“These are a few of my favorite things.”

Maria von Trapp aka Julie Andrews.

Happy Holidays! Are you running? Resting? Gearing up for big things in the new year?

My days and weeks have been consumed by preparation for the LA Marathon. With race day on February 14, my schedule is starting to reach the apex. These are the big important runs, folks. I’ve completed my 18 and 19 milers, and continue to grind out the mid-week pace runs best I can. This week is a step back in mileage (which will hopefully include a 10k race on New Years Day) before digging into the two 20 milers scheduled, the first one with a MGP finish. I can’t believe it’s only one more month until taper time.

 

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nailed goal pace in golden gate park last week!

In other news I am pleased to announce some new ambassadorships!

Earlier this year I was selected as a “Branch” for the Oakland Running Festival! I am thrilled to help spread the word about this fabulous race that I’m sure will only continue to grow due to its fabulousness.

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Here are a couple of things that I think make the event special:

Courses

I’ve run the half course twice now. In 2014, I smashed my sub-2 hour goal with a 1:55, and this year landed a one-minute PR, besting my Santa Rosa time after a three month running sabbatical due to a bout of ITBS. So in my experience, this is a PR-friendly half girls and boys. With a hilly start, the full course boasts an elevation profile worth major badass points. Feeling social? Run the relay. Feeling greedy? Run two races in the “We Run the Town” challenge, taking on a 5k before lining up for the half marathon.

Oakland Pride!

Oakland spirit is fierce! Highlights include Raider Nation, the impressive art installations by Crucible and American Steel, Brown Sugar Kitchen cheer station and the massive crowd support around the final stretch of Lake Merritt. I love finishing at Snow Park and chilling out with a beer post-race.

And what’s better is that you no longer have to pay full price because I have a discount code for you! Enter “bodle” at checkout for 15% off any distance.

This year, I’m also an ambassador for NuunLook, we all know that hydration is complicated and personal. I don’t like sports drinks, and for whatever reason sometimes water – whether filtered, bottled or tap –tastes sort of plastic-like or metallic to me. Enter Nuun: a variety of flavors for every palette, no added sugar and under 10 calories per tab, and electrolyte enhanced. This combo works well for me, and I’m happy to support the brand as an ambassador because I believe it offers a unique option where sports hydration, nutrition, and recovery is concerned.

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Happy New Year!

“Habituate yourself to walk very far.”

Thomas Jefferson.

 

Here’s how my weekly mileage looks in my first 8 weeks of marathon training:

Week 1 (ending 10/18) – Scheduled: 23 / Actual: 22.5

Week 2 (10/25) – 21 / 21.7

Week 3 (11/1)  – 21 / 19.1

Week 4 (11/8)  – 26 / 25.8

Week 5 (11/15  – 30 / 28.8

Week 6 (11/22)  – 26 / 21.6

Week 7 (11/29)  – 30 / 30.1

Week 8 (12/6 – current week)  – Scheduled: 33

My training schedule is a malleable thing that I’m adjusting as I learn about how I’m feeling week to week. And this week, week 8, just shy of halfway through this beast – all week I’ve been effing TIRED. I can’t get enough sleep (even though I’m hitting 8-10 hours solid nightly), have low energy during the day, and then feel a bit restless in the evening. Seems a little early on experience such fatigue (I’m not calling it burnout yet) and so I’m a little concerned.

My body feels okay, and so at the moment my primary suspect is nutrition and hydration. I’m pretty certain I’m not getting in enough quality calories, and so I’m returning to the tedious task of tracking all my food for a week or so. According to my research and calculations, I should be consuming between 1850-2100 calories daily. And this means QUALITY calories – not 1200 calories of real food and 600 calories of beer and doughnuts. That said I don’t do marathon training without some treats.

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But by honoring the commitment to avoid filling in the gaps with said goodies, I’ve actually found getting in 2000-ish calories to require a lot of focus. As a pescatarian, most of my staple foods are relatively healthy and nutrient dense. Sometimes it feels like I have to eat a lot of food to meet the demand. AND if I’m consciously drinking a ton of fluids, I feel even more satiated throughout the day and less inclined to snacky snacks.

That said I don’t think that I’m necessarily overthinking it. It’s just requires a different routine. Here’s my overall strategy:

• Eat a bigger breakfast (from my usual 200-ish calories to 350-400 calories)

• Every meal contains a good ratio of macros – carbs, protein, healthy fat

• Obscene amounts of fruits and vegetables

I’m hoping that this cures my weird running hangover.

