Tag Archive | training

Couple a Dumbos! Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend (Video)

My fiance made such a great recap video of this year’s Disneyland Half Marathon festivities, I feel that I don’t need to say much in a recap post. I’ll just post the video for now and follow up later with a narrative recap for anyone who is interested. I do actually have a couple of criticisms of this year’s event (gasp!) but mostly they involve the weather. My beef is with Mother Nature. Girl, what was with that humidity!? All in all runDisney put on another wonderful weekend celebrating running, accomplishing your goals, health, and of course Disney!

I think this is the best video of the event Brad has ever put together. Good job honey! Enjoy!

Balancing Act: Running vs. Friends

Today I’m struggling with balancing priorities of equal importance. My days are full. I work a 40 hour work week (sometimes more), and I come home and have approximately 4 or 5 hours to do the following: have dinner, clean the apartment, feed the cats, make and process Whimsy Do orders, write, spend quality time with the man who will be my husband, socialize with friends, do the dishes, do the laundry, and run. Somewhere in there I would like to be able to squeeze in some relaxation, when I can. I’m not complaining by any stretch of the imagination. My life is full, but it’s full of goodness. I love my life. I pinch myself daily. The problem is that there really are limited hours in the day to accomplish such massive quantities of goodness, and usually something falls by the wayside.

Lately it’s been running. Who am I kidding, also cleaning. Our apartment sometimes looks like a few empty pizza boxes away from an episode of Hoarders.

But I can’t let running fall by the wayside. It brings me too much joy, helps me feel sane, and most important of all, gets us to Tahiti! Running must be mandatory from this point out. When struggling with how to squeeze in a mandatory activity there really is only one option. Do it. If that means you have to NOT do something else, then that’s what it means. Today that something else involves friends and it’s making me wish there were two of me.

There’s a fundraiser at Theatre of NOTE tonight called “Stand Up for NOTE.” It’s an evening of stand-up featuring several friends of mine, and all of the proceeds benefit an upcoming production at the theatre. You should go! ;). BUT, we are behind on this week’s mileage and today’s run is crucial to keep us on track for the longer run this weekend. I couldn’t run this morning because I had an 8:00 am dentist appointment and I just can’t get out of bed to run before 7:00. I’m like a robot. I don’t switch on until usually 7:30.

In his book “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running,” Haruki Murakami pretty succinctly describes the struggle of balancing life’s priorities:

It’s a lifestyle, though, that doesn’t allow for much nightlife, and sometimes your relationships with other people become problematic. Some people even get mad at you, because they invite you to go somewhere or do something with them and you keep turning them down. I’m struck by how, except when you’re young, you really need to prioritize in life, figuring out in what order you should divide up your time and energy. If you don’t get that sort of system set by a certain age, you’ll lack focus and your life will be out of balance. I placed the highest priority on the sort of life that lets me focus on writing, not associating with all other people around me.

It’s a bit harsh, and many may say selfish, but there’s truth there wouldn’t you agree? There are only so many hours in the day and I have to preserve as many as I can to allocate to my personal goals. It’s the only way they’ll get accomplished. But my personal relationships are also very important to me. I don’t want them to be diminished by my aspirations.

One solution is to kill two birds, or as many birds as possible, with one stone. (I really hate that a metaphor about killing birds is so useful.) I’m grateful that Brad enjoys running with me because then I can check running and spending quality time with my man off the list at the same time. Maybe I should start a running club with my friends and bring my social life and running life together. What say you friends? Would you go for it?  I suppose combining priorities is one way to solve this problem of mine.

In the meantime, you should go to this in case I can’t. Check out that line-up! And hosted by the one and only Kirsten Vangsness. It really is going to be incredibly hilariously awesome.

How about you? Do you have trouble balancing your personal goals with other obligations? I’d love to hear what you do to get it all done.

You Can Run, You Can Run, You Can Run! 2014 Tinker Bell 1/2 Marathon

Registration for the 2014 Tinker Bell Half Marathon is now open! In true runDisney fashion, after just one day the race is already 87% full (at the time of this posting Wednesday morning). Don’t miss out, and don’t over think it. Just sign up! Chances are it will fill up by the end of the week. The registration fee is a bit steep, but fellow runDisney fans will concur, it’s worth it. Sign up today!

http://www.rundisney.com/tinker-bell-half-marathon/

R Minnie

Laguna Hills Half Marathon Recap

It’s so simple. Running is the perfect metaphor for life. You get out of it pretty much exactly what you put into it. So when I train hard and strong I get a really great race in return, and maybe even a PR. When I train half-heartedly and make excuses for myself, I struggle and I suffer. No matter how long I run I suppose I need refresher courses in this lesson every once in a while. The Laguna Hills Memorial Day Half Marathon provided such a lesson.

