*Change is GOOD!*

If there is anything I have learned this past year, it is this: change is good!

Don’t get me wrong, though. It’s scary as hell. There is comfort in the familiar… among the places, faces, and routines that we experience day in and day out. The magic of change, however, is that by letting go, we create space to allow for new places, faces, and routines to become a part of our world that we may not have experienced if we were too frightened to let go.

Space also allows us to discover new things… new jobs, new relationships, new hobbies, new interests, new communities, new foods, etc. In some cases, it also allows for us to focus more deeply on the prominent passions in our lives if we are willing to let go of the things that no longer serve us.

Toward the end of 2016, I felt myself desiring a shift to create more space so that I can invest more time to focus on some specific goals, personal development, and truthfully, a little more downtime for self-care and sleep. I’ve spent several months analyzing where I invest my time, what activities give me joy, and making a mental list of things that I need to purge.

It is no secret that this space has been neglected. I guess I’ve come to realize that this website and blog have fulfilled the initial purpose in which I created it. (For newer readers, Wasn’t Just the Wine Talking was created to chronicle my journey of qualifying for and running the Boston Marathon. This goal was accomplished in 2015.) After almost four years of sharing here, I feel it is time to move on and allow the little time I do spend crafting content, to be spent on other endeavors.

So with that said, I am announcing that Wasn’t Just the Wine Talking is going to be put to bed. This will be my last post.

The decision did not come easy. Trust me. I’ve connected with so many readers over the years and have found so much value in the support and encouragement from strangers who didn’t feel like strangers but just running friends. I’ve truly appreciated each and every follow, like, and comment and knowing that I’ve influenced people around the world!

The website will remain up until and active until my URL expires (in March I believe). I will be removing my Wasn’t Just the Wine Talking Facebook page right away, however.

You’re probably wondering if I’ve decided to quit running, if I’m going to run off and join the circus, or just what in the heck I’m going to be doing to fill the void…

I AM NOT GOING TO QUIT RUNNING! In fact, I’m running the LA Marathon in 10 (TEN!!!) weeks and really need to focus my energy on training and preparation for that. Beyond that event, I’m not yet sure what else the year has in store but I’ve decided that it’s best to focus on one thing/goal at a time and give 110% to that instead of spreading myself out among too many things at once.

I AM NOT GOING TO JOIN THE CIRCUS! I am, however, going to invest more time in building my writing business (Learn more at www.bloggerbitch.com) and finish the coursework to obtain my real estate license. I want to learn how to brew my own kombucha, work on writing my novel, read more, devote more time to making self-care a priority, and spending time with my boys (and girl whenever possible).

I’m on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook so if you’d like to follow future adventures and endeavors, feel free to give me a follow. (I’m less active on Twitter and Facebook AND I’m trying to reduce my time spent on social media in general. Another time suck!)

It has been such a great few years and I, from the bottom of my heart, thank you all for allowing me to share my journey with you. I wish each of you the best and many, many great years of running ahead. And remember, change is GOOD!

Farewell.

xo Hyla

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*Magical unicorn rainbow stardust shit*

For pretty much the entire duration of my training cycle leading up to the Portland Marathon, I let self-doubt rule. Slow training runs plagued with discomfort, a random knee ailment that forced me to miss several days, lack of training supplemental to my long runs (ie: hill repeats, track work, etc.), and not feeling as fit as I could have been in general lead me to feel that I wasn’t up for a rockstar race performance or that I deserved to line up in the B coral.

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In the days leading up to the race, I shared my wish list of what I hoped could happen if for some reason, and I quote “magical unicorn rainbow stardust shit” shows up the morning of the event. Given the mounting insecurity, especially with the travel, on-the-go eating, time on my feet at the expo, and cramming in as much time as I could with family and friends while I was in Portland, I really was just hoping I’d be able to run the whole damn thing without a DNF (did  not finish).

On Saturday afternoon I pretty much thought I was screwed. I was exhausted while I worked a few hours in the Portland Marathon information booth at the packet pickup and expo. I bailed a little bit early because my legs were tired from standing and I was getting hungry. I found a bite and browsed a few stores to kill some time and take my mind off the marathon. Mr. Wasn’t Just the Wine Talking was working just a few blocks away so I was planning to make my way to his location but wasn’t in a huge hurry because I’d be basically just waiting around until he finished his day.

