Archive | November, 2011

The Countdown Begins

28 Nov

I can’t believe it’s almost the end of the semester! Only two-and-a-half more weeks ’til freedom!

This weekend was such a nice break though. Yesterday, I went for a beautiful 12-mile run along the coast, from Swami’s beach to Del Mar. It was brutally hot for 8:30 am in November, but still a great run nonetheless. It was the first time I’ve been back to my beach route since the knee injury, and the familiar landmarks I used as mile-markers became strangely nostalgic.

I spend the rest of the afternoon with Spencer, relaxing and eating, and then met up with my friend Sabrina for a sunset walk on the beach. The weather was perfect, and it felt so good to wade in the waves and catch up on life. Mental note – do this more often! Spencer and I went to Rico’s Taco shop (a local favorite) for dinner, and I had delicious veggie tacos. I keep telling myself I should make them at home, but there’s something about the way they make them that I know I’ll never be able to replicate.

This morning, Spencer and I woke up and made breakfast, and then I headed back to LA LA land. It was so hard to leave, but I know Winter Break will be amazing. Once I got back to school, finals mode started to kick in. I had to write a reflection on the semester for my Stress Management class, and I was actually quite surprised at how much I’ve learned and how far I’ve come in controlling the stress that used to control me.

A few interesting tidbits:

– “Eustress” (coined by Hans Selye) is the positive or desirable stress that keeps life interesting and helps to motivate and inspire.

– 70-80% of doctor visits are reported to be for stress-related and stress-induced illnesses.

– “Affluenza” is the epidemic of wanting more and spending more.

And a quote I really like:

“When health is absent, wisdom cannot reveal itself, art cannot manifest, strength cannot fight, wealthy becomes useless, and intelligence cannot be applied.”                                                                                                                                                                                      -Herophilus

One final down…four more to go!

Hope everyone is having a great week 🙂

Thanksgiving x2

24 Nov

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Today has been quite an eventful day. It started out at 4:45 am, when Spencer and I got up to get ready for our race. It was pitch black when we headed downtown for the 10th Annual United Run for the Hungry, and the terrible race directions had me panicking for a few minutes, but the start line was buzzing with excitement when we arrived. We dropped off our donation of canned food, picked up our bib numbers and t-shirts, and headed over to join the crowd. The 10k was first, and as I lined up amidst the see of runners at the start line, I felt the familiar adrenaline rush that I have missed for the past 8 months. The gun went off, and we were racing through the streets of downtown, soaking in the perfect San Diego weather. I knew I still had the 5k to run with Spencer afterwards, so I wasn’t sure I wanted to go all out, but I decided to give it all I had anyway. It was a great race, and I finished in 45:30 (7:20 min/mile pace), which was a personal record. Spencer and my family were waiting to cheer me on at the finish line, and then we headed back to the start to get ready for the 5k.

I have been wanting to race with Spencer for years, and it was almost surreal when the gun went off, and we headed out together. The hill was a killer, but we finished and lived to tell the tale. It felt amazing to race again, and I was on a high for the rest of the day.

After a relaxing jacuzzi and nap, we had Thanksgiving dinner #1 with Spencer’s family and then headed to Fallbrook for Thanksgiving #2. (Good thing I ran 9 miles this morning!) Both were delicious, and I am grateful for the time and effort put in by both of our families to prepare such beautiful meals. Spencer and I made a pumpkin pie yesterday, which turned out to be a hit, so I was happy about that.

After dinner, I checked the race results online and found out that I placed 2nd in my age group! I’ve never placed or been on the winner board before, so I was really excited. I also placed 15th out of 615 women overall, so it was a very successful race.

We just got back from Fallbrook and are both quite tired, so I think we’re off to bed. Although it is always on my mind, days like today make me that much more grateful for my family, my boyfriend, my friends, and everyone who has touched my life in some way. Thank you all for being a part of my life.

Reunited with J. Lo

20 Nov

Music is truly an amazing thing. Although I have always connected with it, I realized today just how strong its power can be. Last February, during a 22-mile run (the longest and most daunting of the season), J. Lo’s new hit, “On the Floor,” came on my ipod. For some reason, it put me in a zone I had never quite experienced before, and I listened to it a good 10 times before moving on to the next song. It was the most fun I’d ever had on a run, and despite the dread that had preceded that Sunday morning, it turned out to be one of my most memorable practices.

