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Running the Home Stretch

We are almost to Tahiti. We are almost to Tahiti! I find this so hard to believe, as Tahiti has been a bit of a distant dream for these past three years, despite our active plan to get there. The number of miles left to run has remained in the 4 digit area code for what feels like so long.

Until now.

I truly can’t believe it but we collectively have less than 800 miles to run. Less than 800 miles to white sandy beaches, crystalline waters, sea creatures, tropical cocktails, and exotic adventures. Less than 800 miles to our Honeymoon!

That 800 miles will fly by. How do I know this? Because we’ve created a built-in carrot to insure that we keep on track for this final stretch. It’s called the Walt Disney World Marathon on January 11. If Brad and I stick to our training schedule, which we simply must if we have any hope of finishing our first marathon, we will arrive running on the shores of Tahiti the week of December 15. Just in time for Christmas. Happy Christmas to us! We won’t actually make travel plans and get there until sometime in the spring, but this Christmas you can bet our hearts will be in French Polynesia.

The road has been paved with literal blood, sweat, and tears. As well as vomit, panic attacks, dirt, chaffed skin, plantar fasciitis, bursitis, and sunburns. Amidst the injuries and struggles we’ve also had joy, laughs, adventures, and some of the best memories in our 7 years together so far. That’s what running is all about. The incredible beauty in the challenge.

After Tahiti Brad will likely scale back on mileage and FINALLY get rid of the pesky plantar fasciitis that plagues him. I see a bicycle and a swim cap in Brad’s future. Me? I think I’ll stick with running for awhile. It’s become a very important part of me. Running makes me feel strong, sane, and grounded. As long as I’m injury free (knock on wood) I think I’ll always be running somewhere. The question is, where should we run to next?

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10 Reasons to Run a Half Marathon

I didn’t realize this until my husband pointed it out to me a couple of weeks ago, but the 2014 Disneyland Half Marathon marked my 10th half marathon completed. I can’t believe it! I ran my first 13.1 miles at the 2010 Disneyland Half. How fitting that my 10th be at the same event. Full circle. Warm and fuzzies. MILEstone.

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In honor of my 10th half marathon-iversary, I thought I’d pay homage to the distance. It’s a great race. I started to think about why I love it so much and as I brainstormed it occurred to me to loop other folks in on the discussion. I’m a member of a fantastic Disney nerd running group on Facebook called Team #runDisney. It’s an amazingly supportive and enthusiastic group of runners. From novices to elites, everyone in this group comes together to share the love of our sport. So who better to answer the question, why do you run the half marathon, than my brothers and sisters in arms (or legs) over at Team #runDisney. The following is a mash-up of their answers as well as my own. I give you:

10 reasons to run a Half Marathon.

