Monday, January 30, 2012

18 is magic!

Apparently my desire to workout in the rain only covers running because I just couldn't bring myself to get to Cardiobarre on Monday. It was so dreary and the couch was so comfy and the dog was so warm, when it came time to make the decision I chose to accept my trip to Woodland Hills Physical Therapy as my workout for the day. My arch was pretty achy from skipping my recovery on Saturday so I got that worked on and did some chest stretching that my regular doctor recommended to help with my asthma and oxygen intake while running.

Tuesday I got lucky and Lorie was able to join me again at Fleet Feet Encino for our tempo run. We warmed up for 2 miles then did 3 one mile loops at tempo, then cooled down with another 2 miles. It was one of my fastest runs so far and felt awesome! Lorie is super speedy so she took off during the tempo portion but one of my teammates caught up to me (she is so great at pacing herself and not starting out too fast) so I pushed myself really hard and managed to keep pace with her! There is just something about running with someone that is just sightly faster than you that really shows you what you can do. I never would have pushed that hard if she wasn't there because I would be afraid I would burn out. After the run we came back to the store and worked on abs til they burned like fire. Coach Trey said that we will thank our abs during the marathon. I sure hope so!

As I was getting ready to leave I noticed Injini toe socks were on sale for $5 so I picked up a pair. They are supposed to help prevent blisters and all kinds of other benefits. And they just look awesome!

Wednesday I decided to repeat last week's idea of turning in early and running Thursday morning. I woke up at 5:00 a.m. Thursday and stepped outside to a pleasant mid-60s and thought it would be a great run. While I don't believe in jinxes, it's really never a good idea to count your miles before they're ran. I had 8 miles on the books and after Tuesday's 7 miles I thought it would be no problem. Unfortunately my stomach hurt from the start just about. I had an apple and almond butter just like last week so maybe it was my dinner but I just couldn't stop thinking about walking and/or turning around almost right away. I even chose the flatter city streets rather than my hilly neighborhood streets to guarantee an easy run but somehow I felt every gradual incline as if it were Mt. Everest. My plan was to run out for 4 miles and turn back but after 3 miles I decided to excuse myself since the area was getting seedy and planned to make up the mileage when I neared home. I stopped at McDonalds on my way back for a bathroom break and water which didn't do me any favors. When I left it felt like starting all over again and I had to warm up from scratch. When I finally neared my neighborhood I just had to walk. It was an all consuming feeling, not like I was in pain or short of breath, I just had to walk. It was really disappointing and made me nervous for Saturday's 18 miles.

Thursday evening has become my favorite night. Even though I'm a super newbie at yoga, I can really feel myself improving each week. Much more so than running. And it's indoors! So sue me, I get cold easily. It wasn't really my best class, my balance was really off, but I always enjoy it. After class we discussed signing up for the Ragnar Relay which covers 200 miles with a relay team of 12. I also talked to Coach Trey about my lackluster runs lately and he suggested that maybe I'm not eating enough.

Friday I set out to eat more in preparation for Saturday's run so I made my oatmeal with extra almond butter, grabbed a few snacks, and was off to work.... without my oatmeal. I wasn't off to a very good start but managed to eat a decent amount throughout the day. At WHPT I talked to Rod about my apprehension regarding 18 miles and he pointed out that even if it was a terrible run and I ran really slow, I would still benefit by training my body to run for 4+ hours. That made me feel better so I went home, had a good dinner, prayed for a good run, and went to bed.

The only thing I was looking forward to about my run on Saturday was the new fuel I had purchased at Fleet Feet: Bonk Breakers! I ran with Sarah and noticed right away that I felt pretty good. It was probably high 60s and I just couldn't wait to shed my gloves and overshirt. I ate my first Bonk Breaker (Blueberry Oat) after our first loop, about mile 5. It tasted great! We were off again and stopped at Body Dynamix for oranges and water just after mile 9. I kept a close eye on our stops which seemed to help since I didn't feel so rusty each time starting back up. We returned to the start around mile 12 and I ate my other Bonk Breaker (Peanut Butter & Jelly - High Protein). It was also delicious! We finished up our final leg and did the extra half mile to get a full 18 which included a strong push for the last tenth of a mile so we could get it over with. It was a great feeling to know that not only did we run 18 miles but we still had energy left at the end. I took my cold bath when I got home but by the end of the day my right arch was acting up. Really a very minor complaint considering what I had done.

