The Summit Seeker by Vanessa Runs – Giveaway Winner Announced!

Everyone in life needs a little adventure. Sometimes we learn through other people’s trials and tribulations to understand things better about the world, society and our own hobby. We like to live vicariously through others. We take knowledge and growth that we learn through other people’s lives and adventures and apply them to our own.

Sometimes all of these thoughts and ideas can be found in a good book.

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The Summit Seeker written by Vanessa Runs wraps all of the growth, adventures, ideas, trials and tribulations into one fantastic read.

Vanessa takes the reader into a very personal account of what life is for her. She struggles with pleasing those around her while finding the escape of doing what she loves most – being alone on a mountain trail. Although Vanessa is an accomplished ultrarunner, the book is not all about ultrarunning. She takes you on a journey through spirituality and emotion and a will to survive.

Vanessa is a friend of mine, and I couldn’t be happier for her. That though, does not at all influenece my opinion and thoughts of her book. She is an amazing writer who will inspire us all.Want to know more about Vanessa and her amazing adventures? Read this book.

Late in 2011 I met Vanessa. We were sitting next to each other at a Girls On the Run coaches meeting and somehow we started talking. She told me that she ran ultra marathons, and once she described what an ultra was to me I was amazed. This seemed like something you only read about in magazines, or books. I asked her how someone would train for such an event, and she said, “You find a mountain and you just run up and down, a lot.” She was just a regular girl like me, but she was capable of amazing feats. I kept in contact a few weeks after that with her, as she would invite me out with her to run at Torrey Pines, but I could never make it out. For an entire year I would watch from the sidelines of her blog or facebook as she blossomed into an amazing athlete with so much drive and appreciation for the ultra-community, and the love of trails, it was contagious. Since the day she taught me about ultras, I knew it was for me. When the time came that I finally put my fear aside and signed up for my first ultra, she was the first person I contacted with questions. I asked her through where I should train and how long I should train, and if she were ever in the area if she would like to go for a run together. She was beyond helpful in my training for my race, and was supportive all the way through.

Vanessa is one of the most humble people you will ever know. She has so much passion about her sport and how she wants to live her life, that you can’t help but cheer for her. In the same fashion that she inspired me, she will inspire you too!

Had I never met Vanessa that day, who knows where my running would be. I thank her for taking the time to teach me that the ability to run an ultra is not for the elite athletes. Regular people like her and I can finish any ultra distance and the power of knowing that is immeasurable.

Thank you for Vanessa!

So after reading Vanessa’s awesome book, I wanted to know more. I craved more. I contacted Vanessa and asked her a few questions and got a little insight as to what the future holds.

K: ” What was the hardest part for you when writing your book?”

V: ” The editing. I had a hard time letting it go in the later stages because I would question and analyze every word – I wanted it to be perfect. That probably wasn’t a bad thing, but it took a really long time! I had the privilege of working with some amazing editors like Susan Fish from storywell.ca, and that really helped me. I probably could have stayed in the editing stage forever!”

K: “What is your biggest running accomplishment and why?”

V: “Finishing Chimera 100 and feeling so great at the end. I recovered quickly, and it was the first race I actually “trained” for. When I finished the race, I wasn’t the same runner that had registered for it. When I registered, I knew I couldn’t finish it. So I trained myself into someone who could, and I was really proud of that.”

K: “Who would you consider your running idol?”

V: “I am always in awe of Ginger (our dog). She has crazy endurance and energy–we still haven’t found her limit. After a 20-30 mile mountain run, we get back to the RV exhausted and when she realizes we’re stopping, she begs us to throw sticks for her.

Human-wise, there’s a quote by George Sheehan that says: “I have met my hero and he is me.” That’s how I try to live my life–always challenging myself and becoming someone I can consider a hero in my own mind. I don’t like to have running idols (though people are inspirations), because we’re ultimately all just humans trying to do our best.”

K: ” Where are you and the gang off to next?”

V: ” We’ll be running Zion 100 in Utah, then continuing North to spend the summer in Alaska. There are a few races in Alaska we’re looking at. One of them is a 100-miler, mostly unsupported, right through bear country. That’s a race I’m a little scared to do, so I might register.”

K: ” You’re working on another book, can you tell us a bit about it?

V: ” I’m still looking for a title, but it’s about women in ultrarunning. It explores issues that are unique to women in running long distances and aims to explore how we approach our running. I want to write about issues like femininity, relationships with male runners, female vs female competitiveness, etc. Right now I’m doing tons of interviews that are helping me uncover some of those common themes. After that I want to explore those themes more fully and research the hell out of them. It will be very different than my first book, but I think it’s a much-needed topic.

Don’t forget to follow Vanessa at her blog, Vanessaruns.com to keep up with her and her awesome adventures!

So it’s giveaway time!! Vanessa will be giving away a free paperback or ebook version (whichever the winner prefers) of her book The Summit Seeker.

To enter all you have to do is like, share or follow my blog! If you do all 3 you get 3 entries!

To be qualified for the giveaway make sure to leave a comment letting me know you liked, shared or followed!

This giveaway opportunity will end in on midnight Monday March 4th, so SHARE, SHARE, SHARE!!

Please comment and let me know your thoughts. Have you already read the book? Please let me know what you think of it!

UPDATE!

Thanks for all the support and entries to the fantastic giveaway for The Summit Seeker!!

The winner is… Vanessa Bolin! Congrats! Vanessa Runs will be contacting you via email !

Happy Adventures!

