoot strike in a running shoe with a big heel? It’s hard. It does not feel natural and it does not feel nice. And so, at my own doing, whether I liked it or not, I catapulted myself into the world of running shoe science by simply changing my stride; and consequently pretty much shut myself out of the easy discount shoe market. Goodbye Marshall’s. How I loved scouring you for deals.

If I was going to continue to run in this new way I really did need shoes that would accommodate. Now, if you’ve read Born to Run, you may say at this moment that the best shoe to accommodate the kind of stride is your own little footsie wootsie. To run as God intended! Barefoot through the fields! I did what all early Born to Run fans did, I went out and bought some Vibrams. I had run barefoot off and on for years once a week or so out on the beach, so it didn’t take me too long to transition into the barefoot shoes. I like them. People like to make fun of them and I really truly don’t understand that. It seems so arbitrary. Like making fun of people for wearing gloves. Is it so offensive to see articulated toes? People gotta have a reason to complain I guess.

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There’s one main reason I quickly realized however that I couldn’t run in the Vibrams full time. I’m just not there yet. I believe it truly does require being in tip top shop with an ideal bmi and proportionately built up leg and back muscles to support your frame and feet. In short, I’m just not in good enough shape right now. I’m a little overweight, and I’ve been real lazy when it comes to strength training. I’m not quite committed enough to barefoot running to do those things. And then of course there’s the secondary (and let’s be honest perhaps more important reason). Fashion. Hello. I am not prepared to say goodbye to shoes. Real shoes. Vibrams may be smart but they are not what I’d describe as cute. I know there are many runners out there who may look down on me for saying so but aesthetics are very important to me and I want to run in cute shoes. If, for example, a dude at a running store tells me THESE, these Asics are the absolute best shoes for your exact feet, but they are gray and look like they were cut out of a 1995 Jazzercise catalogue, I will not buy them. I will buy the second best pair of shoes for my feet that are a pretty shade of orange I’ve been looking for. Call me shallow. When I look good, I feel good, and when I feel good, I run good. When I run good (well), I’m happy. It all fits together. So yeah, Vibrams? Not that cute. Since I bought my pair (pictured above) I think the company caught on to the value of a good looking shoe and they’ve released some pretty new ones in pinks, yellows, and blues. I like. But I already have my pair and they aren’t worn through so I can’t justify more.

So now I find myself stuck with my sort of rather ugly Vibrams and old teal New Balances from Nordstrom Rack that have too many miles on them and too chunky of a heel. What’s a girl to do?

Buy more shoes.

I research, I surf, I scour the internet for “barefoot style” shoes or shoes with a low heel drop. The Nike Free series gets my fancy. They’re alright. And they’re cute. Maybe.

1396350097-3-nike-free-4.0-v3-women-A10I keep my options open. I keep searching. Asics is a brand I’d been interested in for awhile but most of their shoes are so chunky. However their Lyte series got my attention. Super cute, and lightweight.

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Reviews aren’t stellar on this puppy though so I keep looking. I ask around on my Facebook running group. I hear Newtons recommended. I’d never even heard of Newtons. I look them up. Behold!

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They are sooooo cute. I am in love. They are superhero shoes. AND they have a low heel-toe drop. AND they are designed with a midfoot strike in mind. AND they are suuuuper expensive.

:(

This is where Facebook is awesome. Someone in my running group works for Zappos and hooks me up with a sweet promo code. Combined with the fact that these are already on sale on the site, I got them for about 40% off. That sealed the deal.

So I’ve been running in these for about 6 months. Dammit if the bug kept on biting though. As much as I love these, I’m not sure they are enough shoe for the first ever marathon I’m about to run. After all of the research and sole searching (see what I did there?) I’ve done, I’ve determined that the best fit for me currently is one with a low heel-toe drop, a considerable amount of cushion, and LOTS of room in the toe box (I like my little piggies to spread out). With that in mind, I kept searching for the equivalent of Newtons but with more squishiness. That led me to Hoka One Ones.