Saturday was also the day I signed up for Run for Your Lives. Can't wait to run from zombies with my friends on a 5k obstacle course!

This week I also had another milestone that started with 18... I hit $1,800 in my fundraising for the Center for Assault Treatment Services! I'm so close to my goal of $2,000 and really hope I can close in on $3,000. It has been so incredible to see everyone's generosity and support for such a wonderful charity. Help me raise more by going here:

One last thing... I was in Santa Monica Sunday and if you're local you know it was a glorious day. I took a walk down to Ocean Ave after lunch and took this picture at approximately Mile 26!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Finally got my rain run out of the way

Started the week as usual at Woodland Hills Physical Therapy. Later in the day I headed over to Cardiobarre to continue using up my classes as cross-training. I know I haven't exactly been glowing in my review of this place, but I have to say I had a really good workout Monday! I always try hard when working out but I'm terrible at pushing myself. This time, toward the end of class when it was really getting tough, the instructor Heather started talking about motivation and remembering why we were there. I'm sure she was probably talking about losing weight but for some reason I really took to heart what she said and thought about why I was there. For cross-training so that I could get stronger and avoid injury so that I could continue training and run the whole marathon. That didn't really inspire me all that much but then I thought about my fundraising and the poor children who have been victims of sexual abuse. I thought about how raising money for them made me feel good and how training for the marathon has given me the opportunity to raise $1,764. If I wasn't able to run it would be a lot harder to get donations. So that's why I run, that's why I want to avoid injury, and that's why I cross-train! Thinking about all that made me push myself so hard I was drenched by the end of class. That felt great! If you want to experience that good feeling too, make a donation at

Tuesday I met up with my training group at Fleet Feet Encino for a hill run. Boy I do not like hills but I must say I am improving. I could probably walk faster than my itty bitty steps up the steep hills but walking isn't hard. Running is hard and I think the best way to prepare myself for the marathon is to choose the harder option so the marathon feels that much "easier." Near as I can tell the steepest incline of the marathon is 90-100 feet and the hills I run during training are over 100 feet!

Wednesday I decided to take the night off, go to bed early, and run Thursday morning. This wasn't purely selfish, I've been meaning to work on my morning runs since my evening runs tend to feel easier and the race will be in the morning. I actually felt pretty good waking up at 5:15am and was out the door by 5:30am. I ate an apple with almond butter since there was no time to make my usual oatmeal with almond butter. This seemed sufficient during the run, I never felt hungry. I knew I had to be home by 7 to get ready for work and I read that the sunrise was about 7 so when it got bright out I headed home. I hate checking my Garmin while I'm running but wish I had because I could have made it a solid 7 miles. The elevation was pretty steep in a few parts and my pace reflects that.

Thursday evening I was back at Fleet Feet for yoga with Ko Ohka. No cramping this week, running in the morning was no problem. We worked on the crow pose which is impossible without upper body strength so I wasn't able to do it but our coach Trey made it look easy!

Friday I went to WHPT and brought along the KT Tape since it seemed to help last week. As I was doing my exercises, the topic of conversation among the patients turned to iPhones. Rod mentioned that I showed him a thing or two on his and a few of the women began asking me questions. I helped a lady download my favorite app, emoji, and another lady asked for my number because she wants to pay me for a tutorial! Both were aware of Apple's in-store classes but said they were geared toward techies (my term, not theirs) and just needed basic information. Maybe this will be my new fundraising approach: iPhone classes!

Saturday I woke up to the sound of rain. I knew all week it would rain but wasn't sure if it would affect my run. Sure enough, it was pouring and when I arrived at the park it looked like this:

See that huge puddle? We had to run through tons of them! Luckily after a few miles the rain let up and by the midway point it was downright beautiful. The run was tough even though it was a scale back week and we "only" ran 14 miles. Garmin says I stopped for a total of about 25 minutes which is something I really need to cut out. There's no stopping the clock during a race so I need to train as if the clock is always running. Still, if I take my moving time and subtract the extra mileage I'm around 2:30 for a half marathon so hopefully I can beat my previous time of 2:19 in the Great Race of Agoura when I run the Pasadena Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon next month. The hills aren't nearly as challenging as Agoura so I really have no excuse.

