*John Muir is my homeboy*

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.”

                                                                                  ~ John Muir

The naturalist and environmental philosopher, John Muir, was waaaay ahead of his time. Having died in 1914, long before modern conveniences and technological advances, he recognized our innate need to connect with the natural world. His foresight has allowed for the preservation of some of the most beautiful, serene, and untouched parts of the country. I feel it is an honor to be able to go into the wilderness to witness such spaces. For the second time in a month, I was submerged in some of the back country that Muir is renowned for and I’m beyond grateful.

After a trial one-night, 8-mile backpacking trip a few weeks ago, my brother, sister-in-love, soon-to-be three-year-old nephew, and I set out for a more challenging two-night trip. Over the course of three days, we hiked approximately 25 miles up and over passes in the Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks. We camped at two different lakes, visiting three over the course of the trip. It was magical. Being that we were in sequoia territory, I made my brother make a quick pit stop to get this pic:

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Sequoia trees grow in groves and are native to only the western slope of the Sierra Nevada mountains.

When I venture out into the wild, I’m seeking quiet, an escape from the busyness of society and life, and to see parts of the country that few will see with their own two eyes. I return with much more than that, just as John Muir predicted. (It also made for some hardcore cross-training!)

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I will note that I (happily) did not encounter any bears though we did see a paw print and bear poop right on the trail.

*Weekly mileage ~ July 18-24*

Mileage for the week of July 18th – July 24th

Total weekly mileage: 27

Total July mileage: 100

Total year-to-date (2016) mileage: 684.5

Run review:

7/18     33:30 min./4 mi./8:21 pace

7/19     43:27 min./5.25 mi./8:17 pace

7/20    39:40 min./4.75 mi./8:21 pace

7/21     1:49:23 min./13 mi./8:25 pace

7/22     No run (backpacking)

7/23     No run (backpacking)

7/24    No run (backpacking)

Last week was pretty much what I expected. I took the weekend off from running in exchange for approximately 25 miles of cross training, er hiking, through rugged mountain terrain carrying a 35-40 pound backpack the entire time. (More on that in my next post!)

I’m satisfied with the 27 miles I did run (putting me right at 100 so far for July) and if I factor in the mileage from backpacking, not to mention the elevation ranging from 8,000 to 10,000 feet, it was a solid week of training!

Later this week I will be off on my next adventure so I know my mileage will be somewhat limited but I’ve made the necessary adjustments to my training plan to accommodate my travels and am confident that I’ll be able to pick up where I left off when I return.

I hope your week is off to a great start!

*Weekday long runs*

Busy summer weekends has required that I rearrange my training schedule around a bit. With a race last weekend (speaking of, I moved up to the 7th place, overall female spot!), a backpacking trip this weekend, and traveling home to Oregon next weekend, I’m going to have to get creative in order to stick to my plan and get those long runs done.

I’m very fortunate that my work schedule is part-time and allows me the option to get it done before I work later in the day. But that said, I realize weekday long runs can be a huge challenge for anyone working an 8-hour day or is juggling the demands of a family and responsibilities at home.

While I was trying not to look at my watch every 10th of a mile this morning, I came up with a short list of suggestions to help make the occasional long run during the week manageable.

  • Plan it a week out, minimum. Don’t expect to just wake up one morning and decide to do it. Being mentally prepared is a huge part of the battle so schedule it, put it on your calendar, and make sure you give yourself enough time to prepare. Also, don’t schedule it on a super busy day… like say when you have a presentation to give at work first thing in the morning.
  • Prepare in advance. Don’t wait until the night before to restock your fuel. I’m bad about keeping a supply on hand so I’m either trying to track something down the day before or realize the morning of my long run that I only have two Clif Shot Blocks left in my stash. (Yeah, that was this morning.)
  • As you would for any long run, get your gear in order the night before. Make sure you have clean socks, all of your gadgets are charged, you know where the lid to your water bottle is…
  • Calculate how long your run will take and add a few minutes so you’ve got some wiggle room if you get delayed or have to stop at a trillion traffic signals. Set a departure time and stick to it.
  • Plan to get up early enough to allow yourself the time to do whatever it is you need to do to prepare. Coffee, a light breakfast, Chakra cleansing meditation, whatever. It might mean you have to get up at 4 AM, but it’s not the end of the world and it’s not a regular occurrence so suck it and set your alarm.
  • Make sure you allot enough time to cool down and refuel before you need to get ready for work or whatever activities you have planned.
  • If the mileage you need is pretty high and you truly don’t have enough time before work or you get stressed at the thought of trying to squeeze it in, there’s nothing wrong with breaking it down into two runs. Split it up and run half in the morning and then the other half during lunch or later in the evening.
  • Don’t skimp on a post-run reward because you’re pressed for time. You earned that decadent smoothie or stop at Starbucks!
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Reward yourself for those hard-earned miles!

