National Running Day: A Survey

Happy National Running Day! I am sure you have seen posts or references to National Running Day on Facebook, Instagram, blog posts and Twitter. In honor of the day to celebrate the sport of running, I pulled a survey from the archives. I have had this survey from Peanut Butter Fingers bookmarked since 2013 and realized today is the perfect day to answer the survey.

Race

  • Best Run Ever

My best run ever was when I visited Europe. I brought a pair of sneakers and my Garmin because I knew I wanted to run in each country I was visiting. One morning I woke up at 7am and ran from my hotel to Buckingham Palace, through St. James Garden & back up to my hotel next to Westminster Abbey. When I visited Paris, I did the same thing one afternoon running around Arc De Triomphe & Champs Elysees. I can never put into words how I felt running in two of my dream vacation spots.

  • Three Words that Describe My Running

Relaxed, Calculated and Soothing

Although I will follow training plans, when I run just to run, I follow the notion that my running pace is based on how I feel. Sometimes that means I keep a comfortable 10 mile pace while other times my pace can get in the 8s. Calculated because I have a bad habit of checking my Garmin every .15 miles to see my current pace. Just a habit to constantly check. Soothing because no matter where I am running or how fast, running always calms me and makes me happy just to be moving.

  • My Go-To Running Outfit

Capris (because I hate when you run and have shorts riding up) and thin, long tank top, my Garmin, a Bic Band, my Saucony Ride 6s and a supportive sports bra.

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  • Quirky Habit While Running

Quirky? That is a hard one, maybe I have habits I do not even realize but I run full races holding my phone. Besides always checking my Garmin as listed above, I have an armband but do not use it. During runs and races I have to have something in my hand. Usually it’s my phone because I like to be able to switch music or be able to quickly take pictures. It makes for a sweaty gross phone after but I think its become a comfort thing after a few races.

  • Morning, Mid-day, or Evening

In the summer, morning as it just gets too hot in California. Any other season I prefer early evening when the sun is starting to set.

  • I Won’t Run Outside When It’s

In the middle of the summer in California. I cannot handle the heat and humidity in the summer so its only early morning or on the treadmill for me.

  • Worst Injury – And How I Got Over It

My ongoing back pain has really put a major damper on my current running. I am working to get over it by doing yoga, physical therapy and lots of cross training!

  • I Felt Most Like a Badass Mother Runner When

…I finished my first half marathon. Crossing that finish line was such a proud moment as I accomplished one of my biggest dreams, with my husband. I was on a high from that race for a few days!

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  • Potential Running Goal for 2015

To run a full marathon or at least start the training for one. I have a few half’s under my belt now so I need to just suck it and complete my goal of a full marathon.

  • Next Race Is

Although I am taking a break from running during the summer, I have signed up for Ragnar Napa Valley in October. I might throw in a 5K or 10K in the summer but Ragnar is the next race I have officially signed up for.
Play along in the comments and answer any of the questions above. 

Triathlon Training

When I decided to take a break from running earlier this month to get my back fixed, I kept thinking about what I would do this summer as my workout plan. Most important this summer is to work with my doctors & physical therapists to eliminate my back pain which translates into workouts that strengthen my back, not aggravate it. Hence why running is out of the question for a while.

Last April I completed my first reverse sprint triathlon. I trained heavily on running and biking since the swim was so short. I am a decent swimmer but definitely could use improvement on longer swims. I placed 3rd in my age category and swore I would do another one that year. Here we are a year later and I have yet to even get back in the pool for swimming. Guess my mom wasn’t kidding when she said life flies by you when you are an adult! My physical therapist has highly recommended getting back into swimming as it is a workout that is not only great cardio but a workout that will not hurt my back.

