Zion Half Marathon Race Report – 12 weeks pregnant

 

Just about to cross the finish line with Mike!

Just about to cross the finish line with Mike!

The Zion Half Marathon was my 2nd half marathon while pregnant, but this will be my first honest race report (which is why I waited 2 weeks to post it)! I ran the Surf City Marathon at 6 weeks pregnant, a time when it was too soon to talk about my pregnancy and therefore my race report was pretty vague. I’ll talk about my feelings about that race in a separate post.

As I mentioned in my Zion Half Marathon weekend recap, the race started at 7:30 and we stayed near the start so we got to sleep in til 6 a.m. I had a bagel and cream cheese (I’ve never had dairy before a race but didn’t really care!) and we were out the door by 7 a.m. Although I didn’t ask him to, Mike said he would run the entire race with me. He has been focused on surfing lately, and not running, so to him, this was all for fun anyway. Based on the times I’d been putting down in my training runs lately combined with the fact that this course was pretty hard (400 foot elevation GAIN, 3,500 higher elevation than San Diego, rolling hills, and a nice headwind for the entire race), I knew it was going to be slower than Surf City (which I finished around 2:10).

In the warming tent

In the warming tent

I really knew that I was there to enjoy the race when I realized on the way over that I had forgotten to put on my Garmin. Oh well! Although we didn’t spend a lot of time at the race start, it seemed well organized and there were nice warming tents. The temperature was in the low 50s or high 40s and it felt very cold because there was a very strong wind chilling us all to the core. The one complaint I have about this race in general is that there weren’t enough port-o-potties so there were long lines at the start AND at all the aid stations. I didn’t have to go when we got dropped off since we had just left the house but of course as soon as we were waiting in the corral to start the race, I started to have to go again. It was a long 3 miles to the first aid station and the line was about 20 people long for 8 porto-o-potties.

Pre-Race photo with Mike and Claire

Pre-Race photo with Mike and Claire

One awesome thing that I noticed that morning was that I had NO morning sickness ! After being nauseated 24/7 for 7 weeks straight, this was a relief.

As soon as we started to run I checked in with my body and decided I felt pretty good. The head wind was strong and cold and I was freezing and regretting not wearing  gloves (I wore arm warmers, my Oiselle singlet and shorts), but overall I felt ok. Mike was nice enough to lend me one of his gloves so we ran side by side, each sporting the Michael Jackson look.

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As soon as we started running I was stunned by the beauty of the course. Although we’d driven it the previous day on our way to the expo (the course is 1 way from the town of Virgin where our VRBO house was to the town of Springdale where the entrance to Zion National Park is), it was even better seen from a run (as are most things in my opinion!).

Race seflie! It was so much prettier in person....

Race seflie! It was so much prettier in person….

Despite my pressing bladder, Mike and I took the time to stop for a selfie somewhere around Mile 2.5 before we arrived at the first aid station at mile 3 to wait in the line. The only reason I was impatient to get to the front of the line was related to freeing up some space for our baby to move around, not because I wanted to make it to the finish line any faster!

From here on out, I counted time with aid stations. There were a couple of times early in the race where the distance was daunting (I only ran one 10 miler before this race). It helped that there was an aid station at every other mile with a porto-potty as well. At Mile 5 we stopped and refilled our water bottles. I had already drank the entire thing! My goal for the race was to drink 3 entire water bottles and I succeeded! All Vacation Race series races are cupless meaning that there are no disposable cups on the course. You must provide your own means of carrying/drinking the water. This didn’t bother me at all because I’ve gotten used to carrying my Nathan handheld in all races longer than 10k.

The beautiful course

The beautiful course (11 year old Natascha and family just ahead of us)

Somewhere around here we started to run near Mike’s coworker, her husband and their 11 year old daughter. It was Natascha’s first half marathon! We ran with them for a bit and chatted – this 11 year old is seriously inspiring! Not only is she running a pretty darn tough half marathon but she’s also organizing a 5k for kids to raise money for the charity Kids in the Game! Incredible!

At the Mile 7 aid station we stopped again for the bathroom. There was a line but it was shorter this time. Natascha and her family stopped too and we kind of leap-frogged with them for the entire race. We also chatted with some people during our porto-potty breaks – I found in general that i was talking to WAY more people (read: more than 0) than I usually do during a race and I was liking it! We were having a great time!

