Wednesday Night Yoga

Wednesday Night Yoga

Let me start off by saying, I used to be a pretty big yoga skeptic. I had tried yoga at various gyms before, and I always left the class feeling unsatisfied.

Sitting in a room for at least an hour trying to contort my inflexible frame into strange positions made me incredibly frustrated – I could never seem to get my body to do the things that it was supposed to, the things I saw other people in class doing.

So, needless to say, I was pretty hesitant to try it again.

However, when we moved to our current neighborhood, Jonathan (my boyfriend) told me about this great yoga studio nearby. He had taken classes there before and really enjoyed them.

I told him about my concerns, and he assured me that since this was a hot yoga studio I would probably have a different experience. So, I decided, what the heck, I’d give it a shot. Worst case scenario, I didn’t like it and didn’t ever have to do it again.

That was back in July.

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Now, more than 3 months later, I go at least once a week to an hour-long bikram (aka hot yoga) class. I have definitely noticed an improvement in my flexibility, which has in turn helped keep me injury free on all the crazy long runs I love so much.

Getting used to being in the hot room – they keep it at over 100 degrees! – was really challenging at first, but being in the hot room makes it so my muscles warm up at lightening speed. In the first 10 minutes of class, I go from barely being able to touch my toes, to grabbing the bottom of my feet, standing up with my legs straight!

There is also the added benefit that yoga provides inherent strength training in each class, since you’re having to lift and contort your body in directions you might not normally.

And, if that weren’t enough, I feel incredibly relaxed after class, similar to how I feel after a long run (without the major strain on my body). It’s amazing how an hour of stretching and focusing on breathing can do that.

So, if you’re on the fence about giving hot yoga a shot, I’d say go for it! Just make sure that you are very well hydrated (and that you bring a big water bottle with you to class).

 

 

 

Back to it – slow and steady

After the Mondayest Tuesday that ever Tuesdayed (which included my tasty Run Fast, Eat Slow salad being kidnapped (lunchnapped?) from the break room fridge), a post work run was just what the doctor ordered.

Side note: making days of the week adjectives and verbs is a thing, right? If not, it totally is now.

I was really wishing I had been able get out for a run yesterday, but was still recovering from a yucky sickness, so I skipped it. I am so glad that I did.

For today’s run, I decided on an easy 3 miles to slowly make my way back into training for my next marathon. Not only did my body feel (almost) back to its old self, the soul-fueling feeling that I get from a good run did my mental health wonders after my crazy day.

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I also was able to run up the GIGANTIC hill on the way back to my house (that I have been known to walk up after particularly hard runs), which was a major win. I know I might be alone in this, but I actually really enjoy running up hills. The feeling of accomplishment once I get to the top trumps any discomfort that I may have felt on the ascent.

Fortunately for me, I live in a neighborhood full of hills, so I never run out of new ones to climb (or at least haven’t yet). Because I like running up hills so much, I have learned to have a very close relationship with my foam roller, in order to work out all of the gunk that I feel like builds up in my muscles post hill run. The short term discomfort is totally worth the long term benefits of limiting my muscle soreness.

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My post run dinner was the Gimme Veggies Fried Rice from, you guessed it, Run Fast, Eat Slow. I added some chopped up chicken for extra protein, and enjoyed every second of refueling my body with tasty fried rice goodness. I have enough left over for a couple days’ lunches, which I’m really looking forward to – if the food thief strikes again, I may just have to resort to mounting a go-pro to my lunch from now on (per my boyfriend’s suggestion).

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Monday Musings

Monday Musings

I’ve been spending the last few days not feeling well – I guess it was my time for some post-marathon sickness. In order to let my body heal, I’ve been taking it easy, trying to give myself time so I get better faster. For me, letting myself rest when I’m not feeling 100% is sometimes really challenging. I have so much I want to accomplish throughout the day that it’s hard for me to not be able to fit it all in. Since I pushed my body a little bit too hard early last week, I’ve spent the last few days recovering (mostly because my body didn’t give me another choice).

Sometimes success is fueling your body well, getting a great run in, and completing your day’s to do list with time to spare. Other times success is making it through a manic Monday, and having enough time at the end of the day to fix a meal of comfort food and still have time to go grocery shopping. Today was one of those days (evidenced by the gigantic bowl of spaghetti and meatballs I chowed down on when I got home).

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Since I was sick all weekend, and didn’t really have the energy to prep my lunches for this week, my meal prep has gotten moved until tomorrow. Thank goodness for leftovers from last week and the weekend to help me get through today and tomorrow!

I know that I’m finally starting to feel better because I missed going running after work today, even though I was too tired and run down to make it happen this evening. Here’s hoping that tomorrow, with proper hydration and healthy fuel, I’ll be able to get back out there and back on my running schedule. The crazy beautiful fall colors that seem to have exploded in my neighborhood over the last week are calling my name.

Here’s to another crazy, jam-packed, beautiful week!

Becoming a Runner

Becoming a Runner

I started running after I graduated from college. I had just moved to a city where I knew no one, just started a new job, and was living truly by myself for the first time. I found myself with more time on my hands than I ever had during college, so, since I’m not really good at not having anything to do, I decided to give running a shot.

I had run cross country in high school, but hadn’t really done much running since then – so, I had a lot to relearn.

I’m still learning as I go along on my running journey, but there are some key things that have made me continue running, even when things get difficult.photo-oct-19-5-11-06-pm

First and foremost: BUY GOOD RUNNING SHOES. This is the biggest thing that will make or break a run. If my feet hurt, I know that won’t want to go running. Life is just too short to wear uncomfortable running shoes. Go to your local running store – they will have experienced staff who will help you find the best shoes for your feet.

