Conquer the Hills

This past Saturday, Movin Shoes – one of San Diego’s local running stores hosted “The Soledad Challenge 10K Run to the Top”.  Mt Soledad is located in La Jolla at 822ft above sea level with panoramic views of San Diego and the Pacific Ocean.  On top of this hill sits a redwood cross that has been a source of controversy for decades (which might have been resolved recently due to the land being sold to a private organization).  Surrounding the cross are black granite blocks commemorating veterans who proudly served our country.  One interesting trivia I discovered is Dr. Seuss’s last home sits on top of Mt Soledad – will have to look for it the next time I go!

Several paths lead to the top of the mountain, one path from La Jolla has a steeper climb, a run I did almost a year ago.  However, the Soledad Challenge started from Movin Shoes in Pacific Beach with more of a gradual ascent.  Still, it’s a continuous uphill route for 3 miles to reach the summit.  Approximately 40+ runners showed up for the challenge that started at 7:15am.  Our usual Saturday group all decided to run it.  The more people I know, the merrier!  It wasn’t officially a race – no bibs, no official time, but Movin Shoes did provide a water stop at the halfway point.  Much appreciated.

Here’s the elevation profile:  

I can see the cross, almost there!

I planned to take it easy, but running uphill is NOT EASY.  I found it most comfortable to take short, quick strides.  When my body started to fatigue as my heart rate shot up to 180+rpms, I started repeating in my head “Strong legs, Strong glutes, Strong core” to propel to me to the top. Having my BRF running next to me helped as well.  She caught up with me visualizing a string attached on my back pulling her towards me.  A trick we learned from a running seminar we attended years ago.  She is an amazing and strong runner who is coming off from a break after giving birth 6 months ago.

   Me and my BRF, Miche

Water stop!!! Yes, Please.

With some of the guys from our group

As we started our downhill run, we saw one of the gals in our group on her way up.  We decided to turn back to accompany her to the top.

Downhill is the easy part, as many would say.  To me, it’s actually more difficult.  I have to run more conservative downhill or risk painful strains due to eccentric loading.  Fortunately, the three of us took it easy and enjoyed the rest of the run.

The Soledad Challenge was definitely a challenging workout. Due to a great turnout, Movin Shoes has suggested to add this 10K challenge to their schedule once a month.  Incorporating hills into my training program has many advantages, strengthening the cardiovascular system as well as increasing muscle strength and power, so I will consider running this event again.

Are hills a part of your workout?  Anyone else racing during the holiday season?

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2015 Year of Running

With most of the holiday decorating and shopping behind me, I can now take some time to reflect on my running year.  I had a solid year of running with one month off to rest and recover after the Marine Corps Marathon.  I ran 5 races this year, a 1-mile, 10k, 2 half marathons, and a marathon.  None were PRs but I was happy with the results as they were an improvement from the previous year.  Still I will continue to chase after new PRs, a lofty goal but otherwise achievable if I put enough work towards it.

To summarize my year of running, I am linking-up with Courtney @EatPrayRunDC.

Eat Pray Run DC

It’s my first-time doing a link-up.  I enjoyed reading her post and thought this would be the perfect way to sum-up my 2015 experience.

Best race experience:  It may have been the hottest, most humid race I’ve ever ran and my slowest half-marathon to date, but the Rock n Roll Chicago I ran in July was my best race experience.  What made it so great? It was a “run-cation” with two of my best college friends whom I haven’t seen in several years.  Never in our minds back in college almost 20 years ago that we would all run a race together.  I ran with Shannon who was my maid of honor and she kept telling me I can run ahead of her but I didn’t want to leave her side.  I wanted to be there for her as a cheerleader to keep her motivated.  She did awesome and only stopped once to walk.  At the end of the race, she told me if I didn’t run with her she probably would have stopped a lot more often.  Finishing the race with her and knowing I helped her out was the most rewarding.