After the run I asked Trey to take a picture of us since my wonderful friend Lorie was in town and since I knew I needed more pictures for this post. Not only did he take silly pictures of himself, but he also caught us primping (actually Sarah primped the least but somehow she still got caught).

Thanks for reading and thanks for making me the top fundraiser (for now)! Check it out:

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Anyone can do this!

Not just running, I'm talking about fundraising! Just like running, a lot of people (including myself) believe they cannot fundraise because they aren't good at it. But just like running, it takes time and effort to get good at it! Sure some people are just born excellent fundraisers, just like some runners I know who seem to put in no effort at all but are much better runners than I am. Then there are people like me who give it a shot and work hard at it. I don't have any particular gifts or talents in this area but somehow I have managed to raise over $1,600 in about three months! People will astound you with their generosity if given the chance.

One more thing before I move on, this came through my email at work: As Dr. King said, “Everybody can be great ... because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace.”

Okay, on to the week! I woke up early Monday for my session at Woodland Hills Physical Therapy with hopes of getting in some cross training. Unfortunately my cross training consisted of cleaning the house, oops! At least I'm feeling really good and even my lingering shin pain has diminished.

Tuesday I decided to forgo meeting with the training group at Fleet Feet Encino to check out a lecture from Phase IV on nutrition during marathon training with my buddy Lauren. It was really interesting and I learned that the whole notion of carbo-loading is not really a great idea. The standard runner's breakfast of bagel and banana is also not the most efficient. Instead the speaker recommended an omelette with veggies and avocado for breakfast to be eaten an hour to 45 minutes before running. Save the carbs for during and after the run. And while we're at it, we should be consuming those carbs in a 4:1 ratio with protein (a little research on my part has shown there is some discrepancy here, some recommend 3:1). We should be consuming about 200 calories per hour and should be careful not to over do it, no need to replace all the calories and carbs since we want the body to run off of fat too. The speaker recommended Hammer Nutrition for energy and recovery drinks but we should be "hyper-hydrating" the day before the run. There is no need to start refueling until after an hour into a run.

The speaker also said that athletes should consume 10g/kg of bodyweight in low GI carbs and 1.2-1.4g/kg of bodyweight in protein. During exercise we should consume 25-30g carbs (not sure if this is per kg or for the whole run or what... my notes aren't that great I guess). She also recommended plyometric drills, butt kicks, and squats to warm up for a run. Finally she suggested reading Metabolic Efficiency Training by Bob Seebohar and Thrive by Brendan Brazier (lol, am I the only one reading it like brassiere?). I ordered the latter on Amazon since I'd heard of it before and knew it had recipes for making your own vegan energy bars and gels. I still need to do more research because I feel like I'm just scratching the surface but this is what I've learned so far.

Wednesday I did something very unusual. I chose to run hills. Just to give you an idea of how unusual this is, when I was training for my half marathon I would head north for my runs, run through the flat streets of Woodland Hills, Canoga Park, and West Hills, then when I got about a half mile from home I would walk the rest of the way because the incline was too steep for me. If you've been to my house you're probably thinking "What incline?" I swear, it's there! So when I was faced with making up Tuesday's scheduled speedwork on Wednesday I had a choice between the flat city streets with their numerous stop lights (aka pace killers) or my hilly neighborhood streets with no stop lights.

The choice was clear so I mapped out my run, found an exact one mile loop, and set out for a 2 mile warm up, 1 mile tempo, 1 mile recovery, 1 mile tempo, and 2 (1.5) mile recovery/cool down. If you clicked the link you saw that my first tempo mile was 9:06 and my second was 9:28. I was shooting for sub 9 on both but the hills really take it out of you.

