Back At It: How it Feels to be an Out-Of-Practice Runner

Last week's view at the start of Saturday's run: My first 8 mile run since last year.

Two weeks ago, I decided to commit to get back into the habit and lifestyle of being a Runner again. I found a marathon training program and another for a 50k, which I intend to work through, back-to-back.  And you know, as an experienced runner, you know you’re supposed to ease back into running if your mileage is not up where you “need it to be” for your training.

Last week's view at the start of Saturday's run: My first 8 mile run since last year.
Last week’s view at the start of last Saturday’s run: My first 8 mile run since last year.

… So of course (as an experienced runner) I decided to jump right in.  Head first.  I ran seven miles to work with a friend Thursday for the first time ever (pretty cool to get to run to work), and went out yesterday for my first 10 mile run since … Well, honestly, sometime last September.

Now here I am, beginning Week 5 of 18 in Marathon training (I skipped the first two weeks because I’m already a runner, after all), making an all-natural and organic home-remedy from Simple Green Smoothies of lemon, ginger and honey, hoping with all hopes that this will kick the sore throat I am beginning to develop before it becomes a full-blown-sickness-thing.

I am overdoing it, and it is showing up in my body.

photo credit:  www.simplegreensmoothies.com
photo credit:
http://www.simplegreensmoothies.com

The classic conundrum now begs my attention: how do I make the choice to slow down, scale-back, and let my body heal when I have goals to meet?  

I am registered for the 20 mile race at the Peterson Ridge Rumble happening April 12th.  I’m excited, nervous, and thrilled to have a goal distance to train toward.  And now I’m afraid I’ll fall behind.  Because I started behind.

The past two weeks have been … stressful, to put it lightly.  I moved two weeks ago, I’m looking for opportunities to move forward in my career, and I am feeling my way through a transition in perspective in life, and finally learning what is really important to me.  

And believe me, it has been one heck of a long haul.

I find myself experiencing moments of jealousy.  People that I work with that are really happy doing what they love: how did they find their path so quickly?  The entrepreneur friend who has opened a coffee shop, or a boutique, or is a designer creating art and making a living: these people are my heroes, and it is incredibly inspiring to see them succeed at business they passionately worked toward.  

How did they manage to do these fantastic things so early in life? 

And why do I feel so behind in the game?

I have always been successful at what I put my mind to, and I am immensely grateful for this ability.  In college it was easy because you had to choose one thing to study and get your degree. And I’ll admit, after graduation and landing a “real job” I didn’t feel the need to pursue anything in particular besides enjoying life in that moment.  Now I find myself unable to find my focus;  to choose one thing to put my energy toward and tackle.  Except…

I know I want to run.  And race.

And putting my mind and body out there in the elements, asking it to perform like it did last summer post Newport Marathon, pre-Siskiyou Outback, without a proper gradual increase is causing a mild rebellion.  So, despite my brain yelling at me to get out and run, I am going to sleep in tomorrow, have an easy morning, and head to the office.  Drink tea instead of coffee, and eat wholesome foods to nourish my body and soul back to health.

Sometimes it is hard to listen to that little voice in your head, urging you to do what is best for you.

Right now, I choose to listen to the murmurs, and hope to all grace and goodness that soon I’ll get the message that all is well and I’m free to run circles around my currently un-trained running self.  With any luck, whispered tidbits of wisdom will float through my mind and begin guiding me, providing a sense of focus for my soul to settle and commit to a purposeful pursuit.

Letting go of the anxiety of not knowing and using the logical brain to think everything through, and beginning to allow the guidance of feeling to take over is my new objective.

I would love to hear from you, your thoughts and what is working for you on your journey through life:

How do you feel your way through life?
How do you know when you are being guided?
When did you discover your greatest desire and passion?

Thanks so much for taking the time to ponder possibilities, share successes, and contribute to this magnificent conversation about life and the pursuit of passion.

with love and light,
Alaina

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Portland 1/18/15Tonight is my last night in this beautiful building, and as I look out the window and my glorious city view through the pouring rain… I realize, I have no attachment to this place as my home.  I never did develop a sense of solidity here.  