Mile 10 Panorama

Mile 10 Panorama (I’m in the middle near the mile 10 marker)

Mike and I even chatted quite a bit and he’s not normally a chatty running partner. At times we’d talk about our baby. We had just had an ultrasound the day before we left for Zion so the image of our baby in our minds was strong. We talked about our hopes for our child – that they will see our active lifestyle and have it positive influence them, just like Natascha.

We stopped a few more times for photos, another bathroom break (yes, 3) and water refills. They were handing out Stinger Gels, bananas and oranges at various points on the course and I ate as I felt like it, taking some of each. There was also a candy aid station where I grabbed some peanut butter pretzels and found them very hard to eat while running!

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When we neared the finish line, I was happy and also sad it was over! Finally, there were spectators to cheer for us and hand stop slap as we ran by. As we neared the downhill finish, I saw our time on the clock was 2:45 and could have cared less (Gun time was actually 2:35:58) that it was a personal worst (in retrospect I was very glad to have left my Garmin at home so I would never be worried about pace). It was one of my favorite runs. I got to run 13.1 miles with my growing family in one of the most gorgeous places in the United States.

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Zion, we’ll be back! Next time with a stroller!

Have you ever run a half marathon while pregnant? 

Training for a New Finish Line

New adventures with our expanding family! (This was our social media announcement)

New adventures with our expanding family! (This was our social media announcement – photo taken at the top of Angel’s Landing in Zion).

As I alluded in a previous blog post, this year is about other goals besides the BQ. It’s not about running at all. Or triathlon. This is certainly a change as the last 5 years have been very focused on fitness. This year is the year of the BABY! (Maybe some of you even guessed!?).

I’m happy to announce that Mike and I are expecting our first child on or around September 25th! I’m exactly 14 weeks pregnant today and finally in the 2nd trimester!

I must say, I’m terrible at keeping secrets that excite me and I have been wanting to blog all about this pregnancy but I was able to hold out until we are out of the risky time. The first trimester was certainly harder than I anticipated, but I’ll have more to share on that in another post. For now, all I have to say is that we are absolutely THRILLED! We had planned to start a family after my BQ at CIM and our last hurrah trip to New Zealand – while one of those plans didn’t work out as well as hoped, I wouldn’t change a thing.

I definitely plan to blog about my experience and hopefully provide some insight for future mothers who plan to run/stay active during pregnancy (I know I’ve read my fair share of blogs about pregnant runners) as well as bring back some memories for those of you who have been there. And I’d love to hear about your experiences running during pregnancy as well! This blog is about my life above anything else, and while I don’t want it to become all about being pregnant, let’s be honest – that’ll be my life for the next 6 months. So keep reading or join me next year when I pick back up with marathon training, but either way, thanks for reading and I look forward to what comes next!

Cheers to the next adventure…

Sunwarrior Product Review – Vegan Protein Powder & Activated Barley

Now that I’ve been putting more focus on strength training, I’ve been looking to supplement a bit of my flexitarian (ie mostly vegetarian with little dairy) diet with more protein. Although I mostly get my protein in whole foods such as lentils, beans, quinoa, tempeh, nuts and veggies, sometimes its hard to get it all in, especially on weekends when I’m less likely to chose these protein filled items and more likely to eat veggie pizza.

Sunwarrior reached out to me to try some of their products and I gladly accepted. I was familiar with the brand but had only tried one of their products before, the Warrior Blend Protein Powder in Chocolate, which I purchased at Whole Foods. Mike and I were originally drawn to the product because of the fact that it’s vegan AND affordable, which is not always easy to find.

Warrior Blend Protein Powder

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Sunwarrior sent me a sampler pack with a bunch of goodies. By far my favorite is the vanilla protein powder (in either the Warrior Blend recipe or the Classic Protein), which I use to make smoothies. I like the taste and it’s not super chalky so it has a good consistency. I like to make it with a smoothie but you could easily drink it with water straight up! This all vegan protein powder is made up mostly of pea protein, raw cranberry protein, and raw hemp protein. 1 scoop has about 100 calories and 19 grams of protein. It also has 32% of your daily Iron needs which is super important for vegans who may not easily pick up iron in their diets.