I finally made my way there but was feeling a little cranky and was getting hungry again so I toured the set and watched some of the filming before I went out in search of food again. When I returned, I found a distant corner in a hallway and set up camp. I napped for about an hour before someone woke me up apparently concerned whether or not I was okay. Not long after filming wrapped for the day, Mr. WJTWT and I walked around the corner to a bar. I was so groggy, and exhausted, and emotional that I was literally crying into my wine glass with worry about the race. (Yes, I drank a little wine the evening before.) Mr. WJTWT proceeded to give me a pep talk which helped and promised me a chill evening and early bedtime.

We picked up Thai food as we made our way to where we’d be staying for the night. (I had Thai for dinner the night before I ran the Boston Marathon so I was hoping for some good juju.) Another glass of wine was consumed with dinner and then I started getting ready for bed.

Originally, the weather was forecasted to be perfect! Around 55° at the start with a high of 77° for the day and dry and sunny! Reports Saturday starting indicating a turn and sure enough, I woke on Sunday to pouring rain. Considering I’ve probably run the majority of my runs over the course of my life in some sort of precipitation, the rain itself wasn’t too much of concern. However, for the past four months, I’ve been training in a warmer, dryer climate so of course, this was cause for added anxiety about how things would unfold.

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The pre-race look of terror while trying to fake a smile…

Mr. WJTWT drove me to downtown Portland and dropped me off just a few blocks from where I needed to enter the coral holding area. I immediately jumped in the porta potty line and then found shelter in a doorway where I waited right up until they moved the coral toward the starting line. My relentless and optimistic ambition had me join the 3:30 pace group. I wasn’t cold but I should have probably made some effort to warm up… which I didn’t. Fortunately, the rain had become more of a light mist and restored hope that maybe we’d have a dry morning.

Soon we were off in a congested glob of sogginess. I immediately was several yards behind the pace group and then found myself among the 3:35 group. That was fine with me. I hung with them for a little while but they pulled ahead and again I was separated by a mass of bodies rhythmically prodding forward.

It took me a couple of miles until I caught back up to the 3:35 group, somewhere between mile four and five. The pace felt too easy so I sped up and set my sights on catching up with the 3:30 group. I believe it was around mile 7 that I settled in with the 3:30 pacers. That lasted until about mile 12 when my pace dropped back and I once again found myself among the 3:35 pack.

Somewhere along the way the rain returned. And then the wind picked up. I started to get chilled and aware of the increasing numbness is my legs and fingers along with psoas discomfort on my right side. Good times. I had a few mantras on rotation that I kept running through my head which I believe was ultimately what got me to the finish line.

Similar to the first year I ran Portland, the approach to the St. Johns Bridge proved to be a setback. The elevation at the peak of the bridge is about 150 feet. My strategy was to take it easy but stick close to the pace group. As I started to ascend, I struck up a conversation with a runner who commented that it was steeper than he thought. We used each other as a distraction from the hill, up and over the bridge, and into the residential neighborhood of St. Johns. While the distraction was nice, my pace slowed more than I wanted it to and now I was further from the 3:35 pace group. I started to fear that the 3:40’s would be hot on my heels soon.

I never really got back to the low 8:00 pace I desired. I settled into a roughly 8:25 pace and decided that from mile 19 to 23 I’d hang there and then pick it up for the last 5k. I could no longer feel anything from my hips down and marveled at how I could still actually be moving with no feeling. But despite that, I didn’t feel like I was completely falling apart. I kept repeating my mantras over and over. I smiled at the spectators that braved the rain to cheer for us and loved hearing people yell out at me, by name since it was printed on my bib, that I looked strong, had a great stride, etc. (That made a huge difference.) I talked with a few runners as we briefly paced side by side. I just kept moving forward.

Those last few miles were tough. They always are. But I was able to pick up my pace slightly. The 3:35 pace group was long gone but the 3:40’s hadn’t caught up yet so I found some hope that I still might make it to the finish line in under 3:40. I gave it everything I had left the last mile and when I rounded the final corner and saw the time, I knew I’d have a Boston qualifying time, even if a squeaker.

I finished in 3:37:40.

It wasn’t a PR but I walked (slowly and painfully) away completely satisfied with my performance. Given the conditions and how I felt leading up to race day, staying mentally strong was a HUGE win for me!

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Good enough for a BQ! Even if only by a 2:20 margin!

You just never really know what you’re going to get on race day. Months of preparation can be affected by so many variables… whether or not you’re in a good mental state, the weather, how rested you are, what you consumed in the days leading up to the event… a lot of it is truly chance. And maybe some magical unicorn rainbow stardust shit.