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Practice of Love and Patience

A little over a week ago I decided to take my very first yoga class. I have always known that yoga would be beneficial to my training as a runner, and I would practice the poses and stretches that I knew at home. Although not many, the poses that I did know seemed to help, and I got good at them.

Leaving my comfort zone to take a class about something I know little about for personal growth is not really my style. In fact, I’ve only done it one time.

Years ago I realized I had a problem. I have been a waitress for 10+ years. I talk to people I have never seen, know nothing about, and sometimes wish I never saw again as my profession. I am able to carry on full conversations (although sometimes I wish not to) with people I would never dream about talking to, and often times the conversation ends with me asking how they would like their eggs cooked. Many of these people know about the daily dealings of my life that even some of my family and personal friends don’t know about.

Somehow I became so introverted though, that when introduced to people who I actually was interested in, I became a mess. Spitting out a few sentences about who I am and what I like to do all of a sudden became as monumental as giving an inaugural speech. The words that would come out of my mouth were unrecognizable, like I was talking in code. I would realize that I must appear to be very awkward, and I would become even more nervous. I would begin to get flustered and start to sweat.

I knew that this was going to continue to inhibit my social interactions with just regular people. I had to fix it.

Around the same time that I realized this, I was also in the process of going back to school. The very first class I signed up for was Speech. This was a required class, and I hoped that it would fix my social anxiety.

The class taught me to be comfortable in my own skin talking to people, and lots of them. Maybe it was the with the help of my job that allowed me to tune out the judgements and weird stares I got from people who once again I didn’t know. I’m not quite sure, but it worked. It turned out I was very good at delivering speeches, and I got one of the highest grades in the class. I thought I could fix something within myself, and I did.

Back to yoga. So I decided that I was most interested in the hot yoga classes that this particular studio offered. I have heard from friends that hot yoga is simply amazing and does wonders for you. I have also heard though, that hot yoga is not a beginner class.Take note; I don’t pay much to the “proper” order of things. I jumped right into the hour-long hot power yoga session

Right off the bat I noticed things that were unlike anything I had ever experienced in my entire life. The room was dimmed, and music playing was soft, but with a pulsating vibe. The instructor had a cool rhythmic way of expressing thoughts to the class, it was almost mesmerizing. He was encouraging, giving, and understanding of different strengths and attributes of the many individuals bending their bodies further than what they thought possible.

My favorite thing about the class was how optimistic and hopeful he was that everyone in the class would find ways to express and feel love and patience with those around them, and seek opportunities to express themselves in a more loving and patient manner.

These words spoke volumes to me.

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I always thought of myself to be a patient person, but recently I have found that my patience wears thin for the silliest reasons. I do not have a difficult life, so my attitude should not reflect one. I know that I do not express love and understanding like most people. I love those around me, but sometimes to them it is hard to see. These are things that I would wake up in the morning, and tell myself to practice throughout the day.

Love and Patience.

These two things seem simple enough, but they are not. I struggled to find ways to teach myself love and patience. I didn’t know where to start, until I went to this yoga class.

Just like how I fixed my weird social awkward problem, I know I have to fix this. Love and Patience.

I realized that at work dealing with people who have absolutely no understanding of the logistics of my job reflect negativity onto me.

I went up to one of my tables today who had to wait for me to take their order because I was busy helping other customers.

I said to them, “I’m so sorry to keep you waiting.”

She said, “Yeah, sure you are.”

This comment brought fire to my chest, and if she didn’t turn her head to look at the menu she may have seen steam coming out my ears. I proceeded to take their order, muttering as few words as possible to them, and realized that all the while she was staring at the menu or her husband, I was glaring at her, burning a hole through her temple. How could she do this to me? I deal with rude people all the time, but why did this particular occurence upset me so much?

Love and Patience.

This was my mantra throughout the day and although previous to this situation I only needed to remind myself of it every so often, it became something I had to keep on repeat in my head for the rest of the day.

It’s not fair to me that a person is able to take away the delight of my entire day. Why did I let this happen? Was it because I was too slow to take her order? No, it’s because I need to practice more love and patience. Apparently she does too. If I had more of these two attributes instilled in me, the rude comment that this customer had made would not have even mattered to me. I would have made light of the situation and went about my day.

I dwelled on the situation for the rest of the day, but not because I was mad or angry. In a way I thank her for reminding me of what I am trying to make better in my life. I will not let her get me down because comments like that are intended to hurt. She will not hurt me.

The yoga class became much more beneficial to me than stretching. It became my place to find myself within and become a better person. I’m not quite sure if that’s part of the goal of the class, but had I known it could change me psychologically and spiritually I would have never hesitated to step out of my comfort zone.

So from now on, I refuse to let people’s negativity get the best of me. I am so thankful that the practice of yoga is there for me to experiment with. Just in the same manner of fixing my social awkward problem I will fix and refuel love and patience within myself. It will be my daily mantra, for as long as it takes.

Not The Same Ol’ Run

I wear many hats; waitress, student, mom, girlfriend, runner trail runner. Between delivering omelets, studying on the psychological effects of steroids in baseball, laundry, soccer practice, softball games and my new found love of yoga, I don’t have much time to do the latter on my list of hats, one of my most favorite things, trail run.

Don’t get me wrong. I can squeeze in a 3 mile run around the neighborhood, or most recently I took advantage of the track at my son’s baseball practice. These runs are all fine, they will work. They are not what I love though. In fact I don’t desire them. Sometimes you have to take what you can get. And on this particular day, I did what I wanted to do.

