Alaina’s Adventure – Musings and Learnings From Time Away

Day five of my seven days away I finally began to relax.
I need another week.

It’s funny because I keep thinking that I must be doing now what many of my friends did growing up and throughout their college years. I am finally discovering Who I am. Like I am waking up. Figuring out the how in living and what I want that to look and feel and smell and sound like for me. I never gave myself the chance to explore. From one step to the next, I followed the path that was expected of me. I did what I knew would make my family proud, and take me to a financially stable place.

Now, five days out in the desert, I am dreaming of buying property. Having wilderness surround me. Having more time. To sit and read, paint, write, cook healthy meals, and do the things that really call to my heart and soul. To finally get out what is inside me and share with … whomever will see it.

I have a yearning to share.

During the painting workshop last week, Winnie Givot (a brilliantly talented artist and teacher, as well as a warm, kind and generous soul) asked us a question at the beginning of each class.  The very fist question read: “What draws you to paint?”  My reply?

          “A yearning. My hand needing to move. A feeling.  Like it is a part of my soul I have not yet touched.  Painting is what I have always longed to do, ever since I can remember; I have desired to put a brush to paper, yet remain in fear for never having started.
           This is how I will start – by learning of my heart.”

The words flooded onto the page, in a free-hand stream-of-consciousness more beautiful and truthful than I could have thought to compose. And it’s all true.

Thinking back to the Alaina who was 5-15 years old, all she wanted to do was Create. All forms of art were calling me: painting, writing, singing, drawing, ceramics, photography, theater, and dance. Somewhere in those formative teenage years, I lost my yearning, and started striving. To make my family proud. To fulfill those expectation. To do what I could because I was good at it (science and math were my playground, I enjoyed them and they came easy – in high school), and put the dreams aside.

I did love TwisterYou all remember the movie, right? I was enthralled with that movie. I wanted to be a storm chaser, and that feeling did not go away.  It was SO exciting, and clouds had fascinated me for years (I used to check out the Picture Encyclopedia of Clouds and renew it for months on end), it seemed natural that I would choose to become a Meteorologist. There would always be people interpreting weather patterns, it was exciting for me, and it was a Real Job.

So I moved toward science.  Got more A’s (and a couple B’s), graduated with honors and went to college to pursue more math and science, quickly learning that they were not something I was passionate about (although, chemistry was super exciting and sexy to me because you could build things – I loved the molecule set, and looking back, I think I loved chemistry because class involved DOING things: experiments, mixing chemicals, heating minerals, building models, and using my hands and my brain).

(… I feel like I’ve gone a little off-topic, but bear with me, I know I’m going somewhere with this…)

By mid-year Sophomore year, my Meteorology advisor was calling me out – “You’re not serious. No one is going to accept these grades. If you want to be a Meteorolgist you should go to a school where they have an undergrad program like UW or Penn State.” My ‘dream’ was being smashed by someone I did not know. I was pissed off he wasn’t encouraging me, pissed off at myself for doing so poorly (and for literally not really trying), and afraid of telling my parents anything about the whole scenario.

Fortunately, I could change majors, and boy, I did.  Five times. In four months (three of which were summer months). I finally landed on Apparel Design (which my boyfriend at the time was pursuing), and after one year off (I was going to tour the nation with The Fleetwoods as a replacement singer with Gretchen Christopher when the group tour was cancelled (it became a solo tour for Gretchen Christopher) because a male singer was not able to be found), and a brief stint working for Starbucks, I completed my degree.

Despite not knowing how to sew before jumping into this program (and not believing I had much interest in fashion – I was definitely wrong about that bit), I dedicated myself to doing each assignment well. Because I was not doing math or science, and felt a little superior for completing as many classes as I had in those subjects, I figured this would be easy and sarcastically called my degree program “Arts and Crafts”. (Honestly, I was a total a**hole about it – but because I was working hard, my classmates fortunately did not find me offensive and befriended me, thank goodness).

I wanted to do well – I applied myself to every task given to me, dove into art classes (more drawing), took up dancing, and even yoga. I loved my last two grueling years of college. I was doing what my heart loved best – using my hands to create beauty. 

My Adventure

One whole week. On vacation. By myself. 

I rented a beautiful little straw bale house on the edge of a cliff in desert country. I feel so at peace in the house (except last night when something jumped on the deck while I was washing dishes after dark, and scared the bejesus out of me – adrenaline kick kept me awake another hour). Like being in a cave with many windows and a fantastic view. Oh, and a hot tub.