Its funny.  The more I learn through the teachings of yoga, we are taught to move toward non-attachment in many aspects of our lives, and I find myself being more able to separate from having a hope or desire for outcomes to be a certain way, yet … I almost feel that it is a very odd thing to not be somehow … perhaps, emotionally? … connected to the place where you rest your head at night.  To where you sleep, eat, keep prized possessions, and find sanctuary from the world outside.

Something in me never … bonded with this home.  This apartment truly is beautiful.  And it has this lovely, fantastically cozy bench in the kitchen with a radiator under it, so it is (almost) always warm.  And the view.  (Have I mentioned the view?)  I mean, really.  This is kind of unreal:

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And so cozy.

I will miss the vintage golden-yellow of the building that while standing in my kitchen made it almost possible for me to imagine I was standing in Italy…  Almost.  (I think it’s time stop almost imagining, and take a real trip to Italy).

I am excited about my new home.  I somehow feel grounded in that space.  I wanted it two years ago when I first discovered this building, and now I have achieved my home in this wonderful place, where I hope to find some peace and contentment.

with joy and happiness in being where we are…
~Alaina

The Best of Intentions, Rain, and A View

As I sit here in the nook of my kitchen, on the radiator warmed bench at eight o’clock in the evening on Thursday night, I know I should be packing.  My intention for the evening was to make at least one trip over to my new apartment (yes, to those of you who know me, I am moving again) to transport some of the little things that I can fit in my pint-size vehicle.  But when I got home from work, my stomach growling – reminding me I need to eat, I got out the leftover soup which is basically the last bit of food left in my refrigerator, and set it to warm on the stove.  Immediately, the desire to bake biscuits to go with my dinner hit me.   I found a recipe to reference, throwing together a mish-mash of different gluten-free flours to make this last-minute addition come to fruition.

This week at work has been a little overwhelming, and trying to spend my evenings working to move my home… It really brings up the urge to bake!  I get so much joy out of creating food, and somehow it is incredibly relaxing, so I tend to give in when inspired (last night I made cookies).

Now having eaten my delicious, purple soup (this is what happens when you throw all the vegetables in your fridge into a pot with some water and rice, and one of the veggies is a purple cabbage), and indulging in three gluten-free biscuits with lavender pear fig jam, I listen to the falling Splat! of the rain draining off the roof of my building, and the desire to go anywhere has vanished.

I really am looking forward to this new place; somehow I feel like this is some kind of “reset” button on my life, and I am excited to see what kind of changes come out of this new home.

I will, however, miss this view:

city view PDX

I guess I’ll have to go running uphill in the morning to find my own view!  Like this one: (unfortunately for me, the lot overlooking this section of Portland is now for sale – fortunately for the future home owner, there is an incredible city-scape laid out before the lot)

Pre-dawn lights from Tuesday's early run
Pre-dawn lights from Tuesday’s early run

So tonight, at 8:38pm, warm, fed, and pretty tired, although deterred by the rain, I will make my trek.  One small trip, if only because I promised myself that I would, and I know it will provide me a small sense of accomplishment (and avoid all those upset-at-self feelings).

How do you stay motivated when the rain has you down?

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts, and welcome you to leave a comment below.

with joy,
Alaina

P.S. As I wrote that last line committing to venture out in the wet, it started pouring.
…Where are my boots…?

The Food Industry, Their Profits, and Your Health

Photo cred: www.FoodBabe.com

I know this is a controversial and very heavy topic for many – and I don’t want to lecture anyone on what is right and wrong as far as food choices are concerned.  What I do wish for everyone is that you are informed about what goes into the products you eat and I am thrilled that processed foods are finally getting more scrutiny from health food advocates, whole food advocates, and even News anchors.

Photo cred: www.FoodBabe.com
Photo cred: http://www.FoodBabe.com

I follow a blog called Food Babe, by Vani Hari – you know her as the girl who got Subway to take the yoga mat chemical Azodicarbonamide out of their breads (it was not used in Subway’s bread in EU or other countries as it is banned there).  Vani is actively investigating our daily foods and corporations from Gateorade to Whole Foods to Starbucks to Kraft to Chipotle, and more.  Today in her post she brings us back to a Special Report on ABC News by anchor Peter Jennings on December 8, 2003 called How To Get Fat Without Really Trying.  I have to admit, I was surprised this video was produced over ten years ago, and yet so many Americans still are unaware of what they are actually eating – and why our nation’s people are becoming increasingly overweight.  I highly recommend you watch these videos.

