Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Rave Run: Angelus Oaks

Rave Run | Angelus Oaks, California

This past weekend, my 40 students and I headed out on a staff retreat up in the San Bernardino mountains, not far from my home or our campus. While I've looked into these mountains every day on my drive into campus, I've pondered for awhile the trails and miles of unexplored territory to go venture through. Aside from last summer's Big Bear rave run, I haven't run up here at all.

We stayed at the fabulous Alpine Meadows Retreat Center, nestled just outside the 200-person mountain town of Angelus Oaks. Early Saturday morning, three of my adventurous, runner women got up with me and ventured down the trail to the backside of the Center. The camp staff indicated that the route down to the creek and back would be "about a 5K round-trip."

From the top of camp. 
I haven't run many trails, clearly, aside from last summer's series,  but this 'trail' was 95% rocks and pinecones until about four-tenths of a mile past the sign above, where it actually branched out into a trail that was more of a... trail.

Where the actual trail starts - morning fog hanging in the valley.
From there, it was just over a half-mile to the bottom, where we stumbled upon the creek and gorgeousness. We could hear the water running from the top of the half-mile hill down, but actually finally running into it was just breathtaking. Especially considering California's drought, it was refreshing to actually see running water... and running plenty, at that.

We hung out at the creek for a bit, goofing off with some photos and group selfies, and decided that we needed to get moving to make our way back up in time for breakfast. It took us just under 20 minutes to walk almost the whole way back up (mind you, a mile uphill at 7200' feet), but we scrambled back to shower and change before breakfast. There was no better way to start our morning! 

For other trails and ventures around Angelus Oaks, check out the suggestions here! Further, Angelus Oaks really isn't all that far from Big Bear either, so you can head up that way into some higher elevation for more adventurous fun!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Sparkly Soul Giveaway

Y'all know how much I love my Sparkly Soul - and I finally get to share some of the love with you all, too! While I've gotten to rep my favorite sparkly fitness accessories a few times now (RnR LA, Star Wars weekend and at the LA Marathon), it's been a really long time since I've been able to share the love by giving away a couple of 'em! So... you wanna win? You came to the right place.

I've been running in Sparkly Soul headbands for nearly three years now and they are literally the only ones I'll sport on a sweat sesh. Because they are lined in velvet on the inside and are elastic all the way around, I've never lost one on a windy or tough run, nor have I ever suffered one of those painful too-tight-headband headaches (worst ever, right?).

Stardust, one of my new favorites. 
Whether you are a runner, walker, dancer, triathlete, yogi, cyclist or cheerleader, these headbands work - and give you a little sparkle to boot. What more could you ask for? My other favorite part is because these headbands are versatile and adorable, they're perfect for jazzing up a boring old ponytail. I'll regularly wear one to work just to prove that I put a little effort in on some lazy mornings! Win-win, that's for sure. 

Now's your chance - lucky for you, I get to giveaway two headbands to two lucky readers! You can either expand your collection, or get yours started... and then you'll get hooked, like me: 

This is minus the few thin ones I have... 
How do you get to do that, you ask? Check out below!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Marathon Monday 2015

It's Patriots Day to some, it's Marathon Monday to thousands and thousands of others. Like a billion other people I know, I spent the morning camped out at my desk at work with the live stream of the 2015 Boston Marathon rolling off to the side - on mute, because I was listening to online trainings for some software. Exciting.

See? At least I was being productive still. Because the race started at 6:30 am my time (PST), I didn't get to work until the elite women were about an hour and a half into their run (mind you, that's almost done!). By the time I got to work, Shalene had already dropped off, but Desi was holding on to the most amazing lead - woman is amazing and had a great showing today, finishing first American and an incredible fourth place.

I got to watch Meb, in the classiest finish line moment ever:

And then my favorite part: the Joe Schmos. Those that are incredible athletes and run crazy 2:45 full marathons and then some, who may be sponsored or endorsed here and there, but aren't full-time athletes. Those that train with their entire heart and soul, and qualify to get there and put it all out on the line to run from Hopkington to Boston to cross that magical finish line and meet the unicorn. Seeing all the folks from my running club and various race connections and ambassadors cross the line and celebrate all they've worked for the last 12+ months, or however long ago they qualified.

And for moments like this one, where Rebekah Gregory finished the same race she was watching two years ago when those horrific bombs went off. She had her leg amputated hardly six months ago and today, crossed that line and collapsed in tears. I cried with her.

I, personally, am a far cry from qualifying for Boston. At my current measly PR, I'd need to be 70 to qualify in my age category. I joke that I'll qualify with age, not with time. And maybe that's true. Or maybe one day, I'll find some speed in my legs and I'll be one of those celebrating the elusive BQ.