The kitchenette is sufficient for cooking and baking, I brought my Vitamix for smoothies, and basically half of my foodstuffs and spices for food prep so I really can (and do) feel at home. I sank in to enjoy the delicious sound of the whoosh of the rapidly cooling wind in the evening as it moved through the trees and swept down the canyon, the birds chirping, the sound of the nearby hawk rustling its wings in warning, and got in touch with being fully present with myself secluded up on this hill. Away from my dear, lovely city.

Gorgeous view from "my house".
Gorgeous view from “my house”.

I have only one thing to say: Life-changing.

Until last Tuesday, I never took time off to go on an adventure, or do anything on my own. Fear held me back: fear of loneliness, of missing out (oh, that FOMO), of neglecting duties. Fear of lacking things to do, of conversation, and people to engage with on a daily basis. Finally, fear of being alone with myself and my thoughts. And honestly…?

I love the quiet. And being alone.

Until last year, I considered myself an extrovert, and during a class at work, learning about personality types, I learned that I am, in fact, VERY introverted. (No wonder I am always exhausted after a couple of hours out with big groups of people). Over the past twelve months, realizing that I really do need to spend more time alone, I have been working on giving myself permission to say “no” to social engagements.  It has been a difficult exercise in choosing what is best for me, and meeting (my perceived) expectations of friends and family that know me as a very social person.

And that is the key: I do not need to meet what I perceive to be someone else’s expectations.
I am responsible for how I feel and for taking care of myself.

I need only to meet MY OWN expectations and desires. 

I chose this adventure based on the dates of a watercolor workshop. In April, I happened to walk into an art gallery on the last day I spent in Sisters after a 20 mile race event, and not an hour before leaving town, I met a wonderful artist who happened to mention a workshop she would be teaching during the summer.

Boom.
It was fate. I knew I had to attend the workshop.

I created a whole vacation around the three-day painting course. The location is great, the lessons were amazing. I learned that I can, in fact, paint. I learned so many new things that my brain hurt at the end of each day, and I was exhausted.  (I’d forgotten how much learning can zap the energy out of you! More to come about the workshop later).

I am still loving it out here, so much in fact that I wish I could have more days! Nearing the last day of my stay in this wonderful straw-bale home, I realized that it took until today for me to finally relax and feel settled. New lesson to myself – vacations need to be longer than seven days, especially when travel is involved. (And perhaps they could be more frequent!).

Needless to say, I am learning many lessons this week. Pushing myself out of my comfort zone, taking chances on things I want to learn, and spending time reading and reflecting.

So tell me…

How have you stepped out of your comfort zone recently? 
What was your greatest take-away from your last adventure?

As always, sending joy…!
~Alaina

You Only Live Once; The Big Shift

A view of the Steel from this morning's run.

This week, it happened.

I have had a green juice every morning this week.

Going Green!
Going Green!

I followed that juice with a no sugar added chia pudding if still hungry.

Chia pudding, pecans, almond butter, and strawberries
Chia pudding, pecans, almond butter, and strawberries

Each lunch and dinner was made by me, in my kitchen, so I knew exactly what was in each delicious bite.

I slept blissfully well on a new mattress that was delivered on Tuesday. (This is the first NEW mattress I can remember having … in many, many years. Why go for this now? Because I’m worth it. And sleep is SUPER important).

My body is sore from re-entering the world of yoga, and I am feeling more light and happy from running more consistently.

A view of the Steel from this morning's run.
A view of the Steel Bridge from this morning’s run.

I have made an ENORMOUS shift.

The past two and a half months have been a time of … introspection. Without the ability to get out and run and walk around my neighborhood (putting in miles just for the sake of wandering), I was consequently being rather sedentary and feeling the effects of food more acutely, as well as (to be perfectly honest) seeing them on my form.

And then it hit me.

While I know I have the power to make the choices that are best for Me, I was still ignoring all of the self-awareness and knowledge I have gained in the past year. 

Somehow, I felt that because I could not follow my regular work-out routine, I could let my usual “how I eat well” go by the wayside, as well. Sure, I knew when I was eating that gluten-free ice cream sandwich that I would experience physical consequences later that day… or the next… And yet… Acknowledging when your choices are bad does not make you feel better. 

Some may argue: But you only live once!

And I have to say, I agree. Wholeheartedly. 