Let me start by saying that this is a fantastic race. I’m so glad we signed up and actually ran it. The only reason we did was because Brad wanted to find a half marathon for us to run other than the Disneyland Half. We get in this pattern where we train really well for the Dland Half, run it, and then we don’t run as diligently until June or July of the next year when training starts up again. So Brad’s philosophy was that we should sign up for a race in the spring that would keep us on track. Good idea Brad. It sort of worked 😛

The morning started off… early. Here I thought getting up for a runDisney race was brutal, but that’s like sleeping in compared to this. In an effort to save money, we decided to forego getting a hotel in Laguna Hills the night before the race and instead would drive down the morning of. The difficult part of that scenario is that the race started at 7:30, Laguna Hills was over an hour away, and we had to be there an hour early to pick up our bibs. The night before the race we set the alarm for 4:00 and snuggled in for essentially a nap.

Luckily there was no traffic on the way down, and the race starting area was easy to find right off the highway. It was a beautiful morning for a race!

Lots of activity at the starting line. I was impressed by the turnout!

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Sleepy, but ready and rarin’

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Morning bathroom time. We all need it. We don’t like to talk about it. But for runners, it’s a very crucial part of your pre-race prep. Unfortunately neither Brad nor I had to use the facilities until we’d already arrived at the registration area. Even more unfortunate, the bathroom lines looked like this:

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This picture doesn’t accurately depict how long the lines were, but when ya gotta go… Every time I run a non-Disney race, no matter how good it is, I’m somehow reminded of why runDisney reigns supreme. At the start line for all of the runDisney races I’ve participated in, I’ve never waited more than a few minutes to use the loo. These lines were a good 20 minutes long. *Sigh*. They can’t all be Disney.

The real bummer about waiting in this line was that it forced us to start the race late. They counted down and runners started running, but we still had to go! So by the time we got started running, the race course looked like this:

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LH Half 6

 

Just a handful of stragglers bringing up the rear. The race was chip-timed, so it didn’t really matter, except the whole point of running a big race is to feel the energy of that big crowd. I wore my shirt that reads on the back: “Dear God, Please let there be someone behind me to read this” and I was actually worried there might not be! I really didn’t want to run in last place so I put on some speed to catch up with the crowd. In hindsight that was a mistake. Never burn too much fuel in the beginning of a race.

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The first few miles of the race were lovely. We ran through a quiet residential neighborhood in Laguna Hills. I believe it was actually a retirement community as there were several lovely retired people sitting out on their front lawns to cheer on the runners. Honestly, there is nothing better than cheering, enthusiastic, spectators. Ok, maybe there are some things better, but it’s really high on the list. One of my favorite parts about a race is getting cheered on by a stranger. There’s something so pure and hopeful about it. A total stranger willing the success of another total stranger. It’s as life should be.

This was a combo race. In other words there was a 5k, a 10k, and a Half Marathon, but they all started at the same time. So as we approached the three mile marker a lot of people cheered to the runners, “You’re almost done! You can do it!” I giggled as I heard a lady next to me reply, “No we’re not!” because I was thinking the exact same thing. Combo races are deceptive. I started the morning thinking this was a large race. By the numbers, it was. About 8,000 runners participated I believe. But as we ran on it became clear that most of those thousands of runners were doing the 5k or the 10k, and a somewhat small number of crazies were running on to the Half Marathon. I was worried that it would actually be a really small percentage, but as we passed the 10k turnaround, I felt relieved to be in the presence of a still solid group of runners. Probably about 1,000 half marathoners would be my guess.

Hills!

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Hills!

20130527_074506More hills!

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You can’t quite get the right perspective from the pictures, but this race had hills. Not crazy hills. Mild rolling hills. I know that I shouldn’t have been surprised, given that the race was called the Laguna Hills Half Marathon, and I wasn’t really; I just quickly realized that we should have done a lot more hill training. Long story short, I pretty much completely ran out of steam around mile 10, and that had a lot to do with poor training, but was definitely compounded by the challenge of these hills.

The beauty of the course made up for it though. We winded down through a nature preserve and ran along a lovely hiking trail alongside a creek. Course aesthetics are super important to me, and this course gets points for beauty. Sure, it’s not Hawaii or anything, but it really made me appreciate the beauty of Southern California.

Running up along a ridge, we could see the whole valley below and the city of Laguna Hills.

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Running along the creek, Brad spots some local wildlife.

 

LH Half 2

 

I think we look kind of bad-ass in this one. I like it 🙂

 

LH Half 5

 

LH Half 4

 

Mile 8, things start to change.

 

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Through mile 8 I was having a pretty great run considering the hills. Did I mention there were hills? Oh yeah, there were hills. I could tell at this mile marker though that the winds were changing, and not in my favor. By the time I got to mile 10, I was toast.

It’s hard to describe the difference between good tired and bad tired, except to say that I can honestly imagine what my car feels like when it’s running on fumes. By the end of a half marathon, I’m always tired. That’s a given. When I’m good tired, I still have magic runner energy. I’m winded and my muscles hurt and I’m fantasizing about crossing that finish line, but my legs still move in a steady rhythm with gusto. When I’m bad tired, every move is torture. My legs feel like they’re made of leaden spaghetti (did you know there was such a thing as leaden spaghetti), I can’t seem to get my breathing in a set rhythm, and the worst adversary of all, my brain. I heard a runner once say about ultra-marathoning that the hardest distance you have to defeat is the 6 inches between your ears. I love that. It’s absolutely so true about distance running. A lot of it is in your head and you have to learn to balance and control your thoughts to achieve things you didn’t know you could. But when you hit the wall and run out of energy, those 6 inches between your ears become the longest distance ever. The willpower I summoned through the mantra in my head is the only thing that got me across the finish line. My body was toast.