  1. Accountability
    • It’s all well and good to say you’re going to run 20 miles a week (or whatever), but let’s be serious, you won’t. You’ll get home from work and you’ll feel all tired and sludgy and give in to the couch calling out to you. Couch says “Hey you, yeah you whose derriere I love so much when it snuggles up on me with a glass of wine and a bag of hot Cheetos. Come put your feet up and watch the new episode of Scandal. It’s far too late and that wine is far too delicious. No need to run today.” That’s what the couch says. You can’t listen. You need something to pull you away. Sign up for a half marathon. Paying that kind of money to run a race will keep you motivated to keep going, keep training. Seeing that countdown widget on your phone everyday will remind you of what you promised yourself. Accountability. Plus, I just used wine and hot Cheetos in the same sentence. God help me.
  2. All about the bling
    • Yes I realize it’s just a cheap piece of metal made for 10 cents somewhere over seas probably by an exploited labor force. But man, I can’t help it, I love my medals. How many instances in life do you get a well-deserved medal placed around your neck for something you accomplished. There’s a reason there’s an established saying “they should give me a medal ” when you bust your butt for something. In this case, they will!
  3. Set an example
    • Whether it’s your kids, students, nieces, spouse, or co-workers, you have the incredible opportunity to set an example for someone around you. At a time when the dangers of obesity are finally starting to sink in, we’re all having healthier discussions about body image, and nutrition often takes center stage in the national debate, thank God that it seems like the world may be getting healthier. Maybe? Hopefully? The truth is we don’t know if all these studies and articles and dialogues are actually doing anything. What I do know is that I’ve had at least three people tell Brad or I directly that our running habit inspired them to get active again. That’s amazing. If something I’ve done changes one person’s life for the better, worth it. Actions speak so much louder than words (coming from the girl who writes a BLOG! *facepalm*).
  4. Raise Money/Awareness
    1. Runners raise a shit-ton of money. Millions of dollars every year. In doing so they take the opportunity to educate their friends and families about causes that matter to them. They provide living proof that positive change begins with doing something for yourself but it can’t END there. Change must be paid forward. One of my favorite examples of this phenomenon is Sean Astin’s #run3rd campaign. It sums up the philosophy perfectly. Run 1st for myself. Run 2nd for my family. Run 3rd for YOU. Of course “You” being an embodiment of whatever dedication compels you forward; be it a cause, a loved one, a memory, a statement. Give it away, be a part of something bigger. Make effort meaningful. Running does these things. Cool, huh?
  5. FOOD
    • With a capital F! Ok people, I’m not saying you should gorge yourself or anything. That would totally undermine the point I made above about setting a healthy example. But I’m not gonna lie, food tastes waaaay better after you just ran 13.1 miles and know that every single calorie has already been burned off. Most of the time of course you should be healthy and mindful of what you put in your body. Well, actually, all the time. Yes we should be mindful of that all the time. You should see how mindfully I down a chocolate milkshake and stack of buttermilk pancakes with a side of hash browns after I run a half marathon. In all honestly, I’m telling you, when you run consistently you just don’t have to stress about food as much. I never used to be able to eat whatever I wanted without gaining weight just thinking about a few extra calories. Since I’ve been running really consistently I don’t think about it, and I don’t gain. Admittedly, I haven’t lost weight either, but I’m ok with that. The relief of going to the grocery store and just buying what my cravings tell me to buy is so freeing. (News flash, when you get out of diet mode and listen to real cravings, you’ll probably crave healthy foods like fruits, veggies, and protein. True story). But let me repeat my main point, eating WHATEVER you want after you just ran a half marathon is a gift from above.
  6. Fits into your busy schedule
    • Brad and I just started training this week for the Walt Disney World Marathon. I have to admit, looking at the training calendar I can tell that from here until January running is going to dominate our weekends. Once we get over 14 mile runs, you’re talking about carving out at least 3 hours of straight running every Saturday. That’s *just* the running. That doesn’t include warm-up time, cool-down time, and recovery time. Running over 14 miles is going to knock us out the rest of the day, and we’ll be doing it about 10 weekends in a row. Bye bye social life! Don’t get me wrong, I’m so excited for the challenge and am committed to making a social sacrifice to get ready for Disney World come January, but let me tell you the great thing about a half marathon. It’s challenging, quite challenging, requires a good amount of training and consistency, but is not SO challenging that it dominates your life. You can train for a half marathon without neglecting your family, and while maintaining a social life. And at the end of it all you’ll still feel so accomplished after running that race! It’s the perfect distance for we amateur athletes who still want lives.
  7.  Runcations
    • Running a half marathon can provide great incentive to travel. It might be hard to convince your spouse to fly across the country for a 5k or even a 10k. The half marathon is that magic distance. Your family will be so impressed by your effort and dedication to the challenge, they will readily jump on board to fly to Boston so you can run the inaugural Heartbreak Hill Half Marathon. Tempt them with a Duck Tour and lobster rolls and you’ll start to see that half marathons can be the markers on your traveler’s map. And you won’t be SO beaten up after 13.1 miles that you won’t have any steam left to enjoy your surroundings. A marathon could put you out of commission. A half marathon will leave you feeling celebratory and revitalized with some extra calories to spare (see point #5). Half Marathons have taken Brad and I to Monterey, Big Sur, San Diego, and of course Disneyland!
  8.  Camaraderie
    • I’ve always gravitated more toward solitary sports than teams. Does that make me a creeper who doesn’t like people? I don’t think so. It’s just that team sports give me so much anxiety. Too much pressure!. However tennis, swimming, cycling, running. I can get behind all of these. The funny thing is I feel more supported by my fellow runners of the world than I ever did on a team played in school. Perhaps because we don’t compete against each other, we compete against ourselves (talking about non-elites of course). I run to beat my own time, not someone else’s. I don’t disappoint anyone if I can’t finish a race. No runner (me) has panic attacks about letting the team down. This leaves 100% room for positive camaraderie with my fellow runners and no where is that more apparent than at a half marathon. Thousands of eager athletes willing each other to succeed. I want them all to succeed so bad! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cried hearing the stories of what my running friends have overcome in their journeys. We share tips with each other, we swap horror stories, we salute new PRs and we comfort epic disappointments. Seems like almost every major thread I read on Facebook is chalk full of dissent, argument, and trolls, except for my running groups. They are a virtual haven. In my running groups I can’t say I’ve ever come across a single troll. I may extol the virtues of the solitary athlete, but I’m not-so-secretly dependent on my “team.”
  9. Running is cheaper than therapy
    • There are many ways to maintain positive mental health; and running does it for me. The half marathons that I run every year keep an attainable but challenging carrot dangling out in front of me. I have something to look forward to which is always good for joy-making, and running after that carrot gets all kinds of fancy endorphins pumping through my blood and brain. Training will give you built-in “me time.” It will clear your head. It will help you manage stress. Half marathon training is honestly the best prescription for mental stability I’ve ever undertaken. Half marathon = happiness.
  10. Dreamcatching
    • Admit it, someone at some point in your life has made you feel incapable and bad. Whether that person was a bully, a pesky relative, or yourself. Someone made you think you couldn’t do things like run 13.1 miles. Oh the satisfaction of proving someone wrong. Run a half marathon because someone at some point told you that you couldn’t. Run a half marathon because you need tangible proof that any dream is catchable.

 

To finish, I want to share some quotes from the Team #runDisney thread that inspired me to write this, and continues to inspire me keep on runnin’. (Please apply (sic) to all typos, these comments came from the grammar vacuum known as Facebook). I hope you can feel the inspiration oozing from your computer screen, onto your desk, and down into your feet! These people have overcome and accomplished some amazing things. If they can do it, so can YOU!

I love running with people who are running their first half marathons and getting to share the experience of something I really love. It’s amazing to see all the emotions they go through and to be that voice of confidence and encouragement.

I run because I was told I couldn’t. And 8 years later, when I ended up in a wheelchair, I switched to a racing chair because running had become part of who I am. And it’s taught me way too many things to list…

Running ten miles on a Saturday morning means nachos for lunch don’t count!!

I had a stroke about 6 years ago and I run because I can and I know it’s a luxury!

Easier than a marathon and more challenging than a 10K. Just the right distance and I always feel accomplished at the end.

Because people look at me and say, you don’t look like a runner……

I run all distances for fun… 5Ks and 10Ks I want to go fast. Fulls require focus… With the Half, I can be a bit more casual and enjoy the race from start to finish.

Sometimes I don’t have a lot of control of many things in my life -but I always have control of me. It empowers me to stay strong through uncertain times.

I signed up for my first time last year because I can’t seem to accomplish my personal goal at work and needed to know that nothing could hold me back from what I wanted to do if there was no one in my way….

To raise money for a local charity and in honor of a friend who used to run marathons but died of brain cancer two years ago.

