Tag Archive | challenges

A Major Milestone

I have some very exciting news to announce everyone! Although we haven’t quite stayed on track in terms of the timing of our journey to Tahiti (we originally planned a schedule that would get us there by Spring 2013, which, as you can see, didn’t happen at all), we are definitely still on our way. Very much so. We’ve been “running in the Pacific” a bit longer than expected, but hey, the water is warm and there have been lots of interesting stories to collect along the way. So what is the news?

As of July 2013, Brad and I are halfway to Tahiti!!

Now, that may sound pretty lame considering I just reminded you that we originally hoped to be there 5 months ago, but reserve your judgement and join us in the celebration. There are nuggets of wisdom here.

Goals matter. They drive us. They make us DO things, and not just dream about doing them. I read a really sharp article last year on Cracked.com that has stuck with me for a long time. To sum up, the writer illustrates in several different ways the uselessness of the well-intentioned, and the power of action. Being a good person, caring about the less fortunate, having dreams and aspirations. None of it means squat if you don’t DO anything about it. It’s a simple concept but somehow this article laid down a few metaphors that really hit the message home.

In thinking about the thesis mentioned in the previous paragraph, I can honestly say that I’m proud of us. We rock. Yes we’re only halfway to Tahiti by the date we intended to be ON Tahiti; but that only means one thing to me, WE’RE HALFWAY TO TAHITI!!! We’ve run 2,054 miles between the two of us and saved as much money. We rock.

Nothing goes as planned. If you have an example of a goal or life event that went EXACTLY as planned, by all means, share in the comments. Prove me wrong. In my experience, life always mixes things up a bit. The trick is to not let life’s minor or major detours derail you completely from what is truly important to you. So yes, it has been harder than expected to meet our weekly mileage goals. We could have let that discourage us and we could have turned around and headed back to shore. Nope. When my stint on the AMC took up two years of my life, when Brad’s massive understudying gig at the Geffen made running time impossible, when we got colds or flus or injuries, or when we fell during a race and and sprained our ankle for a month, you know what we did?

Nobody said it would be an easy run. We didn’t give up.

And here’s the final nugget of wisdom I take from this milestone. We’ve come too far to turn back. Once you pass that halfway point, the cost benefit becomes more worthwhile to just keep heading towards your goal instead of turning around and going back. We are stuck out in the middle of the Pacific surrounded by sharks and jellyfish, and it’s literally going to hurt just as much to MAKE it to our destination as it would to give up and go home, which makes the choice pretty clear. That’s an exciting feeling, and it motivates me to keep going until we get there. Do or die. I can’t help but feel that all goals, even ones that don’t involve running to a tropical island, have a similar halfway point. I think it’s just harder to determine what that point is. Mileage between point A and point B provides tangible and quantifiable benchmarks for progress. The halfway mark to becoming a successful artist, or starting your own business, or writing a novel, or becoming an astronaut, or ANY dream, may be harder to pinpoint, but I believe it’s there. I believe we reach a point in all of our endeavors where it’s easier to finish than it is to give up. This running goal, Running to Tahiti, has taught me to believe in that; to believe that by putting one foot in front of the other, we first begin, then we get a 1/3 of the way out, then we’re halfway there, then we see the goal in sight, then we reach for it it, and touch it, and smell it, and love it, and dance with it, and sing about it, and we HAVE it. We did it.

We can’t see the shore yet, but from this moment on, we know we are closer to Tahiti than we are to Los Angeles. We’ll be there soon, and we’ll send you a postcard.

pacific_ocean_1910

Tahiti

 

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boat-Tahiti

 

Tahiti 2

 

in complete awe of the massive surf

we can almost see it!

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10 miles of bliss

Half Marathon training week 5 has come and gone! We are officially halfway to race day. So sorry that I didn’t post a schedule last week. I was too busy running! That’s no excuse. There may be at least one person who reads this blog and tries to keep up with the training schedule. To that loyal runner and reader, I apologize. Let’s get back on track here in week 6! But first, some great highlights from the past week and a half.