 

  • Second: when you first start out, don’t push harder than your body will allow. Take walk breaks, don’t worry about pace too much at first, and let yourself enjoy moving your body. Focus on keeping your body healthy, fueled, and allowing yourself to rest when you need to.
  • photo-jun-26-5-24-05-pmThird: if you’re finding yourself dreading going out for a run, find something that you like about running, and choose to focus on that. For me, I have always enjoyed the fact that running gives me a fantastic reason to go outside and experience the beautiful place that I live – I let myself stop, take photos, and some deep breaths before moving on. Even when I’m having a not-so-great run, getting to be outside and experience nature can totally turn that around for me.
  • Fourth, find a race to train for. One of the best things I did when I started running was registering to run the Sound to Narrows (a local 12k) race with my Dad. It gave me a goal to push towards, and the extra motivation I needed to lace up my shoes and go running. While I wouldn’t necessarily recommend running that far for your first race, having something to train for is a good way to get into the habit of running.
  • Fifth, and probably most importantly, run because you want to. Don’t let someone else’s idea of what makes a runner stop you from going out and giving it a shot. Run for yourself – because it makes you feel good, because it allows you to accomplish things that you might not have thought possible, because you want to.

What things have helped you enjoy running?

Sunday Meal Prep

Sunday Meal Prep

Since I graduated from college, I’ve tried to make sure that I prep at least some of my lunches on Sunday night (mostly to avoid the added cost of buying my lunch during the week).

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Colorful shredded carrots

 

I actually look forward to my meal preps on Sunday, and get pretty excited about the cool stuff I get to try from the grocery store. For example, this week, I noticed that Trader Joe’s (my favorite go-to grocery store) had these really awesome looking colorful carrots. Guess what I need for my lunches this week? Tasty, nutritious carrots.

This week, I decided to make a couple kale-based salads that I found in my new favorite cook book: Run Fast, Eat Slow. It contains recipes that emphasize eating whole foods, without skimping on flavor (and it even encourages cooking with butter – something that used to be a no-no for anyone looking to eat healthy). This week, I decided to make the Wild West Rice Salad (left) and the Recovery Quinoa Salad (right).

The thing I love about kale is that it holds up so well – even with dressing on it. It doesn’t get soggy as quickly as other greens, meaning that I can make batches of salads on Sundays, and they’re still edible by Friday. Add it to rice or quinoa, and it’ll keep me full all day.

I’m also really excited about the fact that I now have 7 (yes, 7) mason jars in my fridge of tasty deliciousness that I get to take with me for lunch this week (and probably have for dinner at least once). When things are crazy busy, it’s really nice to know that I’ve got healthy food options that will keep me going all week long.

Here’s to a busy, productive week!

Race Recap: Portland Marathon 2016 – 26.2 (plus a little extra)

Race Recap: Portland Marathon 2016 – 26.2 (plus a little extra)

Sometimes you hit the wall, sometimes the wall hits you first.

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2016 finish line photo

When people find out I’ve just run a race, the first question that they ask me is “how did it go?” Followed with “did you beat your last time?” Sometimes, these questions are a little more difficult than others.

The forecast all week said that race day was going to be partly cloudy, potentially even sunny. Alas, this is the PNW, and if there weren’t a chance of rain in the fall, then we wouldn’t have all those pretty trees that the region is known for; the morning of the race was rainy, followed by a chance of even more rain.

Running in the rain doesn’t usually bother me – once you’re wet, you’re wet. For most of the race on Sunday, this was the case. I was happy, plodding along doing negative splits (at my usual slow pace). My one-man pit crew met me at mile 12, handing off the shot blocks that I would need to finish the race – or so I thought. At mile 14, that all changed.

First, my body decided that I had to go to the bathroom. Fortunately, I was right near a water station, which had a line of porta-potties. However, once I’d stopped running, my body cooled down and facing the rain became more and more difficult.

Despite the difficulties I was having, I was able to push through, and run across the St. John’s Bridge (the most beautiful bridge in Portland, in my opinion), all the way to mile 18. At this point, I ran into one of my favorite professors from college, who was providing traffic support along the course with his Economics of Running class. After seeing him, I walked a little ways, then started running in time to meet up with my pit crew at mile 20.

From there, there is a big downhill (one of the only ones in the entire race). Normally, when people think of a downhill, they think “Oh! That’ll be easier! I bet I’ll be way faster on the downhill.” While that is normally the case, the normal laws of running physics don’t necessarily apply from mile 20 to the finish of a marathon. Running downhill after running 20+ miles takes a lot more extra energy and quad strength than it would normally.

At this point, my feet started to hurt, and I mean really hurt. Suddenly, I was noticing every single part of my body, and it HURT. The wall had hit me, and it had hit me hard. I was able to push through for another couple miles, but eventually, my body just couldn’t take any more (and I kept getting stopped by the public transit trains), so I had to walk the last few miles.

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Final push to the finish

But, thankfully, my wonderful one man pit crew was at the side of the finish line, cheering me on. With his encouragement, I was able to muster up the last little bit of energy I had left and run across the finish line.

From the description above, it may sound like I had an awful race, that I had a terrible time out on the course. While it was difficult, and sometimes painful, that couldn’t be further from the truth. I had a great time running that race and I wouldn’t trade a single rainy second – the sense of accomplishment after making it through 26.2 (plus a little extra) and the tired excited energy are the coolest feelings in the world.

So, when people ask me, I say, the race was rainy, but great.