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I mentioned these before. Got them at the super secret speakeasy lightly-loved shoe department at Road Runners in San Diego. They so pretty. They look like mermaid shoes. I buy them. But sadly, they’re not for me. They are in fact a bit too narrow for my wide berth feet. Also, I really jumped to the other end of the spectrum with these as far as cushioning goes. The amount of cushion on Hokas is record breaking. As squishy as it feels, it’s just a bit too much shoe for me. I will definitely use these often though, whenever I know I’ll walk a lot. These will likely be my new go-to Disneyland day shoes.

Another brand caught my attention ever since Meb won Boston. I’m as surprised as you are are, but Skechers caught my eye. The last time I liked Skechers as a brand, Clinton was in office and I had Backstreet Boys posters on my wall. Let’s be honest, they haven’t been cool since 1995. Maybe with the younger set, but we children of the 80s and 90s moved on. In the past few year they’ve actually kind of repulsed me as a company. Shape-Ups were such blatant hucksterism, they made me angry. How dare you promise women that they will tone up their tushes just by wearing your shoes to work. And Bob’s are such a blatant ripoff of Tom’s that I’m actually embarrassed for them. Really? Bob’s?

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Maybe they deserve a bit of credit for the brazenness of their ability to ripoff another company. Can’t say they’re not bold. Needless to say though, the ethics of this company remained questionable in my eyes. But then they took a chance on Meb. Meb, too old for any other major sponsors to pick him up. Meb, everyone else thought he was probably done. Skechers, undeniably an underdog in the running shoe market, took a chance. I respect that. And damn, it paid off.

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Not to mention that Skechers had also hired one of the designers of the Nike Free project to come in and work on their GoRun series. They were interested in minimalist running. I started to get the impression that Skechers was really taking this whole running shoe thing seriously. Top that with a Best Debut Shoe award in Runner’s World, an incredibly affordable price tag and super cute design (I know! Skechers! Cute! I can’t believe it either), they really got my attention. So I bought them of course.

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Took them out for 4 miles last night and I have some things to say. They are super lightweight. I love that! After veering minimalist I can’t stand too much shoe. They have a decent amount of cushion in all the right places. A low heel-toe drop and plenty of cushion in the midfoot (something I actually miss in my Newtons). Unfortunately I think I got the wrong size. They were a bit snug in the toe-box so in my quest for the perfect Rebecca shoe, that’s where these may just come up short. I exchanged them for a larger size so we’ll see if that helps. If not, I may just add them to the pile of walking shoes I’m acquiring (with all these shoes I should become a walker instead of a runner).

So what to do? Marathon training is fast approaching and I feel like I haven’t found that Goldilocks shoe. Not too tight, not too bulky, not too flat, not too squishy. It’s tough, but there is one more brand I’m going to investigate before I declare my Newtons the victors. Altra. I don’t know y’all, I think these may be winners. I have a funny feeling about these. And by funny I mean good.

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They also really help make my decision for me as to what costume I’d wear for the Walt Disney World Marathon. Can you guess?

So what are Altras? Altras are unique in that they boast a ZERO heel-toe drop differential. That means there is absolutely no incline from the forefoot all the way back. I love that. It’s like, you know, a foot. What a concept! However, they do provide a decent amount of cushioning without entering Hoka honka territory. Also among their technical specs is a “foot shaped design.” I swear, that sounds so ridiculous to me. Shouldn’t all running shoes be “foot shaped?” Have we interfered so much with the natural design of the human foot that we now have to point it out when we create a shoe in harmony with our own shape? It’s hilarious, and sort of sad. But I’m glad Altra does it. That means there should be lots of room in the toe box for those little piglets (that’s a hint for the answer to my question above) to splay out as I run. I get these on Saturday. Can’t wait to try them out and to report back to the 2 people who are still reading this.

In the quest for the Golden Goose of shoes I also picked up some Mizuno Wave Sayonaras. Mizunos have a huge following. Runners who wear them love them. I hate them. Well, hate is a strong word. I really really really dislike them for running. For style and for, you guessed it, walking, they are great. So I’ll still wear them a lot. But they are so stiff and although they are light in weight they feel heavy on my feet. Brad actually noticed how clompy I sounded on our first run where I was wearing these. I felt like an elephant. It was so bizarre. I attribute their clompiness, a technical term, to how stiff they are, how snug in the upper, and how little forefoot cushioning they offer. I think Mizunos are better designed for a super speedy heel striker, not a slow, slightly overweight, midfoot runner. They’re super cute though.