*Good, Better, Best – Marathon #9*

In a little under 24 hours, I will be landing in Portland for a whirlwind weekend of catching up with my loves, representing the Portland Marathon at the Sports and Fitness Expo, running the marathon on Sunday, and spending as much time as I can with family and friends. I have a feeling it’s going to be a doozy.

So with that, here is my outline of goals for my 9th marathon this Sunday.

Good: show up at the starting line feeling fresh, ready (mentally and physically), and confident.

I’ve had a headache for about four days now along with some mild sinus pressure and an overall feeling of tiredness. I’m assuming it’s some sort of allergy but it’s driving me a bit bonkers. I’ve been getting less sleep than I had hoped due to an overactive mind and on several occasions, waking up in the early morning hours and not being able to return to sleep. I’ve been busy with projects that have cut into time I’d hoped to utilize for more stretching, rest, and relaxation.

On top of all that, I’m starting to find myself in a bit of a panic about the few days leading up to the marathon with working the expo and some crazy-ass logistics that are still being sorted out. Oh, and believe it or not, one of my biggest worries is about food. Trying to maintain consistency with your diet prior to racing when traveling and inevitably eating out (and celebrating your birthday no less) I’m sure is going to be challenging.

There is nothing I can do about it at this point except make the best of it and pray that despite being busy and running around crazy in the days leading up to the race, I toe the line knowing that I’ve done everything in my power to show up prepared to the best of my ability.

Better: a Boston Marathon qualifying race

There is a little part (okay, big part) of me that fears being a “one hit wonder.” Which essentially means that I often wonder if qualifying for the Boston Marathon was a fluke. (Technically, I’ve qualified twice since I requalified with my finish time at Boston in 2015, but still…) I’d really like to see if I’m capable of knocking out another sub-3:40 finish. Walking (crawling?) away from the finish line with a BQ would be pretty dang amazeballs!

Best: a 3:30 (or under) finish

A PR would be nice but my ultimate desire is to run a 3:30 (or under) marathon. Truthfully, I’m not sure this marathon is the one. But I can still dream for some magical unicorn rainbow stardust shit on race day! If only my dreams matched my actual ability.

Regardless of the outcome on Sunday, I’m excited for the opportunity to run a great race in a city that I love and call home.

If you happen to be running the Portland Marathon, I’ll be working at the information booth during packet pickup on Friday 10/7 from 11-3:30 and Saturday 10/8 from 9-2. Please come by and say hello!

With my focus on my family and the race this weekend, I’ll be absent here but check out my Instagram account for updates on the festivities. And to those of you running Portland or any event this weekend….Chicago… what else? The very best of luck to you for a fantastic race!

*Nuun Life*

What is Nuun Life exactly?

It is a culture. A community. It’s bigger than the amazing little flavored tabs that help hydrate and replenish athletes so that they can keep giving 110% to everything they do whether it’s training for the Olympics, the Boston Marathon, Ironman, or a hometown 5k. Nuun Life, at its core, is a group of passionate people striving to achieve greater athletic performance, optimal health, and a cleaner planet by way of revolutionary hydration products while inspiring others in the process.

It has been an incredible honor over the past few years to be a part of Team Nuun and witness the company’s evolution while staying true to their mission.

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In the spirit of constantly striving to move forward, Nuun has revamped their website and can now be found at www.nuunlife.com. And, they’ve give me and my fellow teammates permission to offer a special friends and family discount to YOU! Check out their new website, maybe swing by my athlete profile (which is slightly outdated), and use the code fallhydration at checkout to save 30% off your order! The offer is good through September 30th.

Happy autumn and hydrating!

*Ten tips for growing your running tribe*

Running has provided me with so many amazing opportunities over the past few years… I’ve qualified for, and ran, the Boston Marathon, I’ve been an ambassador for a few races including the Vancouver USA Marathon and the Portland Marathon, and products such as Nuun Hydration and Left Coast Raw, I’ve been able to travel to Las Vegas and Utah to run Ragnar relays, and most of all, I’ve met so many incredible people and athletes through various running groups and affiliations which has quenched my thirst for connecting with kindred spirits who love running as much as I do.

I remember several months ago, before my family moved to Los Angeles, researching running groups and clubs in the area with hopes that I’d find a place to connect with other runners. At the time, it seemed a little sparse and I worried that there weren’t the same kind of numbers of runners here as there is in the Pacific Northwest.

I’m pleased to report that my assumption was absolutely false. And thank goodness! Not only is there a thriving running community here but several trail and ultra running groups too. Given the size of the region, everything is pretty spread out here but it is still reassuring to know that they’re out there.