*Weekly mileage ~ July 11-17*

Mileage for the week of July 11th – July 17th

Total weekly mileage: 31.25

Total July mileage: 73

Total year-to-date (2016) mileage: 657.5

Run review:

7/11     34:02 min./4 mi./8:31 pace

7/12     25:58 min./3 mi./8:38 pace

21:19 min./2.5 mi./8:32 pace

7/13     47:13 min./5.75 mi./8:12 pace

7/14     35:28 min./4.25 mi./8:21 pace

7/15     25:45 min./ 3 mi./8:33 pace

7/16     29:26 min./3.5 mi./8:25 pace

7/17    45:26 min./5.25 mi./9:08 pace

Last week culminated with the Griffith Park 8k Trail Race. You can read my recap of that race here. Overall, it was a pretty easy week running wise. After my long run last weekend, on very technical trail at Griffith Park, my ankle became a bit sore. Although mild, it bothered me for most of the week. To play it safe in preparation for my race, I didn’t push my mileage or pace and aimed to keep it on the lighter side. I think my strategy paid off.

This week, I’m hoping to get back to business and get back on track with my training. I missed my long run this past weekend due to yesterday’s race and will miss next weekend too. (Perhaps the weekend after that as well. Ah, summer training… but YAY for summer fun and adventures!) at any rate, in order to stay on course, I’ll need to get some longer runs done ahead of the weekend for the next couple of weeks. Fortunately, we’re talking 13-14 miles and since I work afternoons, I’ll have plenty of time to get them done.

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My fancy-schmancy training plan.

My ankle is feeling a lot better and although I was exhausted post-race yesterday, I’m looking forward to training and breaking out of the comfort zone I found myself in while taking it easy last week.

Happy running, friends!

*Griffith Park 8k Trail Race recap*

The runner’s high I got from the Griffith Park 8k Trail Race I ran this morning hasn’t quite dissipated yet. Although physically I feel like I ran a hard race (I’m exhausted this afternoon!), the rest of me just feels really content and happy that it was everything I didn’t expect it to be.

As I wrote about in a post a few days ago, I went in with little expectations other than to appreciate the early start before the heat of the day, be well fueled, enjoy being among running community, and just have fun within the experience regardless of performance.

Check, check, check, and check!!!!

The event that I ran was the sister race to a larger trail marathon relay made up of teams of five people. Each team member runs the same 5.25 mile loop. The route was mostly packed dirt and fire lane roads nestled into the canyons of Griffith Park. Within the first two miles the elevation gain is roughly 500 feet. The event I ran today was the inaugural 8k and followed the same course as the relay with the only difference being that we started about 10 minutes before the relays teams, about 90 of them, took off.

The 8k started a few minutes later than planned and there was some slight confusion at the start as to where we were suppose to line up – and which direction we were going – but that was the only fault I found with the entire event.

Teams set up camp on a large grassy slope that is known as the old Los Angeles Zoo, right next to ruins of what used to house caged animals on exhibit. Also, a good place to take pictures if you don’t get creeped out easily… there are stories about the caverns being haunted…

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My adoptive Team Nuun Family (minus one) for the morning. Photo credit: www.crossmyheartfitness.com

I was invited to hang out with some Team Nuun teammates from around the area who had a relay team participating. I really enjoyed meeting some new people and reconnecting with the few that I’d met before. I love running, training, and racing for so many reasons but connecting with people who share my love of the sport is truly a highlight!

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After a 7-month racing hiatus, pinning on my bib felt so good!

As far as my actual “race” went, I felt good. I felt strong! There was a pretty challenging climb the first two miles and I was proud that I didn’t succumb to walking. I sure as heck wasn’t moving very fast but I felt that maintaining some sort of momentum would payoff. I felt like I was flying after I reached the summit and the trail leveled and then dropped. I smiled. A lot. It’s been a while since I’ve experienced that kind of mental ease – like, “Hey! I’m just here to have fun!”

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The classic *stopping the Garmin at the finish line* picture.

Apparently, I was the 8th overall female to finish with a time of 45:26. As far as I could tell, they didn’t do a gender/age category breakdown but I’m guessing that I probably finished in a decent spot. Doesn’t matter though. It was a fun day and great reminder of why I love running and racing!