My go-to smoothie recipe:

  • 1 Scoop Vanilla Sunwarrior Warrior Blend Protein Powder
  • 1/2 banana (frozen preferably)
  • Handful of frozen organic berries
  • 1 cup almond milk (more if needed)
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
SO GOOD!

SO GOOD!

Activated Barley

The other product that I wanted to highlight is the Activated Barley. I had never heard of it and was intrigued because the only ingredient is barley. According to the website, the barley is taken to the brink of germination before being powdered. This suspends it at the highest point of bio-energy where it contains the best mix of fiber, enzymes, and the ultimate slow burning carbohydrate. The result is that it helps boost performance and enhance endurance.

I took the barley right before a run this weekend and I had one of the best and fastest runs I’ve had in months. I instantly felt a little buzz after drinking it (I drank it with water -it’s not tasty at all but you can get it down) and as soon as I was running I was floating! I ended up running a mile longer than expected because I felt so good.

Some of the other interesting products that they sent included:

  • Supergreens – includes potent nutrition from alfalfa, barley grass, wheat grass, spinach, oat grass, parsley, moringa, and ginger.
  • Liquid Light – raw, plant-based fulvic acid and liquid mineral complex created by nature.
  • Immune Shield – natural fulvic acid and mineral complex that is fortified with silver ions.

If you want to try Sunwarrior for yourself, use this discount code at their website here for 20% off their already reasonable prices: SW20

Do you use protein powders or other supplements? Do you use them daily or on occasion? 

Zion Half Marathon Race Weekend

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We returned from a long weekend in Zion National Park on Monday night and I’m still in awe of how incredible it was! This post would be way too long to write a race recap and a summary of the weekend, so I’ll start with the weekend and write the recap next!

A group of current and former employees from my husband’s company suggested the race last Fall and Mike and I jumped on the bandwagon right away. We recruited Mike’s sister Claire, her husband Josh and our friend Brooke (who also works at Mike’s company) to join us and we found an awesome house near the start line. Brooke, Mike and I drove up on Friday and Claire and Josh flew into Vegas and rented a car and met up with us in Zion on Friday afternoon. The drive from San Diego is about 7 hours (more like 8 with gas/food/bathroom breaks) and you cross 4 states (CA, NV, AZ and UT)!

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After exploring our eclectic VRBO rental home in the city of Virgin (fun fact about Virgin: it’s a law for every household to own a gun. Seriously.) on Friday afternoon and unpacking the massive quantity of food we’d brought with us, we went for a walk and then headed into Springdale to pick up our bibs. The 14 or so mile drive from our house to the finish line of the race was spectacular (it also happened to be the race course) – road cuts through spectacular red Navajo sandstone mountains. Packet pick-up was easy and we took some time to walk around the park afterward. That night we made a pasta dinner and then made a fire in the fire pit in our backyard and roasted s’mores. I went to bed very full and not at all nervous like I normally would be before a race. The Zion Half was about fun, not racing!

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mike got a great shot of the stars after our campfire

mike got a great shot of the stars after our campfire

The race took place on Saturday at 7:30 a.m. and since our house was only a short drive to the start, we didn’t have to wake up til 6 a.m. Staying near the start line is a luxury I’ve never been afforded and I loved it. I’ll write a full re-cap about the race soon, but the summary is: epic views and good times.

Mid-Race Photo Op!

Mid-Race Photo Op!

After the race we stayed in town (Virgin, the town we stayed in had just one little restaurant in it) for lunch and then headed back to the house to get showered and take a nap. We had intentions of going into the park in the afternoon but we were all zapped from the race and ended up just taking a long walk from our house instead. We stumbled across some friendly horses and later friendlier citizens of Virgin at the only restaurant in Virgin, which specialized in the buffalo burger. We didn’t stay for dinner – instead we later headed into town for dinner at the Bit & Spur!

Claire and the horses!

Claire and the horses!

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Operating hours of Virgin's only restaurant

Operating hours of Virgin’s only restaurant

Sunday morning we slept in, made pancakes and eggs for breakfast, and then headed into the park. Claire and Josh had to catch a flight out of Vegas that evening so we did a shorter hike with them to some beautiful pools. We hiked for about an hour or an hour and a half and then ate our picnic lunch with them before they took off. Brooke, Mike and I then set off to conquer Angel’s Landing. The Zion Half Marathon offers a 50% discount for next year’s race for those who complete the half marathon and then hike Angel’s Landing within 72 hours of the race. You must take a photo of yourself at the top with your bib and medal.

