Big Things!

August has certainly flew by! As many of you know, I have recently moved to Seattle and have been a resident for almost two months now! I am absolutely loving life here and have some exciting news for you all.

So moving up to the PNW meant I could connect with awesome people, one of them being Brittaney Bunjong. She is an amazing food blogger who is featured in the All Recipes national magazine with a two page spread! Also, she has launched her podcast Citrus Room Seattle where I had the pleasure of being a guest on a recent episode! Check out her website, or you can listen to it on iTunes. Hear our story about how we became friends, why I started running and my life as a Flywheel Instructor! Click here to listen! 

I told myself when I moved to Seattle then I would do my best to be active in the running community here.... And boom! Spoke that right into existence. I am now a proud member of the Orca Running Family. Their mission is to partner with non-profits for each of their races. Here are the races coming up: 
My Better Half Marathon - Habitat for Humanity of King County
Kirkland Shamrock Run - Kirkland Schools & Canine Companions for Independence
Birch Bay Road Race - Girls on the Run of Whatcom County
Snoqualmie Valley Run - Snoqualmie Valley Community Network
Iron Horse Half - Mt. Si Food Bank
The Orca Half - The Whale Trail
Captain Jack's Treasure Run - Children's Country Home
ou can learn more about Orca Running here. You can save 10% on any race and distance with my code: MORGANJ. Hope to see some of you there!

 

I have opted out of the Chicago Marathon and will be running the Portland Marathon instead on October 8. I have never ran the course and literally have only ran around Oregon for Hood to Coast last year! I'm very excited!

 

Another big goal- I have been itching for another ultramarathon. I figure why not go big!? As a North Face Local Ambassador, I will be participating in the North Face Endurance Challenge California on November 18. What that means?! A 50 mile run (14 hour course limit) which starts in the Marin Headlands and finishes at Crissy Field. It will be exciting/ challenging since I've only ever completed a 50k.

 

ALSO. ALSO. ALSO- I will be taking on a NEW feat of................... Outdoor cycling! Like I said, why not go big?! Go big or go home! Our Flywheel Fam will be participating in Reach the Beach Washington on September 30! This is a 100 mile bike ride and we will be raising funds for the American Lung Association. I have a goal of raising $125.00 and you can donate here. New territory for me here so any words of advice/encouragement will help!

I hope this somewhat encourages you all. Two legs, no limits. Big goals to end the year!

 

 

Running Your First Marathon

It has been quite a while my friends! More like months! I am still alive & well. From my last post from the New York City Marathon, I have become a 2x ultramarathon runner (Blog to follow on that experience soon) and I have ran many more marathons and even made a big move from the San Francisco Bay Area to the Pacific Northwest! Fortunately, I will be coming back home this weekend for a marathon that I hold close to my heart, The San Francisco Marathon.

Frankly- I just want to say thank you to everyone who used my discount code for this race. I am completely honored to be an ambassador and I have many many friends who are running their first marathon this Sunday. I will be running on behalf of San Francisco Parks & Recreation. I teamed up with my previous employer, the City & County of San Francisco, and raised $500 for this organization. Hopefully I get to see some friendly faces this weekend. In the meantime, here are some tips I gathered for my first time marathoners:

1. Eat Plenty of Carbohydrates

As you've been doing before your long training runs, you should be eating about 70% of your calories from carbs in the days leading up to your race. Don't you dare stuff yourself at dinner the night before either! Carbo-loading does not mean that you should eat three plates of pasta for dinner. Just keep in mind that too much loading can lead to a lot of unloading during the race. Eat amounts of food that you would normally eat, but eat a greater percentage of carbs. My go to is a linguine with clams dish with very light sauce! I even scarf down one beer (Lagunitas IPA is my drink of choice) since beer has the right amount of carbs (for me), but remember, nothing new the night before! Which leads to my next point....

 2. Avoid Any Unusual Foods. 

Stick with foods that have worked well for you before your training runs. This also goes for hydration/gels during the race. Nothing new on race day! You never know how your stomach may react and during a marathon is the worse place to find out!

3. Stay Hydrated

Drink plenty of water throughout the day. If you're hydrating properly, your urine should be light yellow. I also like to fuel with electrolytes too. My favorite is Nuun and it helps that all flavors are awesome! 

4. Don't Overdo It

Stay off your feet, rest and relax. When you go to the race expo to pick up your race packet, don't spend hours walking around and eating free food samples. Spending too much time on your feet will tire you out. And if you do need to walk around, make sure you're wearing comfortable shoes or running shoes.