I set aside most of my morning for myself, my dog Rosco, and the trails. Rosco knows when and where we’re going by watching to see what I’m changing into for the day, and what shoes I’m putting on, and he was beyond ecstatic.

Rosco and I made our way to the hills. We ran on the same trail that we have run numerous times before. We could run the same trail every day but it would never feel like the same run. The trails offer so much diversity and so much life that no two walks, hikes, or runs would ever be the same. This is one of the reasons I love to go. There is so much to see and hear and learn from the land, it really is a place to appreciate life.

I decided just a bit into the run that I wasn’t going to let time restrictions change my desire to run far. My life is driven by places I have to be at and things that I have to do, and I wasn’t going to let time take away my run today. I knew Rosco would appreciate our time together as well.

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So off we went to explore.

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The weather was very cool and there were not many people on the trail.

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Whenever Rosco and I get out to a place like this, I believe he loves the run for different reasons. 1. He is a dog, and dogs like to be outside, 2. He knows he is doing his job of protecting me, 3. He loves to run, 4. He thinks he is hunting. Today we saw no animals on the trail which brings me back to the fact that every day out on the trail is different.

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A couple days ago we had a pretty hard “rain storm” in So. Cal and apparantly this trail has seen better days. The signs placed out do not deter me as an adventurer, instead they only strike my curiosity.

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The trail was muddy still from the rain, and trees were broken and knocked down, but that was about all. Rosco enjoyed running through the mud.

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Then we started our climb.

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It still amazes me that my own two feet take me to see things that most people will never see in their entire life. The places I go are not accessable by car. They require hard work and perserverance. This is why I do it. The rewards are amazing.

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Rosco loves it too

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Buff – The Original Multifunctional Headwear – Review

Two months ago I recieved a lovely package from a company called Buff’s Headwear. I knew the package was on its way, and the day it arrived I quickly ripped it open to see the contents in real life; two brand spanking new buffs.

What is the heck is a buff you wonder?

A buff is a type of head protection that can be used many ways.

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I received two different types as well as patterns of buffs. One was a regular standard sized buff, and the other was a half buff.

My running attire consisted of shorts, shirt and hat. I wanted to change that. I love wearing a hat for the fact that it keeps my hair pulled back and out of the way, and the brim keeps the sun out of my eyes. I was curious to see though if their was a more stylish and versitle approach to what a hat can do for me.

Since receiving the two buffs, I have worn them on almost every single run I have ventured on.

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Also another thing I found to be excellent with wearing a buff, is the fact that they also provide warmth. I am not a fan of running in the cold, or the cold period for that matter, and when wearing a buff, it is super easy to pull it down over your ears to help keep cold air from hitting the side of your face and irritating your ears.

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I don’t buy or want things that require mass amounts of care. I want to wear or use something and not have to worry whether it will last. Well, if you’re like me in that sense, you don’t have to worry with a buff. I wear mine everywhere, and when I’m done, I throw it in the washing machine, and dryer. They do not lose shape. They do not fade. The colors do not bleed.

Want another use? Sometimes I suffer from my beer glass being to cold for me to hold. Problem solved!

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Buffs are super easy, and their are so many different ways to wear them. On the Buffs headwear website, buffUSA.com they provide different learning videos, to teach yourself how to wear them in different ways.

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An End of The Semester Celebration of Sorts

Today I finished my last two finals of the Fall 2012 semester! Yay! Even though I have been able to complete these two tests for the past week, I procrastinated until the very last minute to do them. This just shows that I have many other things that I would rather do than my assignments, as is the story of the entire semester. Anywho, since classes are now officially done, I celebrated my day doing some things that got pushed aside thanks to my studies.

Throughout this semester any free time I had to myself was spent running and doing chores and things that I don’t really care to do. My classes were online this semester purposely so that I could train for my 50k race in October. On my days off work I was able to run for 6 hours a day if I wanted to, but that usually didn’t happen. I would run for a couple of hours then do homework and chores before getting the kiddo from school. My schedule was ideal and really spoiled me for any future semesters where I wouldn’t be so lucky with time.

So as a way to celebrate the end of this semester I did two things that I love that I hardly had any time to do during the semester.

I spent my day gardening and my evening baking 🙂 Happy Day! I should have taken pictures of what I accomplished in the garden today but totally spaced it so that will be for another day, but I did make some yummy pumpkin chocolate chip cookies!

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On a side note, I am attempting to eat everything in the pantry before adding more to it, so this was a perfect way to use up some canned pumpkin and chocolate chips that were waiting patiently to be put to use, and since it seems to be rare that I have an opportunity to bake, they won’t be missed for long.

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Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
2. Cream butter and sugar together.
3. Add egg, pumpkin and vanilla
4. Combine and sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Add all dry ingredients to butter and sugar mixture.
5. Add in chocolate chips by hand.
6. Drop spoonfuls of dough on ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 23-25 minutes. The cookies do not expand too much and appear the same way as they did when first placed in the oven. To make sure cookies are done, gently touch the tops. They should start to become firm and slightly browned at the edges.

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Cool on wire rack and enjoy!!

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To Eat Meat, To Not Eat Meat…Update – 30 Day Plant-Based Challenge

On October 15th, I announced to the world (well this blog and Facebook,) that I was going to endure a 30 day plant-based diet. If you missed this announcement, you can check it out here. For those who have been patiently awaiting the outcome of this challenge, the day has come! Yes I am aware that I have completely slacked in the department of keeping my readers posted on what I eat nowadays, sorry but life does tend to get in the way 🙂

Ok so here goes!!