I ran 10 miles!!!! 10.5 to be exact. I could not believe it when Saturday approached and I looked at the training calendar. How did we already make it to the double-digit runs? Time has flown by and yet, Brad and I have not let the training schedule fly by with it. We’ve been scrupulous this year, following every training mile to a tee, and it’s paying off. The added miles are getting easier, the pace is slowly quickening. (Slowly quickening? Jumbo shrimp? Whatever it makes sense to me.)

So there I am on Saturday morning, knowing what challenge lies ahead of me. I intend to get up early and hit the pavement so as not to encounter that evil midday sun. We all know how that goes. But I wake up at 8:00 am with a cat snuggling on my belly and come on, I simply cannot move him. It would be cruel! 

he’s a paperweight for people

So I close my eyes for a few more minutes and before I know it, it’s 11:00am. Looks like it’s going to be a midday run whether I like it or not. I pray for marine layer, or at least a cool breeze. I get up and make a plan for the day.

11:00 – 12:00 slowly get up and get dressed

12:00 – 1:00 fuel up. Lots of carbs and water.

1:00 – 2:00 take a walk down Main Street and burn off some of the carbs so as to avoid a sideache during run.

2:00 – 4:00 RUN!

Steps 1 – 3 go off without a hitch. 2:00 approaches and I’m feeling cautiously optimistic about the impending workout. Like I said, I have notoriously mixed results on these long training runs and today I will be in trouble if I get sick. Brad is out of town so there will be no one to come rescue me if I collapse on the sidewalk in heat exhaustion. I make a couple of promises to myself and I’m certain it’s these promises that make for such a successful run.

1) Don’t worry about speed. Go as slow as you need to, especially in the beginning. Don’t. Worry.

2) Don’t be an idiot. If you start to feel sick or weird, just stop and walk home. Don’t. Be. An. Idiot.

These things may sound obvious but to my stubborn brain they are not. I have before run to the brink of hospitalization so I need to actively remind myself that it’s simply not worth it. What I fear most about running long distances is not that I will get sick or die, it’s that I won’t be able to finish. Kind of twisted, isn’t it? In giving myself permission to fail, and to not finish, I feel the anxiety about the mileage ahead quickly evaporate and I take off on my run, fearlessly.

I want to take you through every moment, but I know I can’t capture them. What I’ll say is this, every moment was full. I ran for two solid hours and I’ve never felt so present and grateful for time. I often spend my running time daydreaming. Not so much on these 10 miles. Or rather, it was a different kind of daydreaming. Rather than imagining far off lands and distant dreams, I was inspired by the land around me. I didn’t listen to any music or podcasts. Didn’t have my ear buds in at all. Just ran in the moment listening to the world around me, occassionally talking to myself, and taking in the beautiful California landscape. 

I started this blog because I originally wanted to write about running and travel. I love to travel. My favorite way to explore a new place is to run in it. It gets in your blood that way. When you run you inhale so much oxygen into your system and your brain releases so many happy endorphins that I believe you literally breathe in the world around you in a deeper way when you run through it as opposed to drive or even walk. I looked out at the sea I ran next to and it looked more beautiful to me than the day before. I looked up at the blue sky and felt the sun seep into my skin. (My spf covered skin. Wear sun screen!) I felt the sea breeze blow across my face and was incredibly grateful for its cool kiss. I let myself off the hook for running fast and I freed myself from the fear of getting sick, and in return I got the most exhilarating two hours to myself that I will draw upon whenever I feel overwhelmed or anxious. I’ll remember back to that Saturday run that it was just me and my breath and the pavement and the sky.

I finished strong. Achy and THIRSTY, to be sure, but strong. 10.5 miles of presence. 10.5 miles of bliss.

Some survival tips for a long run. Before I left for breakfast I filled both of my belt bottles with water and stuck them in the freezer. That way I was ensured ice cold water for almost the entire 10 miles. I know there are trainers out there who will caution against drinking ice water when you’re exerting so much energy. It can be a shock to the system but it’s also a lifesaver if you start to overheat. For me, I’m all about ice water. I also made sure to wear my hat which kept the midday sun out of my eyes and off my scalp. And last but not least, sun screen. So crucial. The last thing you want is burned skin after a long hard run. First because it’s just plain bad for you. Cancer anyone!? Second because your body is going to be so heated after your workout and burned skin will make it that much harder for your body temp to come down. Not to mention how uncomfortable you’ll be. Don’t think twice. Just wear screen.