Because I am more introverted than extroverted (surprising but true!), making these connections is still, and will continue to be, a work in progress. I haven’t made much effort either, aside from going to the November Project somewhat consistently, since I’ve been settling into our digs, getting acclimated to the neighborhood, and adjusting to a new job.

That all said, I’ve begun strategizing a plan to expand my circle and thought it would be worth sharing. (Not to mention hold me accountable!)

  • Find a running club or group. (Or several!) This might take some research but they’re out there. Most of them have a Facebook group page. I’ve been joining every group that I find within about 20 miles.
  • Join a membership-based group. Honestly, I slightly struggle with the ethics of this. There are a few brands that I absolutely adore (Oiselle, Territory Run Co.) but in order to join, you have to pay a fee. They benefit by free marketing when you blast your social media accounts with pictures of you racing in their singlet while you maybe get a 10% discount on orders. Regardless, I’ve seen the impact of the community that Oiselle has created and I SO WANT IN!
  • The best place to start is with a local specialty running store. Most of them offer some form of a weekly group run. There is a Road Runner Sports store a little over two miles away that meets weekly and I swear, one of these evenings I’ll actually go!
  • Running stores aren’t the only hosts of group runs! There is a pizza franchise that hosts weekly meetups. I believe a bar down the road too. Do some homework (aka Google) and see what you come up with.
  • Start your own group. I have yet to find something closer to my own neighborhood and have considered starting my own. As a co-founder of a running group back in Oregon, I’ll say that it has crossed my mind more than a few times and it’s really not that difficult.
  • Look beyond “running” clubs. I’ve mentioned several times recently that I’ve been attending the November Project. It’s chock-full of runners! How about your local gym? Or yoga studio? There are runners there too!
  • The number of virtual running friends I have, by far, exceeds the number of running friends I have in real life. Thanks to social media, I can connect to runners across the globe. But, I can also connect to runners in my own neck of the woods (er, city) using the same practices.
  • Use your affiliations to find your tribe. I owe so, so much to Nuun Hydration for a number of friendships that I have thanks to their vision that is Team Nuun. I am so fortunate to know so many incredible athletes that, like me, are members of the team. True story: I think it was my second time attending the November Project and in the crowd, I spotted a woman wearing a hoodie with the Nuun logo embossed on the back. I approached her and struck up a conversation. Boom! Another team member and recent transplant to LA, like myself. We are now friends on Facebook, follow each other on Instagram, and are planning to run the same 8k next month so the commonality creates an opportunity to connect.
  • Volunteer at an event. I have yet to do this but I will. If you’re not racing, the next best thing is to support the runners that are and who knows, perhaps you’ll befriend the person you’re manning the aid station with.
  • Just show up. It’s the November Project motto (by way of hashtag) and it’s true. I can talk, and/or plan, until I’m blue in the face but unless I actually show up, I’m on my own and that translates to not meeting people.

BONUS TIP: Don’t forget that the best running partner might be your life partner!

Without a doubt, I know that I’ve overlooked an idea or two so please feel free to comment and share your ideas on how to meet like-minded runners obsessed with the sport as much as you are!

*Following in my footsteps*

Two years ago this past weekend, I went to a shakeout run as part of the Vancouver USA Marathon festivities, hosted by Mr. Bart Yasso from Runner’s World. He is a true gem and I was honored to meet him and get an infamous “Bartie” with him. I’ve had the privilege of “running” into him a few times since then, including at the Boston Marathon race expo and again last summer when he was in Vancouver for the marathon. (I even bought him breakfast!)

Anyway, now that I’m residing in Los Angeles, meeting up with him while he was in town for the marathon last weekend was impossible. However, the coolest thing happened! A few months ago, my daughter was hired by Energy Events which puts on the Vancouver USA Marathon. On Friday afternoon while I was sitting at work, I received this:

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My daughter, following in my footsteps.

Day made! Better was the fact that when she told him that she was my daughter, he knew exactly who I was and even remembered meeting Mr. WJTWT in Boston. Truly, one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet!

I came across this link earlier this evening and considering the timing, it is kind of ironic. More so, I discovered that I’m in one of the photos!!!! I finally made Runner’s World! Super cool!!! (I’m in the 6th photo as you scroll down in the purple Boston Marathon jacket on the left!)

*Base building for dummies*

Editor’s note: the title of my post is not meant to offend anyone or imply that anyone is a dummy. I often write in a satirical tone meant to be jovial but not offensive or mean-spirited. (Though I’m perfectly fine with calling myself a dummy, as is the case here.) Also, while I do hope to offer my readers some practical running and training tips based on my own experience, I am not a certified running coach.