All of this has led me to decide this summer it is time to get back into triathlon training. With the recommendation of swimming and the fact that I have to cycle 4x a week since I teach, there is no better time. That decision led me to take my first two steps into training: 1) I bought a road bike and 2) I got in the pool for the first time in over a year! While the road bike is nothing fancy, it will do the trick in  helping me train for the cycle portion. My swimming needs the most improvement. After my swim workout this past week I kept asking myself why did it take so long to get back in the pool? I am a water baby at heart. Swimming is not only great cardio but much easier on the body than most.  Triathlon

For May and June, I plan to stick to cycle and swim as my main workouts. I will supplement my workouts with yoga and weight training. Starting in July, I will follow a triathlon training plan to get me ready for a sprint triathlon. I am still looking into which plan I will follow but will narrow it down in June. Although a little nervous, I am extremely excited to get back into a training schedule and hopefully conquer the triathlon again!

If you’re looking for some sprint triathlon plans, here are some I have been  looking at:

Womens Health 12 Week Plan
Beginner Triathlete Plan
Mens Health 12 Week Plan

Have you done a triathlon before? Would you do one?

OC Half Marathon 2015 Recap

Last Sunday was one of my proudest moments. Last October I set out to do my first half marathon in Long Beach, CA. I found out that if you run all 3 Southern California half-marathons consecutively, you can get the Beach Cities Challenge medal. Of course, who doesn’t want an extra 1 pound medal? I made up my mind I was going to get that medal and convince the husband to do it with me. We completed the Long Beach Half in October and Surf City Half in February with the OC Half being the last one to get that medal. Due to the unfortunate back pain I had leading up to the race and it being in the middle of waiting for MRI results, I told myself simply to just finish the race.

On Friday we attended the expo to pick up at our bibs at the OC Fairgrounds. The expo was very easy to get in, get our bibs and get out. We visited a few booths and of course I picked up a new Bic Band headband to sport the day off. It’s all about matching in those race pictures!

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Bright and early Sunday morning we drove down to Fashion Island where the race started. This is the first and only race I have done where the start and finish were at different places. The great part about that was we parked and were at the start line within 10 minutes. We knew we would have to figure out getting back but thought we to ask a friend who was at the race or get a shuttle back. The weather was cool and overcast, the perfect racing weather. Average temps stayed in the mid 60s- welcome to joys of racing in California! The race started at 6:15am and our coral got running by 6:30. Again, this was the fastest start we have ever participated in. I hope all races are like this. From the time it took to park and start the race was approximately 25 minutes. Any racer knows it doesn’t get better than that.

The course was one of my personal favorites. Starting at Fashion Island, the course went to Corona Del Mar beach and through residential areas in Newport Beach. I loved getting a real estate tour imagining how often I would visit the beach if I lived in one of those beach mansions.  The entire course was heavily supported with aid stations every 1.5 – 2 miles. The only part of the course I did not like was when the half marathoners and marathoners split off miles 7, there was a very narrow trail that slowed most people down. Once you got past the 1/4 of a miles trail, you were back to open running space. The course consisted of small rolling hills until miles 11 with the largest hill through the race. Leading up to the race I was very intimidated by the hill but after Ragnar, it seemed like a piece of cake. The race finished at the OC Fairgrounds in Newport Beach.

This was my 2nd best time for a half marathon. I paced myself through the race without stopping. Crossing that finish line left me with a smile on my face for not only doing better than I thought I would do but finally completing that challenge. After the finish, we walked through the line, got our snacks and caught our breath. Getting back to our car at the start line required an Uber and a lot of patience to get around the traffic jam of everyone trying to leave.

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All in all, we were happy with the very easy start to the race and the great course. The medal was beautiful and the t-shirt was one of my favorites which just added to an already great race! So was the 1 pound medal worth it? Hell yes! At this point, I am definitely considering doing it again next year. Needless to say though I am ready for “summer break”. 4 half marathons, 1 relay race and a handful of 5Ks in 8 months is why running and I need a little separation.

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A Temporary Break-up Letter

Dear Running,

I think we need a break. Deep down, I know you are my one true love but I need to focus on myself right now. Although I may see others during our time apart, don’t worry this will not be a Ross & Rachel break. I may have a date with Yoga and Pilates but it is all in an effort to heal my body. No matter how much I love you, I know we will be reunited again one day.

This has been coming for a while. We both know some things have changed over the past few months. We tried to look past it, hoping with each race that things would get better. It’s a cliché but it’s not you, it’s me. I need to better myself. I need to try new things. I need to grow. I can only do this by taking a break from you. I need to appreciate you as you should be.