We only have ONE life to live. ONE body to nourish and move with in this life.  ONE Chance to make a difference in the world in which we live.

SO I ask you one question:

Why the heck is “YOLO” a Reason, a Rationality (a JUSTIFICATION!!!) to do things that will CAUSE HARM to our one and ONLY vessel allowing us to be here on Earth?

Granted, eating Ice Cream is certainly not the end of the world, but for me, sugar is a known adversary, and after the amount of reading I have done about substances that your body does not digest well, learning that they can get into the blood stream, and quite literally beat up your veins on the inside, WHY do I still choose to eat the things that cause me unfathomable damage?

So I started this week with a new intention: “You Only Live ONCE”.

I am feeding myself with vegetables and fruits that will help sustain and heal my body rather than simple sugars that can beat me down. I want to be (and feel) my Best, as much of each day as is possible. This week has been remarkable emotionally and physically, and I want that good feeling to continue. What does that mean for me?

I am giving up processed sugars. 

I am happy to say that although I have not been 100% this week (more like 90% – the evening dessert craving has bewitched me a time or two, and even the dairy-free ice cream was not consequence-free), I know I make this change pretty easily (must do more baking with fruit). Of course, there are always times to make an exception: for example, Grandma’s house for the Holiday dinner because you don’t want to offend family. For my own cooking,  there will be no sugar added. Last night I successfully baked an apple crisp without any added sugar (just banana for the crumble!).  Such a wonderful discovery (and triumph!).

I am giving up alcohol.

I know. This one is tough for most people to understand. I admit, I enjoy a nice cool drink from time to time on a hot summer’s day, but to give you a little perspective: I purchased a few bottles of alcohol – a couple of years ago (um… more like 4 years) and they still remain unopened in my cabinet. Whenever I buy a bottle of wine, I’ll open it for a glass and forget it is in my refrigerator. Plus, there’s the fact that I cannot get myself out of bed in the morning to run after having just ONE drink. (That is probably the most important part). I am perfectly happy having a glass of soda water with lime, or a hot latte. Friends, please do not be upset with me for not joining in the consumption of alcohol, this is for my health (and sanity – running is super important to my emotional state. Also, I have some bottles of liquor to give away…).

Both of these things mean consuming MUCH MORE whole foods, less abrasive vein-invaders, and overall, feeling …

Pretty much like a million bucks.
(And who doesn’t want to feel good?)

Now I put the question to you: what does “You only live once” mean in your life?
Is it an excuse to try whatever you want because you’re young and your body can “take it”?
Is it your motivation to keep working toward that PR?
Or is it just a silly phrase the kids are using these days?

I always love hearing how you’re working through your own personal battles, so leave a comment and help to start a conversation below.

Thanks for reading, and have a happy, healthy, fun and free weekend!

with Joy,
~Alaina

I Have A Confession…

Simply Splendid

Almost a month ago, I set out to start on a journey to cleanse my body using a cleanse program of shakes and liquid (almost fasting) days. Something I was extremely hesitant to do, and I chose to work with a company I do not know very well. In fact, I currently have a business that offers a 30 day cleanse, and I went with something else. Why? I think I needed to try something unknown because then no one else I now really knew about it or could judge me for what I was doing. Because, holy moly.

I was seriously judging myself.

I am all about natural food, eating whole foods, cooking without sugar, and making what you eat count and work for you. And this was, well, nearly the opposite. In all honesty, I was very excited about this program. The nutrient and mineral content is so high, the products are such good quality, and I have a couple of friends who have had amazing results – I was super jazzed. Perfect thing to do while I’m not on my regular running routine, right?

But then something happened.

I had an allergic reaction, and after reading through all of the ingredients at least three times each, looking things up, asking an expert, and trying to stick with it – on day three of shakes and allergic reaction I called it quits. I needed to stop putting this into my body. I have been pondering why this happened for nearly a month, and I do not doubt that there was something in one of the items I was using that I was allergic to (I have plenty of food sensitivities). My body rejected the cleanse.

Although, at this point in time, I wonder … Did I create the reaction subconsciously?

I have never been one to “diet”.  I will certainly change the way I eat (usually at the advice of a physical trainer or doctor) to avoid certain foods and achieve better health.  But never stopping eating real foods.

I was pursuing an option to health that I did not find right for me.