I finished. We finished. But I had to walk a bit. At mile 9 we walked for about 3 or 4 minutes, and then again at mile 11. I ran the last mile, proudly. I knew that I wouldn’t feel great afterwards though and that it was my own fault. This is what happens to me when I don’t train. Lesson learned. Again.

LH Half 9

 

We managed to cross the finish line with big silly grins on our faces. I’m telling you, no matter how tired you are, you can’t help but smile when you cross that finish line.

And then of course there’s the bling. Gotta love the bling.

LH Half 7

 

The medals were actually quite impressive. We shall proudly add them to our collection.

 

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There was a really great expo and celebration at the finish line complete with food trucks, DJs, vendors, and a beer garden. Unfortunately because I was totally wiped out, I didn’t really get to enjoy any of it. All I wanted to do was find somewhere shady and cool to sit down and rest.

The most important thing about this day was that it was Memorial Day, and that we were there to first: honor our fallen veterans, and second: run a race. I have mixed feelings about the military; and yes I harbor plenty of lefty-hippie opinions about war and peace and our bloated defense budget, but NONE of that mattered on this day. Because no matter how I feel about the military, the men and women who put on a uniform and fight to defend my right to have lefty-hippie opinions deserve my respect and my undying gratitude. And they have it. And I get choked up just thinking about it. So thank you from the bottom of my heart to all those who serve.

The race specifically honored the Marine Corps Dark Horse Battalion. The Marines had quite a set up at the finish line complete with a tank, weaponry, and lots of soldiers available to talk to the runners and educate all those present about what they do. It was a very interesting display. Brad reverted to his 10 year old self when he saw the tank. He wanted a picture.

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On one hand I was glad that the community had the opportunity to actually witness all of this first-hand, so that it became real and not just a news reel. I think it’s important for us to resist detachment from the reality of war as much as possible. The more removed we are, the more dangerous. On the other hand I was a bit sad to see little kids like the one above look at this giant automatic weapon like a toy. Again, mixed feelings. Again, doesn’t really matter. I’m going to choose to be optimistic and say that the opportunity for these soldiers to educate these little kids about weapons was ultimately a good thing and will make them take guns very seriously as they get older.

All in all, we had a great time. We started training for this race in February after I finished the Tinker Bell Half Marathon. We started strong and stuck to our schedule, but then I got in a play and Brad got in a play, and suddenly we’re missing almost all of our weekly runs and getting about half the weekend mileage we should. Like I said, I got out of this race exactly what I put into it in terms of performance, and I learned a huge lesson. Training pays off. I guess part of me started to wonder if, since I’ve run several half marathons, maybe I’d gotten to a point where I could just go out there and run 13 miles without trying. Nope. Training never stops. You can only run half marathons as long as you are training for half marathons, and when you stop training, you’re preparedness stops with it. No matter how much your heart and mind feel like you can distance-race, your body has to participate.

Brad and I give this race two enthusiastic thumbs up and we will run it again next year. Join us!

How about you? Can you run a half marathon without a lot of training? Or are you like me and have to put in the prep?

 

 

 

 

RTT Book Club: Haruki Murakami’s “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running”

Welcome to the Running to Tahiti Book Club! I don’t intend to actually start a book club. I’m already trying my damnedest to get momentum going on a book club in the physical world. Lord knows I don’t have time to start one in the internet world. So I suppose this is more of a Book Corner. A corner of my blog dedicated to books pertaining to the journey of running. There are so many great ones out there! I will read them. Hopefully some of you will either have read them and start a dialogue in the comments section, or you will be so inspired by my brilliant reviews that you will dash out to the library and get a copy for yourself. I wrote about this idea several months ago, and I’m picking up the mantle, as I just finished one of the books on the list. 

I recently went through a literary drought. It was awful. The problem was, I started to read a book that, truth be told, did not captivate. I love the author so much that I couldn’t bring myself to quit the book. I felt I owed it to him to stick with it and give the book a chance to measure up to the author’s previous brilliant works. It never did; and it took me almost 6 months to finish! So awful. I just didn’t want to read, but I also didn’t want to start a new book until I finished the current one. Long story short, I finally finished this book that shall remain nameless, and breathed a huge sigh of relief. Finally I could get started on my running book list!

I decided to start the RTT Book Club (or corner) off with a bang and picked up a copy of What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami. I have so many things to say about it, the most important being that it was fantastic and you should read it.

Murakami I believe Haruki Murakami might quickly become one of my favorite writers. I say “believe” and “might” because I’ve only read one of his novels, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, and this memoir. His writing is whimsical, yet concise. His ideas are fantastical, yet stark. There is a sub-conscious to his writing; an underbelly like a nihilistic wonderland. I could not say that I “liked” The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, because I don’t particularly like to feel unsettled and morose; but it made me feel those things in such an understated, subtle, and inviting way that I felt compelled to investigate the darkness it welled up in me.