5. Go for a Short Run, If You Need It

You're not going to lose any fitness by resting the day before your full marathon. But if you typically get pre-race anxiety, or you feel like you need to stay loose, it might be beneficial for you to do a very slow, 20-minute run the day before. If you do run, keep your thoughts positive and keep telling yourself that you're ready for your race. Whatever you do, make sure that you don't do a significant workout that's going to leave you feeling tired or sore the next day.

6. Trim Your Toenails

Check your toenails and clip any that are too long. Keeping your toenails neat and short will prevent them from hitting the front of your shoes, which can lead to bloody or black toenails!

7. Get Your Clothing and Gear Ready

Lay out all your clothing and gear for the race the night before (even take a picture and post it if that makes you feel jazzy!) Essential items include:

  • Race Bib and safety pins
  • Running outfit, hat, shoes, socks
  • Watch
  • Race Fuels (energy gels)
  • Sunscreen
  • Petroleum jelly/body glide to prevent chafing
  • Dry clothes to change into afterwards (usually keep in your check in)

8. Stay Relaxed

Use visualization techniques while you're relaxing during the day or even go to a yoga class! Envision yourself on the course. Think positively about all the work you've put into your training. 

9. Plan Breakfast

Make sure you have everything you need for breakfast. Don't assume that you'll be able to get certain foods at the race start—it's better to be prepared and know you already have your food with you. Again, you should be eating foods that you tried out before your long training runs. My go to is black coffee and a banana! 

10. Review the Course Map

You probably received a copy of the course map in your race packet. (If not, you could always look on the race website.) Even if you've already looked at the map (including the elevation map), review it one more time, so you'll know what to expect. It's always good to know where you'll hit some hills and how frequent the water stops and porta-potties are.

11. Get Inspired

Watch a movie or read a book that you find inspiring. Get some inspiration from even googling "Running a Marathon quotes" online. I like to watch my go to Youtube video for inspiration. Check it out here

12. Plan Your Trip to the Start

Make sure you know exactly how you're getting to the start line and that you're anticipating any problems, like road closures. If you're driving to the start, make sure you have the right directions and know where you can park nearby. Give yourself plenty of time, so you're not nervous that you'll miss the start if something unexpected happens. If you're taking public transportation, do your research to see if there's any potential for delays. If using Uber/Lyft, be prepared for an expensive ride! 
 

13. Don't Stress About Lack of Sleep

Don't worry if you can't sleep the night before your full marathon; most people do not sleep well the night before. One sleepless night is very unlikely to hurt your performance. Two nights before your race is the most important night of rest. The excitement and adrenaline rush from race day will give you enough energy for your race.

 

14. Plan to Get Up Early

Set your alarm clock and double check it. Give yourself plenty of time to get ready, eat breakfast, and get to the race start early. If you're staying in a hotel, request a wake-up call, just to be safe.

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My friends-
I hope these tips help get you through the next few days until you toe the start line of the San Francisco Marathon! You took on a challenge that most people wouldn’t even consider trying, and you are going to conquer it! You found the will to run at odd hours of the morning, before work, after work and even in freezing temperatures. You became more disciplined and dedicated than ever before. You changed your lifestyle, your priorities, and your mindset. You committed to an ambitious goal and persevered to the end. Soak it all in. Remember how you feel when you catch the first glimpse of the finish line, when the cheers of the crowd renew your strength, when the tears well up (BECAUSE YOU WILL CRY!) and when you hit 26.2 miles and suddenly share a newfound camaraderie with other runners.

Cheers to my first time marathoners, my seasoned marathoners and all the friends and family members who will be cheering. It takes a bunch of blood, sweat, tears and hard work to run a marathon. Here's to my number 19!

 

NYC Marathon 2016

This past Sunday, November 06, 2016, I ran my 14th marathon. It was my sixth marathon in 2016.  And it was the best day of my life.

Spoiler Alert 1: It was not easy.

Spoiler Alert 2: It was so worth it.

I don't have the words to express how amazing this race was, but I will certainly try. I feel every marathon I ever ran up to this point is always an experience. Some were really difficult. Some sucked. Some were great. Some I PR'd. Others I didn't. Some I ran with friends who were running their first. But New York City Marathon.. It was the most incredible experience. The biggest marathon in the world with close to 52,000 finishers. Can you believe that? It was a mix of everything- energy, joy, exhaustion, humbling, meditative, challenging, happy, painful, the most difficult thing I've done, but the most rewarding thing at the same time.

