*Strength… Stamina… Spartan*

If you’re anything like me, you’re probably already looking ahead to 2017 and considering how you are going to challenge yourself, set new goals, and experience some fresh, exciting events. It’s fun to think about all of the possibilities and planning for a new year!

One such possibility you might want to consider is registering for a Spartan Race. Spartan Race combines running with obstacles that require strength and stamina. They offer challenging courses and “provide racers of all levels a proving ground to test themselves.” It’s a brilliant test of strength, both physically and mentally. The bonus is, they’re also a ton of fun!

Spartan Race has races throughout the year in a number of cities and regions. You can check out their complete list of events on their website but if you’re itchin’ to start working toward a new goal, they do have events coming up in the earlier part of 2017, starting with SoCal the end of January. Other early 2017 locations include Las Vegas, Arizona, Houston, and Atlanta.

Season passes, for those that want to commit to more than one event, are now available. They sell out fast so don’t delay in making the commitment. (I’d wager to say that a season pass might also make a fantastic Christmas gift for the athlete in your life!) There are three pass options including the Trifecta, which allows the participant to complete in three races anytime in 2017. The Open Season Pass and Elite Season Pass allow for unlimited Spartan Races and are a great option for the serious Spartan competitor.

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Trifecta Pass

Also new for 2017 are some kicked-up race obstacles, Spartan gear, and the coveted medals.

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Race Medal

One of the things I love about Spartan Race is that it’s not just about the race. The organization helps with guiding future participants with training and workouts to help racers prepare for events, offers nutrition advice and recipes (sent right to your email inbox if you sign up!), and they even offer an educational course which is intended to help participant find success whether in the race itself or day-to-day life. It’s a well-rounded program based on the philosophy that you can change your life by tackling obstacles and challenges head-on and doing so with a willingness to learn from them to become stronger.

If you’re looking for a new challenge in 2017, set your sights on training for a Spartan Race! Aroo!!

*Disclaimer: all information presented was provided to me by Spartan Race. However, the opinions presented are my own. Wasn’t Just the Wine Talking makes no representation of validity of the information and is not liable for any errors, omissions, or any losses, injuries or damages that may arise from participation in Spartan Race events. All information is for informative purposes only.

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*The high life*

Over the weekend I attended my first Oiselle Volée meet up!

Before I share that story, let me just tell you that in order for me to go, I had to step outside my comfort zone. So here’s the truth bomb… I drove on the freeway.

Any SNL fans out there familiar with the skit, the Californians? (Google it if you’re not. It’s hilarious!) “You take the 101 to the 405 toward Santa Monica, exit at Sunset…”

The freeways and the amassed traffic are a nightmare. One that I managed to avoid for 8 solid months. Until Saturday. The 405 is such a joke here. So much so that I actually saw a greeting card in a gift shop once that read “I’d take the 405 for you.”

Which is exactly what I ended up doing in order to drive out to Pacific Palisades where I met up with two other SoCal members of the Oiselle Volée team. It was worth every steering wheel-gripped mile!

We met up at 8 AM for a hike up the Los Liones Trail to the Parker Mesa Overlook. It was a cool morning to start but sunny. Round trip, the hike was 7.5 miles with about 1,300 feet of elevation gain. Basically, all uphill as we made our way to the overlook and then all downhill to return to the parking area. The trail became more crowed as we made our decent so clearly it’s a popular choice for hikers, runners, and cyclists looking for a challenge.

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New friends, Saturday morning hikes, sunshine, and ocean views!

The view was incredible! Given that I live on the east side of town, it’s not too often that I get to see the ocean and to be able to view miles of it stretched out as far as I could see was pretty spectacular. I also tend to forget that there are some vast green spaces here too. It was a welcome reminder that there are wild lands within the sprawling city.

Whenever I explain to someone that I’m still fairly new to the Los Angeles area, the first thing they ask is how I like it. My typical response is something along the lines that it’s growing on me or I’m starting to feel acclimated. However, while hiking back down the trail in the company of two great women, the sun shining down on me (in November!), breathing in the fresh ocean air… it occurred to me that I’m actually sort of starting to love it here. (Minus the traffic, I later told my husband.)

It was a fantastic morning and I’m so grateful for the connections I’m starting to make through my Team Nuun, Oiselle Volée, and November Project affiliations (as well as a Saturday morning group that meets for a run and coffee hosted by the Fleet Feet store in Burbank). So worth the drive on the 405!

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The high life!

*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!

*The family that adventures together…*

Running, without a doubt, is at the top of my list of favorite things, as is probably obvious since I write a running-related blog. However, it is not my only love.

When I was growing up, my father, a wilderness enthusiast, had my brother and I hiking, camping, road tripin’, and exploring the western part of the US as often as possible. As a kid, I could have cared less. I remember, on a couple of occasions when I was in my teens, being pissed that I was camping in Colorado instead of cruising around town, or stuck on a beach with my parents somewhere on the Olympic Peninsula instead of hanging out at the local Taco Bell with my posse. (To make matters worse, this was waaaaaaaaay before we all had cell phones and social media to stay in touch.)