At the finish line, Myself, Jaime and Shannon

Best run:  A morning long run along Sunset Cliffs in June.  It was the 11th anniversary of when I lost my sister.  Running effortless, my thoughts were filled with memories of the two of us as highschool cross-country runners, trying to compete against each other but at the same time being one another’s motivator and supporter.   I ran 11 miles that Saturday, each mile I reminisced of the days we spent together crying, laughing, fighting as siblings usually do and laughing again. My heart felt heavy with sadness but the run was uplifting and made me feel at peace.

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Captured this photo with a flock of birds flying overhead at Sunset Cliffs

Best new piece of running gear:  Lululemon Skinny flyaway tamer headband I received as a ‘running gift’ from my friend Shannon – she gave one to Jaime and I the day before the race.  If you notice from the pictures above, we were all sporting one.  I’ve worn headbands before but they were either too tight or slipped off my head.  Shannon swore these were the best headbands she’s ever worn and I couldn’t agree more.

Best running advice you’ve received this year: The mantra on the back of the shirt we received from the San Diego Track Club’s Rockin n’ Runnin marathon training program.  Believing in your dream is the first step in making it happen!

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Most inspirational runner:  Not officially a runner yet, but in training perhaps?  My girls inspire me to commit to run and stay healthy so I can take care of them for as long as they need me.  My 5 year old this year started kindergarten and one of their big fundraisers was a jog-a-thon. She and her classmates lined up every morning to run a few laps around the grassy area by the playground to train for the event.  I loved seeing the determination on their faces as they ran as many laps as they could to collect popsicle sticks.  Their faces proud as they tallied up the sticks and discover how many laps they accomplished.  On jog-a-thon day, they were prepared and ready to go!

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Ultra Fun Run

Favorite picture from a run or race this year: To stand in front of the Marine Corps War Memorial after an awesome race was an honor.  It’s the best finisher photo ever taken!

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Race experience you would repeat in a heartbeat:  Freedom Mile in Mammoth, CA on the 4th of July.  It’s a mile race running through the main street in Mammoth before their 4th of July parade.  The streets were lined up with spectators in red, white and blue.  Although it’s only a mile, it was a gut-wrenching experience due to the high altitude.  I pushed until I couldn’t push any longer.  It was very challenging but I loved the scene. Mammoth is one cool mountain town.  Oh yeah, I got a selfie with the renowned Deena Kastor who was there to run with her 5 yr old daughter.IMG_6362

If you could sum up your year in a couple of words what would they be? Making a connection.  Beyond the speed workouts and long runs and the dream of achieving new PRs, this has been a year of re-connecting with old friends, building friendships with the people I run with, sharing my experiences with my family as well as deeply connecting with myself. It truly has been an exceptional year!

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myRUNweek RECAP

Hip hip hooray!  Three cheers for running three days this week (11/30-12/7).  After a month off, I appreciate the delight running brings to my life even more:)  A couple of weeks ago, I decided to join the twitter world under my blog’s name, ‘myRUNexperiment’ and discovered a wealth of information shared through this form of social media. Sometimes my head hurts trying to sort out who I want to follow, what posts to read now and which ones to save for later.  I did find some fun run challenges to do with the opportunity to win prizes such as The December Run Challenge hosted by RunSteffRun and RunChatHunt (a Scavenger Hunt while out on your run) by TheRunChat.
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Continue reading “myRUNweek RECAP”

Strength Streak Challenge Update

Today is day 5 of my holiday fitness streak.  Motivation is still high and if it ever does reach a low point, I will think of my disappointing lipid profile results (discussed in this post, Am I Skinny Fat) to bring me back to the major reason why I wanted to establish the habit of maintaining a strength workout.  Fortunately, it’s been easy to keep a consistent schedule because 1) I have the support of my family and 2) our neighborhood YMCA has an excellent childwatch program that my kids enjoy.  They play while I workout, a WIN-WIN situation. Continue reading “Strength Streak Challenge Update”

Time for the Holiday Fitness Streak

Thanksgiving is around the corner and talks of the Runners World Run Streak is in the airwaves.