Michael & I had a 6:15am ferry to Staten Island, but our friend MaryAnn said we would be fine if we took a later one. We decided to rest a little more and caught the 7:30am one. I must say, once we landed in Staten Island, we had to wait in line for what seemed like forever for a shuttle bus. We finally got on, and of course, we sat in traffic, but made it just in time for our start which was close to 11am. We had separate waves, but Michael was able to sneak into mine. We were lucky enough to run on top of the Verrazano Bridge, which we heard was way nicer compared to starting on the bottom. We started our Garmins, crossed the start line together and then we went off and did our own thing! The bridge itself was beautiful. The day was clear, weather was perfect and the runners were pumped! I knew from this point it was going to be a great run.

After the bridge, it was straight to Brooklyn. Man, all I remember was hearing a roar of people cheering and holding signs "Welcome to Brooklyn." We ran through Brooklyn for a while and I mean it when I say the crowd was REAL. It was filled with smiling faces, cheers of "yes you can", whooos, and just so much love. I felt relatively good running through Brooklyn, Williamsburg and Queens. That crowd kept me going because all I wanted to do was interact with them, give high fives, scream with them, sing along and dance to YMCA. We then left Queens and ran up onto the Queensboro Bridge. Zero cheer zones. The incline was very similar to the Bay Bridge, so I cruised right up it with ease. Cruised back down and turned the corner into Manhattan where we were greeted with another huge roar. WOW. Just Wow. First Avenue. It was like a parade. The energy was so present. I ran by my cousin Jamie's work right off 1st & 86th so that was nice. That was a straight shot, so I people watched. I started to notice all the runners who fundraised, the guides leading the blind, the wheelchairs, the visitors who came from all over the world. I took it all in. It was just beautiful to me. I'll admit, it's tough to not run all  of First Avenue, where the crowds are so intense and they really want you to be running. I remember I saw some folks walking and hearing the crowd yell "Start running again, you can do it!" And boy, let me tell you, First Avenue sure is long! We were finally in the Bronx where I remember seeing a sign that read " This is Mile 20. This is the Wall." I remember grabbing half a banana from someone and eating it. I remember hearing all the music, getting confetti shot at me. People were out BBQing. Ugh, the food smelled so good. Somewhere between mile 20-22, I was reunited with Michael. We finally made it into Central Park! Tons of high fives, tons of times I yelled "fuck yeah!" to the crowd to keep myself in the zone. I heard  spectators say how strong and happy I looked... But I'm not going to sit here and lie to you guys. I was hurting. But when I'm hurting, I know how to push through pain with a smile. I had side-stitches throughout since mile 10. My legs were heavy. I was chafing. We kept going and finally saw the finish line. I remember thinking to myself, man... this is the longest .2 miles I have ever ran in my life! Of course, we crossed holding hands. That's the way to do it right? Start together, finish together. We grabbed our medals and felt so wonderfully victorious. We shared a hug and a kiss at the finish line. I swear, there's nothing better than a hug after you finish running 26.2 miles.

Gosh. To all the spectators who rooted for "Run NYC" since that's what my shirt said, to the group of girls who chanted "booty" as I ran by (LOL) and to all the volunteers. The marathon couldn't have happened without you guys. I felt so supported and so blissfully psyched the entire day. I thought a part of me and a part of Michael might be disappointed with our finish time (04:40:18) but I'm completely unfazed by those details. I hoped for a good day, and I got a great day. I was so proud of Michael for running his second marathon. He ran his first four weeks prior in Chicago! The amount of respect and admiration I have for him and his determination is immeasurable. He truly is an inspiration to me. And I’m anxiously excited to do this again with him in the future! Proud girlfriend <3

After we grabbed our medals, we headed to the post race area. Man, was that a walk! Everything was very well organized though, so I didn't mind. Like I said, the volunteers at this point were so sweet, literally putting the heat sheet on us and making sure we were okay. They congratulated us every step of the way, reminding us that we just freaking ran a marathon! I got the post race poncho and Michael did bag check. Gosh, that poncho was everything. It was seriously a blanket. We were so exhausted after getting our stuff that we were going to call an Uber, but of course, an Uber to Queens at that time of day during the marathon would cost us over $100. So we hopped on the subway with all the other runners. BTW, Subway was free for marathoners! It was kinda hilarious how everyone was doing the Frankenstein walk. Waddling down the stairs to the subway. We were all obviously so tired in every sense yet there was also this wild look everyone had in their eyes. The look of "holy shit, I did it." Michael and I met the cutest three girls visiting from Poland who ran their first marathon on our subway ride home. One of the girls told us she didn't run more than a 3k! It was quite amazing what people can do yeah? We finally got to our friends place in Queens. Johnny had a hot dinner ready for us. By the way, big shoutout to MaryAnn & Johnny for hosting us the whole weekend. It was a home away from home and we love you guys unconditionally for taking care of us!