Also, take some time to check out this video from Marie Forleo on Marie TV: an interview with Vani (this is how I came across this lovely lady) where she shares great advice on foods you may not suspect you need to avoid: Healthy or Not: 5 Health Foods You Shouldn’t Eat.  Some of the items shared caught me completely off guard!  This video is well worth a listen to know what you are actually putting into your body.

Here is a secret I need to share with you: I spend a significant amount of my “free time” watching and listening to Marie’s interviews to learn … New things.  About everything!

photo cred: www.marieforleo.com
photo cred: http://www.marieforleo.com

Marie Forleo is a wonderful business guru and advocate to help (us all!) Create a Business and Life You Love.  Her interviews are always informative and inspiring, and to any of you looking for advising on your “next steps” – take some time to explore what she has to offer.  Find videos on business and personal growth, how to be more productive, and even spiritual stuff to help improve your life.  Marie’s authentic approach makes every bit of her imparted wisdom (in writing and video) easily understandable and entertaining, and I.just.love.it!  Marie has also founded B-SCHOOL, an online 8-week training program for online business owners and entrepreneurs, which has received wonderful acclaim.

I am so happy to have stumbled upon both of these awesome women who are consciously working to make a positive difference in the world, and in our lives.  Their influence and impact on me has already changed my life, and they inspire me to make greater change Every.Day.

Who are your favorite online gurus?

Please share your thoughts on the ABC News special below; I am always interested in a lively conversation about how we can live – and be – healthier.

~Alaina

First Run on the Second in 2015

After a long break from running and exercise – any serious movement – after being sick for a whole week, I was thrilled to have a cool, clear, crisp morning to get outside and Run!  With this new year, I am starting at square one, so I went out for a two-mile run.  Short and sweet, and absolutely stunning!

Frozen Pond

 

Tracks

 

Frozen!

 

Broadway Bridge

 

Boat

 

Fremont BridgeIt was such a beautiful morning.  I couldn’t have asked this fair city for better sunshine, temperature, or reflections.

I am so happy to be running again!

Tomorrow commences Saturday runs with my running buddies.  It has been far too long since I spent the mornings chatting and laughing and pounding out the miles with those lovely ladies.  I look forward to another beautiful run, and a few more miles, tomorrow.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, enjoying your exercise of choice!

Happy Running!
~Alaina

 

Lessons Learned in 2014 & Intentions for the New Year

Sunrise

2014 has been a year of discoveries.  Much of what I have learned has been due to self-exploration, understanding, and acceptance.  Pushing my body to new limits, learning how food affects my mind and spirit, and learning what really matters to me for the first time in over thirty years.

And this has changed my life. 

Permanent change, and change for the better.  Here are a few of the important lessons of 2014:

1. My body can travel great distances on foot.
I ran a 50K this year.  Holy crap!  Not only that, but leading up to race day my body was able to keep moving through 3 marathon-length training runs with a 10 mile run the very next day. I always knew I could do it, yet looking back on this feat feels really kind of awesome.  Makes a girl wonder what else she can do…

2. I am a runner who likes to do yoga.
After completing Yoga Teacher Training – and feeling stronger than I have felt in many years – I can honestly say I have no desire to teach yoga classes.  I really enjoyed the personal journey the experience of 200 YTT took me on, the new friends I was able to meet, and the new limits I was able to push past while learning the Ashtangas, and the broader and more considerate perspective I gained on life, how we treat one another, and my personal actions and their affect our planet.  It was totally worth the work, lack of social activity, and even the horrendous anxiety that I experienced that kept me from sleeping before each early morning class I taught.  The lessons I learned from Yoga beyond the moments, are immeasurable and invaluable, and therefore, this experience was highly important in helping me to change.