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Have you experienced fatigue in training? Do you change your diet while building mileage for a race?

 

Training Diary 6.8.14 — Speed Phase Week Two

Not the most productive week for running, but a bunch of fun times. On Saturday, my boyfriend surprised me with a birthday getaway to Lake Tahoe! Lots of relaxation for us, and lots of swimming for Mr. Darwin!

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Anyway, my priority these 4 weeks is to get up to do my speedwork, so in that respect training was still meaningful, if truncated. Oh well.

Monday — Dynamic Flow Yoga (90 minute class).  Whenever I walk into a yoga studio and see a teacher under 25(ish), I prepare myself for a gut-buster. Still, class was delicious after the previous no-yoga week.

Tuesday — Strength and commute by bicycle (~ 8 miles)

Wednesday — 5×400 / 4 miles / 9’39” pace.  Effort-wise, the 400s seemed faster this week, although I don’t have splits to compare. I was truly exhausted after each one though, which accounts for the slower average pace, as I did more walking during the recovery intervals. 7’14″/ 6’44″/ 6’42″/ 6’52″/ 7’00”. I added a few 100 meter sprints after my initial warm up laps. All in all, I’m enjoying the early mornings at the track!

Thursday — Rest.  Had planned a 5 mile easy run to recover from the track. I even brought my run commute kit to work, but I bagged it following a late night at work. Instead, I met a friend at 20 Spot in SF and chatted the night away.

Friday — Rest.  Had planned 30 minute tempo, derailed by staying out too late the night before. Lame. 😦

Saturday — Easy run / 3 miles / 9’25” pace.  Holy heat! At 6000+ feet above sea level, my 85º run around Homewood was a beast, but not entirely terrible. I kept it short, made a leisurely (and totally necessary) pit stop for water at mile 2, and finished a bit wilted but in good spirits. So no tempo this week but does one run in the mountains count as altitude training?

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Sunday — Rest.  I really considered doing 6 miles, but in the end decided to stay in bed on the morning of my mini-vacation. Miles could wait till Monday.

It pains me to say, but yoga boot camp is looking less and less likely. I’ve not completely settled against it, but 6am M-F for six weeks is a commitment. I need to determine my goals and priorities with Santa Rosa coming up in August. Need a moment of truth! What to do?

“This is dedicated to the one I love.”

The Mama and Papas

After six months of regular practice, I’m experiencing the real joy of yoga.

Okay. Wow. It’s hard for me to write a sentence like that like without irony, but it’s not excruciating as it once would have been. As the person whose eyes would roll with every “om,” who after more than 10 years of attending classes still can’t finish with a “namaste” (I just…no) — let’s consider this a small breakthrough.

I’ve been taking a long time to think about this post because in some ways it actually gets to the meat of the blog’s purpose. As an exercise in being positive and pure and not so damn judgemental all the time. Stop being afraid that gentleness will loosen my grip on reality. I want to catch myself starting to give in to impulses that limit my ability to experience or feel something new and say, “I defy you impulses!” And then write something like: “I’m experiencing the real joy of yoga.” Okay then.

Although cynicisms persists, and my tolerance for yoga teachers as spiritual gurus and pop-psychologists remains fairly low, as some of the physical components have demystified I find myself becoming more curious and thoughtful of certain esoteric aspects of yoga. I feel powerful and light in crow pose. I achieve quiet moments in a long-held Virabhadrasana III. Continue to understand and move beyond my fear of upsidedownness. At the moment, what eludes me is dedication.

“Sometimes at the beginning of class, the teacher invites us to dedicate our practice. It’s a powerful invitation because it can essentially means that every asana, every breath, is in reverence to this person or thing for which we feel a deep sense of gratitude.”

Tania Ketenjian / Bernal Yoga Blog

Unclear how else to handle it, I’ve traditionally dedicated my practice to myself (like: be gentle to myself! I’m worth it!), or more often to the opportunity to cultivate a particular quality like forgiveness or determination or patience. But I think of the latter more as an “intention”(setting one at the beginning of class is also something that teachers routinely encourage). Intentions are very helpful for me as a destination to return to when the body and mind start to slide apart. It’s the idea of dedicating my own experience of yoga to another living thing that gives me the “hmmm”s.