Thursday, my normal yoga day, I decided to squeeze in the 6 miles I was scheduled to run Wednesday before class. Again I ran in my neighborhood, though I ran a route that was less hilly since I wasn't going for pace and more willing to include stop lights. I tried to just run at a comfortable pace and it felt pretty good. Then I headed over to Fleet Feet for yoga with Ko. It was a great class and I can tell I'm definitely improving but I think the run immediately before class hurt me because my hips and feet cramped during some of the poses. This was after consuming Hammer Recoverite on the way over so clearly I need to do more for recovery.

Friday was just a visit to WHPT. Mike taped my shins to offer a little extra support. Then I went home and made energy bars for Saturday's run since I received my copy of Thrive. Here's the recipe for vegan homemade energy bars:

Direct Fuel Bites

5 dates
2 tbsp coconut oil
2 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp lemon juice
Sea salt to taste

In a food processor, combine all ingredients; process until smooth. Form mixture into a 1/2-inch-thick rectangle. Cut into bit-size pieces. Individually wrap in Cellophane and store in the refrigerator or freezer.

Will keep well in the freezer for up to 3 months, and for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

It says it makes 8 1/2 ounce bite-size bars but I doubled the recipe and still only got 8 pieces. I didn't measure the ounces but they were fairly small. They were quite tasty though! Here's a pic:

Saturday was the day. The day to run 17 miles. My longest run EVER! I was pretty nervous about it and slept really lightly the night before but felt well rested when I got up. I ate oatmeal with almond butter, one of my homemade energy bars, and drank Hammer HEED. It was in the mid-40s which might as well be mid-teens for a Southern California native like myself. It took a really long time to warm up, like probably close to 5 miles. My goal was to go as slow as possible to ensure that I'd be able to finish which worked out well since my pal Sarah was recovering from some calf issues. We stopped several times for bathroom and water breaks, I really need to figure out how to manage that during the race. It was a really tough run, I am so blessed to have Sarah to run with because I would have resorted to walking without her. When I got home I took a cold bath (I don't know how people do ice, the water is already freezing) followed by a hot shower. The former might have been more painful than the run but the latter felt amazing (especially since I caught a little chafed spot and covered it up before getting in the shower - if you've ever been chaffed you know what I'm talking about).

During my group meeting at work this week my manager encouraged me to update the group on my running. I was thrilled because usually we don't talk about our personal lives very much. I regaled them with tales of long runs then talked about my fundraising and to my surprise one of my coworkers contributed! I've now raised $1,639 which is 82% of my goal but I'm still trying to think of more ways to get donations. If anyone has ideas please let me know and in the meantime you can donate here:

Sorry no pics this week, promise to take some next week!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Starting backwards

So I decided to start backwards for this post because I want to make sure you read about Saturday (and not because my "runs" this week were pretty lackluster, that's not it at all). So Saturday Coach Trey had us meet at the Center for Assault Treatment Services rather than our usual Balboa Park. And instead of our previously scheduled 15 miles, we did a timed run for two hours, out and back. The idea was that we would all get back at the same time, CATS staff would provide an awesome post-run breakfast, and then we would tour the facility.

So after a tough run (I started too fast and couldn't maintain my pace), we ate and then Gail Hynick introduced us to Mary Ann Lague, R.N. and Deputy District Attorney Jane Creighton. They gave us additional insight into the incredible work CATS does and how important that work is to helping convict sexual predators. Our group split up into smaller groups to tour the facility and I was in Mary Ann's group. As a nurse she could tell us first hand exactly what happens at CATS and why it is so much better than victims going to a traditional hospital. In the ER victims (often children) not only have to wait several hours to be seen, something children are not good at, but they also are exposed to whatever the other patients may be ailing from in the meantime. The visit itself takes 3-4 hours so the additional time spent waiting in an ER just adds to the difficulty of the experience. Mary Ann and the other nurses at CATS are trained in interview techniques and know how to ask open ended questions that do not lead children. They are also able to be very flexible since it is not a hospital environment and if a child is having a hard time, they can come back another day.