I took 20 years off of Running. Last year my son started Kindergarten. I wanted to set an example of exercise. I started with the Rock N Roll Half Marathon in Las Vegas last November. When November rolls around the weekend of the Disney Avenger Race I will have run 9 half marathons in a year’s time. If someone told me last August that I would have run 9 Half Marathons I would have said they were crazy. Yet 5 down, 1 this weekend, then 3 to go!!!

Most of my life I have been a big guy, a couple years ago lost over 100 pounds. I remember how excited I was when I ran my first mile without stopping for the first time in my life. This will be my 2nd half marathon. I don’t run because I can, I run because all my life I couldn’t.

I started running three and a half years ago after my son passed away following a car accident. That’s why I run to honor (him). He was a country runner and rugby player in high school and we had planned to someday do a half marathon together. I’ve done many half marathons and I have three or four more planned in the next 6 months. I run to feel close to and honor him. That’s why I run.

I find a different kind of fulfillment when I run halfs. It’s changed me inside letting me know I am strong and (can) accomplish anything!

I had a rough childhood, survived a relationship that could have ended my life, and emotional struggles from it all.  My boys don’t know all this from my past, but I want them to know that strength comes in many forms. Maybe getting that medal is physical validation of what I conquered internally. I also love that I can have them see me run and we can have a family vacation together at our favorite place on the planet. Double bonus!

I started running a few years ago. Did the Disney World 5K at Animal Kingdom and it was amazing!! I cried at the end!! Jumped straight to Half Marathon and was hooked… still cry at the finish!! LOL

For the amazing feeling you get when you finish the race. That natural high lasts for days and carries over into your normal everyday life!

Why you ask… “We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… We must do that which we think we cannot.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

 

 

 

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. 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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Why I Won’t Be Losing Weight For My Wedding

I could go on and on and on and on and on about female body issues. I could probably go on about male body issues as well. I haven’t really tried; but I’m sure I could. Today I’ll try not to go on too much, but ever since I got engaged there’s something I’ve been meaning to say. I won’t be losing my weight for my wedding. For several reasons.

There’s this strange expectation when you get engaged that you’ll want to get fit, lose weight, tone up, look perfect. I’m not going to bash the idea. I understand it. It’s a significant day. One in which dozens of people will all be looking at you, sizing you up whether they mean to or not; and one in which you’ve spent dollars, lots of dollars (probably thousands) to have your picture taken. You likely want to look your best. It doesn’t surprise me that getting fit and looking great become a priority to engaged ladies. What saddens me is that it often seems to become priority #1, and that our culture is obsessed with it.

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To each his own. I’m not here to judge anyone. If getting married is a catalyst for someone to get healthy, who am I to condemn that? My instinct is to criticize that we seem to equate thinness with worth in our society, and no where is that more apparent than the pressure put on a bride. But perhaps I’m projecting. Let me remove myself from the position of casting judgement and turn the focus inward. I’m only here to talk about my own experience, and if anyone out there can relate perhaps we’ll start to open our minds a bit about what it means to be a beautiful bride.

My entire life I’ve been in a perpetual state of trying to lose weight. Truly, for as long as I can remember. I went to my first Weight Watchers meeting when I was 12. I was a chubby kid. I got teased. It sucked. Make no mistake about the power of bullies on a sensitive young heart. I wish I had the magic elixir to protect my future children from the nonsense of bullies, but knowing that I don’t have it just as my own mother didn’t have it no matter how much she tried, keeps me up at night. Children can be cruel, and I let myself be a victim. I grew up throughout my teenage years always wanting to lose weight. Always. All. Ways. I begged my mom to let me do three-day crash diets that consisted of canned beets and plain hot dogs, cabbage soup diets, grapefruit juice fasts, the master cleanse, Atkins. All of it, I did it. And I lost weight a lot of the time. I fluctuated between being in a state of weight loss which made me feel FANTASTIC, and being in a state of weight gain which made me feel utterly worthless as a human being. I was addicted to dieting. A weight loss junkie. The highs were so high, the lows so low. But man, those highs. It’s a dangerous state. That being the pattern I allowed myself to grow up in, I began to equate happiness with weight loss.

I had these flights of fancy about what would force me to “finally lose the weight” in a once and for all kind of way, as if it wasn’t me in control, but an external force that could finally put the nail in the chubby coffin. I had some dream of a weight loss fairy Godmother in the form of these motivating life benchmarks. I thought going away to college would do it (apparently I’d never heard of the freshmen 15). Then I thought going off to London would do it (all those cute Brits. I had to be ready). Then I thought graduating from college would do the trick, or moving to L.A. After all, I couldn’t in any way participate in Los Angeles looking like “this.”

With all of those benchmarks come and gone, some hit, some missed, I thought there was one down the road that would be a surefire win. One moment in time that would surely be the catalyst for my final victory over the fat. That moment would be when I got engaged.

That would do the trick right? There’s no way I would allow myself to walk down the aisle looking chubs. And besides, it’s what women do, right? Then a funny thing happened.

I got engaged.

And I felt no desire to lose weight. It didn’t even cross my mind. In other significant moments throughout my life such as getting into college, getting asked to prom, getting cast in a TV show, the absolute first thing that entered my mind when these things happened was “I have to lose weight.” So believe me when I say that I was the most shocked of all when Brad put the ring on my finger and the first thing we did was go eat a lunch of grilled cheese sandwiches and salad covered in delicious ranch dressing, capped off with chocolate gelato.