I have attempted it in the past, without any clear motivation or understanding of how or why. In the year and a half that my dog Goose was sick with congestive heart failure, I’d occasionally dedicate a practice to him. More recently, I’ve thought of a friend who’s trapped in a toxic situation at work. But again, I wasn’t quite sure of the purpose or maybe more importantly, whether I could buy into the idea at all. It struck me as some self-important yoga bullshit at worst, and at best, hopelessly new-agey. But then why the impulse “dedicate” a practice to a sick poodle who I loved so much? Or an upset friend? Or an associate who has been giving me difficulty? What gives this meaning? Softening to the idea of dedication, the question repeats and repeats through my mind.

Finding an “answer” seems wrong — but I find myself inspired in the search of opinions and understanding through random streams of consciousness. Lately I’ve been thinking about this idea that maybe dedicating a practice is similar to dedicating a piece of art. I’ll ask myself — what’s the difference between dedicating a song or a painting or a story and dedicating a 30 or 60 or 90 minutes of yoga? Well, there’s a physical component to art that makes the idea more tangible to me: an artist makes a physical contribution to the world. What exactly are we dedicating in yoga? What is that contribution? Does it come back around to some intention? Or is this all a bunch of garbage after all?

I’m learning how challenging yoga really can be for both body and mind. Now again with the joy. When I say joy I don’t mean that it’s some kind of pure happiness, although pure and happy is part of it, but I mean that feeling of feeling all the feelings. This stirs something in me. I feel different, but it’s also familiar. Some kind of innocence and freedom that I used to know.

Nama….Eh. Still no.

“This whole world is wild at heart and weird on top.”

David Lynch.

ImageValentine’s Day. I’m for it. Everybody should do their best to love somebody. A friend, family, lover(s), animals, inanimate objects, art, earthly and unearthly things, ourselves…

I also like finding excuses to make things, and as we all know V-day has its historical roots in scissors, paper, and Elmer’s glue. That said, I never seem to find the time or patience for anything terribly elaborate. This year, I cut out some freehand hearts, repurposed a tracing of David Lynch from A Beautiful Mess, and put together a simple valentine card for my bf, who is fond of DL’s talks on transcendental meditation (he’ll also be bustin’ a move in these neato boxer shorts from J. Crew).

Oh and that nice red ribbon came wrapped around the flowers he gave me when we met for lunch. Upcycling meets regifting?

HVD!

“The love for all living creatures is the most noble attribute of man.”

Charles Darwin.

Happy Darwin Day! I love this quote and am glad to celebrate the life and work of this brilliant and iconic scientist today.

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“…to me Charles Darwin represents much more than a discovery or a theory—he represents a way of thinking, a philosophy. His approach to life and to the world around him should be celebrated as much as his discoveries.”

~ U.S. Representative Rush Holt (NJ)

While officially unsanctioned, the American Humanist Association and Rep. Holt have put forth a resolution that would mark Feb. 12 as Darwin Day. If you’re in Massachusetts, you can learn all about evolutionary biology at this week’s Darwin Festival at Salem State University.  L.A. folks, did you complete the Darwin Scavenger Hunt? How about a screening of HBO’s “Questioning Darwin?” And of course, don’t forget to boil up a primordial soup with some help from Julia Child.

Of course, as the namesake of the best dog in the world, in our house every day is Darwin Day!

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naturally selected to be gorgeous.

Learn more about Darwin Day at darwinday.org.

“I like it when it rains hard. It sounds like white noise everywhere, which is like silence but not empty.”

Mark Haddon. (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time)

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Finally, we have a little weather. The drought is trouble enough that the people of Willits are literally doing rain dances. Many communities could run out of water in as little as 60 days. Ashamed of enjoying our June in January, now we welcome these Northern California showers, which actually don’t fall very hard at all but as light streaks steady and with purpose.

As if I needed an excuse to skip another weekend of marathon training (if you can call it that), which I’ve been successfully ignoring for yoga and concentrated spurts of healthy eating and who knows why else. I don’t let it worry me, because at the end of the day what’s all of this for? To be happier and feel better about myself and the world around me, and I don’t let the guilt of a wasted $100 registration fee act as some kind of inspiration. What’s productive about that?

But rain makes Golden Gate Park an enchanted fairy tale magic misty mysterious forest of fragrant trees and soft mossy earth. Not even shoddy wet-weather gear could dampen the buzz of a quiet Sunday run in the gentle San Francisco rain. In the morning the conditions called to me without a second thought to eating a banana and milky tea, slipping on that useless windbreaker, stepping into my shoes and floating out the door. Nothing about the negotiations I’ve been having with myself the past few weeks before every run. Just out and go and stop when it’s done.