*Categorize under good life choices*

Current status:

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Dinner of champions: pancakes and wine.

It’s officially race weekend and I just nailed Friday night dinner! Blueberry, flax, protein pancakes with cashew butter and maple syrup accompanied by some Charles Shaw merlot in my fancy mason jar. Good life choices.

Seriously, though, I’ve been having a lot of conversations with myself (she’s a great listener and TOTALLY gets me) about the difference between reaching goals and something we hope works out well in our favor: EXPECTATIONS.

I’m notorious for setting my expectations too high. By definition, it’s a strong belief that something will happen or be achieved. The result when it doesn’t happen includes disappointment, self-doubt, and a slew of other negative emotions. I’ll share this example: as you may (or may not) know, for more than a year I’ve been working to build a small business offering writing services such as blogging, web copy, product descriptions and the like. When my family and I decided to finally make the big move to Los Angeles this past spring, it was my expectation that I would be able to build up enough clients and generate a decent enough income so that I would not have to find additional work. (Though I will note that my biggest motivator isn’t money… It’s freedom and flexibility… which isn’t always possible when you’re working for someone else, right?)

Reality set in about five weeks later. Do I still believe I can be successful as a writer and small business owner? In short, yes. However, I took a part-time job that has left me mentally exhausted at the end of the day with little desire to write or find jobs and clients. While that has been on hold for the past two months, I’m feeling a bit more settled now. I’m starting to think that I can allocate more time to my business and once again, begin working toward what I want to achieve by setting some new goals, while letting go of any expectation that I have about where I thought I’d be by now.

My point being is that the difference between expectations and goals lies in the effort. Goals require effort. Expectations don’t. Goals create direction and results while expectations are merely a belief that something could happen.

Why this? Now?

Because not only am I reevaluating what I want from my business, which wasn’t really the point of this post, is that I’m racing my first trail race this weekend and my first race in more than 7 months. I’ve decided that I’m going to run Sunday without any expectations other than running it to experience my first trail race and first race in my new city. Since I didn’t set any goals or put in any additional effort (training) for it either, it makes it easier to not fall into the trap of expecting a specific outcome.

I know the course is categorized as intermediate and challenging. I know that it is forecasted to be in the low 80’s Sunday but should be fairly cool for my 7 AM start. I know that I’m fueling myself like a champ with pancakes and cheap wine. I know that I’ll be happy to be surrounded by running community (because I’ve missed that a lot.) And I know that whatever the outcome, I’ll enjoy the experience without any expectations regarding performance. That statement, in and of itself, is a good life choice! Happy Friday!

*Weekly mileage ~ July 4-10*

Mileage for the week of July 4th – July 10th

Total weekly mileage: 37.75

Total July mileage: 41.75

Total year-to-date (2016) mileage: 626.25

Run review:

7/4     No run (backpacking)

7/5     41:00 min./5 mi./8:11 pace

7/6     33:51 min./4 mi./8:27 pace

24:56 min./3 mi./8:19 pace (easy run with a few hill repeats thrown in)

7/7     33:32 min./4 mi./8:23 pace

7/8     43:22 min./5.25 mi./8:16 pace

7/9     2:11:26 min./12 mi./10:57 pace

7/10   37:28 min./4.5 mi./8:20 pace

I’m feeling pretty proud about how last week went down since I was putting in full-time hours half of the week. This week will bring the same challenge. Plus, I’m getting ready for my 8k trail race this coming Sunday!

Speaking of, I figured this past weekend would be my last opportunity to get out on some trails before my upcoming race. I tried to do this run a few weeks ago only to discover that what looked like a trailhead on Google maps, was fenced and gated with no access. I found another route and trailhead, which distance wise, was about perfect to knock out my long run.

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Yikes!

After almost two miles of running uphill through a swanky residential neighborhood, I was greeted with a seriously rough trail that is not for the faint of heart. It’s steep, rocky, narrow, and in some spots, downright questionable. In fact, even though I counted the entire distance toward my overall mileage, I hiked quite a bit of the trail going both up and back down. It wasn’t worth the risk. Safety first, kids!

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Beautiful but treacherous!

Despite the challenge, I made my goal of running to the iconic Hollywood sign!

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The view from the top of Mt. Lee, behind the Hollywood sign.

Celebratory airborne pic!

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I did it for the Insta. JK

The high that was climbing to the top and capturing these images was replaced with trashed quads and a sore ankle (which are still plaguing me two days later). I struggled through the remaining five miles to complete 12 overall but at least I got some cool pics! Ha!