And after this experience… I been floating through each day.  Eating normally.  Still not running.  And now I feel the most out of shape that I have been in … years. I’ve gained a few pounds (none of it muscle), and clothes that were too big on me before fit – and fit well. I am kind of astonished at what I am learning about myself in this state – I feel different, and being out of shape bothers me, but…

I feel so feminine and (dare I say) sexy! Part of me revels in the way my body moves right now. It’s crazy to think that just a few notches up the scale can make such a difference in the body’s form and rhythm.

The rest of me is ready to move my body, go to yoga and build some strength, and get back outside and run! My doctor said six weeks, and this coming Monday will mark those days completed. I have prepared myself – new shoes, real yoga clothes (I have never had yoga pants, until now. I am very excited about these beautifully printed – made in the USA from recycled water bottles – teeki pants!) – for the first time in my life I have enough work out clothes to make it through a week without doing laundry (or re-wearing an outfit… or two).

The past month and a half has gone by extremely quickly. I have had a very busy social schedule, eating out more often than not, and I am ready to spend more time at home cooking. Using real food to nourish my body back into fitness. Blending veggies to have a “smoothie” (I love my Costco special Vitamix!). Making protein shakes using kefir and spinach, turmeric and cinnamon.  Eating much like I did when I was off sugar, but keeping some fruit and sweeter veggies in the mix.

I’m ready to get my body back in shape, and yet, also strongly desire to maintain this feeling of femininity I have recently acquired. (Fortunately, I’m fairly certain this is a state of mind rather than a state of be-hind… And I can work with that). ;)

Tonight I splurged on a dessert out at a local favorite: Papa Haydn. I used to go here with family for birthday celebrations. At the table with the art of walking (by dear friend and beautiful artist: Kari Gale), a latte, seated at the sidewalk to enjoy the people-watching of NW 23rd’s patrons and this amazing dulce:

Simply Splendid
Simply Splendid the “Autumn Meringue” – and incredibly sweet.  I can no longer finish one of these desserts, as I did in previous years. Apparently tastes can change (and might I add, I think this is for the better). As expected, eating this made my pulse race (the sugar rush), gave me enough of a high to stay up too late, and I still feel full from consuming this confection.  Eating refined sugar clearly comes with a cost these days.

Kari’s book was just what I needed to remind myself to move forward doing the things that inspire me, and pay attention to my intuitive side with what really does feel right and good in my life.

the art of walking
the art of walking – I am very interested in learning more about El Camino de Santiago (have any of you taken this journey?)

Speaking of journeys, I am very excited about the one I am taking this summer. I will be taking my first-ever solo vacation.  I am enrolled in a watercolor workshop out-of-town, and staying in a quiet place where I can rest, paint, write, cook, and nap at my leisure. Although a much shorter journey than the Camino Kari explored, somehow, this experience feels like it will be life-changing. Eye-opening.

Soul-freeing.

And I am so ready for this change.

So tell me friends:

What parts of your self have you been avoiding exploring (your artistic side, desire to venture out in the woods, relaxing in a hammock)?
Where will your journey take you next?

Thank you so much for spending time with me, on my ongoing journey as a runner, dancer, cook, and artist.

with joy,
~Alaina

My Relationship With Food – A Journey

Food.  Something we contemplate, curate, and consume every day.

Well, perhaps some of us contemplate.  Most of us just consume.  And I have been an unconscious consumer for about thirty years, yet about seven years ago when I decided to get in shape (by working out at the gym) I coincidentally learned something about eating – a way of eating that reduced inflammation and water retention.  My trainer offered me a food plan suggestion, and I followed it to a T. For three whole months.

Then life happened.

I had to travel for work.  I got off schedule.  I was following someone else’s meal schedule (on someone else’s budget), and could no longer eat small meals every two and a half to three hours.

And my gut was not happy with me for choosing to eat differently.

Eating “normally,” most would say. I was eating out at restaurants.  With the sauce. And the fried stuff. And drinks. And dessert. And… Oh, man.  Why do work trips turn into over eating and drinking every night?

Eventually, after returning home, getting back into eating my small meals, mostly sticking to the plan, I self-diagnosed myself with a wheat intolerance problem.  I was bloated, had intestinal pain, and generally not well when I ate wheat (something I avoided on the suggested meal plan, unless it was whole-grain sprouted and only first thing in the morning).  So, I decided to eliminate it from my diet.

This was right around the time that gluten became a thing people were intolerant to, and celiac disease coming into the open. When I learned of these things, I got a little worried and had a blood test done. My first score (I had the test done twice) was 303 on a scale of 0 to 310.