But this isn’t a review of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. I only give that back story so you have a little bit of an idea as to what kind of writer Murakami is. He’s not generally a first-person memoirist. Certainly not in the traditional sense.

Let me start you off with the biggest selling point. This book is short. I read it in one day. I believe it’s only 180 pages (not exactly sure of the printed count as I read it on my Kindle), and it’s a quick read to boot. 

Murakami is honest. He begins the book by stating that he doesn’t really know exactly what he wants to say or how it will manifest, but he feels compelled to write down his thoughts about running. Running has been a huge part of the author’s life for 30+ years and he feels he can’t really talk about himself without talking about running. How many runners out there feel this way? Raise your hand. Am I right?

If you’re looking for a time-lined account of the author’s life, this isn’t it. This is a lovely patchwork quilt of running anecdotes and musings on the greater implications of endurance sports. Murakami runs 6 days a week, usually 6 miles a pop. He has done so for decades. One of my favorite aspects of this book is how he illustrates his running discipline as an active metaphor for his accomplishments as a novelist. He points out how people always ask him, how does he keep up that running schedule when he gets so busy? His response is so simple and true, it hits me in the gut. He points out that if he used being busy as an excuse not to run, he would never run. He requires the same discipline as a writer. He has to write everyday. Even on the days he doesn’t feel like it. Even if he just sits in front of his computer and doesn’t type a thing. He has to sit there. He has to be present. He learned that discipline from long-distance running.

How many of us can relate to that? How many goals in my life could I substitute for running in that sentence? If I used being busy as an excuse not to paint, as an excuse not to write, as an excuse not to eat healthy, as an excuse not to be creative. If you let being “busy” get in the way, you will excuse yourself right out of living. It’s not a valid excuse. There will always be obstacles that get in the way of the things you love in life, the things you want to do. You have to jump over them, or run through them. Being disciplined enough to run everyday (or run to Tahiti) is not easy, and some days I don’t want to do it. But you must, and if you do, you will reap the jewel-encrusted rewards of your hard efforts some day. 

This is the kind of metaphorical-speak that Murakami does SO much better in his memoir than I am doing right now. I think the best thing about this memoir is that it’s not flowery. He’s so conservative and blunt with his prose. This book inspired me deeply, and yet is the farthest thing from self-help or motivational speaker type fare. It’s a practical no-nonsense love letter to the sport of running, and to the value of setting aside time for yourself to reflect and to make plans that will take you in the direction of your destiny.

Highlights of the memoir stick with me, like the time he ran a 62-mile ultra-marathon in the very northern tip of Japan. Imagine running for 12 hours straight! His experience was transcendental and not altogether inspirational. Another highlight was when he decided to run a solo marathon in the place where marathons were born, the road from Athens to the town of Marathon. We all dream of such a trip to “Mecca.” However, my favorite images from the memoir have to be his stories of running along the Charles River in Boston. A month ago I would have said that this was simply a personal treat; a nostalgic jog along the running path of the dirty dirty Charles that I frequented so often; but after what happened last month I think we could all appreciate his passages about running in historic Beantown. This book was published several years ago, long before runners had to worry about explosives going off during a race. Murakami resides in Boston when he’s in the states, and talks a great deal about the city and its running paths. He talks briefly about the Boston Marathon specifically and what a carrot it is for so many runners all over the world. I read this book very shortly after the Boston bombings and my heart broke to read his comments about what the marathon means to that city. It made me want to fly back there and run from the Boston Harbor all the way to Brookline, via Boylston Street, like I used to do 7 years ago. It’s a privilege to run in such a beautiful city. 

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running gets 5 out of 5 running sneakers. If you’re a long-distance runner, and if running means more to you than just exercise, if it’s a part of your DNA, your fabric, I highly recommend this book. I’ll finish by sharing a few of my favorite passages:

“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional. Say you’re running and you think, ‘Man, this hurts, I can’t take it anymore. The ‘hurt’ part is an unavoidable reality, but whether or not you can stand anymore is up to the runner himself.”

“For me, running is both exercise and a metaphor. Running day after day, piling up the races, bit by bit I raise the bar, and by clearing each level I elevate myself. At least that’s why I’ve put in the effort day after day: to raise my own level. I’m no great runner, by any means. I’m at an ordinary – or perhaps more like mediocre – level. But that’s not the point. The point is whether or not I improved over yesterday. In long-distance running the only opponent you have to beat is yourself, the way you used to be.”

“So the fact that I’m me and no one else is one of my greatest assets.” 

“People sometimes sneer at those who run every day, claiming they’ll go to any length to live longer. But don’t think that’s the reason most people run. Most runners run not because they want to live longer, but because they want to live life to the fullest. If you’re going to while away the years, it’s far better to live them with clear goals and fully alive then in a fog, and I believe running helps you to do that. Exerting yourself to the fullest within your individual limits: that’s the essence of running, and a metaphor for life — and for me, for writing as whole. I believe many runners would agree”

“Of course it was painful, and there were times when, emotionally, I just wanted to chuck it all. But pain seems to be a precondition for this kind of sport. If pain weren’t involved, who in the world would ever go to the trouble of taking part in sports like the triathlon or the marathon, which demand such an investment of time and energy? It’s precisely because of the pain, precisely because we want to overcome that pain, that we can get the feeling, through this process, of really being alive–or at least a partial sense of it.”