It was my first 10-miler in ages, and an extremely encouraging one. Feeling strong and inspired to take on the most beautiful marathon course in the West. With a little bit of careful discipline and courage, I hope it lasts. 

“I only have ‘yes’ men around me. Who needs ‘no’ men?”

Mae West.

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It’s climate-change spooky warm here in California, but I can feel the season on me too. Some have the special super power to flip the mental switch from holiday celebration to just another winter, and up and reset their lifestyle and eating habits on January 2.

Are these the Optimists, New Year Resolutionists, Health Evangelists, the Consistenly Inspired? Are they simply very, very strong?

I suppose I need a grace period in the form of 29 days or so. I’m fairly at peace with my fitness regimen for now, but struggle to maintain the concentration necessary for a consistently healthful diet. Because in the darkness of winter, “Nos” and “Shalt nots” feel especially dreary, so it began last Saturday, with a flurry of “Yes.”

Yes! Make healthy eating a priority in February!

Yes! Eat vegetables and berries and apples and fish, and kefir and tempeh and tea.

 Yes! Do my best keep record of my food intake in the form of calories, unprocessed foods, and macronutrient ratios (I endeavor for 50-30-20 Carbs-Fats-Protein.  But historically, when concentrating on healthy eating I usually end up with less carbs and more fat, and don’t really worry about it as long as I’m eating a lot of vegetables and the fats are natural).

Yes! Pay special attention to areas where I tend to fall behind: Iron intake, sugar, and drinking plenty of water.

Yes! Enjoy 3 satisfying meals a day. Intuition and listening to hunger cues informs healthy snacking, rather than boredom/routine/immediate availability of food.

Yes! Feel my body move. For sport and mental well-being. Walk, bike, run, yoga, lift weights.

Yes! Drink wine sometimes, usually with food. Have a cocktail or two on the weekend, sipped luxuriously.

Yes! Calmly and responsibly break a rule when the occasion arises (SF Beer Week, wine tasting with out-of-town family late this month).

I wonder if the secret to good health is openness and brightness and happiness and positivity and yes, and if the secret to all of this is good health in return. Who should care one way or another about well-being if we’re not inspired to love ourselves and feel empathy for others? What masks as narcissism, how do we find truth? Is this hard for everybody, and why is it hard for me? It must be painful to reflect the light of the universe all the time, and everyday people do ghastly unthinkable things.

Is there always yes, really? Does it hover above a dangling piece of curved glass, like a secret orchid, waiting for us to find it?

“Much suffering, much unhappiness arises when you take each thought that comes into your head for the truth.”

Eckhart Tolle.

Well TGMIJAO! (thank god monday is just about over!)

On Saturday I ran a fun 5k race out in the East Bay. In this recap, I’ll reflect on 2 ways I went wrong followed by 3 things I did right.

Race: Dam Jingle Bell Dash – 5k race
When: Saturday December 14, 2013, 9:15am
Where: Orinda, CA
Number of Finishers: 253
Recorded Time: 25:24
Achievements: PR (:4 seconds); 2nd in my AG; Top 10 female finishers (#8). All good things. Yay!

ImageI made only a few mistakes, but they were “duh” moments that caused momentary undue stress and could have been easily avoided.

1) I arrived penniless.
This was a small local race and I wasn’t pre-registered, which means I should have had cash or check ready to pay for the bib. So I wasted 20 minutes driving my ass back up the hill to Safeway and worrying about whether I’d find another parking space in the rapidly filling lot.

2) I dressed inappropriately.
Steam rolled off the reservoir as I drove down to the San Pablo Reservoir Boat Launch.  The dashboard of the VW read 30º, but iPhone assured me that it would reach the low 40s by 9am. Alas, it was frigid up to the start of the race. I waited for the gun wearing an oversized sweatshirt and sweatpants over my planned race clothes: shorts and a lululemon run swiftly tee. Earlier that morning I’d contemplated adding my comfy long-sleeved finishers shirt from Portland. Why did I so immediately disregard this harmless idea? I ended up racing in my lululemon sweatpants (still over my shorts), t-shirt, and mittens. Not too terrible but this definitely could have been better executed.

Doy!  Luckily though, a few key moves set me up for a good race.

1) Even splits!
Mile 1 = 8’08 / Mile 2 = 8’09” / Mile 3 8’10” — Yes!