3. I may, in fact, be a good teacher.
Despite the fact that I am not interested in teaching Yoga, I love sharing what I know and teaching others about diet, exercise, and healthy habits. These are things I love to work on in my own life, and cannot stop talking about when asked – and I look forward to the opportunity to share my knowledge with others who are seeking ways to improve themselves.  Somehow, over the past year, people have started coming to me with questions.  I suppose this is how it all begins…

4. I LOVE running.
When I committed to yoga training, I knew I would have to cut back on running, and for the first week (maybe the first two), I made myself run three times during the week.  While attending four yoga classes, and eleven hours of teacher training AND working a full-time 40+ hours/week day-job.  And there was no way I could keep running in my habitual manner.  So I let go of running.  For more than three months. I missed it terribly.  Running is my meditation, my break from life, stress release, and a way to tour this beautiful city I get to live in, and I am SO happy to have the time in my day to re-incorporate running in my daily life.
Thank God!

5. Cooking delicious, healthy meals for myself is SUPER important.
I have always loved to bake.  And when I started cooking, I realized it was another form of meditation, to take good food and make a delicious meal for myself.  It is like this gift at the end of a long day to have the ability to spend time in the kitchen, singing, and dancing around while chopping onions and garlic. (Don’t worry – I put the knife down while I was dancing!)  Over the last five months or so, I realized not only is this a pleasant activity, it is vitally important to me to take the time and make meals happen.  I actually find I feel guilty when I buy my lunch in the café at work.  Cooking and Food Prep = Must Do (As much as possible) for sanity, to feel good, and to calm my mind.

6. I can make changes to how I live to become the person I want to be.
My mother can tell you that in the past I was a very disorganized person.  With piles.  I have always had piles.  Clothes in the corner.  Papers heaped on the desk.  I am now eliminating the piles. Organization is a new skill, and I am working to cultivate and keep this one going for years to come.  Shrinking stacks not only means donating unused or unloved items to charity, it also means finishing projects.  That dress I started five years ago, the painting started four years ago, the receipts I need to file, the blanket I intend to make for my niece for Christmas… (Do you have any of these things on your list that have been there, moving down in priority slowly over time?)  I am now checking them off (starting with the painting), and letting go of those that no longer call to me.  Freeing the mind and getting rid of clutter – I have much more important things to ponder over in that mind space, and worry and that nagging knowing that “I need to finish that project, and that, and that…” can stop.  Now.

7. It is ok to say “No”.
I will admit that for a lot of my life, honestly almost all of my life up to this past Spring, I have been a people-pleaser.  Always saying “yes” to every invite, all obligations involving friends, and putting myself second.  Or third.  Or fourth. Finally, 32 years (nearing 33) into my life, I have learned that I can consider my own needs and wants when making decisions.  And most of the time, I will feel better, other parties involved will not be concerned about my “no”, and the energy of the whole deal will just feel so much more clean.
Honesty –  To self and others, it’s totally the way to go.

8. Self-care is extremely, vitally important.
I have been experimenting.  With diet.  With exercise.  Learning what works.  (And learning what does NOT work).  And beyond learning that my body and sugar do not get along in any way, shape, or form, I have learned that it is incredibly difficult to maintain my own happiness if I do not prioritize myself Every.Single.Day. Feeding myself, drinking lots of water, getting in some form of exercise, and spending some time in meditation or reading – somehow furthering the strength of my mind – are essential activities that help me to live well.  In turn, taking care of myself allows me to be available to others when they are in need. It is incredibly simple, yet so hard to maintain.  This is why so many teachers and gurus have their own Daily Practice.  Do you have a daily practice? Has it become habit, or is it still a challenge from time to time to keep the routine?

9. I still do not know what I want to do when I grow up, but I know I’m getting closer.  Since landing in Portland after college, I have kept myself occupied taking lessons.  In retrospect, I have sought out one Guru after the next – first in dance lessons, then voice, then energy healing, and finally in yoga training.  Oddly enough, two of my Gurus have moved away in the last year, rather suddenly, and I certainly wanted to learn more from them … Yet, I feel almost as if this is the way things are supposed to be.  Kind of a little shove for me to start moving forward on my own.  Like the Universe is telling me “You’ve learned enough – now go do what you are meant to do.”  Being in this place – nudged to go out and do ‘my thing’ – is a little awkward, uncomfortable, and scary, but I’m learning to push through the discomfort and really share my perspective, knowledge, and who I am with others.