“I’ll be happy if running and I can grow old together.”

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the man himself

 

Have you read Murakami’s memoir What I Talk About When I Talk About Running? If so, share your thoughts in the comments below! Also feel free to share recommendations for the next book we should read in the RTT Book Club (or corner :))!

BIG announcement, like, big

Last weekend I watched my friend not only finish the L.A. Marathon, but kick it in the butt. Brad and I drove him to the starting line at 6:00 am. The sun continued to sleep soundly somewhere past the horizon while Dodgers Stadium overflowed with 20,000+ eager and excited runners. As we pulled into the drop-off area, inspiration filled my lungs. I couldn’t believe not only how many people took on the challenge of running a marathon, but how many of them were in the same physical condition (and maybe even a bit worse) than me. I couldn’t help but excitedly think if they could do this, I could do this. And I can.

With no further ado I have an announcement to make. I will run a marathon in 2015.

In case you weren’t sure, that’s 26.2 miles.

I’ve been toying with the idea since about one week after I finished my first half marathon. Immediately after finishing I thought that running that distance twice in a row sounded like the most insane idea I’d ever heard of, and I couldn’t believe ANYone actually did it. But it only took about a week to forget the pain before I started thinking not only of running another half as soon as possible, but entertaining the notion of greater challenges. I imagine it’s a bit like having children. During childbirth and immediately after I think most women curse their spouse’s name and swear they’ll never do this again. Doesn’t take long before that cuddly little bundle wipes away the memory of the pain and you start prepping another baby’s room. So yes, I’ve been thinking about it for years, (the marathon thing, not the baby thing) and I’m done thinking. The only way I’m going to find out if I can actually do it, is to just frickin’ do it.

So I’m going to do it.

Why wait until 2015 you ask? Well I’ve got this little thing called a wedding to plan. Brad and I are getting hitched in July 2014 (BRAD AND I ARE GETTING HITCHED JULY 2014!!!!!) and I don’t need to add to the stress of wedding planning by trying to squeeze in 15 mile runs on the weekends. 2014 is the year ‘o’ love. As soon as we get back from our honeymoon, let the training begin.

The goal right now (and I hope I hope I hope I can make it work) is to run the Walt Disney World Marathon. We’re talking about a marathon people. My FIRST marathon. It’s a big deal. You want your first time to be special, y’know? Whether or not we’ll have enough money leftover to fly to Florida for a running vacay after saving for a wedding and honeymoon remains to be seen. If it doesn’t happen, then it’ll either be the LA Marathon or the California International Marathon that takes my marathon V-Card.

So there you have it! You heard it here first. Accountability officially in print on Running to Tahiti.

I will run a marathon.

special idiots run marathon copy

back to our regularly scheduled programming

Now that my deep searching of soul and life confessions are out of the way, it’s time to get back to business, the business of running! We have to get to Tahiti! The Tinkerbell Half Marathon is in 51 days and I know that if I don’t get motivated to train, my mom won’t either, and we ARE running this race together. 

I’m sure I’m not the only one to ever deal with a little (or a lot) of anxiety, am I right? For me, there are a few things that calm my nerves. A heartfelt talk with someone I love, a warm cup of tea, meditation… and running. Running grounds all of the crazy thoughts that tend to shake around in my brain during a panic attack. Those endorphins don’t hurt either. What gets you out of panic mode? We neurotics have to stick together and share our survival tips!

In other news…

Brad is seriously whooping my butt this month with the mileage count:

49 miles. Way to go Brad!

Becky? Not so much…

10… wah, wah, whhaaah

Will definitely be stepping up the mileage next week.

In all seriousness though, everyone, thank you so much for reading yesterday’s post. I actually wrote that post over a week ago but it took me that long to get up the nerve to publish it. I’m relieved that it’s out in the universe! I have no idea what exactly lies ahead, but I’m discovering the meaning of faith, and I have faith that the journey looks promising. Your outpouring of love and support means more than you’ll ever know. 

falling down the rabbit hole HURTS!

I’ve convinced myself that what happened at the race on Sunday happened so that I would have great material to write about for my blog. Who wants to read about something going as planned? Don’t worry, you won’t.

Running has given me life lessons at every turn and last weekend’s half marathon is no exception. You can plan and plan and plan for something and when it comes right down to it you can’t control what happens at go time.

I start the weekend with enthusiasm and confidence. I know I have trained hard and I have trained strong. I am ready. More ready for a race than ever before. There is practically nothing that can stop me from murdering my personal record.