2) I left just a little bit in the tank…
I suck at digging deep in the final moments to sprint over the finish line. But I think that the combination of the consistent pacing coupled with a rare burst of energy (I can’t explain this) is how I achieved my new personal best. And by the skin of my teeth, too… a 4 second PR! Hey, I’ll take it. 🙂

3) When the going got tough, the tough kept running
For whatever reason, I wasn’t 100% focused that morning. It started with those dumb logistical snafus. Then, in the first couple minutes of the race, I had this overwhelming disinterest in what I was doing. I remember distinctly thinking, “I do not want to be racing.” Bummer. Who doesn’t love the usual punch of adrenaline that pushes you over the mat?

Early in the second mile, a stream of negative thoughts interrupted my flow. This kind of thing isn’t entirely unusual, and I’m learning to recognize it as a trick of the mind. They reverberate as loud and suddenly as sirens, false alerts rooted in the physical stress that comes from a hard effort.

I’m proud of the way I was able to work through these moments of annoying internal monologue, as they can quickly become anti-mantras if you choose to believe them. Another classic mistake? Forceful attempts to ignore or silence them. Like hungry children begging to be fed with attention, like ravenous zombies pounding on the windows of abandoned buildings — Inevitably, they will break through.

Notice your thoughts objectively. For a moment give them space. Recognize them, disagree with them if necessary, and move on. Continuing to run is non-negotiable, no matter what intrusiveness threatens to hold you back. I appreciate your opinion, Brain, but I’ve got this.

Truth be told, I was hoping to finish this 5k a bit faster. I am working towards a solid 8’00” pace. I’m not worried, it will happen. As for this race, there were some unanticipated challenges, if minor. The course was hillier than anticipated, my mind wasn’t completely centered, and I had to slow down twice for ICE ON THE ROAD (what??!!!). All in all I’m very happy to call this my last race of 2013, and am just about ready to kick off a new season of training!

Here’s to finishing strong in 2013!

“Eat healthily, sleep well, breathe deeply, move harmoniously.”

Jean-Pierre Barral.

This quote was tweeted earlier today by Danielle Omar.

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the problem with inversions.

Speaking of deep breathing and harmonious movement, last weekend I participated in a “detox yoga workshop” with Kimberly Hu at Yoga Mayu in the Mission. We began with breathing exercises, moved into flow sequences and standing postures, and finished with about 45 minutes of restorative work.  

It really was a lovely way to spend a few hours doing something just for me. But it confirmed a suspicion that I’ve had for a while: that I think I might be terrified of inversions. I was unsuccessful and both attempting a headstand from a wide-legged position and once again couldn’t manage to kick up into a handstand against the wall.

We’re instructed to remain gentle and patient with our yogic abilities and efforts and allow the poses come naturally. I believe that this is a crucial part of the practice. But how to balance determination with self-kindness? How to mindfully assess the root of our stumbling blocks while resisting the impulse to become too competitive or scold yourself or misinterpret a journey as a series failures?

What is it about going upside down that has me incapacitated?

I’ve selected a few classes on yogaglo.com that I’m hoping will help me move forward.  First, I’m concentrating on understanding the physical components of inversions, focusing on strength and good alignment.

Getting into Handstand with Stephanie Snyder

“The main obstacles to lifting and balancing in this pose are tight hamstrings and a loosy goosy core. …we will open the hamstrings and charge the core up while investigating the energetic alignment of the core architecture to give us the best chance of lifting up and balancing in this pose. Good luck and re-visit this practice over and over – eventually the pose will come through!”

Find your Inner Strength with Noah Mazé

“Accessing Inner Strength: What habits and patterns govern your practice and your life, and how do you find the strength to work beyond them? Through challenging arm balances and inversions, this class invites you to explore your reactions on the mat so you can take skillful action off the mat and into the world.”

Of no lesser importance, of course, is the mind.

Pranayama and Seated Meditation with Jason Crandell

“This practice will invoke deep relaxation and ground your nerves.”

Explore and Release Fear to Find your Greatness with Tiffany Cruikshank 

“Most of us don’t realize how much of an impact fear has on our daily lives, the power it has to limit us and our capacity for greatness…”

Like other breakthroughs in yoga (I’ve had a few…), sometimes they arrive as lightbulb moments that completely change your perspective and open up a new world.  Other things do just take time. Either way, sooner or later I’ll be standing on my hands.

Tonight, I’ll go with a brief and mellow flow to loosen up and calm some nerves, as  tomorrow I’ll be running my first 5k since July.  It’s also my first race since Portland!

Have a happy and healthy Friday!