So let me take a step back, because the truth is the weight monsters began to drift away a lot earlier. Namely, the moment I fell in love with Brad. That’s not meant to sound sappy because I’m actually a bit critical of myself for it. I’m disappointed in myself that it took the opinion of a male in my life to finally shift my thinking. But that’s the way it went down. Brad fell in love with me, all of me, especially me, with no condition that I lose weight. He didn’t say “oh yeah, I totally love you, but we’ll only really be together once you lose 20 pounds.” See, that’s what I told myself. “I’ll only get a boyfriend when I lose 20 pounds.” So if I recited that to myself then of course I believed it was the steadfast condition upon which I would find a mate. Then along comes Brad and the condition evaporates. It’s not because he loves me that I learned to love myself. It’s more like his love was a wake up call. I finally opened my damn eyes and got over the idea of only loving myself -20 pounds.

And then of course there’s running. Magical, beautiful, blissful running. I attribute a huge portion of my current happiness to my running habit. My feet make me grateful for my calves, and my calves for my knees, and my knees for my spine, and my butt, and my arms, and my lungs, and my eyes. I love running, and I need all of those things to run, therefore I love all of those things. The best thing I could have ever done for my body and self-esteem was to take the first step onto the running track.

So fast forward again to the engagement. Our relationship is built upon the foundation that we love each other as is. Warts and all. Or weight and all, in my case. If Brad’s nose fell off, or he grew a third arm, or his skin turned green, I would still love him. Those things would be weird, but I would love him. So now that we’re planning our wedding the condition, the code that I’ve always lived by which dictates that I must lose weight before accomplishing anything, that code is gone. It feels false, not to mention regressive, to reinstate it just because that’s what brides seem to do.

I’m happy, truly happy, with exactly the way I look right now. And it’s not the same as the volatile roller-coaster of happiness I was on before when my weight would go up and down and up. That happiness was dependent upon something external. This happiness comes from within. Yes I could stand to lose a few pounds to make my doctor happy, but that will come in time. After all I’m about to begin training for a marathon. Something is going to be lost. It might be my weight, it might be my dignity. Time will tell. For now I’m stable. For the first time in my entire life, my self-esteem is stable. I don’t get nervous to look in the mirror, not knowing if I will respond with adoration or disgust. I love every inch of my body and not because it’s thin, but because it keeps me healthy. It’s an absolute miracle, the only one of it’s kind.

Would I like to look the absolute ideal version of myself on my wedding day? Sure. Of course. But I’m not sweatin’ it. I know how my brain works. If I lost weight for my wedding day I would obsess over it. It would consume every thought from here until July 21st. It would make our day about how I look. I don’t want my wedding day to be about how I look. I want it to be about how I feel. And how Brad feels. And right now, I’m in love. Brad loves me just as I am. More importantly, I love me just as I am. I’m a bride. A bride takes a leap of faith in the name of goodness. A bride places the importance of another person’s life right alongside hers. A bride makes a declaration that love conquers, fear falters, and fidelity reigns. A bride (and groom) in love truly is the most ideal version of herself, and that ideal has nothing to do with size.

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Plus! There’s sound equipment that needs renting, and paper flowers that need making, and rehearsal dinner that needs planning, and ceremony readings that need picking, and hair that needs highlighting, and a mini-moon that needs booking, and gifts that need buying, and, And, AND! Yeah. I’ve got enough on my plate to not have to worry about what I’m eating off my plate.

Until next time.

Love,

Becky

 

 

 

MILEstones!!

Today Brad and I hit a major milestone, or, MILEstone, you might say. After this morning’s 3 mile run, we have officially hit the 3,000 mile mark! We’re getting so close to Tahiti!

 

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And man that was a hot run! We worked for it. Only 1,109 miles to go. After this weekend’s half marathon we’ll be in the 1,000’s!

Can you say…

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Have a great weekend everyone.

So Much Thanks

I have a lot to be thankful for this year. When you get right down to it, the vast majority of us in the world have a WHOLE lot to be thankful for, and with the world as whacked out as it is, I think it’s important to vocalize our thanks. Focus on the good. Be… excellent… to each other. ‘Tis the season.

This year I want to participate in the 30 days of thanks challenge. Is it a challenge? I’m not sure. I may have made that up. 30 days of thanks… extravaganza? Or maybe it’s just 30 Days of Thanks. That sounds more like it. Either way, I want to do that thing where you vocalize, literally or electronically, something you are thankful for each day.

Most people do this through a Facebook post or a tweet, but being the long-winded writer that I am I’m anticipating wanting to elaborate a bit more so I’ll use the ol’ blog to get the word out. This will also give me a true challenge, to write every day for 30 days.

Join me on a 30 day journey of reflection and deep-hearted thanks. I encourage you to join in the extravaganza!

(I’m a few days behind, so I’m going to spitfire Days 1-4 and get on track with one post per day starting tomorrow).

Day 1

This face/person/soul:

 

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Brad Light. I don’t know what I did to find him. Whatever celestial magic that brought him my way, to “you” I say thank you. I am thankful for his spirit, his silliness, his sense of humor, his tenderness, his gentleness, his handsomeness, his goodness, his curly brown hair, his horned-rim glasses, his love of the sea, his quest for adventure, his love of his family, his love of cats, his delicious stir-frys, his understanding, and more than anything I’m thankful that he loves me. Again, celestial magic. It’s a thing. I love you to the moon and back Brad.

Day 2

These squishy fluffy faces:

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It is an excellent idea to live with cuddly animals. They teach you about unconditional love. They challenge you to take care of something precious other than yourself. They encourage you to embrace empathy for non-human creatures, which then translates to empathy for human creatures too. These are truths for me. I am so grateful for my two kitties, Sharky and Mr. Wizard. Now if only they loved each other as much as we love them. Maybe next year.