Over the course of my 30 days of eating plant-based I learned, enjoyed, hated and took note of a few things. Here’s the rundown.

The first few days of this challenge was hard mentally draining. I had this great idea one day to go for the challenge without actually doing my homework to start with. How hard could it be? Just eat plants, right? Sure I knew that to be successful in this I had to eat tons of different types of foods to get the proper amount of nutrients. I am the type of girl who finishes everything on her plate plus everyone elses, basically I can put it away. Also take into consideration that I was about two weeks away from running a 50k. I needed lots of calories, fats, and carbs to sustain energy to complete this race.

Now it may seem silly to start a drastic change in diet so close to a big race, but that was part of the challenge. I knew that if I could successfully complete the race without falling over and dying with hunger, that the diet challenge would be a complete success.

If I could do this, then anyone could! Here are a few things that I learned the hard way.

1. Do Your Homework

A week before I started the challenge I should have researched what types of foods had the most bang for their buck, heck even 2 days before the challenge would have been better. But no, I jumped right in and had to figure it out as I went along. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but for me my time to research what to eat and new and inventive ways to spice up plants is divided between family, household chores, work, homework, studying, and training for a race. And this is not over the course of the week, no it’s everyday. The extra thirty minutes it would take to find and plan out yummy vegan recipes to fulfill my desire for foods similar to what I used to enjoy simply does not exist. Pre planning time would have made the transition so much smoother.

2. Stock Up On Staples

I usually have dry beans, canned beans, and some sort of legume in my pantry at all times. These things I found to be my staples in this challenge. I love beans, don’t judge me. The canned beans are higher in sodium, but when you are lacking some serious time (as I already noted, I suffer from this) they can make for a real quick meal. After running out of my supply of canned beans, and figuring this out while I was starving, I made sure to never let that happen again.

3. Plan Out Your Day

As I noted earlier, dry beans are always something on hand. They take a huge chunk of time to make though. If you plan it out, you can prepare a huge batch of beans to freeze and have even more ready when needed. I learned to soak my beans overnight and cook them in the crock pot the next day, which took absolutely no effort really on my part, and it didn’t take time away from the time I already don’t have. From this I was then able to have a base for all my meals that could be transported with me anywhere I went. On days when I went to work, I brought all my meals with me so I wouldn’t have to sit and wonder what I was going to eat next. I knew what I was going to eat for dinner in the morning so that I wouldn’t have to suffer from mental distress all day long trying to figure it out. These things I didn’t learn until the end of the first week or so, and I was so thankful that I did. I don’t think the first week would have been quite so hard had I known about planning it out.

4. Get Breakfast Down

Breakfast was the hardest for me. I have gotten by for quite some time without consuming dairy simply because it doesn’t like me, but eggs? Almost a couple of years ago I ate a vegetarian type diet but consumed eggs and fish, pesco-ovo-vegetarian. I mostly consumed egg whites during this, and they were the basis of my breakfast, lunch or dinner. Obviously this challenge was little different so I had to get creative with what I ate for breakfast. Almond butter became a daily thing as well as avocado and potatoes. If I don’t eat enough at breakfast time, I suffer from foggy brain the rest of the day, so this was an important thing to conquer. Here is one my favorite veganized breakfast meals that I ate a lot during the challenge.

5. Get Your Family on Board

I live with a meat-eater. Said meat-eater feels that a meal is not complete without meat. This became an issue over the course of the 30 days because I became content eating vegan pizza and bean tacos for dinner. I knew that my 6-year-old son along with the meat-eater would complain about anything I served them that I could eat, so I kind of stopped making traditional dinners. I knew that this was my chance to introduce my picky eater kid and boyfriend to new foods, but it seemed like more work than it was worth. Failure on my part. At dinner time I would have had to make two separate meals, involving more time. It was just easier to make them something that they already eat, and I would eat leftover foods that I already had for myself. My son never caught on to the fact that mom wasn’t eating anything animal related, and I didn’t really want him too, yet. He did learn that mom doesn’t drink milk though, and he was amazed. My meat-eater boyfriend was supportive of the diet ‘as long as his diet didn’t have to change’ kind of thing.

My Daily Eats

Things that I ate every to every other day included:

  • avocado
  • tomato
  • beans
  • oatmeal
  • banana
  • nuts

Things that I thought were interesting through all this were the comments I would get from people who didn’t understand what I was doing, or why.

“runners can’t be vegan”

“it’s not healthy”

“you’re not getting enough protein”

At these moments I was placed on a platform where I had my chance to preach about a lifestyle that may seem foreign to them. I never claimed to be vegan throughout this, and every time I had the chance, I explained that it was simply a 30 day challenge.

Towards the end of the challenge I was so used to eating ‘my foods’ that it felt weird to stop. I decided a few days before the thirtieth day that I was going to try my best to continue eating plant-based, but I knew that when I didn’t actually have to do it, my chances of doing it were smaller.

Eating plant based made me feel healthier, cleaner and overall better. After the 30 days was up, I ate meat and eggs and right away I didn’t feel the same. I felt like crap.

So what am I going to eat? Who knows. I imagine that most of my meals will be vegan or as close to it as possible. I found that the hardest part of the entire challenge was thinking about what to eat. Not actually eating it.

Now if only I had a vegan chef, who planned and prepared all my meals… that would be the life!

Happy Eating!

Welcome back Motivation, I Have Been Waiting for you!

This morning I started writing a post about how I was such a California girl. For me that means basically a weather wimp. I don’t like being cold, and with every intention to go for a long run today when I woke up, that plan went down the drain once I saw it was “raining” outside. Here in Southern California, we freak out if it starts drizzling, and that was reason enough for me to put off my run.