At the end of this post I’ll list the training schedule for both the Half Marathon runners and those on the Couch-to-5k™ program for this week. But first, I wanted to share some photos with you. This is why I love where I live. Look where I get to run!

the view from mile 3 out of 10

the mighty pacific

the most beautiful sunset i’ve ever seen

And here’s the schedule for this week:

Half Marathon

  • Monday – 4 miles
  • Wednesday – 5 miles
  • Thursday – 4 miles
  • Saturday – 11 miles

Family Fun Run 5k

  • Monday – Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then:
    • Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)
    • Walk 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
    • Jog 3/4 mile (or 8 minutes)
    • Walk 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
    • Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)
  • Wednesday – Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then:
    • Jog 1 mile (or 10 minutes)
    • Walk 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
    • Jog 1 mile (or 10 minutes)
  • Friday – Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then:  jog 2-1/4 miles (or 22 minutes) with no walking.

Do you have a blissful running moment to share? Write them in the comments below and inspire us all!

Happy Running!

half marathon training: day 1

I just wrote an entire blog entry for today and somehow, some way, before I hit publish, WordPress deleted it! Without saving a draft! Major epic fail WordPress. Just wanted to get that frustration out. And now I’m going to use it to prove a point. When I realized my entire entry for the day was no where to be found, I wanted to turn off my computer and walk away. Screw it. I’m not writing that again. Forget this. I’ll do it tomorrow. BUT, I decided not to let the immediate obstacle in my environment control me and I decided to prevail. I decided not to give up. I decided to pick up my keyboard from the corner of the room from whence I’d thrown it, and write again. Because that is what training is all about. Not giving up. 

The philosophical correlation between what just happened on my computer and beginning to train for a half marathon may have been stretch, but humor me people. I have to make some lemonade from these lemons or I’m just going to keep throwing my keyboard against the wall. Go with it.

What I wrote before WordPress sabotaged me was that… it’s the first day of Disneyland Half Marathon training! Hurray! It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for. If you still have an inkling of uncertainty as to whether you are going to go through with training to run 13.1 miles or 3.1 miles, depending on whether you’re running the half marathon or the 5K, decide now. Commit. The time to question and deliberate is over. If you’re still wondering whether or not you’ll be able to do it, you will. You can. You just need to jump in. Stop thinking about it too much. Stop it! Join the brigade and… just do it.

If you need more of a nudge, allow me. Here’s the number one reason to begin training with me today: it’s fun. With each ounce of anxiety about whether you can complete the steps along the way comes double the elation when you actually do. You will start to look forward to the time carved out for yourself to run. You will count down the days until you get to prove to yourself that you can do pretty much anything. And, let’s get serious, probably even more than that you’ll count down the days that you get to go to DISNEYLAND! The countdown begins today. 67 days until race day. Here’s today’s schedule:

Half Marathon: 3 miles. However long it takes you doesn’t matter. Just get a 3 mile run or run/walk in.

I’m going to put those of you training for the Family Fun Run on the Couch-to-5K® schedule. This is a streamlined and fantastic program for beginning runners. You can read all of the details of this great running program on its official website, right here. They also have a running app to accompany the schedule, so make sure you download that. It’s available for both iOS and Android. Beware, there are many Couch-to-5K® impersonators. The real one is made by a company called Cool Running and is distributed through Active.com.

Here is the day 1 workout for those on the 5K training plan:

Brisk five-minute warm-up walk. Then alternate 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes.

I subscribe to Jeff Galloway’s philosophy regarding stretching. Don’t do it. Sounds crazy, I know, but I do believe what he says it’s true. Stretching immediately before or after you run puts your muscles and joints at a higher risk for injury. Better to warm up with a few minutes of jumping jacks. Get your muscles warm. Don’t overextend them. If you do decide to stretch, do it on your rest days, and take it easy.

Some other thought:

1) Need more motivation to go through with it? Read this

2) Need to be reminded of the training schedule? Read this

3) Decided previously that you couldn’t do it so you didn’t sign up, but now think you might have it in you? Try this

Now get running!

Would love your feedback in the comments below. Are you excited/anxious/eager to begin training? Have you ever run a race before? Any advice for newbies that you’d like to share?

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!