Day 3

My running route:

Last night Brad and I finished a glorious 10 mile run along the beach. Around mile 4 the sun was setting over the Pacific and Brad says to me “if anyone told me when I was a kid that one day I’d get to run along the beach next to my fiance as the sun sets over the ocean, I’d have been able to suffer through a lot more pain with a smile on my face knowing where I’d eventually end up.” Isn’t that the lesson we all need. First of all, when life sucks, as it often does, you are never without the tiny kernel of knowledge that somehow it will get better. It just will. And that maybe all of the hard times are necessary, as they are leading to something more wonderful than you could imagine. So today I am grateful for where those hard times and wrong turns have landed us. In a little apartment on the Pacific with the most glorious running path two runners could ask for.

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Day 4

I am grateful for the fall.

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Today I woke up and I knew it would feel like fall (as much as it CAN feel like fall in Los Angeles). Brisk autumn days are something I miss so terribly living in L.A. Some people get bummed out by a lack of sunshine. I get bummed out by too much. I like the seasons to obey the seasons and Southern California is the land of eternal summer. Bummer. Today I have a scarf around my neck, and I wore a jacket to work. I noticed some leaves falling off trees, and the shadows are extra long. Today, it feels like California fall and it may only last until about 3:00 pm, but I’ll take it. I’ll savor it.

 

Sometimes I worry that acknowledging all that I’m grateful for will jinx me, and it will all fall apart. This comes from the part of my brain that is convinced I don’t deserve to be happy. Hogwash. We all deserve to be happy. But we gotta thank the universe once in a while. She won’t bite.

 

See ya tomorrow.

 

 

Happy Places

I recently had a revelation while pondering what I want to do with the rest of my life. I’ve spent countless hours pondering that question when in fact I believe the answer has been staring me in the face.

Do you have places in the world that you would describe as your happy places? I do. And I don’t mean a metaphorical happy place wherein you imagine yourself surrounded by bluebirds as a warm light washes over you. No. I mean a real, tangible, physical, happy place. Places you go where, no matter what, you feel instant glee. Not just cool places. Not just places you enjoy or find fun or pleasant. Places that have something special. Places with a magical power to transplant you from the dullest of dolddrums to the utmost place of hope and contentment. I have some.

Libraries/Book stores

Sports supplies stores (especially running stores)

Craft and art supplies stores (Michael’s, Utrecht, even Home Depot fits into this category. Places where you can get stuff to build other stuff)

Disneyland

Museums/Observatories

The woods

Office supplies stores

The ocean

On my couch with my fiance and my cats

London

I would say that pretty much covers my happy places. I could get more specific (The Griffith Observatory, The American Museum of Natural History, Northern California redwoods, etc.), but these are the main categories. Kind of a weird hodge-podge wouldn’t you say? I’m kind of weird.

As I’ve been mulling over what I should do with the rest of my life, I can’t believe it took me so long to realize that my happy places might be providing me with an answer.

How did I come to this realization? I thought about the things I’m currently doing that I don’t make a living off of, but that I love doing, and I realized there is potential to make a living off of them if I put my mind to it. I own and operate Whimsy Do. I write this blog. I run. I go to Disneyland (ok so maybe there’s not potential to make a living off of going to Disneyland but I have a point, which I’ll get to shortly). A light bulb went off as I realized that these things directly correlated to my top happy places.

  1. I own and operate Whimsy Do. I’m instantly happy in art and/or craft supplies stores a la Utrecht or Michael’s.
  2. I write. I write this blog and I write stories. I’m instantly happy in a book store or library.
  3. I run. I’m instantly happy in a running store and on the running trail. My blog is also a running blog so 2 and 3 tie in together.

I’m creating, writing, running; but I’m not currently making a living off of any of these things. I could though. I could invest more time and energy into Whimsy Do. I could actually get my stories published. I could turn this blog into a source of income with the right strategy and determination. And here is how Disneyland ties in. Disneyland Half Marathon weekend is one of my ultimate happy places (and training starts this week!). I could work for runDisney. Running and Disneyland, two happy places combined. If runDisney ever starts up a California office, I’m there. I could, and I should, and I would. Somehow.

I know what you’re thinking. If you make what you love your job, you run the risk of not loving it as much. You might ruin it. What a sad thought. Think about what that means for a moment. That means we are not only willing to, but deliberately choose to do things we dislike for the majority of our waking lives (8+ hrs of every day!) because we’ve somehow bought into the notion that work = something to be tolerated. I say we change that presumption. I say it’s time for a paradigm shift. It’s time we spend the majority of our lives doing things that feel right in our bones. That feel meaningful and make us, yes, happy. And will we feel happy all of the time? Of course not. Will it sometimes feel like work, even though we supposedly love it? Of course. Anything worth doing is hard. Marriage, parenthood, career aspirations. All challenging. All worth it. Because there is meaning in the challenge. You think it’s easy to climb Mt. Everest? I guarantee you the people who do it aren’t doing it for the paycheck. Passion is hard, but there is a payoff that directly feeds into our core, our selfness, our most precious part of ourselves that generates love and spirit and hope and life. It’s the right kind of hard work. Most of us spend our lives doing the wrong kind of work. The kind that makes us stare at the clock until 5:00. The kind that makes us steal as many Facebook minutes as possible throughout the day. Anything to distract us from that paperwork, right? The kind that makes us live for the weekend. As if two days make up for the other lost 5.

So idealistic right? I know. It’s easy to talk about. It’s hard to do. There are bills. There are mortgages. There are children to send to college. There are debts to pay off. I hear ya. I’m in a version of that boat myself. But it doesn’t stop me from believing that it’s possible. It must be possible to honor our fiscal responsibilities while the work we do gives our life meaning. We just spend too much of our lives at work for that not to be possible. 33.33% of my life is spent sleeping, 33.33% of my life is spent working, and 33.33% of my life is mine to do with as I please. That tiny third also has to include laundry, cooking, cleaning, bill pay, errands, etc. It’s not enough. Life is too precious. I want more than a third of it with which to make a difference. I want more than a third of it with which to accomplish something magical and more importantly something meaningful. I want to love and not to regret more than a third of my life. I know it’s possible. Because I feel it happening. 4 years ago I left an office job I didn’t like and I turned my back on the restaurant business because they were sucking my soul. I took a leap of faith, and a week later I got a call to work for a non-profit that is changing lives. I have a great job. I don’t love it every day, and I don’t believe it’s where I’m meant to end up, but my days aren’t wasted. I’m grateful for that. And because I took that leap, the next stepping stones are becoming clearer and clearer.