But for now, this day gives me more inspiration, motivation and encouragement than ever. It should be a freaking national holiday, not just one in Massachusetts. An amazing elite race, and even more amazing is watching the thousands of others that made their Boston dreams come true.

Thanks for the motivation, Boston!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Race Report | LA Marathon

I told you to bear with me while I got up and going at the new job... but more on that soon! I figure that given LA was a MONTH ago now (WHAT?), it was high time to finish this post that I've been working on for three+ weeks.

Even so far out from the race, I'm very much still contemplating the what happened, what if, and this is where it went wrong game in my head. I'll preface it with this: I had some BIG goals in mind. Were they attainable? Probably. Were they realistic? Probably. Was I open to the idea that race day could totally mess with me and throw other plans my way? Totally. Was I still disappointed? A little bit.

The Expo

I worked the expo Friday evening and Saturday morning for Sparkly Soul. So while I love making expos about fun, and cruising through and checking out vendors and things, my mission was really to get in, get my bib and swag, and get to the table so I could get to work! Truth be told, I was actually pretty disappointed in the expo - it being such a huge race, I expected a little bit... more... out of it, whereas it was the same vendors I saw at Long Beach, and nothing uber-exciting. Oh well.

The Wall of Fame is a fun highlight, though - who doesn't love finding their name among 26,000 others? The light blue you see above is part of the lettering that spelled out CELEBRATE - the theme for this year's 30th Edition of the LA Marathon. 

So cool, right?
What I am disappointed about missing is the Asics light show. On Friday night, thousands of lights were aligned along all 26.2 miles of the course. If you were up in the hills above the city, you could see them everywhere. I knew they were happening, I saw all the announcements about it, but I was so tired by the time I left the expo Friday night, I drove home, carb-loaded, got to bed... and then saw everyone's posts about it. Sad times.

The Race

A 2:30 am alarm clock comes stupid early, FYI. I was in bed by 9:35 on Saturday night, ready to get up, get dressed, get going and pick up Monica and make our way to Dodgers Stadium. I jolted awake with the first alarm, got up, made my bagel and headed out the door early to get her. To Monica's by 3:10, on the road at 3:15. Early. Just early. We were at Dodgers and parked by hardly 4 am. I'm glad I opted for the non-shuttle way. We slept/snoozed in the car for another hour, and about 5, got our ish together to meet up with the IERC folks. There were so many of us, and our meet up spot was just abuzz with excitement and race day nerves.

With the race starting half an hour earlier (open corrals at 6:55), we were in a corral by 6:15. I don't think there is a single race where I've been in a corral more than 10 minutes before the start of the race. That's just not how I roll! So lots of standing around - I am not sure if it made me more excited or more anxious, but you could certainly feel the buzz about people in getting our 26.2 mile from the stadium to the sea started.

Could you even ask for a more gorgeous morning?
Our pace leaders' original plans were to run the first six miles at about a 9:45 pace, run the middle miles at race pace (9:30), and then see who was hanging on for the last six miles. With the heat warning, however, they scaled it back again to a 10:00 pace for the first six, see how folks were doing for the middle, and re-assess again going into the last 10K. Sounds good to me - I know I can handle 10:00 and even with race-day excitement, we knew we'd hit a little faster than that for some pieces, surely.

There were probably 10 or so of us starting out as Team Beast Mode (9:30 pace group that trained together), but in the crowd, we quickly dispersed some all over the place. I stuck with our leaders, Brenda and Jackie, knowing that my training heavily relied on them for some motivation and support, but camaraderie along the way too.

Hollywood Boulevard. El Capitan in the back!
My parents, sister and Doug were camped out at mile 8 - and truthfully, the first miles flew by. Gates of Chinatown, mariachi band at Olvera Street, and tons and tons of spectators. By far the best part about running this course is that nearly every inch of sidewalk has someone out there to cheer you on. It was great to see them, cowbells and cheering and high fives, but I felt so good at that point, I didn't want to slow and let my head catch up to my legs. I was ready to roll! Their plan was to book to the finish after seeing me early on so they could fight their way to Santa Monica and get parked and settled.

Before I knew it, we were headed down Hollywood Boulevard for the full running tour of LA. Much like Georgia's Publix race, if you're not from LA, this is the best way to get the full experience on foot and see it all! Hollywood features Pantages, El Capitan, the Chinese Theatre - all things that I've experienced, albeit like 20 years ago! That was definitely a perk.

Chinese Theatre selfie. 
We hit the 20K split in 2:06, just on target and doing pretty well. There was an awesome breeze coming down Hollywood Boulevard for two or three miles, and I figured that if that could keep up, we'd be okay. A few blocks later: the breeze stopped. Boo.