Following my IT band injury, I would hear “my running song” on the radio and would immediately shut it off. I deleted it from my ipod playlist. I took it off my phone. No matter where I was, I couldn’t stand to hear it and be reminded of what I couldn’t do. For six months, I avoided this song like the plague, trying to ignore the hollow pit in my stomach every time I heard it.

This morning was different though. After running the length of the Hermosa Valley Greenbelt trail, my teammates and I turned towards the beach and headed to the Manhatten Marina. As we ran along the coast, the familiar intro to “On the Floor” began to play through my headphones, and instinctively, I reached up and hit the “skip” button on my ipod. Then it hit me – I was running. I hit the “back” button and was suddenly flooded with memories of my 22-miler. I got a rush of energy, and everything felt lighter.

The run was beautiful and quite different than I remember it from last year. Time #1 was scorching hot, and my legs felt heavy and slow on the wood-chip trail. The weather this morning was perfect though – the air was cool and crisp, and there was just enough rain (or sprinkle rather) to feel pleasant. The trail was a welcome break for my legs, and I loved the feel of earth beneath my feet instead of unforgiving concrete.

I met several more new team members today as well, and I was surprised to find that many are vegan or vegetarian! I’m already planning an adventure to my fav vegan restaurant in Santa Monica – maybe after our next long run there.

Other food news: I invented a new postrun smoothie recipe that was quite delicious! It tasted like a milkshake.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter-Banana Dream

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup Arctic Zero – chocolate peanut butter flavor *(see ingredient note below)
  • 2 T. chocolate whey protein powder (I use Apex brand)

Add all ingredients to blender, and blend until smooth and creamy. YUM.

Serves 1

Calories: 200

*Arctic Zero is a recent discovery. It’s a whey protein “ice cream” that does not taste much like ice cream on its own but is delicious in smoothies.

Well it’s now 1:33 am, and my sore legs are telling me I should go to bed…but happy Monday everyone! It’s almost Thanksgiving 🙂

TGIF

18 Nov

I don’t know if I’ve ever said this before, but this morning was a perfect run. Despite going to bed at 4:00 am last night, I woke up strangely energized and ready to go. The weather was ideal, and I hit the track for another speed workout. I told myself I wasn’t going to push it if I was tired, but the moment I started running, I was on a high. I did another 2-2-2 workout (2-mile warm-up, 2 mile interval, 2-mile cool-down), and my average pace was 7:27 min/mile. I think it’s a personal record for 6 miles, but better than my time was the feeling that I could have continued running for quite a while longer (and probably would have enjoyed it too).

I was working on a group presentation last night on the effects of exercise on stress, and I came across an interesting article that seems quite fitting. As opposed to the common theme of the health benefits of exercise, this particular study, from the Journal of Perceptual and Motor Skills, addresses the effects of NOT running on people who were considered consistent runners. In summary, the authors determined that “Prevented Runners displayed significantly greater symptoms of psychological distress, including depression, anxiety, confusion, overall mood disturbance, and lower self-esteem than did Continuing Runners” (Chan & Grossman, 1988). I thought of my 6-month absence from running and realized that I fit this category of “Prevented Runners” quite well. Not only did my mood change as a result, but I felt like a piece of my identity was missing. I felt isolated and removed from the running community, and I can’t describe how it feels to be a part of it again.

We’re sharing this video as a part of our presentation, and it reminded of both the extreme adrenaline and extreme camaraderie at the start of a race.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uuWX2ASBFGk

Other highlights of the day – I finally finished the conclusion of my semester-long research project! Our research team presents our results next week…feels good to be almost done.

Happy Friday 🙂

Thursday Thoughts

17 Nov

It suddenly hit me today that the semester is almost over…it’s strange how life seems to move so slowly in the moment and so quickly upon looking back. In my whirlwind of a week, I’ve made some interesting discoveries.

1)  I think I finally realized why I detest running outside here – I’m scared. It seems that every time I’m planning to go for a run around campus, I receive a notification from the Department of Public Safety. This one was sent on Tuesday night.

CRIME ALERT
The University Of Southern California Department Of Public Safety is providing this notice of a criminal incident that occurred in our community in order to provide information that may help in avoiding a similar crime or provide information to solve this crime.  This notice is also intended to meet the requirements of the “Timely Warning” provisions of the federal Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistic Act.