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Don’t they look tropical? They remind me of Tahiti. I wanted them to be the shoes that got me to Tahiti :(. Alas, add to the walking pile.

That’s my shoe obsession in a nutshell! Sooooo interesting right? I know. You’re welcome.

Happy running!

 

Running With Cheetahs

I have been remiss. I failed to post a recap of my favorite running weekend of the year so far. This May 4th (May the Fourth be with you), Brad and I ran with cheetahs, giraffes, elephants, gazelles, rhinos, and one very friendly camel. Cool, right?? Can you believe it?! I wish it were all true, but the spirit of the sentence is right. We ran the San Diego Safari Park Half Marathon.

I love an excuse to go to San Diego. I’m not sure how it got the nickname America’s Finest City, but it’s kind of true. There’s just “something” about it. San Diego has an appealing quality. Coronado is a dream. La Jolla is a paradise. And Gaslamp is a blast. Enough about the town though, let’s talk about the race.

Saturday we drive to Road Runners Sports to check in and get our bibs and bags. We pick up our shirts, sign our waivers and yeah, whatever. That is all fine. A race packet pick-up in a huge running specialty store though? Quite a sly trick there, race planners. Like luring a kid into a candy store, or an ax murderer into an ax store. Oh the temptation. This store is awesome.

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I want all the shoes

I want all the shoes

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Seriously this store has me in its grip. I almost make it out alive. Just as one of the shoe sales reps almost coerces me into a new pair, he begins to tell me about their policy that you can return running shoes for up to 60 days after purchase (or was it 90? I can’t remember) no questions asked, no matter how much you’ve worn them, for a full refund. Now I’m sure even non-runners can understand the value in this. You just really don’t know about a pair of shoes, ESPECIALLY running shoes, until you get them on your feet and spend a day (or a run) in them. No matter how much you half-heartedly jog around the store as if that’s actually providing you with useful information, until you’ve got those shoes on your sweaty swollen dogs for 5 miles or more, you don’t know if they’re really right for you. So this whole 60 day return window is AHmazing. I love this store. Anyway, I digress. The point I mean to make is that this concept has me wondering, what happens to all of those sad unwanted shoes? Poor lost shoes. I ask the guy, “You can’t resell them right? So what do you do? Do you donate them?” Well well well. I’m glad I asked. Turns out they DO resell them, heavily discounted, and only in this store. The guy leans in close to give me the scoop. “Actually, you head around back, see? At’s what we calls our lightly-loved shoe department, see? We cleans ‘em on up, gives ‘em a second chance at life. Head on back, ask for my boy Maurice, he’ll hook you up.” Actually he didn’t talk like a 1940s gangster at all, and there was no one named Maurice; but the lightly loved shoe department is a very real place.

I scoot on over to Brad who is seriously considering a purchase of some Hoka One Ones (Brad’s nursing plantar fasciitis and will do almost anything at this point to cure it, including buying new shoes that aren’t from Ross). I lean in close to Brad’s ear and give him the scoop about the secret lightly-loved department behind the store. We hurriedly make our way outside and around the back. At first we don’t see anything but more of the industrial strip mall we find ourselves in on this warm San Diego day. I’m feeling like this sales guy mobster was giving me the runaround. Then, all of a sudden, there it is. A wall of the most heavily discounted first class running shoes I have ever seen. It’s basically heaven.

After spending much more time and money than planned, necessary, or budgeted, Brad and I pull ourselves away from the lightly loved shoe department with a pair of Hokas for me (how did I get roped into the Hokas? Well they look like mermaid shoes and they were on sale. What do you want from me?), a pair of Hokas for Brad (that super stuffed cushioning felt darn good on his pf), and a pair of Newton Gravitys for Brad as well (Newtons are so flippin’ expensive so to find a pair of practically new ones for 75% off is hard to turn down. I convinced him).