10. Running has taught me to stop worrying and take a chance.
I suppose it goes without saying that running any extraordinary distance of your own volition will teach a person something about themselves.  I have certainly learned that I am much more able-bodied than I have ever imagined.  And through the physical tests endured, I have learned that so much of what I used to fret about and stress over really is the small stuff. I’m not sure how I leaned that running, but when you are in a state of constant movement and all that really matters is nutrition, hydration, and putting one foot in front of the other, prioritizing is much more simple.

11. When you respect yourself, you make better decisions.
Last year, I went to an end of 2013/beginning of 2014 ceremony.  During this process together, we chose words for what we are letting go of in 2014, and what word we are claiming for the year to work on and hold as our intention for the year.  Honestly at this point I do not remember what word I let go of, but I chose “Self-Respect” as my intention for 2014 – and I have done pretty well on that account for the year.  It’s funny, you’d think that self-respect is pretty basic, and that everyone has that for themselves. For me, the process of learning to say “No” was a form of self-respect, and while I have made a few choices that went a little beyond what I really wanted, I have not done regrettable things this year.  Every choice was thought out, weighed, and carefully responded to from a place where I felt no nagging or pulling in my heart or gut.  Much more happiness this year.

Now here we are at the beginning of 2015 – a fresh start to choose to let go of something else, and a new word of intention for this brand new year.

For 2015, I choose Health for my word of intention.  I have been making small changes here and there throughout the past few years, and with the lessons I have learned in 2014, there are bigger changes I want to make (which I look forward to sharing with you soon!) that will have a big impact on my life – happier digestion, better energy levels, and overall feeling good in my own skin.

I will be letting go of material things – for the last 3 months of 2014, I made a promise to myself to not make any purchases that were not necessary.  And not shopping gave me so much more free time (not to mention saving me $$$ so I could spend on more important things, like Organic Kale), I intend to do the same for the entire year of 2015.  No unnecessary purchases of clothing or home items – and thrifting, consignment, and getting creative (literally – making things) will be where I do get things when I need them.  Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – three of my favorite words.  2015 will be a fantastic year!

What is your ‘word of intention’ for 2015?
What will you let go of this year to give yourself more freedom and happiness?

I’d love to support you on your new endeavors – Let me know in the comments below!

As always, move forward through each new day with Joy!
~Alaina

On the Eve of Christmas

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As I sit alone at home this holiday eve, allowing myself one more day of rest after the illness that knocked me off my feet and kept me flat in bed for five days, I find myself contemplating what is important this day, and only one answer comes to the fore-front of my mind.

Family.  As I have always known and accepted, family is the biggest importance to me and always has been, but somehow over the years, the need to be with family has grown.  As has my strength in myself when I can not be with them (as tonight – one more day away to make sure the virus is passed and will not be passed on to loved ones).

This definition of family has evolved to include the many very good friends who have grown to mean so much to me throughout the years, whom I will not see this year as they are with their families.  These people who have made a great difference in my life, had an enormous affect on my life choices, and help me make sense of the direction I am headed, advising me, and encouraging me when I falter.

As over the years, my family has grown, I have found myself not even participating in gifting.  I know so many people who mean so much to me – each of them deserves a gift, yet the thought of trying to find something each person will like that is not just a gift to give something ultimately overwhelms me and I let go of the idea all together.  I want a gift to have meaning and be useful not just… collect dust until it is tossed in the new year.  Additionally, I often choose to avoid participation in the big commercial hubbub of the holiday.  So I resolve to make gifts… unfortunately, often too late to finish in time.  (Do you ever find yourself in this situation?) 

Alas, here I am on the eve of Christmas, grateful to be finally feeling well enough to get to spend time with family on the holiday.  Tomorrow I will bake my offering of cookies for the dessert after the family dinner.  My gift to the family with whom I get to share this holiday.  Made from the heart, with love, for each and every one of them holds a place in my heart forever.  As do those with whom I am separated by land, ocean, or circumstances this season.

And so, here I leave a note to all of my dear, precious – new and old – family and friends: Please know that each one of you is elementally irreplaceable in my life.  Without you, my life would be so different: your presence makes is so much more happy, more interesting, more fun, and fulfilling.  You are the best present I will ever receive in this life.  Thank you for choosing to be in mine.

Many wishes of great fun with family and friends this Holiday Season.

with Joy,
~Alaina