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

The Long Up-Hill a.k.a. Running from SE Portland to the Zoo

Saturday my friends chose a challenging run full of hills.  Or one really long hill.  Starting from the flat lands of the close-in East side of Hawthorne across the bridge, through downtown, up Washington Park, and finishing (the first half of the run) at the top of the Portland Zoo parking lot.  The morning was surprisingly cloudy and cool.  I had been watching the weather forecast all week, anticipating the weekend’s delightful sunshine, but the little yellow ball of glowing happiness kept moving to the right, just one more day… every day.  As a native Oregonian, I suppose I should not be surprised by the peek-a-boo sunshine, especially since we have not yet reached the glorious Fourth of July after which Summer officially begins in Portland.  (We’re almost there!!!  Can you feel it??)

The path of great gains in elevation lead us past the well-known International Rose Test Garden, wherein visitors can gain a pretty perspective of downtown cityscapes while filling their noses with Eau de Rose Varieties.  (These roses smell so good!)

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View from the International Rose Test Garden

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We learned that bunny rabbits have a strong affinity for the rose petals, as well, but they find them much more edible than most of us humans.

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The cool, long down-hill.
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The prettiest grate that you ever-did-see.
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A brief appearance of Sun Beams at the end of our run.
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Set-up beginning for the Blues Festival weekend, with blue tents popping up on the waterfront.

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SE Portland
Crossing the Hawthorne Bridge back into the SE Industrial area.

I am so grateful that we went out and trekked our way up this never-ending hill.  It inspired me to endeavor to conquer more aggressive hills, on trials, with rocks and tree-roots, and mud (more on this soon).  I have resolved to make at least one of my weekday run adventures on dirt, with many hills.  With the Siskiyou Outback quickly approaching, I need to get a little more serious about proper true hilly trail running.

Does anyone want to run around Timberline with me?  🙂

The last few months have been a little frustrating.  I have found myself both loathing running and relishing the time spent solo, pounding the pavement.  My body has definitely adapted to the increased mileage on the weekends, yet I still find myself lacking the energy to get up and go on weekdays.  My new secret weapon for the long run is major carbs Friday night.  I tend to have a fairly simple diet of protein, fruits, and veggies, and over the last few weeks have found in order to keep up energy and stamina, I apparently need to add a few more calories than my normal diet provides.  (Who am I kidding?  When you burn an extra 3000-5000 calories per week, of course you need to eat more!)  

I guess there is an adjustment period to learning exactly how to eat MORE food.  (As I write this at 10:30pm, my stomach is growling…  Time to have a late night snack!)  Before the Newport Marathon I was baking bread for snacking on, and I think it may be time to do so again.  This coming weekend is conveniently another 36 mile weekend, and our famous fireworks holiday.  I plan to go to bed very shortly after all the loud popping noises cease.  🙂

To my friends: I hope you are adjusting to summer training, feeding your body well, and finding joy in the everyday…!

Happy Running!
~Alaina

2014 Newport Marathon Race Recap

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The Newport Marathon was fantastic.  Arriving at the start line, it was great to be in a “small” crowd of 1,000 people.  I don’t think I have ever participated in a race with such a cozy, community feel.  I came across a fellow blogger at Move Eat Create at the start.  She has been training so hard, I knew that I would see her on the course later (and that she would be passing me on my way out, while she was on her way back). And I did, and she did coming in with a truly great time.  Congratulations, on a great race, my friend!

I always start a race on a cool day with a long sleeve on, but despite the cloud cover and the slight breeze, Saturday morning was warm.  So, throwing caution to the wind, I left my long sleeve with my jacket in my drop bag. . .

Thank God that I did!

The clouds burned off about an hour and a half into the race.

And it was beautiful…!IMG_0492

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A short while into the race, about half a mile after the maze of neighborhood that was the first three miles, I met a few new friends, and quickly discovering that they will be running the Siskiyou Out & Back (the 50K) in July!  I got caught up talking with them, and decided to keep pace.  I knew it was a little faster than I could probably maintain for 26 miles, but I thought I’d give it a shot.  My lungs were content to keep the pace, but my legs… my legs need more training.

By mile 12, I let my new-found friends take the lead, and kept moving forward solo.  Looking for my Grampa the whole way, especially after mile 13.   He started the race at 6am with those walking the marathon, so he had an hour lead on me.  I did not cross paths with him until the turn around at mile 15!  We had a Big Hug moment, and stuck with each other and chatted for a little while.  A few minutes into conversation, he said “It is such an honor to run with you, and to be passed by you!” and encouraged me on.  So, I did go on.  In the end I only beat him to the finish by a few minutes, as I walked a lot of the last six miles.

So, I learned I need to stretch.  Stretch more.  Stretch at all.  I’ve been neglecting my muscles, and it shows.  Lesson learned.  

Have you ever experienced an unexpected slow-down during a race?  I’d love to hear your story.

One of the most remarkable things about my experience at this marathon in Newport was that I had no head game.  I had no doubts about finishing, no moments of dislike that I was still running.  I enjoyed myself through the pain.  Regardless of the tightening of this band that made me limp, hop, and walk more times than I could count, I would keep breathing, countdown, look up, smile, and run on again.