So there we are, two running nerds in our matching Hoka One One shoes, waddling out of the running store two big bags heavier than we intended. No regrets. I love a good bargain. And we love our new shoes.

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Enough about shopping, let’s get to the race.

We raced! Add another Half Marathon to our growing list. The San Diego Safari Park Half Marathon is tops in my book, but there are some things you need to know. Contrary to my perhaps misguided preconception you will not be running with or near wild animals. I guess I’m so used to Disney races where I know you’ll get to run as many miles as they can squeeze in the parks. I assumed this, being an entertainment park, would be the same. It didn’t occur to me, of course, that 8,000 or so loudly thumping heavily breathing runners might sound like a stampede to a sensitive wild animal and oh, I don’t know, spook them? Yeah, you don’t really run near the animals. Duh. Makes total sense.

Most of the race is through beautiful nearby Escondido, and truly, it is beautiful. And not without animals! We run alongside lots of cows! As you approach the Safari Park you run up a hill. The most intense hill I have ever seen on a race course. Seriously, it is like a joke. It is as if someone plopped Runyon Canyon smack dab at mile 8 of a half marathon. Funny right???

I’ll let the video tell the rest of the story of our lovely run. There is one more thing I wanted to mention about this event, but I hesitate because I don’t want to end on a sour note. I’ll just write it out and then think of something nice to say after so we won’t end on bad terms, k?

They ran out of medals. As I cross the finish line I am handed what looks like a laminated backstage pass. At first I think, oh, these are the medals? Well, I guess times is tough at the old Safari Park. But then the volunteer explains to me that they have run out of medals and I would receive mine in the mail in 4-6 weeks. Ugh. Listen, that’s fine, I get it. I’ve dealt with many events and I know that logistical nightmares happen. The wrong number of this get ordered, or the vendor sends that to the wrong address, or whatever. It still completely sucks, and in that moment I am very disappointed to say the least. I’m not one of those runners that gets super into the “bling” as they say, but I do enjoy a good medal. I enjoy what it represents. However the ONLY time I really enjoy my medal is the day I run the race. That’s the day I wear it around my neck proudly and wait for people to yell Congratulations so I can shoot them a coy smile and say Thank You So Much. I can’t do that 4-6 weeks from race day. I could, but I’d be kind of a dummy.

my bitter face

my bitter face

6 weeks later

6 weeks later

That’s all I’ll say about that. It was a major bummer, I was unfairly bitter about it for approximately three hours. I currently do not blame the Safari Park in any way (we’re cool Safari Park), and I’ve let it go. Things happen. Moving on.

I promised I wouldn’t end on a bitter note so here are some other things, and these far outweigh the medal debacle. Included in your race entry fee is FREE admission to the Safari Park for the entire day (hear that Disney?? FREE!) which is the coolest thing ever. It’s a truly beautiful park; a “zoo” that you can feel at least half way good about. Did you know the Safari Park used to be the breeding facility for the animals that would end up at the San Diego Zoo? That’s why there is so much land and it resembles as closely as possible the animals’ natural habitat, to keep the animals healthy, calm, and in the right mood to get it on. Someone over the years got the idea to open it up to the public. Isn’t that cool?

Also, we saw a cheetah run y’all. Up close and personal. Did you know cheetahs can reach speeds of 70 mph? Next time you’re SPEEDING on the freeway (cause 70 is SPEEDING you guys), think about that. A cheetah running on the freeway could get a speeding ticket. We saw a cheetah run. So. Cool. I actually cried. I’m totally not kidding. I choked up. It was an amazing sight.

All around it was an incredible weekend. I love San Diego, I love my husband, I love running, I love animals. All these things at once. Can’t go wrong. Definitely doing it again next year (if nothing else to get back to that lightly-loved secret 1940s mobster shoe store! Shh!).

And now, the actual best part of this post, the video. Enjoy!

Two Feet and Four Wheels: Discovering SoCal

In 6 short days I will embark upon the greatest adventure of my life thus far which involves a trip down the aisle. Current emotions equal excitement, eagerness, nerves, stress, apprehension, glee, gratefulness, disbelief, joy, and happiness, among many others. The last 6 ½ years with Brad can be summed up by a quote from the eternally wise Winnie-the-Pooh.