I am so excited about my costume choice and have even convinced Brad to dress up as the White Rabbit.

ready to race

We make it down to the starting corral at 5:00 am and the nerves start to kick in. Not everything is perfect after all. I have a pinched nerve in my back that seems to flare up only at times it is unwelcome. Despite my best efforts to get up extra early and drink copious amounts of coffee I have not yet “gone to the bathroom.” Pardon me for the crudeness but this is a very important issue for runners. And lastly, I remember that my last long race was not strong at all. It was an 8 miler and it almost got the best of me. These things start to play on my confidence and I feel it wane a bit.

I suffer from allowing my race day energy to disguise itself as worry as I wait in my corral for the 45 minutes before we start running. Something I need to work on. Thankfully the energy is quickly put to good use as we move across the starting line. I feel the nerves turn into running fuel. We start strong. 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1.. GO! The race is off. 

At just a 1/4 mile into the race Brad and I hear a loud smack and see a poor runner just to our right take a nasty face-plant into the pavement. Those street lane bumps, they’ll get you every time. It’s a bad spill and I feel so sorry for her. She gets up rather quickly, although I don’t know if she is able to stay in the race. I think to myself “Geez I’m glad that wasn’t me,” coupled with an eerie shadow of foreboding. I shake it off and keep running. Watch your footing, I tell myself.

The race is fantastic. I feel so strong. We’re passing people left and right which clearly means we’re going to pace out with a group much faster than in previous year’s. We do have to stop in Fantasyland for a bathroom break (dang coffee, NOW you kick in!) but luckily there is no line so it’s only about a 3 minute delay. Still. 3 minutes mean a lot to a runner trying to beat a PR. But it can’t be helped.

There’s not much else to say about the next 5 miles. They are incredible. I feel strong. I feel fast. I even feel a runner’s high start to kick in. I have a killer playlist to boot. Amazing what music does to put pep in your step. Good, good, better, better. Let’s skip to mile 8, shall we?

We turn the corner to enter Angel Stadium. This is one of Brad and my’s favorite spots on the course. There are so many people in the stadium there cheering us on. It’s exactly the burst of energy we need at mile 9 to get through the next 4 miles. We turn the corner to exit the stadium and that’s when it happens. I fall down the rabbit hole. The operative word being fall.

I have a fair amount of Disney music on my half marathon playlist. What can I say? I love it. Have you ever run to “Out There” from Hunchback of Notre Dame? Or even better, “Go the Distance” from Hercules? You’ll never run faster. I have one song on my playlist to pay homage to our costumes for the day. This song:

This is the song that Alice sings right before she falls down the rabbit hole. This is the song that plays as I turn the corner out of the stadium, catch half of my foot on the cement walkway and half on the dirt sidewalk, and fall on my face. This is the song that plays as I fall down a rabbit hole of my own, I kid you not. Not only do I seem to live my life in metaphors, I seem to actually BE Alice.

Many emotions and thoughts race through your body and brain when you fall in a moment like that. Amazingly you run the entire gamut of emotions in just the few short seconds it takes you to hit the ground. Forgive the dramatics as I describe this experience but the reason for them is that I have huge expectations for this race. I know what stellar shape I’m in. I know that we’re ahead of our PR and if we just keep at pace, we’ll beat it by a landslide. As I fall, first I feel denial. I feel that I can stop myself. I feel that I can catch my footing. Then I realize I can’t. Then I feel embarrassment. Good lord how embarrassing to fall in front of all these runners. And in a petticoat no less. I suddenly feel silly for wearing it. Then I feel dread. Oh no. I can’t believe I just fell. I can’t believe that just happened. What does this mean? I try to assess the damage but I can’t tell yet. Oh God what if I can’t finish?? I look down and see that I’ve scraped my knee rather dramatically. What just a moment ago was was a gleaming pair of white tights is now a torn dirty bloody rip across my knee. I don’t care about that. I can run with a scraped knee. What I care about is that I can tell something is wrong with my ankle. A new level of denial kicks in. No way. My ankle is FINE. I give it a good rub. A runner who is right in front of me when I fall is so kind. Even though she sees Brad is there to help me, she stops and helps me up and shows true concern on her face. She tells me just to stand for a few minutes before I start running again. There is something about her. She doesn’t show me pity. She looks truly concerned. She shows solidarity. I read in her face “girl, this happens to everyone at some point.” I won’t forget that woman and her random act of kindness. It really comforts me in that moment.

I take her advice and Brad and I stand there for a few minutes to see if I can put weight on my ankle. In the back of my mind I know it doesn’t matter. I am finishing this race if I have to crawl to the finish line. A few minutes of walking and I start to pick up the pace again. The tingling in my ankle seems to have stopped and I feel pretty much fine putting my complete weight on it and getting back to our previous pace. I figure I’m lucky. That I just escaped really twisting or spraining it and won’t be injured at all other than my bloody knee. I underestimate the power of adrenaline. Looking back I know now that a huge dose of the wonder hormone surged straight towards my bad ankle and let me finish the race. Adrenaline is an amazing thing. Human bodies are amazing things. Of course a day later I’ve got a knot the size and color of ripe plum on the side of my foot, but in that moment I think I’m in the clear.

Within just a few minutes we’re flying again. I feel strong and fast and I’m doing my best just to laugh off the fall. Focus and determination to cross that finish line prevent me from looking back. Prevent me from playing the moment over and over again in my head and trying to undo it somehow. That would come in time.