As I sat and typed about how the sky was grey outside of my freshly cleaned windows, I came to the realization that something was happening. I was all snuggled up on my couch by myself with a nice warm coffee in hand. I was enjoying my time partly online shopping and partly writing. I didn’t need to run today. I was just fine spending my cloudy and drizzly morning in this manner. Then my computer automatically turned off. I grabbed my coffee, it was ice-cold. I was too warm to sit and be snuggly.  I knew what was happening, and I tried to push it away.

I got up and went outside and realized that it wasn’t cold, and it wasn’t raining. It was perfect. Perfect running weather.

I tried to erase those thoughts from my mind and got busy tidying up the place. After about 2 hours of doing olds and ends in the house, it hit me again.

Run. I finished my homework yesterday, and really had nothing to do.

As much as I didn’t want to agree with myself, it was inevitable. I was hit in the face with two things, lame excuses and motivation. I had a little over an hour to get a run in. Afterwards my time would be filled with family, soccer games, dinner, softball games, and Christmas tree decorating among whatever other things could spring up between 1pm and bedtime.

I have been looking and waiting for my friend motivation to show up again on my doorstep. My friend arrived and I tried to push him away. Well, he won. I quickly grabbed my stuff and the dog and ran fast. I didn’t have as much time as I would have liked, but when motivation shows up, you can’t be choosy.

I knew from the time I got out of bed this morning, in a really crappy mood mind you, that I would instantly feel better and then awesome on top of it if I just went for a run. Running does that for me. I even really enjoy running in the rain, but without motivation, running is placed on the back burner.

I have a 50 mile race in about 5 weeks.

I needed motivation to show up a couple of weeks ago, but I guess better late than never is alright.

So I am happy to welcome back my old friend motivation. He wasn’t gone too long, in fact he was there in full effect 4 weeks ago when I ran Lake Hodges Trail Fest 50k. Maybe he knew I needed a break. Whatever the case, I’m back!

Happy Turkey Day Run! United Run for the Hungry 2012

So obviously this post is a little late in the making, but I do agree with the ‘better late than never’ principle.

Last year, weeks before Thanksgiving I decided that I was going to run a Thanksgiving day race on turkey day, but my plan of that fell through once I realized that I would not be able to enjoy my Thanksgiving morning with my family in my pajamas if I actually signed up for it, so that was out. When I woke up on that Thanksgiving morning, and realized that it was a beautiful day to run a race, I was saddened for about 7.2 minutes that I didn’t actually sign up to do the thing. I grabbed a cup of coffee and turned on Spongebob Squarepants, snuggled with my little guy, and I was over the race. How quickly I get over things, huh?

    

I don’t work a traditional Monday thru Friday job, instead I am required to show up on weekend days, so for me to race on the weekends, I have to pull strings and take a day off. So this year I decided that Thanksgiving day is actually a free day off and it would be a wasted opportunity if I didn’t sign up for a race. So I recruited my friend Trisha and she recruited her cousin Alysa, and it was a go.

I decided that a race downtown might be nice, and this one had a 10k option as well. Plus it benefitted San Diego food charities. It seemed to make sense.

So Thanksgiving morning I was up and out the door at 5:30am, while the rest of the family slept in their warm and cozy beds. I met Trisha and Alysa and we were on our way downtown. The race started at 7:05, and as we drove around in circles looking for a place to park with 20 minutes to spare, our interest in this race dropped drastically.

The bib and packet pickup area was an absolute mess, and this frustrated us even more. After we finally got our things, and stopped at the port-a-potties, it was time to head off into the streets of downtown all to benefit a good cause.

Trisha and I signed up for the 10k while Alysa would toe the line in her first race ever, the 5k.

Thanksgiving 10k

Trisha and I started the race together, but I wanted to get this thing over with, and left her before the half mile mark. I weaved my way through runners for the first two miles before I actually found a comfortable spot in the crowd. I decided in the cold morning hours that I was going to wear pants during the race. Bad idea. I have only run in one race wearing pants and that was in 34 degree weather. Right off the bat I could feel I was getting too warm too quickly and I blamed the pants. Oh well.

The 10k consisted of running the 5k loop twice, which also really throws me off. I don’t care to run on the same route more than one time because it becomes boring to me. Oh well.

People running in front of me, soon to be behind me 😉
This guy ran while pushing a wheel barrow, that was blasting music for the runners. Wow! Way to go dude!

So since I left Trisha so early on in the race, every time running ran past each other I was on the lookout for her. I never saw her after that point in the race, but she thought she saw me and yelled at some lady who she thought was me. Ha ha!

While running in the streets

I was almost to the end, and I really was mentally done with running the race at mile 2 but I was keeping a really difficult pace for me through out most of the race, that I didn’t want to lose. Then all of a sudden the police that were keeping cars from driving on the streets were stopping the entire race and allowing cars to go by. WTH? At first I was totally annoyed because the finish line was right around the corner, and my pace was getting screwed up. But then I realized that all of those runners who were alongside of me the entire race whom I was trying to beat, all had to stop too. As soon as the police let the runners go ahead, I ran as fast as I could!! I must have looked like a crazy lady flying around the corner, but I was determined to get the best time that I could, because even though everything seemed to going wrong in the race, it was the best race I ever ran. My official finish time was 48:29, 17th in my age/gender group!