“I knew when I met you an adventure was going to happen.”

Fitting then that our second to last week in SoCal would involve a running adventure in our own extended backyard.

As I mentioned in a previous post, a few weeks ago Buick contacted me about participating in their summer “Runs Worth the Drive” challenge in partnership with MapMyRun.com. They would give me a beautiful Buick Verano for a week and all I would have to do is A) drive it around and B) discover new running routes not in my immediate neighborhood. This proposition was right up my alley. An invitation to adventure with a fancy new car? C’mon. Well the week unfolded and it did not disappoint. Brad and I (and our friend Neiman, too) had a truly memorable week of running.
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We started by taking on a couple of evening runs just a stone’s throw from our Venice abode. These routes are close enough to get the run in after work, but far enough that you have to drive to get there. First stop was Playa del Rey. We parked near our gym along Lincoln Blvd and ran up the hill to and through the campus of Loyola Marymount University. Do you live in Los Angeles and want to discover a new appreciation of your city? Head on up to LMU and gaze out at the view of the City of Angels. From the sea to downtown, the sprawl is rather incredible to behold all at once.
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The next evening’s run was in the same general area, but instead of running up the hills we ran out to sea! There is a fantastic bike path that runs parallel to Culver Blvd and continues out along the Marina until it spills into the ocean. This evening included crossing paths with some friendly bunny rabbits, a gorgeous rainbow sherbet sunset, and a sneak peek at some 4th of July fireworks. This was one of those evenings where you stop and realize that taking just an ever so small detour out of your daily habits can yield the loveliest surprises. That’s really what this week was all about.

The week with the Buick culminated in two challenging but memorable destination runs. On Saturday we drove down to gorgeous Laguna Beach, with friend Chris Neiman in tow, to see what Orange County would offer us. I let Brad choose the route, my role was just to drive, and the trail he picked very nearly resulted in calling off the wedding. I’ve got one word: hills. Hills! On a very warm Saturday afternoon in Laguna we began running… up a mountain. I truly had to stop and repeat to myself “this isn’t Brad’s fault, you let him decide the route, he didn’t know the terrain any better than you did.” A few repeats of that mantra, deep breaths and the wedding was back on.
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I’m being hyperbolic of course but you know the old trope of cursing your trainer’s name as he pushes you to your max. In this scenario Brad filled in for the role of trainer that I needed to take my suffering out on. Poor guy. He’s so patient. As soon as we made it to the top of the hill the grumblings completely faded away and all I could do was bask in the beauty of my surroundings. In the distance we could see the Pacific ocean with Catalina perched on the marine layer like Brigadoon, fading into the sea fog. Beauty.
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There is incentive for me to hill train. Running downhill is my bag. I stabilize my core, release some space in my hip flexors, and let my feet fly. I love being able to hit an 8:00 min pace, something I’m just not able to maintain on flat ground. Speed. Pure bliss.

Sunday was our last run of the week and our last day with the Buick. Even though my dance card was full with wedding to-dos, the entire week I’d had my sights set on a run in Ventura. The little towns just north of L.A.; Oxnard, Ventura, Santa Barbara, are my favorite destinations for quick weekend getaways. I could actually see myself living in one of these sleepy little towns if Brad and I ever feel compelled to leave L.A. We’ll see.

We drove on up to Ventura in hopes of finding a nice route along the sea. I participated in the search this time to avoid another test of our relationship if Brad took us up another mountain. After doing some research of Ventura running routes on MapMyRun.com we found a good prospect along a path next to somewhere called Emma Wood state beach. A quick plug for MapMyRun. I must admit that since Brad got me a Garmin Forerunner for my birthday I’ve kind of left behind the world of mobile running apps. Now I’m all running watch all the way. MapMyRun.com offers some perks though that I simply love and won’t leave behind. I love being able to trace new routes ahead of time to make sure I get the right mileage in. This is especially useful for long runs where you do NOT want to find yourself at mile 12, not knowing where to turn to make sure you get to 20. Plan ahead. I also love the ability to crowdsource routes. I had no idea where to run in Ventura or Laguna, for example, but MapMyRun has a great search feature where you can see where other runners have ventured in that area, see how popular the particular route is, and again, plan ahead. For running the adventure comes in the run itself. It shouldn’t come in the form of surprises like being stranded on a dead end road 15 miles from home without cell service or water. Plan ahead.