Two days past race day – I’m a little sore, but  I have a smile on my face and I am still lovin’ life!

Happy Running!  🙂
~Alaina

Running to the Beat of My Own Drum

RW Quote 5:29This quote arrived in my email inbox from Runner’s World this Thursday evening, and at first made me chuckle… Then I thought, you know, this is really true.  I love getting out and running and looking at the world around me.  I people-watch, see wildlife, photograph this beautiful city I have the great pleasure of living in, and sing songs in my head to my heart’s desire (or out loud, depending on how many miles I have covered and if I’m getting that runner’s high … There’s a possibility that I can pass for a crazy person after 12 miles; a happy, smiling, singing crazy person, but … a little different nonetheless).

It’s funny to sit here and know that in about 36 hours I will be on my way running 26.2 miles.  I feel like I am in denial that I will be doing this race at all this time around.  Maybe because the circumstances surrounding last year’s St. George race really did not start off well (story here: Marathoner), and this time my Grandpa is going to do the race with me.  Which is fantastic!  The weather in Newport will be a perfect 50 degrees, not raining, cloudy with sun… What more could a Portland girl want?

I know with everything that I am, that I will run faster than I did in Utah seven months ago.  I still claim to not have a goal pace, although I do think that 4:40 finishing time is my new target.  And while this clocks in at a whole half hour faster than my previous marathon (I think) I am pretty sure I have it in me.  Regardless, I go forth into the unknown of this race, without expectation or need for a specific outcome.  Because I still want to have fun (and take pictures!).

I run to finish with enthusiasm and joy for the sport!  I do think that there may be a turning point when my ego is inclined to begin racing rather than allow me to run and enjoy, and I am grateful that I have not yet reached that point.

Do you run in organized events to race?  Or is it a run for fun with thousands of your peers?  Has your point of view changed?

Happy Running!
~Alaina

 

A Short Run and a Trip to the Beach: A Pictorial

The Tree

 

Look at that tree…  I mean, would you even guess that I took this running in L.A.??? 

This morning’s run was gorgeous.  The sun was out, it was 70 degrees, and I got to tackle a hill with drinking fountains on the way up, and a surprise at the top:

Oil!
Oil!
The view overlooking the valley.
The view overlooking the valley.
Gorgeous trees with fabulously vibrant, purple blossoms are everywhere down here: Jacarandas.
Gorgeous trees with vibrant, purple blossoms are everywhere down here: The Jacaranda.

Rose 5/27/14

 

I even found roses lining the sidewalks of homes in the area.  And their scent was so sweet!  Just like the roses at home.

After our morning workout, we went to breakfast and had some delicious eggs and bacon and headed to visit a good friend in Santa Monica.  On our drive in, there were some pretty amazing murals on the walls beside the road:

Horses
Horses

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Whales
Whales

The beach was full of people: using the bike path, catching some rays in the sand, and surfing in the waves.  The wind was blowing, and kites were flying.  With a smile on my face, I decided to go stick my toes in the ocean:

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Beach Day
Beach Day

This has been such a wonderful trip – spending time with Brandi is always good and getting to see her and just hang out like we did so many years ago is really … indescribably healing and relaxing.  She is my best friend, and I am so grateful to have the opportunity to share in each other’s lives despite distance between us and the different paths we have taken.  Friendship like this is hard to find.

Brandi: best friend since third grade.
Brandi: best friend since third grade.

Do you have a friend you keep in touch with from your early childhood? 

Does it still feel like it did all those years ago – free, easy, and always accepting?

Happy Tuesday, and Happy Running (and Reminiscing!),
~Alaina

Countdown Begins: Five Days ‘Till the Newport Marathon

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This morning, Brandi and headed out to Fullerton to watch my Mom’s fiancé play a match of Racquetball.  It was the first time I have ever watched him compete in his sport, and I tell you – the man is focused, fair, and very respectful for this game and his opponents.  He is a great athlete to watch, and a fabulous source for inspiration.

As the Newport Marathon quickly approaches, I am finding myself under-enthusiastic about running this race.  I can’t quite put my finger on what is nagging at me, this race is close to the beach (which I love), my Grampa will be there with me, and we get to enjoy the surf, sand, and sea for one more day before heading back into town to return to ‘real life’ – a.k.a. My day job.

Part of my hesitation about this race is that for some reason, I feel less prepared than I was for St. George last year.  But frankly, I used the same training g program.  At this point in time, I am prepared in just the same way as that race seven months ago, and in fact, I am faster than last year.

So what is keeping me from the excitement?  The anticipation?  

Overall, I know I am not as prepared as I wanted to be.  In my mind, before training began, I wanted to max my weekend workout run at more than twenty miles, to get in more weight truing, and practice yoga twice each week to maintain (and re-gain) flexibility.

The truth is, I hope that after today, I can harness some of the energy I saw this morning at the Racquetball match.  Those gentlemen really know how to have a good time, and how to concentrate on the task at hand.

How do you stay motivated until you race?
Have you ever felt simply exhausted and let that “I don’t care” mentality creep into your mind?

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With hope for fun runs to you all,
~Alaina