Since I first began running, nearly 21 years ago, if there is one thing I’ve learned, it is this: the best way to avoid having to start over is to not quit doing it in the first place. (That is of course, unless you are forced to take time off to rest or heal after an injury. Not doing so would make you a dummy. Just sayin’.)

I have no idea how many times I’ve taken a break from running, for whatever reason, only to basically have to start over from scratch when I decided that I couldn’t live without it. The time-frame of the breaks has varied anywhere from a few days to a few months. (I wouldn’t be surprised if I missed an entire year in there somewhere too.)

In runners speak, base building or base training, is a period of maintenance, typically off-season, before jumping into your next training program. For new runners or those of us who have fallen off the wagon, it is often referred to as a point from which we begin running at a lower mileage base and begin to build from there.

Whether you plan to begin training for a future race or not, I think creating the mindset that you are in a base building phase is much better than a start over phase. Rebuilding a running program is a great opportunity to take a really good look at what you’ve done in the past, where you are now, and what your goals are. From that evaluation, you can make the necessary adjustments that correlate with your training plan or race schedule (if you have one).

My self-prescribed base building plan is really just a compiled list of do’s and don’ts that have helped me rebuild my mileage over the years when I’ve had to start over. I’m sure it will be beneficial for others that need a subtle (or not-so-subtle) kick in the ass to get out there and get moving again.

The DON’T List

Don’t beat yourself up over taking time off. Life happens. Shit happens. Get over it and move on. (I’m talking to you, Hyla.)

Don’t compare yourself to where you were last week, month, or year. Case in point: this time last year I had already run more than 700 miles. So far this year just a little over 300. But who’s counting?

Don’t compare yourself to other runners and the mileage they are currently logging or races they are doing.

Don’t worry about pace. Just get out there and run! As they say, a mile is a mile regardless of whether you run it in 8 minutes or 13 minutes.

Don’t immediately plan speed work sessions, hill repeats, ambitious long runs, etc.

The DO List

Do give yourself a mini-break regularly but pick a day/date that you’ll start back up. (Unless of course you are under the care of a physician and you need their consent to be released for physical activity.) I’ve found that while coming back after a break can be challenging, I think extended rest periods are very important for avoiding injury and long-term burnout.

Do decide what you want (safely and within reason) your base mileage to be. (This can and will change, as often as every couple of weeks and dependent upon what you were running before your break.) Using myself as an example, this week I have worked on running three miles most days so that it would become comfortable. In the weeks leading up to the time I took off, my average runs were three to four miles.

Do start slow and easy. No need to push the pace yet. Use this time as an opportunity to reconnect with what made you fall in love with running in the first place and why you want to keep doing it.

Do understand that you are going to be uncomfortable at first. There is no way I can sugarcoat it for you. It is very likely that you are going to experience some really ugly feelings both physically and mentally. Refer back to the first suggestion on the DON’T list.

Do aim to increase your mileage each week but wait until the second week, minimum, to add a “long” run. This is somewhat individual but the rule of thumb for increasing long run distance is about 10% each week. I’ve always felt pretty comfortable adding a mile (sometimes two) to my longer runs. You have to gauge it for yourself. It will also be dependent on how far you were running on your longer runs before you took time off and how long the break was. I’d also recommend that you wait until after you have two solid weeks of easy, short runs in before adding speed, interval, or hill training into the mix.

Do cross train and add strength workouts to your plan. While I wasn’t running, I was staying active by hiking hilly canyons and doing body-weight-based workouts several times a week. I’ve continued this practice as I’ve started running again. I know it helped me maintain some of my endurance and strength when I wasn’t running and has made the transition back to running easier.

Do believe that with consistency and optimism, you will regain your fitness and actually feel like a runner again soon. It’s a safe bet to say probably sooner than you think is possible too. In just one week, with only about 16 miles under my belt, I already feel SO much better!

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My first run back after 18 days off. Gotta start somewhere, right?

There is a ton of information to be found online and in various publications on the subject. However, I’ve stripped it down to these basic do’s and don’ts because I feel that many traditional base building training programs are geared toward athletes that have more rigid training cycles and are just coming off of one and/or has just finished a target/goal race. I fall into neither of these categories. Also, at least for me right now, I feel that laying the groundwork using these guidelines is a lot easier than a more formal training schedule.

Please remember that I do not have the credentials to give training advice and speak only from my own experiences so don’t be a dummy and take it for what it’s worth.

Happy base building!

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