The whole crew !

The whole crew !

We didn’t really know what to expect out of Angels’ landing. Despite it only being a 5 mile hike, the guides all said it would take 4-6 hours. So we certainly knew there was some climbing. I believe the climb is about 1,500 feet over the 5 miles. We certainly felt that as soon as we started to hike – there wasn’t much in the way of flat ground on the hike, it was all up up up. There were lots of switchbacks but there was enough variety in the hike that it didn’t get monotonous. We had heard that once we were 2 miles in, we’d arrive at a look out called Scout Lookout. Scout Lookout is for those who do not want to make the final 0.5 mile trek to the summit.

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Rather than calling it a trek, I’d call it a rock scramble. Essentially, you climb over a very steep, narrow ridge where one wrong step by you or a person above you could result in you careening off the side of the mountain to your untimely death. Most of the perilous drop offs have chains for support, but it was still pretty frightening. To make things worse, despite starting the hike late in the day, it was jam packed with fellow human beings. The route is definitely single track so we spent quite a bit of the 45 minutes or so that it took us to get to the summit dodging oncoming traffic or perilously clutching a rock as someone passed us. To say we were relieved when we reached the summit was an understatement!

Ants on a hill heading toward the summit!

Ants on a hill heading toward the summit!

Luckily the views were worth the fretting and we sat at the top for a while and soaked it all in before heading back down. Luckily the way down was less crowded since it was now later in the day and fewer people were starting their trek up. On the way down the switchbacks we spotted three deer. They weren’t scared of humans at all! We later spotted even more friendly deer at the picnic area near the shuttle stop.

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Joining the Angel's Club!

Joining the Angel’s Club!

 

DEER!

DEER!

We were absolutely famished when we got off the mountain and had a delicious dinner in town before heading back to the house for drinks and chatting before bed. Monday morning we packed it up and headed out for the long drive home. I definitely will be returning to Zion – there is so much more to see and we loved it! We also already started plotting our next Vacation Race! There are several to chose from…..Grand Tetons is calling our name.

Have you ever gone on a Racecation? Would you consider doing the Zion Half or any of the other Vacation Races? 

The Girl Box

Someone posted this photo from my junior high years recently - brought back memories (I'm in the back, right)

Someone posted this photo from my junior high years recently – brought back memories (I’m in the back, right)

I volunteered to be an assistant coach for the organization Girls on the Run again. This is my 4th season coaching, in addition to past participation in the Marketing Committee and being a Running Buddy at one of the 5ks. it’s safe to say this organization is dear to my heart!

Selfie with my new Girls on Track team at our first practice!

Selfie with my new Girls on Track team at our first practice!

If you aren’t familiar, Girls on the Run seeks to get young girls active while also teaching them important lessons related to subjects that aren’t often covered well in school – self-esteem, leadership, relationships, community, self-worth and courage. Girls on the Run actively teaches girls to be who they want to be and dream big. The teams meet twice a week (assistant coaches only have to commit to one practice per week) and follow a curriculum which involves on of the topics I mentioned earlier and also includes running. The majority of the 75 minutes we have with the girls during each meeting is not spent running – it’s actually spent talking.

Girls on the Run uses some analogies in their lessons to get girls to understand the concepts presented. We talk about some pretty heavy stuff in Girls on the Run and it’s always a bit easier to present it with a story or symbol. One of those symbols is the Girl Box. I coach Girls on Track (6th-8th graders) and we touched on the Girl Box in Lesson 2 (Girls on the Run, for younger girls, eases into concepts like this a bit slower).

Molly Barker, the founder of Girls on the Run, created the Girl Box concept. On her blog, MollyBarker.com, she describes the Girl Box as:

The “Girl Box,” a phrase coined by Molly, describes the imaginary place many girls go around adolescence, where cultural and societal stereotypes limit choices as well as opportunities. Molly founded Girls on the Run to create a connected and safe “space” that invites girls and women to see, unravel from and eliminate their own and often unconscious buy-in to the Girl Box and its limiting messages.