The IERC had planned tents at miles 17, 20, and 23. In the weeks leading up to the race, you could prep drop-bags for certain tents, and they'd have your goodies ready to go. I certainly slowed in mile 16, ready to see some friends camped out on Rodeo Drive (thank you Carlee & Michael!), and ready for our first support tent. This is where it all went south - feeling pretty good through our support tent, but ready for some run club love. At 17, I grabbed a ton of ice, shoved it in my sports bra (I tell you, it's never felt so good to have so much ice on bare skin), got Biofreezed (totally a verb), and got Tiger-Tailed (also a verb) a little bit on my right quad and calf.

I'm convinced that getting Tiger-Tailed is partially what sent me over the edge - while it felt hurt so good getting rolled, I physically fell apart after we left the tent. The stretch to mile 20 truthfully felt like the longest 3 miles I'd run ever and here is where I legitimately walked for the first time in a decent stretch. Jackie, bless her heart, stuck by me and kept coaching me on: "Three miles to 20! Just three! Next tent is there!"

Mile 20 tent. Ragged. 
Miles 20 to 23 dragged - I was walking more than I was running, and my big goal dreams quickly dissipated. At that point, I was happy to be doing it, happy to be almost done, and ready to just call it a day. Mile 20 is where the heat really kicked in for me, which is funny given that we were closest to the coast than we'd been yet. We loaded up on more ice, cold water and Otter Pops (re: heaven) and went on our way. Mile 23, check.

Despite the long stretch between 20 and 23 having tons of trees, it wasn't super shaded through the whole road, maybe half of it, and the heat really sank in. Jackie kept reminding me that the more I walked, the longer it'd take to get there! At that point, I just wanted to be done. Quick mental math told me that even if I shuffled to the finish at this point, I'd have a PR even if it was only by a minute or two, and really... that was my last goal. I could be okay with that, right?

The crew was waiting for me just before the 26 mile marker and finally, the finish line. A finish line has never felt so far away! I shuffled, truly, because that was all I had left. Jackie and I crossed the finish line at 4:52:52, almost an exact 6-minute PR. Goal C, accomplished.

Wouldn't have made it without this girl!

After sitting in the finishers' chute for a few minutes and fighting my way through the madness of the family reunion area, I finally found my sister and Doug, who is pretty much the best guy ever for carrying me back to the car like three blocks away. And just like that... it was over. Sore legs, medal, salt lines everywhere proved that I had done it, but all of a sudden, it was just over. I did it again - 26.2 or bust!

Recovery this time was nothing like the first time around - I think much of the heat to blame. On Monday, I was okay. Tired and sore, but nothing like I hadn't just run hard the day before. Tuesday, however, was a different story - the post-marathon sickness creeped in and I was so sore, I literally almost fell out of bed because it hurt so bad to stand on my own two legs. I got through Tuesday (substitute teaching) on 3 Aleve in one dose, and kept popping 'em just to feel alive. By Thursday, I was doing okay.

So, a month later, here's what I've got: still convinced getting Tiger-Tailed is what did my leg in. The heat sucked and certainly affected me more than I was going to give it credit for. If you're looking for a race with amazing course support, LA is for you. If you're not from LA and want to check the city out and conveniently like running marathons, LA is for you. Marathon recovery sucks, but more on that soon and how my injury is doing (see how far behind I am?!).

Thanks for sticking with me - long freaking post, and a long break after getting settled into work!

Did you run LA this year? How'd that heat treat ya?!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Race Report | Angels 5K

April 11 | Anaheim, CA

... because who doesn't love all things Angels? Add some running in there, and you've got yourself a deal! Every year, the Angels Baseball Foundation hosts a 5K and kids' fun run all around  (and through!) Angels Staidum. Doug's done it a few years with his mom, and I wanted to last year but had a work commitment and couldn't. Finally... I got to join in on the fun.

Soon enough, we had a huge entourage - and now that I say it, I realize I have no photos of the whole gang! Doug, me, his mom, his sister, sister's boyfriend, my dad and my uncle were all part of the 4,400 runners (holy whoa!) that ran around Anahem on Saturday morning. 

There were two "waves" that frankly, didn't really do any good. They made an announcement that the first wave was able to move into the "corrals" and was first-come, first-served. So if the walkers and the folks with strollerrs moved quick enough, they were even at the front of the pack (even though they asked them to refrain from doing so). And then wave 2 loaded in - there were a few minutes between release times, but the course was so congested (again, 4,400 of us!) that it was hard to find any sort of regular running rhythm. 

