Brazen Racing’s Hellyer Half-Marathon

We have a goal to race at least once per month this year, and most of those adventures will be on the trails of California’s Central Coast! Brazen Racing showed us a great time (and thorough a**-kicking) with our first trail half-marathon last September, so we’ve been looking for the right opportunity to cross under their inflated Start/Finish arch again.

Hellyer Half Starting Line

BR’s head honcho, Sam, offered me a free entry to the Hellyer Half-Marathon, so I convinced my main squeeze to join in the fun. There’s no better way to distract yourself one week before standing at the altar! We happily joined in for some sunny  and supported paved-trail miles.

Brazen is known for trail races around the San Jose area, but this course wouldn’t typically be filed under that category. That’s 100% fine by these legs – it was the perfect chance to see how well my fitness has bounced back from the knee chaos that was. It was his chance to snatch up that 1:29:xx PR that he’s been chasing (successful!).

Hellyer Half-Marathon:
Flat, out-and-back (no surprises!) and well-supported!

Hellyer Half Trail

His goal was to practice starting SLOW (relative term here) and building up to a successful negative split. My goal was to simply make it through 13.1 miles with “ease” and finally feel like the injury is behind me.

The first few miles were a little rusty – remembering how it feels to race for endurance, warming up, getting my stride to a comfortably-hard effort. I settled into an 8:30 pace and turned on auto-pilot. The first half was spent in this zone, with two very happy feet and one happy ego. I practiced my race-fueling strategy (taking a tip from Dean Karnazes and trying out dark-chocolate-covered espresso beans), ran without tunes (ah, the zen…) and snapped a few pics along the way.

Mile 7: We turned around  and headed straight back. Around mile 8 I decided to turn it up a notch and see what happened. That felt fine, so I picked people to chase and started passing them. I also spent a lot of time doing head-math, which most runners know is just a way to a) distract your mind and b) feel like you’re pretty dumb. It’s effective all around. For mile 10 I decided to drop into sub-8s, and from mile 11 –> the finish I found my 7:30 stride again (oh, it’s been a while….).

Mike was hangin’ out around mile 12.5 with his paparazzi hat on – and hopped in to run through the actual home-stretch with me.

Hellyer Half Marathon_mile 12

I came in just under my 1:50 goal (1:49:46 – 4th AG) and for today, that wasn’t all easy breezy. But damn it felt so good to get out there again, without “what ifs” but with a healthy system that’s happily building up the machine (as Coach K would say). 

Hellyer Half Marathon Finish_DOTR

OOTD: TAD visor & TAD Squadra running singlet.
Fuel: 12 oz water + OSMO active, espresso beans (4), 3 shot bloks
Shoes: Mizuno Wave Rider 17

There’s a lot more to come this year, and this was the perfect way to open my eyes to what I’m ready to chase. (For now, we’re just glad we made it out unscathed and in top shape to walk down the aisle this week…)

Thanks for another great race, Brazen! We’ll see you again soon.

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Life with Micro-Adventures

On at least two of my weekly runs I tune into the Art of Adventure podcast led by fellow blogger Mary Loudermilk’s husband, Derek. They’re living it up as true adventurers in Ubud for the time being – which is fascinating in and of itself – but he interviews life adventurers every week! The episode always ends with this question: What does adventure mean to you?

Two answers have stuck with me:

Adventure is a roller coaster of {emotions} and transformation.
Ericka Dhawan

Adventure is indulging your sense of wonder.
Shane Snow

Last month’s Outside Magazine featured various Happiness Hypotheses, as part of a “Happy + Healthy 2015” spread. Christopher Keyes wrote one that straight up defines how we’re trying to live life here during our relatively short stint in California: “Microadventures amp up your mood.”

Chance of success? Slam Dunk.

Asilomar Beach Sunset Surfer

Two weekends ago we decided to take an overnight trip to San Luis Obispo (SLO), because why not? We had nothing stopping us (see: obligations, schoolwork, wedding work) and we keep saying “We should go to SLO”. So, we went. This was planned in a manner of minutes on Thursday evening, and by Saturday afternoon there we were driving along the most beautiful highway in the nation (imo) with the sun out, windows down and Taylor Swift blasting. We stopped at Big Sur Bakery for a treat, because that’s what you do, and we pulled over to stare at (uh, quite disgusting) elephant seals yelling at each other but barely bothering to move.

Bixby Bridge Highway 1_DOTR

Sunday morning we decided to run around SLO and then hike, because according to our “Central Coast Day Hikes” book, there were quite a few options and we have a long list to start checking off!  And apparently we also had “hike above the fog and literally be on top of the clouds” to check off, too.

SLO hiking_DOTR

SLO hiking plank_DOTR

—-

Micro-adventures*: impromptu outings to take advantage of where you live and why you live. Seeking things that bring you joy. Wondering about your surroundings, and indulging that curiosity with experience. Not wasting any more time because there just isn’t enough of it; you do what you prioritize. Excursions that bring transformation.

*as defined by yours truly.

—–

These micro-adventures should be anything but overwhelming. They can be a quick weekend road trip, or an impulse flight purchase, OR they can simply be running on a new-to-you trail, trying a new restaurant, or choosing to spend Tuesday night watching the sunset on the beach because life won’t always present you with this opportunity on any night of your choosing.

Asilomar Sunset Surf

The sunset we decided to catch after our usual run through the Farmer’s Market.

No matter what your micr0adventure list looks like, it should bring you joy and transformation. It should change the way you look at something.