I do my best to really pick up the pace these last few miles. I know we lost at least 4 minutes with the fall. We turn the corner at the end of mile 12 and I can’t believe how amazing I feel. I see a group of runners doing burpees at the mile 13 sign. Ok, so I don’t feel THAT good, but by my standards I’ve never felt better. The finish line is in sight and I fly toward it. At this point I try not to think about my time and just focus on finishing strong. I’ve never experienced the half marathon finish like this. Not a single ounce of nausea. Barely any fatigue. Minimal muscle tightening. I really could have gone farther. We fly through the finish line, Donald and Goofy cheering from the sidelines. Brad feels good enough to proclaim that he feels like he could run a marathon right now. Now there’s an idea.

Not too much time goes by and thoughts previously put at bay by determination and adrenaline start to creep into my mind.

WHY DID I HAVE TO FALL?????

Ugh. Why? How hard is it to put one foot in front of the other? How could I fall? I try to visualize it in my head in slow-mo and I can’t figure out how it happened. One minute I’m running, the next minute I’m eating dirt. If only I had been more careful with my footing. If only I hadn’t been so over zealous in trying to pass people. I would have stayed more on the center of the track and not gone near that lip that tripped me. If only I hadn’t chased that white rabbit. If only… if only… if only. I know it’s just the Disneyland Half Marathon. I know it doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. But I was doing so well! Why did I have to fall on my best run ever? Why couldn’t I fall on a mediocre run when there was less at stake?

I immediately start thinking about the Olympics. So many Olympian runners have fallen at clinch moments. 1st place with just 200M left and a hurdle gets ’em. Down they go along with their dreams of gold medal glory. If I feel this bad after falling during the Disneyland Half Marathon, I really can’t imagine how those Olympians who have suffered a similar fate felt when their life’s dreams slipped away. Truly. My heart goes out to you.

Even with these thoughts running through my head trying to undo what happened, the truth is I don’t feel terrible. I feel awesome. I feel better than ever before and though I don’t share Brad’s immediate confidence that I could run 26.2 miles in that exact moment, for the first time ever I start to think that one day I probably could.

Then I start thinking about our time. Brad used the Nike+ running app (which he is now completely converted to thanks to my review), to track our time so we’d be able to see our splits. We look at the final results. 2:33. Last year’s time, 2:43. That’s not bad. We didn’t shave 15 minutes off but we shaved 10, and that’s pretty darn good.

This realization is bittersweet. I know that this will not be our official chip time. Brad paused the app during our bathroom breaks and during my stumble incident, so while this is an accurate depiction of the amount of time it took us to literally run 13.1 miles, it’s not our official time. 2:33 is the time it took us minus all of the obstacles that got in our way, but it’s the obstacles that get in your way and what it takes you to overcome them that give you your real record. That’s why official times matter. Because you can’t subtract the obstacles from your life to measure your success. They have to factor in or the success is not real, it’s sterilized.

So how long did it officially take us to run the Disneyland Half Marathon this year? 2:39. Even with two bathroom breaks (one extra long) and a pretty dramatic tumble in Angel Stadium, we still shaved 4 minutes off of our race time. We still finished with a personal record. So why am I so dissatisfied?

Last year’s race and this year’s were so different. Last year’s training regimen was weak. We ran the race with zero stops, bathroom breaks or otherwise, and finished at 2:43. If what had happened this year on the course had happened last year I know that 2:43 would have been closer to 2:55. So somewhere in my heart I know that I actually did cut 15 minutes off of my race time. But it doesn’t count. What I did was cut 15 minutes off of my ability, and there’s value to that, but the official time is the official time. We run races for a reason. A race is what you do with 15,000 other runners around you. A race is what you do with a course you’ve never been on before. A race is what you do in a sudden rainstorm, or freezing weather. A race is how fast you pick yourself up when you fall down. A race is what you do knowing the clock won’t stop to make it easier. You can train for years and when it comes right down to it, you can’t control what happens on race day. You can’t control the weather, you can’t control your bowels, you can’t control if you fall (well, you can control it but you definitely can’t reverse it). You can never run in perfect conditions. This is why runner’s run races. Because life isn’t sterilized. Life doesn’t hand you perfect conditions so when you succeed in spite of the challenges, the success is so sweet and so worthy of celebration.

When a race doesn’t go exactly as planned, the challenges that got in your way motivate you to try again and circumvent them completely. Yes we finished with a new personal record. In the face of the obstacles presented to us we did incredibly well and yes, without those obstacles we would have done even better. Without those obstacles I would have accomplished what I set out to do, and that is cut 15 minutes off of my official time. Knowing that I’m ready to achieve that motivates me like crazy. We did everything we should have done. We trained right. We ran strong. Everything else was out of our control. Let’s just say, I’m counting down the weeks until Half Marathon 2013. I will not be falling again.

falling down hurts

but doesn’t stop me from smiling

proud with our medals

Alice

shot of the bunny tail

happy

Next installment of Running to Tahiti, “my visit to Wonderland.”

the return of supergirl

This year, for the first time in a long time I’m doing things for myself as opposed to things I feel obligated to do. I prioritize based on what will fuel my hopes and dreams, not what will help other people’s hopes and dreams. That may all sound very selfish. It is. I happen to think there is great virtue in selfishness and no, I do not worship Ayn Rand. I did, however, read The Fountainhead about 8 years ago and it forever changed my outlook on life and all its aspirations.