My doctor told me I was fine. 

I ran through the external factors (and facts) in my mind:
1. I had not been eating wheat for months.
2. These scores are determined by the number of antibodies in your blood stream.
3. No wheat had been introduced into my body for months to irritate my system and get my immune system all up in arms.
4. My score was nearly at the top of the chart.

There was no way in He** I was fine. 

A year later, after avoiding wheat as much as possible (although, I would test myself every once in a while), I asked for another test.  Negative again.

Then one day at a market, I met a gluten-free Celiac-diagnosed baker who told me: “You probably need just one more test – those tests have a 75% false negative rate”.

75%??? Why even give a test if you know there’s a 3 out of 4 chance you’re going to get a negative result and it is probably wrong?!?!

At this point, I gained resolve. I decided that I needed to be a “Gluten-Free” person. And this choice has served me well.  I am still not 100% strict, but as time passes, I am growing more certain that I will be soon.  Between my own research, and conversations with others dealing with similar digestive issues has taught me there is only one way to get real results on any of the Celiac tests:
You must eat wheat and gluten for three weeks before taking the test.

Which means, if you DO have Celiac disease, you are quite possibly, literally causing yourself more harm to find out 100% if you can give your problem a name: Celiac.

I have decided that is not for me. A self-diagnosis is enough.
(Although, I have to admit, it would be nice to know for sure what I was up against if this really is a thing I have.  Some interior struggle is going on.  My advice: If you suspect you have wheat/gluten intolerance, do not stop eating these items until you can have the test done.  I no longer want to feel the symptoms to find out. Catch 22. Check out WebMD, or even Celiac.org for more resources on this topic).

And then last year… At my annual check-up, I was filling my doctor in on some of the issues I had been having with digestion (ahem… gas) and allergic reactions to food, and she said: “I think you may have leaky gut syndrome“.

Um… What??? Am I DYING?!?
(Seriously – this name makes this ‘condition’ sound worse than Celiac Disease!!! Please know that I am in no way belittling the giant challenge that Celiac is for those who have the condition. It is a monster to tame, and a battle to eat clean Every Single Day).

So I learned that a whopping 70% of the American population has Leaky Gut and that it is caused by a build-up of yeast in the intestines that blocks nutrient absorption, allows food particles to get through the intestine and into the bloodstream, and then your body attacks the food like an invading pathogen. (Yep – check out WebMD again, if you like).

So, besides some flatulence and bloating (by yeast-produced gas), you actually can develop more sensitivities to foods as your body starts recognizing these as invaders.

I wanted to stop this. Now.

I took the suggested items to avoid list, along with the suggested items to ingest, looked up the referenced website The Candida Diet, immediately got on Amazon and ordered The Candida Free Cookbook, purchased green powdered probiotic, and two weeks later, after mentally preparing (and stocking my cupboard and refrigerator), I committed to following the guide and eliminated ALL sugar from my diet. (Because the sugar feeds the yeast, so it must go).

Yes, ALL sugar. Including fruit. For three whole weeks.

Admittedly, the first couple days were… interesting.  I was having fun cooking (it was easier, really – a restricted shopping list). The second day without sugar, I went out for a run, and found I could not get myself to run more than a block before I would need to walk. After three-quarters of a mile, I wanted to lay down on the pavement at the waterfront and take a nap. The feeling of all this was entirely ridiculous to me, I had no idea what was wrong with me.

(Fast forward to three weeks later when I belatedly read the introduction of the book, referenced the website again, and learned that when the yeast in your body die, they release toxins, and your body has to process and eliminate these. I went cold-turkey off sugar, and experienced these symptoms pretty dramatically. Most instructional books advise easing off of sugar, slowly taking it out of your diet – which I apparently skipped over, and dove in head-first. In hind-sight, it may be more sustainable to slowly reduce the sugar intake, and then eliminate it from your diet. Just a little tip from me to you).

Five days in, I felt amazing.  I was more awake, alert, my body felt good – stronger (I was also in Yoga Teacher Training – this definitely contributed to strength). Within a week my tummy started deflating.  No more bloat. By the end of week three, I was afraid to touch any sugar ever again.  I knew how great I felt (and might i add – looked?) without it, and was terrified to eat an apple.