 #RWRunStreak

I did it in 2013, two months after I gave birth to my second child.  It was a motivation for me to return to running so I can develop the habit and build a base to run a half marathon the following year.

As tempted as I am to do another running streak, it would be an unwise decision.  Although my right ankle feels okay (I haven’t ran since MCM marathon in late October), I’m afraid the discomfort would creep back if I were to run everyday even if the minimum is only a mile a day.  Still, I want to participate.  Fortunately, in the latest issue of Runner’s World, it provided alternative ways such as the “Strength-Move” streak where every day you perform a movement that strengthens your body i.e. pushups, squats, planks.  I like this idea because of my recent ‘high triglyceride’ discovery (read about it in my previous post), I wanted to spend more time strength-training to build more muscle and lose fat.

Here’s my STRENGTH STREAK plan.  Every day from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, I will spend the minimum of 15 minutes strength-training.  I can already foresee tough days ahead with regards to schedule (especially when we travel), but I will figure it out along the way.  I will post daily updates on my twitter page – 

Anyone else participating in the RWRunStreak or their own version of a fitness streak over the holidays?

Am I Skinny Fat?

When was the last time you’ve had a lipid panel done?  A lipid panel is a blood test that measures your cholesterol (HDL-good, LDL-bad) and triglycerides.  I had a test a few weeks ago but the last one I did was 4 years back in 2011.  According to numerous health websites (WebMD, AHA, Mayo Clinic) a lipid panel should be done every 5 years for someone who is 20 years or older and anyone over 40 should have their levels check every year.   Continue reading “Am I Skinny Fat?”

Back into the Groove with Indoor Cycling

What makes a group indoor cycling class so ideal?  This past Saturday, because I sorely miss my Saturday morning long runs and wanted to fill the void, I decided to go to my neighborhood YMCA cycling class.  Before I had kids, besides work and hanging out with my husband, I had plenty of time to explore other modes of exercise besides running – Swimming, Cycling, Yoga, Pilates, and different classes offered at the gym that I found interesting.  I love to run but my body currently requires a low-impact form of exercise yet still challenging, so I returned to one of my favorite ways to cross-train – Indoor Cycling.

And here is my Top 5 Reasons why I love it: Continue reading “Back into the Groove with Indoor Cycling”

Outdoorsy Weekend

In America’s Finest City, to be specific San Diego – finding an outdoor activity to enjoy with the family is an easy task.  The kids love the water so that every weekend you can find us frolicking either the bay or the beach.  However, this past Saturday we ventured out for a family hike, an activity we haven’t done in awhile because we were too busy cooling off at the beaches. Since we are now experiencing the fall weather, a trek on the trails was a welcoming change to our usual beach days.  We had a friend visiting who used to live near Mission Trails so this is where we decided to go.

Mission Trails Regional Park

It was only a 20 minute drive from our house but we didn’t leave until late in the afternoon. We selected a short loop from/to the visitor’s center – Visitor Center Loop Trail, a 1.4 mile leisurely moderate trail perfect for the kids.  Looking at the map, we were hoping for a better view of the river but it was further down the trail.  We did catch glimpses of it along the way.

The girls surprised me as they walked almost the entire length of the trail.  At first, my 5 year old was unhappy about hitting the trails instead of the beach but once we started walking, she became more interested in her surroundings, although she did wish it was more adventurous rather than “just walking!”  My 2 year old on the other hand enjoyed every second making delightful noises as she purposely stepped and jumped off every big rock she saw on the trail.