If you’re lost, floating, drifting, unsure of what move to make next, first of all you’re not alone. Maybe think about a happy place. They really are quite neat. As if the universe gave them to us, as to whisper in our ear “This. Do more of this. You were born to do this.”

I’m genuinely curious. What are your happy places? Universities? Science labs? Boardrooms? Churches? Kitchens? Let Tahiti readers know by leaving your happy place in the comments below. Maybe you’ll inspire someone else!

Mountains in the snow. Happy Place.

Mountains in the snow. Happy Place.

Brad and I touring the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab. Happy happy.

Brad and I touring the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab. Happy happy.

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On our beach. Happy.

The Los Angeles Public Library. Happy place.

The Los Angeles Public Library. Happy place.

Michael's (especially at Halloween). Happy place.

Michael’s (especially at Halloween). Happy place.

Running the Disneyland Half Marathon. Can't you tell by our faces? Happy places.

Running the Disneyland Half Marathon. Can’t you tell by our faces? Happy places.

A Friday night with my boys. Completely perfect happy place.

A Friday night with my guys. Completely perfect happy place. Although Sharky doesn’t look too happy 🙂

And of course, Tahiti. I have a feeling that's going to be one helluva happy place.

And of course, Tahiti. I have a feeling that’s going to be one helluva happy place.

if you want to go faster, you have to speed up

Sounds obvious doesn’t it? Somehow it isn’t. Somehow I carry on with these lofty ideas that I’ll cut my time by 15 minutes this year, judging by my progress, by sheer will alone. The truth is if I want to excel I have to fracking speed up! This translates into all areas of my life. I tell myself I’m going to lose weight, I’m going to get my reel done, I’m going to get representation, I’m going to have a career. What I repeatedly overlook is that you have to actually do the work it takes to get those things. Willing them will not make them so. Maybe it’s enough for some people but I can tell that I’m just not that lucky. I have to do the work. I’m going to use the opportunity to run faster at this year’s Disneyland Half Marathon as an opportunity to kick my butt into high gear, and put my money where my mouth is, in ALL areas of my life. First, time to speed up.

I owe this minor revelation partly to myself, and partly to my friend Chris who I ran with this morning. We ran 4 miles and he is naturally quite a bit faster than me so it was a great challenge. Forced me to pick up the pace. When we were done I was telling him my plans to cut down my half marathon time by 15 minutes this year. He quickly replied “and how many weeks do you have?”

“9 weeks,” I told him.

“You better start speeding up.”

“I have time,” I reassured myself him. Then it dawned on me, he’s totally right. I BETTER start speeding up. I always tell myself that I have time but then I fall into my comfort zone and enjoy my leisurely 11 minute mile. True progress involves being in a constant state of slight discomfort. I’m far too comfortable. I’m going to wake up tomorrow and it’s going to be September 1st and time will have run out. I can’t just wish for progress to happen, I have to run faster. Again, sounds obvious, but this was an aha moment.

He then proceeded to break it down for me in mathematical terms. Essentially I’m going to focus one short run a week on cutting my time by at least 5 – 10 minutes. If I can do that then slowly but surely as my runs get longer it should even out and I will cut significant time off my total half marathon. I have to do this.

The other factor that’s really going to start speeding things up is the loss of the weight. I had an aha moment regarding this yesterday as well. Brad was showing me his brand new scuba diving weights he’d just bought. They are two pounds each. He threw one my way and as I caught it, my whole arm fell to the floor with the weight of the catch. I was amazed at how heavy two measly little pounds felt. The lightbulb went off. Holy crap. If I ran with this thing in my pocket, I would definitely notice it. I would definitely slow down. The truth is, I AM running with those weights only they’re not in my pocket. They’re on my ass, and my arms, and my thighs. I realized in that moment that if I lost just two pounds off my frame it would make a significant difference. Imagine how 10 pounds would change my speeed! 15! This must happen. This is a key component to speeding up. I can’t run with excess scuba weights in my pockets.

gross! don’t you love the pink flower they’ve added to improve the image?

The thing is… I have a need… a need for speed 🙂 I want to be fast like lightning. I want to feel the wind whip through my hair. I want the world around me to feel like a blur. Maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration but I want to finish fast. More than anything though, I want to get out of this horrible habit of wishing for things and not making them come true. It’s not enough to wish. It’s enough to wish AND act. Time to take action.

Plus, you never know when you’re going to be chased by enemy flying saucers through the jungle. When that happens, I want to run like this kid. Talk about running inspiration.

the merits of public school, or, how and why I run

I’ve been thinking and thinking about how best to give training advice to those of you who will be training for the Family Fun Run 5K this September. In all honesty, it’s been difficult for me to figure out the best approach because it’s been awhile since I’ve trained for that distance. It’s hard to get in the right head space. I truly don’t mean to toot my own horn by saying that. I’ve said many times, and I’ll say it again, that I am a slow, amateur runner. But I stick with it, so I’m able to build up a lot of endurance. Trust me when I say that anything I can do, you can do too, and I in no way mean to poo-poo the fact that it’s daunting to take on your first 5k. I’ve been running my entire adult, and most of my young adult life, so 5k is my standard daily run. I’m at a place where that’s my starting distance. That wasn’t always the case of course and it was my stroll down memory lane today, back to the beginning of my love affair with running, that helped me get back in touch with what you are feeling. I do in fact remember what a mountain 3 miles can look like to someone who has never run before.