We’ve had a lot of ups and downs together. Literally, I don’t know if you remember Ragnar but I will never forgot those hills we conquered together. I will remember the laughs and the tears we shared. I will remember the good times like finishing our first half marathon together as well as the bad when I started to question our relationship during our Vegas half. That weekend I realized the physical toll our relationship was taking on my body. Some runs were tough, some were fun but you made me feel so good all the times we spent together. I used to hate our time apart as it always made me reflect on the love we shared, not the pain you caused me.  Lately, things have changed and the negatives of our relationship are taking over.

I will always cherish what we’ve shared and look forward to accomplishing more. While I work on myself I will look forward to the time when everything has aligned for us, especially when the aligning of my back has improved.  Maybe then we can bring our love affair back in full swing. We always said we would do a marathon together. I hope we still do.

I am not saying this is the end. We can still be friends during our separation. Maybe we can meet up for a summer run along the beach or on vacations as a way to explore a new city.  Please know I will think of you and all the fond memories we have shared. I will dream of us reuniting again, crossing that finish line together.

XOXO,
Samantha

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Live Your Life List: Fitness Edition

Yesterday I shared with you guys about my Life Your Life List. Today I am going to share with you the Fitness edition. Although not as extensive as the Travel edition, it definitely has some large tasks that scare me (I am talking about you 26.2 miles). My fitness list is also one that I have already completed a few items on. I haven’t been adding new items when I complete them as I plan to finish this list and create a new one to start from. As my personal fitness goals are always changing, I like to re-evaluate often to see what has changed in terms of my obtainable goals. Evaluating not only my goals but the timeline and attainability helps to promote self-growth. Some goals are long term while others are something that can be completed and off the list within a few weeks.

Why make these lists? Why not just do what I want without writing a list? I most certainly do things on a whim but I am a very organized person. A list helps to remind me of my goals as well as serve as a way for me to reflect on what I have done and what I want to do.  Self-growth is a very important attribute that I have learned to embrace over the past year. These lists help me avoid being stagnant in my personal workouts and my job as a personal instructor. So I challenge you: ask yourself what do I want to accomplish, put it in a list and get working on that goal!

Fitness

  •  Go paddle boarding, surfing and parasailing    I am a water girl all the way! I tried paddle boarding and absolutely loved it. Since then I have wanted to try more water activities and surfing is  next on my list (preferably in Hawaii- kill two birds with one stone).
  • Do one of every race- 5k, 10K, mud run, fun run, relay race, half marathon, duathlon, marathon, triathlon   Although I did leave the hardest running race until last, I have my hopes set on the Rock N Roll Las Vegas in November for my first marathon. Then I hope to get back into biking early next year to complete a duathlon.
  • Try Crossfit, Pilates and Zumba   These are three workouts I have interest in but have not tried. Who knows what workout I could be missing out on? My new love could be waiting around the corner.
  • Get my personal training certification   This is one of my long term goals. As I am still new into group fitness, this one is on the back burner at the moment. However, it is one I would like to obtain by the time I am 30.
  • Run a sub 2:00 half marathon    My last half marathon started off slow for the first few miles, I kick myself for not weaving and pacing better because I was close. After my summer running break I plan to try a new training plan to get there and hopefully see the one as my hour, even if the minutes following are 59.
  • Be able to do 5 pull-ups & a handstand   How badass would that be? Ahhh, I can dream until I start putting the practice in. A handstand would require me to increase my yoga practice and pull-ups would require much more training to build a foundation.
  • Get certified in additional group fitness classes    Luckily the gym I teach at is very encouraging of getting certified for various classes they teach. New certification is supposed to open in June. My plans are get to certified in body works and kick box cardio.
  • Complete my cycle recertification    Maddog Spinning (my certification) requires you to complete your recertification every 2 years. I am in the process of completing the steps necessary but have plenty of time to finish.

 What are your current fitness goals? What races have you run/participated in?

Ragnar Relay So Cal Recap Part 3

…And here I thought I could recap the race in 2 posts. That just shows how much goes on during Ragnar. Let’s finish it up with the finish line recap!