Fast forward to today, and here is my dinner:

IMG_3433

Now you may look at this and wonder at if this is good or bad.  It’s a vegan dish, all healthy, colorful vegetables. But let me tell you, there are only three things in this picture allowed in the Candida free diet: tomatoes, onions, and garlic.  The squash, carrots, beets, and sweet potatoes are high in sugar.  Also very high in fantastic nutrients, but … very high in sugar. And I can feel it in my belly again.  The bloat.  The unhappy intestinal cries of “what are you feeding me?” 

I have a confession: I have a problem. My body does not process sugar well. And I continue to hurt myself by continuing to eat foods that are high in sugar.

For years, I have been one of the “healthy eaters”.  No, I don’t mean I eat a lot of food.  I mean, I eat what other people perceive to be healthy foods.  A lot of whole fruits. Some vegetables. Baked sweet potatoes! Unsweetened, whole-fat yogurt and granola. Dried fruit. Nuts. And more fruit. (And sometimes ice cream).

Yes, compared to the usual diet you see your average friend (without food sensitivities) eating, I am eating very healthy foods. But that is where it stops.

It is incredibly easy to eat gluten-free in my home town.  There are at least five dedicated bakeries, and almost every restaurant you may choose to dine at has some option for the gluten-sensitive crowd. Unfortunately, most gluten-free bread substitutes are made with simple carb flours and starches (rice, tapioca, corn starch) which quickly convert to sugars (and later fats) in the body.

So I have to make my own protein and fiber rich bread. Like the one below …
with raisins. 

IMG_3742

Interestingly enough, I listened to a web interview on the Hay House World Summit with Joan Borysenko, Ph.D and she described that as a populous, we are split 50/50.  Half of us can process carbs very well, and the other half can process fats.  Well, I know which team I’m on, so what am I going to do? 

Today, I find myself at a turning point.  A crossroads.

I am at a place where I am no longer willing to sacrifice my wellbeing for something that might taste good.

Self-care is not just exercising 30 minutes a day, taking a bath, making time to read a book, or getting your Vitamin D. For me, I have learned it quite literally starts with food.

How we nourish our bodies affects every single thing we do on this Earth. 

Without proper nourishment, our mind is less able, we contract disease more easily, and our bodies eventually fail us (sooner than later).

I have been fortunate enough to be given the option to choose what I feed myself. Organic, Non- GMO, Vegan, Gluten-Free all readily at my disposal, and I seek items with these particular labels often.

Now, I am about to embark on a different kind of journey.

Against my nature (of eating food straight from nature) I have committed to a 30 day cleanse. Going through each day with a shake substitute for two meals, and one healthy whole food meal. There will also be two 2-day cleanses – where I will only consume liquids and small snacks to give my digestive system a break.

It’s funny, I felt really shy about telling my sister that I have chosen to try this cleanse  (many would think of this as a diet – currently, I still see it as a dietary experiment). As an afterthought, this is exactly the kind of thing I would (and do) choose to do.  I’m conducting an experiment with my body to see how it reacts to different kinds of inputs – once again.

Why now? Since I cannot run (the broken toe), and honestly I’m feeling slightly detached from my body of late (yes, I have been eating all the foods – except gluten), I felt this was a great time to try something … different. I won’t be worried as much about my eating schedule and amount of protein consumption because I am not on my regular (running) training schedule. Additionally, this specific program is very high in protein, minerals, vitamins and other nutrients which alleviates some worry that I would not be giving my body what it needs.  Since I have never tried a cleanse before, now seems like the perfect time. Besides…

You wouldn’t go 30 years without giving your car a tune-up, right?  

Time to give this body’s digestive tract a rest.  And you can bet you will be getting a play-by-play. If this program is as effective as it claims, this very well may be life-changing.

Please share with me, my athlete and health-food conscious friends:

Have you ever done a cleanse?
Did you enjoy your results?
Were you able to keep working out while you cleansed?

Thanks so much for being here with me on this journey,
~Alaina

I Went Out Dancing! Now it’s Time to Take A Break. Um… Literally.

IMG_3606

Yes! I went dancing!

Last weekend, for the first time in months – No, years – I got myself a ticket to a three-day dance event.  And I went out. Every.Single.Night.

It was delicious.

I had such a great time (once I got over the “I don’t know a soul here” shock).  I reconnected with friends from six years ago (when I was avidly involved in the dance scene), met some new friends, had many wonderful dances with great leads, and really got into spinning around the hardwood floor again. Simply divine.

I need new dance shoes.