 

I won’t completely summarize the novel here. Just go out and read it. I will say what I took from it. That in realizing our own potential we give more to society than if we spend our days wasting our best talents in the name of altruism. Of course it’s important to help people. Of course it’s important to be kind, compassionate, and giving. Of course. But if we spend ALL of our time in life giving to others and save no time to focus on ourselves, then we have wasted our God-given talents and that does a much greater disservice to the world, I believe. Think of your heroes. Be they athletes, scientists, artists,  politicians, poets. They are your heroes because they have mastered something. Something that lived within them as potential but they spent their entire lives honing and perfecting. In doing so they have inspired you to hopefully do the same for yourself. That chain of inspiration continues the more we focus on what we love.  

Last night Brad and I were watching The Dark Knight to prep for our upcoming venture to see The Dark Knight Rises this weekend. During the credits I noticed the copyright date said 2008. I was stunned. I said to Brad “That’s impossible! This movie did not come out in 2008. That was 4 years ago!” And he replied “You saw the credits. It came out 4 years ago.”

“Oh my God. What happened to the last 4 years of my life. I feel like someone transplanted me from 2008 to now and I have no memory of the last 4 years. Like someone stole them from me. What happened?”

“Well, two of those years were on the AMC. That’s what happened.”

He was right. Let me preface by saying that I do not regret those two years I decided to give to my theatre company. I regret how frustrated I was. I regret how little I was able to change while on the AMC. I regret that I did not do a better job. I have these regrets because running a theatre company is not actually my God-given talent. It’s not my passion. I spent two years doing it because I love my theatre company and I felt like I should take my turn. I personally believe we should get someone to run Theatre of NOTE who actually IS passionate about all of the nuts and bolts of running a theatre company and only then will NOTE realize its own potential, which is enormous. But that’s a whole different discussion. My outcome on the AMC was lackluster compared to my standards for what that incredible company of artists deserves. I don’t regret doing it. I regret not doing it well. This is what happens when we spend our lives doing things we don’t really want to do. We are filled with regret. Life is too short to let regret get in the way of our passion. We must follow our bliss.

This year that changed. My tenure on the AMC came to a close. I have taken a leave of absence from my theatre company to focus on myself. The results are coming in, and they are positive. Brad and I have made up some huge mileage on the road to Tahiti. (We got so behind last year). I had perhaps the most rewarding creative experience ever working on The Crucible with my good friend Bill Voorhees. I fell in love with acting all over again the moment I met Mary Warren. I’m training harder and faster for the Disneyland Half Marathon and am on my way to a new PR. I joined SAG-AFTRA and can count myself a proud union member. I opened my own Etsy shop and have a new creative outlet for when I don’t get to act. The shop is soaring. I’m so honored to receive so many messages from strangers all around the world who are so excited to wear my hair Whimsy Dos in their weddings, holidays, or vacations. My creations have touched people from Brazil to Jordan to Australia to Canada. I’m honored. I believe the things I am doing are sending positive vibrations out into the universe. I’m more optimistic than ever. I’m kinder. More confident. More proud of my fellow artists. More supportive. And just plain happier. All this because I decided to focus on me for a change.

There is one last piece to this puzzle. Physical fitness. I’m on my way to becoming the best version of myself artistically, emotionally, and creatively. I’m still far from it physically. I had a meeting with a genetic counselor a few weeks ago because breast cancer runs heavily in my family. One of the leading risk factors in developing the disease is being overweight. I won’t have that. I want to live as long as possible. I want to suck the marrow out of this life and I need to give myself the best shot possible. That means being in the best physical condition possible. I want to put myself at low risk for disease. I want to run fast. I want to look good in a bikini! I want to fit in my clothes. I want to go to the doctor and have her tell me “yep, you’re pretty much fit as a fiddle” instead of “you’re really healthy, except you could stand to lose a little weight.” I want to be the healthiest version of myself and inspire healthy eating to as many people as possible. So today, in keeping with the superhero theme, today is called “The Return of Supergirl.”

Last year I embarked upon a healthy eating initiative about a week before the half marathon. For those 8 days I had so much energy, and I lost a couple of pounds. The race came and went, as did the healthy eating initiative. Today is the sequel, and it’s here to stay. Read here to learn about the genesis of the supergirl diet. It’s nothing revolutionary. Just healthy, clean, common-sense eating. Little to no sugar, zero alcohol until race day, no processed foods, lots of fruit and veggies. Today I’m making a promise to do this for myself. Everything else that I’ve started to do for myself this year has been rather successful. This will be too. I’m not doing this for an agent, or Hollywood, or my family, or my doctor, or my readers. I’m not proving anything to anyone except me. Alright Supergirl, take flight.

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!