The last leg of Van #1

Van #1 headed to the start of our last exchange with Van #2 to try and catch some sleep. The two options were to sleep on the golf course near the exchange or in the van. Since the husband and I had only brought blankets, we decided it’d be warmer to stay in the van. While we stayed warm, we did not get much sleep before it was time to get up at 3am. We organized the car, got ready for the next round and set out to say goodbye to runner #1.

Unfortunately after I finished leg 2 and before I started my 3rd leg, things went downhill. I have never had problems with being dehydrated in any sports or races. Most often people think of 100 degree weather if dehydration is involved. We had cool weather both days but regardless I did not drink or eat enough to support the activities I was doing. The Ragnar medics that helped were so sweet. Although they couldn’t do much on site, they were accommodating, attentive and appreciated. After it was decided by my team I wouldn’t run the last leg, I just focused on drinking water and catching up on my sleep.

Although I was bummed to miss out on my last leg in the beautiful Torrey Pines, it was beneficial for me to recover. After Van #1 finished their last legs, we grabbed pizza and were able to relax before we had to meet Van #2 to cross the finish line together. Our van was lucky because one of our team members lived in San Diego. She generously let us use her shower and couch. Let me tell you, that was the best shower of my life. There is only so much dirt and sweat build up that a person can handle.

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The finish line at Mission Bay

After filling our bellies and catching a nap, we headed to Mission Bay for the finale of the weekend. The finish line was one huge runner party. The backdrop of the bay with boats and calm water was one of the highlights of the race. The energy of the teams waiting for their last member to finish together was infectious. Since this is a relay, I loved that teams cross together because it is a group effort that is needed to be recognized. All members were needed to get from Huntington to San Diego. After we crossed the finish line together, we took pictures, grab our beers from the beer garden and ate pizza. Each team member received a team medal which really emphasized the team camaraderie. When you put the back of the medals together they had a message that read: “Together we ran 200 miles.”

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All in all the finish line at Ragnar was a fun atmosphere to relax, recap and regroup. Everywhere you walked, you heard runners retelling their tales of hills, lack of sleep and blistered feet. The question that was asked most often was “What legs did you run?” I thoroughly enjoyed my first Ragnar experience and understand why people continue to do the races every year. It is such a unique, special race that you have to witness for yourself.

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Thank you to Ragnar Relay, the amazing support and volunteers for a great weekend. It is amazing what goes into these races and how smoothly it flows. Every volunteer we had was kind, helpful and enthusiastic. See you in October for Ragnar Napa Valley!  

For more information about Ragnar, visit https://www.ragnarrelay.com.

Ragnar Relay So Cal Recap Part 2

I know you must have been on the edge of your seat waiting for the next recap of Ragnar. Well in that case, let’s get to it.

Van #1 drove down to Oceanside around 12pm on Friday. Our next set did not start until after 6pm so we knew we would have plenty of time to relax. We grabbed lunch and parked the van in a designated Ragnar parking lot. Over the next few hours, we were able to enjoy time at the beach, tag other team’s vans and relax our legs before our next run.

Tagging is a fun activity where each team leaves a team magnet or marks with window paint the other team’s vans. Especially when you are parked in large parking lots of other team vans, it can be fun to walk around and hit as many vans as possible. Team pride is important during Ragnar. Not only do you decorate your own team vans, often have team shirts made, many including our team dress up in costume. Our team name was “Team TBD- Totally Brain Dead” with a zombie theme; our tagline was “will run for brains.”  It only seemed fitting as we knew we would be zombies after little sleep, no showers and lots of running.  Many of us created tattered, dirty and bloody zombie shirts as our costume to wear during our race. We decorated our van with zombie warnings, caution tape and “bloody” hand prints. Getting in the “zombie” spirit was definitely easy being a Walking Dead fan who had just watched the finale.

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As we started to approach our next start time we started to organize our van in preparation of getting our next set of running clothes together. Since my next leg would fall after 9pm, I knew I wanted to wear my zombie outfit in the second leg since it was at night. Wouldn’t you want to be running in pitch dark and see a zombie chasing behind you? I dressed in my zombie shirt, skull bandana and safety gear. No zombie look would be complete without lots of dirt and grime on my face.