The only pair I have are a pair I purchased when I went to a West Coast Swing event in Reno – I think I was in college, then. (a.k.a. It’s been a while – they’re old shoes now). So all weekend I was wearing these little lyrical sandals I got… also many years ago, in college. I think they were purchased for a Ballet class.

Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 9.03.39 PM
Love these things – they have served me well for… Well, we’ll just say for a few years. ;) (Photo credit: http://www.dancewearsolutions.com)

I was basically dancing barefoot, which is what many people who enjoy this type of dance do.  You’re low to the ground, you can move around easily, lets you get that rhythm in your knees… It’s a lovely way to feel connected.

Sunday night, I was so proud of myself.

I made it out to dances three nights in a row! I even stayed out till nearly three a.m. on Friday and Saturday (I was not able to meet my girlfriends for the Saturday run due to needing sleep.  Apparently staying out till 3 a.m. sets me back in a way that it did not used to in my mid-twenties.  And I can no longer sleep in until some ungodly late – morning hour due to repetition of awakening before six.  8:30 a.m. was not the “Sleep in” I was hoping for on Saturday).

Sunday I made a promise to myself. I would head home at midnight because I needed to be at work the next morning. At sometime around 11:30 p.m. I saw an old friend showed up unexpectedly, and at around 12:15 a.m. I got to dance with him. I love dancing with this man – he spins me quickly like a Westie (we met doing West Coast Swing many moons ago), makes eye contact, always keeps me from running into other couples, and I just feel like a good dancer when we’re on the floor together.

Toward the middle of that song, I noticed we were on the side of the room that had a bump in the floor – you know, where the slats of hardwood have popped up on one side and there’s a little lip?  Yeah, that one.  And I could feel my sandal catching on it every once in a while.  A bit of a nuisance, no real trouble… until… My toe caught on the little annoying lip.

I felt a little bit of a pop, which I thought was my toe merely ricocheting back toward the place in the middle of my foot where it belonged, and a minor bit of pain, but I ignored it and kept dancing (stay on the ball of the foot, keep the toes lifted to prevent that from happening again).  Thanked him at the end of the song, and went to sit for a minute.  I allowed myself one more dance then decided to head home (at around 12:25am – 25 minutes after my own imposed curfew).

When I got home, I notice some bruising on my toe.  And it was pretty painful. And I knew.  Despite the fact that it wasn’t really swelling. Despite the fact that it wasn’t pointing in a weird direction.

My toe was broken. IS broken. Yep –

Found some sticky tape from a first aid kit I have had since 2000.  Finally came in handy.
Found some sticky tape from a first aid kit I have had since 2000. Finally came in handy. (I am hiding the purple – I do not want to gross anyone out).

Time to take a break. 

I finally made it to the doctor today after one day of denial, and a second of no availability and she confirmed it for me. Fracture.

Which means… no running (or dancing) for 4-6 weeks. Or (gulp!) longer if pain persists.

I am not sure how to navigate this obstacle. I’m pretty sure this also eliminates any aerobics classes, yoga involving being on the toes, and excessive walking.

Serious lifestyle change.

So, I guess I have to … go to a gym.  And… ride a bike?  Use the rowing machine? Lift weights???

I haven’t done any of that in years. I guess it’s time to give those old friends a visit.

… Want to know the funny thing?

The fact is, I had been planning to increase my mileage and days/week running starting, oh… Now. And after my experience dancing last weekend, I was all ready to get back out to do some swing or blues every other week or so.

Yet, truthfully?  I have a seriously strong desire to create some kind of consistency in my life, start a daily spiritual practice (of some kind – still working out the kinks) each morning, and although I really want to incorporate running into this routine, I have been unable to get up at the same time each morning with any regularity, and maintain this practice. While on this train of thought, a lightbulb went off:

I manifested a broken toe.

So now, taking a break due to my blessed broken toe of fate, I will be working more on me – spiritually rather than physically.  This will be a … difficult change, but one I am finally ready to take on (and I kind of have no choice). Certainly this is a great opportunity to dive right in: why not take advantage whilst injured (before I’m all healed and back at it ignoring my wise inner voice).

Now where to start…?

My question for you, my dear runner/athlete friends, what is your favorite non-running (not a lot of foot movement) workout to do when injured?  (I’m entering new territory here, and I’ll take any advice you’ve got!)