Often, the Girl Box is a place where girls go in Middle School, as they begin to mature and being the transformation from children to adults. Being in the box means limiting yourself to what you believe is safe and conforms, and being outside of the box is being who you are and accepting yourself and others for who they are. Personally, I’ve always connected with this concept as I seriously struggled in middle school with self-esteem. I stopped thinking about what I actually liked, and instead thought about what I should like. That meant that when I had feelings that were against what I thought was “cool,” I felt bad about myself. It also meant that when others were acting differently than what I thought was “cool,” I didn’t accept them either. The only people who I felt were worthy were those who I’d deemed cool, even if they wouldn’t talk to me because I clearly wasn’t.

I wish I had a place like Girls on the Run to go when I was in middle school. I spent a lot of lonely afternoons sitting on the couch by myself (I’m an only child), eating fattening food and watching after school TV shows instead of getting active, making new friends and learning valuable concepts such as those taught in Girls on the Run. For the first time in my life, I was overweight, and although I hated myself for it, I couldn’t figure out what to do to fix it. I thought something was wrong with me for being bigger than the other girls, and even boys, at school (I’m also tall!) and the cycle continued. The more I disliked myself, the more shy I became, which helped girls also living inside the Girl Box at school pick on me. Middle school was definitely the worst time of my life and I wish I could go back and teach my 13 year old self about the Girl Box.

I know that what we’re doing at Girls on the Run isn’t going to stop bullying and it’s not going to stop the fact that girls will want to look like the photo-shopped women on magazine covers instead of themselves. But, I really believe that Girls on the Run is making an impact in the girls who attend it’s lives. I hope that they see us coaches as positive role models and that they learn to love running and fitness for more than the fact that it helps you get skinny like those models – but for the fact that it makes them feel good, inside and out.

I’m not sure that girls at a middle school age will ever fully be able to understand the Girl Box – not until they are completely outside of it and can look back with the perspective that I can and nod their heads and say “Ohhh that’s what hey were talking about.” But for now, I think we’re making progress at helping them be outside of the box, at least some of the time. Because let’s be honest, none of us are always outside of the box. Although my self-worth and self-esteem come a very,very long way since I was that lonely, overweight pre-teen, and honestly I’ve almost come even farther from woman I was in my mid-twenties, I still have my moments. Moments when even I look at that photo-shopped cover model and wish for her effortless beauty. Or moments when I wonder if I’m even smart enough for my goal of upper management or why some girls seem to be so much better at attracting blog readers than me.

We can’t help but compare and doubt at times, but what we can do is shift our focus to applauding what we know we already do well, and making a plan to change for those things that we truly want to change. If we’re all honest with ourselves, we don’t have the time or resources to be good at it all, so we need to chose our battles. We can’t all be stick thin (or “strong”, the new thin) super model CEOs who are full-time moms, regularly host amazing parties at our beautiful, well-kept home and maintain a wildly popular blog all at the same time. Even though I may long for each of these things at different times, it’s unrealistic that they all happen simultaneously (or that we can be truly perfect at any one thing, let alone 10!). So let this be a welcome reminder for myself and all of us women – we are enough the way we are. We’re doing the best we can, and that’s enough. We are enough.

Stay out of the Girl Box, ladies.

When in your life have you been in the Girl Box the most? 

February Recap & March Goals

Hiking Torrey Pines

Hiking Torrey Pines

Despite not being in serious training, I do like to set goals and keep myself accountable! Although I didn’t blog about it, I set some goals for myself in February:

  1. Run 3 days a week minimum, with 1 long run (over 8 miles)
  2. Strength Train 3 days a week (Pilates or Barre)
  3. Yoga 1 time a week
Strength training at Xtend Barre!

Strength training at Xtend Barre!

Overall, February goals went really well! I did more strength training this month than November-January combined.

I purchased an 8 class Pilates package and then was offered unlimited classes with Fitn, so it has been easy to find motivation to work out. Also Asia has been joining me for the Fitn classes (she’s also a member) so we have had each other to rely on to get out of bed for 6 a.m. classes.

Running in February went well. Some bad runs, some great ones. I’m not doing speedwork or tempo runs or anything – just running for fun and when I feel like it. It has been nice!