It should just feel like the best thing to do in that moment.

——-

What are some of your favorite ways to get in “micro” adventures? I’m taking tips to add to our growing list.

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YTT: Behind the Maya (Veil)

Throughout the course of our 200-hour yoga teacher training(YTT), we have to observe class at least 3 times. One thing you rarely, if ever, consider as a student is the structure behind 60-90 minutes of a yoga flow. And with good reason! There’s some magic in the not knowing, just listening, doing and digging around your brain.  And trying to keep your hips closed or feet balanced. That may be all you ever think about – that ish isn’t easy!

I remember my first few yoga flows in Denver, when all the things began to click, leaving class in a mysterious state of bliss. Like, man, if only people knew that sanity is so accessible and a high is so easily reached without having to do much besides roll out and step onto the mat! I remember walking out of studios way above cloud 9, craving and seeking that mental massage more and more. Running is great, sure – but yoga? Puts you on a different level.

How?

I’m learning (as you may have guessed). And part of that involves stepping behind the veil/illusion (or maya, in sanskrit). Erasing a little bit of the “magic”. Setting up props for the Scene, and watching the Director work. (In our YTT Director’s Chair: Coral Brown.)

2015-02-20 12.05.59-2

Did you know:

– Most classes build you up to a Peak Pose. You may not always recognize what this pose is, but the asanas (poses) leading up to it all have a specific purpose (e.g. open your hips, warm-up your back, engage your core, loosen your hamstrings, etc.)

– (Prana*) Vinyasa Flow classes will always start with sun (or moon) salutations, called “Namaskars”. Depending on the teacher, you may do a few different variations of classic sequences. This warms you right up!

– Every pose has a counter-pose. It’s all about balance, yo.

– There is always purpose behind the sequencing. It may seem as though you just aimlessly move from one sequence to the next, but know that the teacher’s mind is always taking you down a specific, planned out, path.

*This is the type of teacher training I’m completing – Prana Vinyasa Flow.

Sitting back, behind mayas, and watching a full hour of yoga without doing anything but observing is a completely different experience. I noticed so much more than I would have if I were on the mat. My mind wasn’t focused on meditation, but rather on learning and piecing together. I was a little jelly of everyone getting their asana-on. I was awake and alert while they blissed out in savasana. Not the same! But the totally-worth-it reward will be leading a full class through a similar journey sooner than later. Paying more attention to what’s behind-the-veil shifts your experience on the mat, but it also means I soon get to create my own story, bhav and flow, and see what happens.

For now, I’m still reading the script. (5o hours in)

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35 Hours: 200 YTT Resumes

Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) continues! See posts checking in at hours 5 & 29 from our initial training weekend in January.

The weekend of yoga starts off with 5 hours on Thursday evening, in the middle of which is a 90-minute class. Coral can throw a LOT into that time frame, and this one included peaking with crow pose. Breaking down that “peak pose” – what you need to work on to get in and out of it – will decide the vinyasas (sequences) of the class. Crow is a balancing pose, so a lot of people assume it takes arm strength. Actually it takes a strong core, open hips and a forward (not down/back/left/right) gaze.

“Look where you want to go!”

Think ahead.

Look forward.

Trust your {mind+body} abilities.

Be okay with falling/failing, and getting right back into it.

Build strength, open up, put a strong base in place; have faith that you’ll fly.

——

The room was straight up pumped – we had energy, we’re ready to get this ball rolling again, we love to feel the lightness of flight. She regaled us with some Bob Marley during savasana and we responded with a sing-a-long. And that’s an awesome way to end a kick-ass class.

So begins my favorite kind of weekend…

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Building (Run) Fatigue: the good way to feel exhausted

you fail

One way I reduce decision fatigue is by working with my Coach (cannot begin to put a $ to how much I value not having to think about my training plans). But what does she do in return? Fatigue the crap out of me.

I read this quote yesterday just before I strapped on the Heart-rate monitor for the second run of the day. I  immediately thought about all the times we build a BIG thick cushion for ourselves to land on, before we even know from how high we’ll start to fall. All the times I’ve had a goal for a race, only to so very quickly come up with “Plan B”. The times I’ve been in the middle of a run and thought this is too hard, I’m done – when the marathoner in me, a few layers down, actually thinks do you REMEMBER mile 26?! You are. not. done.  All the times I’ve excitedly thought of a big lofty (to-me) goal, only to almost immediately protected myself from thinking it’s possible, because what if it isn’t. {Lands on cushion.}

But what if it is?

As a Coach, I’ve learned to recognize what Katie’s doing to me when she’s doing it. I don’t always know ALL the reasons or the science or her magic logic, but a glance of the schedule du jour is always telling. Right now? Fatigue. She’s laying it on thick! She’s saying to me, Keep running even though you’re tired. And I’m saying to my legs, you’ll survive.

Sometimes my mind jumps ahead to the WHY – the goal race, the next couple of months of building this fatigue for good reason. Sometimes those thoughts dump adrenaline into my muscles and act like jet-POWER! Other times, they add cushioning for the fall, layering up failure protection. I.e. They doubt. This quote brings it back to reality.

I failed during those 26.2 miles at Marine Corps, and guess what? Life went on. I didn’t fail the two times I ran those exact same 26.2 miles before, and life went on. The difference was in an attitude. It can be just as  fatiguing to build that soft mental landing to protect yourself as it is to build your mind and muscles to risk failure, discover your true potential, and believe you’ll succeed.

Which fatigue are you building?

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