Thanks so much and have a great time out there for me!  I’ll be thinking of y’all gliding through the air in the great outdoors… Happy running! And send photos!
~Alaina

P.S. Here’s a little silly for you from back in the day when I danced in a competition (this was for the first time ever – please be kind): Come Rain, Come Shine WCS Finals 3/9

Training Without a Goal Equals Random Length Runs and Mild Confusion

Best shot of the mountains.  They look so much farther away through a camera lens!

Sometimes we do things and then realize how silly we are, right?  Such as running only once (maybe twice) a week while “training” for a 20 mile race…

Apparently, (according to my most recent history of recorded runs in the months of February, March and April) I no longer feel that 20 miles is a huge challenge.  I know if I stay hydrated and bring enough nutrition, I’ll be fine.  My legs will carry me over the distance.  Sure, I’ll be a little tired and sore for a couple of days, but that’s true after any hard workout (including yoga). So, while watching each day of the week pass, the only real training I was doing was in the form of a long run on Saturdays, which is fortunately coordinated by a dear friend, and I love catching up with the girls on the weekend, so I make it a point to attend.  During the week I got out once, maybe twice for two to six miles.  My total weekly mileage may have reached (almost) 35 miles (only on one week of training – and that included a 19 mile Saturday run).

What happened to my drive?  And the clarity I felt when preparing for my first 50k? At that point in time, my only concern was being able to accomplish that goal – to finish running 31.8 miles without injury.  And I trained hard.  I got out for every single run in my training plan. And now what? I had a race planned; a goal with a date printed in ink on my calendar, why was I unable to motivate myself to get running in a way that would have helped me complete this challenge more efficiently?

Maybe it was the distance20 miles is an odd number. I don’t know if there exists a training plan for races between half marathon and marathon distance. (…This feels like a terrible excuse – cancel that). Whatever the case may be, I am changing my strategy.  It’s time to get races on the calendar, and to plan my workouts – because not only do I want to be better prepared and efficient during my next race, I want to be better at running. Stronger, maybe even faster.

Fortunately, despite my lack of training or strategy, The Peterson Ridge Rumble went well. The weather was great, and although the terrain was primarily dry, dusty, and rocky, I was able to get a few good shots:

The beginning of the race started with a mob of runners on a rapidly narrowing trail.
The beginning of the race started with a mob of runners on a rapidly narrowing trail.
Sun shining down in the cool morning air.
Sun shining down in the cool morning air.
Some tall trees.
Some tall trees.
The first time I have let someone take a picture of me during a race.  I think that is Black Butte directly over my head.
The first time I have let someone take a picture of me during a race. I think that is Black Butte directly over my head, and we were about halfway done, at ten miles.
Loved that giant, rocky protrusion.
Loved that giant, rocky protrusion to the right of the trail. (It was massive once we got around to the back of the great outcrop).
This snag stood out - bright red wood.
This snag stood out – bright, golden-brow wood amidst dusty grey.
Rocky Trails.
Rocky Trails.
Not sure how this little guy got here... not super friendly, is he?
Not sure how this little guy got here… not super friendly, is he?
The only water seen on the entire 20 mile trek.  Very close to the beginning/end of the race.
The only water seen on the entire 20 mile trek (not unexpected in this dry climate). Very close to the beginning/end of the race.
Best shot of the mountains.  They look so much farther away through a camera lens!
Best shot of the mountains. They look so much farther away through a camera lens!

Ultimately, I have learned that I need to plan ahead in order to meet any training goals.  I was able to finish the race a bit faster than I expected, in 4:15 by my watch (4:20 by the website – I stopped for at least 5 minutes for picture-taking in the first half, and toward the end of the race, I just let the clock keep running. Ah the life of an iPhoneographer runner).

Tomorrow evening I intend to do some research, detail which races I will sign up for and run for the rest of the year, and create a running/workout schedule to follow.

Because – speed. And consistency. And all good things that putting energy and focus into something you love will do to improve your results.

Now, I would love to hear your “ah, hah” moment.

Have you ever realized you were not doing yourself any favors by cutting  yourself slack while training? (0h, boy!)
And what did you do once you came do that conclusion?

Do you have a favorite weekly workout schedule?

I am strongly considering running long on both Saturday and Sunday – I just love getting out for a while on my day off – it feels so good to spend time out enjoying my run without the rush of “I have to get to work” or “I need to get home and cook dinner” clouding my brain.  What are your thoughts on doubling up on the weekend? 

I hope you all have a fantastic weekend run! (I’m getting out tomorrow!)

with joy,
~Alaina