 

With a half mile to go, we reached the part of the trail where we had to climb up a hill.  I encouraged the girls to race against me – the several strides I ran is actually the most I’ve done since Marine Corps Marathon.  The past two weeks I’ve ran ZERO mileage 😦   My right ankle has not completely healed so in the meantime, I’ve been spending time at the gym strength training.  I did tell myself I need to take a little break from running to fix my muscle imbalances – it’s been a work in progress and need to focus on it more.  Yet not running makes me feel incomplete…

Hill climb Back to the hill climb, Eyva was determined to make it up to the top reminding me of myself when I attack a hill during a run. And when she reached the top, that’s when she finally realized she was tired, needed a break and eventually wanted to be carried.  We all had a great time and would definitely explore the rest of the kid-friendly trails!

Lucky for us, we still had Sunday to finish the weekend basking under the sun on the beach.  Our choice was Silver Strand beach inside the Naval Amphibious base.  Only a few other beachgoers were there so it felt as though we were on our own private beach.  And the best part of our day was hunting for sand dollars – we found several live ones crawling on the sand velvet in color and threw them right back in the water.  The white ones with its beautiful intricate design we kept for ourselves, of course.


It was another glorious weekend in sunny and beautiful San Diego!

How was your weekend?  Any time spent outdoors? Would rather hike in the mountains or play in the sand on the beach?  Anyone else taking a long break from running after recently finishing a marathon?

Let the Kids Run

Forecast of rain threatened today’s big event for my kindergartener.  Yet the sun peeked through the stormy clouds and delayed the downpour indicating a go for this morning’s Ultra Fun Run – a jog-a-thon fundraiser program held annually at the school.  The kindergarten class started practicing for this day back in September where they all lined up at 8am and run/walk as many laps they could for 5 to 10 minutes.  I loved watching their tiny feet scurry, right-left right-left, breathing in the morning air and awakening their minds before the start of a busy school day.  The run was originally scheduled in mid-October but was postponed due to rain.  Some of the kids, including my daughter were so disappointed when they discovered it had to be rescheduled.  Much anticipation has built up to this day and I was relieved to see the sun shining!

Stage is set

Part of the “Fun” incorporated into this run is being doused by different colors.  However, my daughter did not perceive the color as fun and wanted nothing to do with it.  I reminded her to speak out regarding her aversion to the colors but all it did was build up her anxiety – she was “worried she is going to forget to say NO to the colors”.  As it turned out, all she needed to do was cross her arms and I reminded her every lap to do it.

Warm up stretches

Standing in the grassy field, the kids waited patiently for the indication to start.  They had 30 minutes to run as many laps (the most time Eyva has ever ran!)  The emcee directed them to start walking first, then gradually speed up to a jog/run.  I was standing by Eyva’s class when they started but as they moved further away to run the lap, it became more difficult for me to spot her as there were at least 100 participants from kindergarten to 2nd grade .  This time my anxiety grew since Eyva is the smallest girl in class and I was afraid she will get trampled by the bigger kids.  However, each lap she ran past me unscathed and focused to do more.  Her motivation dwindled a little after several laps but I provided an incentive by giving her an M&M (halloween candy stash).  Sugar = energy right!?…


As I watched these young children run, I noticed their playfulness and carefree attitude.  Many enjoyed being covered in color and ran as quickly as they could to be doused with more.  Some held hands with their friends, walked, and cherished a fun moment together.  And a few were completely focused to run as many laps as time allowed.

Being a mother runner, I was delighted to see the kids have the opportunity to experience a Fun Run.  We all know the importance of exposing children to physical activity especially as they age and most of their day is spent inside a classroom.  Through this experience, hopefully they as well as their parents will be inspired and motivated to incorporate a bit of active play in their everyday lives.

Finished and not a spot of color!

Family trip to Washington DC and Marine Corps Marathon Race Recap

3 days post marathon, I am sitting on my couch right foot propped up with frozen cherries on a swollen ankle, replaying the race in my head mile by mile.  Fortunately, much of the swelling has already gone down and I can finally walk without a limp.   The aftermath of chasing a sub-4:00 finish which I proudly achieved!  Let me backtrack to the day when we arrived in DC. Continue reading “Family trip to Washington DC and Marine Corps Marathon Race Recap”