ROBBERY– Strong Arm

 DATE & TIME OF OCCURRENCE:  November 15th, 2011 at 11:30am

 LOCATION: 700 Block of W. 28th Street

REPORTED OFFENSE: Complainant stated he was walking westbound on 28th street when suspect approached him and stated he had a weapon (none seen) demanding complainant’s lunch.  The complainant complied.  The suspect fled eastbound on 28th Street.

The week before it was an armed robbery on Exposition St. (which I pass during my usual route). I have learned not to take my surroundings lightly and use extreme caution in my neighborhood because, as Spencer aptly put, “people do not always respect life here.” It is definitely disheartening.

2)   As much as I am a routine person, I need to fulfill my sense of adventure. I’ve been investigation the options for after graduation (in the likely event that I don’t get into vet school on the first try), and the possibilities are endless and exciting.

Some other highlights of the week:

  • My physics professor made ice cream with liquid nitrogen today. It was quite a show! While it looked rather toxic, (half & half, sugar, chocolate syrup, and a bubbling mass of hissing liquid) it apparently tasted quite good!
  • I discovered a new favorite dinner recipe: Roasted red pepper hummus, fresh spinach, baby tomatoes, and pepperoncinis wrapped in a whole-wheat tortilla. Delicious!

Off to finish writing up my results for my Body Image & Running research project – it’s almost done! Hope everyone is having a great week 🙂

Santa Monica Deja Vu

13 Nov

Well today has certainly flown by! This morning was our first off-campus team practice, which I have been looking forward to for months. I have been working on coordinating a team sponsorship with LUNA bar for the past few weeks, and before we left, a representative from the company met us and gave us all LUNA water bottles filled with mini LUNA bars and chapstick! Armed with our post-run snacks, we headed over to Santa Monica for a beautiful 8-mile run along the beach. It was supposed to rain this morning, but the weather gods were on our side, and I couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day. The run went really well (I averaged an 8:00 min/mile pace), and afterwards we all relaxed on the grass and soaked up the sun. While stretching and eating tangerines, we were suddenly approached by a group of strange looking folk dressed as lady bugs, and they started handing out masks to our team. I was rather confused at first, but soon learned they were cast members of the newest Cirque du Soleil, called Ovo. The masks had a promo code for 25% of the show, which opens in January, so I’m definitely planning on going! Esther and I took hilarious pictures in our bug masks for the team scrapbook, which is our new project for the year.

I love the off-campus runs, one, for the obvious reason that they are away from the city, and two, because I finally get a chance to talk with my teammates. It was great to reminisce with old friends and also put names (and hometowns and majors) to the many new faces of the team.

I spent the afternoon relaxing and reading about elderly immigrants, and then my parents came up to visit from San Diego. We headed back to Santa Monica (showered and much cleaner this time!), and drove down the exact street we had parked on for the run. This morning seemed like a million years ago! We went to an amazing vegan restaurant called The Real Food Daily, and it is definitely going on my list of favorites. I had a delicious Asian salad with soba noodles, tofu, and peanut dressing, but everything on the menu looked incredible. My current goal is to try some new vegan recipes to spice up my week!

Off to do my physical therapy exercises and go to bed. Hope everyone had a great weekend 🙂

Back up to Speed

11 Nov

I had an AMAZING run this morning – my first speed workout in 6 months! It felt soooo good to be back. Before the dreaded IT Band Syndrome struck, I used to do a tempo or interval workout on the treadmill every week. I would follow the lit up “track” on the monitor, sprinting the straightaways and jogging the curves, and I loved the rush of giving it everything I had.

I’ve been feeling somewhat burned out lately from my campus runs (maybe its the combination of bus stops and oncoming bikes that’s getting to me), so I decided to hit the track for a change of pace. The weather was perfect this morning – cool and overcast, even by 10:00 am when I finally got my butt out the door. I did a 2-mile warm-up, sprinted the straightaways and ran the curves for 2 miles, and then ended with a 2-mile cool down. I finished my 6 miles in 45:51, averaging a 7:38 min/mile pace, but more importantly, I felt exhilarated. I jogged around for a few minutes afterward, watching the varsity track runners, the Army ROTC members, and the weekend joggers, and I felt an overwhelming sense of belonging. I realized I haven’t felt this alive in a while.

It’s moments like these that remind me why I love running. Why I skip parties to get up at 6:00 am on a Sunday morning. Why I spent 6 months in physical therapy. Why I want to pace myself so I can keep going. And why I know I will never take it for granted.

I hope you all made an epic wish tonight. After all, it is only once in a lifetime that it’s 11:11 pm on 11/11/11 😉