People who see me taking pics while I’m running must think I’m crazy

I checked in with Alysa and grabbed our stuff just before Alysa headed out to the 5k race. I headed over to the finish line to watch Trisha finish, and then we waited there for Alysa to finish.

Alysa’s first race 🙂

All in all it turned out to be a fun time. I ran my fastest race ever, Trisha PR’d her 10k by 5 minutes, and Alysa completed her first race ever! I am thankful to live in such a beautiful place, be friends with awesome people, and be healthy and able to run, among many, many, many other things. We decided that a Thanksgiving run together will always be a part of our Thanksgiving mornings.

The start of a new tradition 🙂

Happy Turkey Day!

Injinji Perfomance Toesocks Review: Like Walking on Cotton Candy

As a runner, I often find myself struggling with how to keep blisters far away from my feet. For some reason, I associate getting blisters with being a new runner who is still trying to find themselves and establish what works for them. The problem with this is that I am not a “new” runner, so therefore I should know what works best for me. Obviously testing new shoes and products will sometimes give you problems. Right off the bat you should know that it’s the new gear you’re sporting, but when you’ve worn the same shoes for months as well as the socks, and blisters and hot spots still arise, then something is wrong. With an upcoming 50k I had to find a solution to my problem.

A friend of mine mentioned that she wears toe-socks when she goes out for her runs, and that struck my curiosity. The next day I looked up the company Injinji, and I was intrigued. Instantly I thought, ‘how do I not know about these?’

I contacted Injinji and was immediately sent out 3 different types of their toe socks. Yay!

So in the final month and a half of training for my upcoming 50k, I tried and tested all three pairs of socks to find out if they could ultimately be the solution to my horrendous blistering problem. Here’s my take.

Injinji Performance Series: Mid Weight Padded Interface

When I contacted Injinji, these were the socks that they recommended for me to try to wear for my ultra race. I was told that these are the socks that most ultra runners had success with. I can understand why. When I first put them on it was a little funny getting your toes in the right departments but once that task was done, they felt heavenly. Putting these on in a hurry, as you could with regular socks, may be a wee bit challenging.  These socks were the thickest of the three I received and because they were mini-crew length, you didn’t have to worry about losing them in your shoe. When I went on my first run with them, I headed out to the trail with my Merrell Pace Gloves and opted to run only three miles. I felt to properly test them I had to see how they sufficed on short runs as well as long runs. The next time I wore them out on an eleven mile trail run, and the performance of the socks were the same as they were on the shorter run. The only issue I felt I was going to have with these socks was the fact that I have long toes, and during the run I thought the shifting of the sock would force my long toes to rub and stretch in the toe compartments, resulting in a hole or tear in the sock. None of this happened though, which led me to believe that not only were these things comfy, but also well made. The padded interface of these socks led to comfort during longer runs, making them ideal to run an ultra in. After all my trial runs wearing this version, my socks were never really damp and I never got a single blister. That to me proves that these socks do indeed work and the claim on the packaging, ‘ Protection From Blisters and Hotspots,’ rings true.

Characteristics:

  • Anatomical 5 toe design – Interface keeps toes dry and prevents blisters and properly aligns toes for natural movement.
  • Arch Support – Mid foot stability, eliminates bunching
  • Vector Heel – Precision stitching for custom fit, prevents slipping
  • Dual Welt Band – holds sock in place
  • Superior moisture management

These socks are made of 50% CoolMax, 45% and 5% Lycra

All of these characteristics were true of the sock, and I give this style a thumbs up!

Injinji Performance Series: Original Weight Moderate Interface

This style of sock appeared to me to be just like any regular sock, aside from the fact that it has toe compartments. The weight of the material from which it was made looked just like a pair of Hanes athletic socks. When you put them on though you can notice that 1, they are cozier than Hanes athletic socks, and 2, they also have arch support that you can feel more than you can see.

And obviously they have the super cool logo on the side that makes them all that more awesome. Usually when I run I opt to wear either lightweight socks or thicker socks, depending on how far I plan on running or the terrain. I tested these out on a 3 mile mixed terrain run that included, sidewalk, trail, grass, asphalt. I also wore my Brooks Green Silence shoes with these. For the length of my run these seemed to be fine. I did notice though that my feet started to get irritated towards the end of my run. I don’t discredit the sock though, because all the things the packaging claimed the sock to be, they were. They just are not my preference of sock weight for a run. But, these socks would be ideal for an every day, non-running need to wear socks. Catch my drift? I will totally wear this sock, and have already done so, as an everyday comfy sock.

Characteristics :

  • Anatomical 5 Toe design- Interface keeps toes dry and prevents blisters, Properly aligns toes for natural movement
  • Arch support- Mid foot stability, eliminates bunching
  • Vector heel- Precision stitching for custom fit, prevents slipping
  • Dual Welt Band- Holds sock in place

All of these characteristics were also true of the sock, I just prefer either a lighter or heavier weight. They still get a thumbs up!

These socks are made of 70% CoolMax, 25% Nylon, and 5% Lycra

The original weight socks are available in 3 different lengths: Micro, Mini-Crew, and Crew

Injinji Performance Series : Lightweight Ultra Thin Interface

This was the lightest sock that was sent to me in the bunch, and I would say the most comfortable. These socks are so lightweight that it kind of feels like your not wearing socks at all! I tried the no-show length and if your concerned with the back of your shoe rubbing on the back of your ankle because the socks are so low, don’t be. These socks have a tab on the back of them that protect your skin and the chance of the shoes rubbing on it.