I knew on my ankle, despite feeling totally good again, that I didn't want to race - and then seeing the crowd, knew there was no way to, so I had told Doug on Friday night that I'd run with him and we'd just have a fun run through Anaheim and the stadium. Lots of dodging and weaving, but managed the first mile in just about 9:15. Not bad, considering!

Chillin' with Mike Trout at mile 2.5. 
There were a couple of player cut-outs that you could take photos with, all in the name of adding to the fun in our fun run. Mike Trout and Jared Weaver made (cut-out) appearances, and there may have been a few more that we didn't catch.

Just about 2.7, you get to the best part... running through the stadium! 

They said, "You're in a really bad spot to stop here!" and I said "I know!" and we were quickly on our way. But what fun! Doug and I had a solid finish at 29:27 (wasting at least a solid minute for photos, and then another minute or so just with all the bobbing and weaving), so I couldn't have asked for more on a gorgeous Saturday morning!

Doug went to go find his mom, while I waited for dad to finish (who rocked at 37 minutes), and then grabbed my stuff and ran to find Doug and his mom and walk the rest with her. So I got to walk/jog through the stadium again and enjoyed the scenery even a little more the second time around. There were tons of people who had already finished, gotten their medal, and were clearly just coming back through to walk the stadium again. Heck yes, why not?!

You can't beat a spinning medal, either!
After we had finished and collected ourselves, we heard that they were letting folks down into the first level sections to get photos on the dug out. Um, duh, I'm there. So yes, we went and played on top of the dug out before getting scolded to sit down - but one of my most favorite photos ever.

There's no better way to support your team's foundation and philanthropic efforts than joining in for their 5K, amiright? I know Oakland (boo, hiss) had their 5K on Saturday morning as well, so it seemed all too appropriate timing. Go Halos!

Have you run a baseball/sports team's race before? Which team?

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

285 Days

I haven't talked about my lay-off a whole lot on here, aside from hinting at a job search. While it's certainly taken a toll on my life the last 9 months, and it certainly gave me a little more time and motivation to kick my running up a (significant) notch, it's also been a source of worry, stress, anxiety and sometimes just downright depression over the same course of time. This blog has really gotten me through the running capacity of what the last almost-year has given me: a sense of relief, an escape, and a means for having a purpose to get up and go still.

I very much find my identity in my work, in my career. In fact, I don't think I even talk that much about work on here, really. So I want to do that a little, as it's a pretty important part of who I am and what drives me each day.

My undergraduate degree is in journalism - I wanted to be a high school journalism and English teacher. About halfway through my bachelor's degree at Northern Arizona University, I realized that was not my jam and instead found something else: student affairs. Working at a college or university, running any variety of college-oriented programs for our students. My master's degree is in Education, with a specialization or emphasis in higher education leadership... quite simply put, university administration.

After graduating from San Diego State, I moved to Texas where I worked in residence life, overseeing one of two residence halls with 400+ freshmen living under my roof and watch every single day. After three years there, I headed further east to Georgia and worked at the University of Georgia for two years, specifically working with 700+ student organizations on campus. After some time there, I made a conscious effort to focus on finding a job back on the west coast and getting settled into life with Doug and furthering my career in my home state. Marymount came calling, and I moved back to LA in July of 2013.

Road trippin'. July 2013, back to California!
11 months to the day of my first day at Marymount... was my last. I was laid off unexpectedly, and devastated to say the least. Summertime isn't a great time to start a job search, let alone have to do one, so I was stuck, lost, bewildered at where to go and what to do from there. You'd think that surely, there are plenty enough colleges and universities in the LA area that it wouldn't be hard to find a job, right? Wrong. It's hard. Even with six+ years of experience, it's hard.

Job searching is for the birds. However, I am STOKED, EXCITED, THRILLED, ELATED and RELIEVED, above all else, to say that after 52 applications; 20-something interviews betwen the phone and Skype and campus visits; countless numbers of tears and tension headaches; and 285 days of unemployment...  I am employed! My first day is today and I'm pretty freaking excited to be a part of a team again, to give back and get to work and do what I do best. 

I am so excited to be in a brand-new role (not just to me, but a brand new position altogether!), to get the change to create some new, signature initiatives and make my mark somewhere new too. I'll have more to share soon, but for now, just send me good vibes during this week and bear with me on some delayed updating of this dear little blog for a bit as I get settled. 

To all of you that have been part of this journey, thank you for your love, support, compassion and shoulders to lean on over the last almost-year. I am beyond grateful for your words and comfort when I needed it most, as 2014 wasn't all that kind.

285 days... it's over! 

New adventures. New job. Let's go 2015 - you're mine now!