Surf City Half Marathon - 1st Workout of February

Surf City Half Marathon – 1st Workout of February with my family

February was all about variety and trying new things. My recap of workouts says it all:

  • Miles Run: 87 (10 runs including 1 half marathon and 2 long runs)
  • Barre Classes: 4 (3 Xtend Barre, 1 Dailey Method)
  • Pilates Classes: 7  (Club Pilates)
  • Yoga Classes: 3 (2 Yoga 6, 1 Core Power Yoga)
  • Spin Class: 1 (Rush Studio)
  • Strength Class (Tri-Strength at Rehab United): 1
  • Hikes: 2 (12 miles)
Dailey Method class with my good friend Allison

Dailey Method class with my good friend Allison

That’s a total of 28 workouts in 28 days (I did take a few rest days but had a few double days) and 7 different types of workouts!  I’m really loving it so far and I feel like I’m already seeing results. One goal I have is to really strengthen my glutes and legs – I think I’ve been babying them in favor of keeping them fresh for my runs but now is the time to build up some strong muscles to carry me on my long runs and races. I definitely know that when it comes to running, my leg strength is holding me back.

Lots of workouts with Asia!

Lots of workouts with Asia!

My goal for March is similar to February. I’d like to continue to strength train 3 days a week (thinking 1 day Pilates, 2 days Xtend Barre), 1 yoga session a week and at least 3 runs per week. And of course finish the Zion Half Marathon with a smile on my face! And anything else that comes along is bonus! We’ll be doing some hiking in Zion before and after the race too.

When you’re not in serious training, do you still set goals? 

Running in the Rain

I woke up this morning to the sound of rain. I’ve always loved the sound of rain, especially if it means I’m tucked into my warm bed, so this was a special treat. I knew that sound meant that my long run would be delayed but I relished in it and laid cozily in bed for another hour, drifting in and out of sleep.

By the time I felt it was safe to start my run, it was nearly 11 a.m. Thankfully it was a cold rain (well, ahem, in the 50s…) so unlike most days, running at high noon wouldn’t mean extra dehydration and piling on the sunscreen. We’ve had a warm winter in San Diego – come to think of it, we haven’t had a cold winter in years, and we’re experiencing serious drought in Southern California so the rain is a welcome inconvenience.

Encinitas

When I left the house I actually wasn’t convinced I was going to run 10 miles. I am running the Zion Half Marathon in 2 weeks so this was my self-prescribed longest run (the last two weekends I’ve run 8.5) before the race, but even knowing that missing todays run meant missing my only key workout for this race didn’t really convince me I had to do it. Even after two miles I wasn’t sure how far I’d go.

It’s safe to say that lately I haven’t been feeling the running magic. Not to say I’m in a slump…but more of a break. I haven’t felt runner’s high since CIM training. My focus has been on strength and elsewhere, not on running fast or pushing my body to new extremes. Usually, that’s how I find runner’s high, through some awesome effort that boosts my confidence.

But today, despite a nasty headwind and steady rain starting around mile 3, I felt happier than I have during a run in a a long time. I wasn’t running my fastest –  not even close – but I was running happy. Thankful to be outside breathing in the air, soaking in the rain on my skin, happy to be healthy and simply enjoying running. Runner’s high. 

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I also enjoyed the solitude. The normally jam-packed sidewalk lining the 101 in Encinitas was completely empty. Just a few fellow determined runners, a couple soggy looking dog walkers and a handful of ambitious surfers were my passing companions on my journey.

I’ve been consistently running for about 5 years now and my motivation and goals for running have shifted over the years, moving a bit one way, rotating 180 degrees and then heading backward. As I move away from time-related goals and the pressure of XYZ finish time, I’m learning to run more for the joy of the miles. Not every run can be like today’s, but I hope to find happiness in each and every one.

Do you run in the rain? 

Fitn – My Ticket to Getting Strong!

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When I was approached by a new company, Fitn, which is headquartered within just a few miles from my home, to try countless workout classes in San Diego all under one membership, I was pretty excited. Actually, it made my day (I literally told Asia this via gchat). I really, really love group workout classes and now that I’m focused on getting stronger in 2015, this was the perfect way to cross all of the things I had pending on my growing to-do list. Try a new barre studio. Check! Go to a weekly restorative yoga class. Check! Attend a fun spin class to get cardio outside of running. Check!