I’ve never wrote about my history with running and what made me start. Most of the time I feel like I’ve just always been a runner but that is, in fact, completely not true. I owe every ounce of my passion for running to my 6th grade teacher Mr. Turner. There were two 6th grade classes at my elementary school. You either got the eclectic, artsy, eccentric teacher with a passion for ancient Egypt; or you got Mr. Turner, the sarcastic, brash, tough jock who reminded me of Coach Hayden Fox. Guess who I got. The jock. And I’m so glad I did for many reasons. I don’t need to delve into the merits of my public school education right now so I’ll only talk about one specific thing for which I owe Mr. Turner a debt of gratitude. He got me in shape. Mr. Turner made the entire class run… every day. When he told us we’d be running a mile every day, we were a) mad and b) convinced our teacher was crazy. We had P.E. once or twice a week and we all played during recess, so why the heck did we need to run every day? I’m not exactly sure what Mr. Turner’s motivations were, but I know he was on to something. Making our class run every day not only blew off the excess energy we 12 year olds harbored and helped us focus when we got back to our desks, it laid the groundwork for a healthy lifestyle and the discipline and routine it takes to maintain it. It’s easy to play tag at recess when you WANT to, but that’s not going to last forever, and neither is a 12 year old’s metabolism. It’s not so easy to be healthy and fit when you don’t necessarily feel like it, but if you build in the habit at a young age you’ll be ten steps ahead of the fitness curve for the rest of your life. I think Mr. Turner knew this, and I think this was exactly why he made us run every single day. Or he was just living out his dreams of being a drill sergeant.

Throughout the rest of my life I haven’t always been perfect about maintaining a fitness schedule, but I’ve always known that it’s important and that I should strive to keep myself active. I’m proud to say that I’ve never been a couch potato, and I definitely would have veered in that direction if it were not for the running practice I started at age 12. If you’re reading this, it doesn’t matter if your 12 or 70, it is absolutely never too late to get yourself into an active lifestyle. Running a 5k (3.1 miles) is a fantastic goal to strive for.

So now that we’ve covered what laying a healthy foundation did for me, now let’s talk about my actual experience of running back then. The daily requirement was that we walk or run a mile. That’s it. Boy, back then, it seemed like a million miles. That field we ran around was HUGE and we had to run around it 4 times? Crazy talk. For weeks and weeks I did a lot of walking. Run walk run. The weeks passed by and the walking breaks subsided. Before I knew it, I was running a solid mile every day. It felt great. At that point Mr. Turner upped the stakes. He said that we still only had to run a mile every day with the rest of the class, but if we wanted we could start aiming for 2 miles.. and even 3! No way. 3 miles was like the same distance as a marathon, right? Absolutely no way.

Looking back, I feel like I have two different brains. The brain of now that feels like 3 miles is a warm-up, and the brain of my youth that remember 3 miles feeling like an impossibility. Both feelings are true, and one is a hearty reminder that the impossible is never truly impossible. 

I continued to run with my classmates a mile a day. I didn’t jump into the 2 mile club. I may have added an extra lap here and there but on the whole I was happy with the 1 mile. Some days I’d push myself and get faster. Others I’d slow down and spend the time gabbing my girlfriends about the brand new training bras we’d just gotten. I enjoyed the time so much. Time to clear my head and not worry about homework, or taking notes, or whether Danny was looking at me on the playground, or whether someone would ask me to play foursquare with them. Not a care in the world. Just run. After a couple of months I decided that maybe I would try and reach that 2 mile goal. A lot of my friends were aiming for it, and a few kids in my class were even going to try for 3. Crazy! Mr. Turner set a specific date that we would try to run the extra distances. That way we could really focus on a timeline to achieve our goal. I kept adding laps , sometimes running and sometimes walking, and slowly but surely I felt like I could take on 2 miles. 

The big day came. About 12 – 15 of us were going to try for 2 miles. 2 kids in class were going to shoot for 3. I still remember those kids. One was a tiny little lighting bolt with brown hair and spindly legs. Boy could he fly. Another was a tall blonde boy who was almost all leg. Clearly he had an advantage. He covered the same amount of ground with 1 step as I did with 3! We started all together. I remember a lot of kids stopping after the first mile. I remember myself wishing I was one of them. But I didn’t give in. I kept going, and after what felt like an eternity later, I crossed that finish line to the sound of my classmates cheering me on. That was the first time I experienced the “oh my god I’m going to puke” feeling from a workout. It felt good 🙂 

Mr. Turner had three big cards up on the wall in our classroom. One said “1 mile.” The other said “2 miles” and the third said, yep you guessed it, “3 miles.” After our accomplishment he would put our names under the corresponding card. Everyone’s name was up on the board some where. Most kids stayed under the 1 mile card. A handful of us made it to 2. And still only those 2 quick as lightning boys made it under 3. That bugged me. What can I say, I’ve always been competitive. 2 boys, no girls. That just couldn’t stand.

The next date rolled around where we could try and reach the next running goal. Many of my fellow classmates were more confident this round shooting for 2 miles. I was proud of them. Me, I was going to, hopefully, do the impossible. I didn’t know how I would be able to ever run so far, but somehow, I was going to try and run 3 miles. The whistle blew and we all started running. I instinctively knew to pace myself. Boy did I ever. I trotted for the first mile more than ran. A very slow trot. The laps came and went. If 2 miles felt like an eternity, this felt like eternity times a thousand. I made it past 2 miles, and 4 looooong laps later, I stumbled across the finish line. Wow… Holy.. I couldn’t believe it. Couldn’t believe I actually ran as far as that tiny brunette kid, and couldn’t believe that I’d accomplished the impossible, and couldn’t believe how sick I felt. Yet I knew I’d be ok. I was too excited to not be ok. In that moment I’d set a new bar for myself. I thought back to how difficult I thought it would be to run 1 mile, and here I’d just run 3. That was the beginning for me. The beginning of a lifelong love affair with running. And the beginning of a lifelong quest to achieve the impossible. Thank you Mr. Turner.