Zombie                 Zombie2

My last leg #18, was 3.0 miles with an easy rating. Within the first half mile, the incline kicked in but the cooler weather was definitely appreciated. Since some of the portions of the race were poorly lit, I was motivated to follow where I could see at least one runner in front of me. At times this kept me faster than my planned pace which I was thrilled about. While I did feel this section warranted a higher rating due to the elevation gain, it was a quick run. As I got closer to the finish line, the crowd got louder and louder. I was thrilled to cross the finish line as the exchange was another fun one to finish since all vans were present. Due to the late hour, we headed out quickly to get to our next exchange to try and catch some sleep before our last run.

Check back Monday for the final recap of Ragnar.

For more information about Ragnar and all locations they host, visit https://www.ragnarrelay.com/

Ragnar Relay So Cal Recap Part 1

Who willingly tries to get 12 people to sign up to participate in 2 day relay race of 200-ish miles? But wait.. There’s more! This race will also start at 5am; run through the middle of the night and take place in a van with sweaty, smelly, sleep deprived runners. Those who sign up for this activity are crazy. Those who decide to be a captain of a team and convince others to join are just plain insane!

Well, I am one of those insane people. Not only did I sign up for my first Ragnar race in So Cal, for some reason I thought being a team captain for my first relay would be a great idea. Most often I have these so-called brilliant plans then a few days, weeks or months later I find myself asking “Who’s crazy idea was this?” Oh yes that crazy idea was mine.

It has been a week since Ragnar So Cal has come and gone. I didn’t want to recap the race right after I ran it because I would have told everyone run for the hills (just make sure they are downhill because running uphill is brutal). Unfortunately, during the race I experienced my first case of dehydration which prevented me from doing my last leg. However, here we are, a week after the race and I have been asked would I do it again? The answer was “Sure, add me to your Ragnar Napa Valley team.”  The majority of our Ragnar So Cal team has decided to form a Ragnar Napa Valley team for October. That alone should show that all of the first timers from our team would do it again.

What is it that makes people want to do it all over again? I think the experience is just too unique to pass up! I believe Ragnar promotes a strong camaraderie among all types of runners despite age, athletic ability and sex. The team aspect allows newbie runners to race with more experienced athletes. Competing as a team allows you to be a part of a race where you get constant support from start to finish. Runners feed off the energy of cheering on their own team. With each leg you know that you are running to a team member to pass off that slap bracelet for them to keep the relay going.

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A little more details before I jump in my first leg recap: 12 team members, 2 vans, 184.2 miles to be exact starting in Huntington Beach, finishing in San Diego. Each team member runs 3 times in a consecutive order. Each leg they have ranges in distance from 3-12 miles at varying difficulties.  Races start on Friday between 5am to 11am depending on the average team pace. Racers will finish anytime on Saturday between 10am and 8pm.

My first leg was #6 for 6.7 miles starting in Tustin listed as a hard rating. The first mile in, my legs were feeling fresh as I started to feel a slight incline kick in. By mile 2 that incline fully kicked and steadily climbed through each and every mile. The first 2 miles were a mix of trail and residential running.  Past 2 miles, the elevation gain made my legs feel heavier with each step.  I felt a push to keep going every time we hit a stop light and a group of runners would gather, jumping around, waiting for the light to turn green. The last mile was brutal. My legs started to feel heavy and I thought about walking when vans started driving by on the street, honking and cheering out the window. That meant the finish was close and I was almost there! I think the worst part of leg 1 was the difference in Ragnar’s distance from my Garmin. When my Garmin read 6.2 miles I told myself you can push it another .5 miles. Then as I turned the corner I saw Ragnar’s sign stating I only had one more mile!! Talk about crushing when I saw that last portion was another hill to conquer. But this was the worst of my legs and I had already done almost 6 miles. What was one more mile at this point?

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After I handed off the slap bracelet to runner #7 I sat back, caught my breath, thankful that I just finished my hardest leg. Now was the time to eat lunch and enjoy the break Van #1 had before our second round.

Stayed tuned for Ragnar So Cal Recap Part 2…