For me, group fitness classes are the perfect solution to strength training monotony. I’ve never been one to stick to a strength training plan on my own, whether it be a weight machine circuit at the gym or an printed list of strength moves that I bring with me or do at home. For that reason, P90X was so appealing to me because it took the guesswork out of transforming my body. However, I’ve also come to really like the accountability and community of a class. And we all know that having a friend or instructor counting on you to attend is a great motivation to get your butt out of bed at 5:45 a.m.

Group fitness classes also keep things interesting because they are different every time, unlike a DVD or home workout that repeats itself over and over. Fitn offers the ultimate in variety – under one single membership (priced at $1 for your first month and $99 thereafter for a limited time), you can attend as many workout classes as you want at a variety of studios. There are barre, Pilates, yoga, CrossFit, boxing, boot camp, TRX, and spinning classes. For example, here are all the studios located within the city of Encinitas that I can attend under my membership:

And Encinitas is not a big city! It’s convenient for me to attend classes in Carmel Valley or Del Mar near my work, or in Solana Beach or South Carlsbad, which are just a 10 minute drive away. That literally gives me access to over 30 studios within a 20 minute drive. It’s truly incredible.

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Fitn makes it really easy to schedule and check-in to classes with their free iPhone app. You can easily search for a class and then put in a reservation request (you will either be accepted or denied into the class based on the availability – so far I have always made it into a class but I am sure to reserve in advance as I would with any other class). Then, within 15 minutes of the start of class, open your app and check-in. Show the check-in screen to the front desk and they will check you in.  I’ve had no issues checking in and the studios treat me the same as the dedicated members.

So far my favorite classes are Xtend Barre and Yoga6’s Deep Stretch on Sunday nights. I leave Xtend Barre feeling strong and ready to start my day (plus quite sweaty since it is a bit more cardio-based than other strength classes) and I leave Deep Stretch feeling more relaxed than I have all week. I can’t wait to try many of the other options available to me all under this powerful membership!

This is the extent of my workout photos from Fitn classes - too busy working out!

This is the extent of my workout photos from Fitn classes – too busy working out!

Unlike companies similar to Fitn, I can attend an unlimited amount of classes at my favorite studio. I’m not restricted to 3 classes per studio per month. This means once I find something I love, I can keep going back! Literally every day if I wanted (but let’s be honest, the point is to keep some variety!).

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The icing on this amazing cake that is Fitn? They believe in the philosophy of paying it forward, fitness-style with their philosophy called #fititforward. For every class that I attend, Fitn donates a day pass to the Boys and Girls Club of San Diego to keep children active and healthy. Seriously how it could it get any better?

For now, Fitn is only available in San Diego and Orange Counties, but I’m pretty sure that it’s going to expand like crazy so keep an eye out!

Would you enjoy trying something like Fitn? Do you like trying new workout classes or prefer to stick to the same ones?  

I have been given a 3 month free membership to Fitn in exchange for promotional activities. However, all opinions expressed here are my own. I seriously love this membership so far and want to spread the love!

Getting Back Up

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Last weekend a pretty incredible thing happened at the Austin Marathon – the first place woman collapsed within meters of the finish line and crawled her way to the end. She ended up taking third place, but her determination was inspiring.

When I saw this article written about what went down that day and watched the emotional video, memories flooded back of that day at CIM. To see it happen to a professional so soon after it happened to me actually makes me feel a little better about the whole thing. She clearly was pushing herself to her limits (she had also just made a turn before collapsing) and she pushed herself just past the edge. (Watch the emotional video here).

In the hours and days after CIM, I was flooded with support over what happened. Two people even reached out to me to tell me that a very similar thing happened to them in the last few miles of a marathon! Knowing I wasn’t alone helped with the pain.  You and all my other friends and family knew how much that day meant to me. You knew how hard I worked and how much I wanted that BQ. Many of you watched as my confidence was built up before my first attempt in Eugene and then torn down bit by bit after failures there, at OC and the most heartbreaking, Phoenix. But, my confidence came back as I trained last year and I would have put money on my BQ dreams becoming reality last December in Sacramento.

Getting Back Up at CIM

Getting Back Up at CIM

But life doesn’t always go as planned. In more ways than one, I’ve learned that is quite true lately. Things that you think are absolute turn out to be false, relationships you thought were strong end, and the person you were rooting for fails or lets you down. Life isn’t about what happens to you, it’s how you handle it (thank’s Page’s dad!). For me, that has meant mourning the loss of a dream, acknowledging that my failure is not a reflection of my self-worth or identity as a runner, and moving on.