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Pay no attention to our splits. They’re a bit slower than usual. There was much stopping, slowing, and gazing. No other way to describe it but an incredibly fun run.

Brad has once again turned out an incredible and quick video of the weekend’s Buick/MapMyRun/SoCal adventure, so I’ll let it speak for itself. And thanks to my stepdad Paul for providing some original music! I’m sensing the beginning of a new collaboration :).

I’m so grateful for this experience to have come along when it did. I don’t know for sure, because I’ve never been married and don’t really know anything about anything, but I will hazard a guess that one of the secrets to a happy marriage is a sense of adventure and open-mindedness. Habits are important too. I love coming home after work, getting a quick 3 miles in along the Santa Monica beach, curling up with two kitties, a fiancé, and Dexter followed by an episode of Star Trek and Big Cat Diary. These are routines that bring me simple joy and simple joys are so valuable. But if they aren’t peppered with the occasional urge to breakout and discover something new, they get stale. I feel it happen during training. I get bored of the same 3, 4, or 6 mile runs along the same route. This week driving to unknown runs has revitalized my love of running, and I can’t help but take that lesson into my upcoming nuptials. I’m grateful that a sense of exploration comes naturally to our relationship. It’s something that I know we’ll always need to nurture, and running in new and adventurous places may be just what we need to remind us of that simple fact.

Thank you so much to Buick and MapMyRun.com for bringing this opportunity to Running to Tahiti. They sponsored this campaign but the opinions in this post are my own and I can honestly say that Buick makes a fantastic sedan. Smooth ride, luxurious amenities, and a sleek look. I loved driving it!

Until next time…

Runs Worth the Drive!

I read quite a few running blogs. Foremost because I like to connect with fellow runners/writers. The running community is just that, a community. Perhaps it’s because our sport is a lone one, we like to connect with each other whenever possible. Blogging does that. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t also want to see what other people were doing right. You see I often feel like I’m doing things wrong because I’m so bad at self-promotion and marketing. I read other blogs that are clearly so incredibly popular and successful and I wonder what I should be doing. I read about bloggers getting complimentary entry into runDisney races (HOW DOES THAT HAPPEN??) and getting sent all kinds of swag for giveaways to increase readership, cross-promote, and network with potential sponsors. I see all of these things and feel there must be some sort of golden goose I can’t find. Last year I would say that all of that worried me. This year I said to hell with it. I didn’t start a blog to worry about all of that. I started a blog to write, to muse, to run, and to keep myself accountable on this adventure to Tahiti. So that’s what I’ve re-focused on in 2014. I stopped worrying about what other people were doing right, what I was doing wrong, and shifted my thinking to doing what I love: running and writing.

And wouldn’t you know it.

Things pick up steam. I’m going to make the moral of this story short so that I can get to to the meat of today’s news, so here it is, listen up. When you stop worrying about the destination and start focusing on the journey, you’ll discover yourself. Yes, the destination IS the journey. Also, life is too short to worry about being successful according to someone else’s standards, so always do what you love and do a good job. That will be a success.

That’s what happens. Really. I stopped worrying about the result of my blog and refocused on the content and it’s now more “successful” than ever. More importantly, it brings me great joy which was always the intention. I Now here’s my news!

Buick is partnering with MapMyRun for a summer campaign called Runs Worth the Drive which encourages runners to take strides outside of their habitual running locales and drive to new terrain, in addition to promoting a healthy and active summer. A few weeks ago Buick contacted me about being a featured blogger in this campaign!

Buick has loaned me a fancy new Verano Turbo this week with which I can drive to as many new running adventures as possible. I then map my route on MapMyRun.com and share my new runs with Buick and the rest of the world via social media. You can follow along at hashtag Driven2Run. It’s a pretty car.