So I tested these socks on a short trail run wearing my Merrells and also on a long trail run. I also tried them out wearing my Brooks and running on the road. These socks passed all the tests, and were so comfortable! I imagine because these socks are so lightweight that they would be exceptional in the summer and during days of long, hot runs. I was kind of skeptical of wearing this weight of sock on longer runs, due to the fact that my feet seem to get tender quickly, but the socks performed wonderfully. The toe compartments are roomy enough that your foot has the ability to spread with each strike to the ground, and your toes are not squished together in one universal space. Moisture that would normally accumulate between your toes is absorbed as well as moisture in the rest of the sock, so you don’t suffer from blisters.

Characteristics:

  • Anatomical 5 toe design- Interface keeps toes dry and prevents blisters, properly aligns toes for natural movement
  • Arch Support- Mid foot stability, eliminates bunching
  • Vector Heel- Precision stitching for custom fit, prevents slipping
  • Dual Welt Band- Holds sock in place

These socks are made of 75% CoolMax, 22% Nylon, and 3% Lycra

The Light Weight socks are available in three different lengths : No Show, Mini-Crew, and Crew

These socks were probably my favorite based upon comfort. They can be worn for everyday activities as well as running. They get two thumbs up!

Final Thoughts:

Since ultimately my goal was to find a sock that was made from a performance stand point that would help me achieve the success of running an ultra race, I felt a review would not be fair unless I put them to the ultimate test. I decided to wear the Midweight version of the Performance series for my upcoming 50k. I knew through all my trial runs in this style that they would be the best option for me over any other versions I tried, as well as ay other style sock.

I wore these socks for the entire 6 hours and 23 minutes it took me to complete my race. I had packed other socks just incase something went wrong with these, and hoped that I really wouldn’t need them. After the race I was certain that I had torn holes through the toe compartments of the socks but to my surprise they were perfectly intact. Not a single problem went wrong due to wearing these socks, and in fact during my race I did not suffer from one single blister!! This to me is just amazing and makes me a true believer in these socks!! Note the picture below, I never said that the socks will keep your feet clean!

All in all the socks I tested were amazing. I recommend them to runners and non runners alike. I will never go back to wearing regular sport socks to run in. If you want a comfortable option in socks Injinji is the way to go!

Happy Running!

Tuesday’s Tip From the Trail

In Southern California, we get to experience all sorts of wildlife. When running on trails it’s important to stay alert and aware of your surroundings. You never know what could be hiding right under your nose.

This little guy was hanging out near a trash container during the 2012 Raptor Ridge half marathon.

Fortunately an aid station worker noticed him and moved the trash container so that runners would have no need to get near him. Check here for information on rattlesnake encounters while running.

Lake Hodges Trail Fest 50k – Race Report

Two weeks before this race I decided to challenge myself to eat a vegan plant-based diet for thirty days. This race fell right in the middle of that time period, and while I knew that it may not be such a great idea to change eating habits so close to a race that I trained months for, I stuck it out. A few friends of mine discouraged my decision and thought that while the challenge seemed interesting, a month down the road would be better. Nevertheless I was determined to finish this thing and prove that I could do it.

The night before the race I did everything different from what I had ever done the night before a race. Usually I’m up all night trying to figure out what to bring and stress out because I know I’m not ready. I actually laid out everything I needed and met with Trisha who was going to crew me during this race. Even though their would be plenty of aid stations, I needed a vegan food caddy and some motivation from a buddy. So everything was in place the night before and I actually went to sleep by 8:30. The next morning I woke up and headed out the door at 5:30.

We arrived by 6am and were met by a huge unexpected group of family and friends who came out to support me for my first ultra race. Seeing them made me so happy and even more excited to get this thing under way.

At the beginning of the race
Family and friends held down the fort while anticipating my big finish all day.

The race started at 7am and I was off! The temperature at the beginning of the race was a chilly 42 degrees, and since I knew that once it warmed up I would never be able to run in long sleeves or pants, I started off wearing shorts, a tank-top and arm warmers and still had to open and close my hands as I ran to warm them up. While training for the race I wore a hydration pack but once I figured I was going to have a crew person there, I decided a hand-held bottle would work better.

My plan for this race to was to focus solely on getting to the next aid station. So after the race started the first station was 4.6 miles away. The crowd stayed together mostly during this time, but the terrain was very technical at times, and with the sun rising in your face it was really hard to see where to place the next step.

Rocky Trail

Between the start and aid station 2 which was at mile 8.5, I tripped 3 times and actually did a superman fall on the second trip. I quickly grabbed my hand-held off the ground and got up and just kept going with a freshly trail scraped leg and all. I had no time to see what kind of damage was done. I had to get to station #2 where Trisha was waiting for me.

When I arrived at station #2 Trisha was there ready to help me with anything I needed. I peeled off the arm warmers and my tank top, and she refilled my hand-held with the pink electrolyte drink, handed me salt caps and I was quickly on my way to the next station which was at mile 13. I continued to run and didn’t slow down pace, which was not part of the plan. I felt I was running too fast to sustain to the end, but it’s hard to make yourself slow down when everything is going smoothly. I made it to aid station #3 and while my hand-held was being refilled by the amazing aid station volunteers, I grabbed salt caps and a handful of pretzels and quickly left the station.

During my preview runs of the course I planned out where I was going to make myself walk. Aid station #3 was at the base of Raptor Ridge hill, the biggest climb of the course, and I planned on walking up the entire thing. I started out walking/hiking up this thing and at times found myself running the flat parts and slight dips in the hill. I find that I’m too competitive to just walk, so this part was difficult for me.