I actually have surprised myself by not signing up for another goal race right away. It’s time to put the BQ goal on hold. I’ve been relentlessly pursuing that goal for two years (which immediately followed the all-consuming 1 year long task of training and completing my first Ironman) and there are now other things that I want to pursue that don’t involve running or triathlon at all. So here I am, dusting myself off and getting back up, but not in the way that many might expect. I’m not giving up on running Boston one day. But right now, I can’t even tell you when I think I might try again.

Running and fitness are definitely going to be a big part of my life, but not in the same way for a while. This blog isn’t going away, but it might change a bit. I’d love for your to join me for the next journey.

Have you ever changed paths before accomplishing a goal? Have you ever put a goal on hold and later returned to accomplish it? What changed? 

A New Focus

With my #31in31in31 challenge complete, I started February with a new intention – to gain some much-needed strength. After spending all of 2014 focused on marathon training, the muscles that make me run close to an 8 min/mile for 26.2 miles are in pretty descent shape, but the rest of me isn’t quite as strong. While I did add strength throughout the year in the form of Club Pilates (1-2x/week) and P90X3 (3-4x a week for 2 months or so), I never really pushed myself as hard as usual, wanting to save myself for the next big run. That’s particularly the case when it comes to leg workouts. Sometimes I’d go to a lunchtime Club Pilates class after having run 10 miles that morning and there was no way I was going to be able to hold the squats and lunges as long as usual.

So in February I bought a Club Pilates package and was also approached by a few companies to try classes for free, which has worked out quite nicely! I’ve been able to get at least 3 strength training classes in a week and I’m already feeling the benefits. I’m still training for a half marathon – the Zion Half, which is in 4 weeks (March 14th), but I simply plan to finish the race and therefore have no time goals. My focus, for now, is strength!

Besides Club Pilates, I also tried a 1 hour triathlon-specific strength workout at Rehab United, a San Diego physical therapy and personal training facility. I’ve been to RU before for various reasons, but had never tried the class. I went with my friend Brooke, who has recently decided to sign up for her 2nd Ironman this year. After a cardio-focused warm-up, the workout was a circuit with 7-8 stations. We were to pair up and complete the workout at each station for a full minute, with 30 seconds to switch to the next workout. We then repeated 2x, with some variation to most of the stations. This class kicked my butt! We did things like planks with our legs on a rolling cart, squat and ball throws with 15-20 lb medicine balls, box jumps, lunges with a shoulder press, pull-ups/push-ups, and various core moves with a medicine ball. I was sore for 2 days afterward! I will definitely be going back with Brooke.

Class Pass Schwag!

Class Pass Schwag!

I also was offered a chance to try a spin class called The Rush through a promotion by Class Pass. I invited Asia as my guest and we enjoyed 45 minutes of heart-pumping, endorphin producing spinning while jamming to loud, energizing music. The class is synchronized with the beat of each song so you are almost dancing to the music the entire time. I had some issues with coordination at times, but overall it was really fun! You definitely will forget your worries during this class because you pretty much can’t focus on anything but trying to keep up with the moves.

On Saturday Mike and I went on a Valentine’s Day hike to the top of Black Mountain. It was fairly short hike (4 miles or so in total) but pretty much all up hill or downhill. We started a bit late so it was really hot (heat wave in San Diego – in the 80s on Saturday!!!) so I was glad it was a short hike. It definitely inspired me to get out on the trails more often!

Valentine's Dinner (Friday night to beat the crowds!)

Valentine’s Dinner (Friday night to beat the crowds!)

Valentine's Hike

Valentine’s Hike

On Sunday afternoon after my long run that morning, I took my first class as part of my new membership with Fitn (more on this soon!). Asia and I attended a Deep Stretch class at Yoga Six on Sunday afternoon. It was absolutely amazing. I left the class floating on air – I was so relaxed. This was a warm heated class so instead of being sweltering like some of the hot yoga classes, it was simply sleep-inducing. I didn’t mind holding the stretches for as long as we did because I was literally drifting off. I’ll be heading back to this one again!

Unfiltered sunset in Encinitas.

Unfiltered sunset in Encinitas.

What is your favorite way to cross-train or strength-train in the off-season?