If you’re gearing up to begin training next week for the first time EVER, I’m so excited for you. You’re going to discover a new side of yourself. You’re going to change the way you live and the respect you have for your health. You’re going to achieve things you didn’t know you could do. You’re going to exceed your own expectations and after that, the sky’s the limit. Get ready for the journey that leads to The Happiest RACE on Earth!

This isn’t exactly the right era but it’s the closest thing I have to looking like a little jock. Wuddin’ I cuuuute?

P90X – let the torture begin

Well hello there! It’s been awhile hasn’t it? Hope you didn’t miss me tooooo much. I’ve had a lot going on in the past couple of months and I have many exciting new things that I’d like to share with you. First things first though. To get back on track, let’s talk fitness. 

We’ve been doing “okay” with our running schedule. I say that in quotes because we’ve actually been doing terribly with our running schedule, BUT, not completely in vain. As I mentioned in a previous post, I want to shave some serious time off of my Disneyland Half Marathon pace this year. The past two years have been great; but we’re gearing up for year 3 and it’s time to kick it up a notch! I need to progress to the next level of runner-dom. I’d like to run as close to, if not under a 10-minute mile for the majority of the race. I believe I can do it, and I know what stands in my way. All I have to do is create a plan of action to remove the obstacles from my path.

#1, Weight. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again (except this time I’ll try and listen to myself), excess weight is really the number one factor that will slow you down. Muscle is one thing. Yes it weighs more so what I’m saying may sound counter intuitive, but muscle does something for you. Muscle helps move your blood around, gets oxygen to your lungs and propels you forward. Muscle is important and necessary, but it won’t matter a lick if you’re covering it up with dead weight in the form of fat. Fat is a dreaded enemy. It’s just like running with sandbags around your waist. Or with two small children holding onto your ankles.  Or carrying bricks in your pockets. Whatever visual works for you. It’s no good for a runner. So, in creating a plan to get to a 10-minute mile for the Half Marathon in September, I must include weight loss at the top of the priority list.

#2, muscle. A lean body is important for speed, but as I mentioned above, so is muscle. Running uses pretty much ALL of the muscles in your body in one way or another but it doesn’t necessarily build those muscles for you. Sure, it does to a point, but not to an optimal point. For example, a strong core is so crucial to strong running. It keeps your form tight, keeps you balanced, regulates your breath, alleviates pressure on your back. I could go on. However, running itself is not going to give you the strongest core possible. I’ve been running for years and I have a somewhat smallish waist, but I do NOT have a strong core. I used to. When I was doing Pilates religiously. I’ve never built a super strong core JUST from running. That’s just one example. The same could be said for your arms, legs and back muscles. For the past three years, running has pretty much been the sum total of my workout regimen. That’s all well and good, and I have excellent aerobic capacity because of it, but my body has plateaued. I’m not building up any new muscle by running, and it’s muscle I’m going to need if I want to speed up. So there we have #2 on the action plan. Build muscle.

Those are the two priorities right now. If I can drop some pounds and build some lean muscle, I know that I can get down to 10 minutes and under on race day. Now how do I do it? Lose weight, build muscle. Well, what can I say. There is one major zeitgeist in the fitness world right now that is pretty sure to do the trick. I’m finally jumping on the bandwagon, and taking on P90X.

I’m always late to these sorts of things. I hear about the latest fitness fad and I figure it’s just that, a fad. Everyone gets excited about it and in a couple of years something new comes along. Blah blah blah. That may be the case, and P90X will certainly lose fashion and join the ranks of outdated fitness crazes with Tae Bo and Jazzercise, but for now, I’m in. My friend Ryan did the program and sent me before and after pictures. I was so frickin’ AMAZED at what I saw, that I was sold. I think crazes are probably crazes for a reason. They work.

So that’s what’s happening on the road to Tahiti! I know that’s it’s going to be impossible to continue a 6 day a week running schedule AND stick to the P90X program. I’m not going to set myself up for failure in trying to accomplish that. I’m still going to run though. For. Sure. I can tell there are certain P90X days that are going to be easy enough on my body that I’ll still be able to do 3 mile runs. Shoulders & Arms for example. Totally. It was a tough workout on my arms but I could still run. Plyometrics on the other hand? No chance in hell. That one knocked me on my back for the entire day. Holy guacamole that was hard awesome!

I started the program last week while I was up visiting my Mom and I just have to share a funny story. I certainly got off to a hilarious start. Not sure if that’s what Tony Horton had in mind, but what can I say, my mom and I always end up laughing together. So here’s what happened. I can’t do pull ups… yet. They tell you to never say never in P90X but for now, ain’t no way. So instead I’m supposed to anchor my resistance band in a door jam; but my mom’s living room is this big open space and there were no door jams nearby. So instead, I had my mom hold on to one end of my resistance band while I did my workout. Let’s just say, I think she got a workout too. It was hilarious! Maybe you had to be there, but just look at the expression on my mom’s face!

hey, it worked

There was almost as much laughing in the first workout as there was me cursing and screaming in agony. Good pain though, good pain. I’ll tell you who’s having the last laugh…

curse you Tony Horton and your bazillion death push-ups!

So, in a nutshell, if you are looking ahead towards the Disneyland Half Marathon (or any upcoming race) and want to shave some time off your pace, consider jumping on the P90X bandwagon. It’s going to be hard work. That became very clear within 15 minutes. (I won’t even go into my arch enemy, Ab Ripper X, in this post).  But I know the payoff will be so sweet!