Fast forward a few years and I cannot even begin to express the gratitude I’ve found for my upbringing and my own love of the outdoors. I’ve done the exact same thing to my own children and it gives me so much joy to see my daughter plan hiking trips with her friends and beau. (The apple never seems to fall far from the tree, right?)

In recent years, one of the things that I’ve been most grateful for are the opportunities to, once again, share these types of adventures with my lil’ bro. My adventurous excursions pale in comparison to what he, and his wife, have accomplished over the last 14+ years but I’m just grateful that every once in a while, they invite me to tag along!

Last weekend was no exception.

The four of us: my brother, sister-in-love, nephew (not quite three years old), and I went on a two-night camping/backpacking trip about four hours northeast of Los Angeles in the Sierra Nevadas. The original plan was a two-night backpacking trip but due to the fact that it was a holiday weekend, and we didn’t pre-reserve a backcountry permit, it seemed we’d be campground camping for the weekend. While still fun, they were looking forward to testing the backpacking waters with their toddler in tow. As is turns out, we made a second attempt to get a permit and we got one for the second night. Score!

My experience backpacking is still limited and I learn something new every time I go. I also fall in love with it more each time. It amazes me to think how few people will ever get to experience this:

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Blue Lake

Despite the mosquitos (and there were A LOT of them!), this adventure was everything I fall asleep at night fantasizing about. I can’t wait to do it again! And, hopefully, one of these times, bring my boys along!

 

*Global Running Day*

Today is Global Running Day! Runners (and non-runners) around the world are encouraged to celebrate the joy of running by pledging to be active today.

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I started the day with November Project, running stairs and doing intermittent pushups for about 30 minutes followed by five minutes in various plank positions. Afterwards, to commemorate the Global Running Day movement, and to not break my (so far) three-day Runner’s World run streak, I logged another 2.25 miles.

Make some time today to get outside for physical activity. Even just a simple walk around the block is better than nothing!

*November Project >< Just Show Up*

As promised in my previous post, I’m happy to report that I did NOT chicken out yesterday and attended my very first November Project workout.

Guys! The whole vibe is seriously awesome!

I know it’s not offered in all cities, and you’ll have to check their website to find locations, but if you are anywhere near one, you need to go get some free fitness! As they say, Just Show Up!

I’ve been hearing about November Project for a few years thanks to my Nuun teammates. There was also a great write-up about the movement in an issue of Runner’s World a couple of years ago. It pretty accurately describes my experience.

There are several workouts throughout the city hosted by November Project but they meet at the same place each Wednesday morning, offering two early sessions. I went to the 5:27 (Yep, not 5:30, 5:27) workout because I have to work around our school schedule but they offer one immediately following at 6:27 too. The Wednesday workouts will likely be the only ones I attend because they are held at the Hollywood Bowl which isn’t too far from where I live. The others are pretty spread out and, well, I’m not crazy about driving here.

Anyway, I was immediately greeted with a hug, because that’s their thing, and chatted with a few people until we were called to gather around the leader. The new kids were called to the center and the entire “tribe” bounced up and down while doing call-and-response to Ooga Chaka. I think I had a smile on my face the entire time.

The main workout was timed for 30 minutes, running around the perimeter of the bowl and stopping at six stations to do jump squats, push ups, mountain climbers, triceps dips, plank and lateral hops with a partner, and bear crawl for about 20 feet before repeating the loop.

There is one side of the bowl that is super steep that I walked the second and third times I did the loop but overall, I ran approximately a mile and a half. After that portion of the workout was done, they set a timer for seven minutes and we were instructed to do as many burpees as possible within that time frame.

At this point, after 45 or so minutes of being surrounded by about 60 of the most positive, happy to be working out at six in the morning, and constantly smiling people I’ve ever worked out with, the groans broke loose and smiles were replaced with a look of anguish.

I played it safe and paced myself. For a girl who doesn’t like burpees (who does, right?), hasn’t done them in many months, and isn’t in the greatest of shape, I was pretty proud of the 42 I accomplished.

As the burpee challenge finished, we were summoned to a tiered grassy area for some announcements about the location for the workout on Friday morning, recognition for a birthday, and a presentation of a “spirit stick” to one of the regular members. Plus a group photo, which I believe is a mainstay of the movement.

I was back in my car by 6:28 where I promptly high-fived myself for finding the courage to get out of bed at 4:30 AM and out of my comfort zone. It was very well worth it and I’m hoping to make it a weekly date.

This morning I woke up nice and sore, as I expected. I haven’t experienced this much discomfort following a workout in quite a while so it is a welcome reminder of why I love being active and fit.

I highly recommend that you check November Project out if you’re in one of the select cities it is offered in.