CATS does not receive any federal funding and due to the poor economy it is difficult to get enough donations. The hospital they are a part of is struggling and has laid off many employees. Times are tough, as we all know and hear mentioned constantly, which is why it is easy to say "I can't afford to make a donation." But there are still many other areas of our lives that are not necessities yet we still do not cut back on. That's why I'm committing to donate $10 per week from now until the marathon. That's $100, which I'm sure many of us feel is too much to give right this very moment, but if you are reading this chances are you can spare $10 per week. Would you consider joining me in this small sacrifice? Maybe not $10, maybe $5 or even $1. Every dollar helps CATS stay open to serve victims of sexual abuse and assault in a manner that is not only respectful and comforting to the victim, but will give the greatest odds of convicting the perpetrator.

I'm going to take cash out and put it in an envelope each week and turn it in after 5 and then 10 weeks. If you would like to donate also, you can go to or talk to me and we can work out the best way for you to turn in the money. The goal for our team is to raise at least $50,000 (originally $70,000) by March 18, 2012 and so far we have raised $25,801. Personally I've raised $1,614 and my goal is $2,000 but I want to get closer to $3,000!! My friends and family are really wonderful and generous so I have no doubt I'll surpass my goal. Thank you so much to all who have already donated, I hope reading this has given you a great sense of pride that you are making a difference!

Okay, if you made it this far, thanks! On Friday I went to Woodland Hills Physical Therapy for my usual session but, as we had planned earlier in the week, there was a little coordination. It all started when Rod, the owner of WHPT, began wearing a vest. Joe, my exercise and stretching guru, and the rest of the staff teased Rod but he wore the vest with pride. Then Rod got Joe a vest for Christmas AND my awesome friend Lauren (aka LoMo) got me a running vest for Christmas! It didn't dawn on me initially but it soon became clear that we must coordinate a day to all wear our vests, and Friday was the day. I made sure to steal one of Mike's plaid shirts to really complete the look and here it is:

Thursday I went to yoga at Fleet Feet Encino with Ko Ohka. I was still feeling a bit sore from last week but still managed to have a pretty good class and can really tell I'm improving. I definitely think I'll be putting my heels on the ground very soon.

Wednesday I was scheduled to run 7 miles but the weekly fun run at Fleet Feet is typically only 5 miles. Since Nike was sponsoring and LoMo was going to be there I figured it was worth making up those extra two miles another time. When I got there I so wasn't in the mood to run and since LoMo was going to walk due to injury I decided to join her. Of course I forgot to start my Garmin, but I'd say we walked about 3 miles. Due to today's special format, you already know I didn't make up the mileage. Oops!

Tuesday our team met at Fleet Feet Encino for a timed hill run. We ran for a total of 30 minutes but with the warm up, stretching, core work, hip work, and foam rolling, we got about an hour and a half of exercise in. I left my Garmin at home which was especially annoying for a timed run but Coach Trey lent me a watch so I could at least know when to turn around. I think the mileage was between 2-2.5 miles which isn't much since we were scheduled to run 6, but if it helps alleviate some injuries and make sure we all make it to the finish line then so be it.

When I got home from the hill run I signed up for the Rock 'N' Roll Pasadena Half Marathon on February 19th. The series posted a coupon on Facebook for $15 off all open races so I went for it. I'm really excited that it's the inaugural race for Pasadena and since I wasn't able to run LA I'll finally get the redemption of completing a Rock 'N' Roll series race. I'll still have to get another 7 miles in since we are scheduled to do 20 that weekend but haven't decided if I'll cut myself a break and do the 7 on Saturday or if I'll really push it and run 7 before the race. I hope some friends sign up to run with me!

Started the week at Cardiobarre and it was really tough. I'm so not a fan of that place, the pace is way too fast so you can't get the correct form down and even in the beginner class it is a struggle to keep up. I much prefer Bar Method but I purchased a deal on Living Social for Cardiobarre so I'm trying to use up the classes. I still have 7 left and trying to use them up before going back to my beloved Bar Method.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

Week 13 of training is officially complete and 11 weeks from today I will be running (or at this time hopefully done with) the Los Angeles Marathon! Even though I was off work most of this week I still couldn't manage to make time for Bar Method. Instead I started the week on Tuesday with a timed run. Since so many of us have been experiencing various levels of injury, Coach Trey decided to give us a break and we only had to run out for 15 minutes then turn around and head back to Fleet Feet Encino. This came out to about 3 miles but I accidentally restarted my watch when I was trying to stop it so my pace is wrong. After the run we used the Trigger Point rollers and also did some hip strengthening. Although most people found the hip work pretty tough, it was a breeze for me and I know I have Woodland Hills Physical Therapy to thank for that.