Once the hill started descending I began to run again. The next aid station was not until mile 18.75 from the top of Raptor Ridge, and at this station I got to see Trisha again. The stretch of trail from the backside of Raptor Ridge until the next station was very hard. The trail had absolutely no shade coverage and meandered for some miles through fields. The temperature was rising and I was getting very hungry. After what seemed like forever I finally made it to aid station #4. Trisha was there with food and whatever she thought I might need. I grabbed a peanut butter and jelly sandwich I had prepared, as well as some Sprite which I thought was water. I spent 20 minutes at this station and the longer I stayed the hotter it got. I packed some dried mangos as well as an Odwalla bar into my handheld and continued on my way. This station was at the furthest point in the race, now I had to turn around and go all the way back. I would not see Trisha again until the finish line, a mere 12.6 miles away.

View from the top of Raptor Ridge.

In the beginning of the race I planned on not listening to any music until I left aid station #4. This way I would have something to look forward to when I wouldn’t be able to see Trisha again.

As I went back out on the same stretch of trail I had just ran, the temperatures got hotter and I got slower. This part of the race was super hard for me and once I got to the base of the backside of Raptor Ridge I hiked the entire way up. I was running very low on fluids, and had to force myself to conserve. Once I got to the top of the hill I ran the entire way down, to the bottom where aid station #5 was. I had my hand-held refilled and took more salt caps, then left.

I had 4.5 miles to the next station and this part of the race was the worst for me. Temperatures increased 40+ degrees from the start of the race, and most of this portion of the trail had no shade at all. My legs were very cramped and I was forced to walk a lot of this stretch. I wanted to get back to the station as soon as I could especially since I ran out of my electrolyte drink a mile away from the station. Once I got to the station, I downed a bit of Mountain Dew, dunked my hat in ice water and refilled my hand-held. I left the station running, excited that I only had less than 2.5 miles left and had a beer waiting for me at the finish line. The final stretch of the trail was single track that weaved around the shore of the lake. It included dips and hills in the shade that made it so much easier to run than a flat straight path in the sun.

Finally I came around the corner to see the finish line and ran to the end. My family and friends were there to celebrate with me and handed me a beer as I received my medal. I couldn’t have been happier that I was finally finished.

Finally done!

I went into this race thinking I would conservatively finish by 7 hours. I knew that if I ran super fast and had no issues I could possibly finish in 5.5 hours. I officially finished in 6:23:55 fifth in my age group. I officially finished my first ultra.

I learned a lot from this race and now know how to plan better for the next one. I think the biggest problem I had was that I let the heat mess with my mind. After running 20 miles the last thing that I needed to worry about was how hot it was getting. I also probably could have benefitted from more super long training runs to acclimate to how long I would actually spend running. I thought I went into the race with a good plan as far as how to make the most of the time passing. I also think a huge mental advantage I had was that I preview ran the entire course. I knew where I had to run to and where the difficult parts of the trail would be.

This race was organized by Paul Jesse of Off Road Pursuits and I thought the race was very well put together. Everything was organized and all the volunteers were amazing. The course was clearly marked and the aid stations were packed with anything you could need as well as an awesome team of support. This was an inaugural race and I have no doubt it will become a successful event for many years to come.

Overall I had a great race experience. I successfully completed this race on a vegan diet and mostly felt great throughout the entire course. I can’t wait to do the next one!

My First Ultra: 50k Dream to Reality

Two years ago I sat at my son’s baseball practice with a magazine in hand. It was the newest edition of Runners World magazine; a special trail edition at that. I had recently started reading this magazine and was totally enthralled at all it had to offer. I simply couldn’t get enough of reading into other people’s running adventures, mis-haps, and accomplishments that were very much like mine. As I got into my reading, I came across articles written about ultra-running, and it seemed like something that was so foreign to me, because it was. Here I was, just a running girl who ran 3 – 4 miles at a time.I had never even run a race. I was no ultra runner, but I wanted to be. I wanted something that seemed so unacheivable. I hardly knew anyone that loved to run, much less anyone crazy enough to run hours upon hours in the mountains. I could not relate. So there I sat that day dreaming of what it would be like to be an ultra runner. To me, these people were like rock stars, running the ultimate race.

Since that day, I dreamt of running an ultra.

It’s funny how in such a short period of time, so many things can change. Things that you didn’t think were at all possible suddenly seem within reach.

Deep in me I knew that running an ultra-marathon was something I was going to do, but it was going to take work. I put that thought on the back burner and ran like I always did. Little by little. Then I started running farther and farther. I became a different runner. I no longer was the runner who ran fast, (well kind of fast) all the time. I was the runner who slowed down to appreciate the run. I was the runner who wanted to spend the entire day running. I wanted to see how far across town I could run. I wanted to explore new ways to find my way home. I wanted to get lost running. I wanted to get lost in my running. So I did.

Still on the back burner sat my dream. It was time to make it real. I made a goal for myself that I was going to run my first ultra by the time I turned thirty. Why wait?

In two days, let me repeat that. In two days, I will be running my first ultra. I have trained explored countless hours. I have discovered new places to go. I have run this race in my sleep. I have cried over this race. I have made amazing friends because of this race. I have changed my eating habits because of this race. I have become overwhelmed with joy because of this race. This is my race.

All ready for my first 50k !

Is it really all about the race? No. It’s the fact that I had a goal, a dream, and I made it a reality. Hard work pays off. I worked my ass off for this and found myself along the way. In two days I will be able to say I worked for something and did it. It’s going to be a crazy emotional day for me with good reason.

50k-dom, here I come!