 

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If you’ve been reading since the beginning (thank you), you may recall that the motivation for this blog was to write about the cross-section of running and traveling. Adventure is my middle name and my favorite thing to do on an adventure is to run. When I run in a new land I breathe it in deeper, feel the earth beneath my feet, and take pictures with my eyes. A new landscape gets in to your very pores when you run through it, and that’s how I take places with me. My most vivid memories of the city of Boston come from runs along the Charles or across Boston Common. I can practically smell the Colorado countryside right now thanks to the 3 miles Brad and I ran up a mountain. I love running when I travel. So the fact that Buick targeted Running to Tahiti for this summer campaign is pure serendipity and excitement. I now have not only an excuse, but real motivation to get my running butt out into greater Los Angeles and rediscover this beautiful city with my own two feet.

We get the Buick through next weekend, so next Saturday we’ll really adventure somewhere exciting and a bit remote to prove that the run is indeed worth the drive.

With all of that said I could use your help Angelenos. Where should we run??? Southern California is at our fingertips (or running shoes) and we could really use some suggestions. Please share either in the comments or on social media your favorite running routes in Los Angeles, greater Los Angeles, and Orange and Ventura counties. Use the hashtag #Driven2Run to follow the conversation.

Thanks to Buick and MapMyRun for inviting Running to Tahiti to be a part of this challenge. Brad and I so look forward to discovering SoCal anew!

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Beauty in the Chaos

When opportunity knocks… it’s probably going to be when you’re incredibly busy and don’t have time for opportunity but it’s opportunity and you don’t want to say no so you figure out how to get it done and politely and enthusiastically say “yes, come on in.”

My life right now is chaos, but there are two definitions of chaos:

chaos : complete disorder and confusion.

OR

chaos : the formless matter supposed to have existed before the creation of the universe

What I’m experience right now is incredibly profound. I feel that I am swirling in a turbulent yet somehow welcoming and pillowy ocean storm. I’m shedding layers of myself left and right, not sure what I’m about to transform into or if I’m going to regain any sense of identity at all, yet I hold on to faith. Faith that the one thing I can count on in life is change, and that change requires transformation, and that transformation requires at least a brief moment of chaos. So with that, I’m quite fond of the second definition of chaos. I exist in some sort of liminal state but what I’m about to do is create something amazing. I’m about to become someone’s wife. I’m about to forge my own family with another person. We’ve been together almost 7 years but marriage makes things different. I’m 30. I’m learning what that is like. So many things.

So in brief I welcome the chaos, as I must if I want to create the universe. I welcome the chaos of this post, bouncing from subject to subject and thought to thought. I welcome the chaos of my apartment, with its stacks of boxes, candles, flowers, croquet sets, and gift bags. I welcome the chaos of work, and the uncanny sense that every huge project I could possibly have has reached a fever pitch NOW. I welcome the chaos of my family, which is a topic for another day, but trust me, chaos.

Somehow out of this, love will mold the universe.

So why was I talking about opportunity? Oh yeah, because of course Murphy’s Law would suggest that since I’ve found myself in the most chaotic stage of my life thus far, now would be the time for opportunity to come knocking. And I’m grateful! Again, I simply embrace it all and laugh! Laugh as I see all the balls in the air. Somehow they’re still in the air!

Last week I was contacted by Buick with a fantastic promotional opportunity for my blog. I won’t go into the details here. Right now I’ll just tell you that it involves running and traveling, which are the exact topics that spurred the creation of Running to Tahiti. I want to devote an entire post to this project so look for that tomorrow. Today I simply wanted to set the stage of my life. Beautiful chaos.

I had the opportunity to see an original Jackson Pollock today at MOCA with one of the museum educators. This piece could not have been more perfect right now. I may as well be looking in a mirror.

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The guide really took us through the painting. I would say that I’ve always “liked” Jackson Pollock but mostly because I didn’t really see a reason not to like him. He obviously made a strong signature on the art world. But today I really got it. I saw that the painting itself is beautiful chaos. That within the “mess” is the act of creation. Looking at that painting was like looking at a song being orchestrated or a city being built. There is motion in it. The layers, the colors, all playing different parts and evoking different feelings. Kind of amazing. Good job Jackson.

Beautiful chaos. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Beautiful chaos!