Wednesday I started the day at WHPT and planned to get my scheduled 6 miles in but instead went to see Sherlock Holmes followed by Black Angus for dinner. Sometimes life gets in the way of training and I try to remember that missing one run isn't going to ruin my marathon experience... but I still managed to make up the run on Thursday!

I actually had a great run on Thursday, even though I had to run solo. I used mapmyrun to plan my route and managed to come up with only 2-3 stoplights for 6 miles! I had some decent hills in there but they were pretty gradual so I was able to keep my pace up. After the run I headed over to Fleet Feet for the weekly yoga class with Ko Ohka. It was a great class and I'm getting really close to touching my heels to the ground in downdog. I think I'll make that my goal for 2012, though I'll need to go more than once a week I'm sure. Luckily I bought a deal for yoga classes in Agoura Hills so hopefully I can make that happen.

Friday I hit up WHPT after finding out that Saturday's 12 miles would be run on trails. My inner thighs were sore from yoga but they got me ready to run! It was soooo hard getting up Saturday but I dragged myself out of bed and was really glad I did when I finally got to the meeting point and saw this:

We started the "run" (and you'll find out soon enough why that's in quotes) with a walk up a super steep hill to warm up. Then we began trotting along and I tried to keep my pace slow to conserve energy. It soon became very clear that I was not going slow enough and after about 2 miles I was walking. Luckily Coach Trey came along and gave me a series of landmarks to push me to run a little more than I thought I could. He also suggested taking shorter steps and moving my arms which really did help going uphill. By the time we got to the turnaround point, about 4 miles in, I felt like I'd already run 12. I had a snack and some water (which we had to carry ourselves, but it wasn't too bad) and started walking. I decided that I would walk all the uphills and run the flats (ha, what flats?) and downhills but would make an effort to run at least some part of the uphills using Trey's landmark method. It worked and I finished but it was pretty miserable.

I thought it was pretty interesting though, that trails seemed to be the great equalizer, at least for our group. Granted Bobby and Joseph, our super speedy guys, weren't there but we all seemed to be very close together throughout the run. Some people, like my neighbor Andreia who is awesome on hills, I knew would pass me but I was surprised (and inspired) to see her husband Jack not only pass me but pull away to the point I knew I wouldn't catch up! He kept a slow steady pace and was able to run almost the entire time... I could really stand to learn from him. I also appreciated the camaraderie that developed from such a tough run. Our group typically tends to encourage each other when passing at Balboa Park, but you could tell the empathy in our voices when we gave a "nice job" or the ever desirable "almost there." It even applied to strangers along the trail, walkers, bikers, and other runners, who almost always said "hello" or "good morning." I guess there is just something about death march I mean trail workouts that bond everyone together.

Even though it was very difficult, it was nice to hear that even Coach Trey wasn't always great at trail running. He reminded me that when I first started running, even flat ground was difficult. And even running hills on the road is still pretty tricky for me. Since I clearly wasn't going to have a wonderful pace or anything, I figured I might as well take a couple pictures since the area was beautiful and we had some great views.

Even having lived in the Valley my whole life, I had never been on Reseda Blvd. south of Ventura. I had no idea there were such fancy homes up there and ultimately it turns into a dirt road!

 Looking out over the Valley

At the top of the super steep hill where we started (end of Reseda Blvd)

And finally, my fundraising is still a little stagnant but I'm expecting that to change as we draw closer to the race. I've got a macaron order from my aunt to fulfill (and big thanks to her for being super flexible) and I'm going to try to think of more creative ways to raise funds. In the meantime, why not start the year off right by helping a great cause that does so much for victims of sexual abuse and assault as well as raising awareness: