Thoughts From Last Night’s Run

Last night I had a wonderful run. It was one of those runs that almost didn’t happen. I was frustrated and upset and tired and a little bit cranky, and the sun was starting to set. But I was able to convince my mom to drive me down to the beach so I could run along the strand. I’ve wanted to run from my pier to the next one down without stopping for a while, but I didn’t realize that last night was going to be that night until I was about halfway there.

I realized that I could.

And at that point what excuse do I have not to?

Who could be uninspired with a view like that?

Besides, who could be uninspired with a view like this?

And as I was running, I started to overheat a little bit. Usually I’d just tough it out, preferring to hide my body under the additional layer for fear of what I might look like to other people. Something had me feeling brave, so I unzipped my jacket, and let it fly out behind me. Every time I passed under a streetlamp, my shadow stretched out in front of me, jacket billowing around on either side of my waist like a cape. I just kept thinking, “You’re a superhero, Alli. Superheroes don’t quit. Keep going!

Can you see my cape?

Can you see me and my “cape”?

I hit my goal and turned around for a short walk before deciding to pick it back up and go until I hit 5K. I thought for sure I was going to beat my best 5K time, even though that wasn’t my goal when I set out. I came so close! But I finished my run, and my Nike app alerted me that I’d PR’ed my 1K without even really thinking about it!

I love seeing these!

I love seeing these!

I think that’s my favorite thing about the way that I run right now. I run comfortably and I listen to my body. I just let myself enjoy the feeling and let my mind wander.

I’m by no means great. I know a lot of people wouldn’t even consider the pace I’m at “running”. More “jogging” probably. Someday I’ll get to the point where I actually train for races. Someday I’ll actually set out to beat my PR. Someday I’ll be able to feel my pace, or some approximation of it.

But for now, I just run. I do the best I can. That’s all there is. I just keep trying to get better in whatever way I can. And there are so many ways that I can improve. If I don’t feel up to running faster, I can run farther. If I can’t keep up a fast enough pace to PR a 5K, I can PR my mile or 1K.

I'm also about 95% sure that last night was the first time my pace got faster with each mile!

I’m also about 95% sure that last night was the first time my pace got faster with each mile!

Other things I thought about while I was running:

  • Growing up I always thought that my friends “lucked” into their bodies, because we did a lot of similar things, often together. In a lot of ways I wasn’t wrong. There are some things that my friends had that I can’t ever get for myself, things like height and proportion/body type. On the other hand, so much of what we did as kids was activity based that I forgot to account for things like the types of athletics we were involved in and account for them as exercise. Even when you know someone well, there are always going to be parts abut them, their lives, and their activity levels that you can’t assume you know. This realization just further reinforced that we shouldn’t compare ourselves to anyone else. We all have different bodies that will take differently to even the same exercise regimes. We all have different histories with diet, health, and activity that all work to make us who we are inside and out.
  • I often romanticize myself, my life, and my body when I was thinner. Particularly when I was around 175 pounds about 3 years ago. What I often forget to take into account was that I was dealing with incredibly high stress levels, was experimenting with smoking, was eating roughly 800 calories per day, getting blood tests every other week to monitor how that was affecting me, taking supplements, and was only fairly active at best (the one time I did P90X I overtaxed my muscles which combined with caffeine and stress to put me in the ER with muscle spasms that I thought at the time was a heart attack). It’s so easy to get caught up in what I looked like without remembering what else was going on with my health. I’m incredibly proud of myself for getting past that mindset and coming to terms with the fact that health is about more than looking good. It’s about feeling good, functioning well, and being able to accomplish my goals.
  • Someday I’d like to be a role model for other people in my situation. I want to be able to tell them that I was strong. That I didn’t quit when it got tough. I want to represent strength and fortitude worthy of being inspirational. That in and of itself was enough to push me to my goal. It’s stuck in my mind and kept me motivated through today. Hopefully I’ll be able to remind myself of that every time it gets hard. Maybe I’ll put a reminder on my motivation board. (More to come on that soon!)

What about you? What do you think about when you work out? What keeps you going when the going gets tough?

Race Recap: Beach Fiesta 5K

… well technically it was a 5K, 10K, 15K, and half marathon; but I did the 5K and my friend did the 10K, so those are really the only two I’ll be blogging about.

The Beach Fiesta races took place on April 27, 2013, making this race my third and final for the month of April! It was put on by a group called Rocket Racing Productions, who put on a bunch of small races throughout the year. On their website they describe themselves as: “A grass roots effort, helping people achieve their goals by providing a positive conduit for human expression through small, high quality races from triathlons to 5k’s to ultra marathons.” It was the smallest, most laid back race I’ve ever run – but more on that later.

For this race, my friend and I were originally talking about both running the 10K, since neither of us had ever done one; but decided to keep it chill and do the 5K since she’s been so busy with her puppy and work and I’ve been so bogged down with my move. However, you know what they say about plans… I signed up first and by the time my friend when to register, the only race with space left was (surprise, surprise) the 10K!

We  were both pretty tired from our long days at work on the 26th. (I started at 5:30 am and ended up staying until 3:15 – well into overtime; and she had an even earlier and longer work day than I did!) But we were excited nonetheless and ended up getting there pretty early. So we checked in, hit the bathrooms, and dropped our stuff off in the car before congregating in the starting area.

Customary pre-race photo.

Customary pre-race photo.

We basically huddled around the starting line (which was just a large line and the word “START” written in chalk) in a close group. There was only about 100 of us, though it looked like even less to me! Maybe I’m just used to giant crowds, who knows?

One of the people from Rocket Racing Productions walked us through the basic construction: there were two distances laid out and marked on the ground in chalk, one was the 5K – anyone running the 5, 10, or 15Ks would use this as a turnaround point and do as many laps as they needed to to hit their kilometer goal, the other was the marker for the half marathon – which I think he said they would run to and back four times. (I’m honestly not quite sure, at this point I was setting up my earbuds, music, and run tracking apps…)

Look at that view! The starting line was just beyond that yellow pedestrian yield sign.

Look at that view! The starting line was just beyond that yellow pedestrian yield sign on the right.

And then, just like that we were off!

My personal goal for this race was to make it through the first mile without stopping to walk, since my practice run on Thursday had gone so abysmally. (I had to stop after 1.2 miles or so because my intestines started to cramp up and I felt like I was going to throw up…) However, something about the sun and the view (who doesn’t love the Santa Monica pier?) had me thinking that just maybe this would be the race I made it all the way through…

But then, just like clockwork, at about 1 mile in, the cramps and nausea hit me. There was a bathroom, so I paused my run and tried to go, just to be on the safe side until it passed, but the doors were all locked! I decided to just keep walking and hope for the best. It was a run-walk and there wasn’t a pace requirement or anything, so I figured worst case scenario was I’d just walk out the last 2.1 miles. Luckily, after about a fifth of a mile, the pain just disappeared! I don’t know exactly why it came and went, but I was glad it was gone! (Ok so maybe I have a tiny idea why it was happening – poor food choices and an erratic sleep schedule – but that doesn’t explain why they disappeared.)

I picked up the pace again just in time to pass my friend on her way back to the start! (We high-fived and everything. It was adorable.)  Seeing her gave me just the extra kick I needed to make it to the halfway mark!

Woo! Halfway there!

Woo! Halfway there!

The race took place on an open course, which meant that along the way we passed tons of other runners, walkers, running groups, bicyclists, and dog walkers. It was fun seeing all of the different kinds people out and about doing their morning activity! It also kept me relaxed about the race; which was nice since sometimes I get so caught up in doing well and comparing myself to the runners around me that I can get a little stressed and forget to enjoy myself as much a I should.

Beach running is going to be one of the things I miss most about California.

The view from the halfway marker.

Unfortunately, here’s where I had a bit of a hiccup in my tracking. I’m not quite sure why (I’m sure there’s some setting I can tweak to fix it) but for whatever reason my running apps pause themselves when I go to take a picture during a run. I’m sure this is because the designers figure you’re standing still to take the photo, and would automatically want it to pause, but since I always forget to resume them I’d much rather take the few extra seconds. I lost about a quarter mile of my progress before I realized that they were still paused!

I decided to just tack an extra quarter mile on after I finished in order to get “credit” for the full 5K, and tried not to let the technical error get to me too much. Plus, it would give me something to do while my friend finished up her extra 5K. (She’s much faster than me, but not quite twice as fast as me! Though I’m fairly certain her boyfriend is… ouch.)

The way back was wonderful, despite the rising sun and temperature. I allowed myself to walk if I needed to, but made sure to take advantage of the shade as opportunities to run. There’s just something about running at the beach I love. It’s one of the things I’m going to miss most about California. (Though I won’t miss the heat, even though we were done before 8 am, it got pretty warm!) Not to mention that I got to look forward to passing my friend again. This time we fist-bumped and I noticed she’d made a running buddy.

Here's a photo the organizers took of them at the turnaround.

Here’s a photo the organizers took of them at the turnaround.

I trucked it out under the pier, past muscle beach and a Beach Body tent, itching to see that finish line. I kept telling myself to keep going, not to walk, I was so close! I had to slow to a walk once, for just a few yards, because the soles of my feet were throbbing and couldn’t take it anymore. This is a common problem for me, and I’m seriously considering going to a podiatrist before I leave to make sure everything’s ok with them since I’ve been told that it’s not normal. (Though honestly it’s probably in large part due to my weight, so hopefully it’ll go away as I keep losing.)

When I finally got to the home stretch, I could see that the ground was divided along the center – runners turning around at the hydration table on the right, finishers on the left. I swung into the proper lane, which took me right past the photographer, who urged me to smile.

What I usually look like when I run. Not so pretty.

What I usually look like when I run. Not so pretty.

SMILE!

SMILE!

I paused my run long enough to grab some water and my medal, and then kept going to burn off that extra 0.25 miles to get me to 5K status on my running apps.

I love collecting medals!

I love collecting medals!

When I finished a voice congratulated me through my earbuds on achieving a new fastest mile time! I’d shaved off 8 seconds from my previous best time, bringing me down to 11:24! Less than 2.5 minutes away from this year’s goal of a 9 minute or under mile!

Once I’d finished “earning” my 5K I had just enough time to snap a post-race selfie, and walk back to catch my friend finishing!

I had to stare into the sun to get the pier in the background. Worth it.

I had to stare into the sun to get the pier in the background. Worth it.

She was exhausted and pale (I thought she’d put sunscreen on, that’s how white her face was) but she’d dominated it! Her goal was to come in under an hour, and she made it somewhere around 53:00! Not bad for a first 10K (or so I’m told, haha). It turns out she’d started chatting with her new friend right before the turnaround and they were both running their first 10K! So since they’d been pacing kind of similarly for the first 5, they decided to run out the second leg together. My friend told me that there were times when she wanted to stop, and her new running buddy wouldn’t let her, and that she returned the favor along the route! Definitely something I hope to be able to do with people someday! In the end she managed to do the whole thing without stopping to walk at all! My hero!

When we went to ask for her time, the photographer asked if we wanted a picture together!

When we went to ask for her time, the photographer asked if we wanted a picture together!

We stopped to grab some hydration (some kind of electrolyte drink and water) and food (Quaker blueberry bars and bananas) and she picked up her medal before saying goodbye to her running buddy. We troubled a nice group of people who’d also done the 5K to take a picture for us with my phone, since I wasn’t sure how the official photos would be posted and wanted my own.

They even made sure to get the pier in the background for me!

They even made sure to get the pier in the background for me!

We were both so beat that we ended up just chatting in the car for a bit afterwards instead of hitting the road right away. Another reason to be grateful for the smaller scene, no traffic jams to worry about getting caught in!

I came home to find something really exciting waiting for me!

Two medals in one day? Fabulous!

Two medals in one day? Fabulous!

I also checked the posted results and found out that I’d finished in 40:23. Not my best time, but still not terrible. I also placed 39/53 for the 5K! Again, not terrible. I’ll take it!

Interested in learning more about Rocket Racing or the Beach Fiesta 5K/10K/15K/Half Marathon? Check out their website!

They’re also sponsoring a Virtual 5K which I’ll be doing as my May race! Sign up here!

Race Recap: Peace Love Run

I ran the Peace Love Run on April 14, 2013, the day after I ran the Happy 5K. If you already saw my Race Recap for it then you know that these two races took place wedged inside of one of my best friends’s birthday weekend celebrations. The day before I ran the Peace Love Run I went to the Renaissance Faire. It was fabulous and I highly recommend it if you enjoy whimsy and costumes.

IMG_4907

A friend loaned me clothes so I could dress up!

While we were at the Ren Faire, I decided to get my hair braided, and since the 5K was 60s themed, I decided to go for some bright colored swirls!

My awesome braids!

My awesome braids!

After getting home, I immediately hopped in the car and headed down to San Diego to stay with my friend who was running the race with me. It was so awesome to get to see her again, because it’s been a while since I’ve we’ve hung out and she’s always wonderful to be around. I also got to meet her two cats, who are precious.

One of them was obsessed with my shoes!

One of them was obsessed with my shoes!

We talked for a while, but fairly soon it was time to get some sleep for the race!

The next morning she made me an AWESOME green smoothie, which was amazing!

Seriously, words canot express how much I love green smoothies.

Seriously, words canot express how much I love green smoothies.

We immediately took off for the race, and much to my displeasure it was really cold! (Although I’m sure anyone who lives somewhere where it actually gets cold would probably scoff at me over that.) It took us a while to actually find the registration table and the approved parking lot because there was very little signage and we were given an intersection rather than an address to route to. Additionally the only signs were for the Expo that we got free admission to with our registration, rather than anything being labeled as for the actual race itself. (We probably would have been fine parking in any of the other lots in the area, but I always get worried about fines or being towed, so insisted on finding the labeled one.)

The (relatively small) sandwich board labeling the parking area.

The (relatively small) sandwich board labeling the parking area once we found it.

The actual registration area was pretty low key compared to the races I’d done so far, and getting our bibs and everything went fast enough that we were able to hit up the bathrooms despite the lines. We forewent the warm up in favor of staying warm in the car for the additional half hour between when we finished and when the race began.The 10K started 10 minutes before the 5, and we used that opportunity to snap a photo of me in front of some of the festive VW Buses that were parked nearby.

Super festive!

So cool! Also, check out those legit runners behind me! Someday I’ll be more like them.

We're ready to run!

We’re ready to run!

And with that, we were off!

This was my first race where I was running with someone the entire time and we chatted. Usually I run solo. Not necessarily because I want to (though I do tend to enjoy the opportunity to zone out or be alone with my thoughts and my music depending on how I feel) but because my dad is still too injured to run with me and I’m too shy to get involved in the local run club yet. Being able to talk together was a nice way to distract myself from the actual running and definitely something I’d like to start doing in the future once I develop a bit more stamina.

My friend was nice enough to snap a shot of me with the water in the background. (Yes I am running backwards here.)

My friend was nice enough to snap a shot of me with the water in the background. (Yes I am running backwards here.)

The views along the course were pretty awesome, and thank goodness we were running because the weather stayed pretty chilly the entire time.

Some really cool views and a giant ship!

Some really cool views and a giant ship!

Because it was the inaugural race most of the signs and things were fairly simple, but I liked them nonetheless.

2 Mile point!

2 Mile point!

At one point we passed some Naval artillery guns, and a few people posed with them and I thought it was interesting to see the old-fashioned guns and people dressed as hippies posing together.

IMG_4937

Just seemed to fit the theme well to me.

After the race ended, we got a few pictures taken with our cool VW Bus medals!

Woo! We finished!

Woo! We finished!

Peace!

Peace!

Afterwards we went out for celebratory breakfast rather than the expo, because I had a limited amount of time and we wanted to catch up a little. I treated myself to waffles! I haven’t had them in a long time, and they were so good! (Especially since I didn’t eat much the day before – corsets don’t leave a lot of room in your stomach for food to actually go.)

Of course, I was only able to eat about 1.5 waffles and the fruit.

Of course, I was only able to eat about 1.5 waffles and the fruit.

What a blast! Theme/costume runs are my favorite, and this one was no exception!

Plus, seriously, how cool is this medal?

Plus, seriously, how cool is this medal?

Interested in learning more about the Peace Love Run? Check out their website!

Race Recap: The Mickey and Minnie Royal Family 5K!

Yep, went insta-collage crazy on this one!

Yep, definitely went insta-collage crazy on this one!

My second 5K was the Mickey and Minnie Royal Family 5K on February 23,2013; part of the Princess Half Marathon Weekend at Walt Disney World! Not only was it an amazing race, it was also a great opportunity for my first trip to WDW!

This race was probably hands down my favorite, because on top of not getting as bogged down at each kilometer mark with color throws (like I did at the Color Run), we got cute little medals, there was an expo, and we got to run through Epcot!

Because we stayed at one of the Walt Disney World resorts, we got to take advantage of the free transportation both to and from the expo and the race!

Waiting for the charter bus to take us to the Expo!

Waiting for the charter bus to take us to the Expo!

When we got inside I was awestruck at how big the building was and pumped to pick up our numbers and shirts!

Giant expo!

Giant expo – giant sign!

How cute are the bibs?!

How cute is this bib?! It even has my name on it!

IMG_4398

I figured I’d go with an XL to be safe, but it turned out to be huge!

On the other side of the registration kiosks there were all kinds of merchandise tables, selling SPIbelts (of which we each got one), running shoes, insoles, gel packs, t-shirts, official merchandise, Sweaty Bands (of which I got two), themed skirts, headphones, and more!

I was particularly into the RawThreads villain t-shirts!

I was particularly into the RawThreads villain t-shirts! I bought the Ursula one.

Luna Bars also had a stand there, where they were providing signs to decorate for the spectators on race day! I decided to make one anyway, even though I couldn’t really use it.

Run like Prince Charming is waiting at the finish line!

Run like Prince Charming is waiting at the finish line!

After the expo we went to take a pre-emptive look at Epcot so that the next day when we were running through it I wouldn’t want to stop and look at everything because it was new and exciting.

The next morning we woke up at the crack of dawn and got decked out in our new gear and our tiaras! (Which I specially bought for the event, Amazon has some awesome selections for $15!)

Ready to run!

Ready to run!

We bussed our way over to the starting gate at the Epcot parking lot, hit up the porta potties, and had just enough time to get into the right corral before they closed off the entrance. (They were counting down from 10 and we had to make a dash for it! Talk about an impromptu warm up!)

Obligatory pre-race selfie.

Obligatory pre-race selfie at the corral.

We were in the slowest corral, which kind of turned out to be a mistake, since there was a lot of bottlenecking and walking – which kind of impeded our progress.

20130411-155614.jpg

Our race route!

But, the goal was to run the minimum speed requirement – 16:00 mins/mile, and I’m happy to report that we came in at 15:50 mins/mile, even with the scenery and getting bogged down with congestion!

20130411-155703.jpg

I had a goofy smile on my face the entire time. I just couldn’t stop grinning!

Spaceship Earth in the background! Woo!

Spaceship Earth in the background! Woo!

Crossing the finish line!

Crossing the finish line!

When we got in line to take our pictures after the race, we ended up behind a woman whose shirt had kept me going throughout the race!

Seriously, how great is this shirt?

Seriously, how great is this shirt?

20130411-155710.jpg

Photo time! Posing with our medals!

After we got our medals and took our pictures, we stopped by the tent where they were handing out post-race snack boxes!

Delicious and adorable!

Delicious and adorable!

On our way out of the photography area, we passed the medal racks and I snapped this pic to give an idea of how many people finished before us.

Plus I thought it kind of looked cool.

Plus I thought it kind of looked cool.

I took another shot with my medal for posterity!

I took another shot with my medal for posterity!

If you’ve never done a Disney race before and can afford one, I can’t even begin to say how highly I recommend it! What could be better than a great run through the happiest place on Earth? I’m definitely putting one of the half marathons on my list for 2014!

Being awesome with the logo!

Who could resist a photo with the logo?

Interested in running a RunDisney race? Check out their website! (Though be warned, they sell out FAST!)

And a bonus post-race shot of me and my favorite Mickey and Friends member at the hotel pool!

Can you tell he's my favorite?

Can you tell he’s my favorite?

Lazy Gal’s Lunch (aka The Snackstravaganza)

20130411-151859.jpg

I don’t know about you, but there are plenty of times when I need to eat, and need to eat in a hurry! This is when I’m most tempted to grab for those unhealthy and portable treats. My solution?

Throw a bunch of easy snacks on a plate and call it lunch!

Today’s snack-tastic meal?

  • Sliced turkey
  • Fresh mozzarella
  • Half of an avocado (more like 1/3 because it was pretty bruised)
  • A bunch of grapes

What do you do when you need to eat on the go? Are you a pre-pack kind of eater or do you fly by the seat of your pants? Do you have some favorite staples for your snackstravaganzas?