Michael and I at the finish line!

Michael and I at the finish line!

So there you have it. That's that marathon magic people talk about. Some might think I am completely nuts for doing six marathons in a year. But I like pushing my limits and I like seeing what I am made of. They haven't been my best times, but I can say I did that. I am so grateful for what my body let me do this past weekend. Next on my running calendar is The North Face Endurance Challenge 50k December 3, 2016! It will be my last race of the year. My first ultramarathon too! Go big or go home right?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Becoming a Flywheel Instructor

I've always wanted to be a fitness instructor. I did teacher training for yoga through Core Power Yoga. I liked it. Didn't love it. It wasn't enough. It was too quiet and I had too much energy to keep bottled up for a 60 minute yoga class. Although it was a nice experience, I wanted more. I was an avid rider at SoulCycle SOMA. I loved my instructor, Molli, who I went to religiously and over the year, she has became a great friend. So if you ever decide to try out a class at SoulCycle, I highly suggest you take her. She's a fireball full of love! 

October 2015 rolls around and Flywheel opens a studio in Walnut Creek. I've never heard of it, but the studio attracted me so I gave it a shot. I fell in love with the interval training they provided and found myself leaning out SoulCycle and going to Flywheel more often. There was something about the numbers, the sweat-drenched workout, the music. It was much more than a workout for me. The days I didn't feel like running, I thought to myself, let's work out a different muscle in these legs. Something about pushing down on the pedal was like a release of stress and each upward push was like a step towards a better me.

As some of you may know, I auditioned for SoulCycle earlier in the year. I never moved forward with their offer because moving to New York in such short notice without a guaranteed job freaked the crap out of me. I thought about it a lot, and if I had to think about it, and if my heart didn't jump on it the minute I heard, then maybe I shouldn't do it. So I turned it down, and kept running and doing my own thing.  

I was going through a rough patch in April and needed some UMPH in life. I emailed Ryan, the lead instructor for Flywheel, and told him I want to teach there. I didn't hear anything, so I started stalking him on social media. I DM'd him on Instagram.... heard nothing. Then I get an email two months later, the week of June 12,  saying I was picked to audition. I felt my stomach turn, I felt my heart drop, and I probably felt every other emotion and thought "I AM READY TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN." Mind you, I already had a trip planned to Seattle for The Rock'N'Roll Marathon so I was juggling with how I was going to get home on time to make it.

Sunday, June 19, 2016. I ran my marathon the day before and was running (literally) on no sleep. I had to make changes to my flight to get back to the Bay Area before noon. I remember calling Alaska Airlines at 1am asking to put me on the first flight out that morning. I was so unprepared. I was asked to have two songs ready to audition with. I land at San Francisco International Airport and hop on BART. I put my headphones in and randomly pick two songs from my Spotify.

I get to Flywheel in Walnut Creek early. There's other people auditioning and other people who were about to critique my every move from when I get up on the podium, to the first thing that comes out of my mouth, to the songs I picked and to the way I ride. It was my turn. I was given a mic. God, the last time I spoke in public on a mic was at Saint Mary's Graduation in 2012. So you could get an idea of how nervous this made me.  I told them straight up, "I ran a marathon yesterday, I didn't sleep, I hopped on the plane first thing this morning and made it here." It was one of the scariest experiences of my life. But I wanted this. This was my dream. So I pushed past the fear, and with my hands shaking, mouth dry, and heart pounding, I got up on the podium in front of a dozen people and shared my sugar & spice.

I wasn't confident at all leaving the studio. A week passes by. I heard nothing. Then on June 24, a lovely Friday morning, I get an email from Ryan. I remember I was sitting at my desk at work, contemplating if I wanted to open it or if I should have my colleague read it for me. My heart was racing because it was at that moment that email dangled my hopes and dreams from a ledge. I finally sucked it up and opened the email: "CONGRATULATIONS! WELCOME TO FLYWHEEL!"

*SCREAMS*

My training started on Thursday July 14. Ryan didn't give me a timeline to how long it would take to get fully trained. Basically if you get it, you got it. Goodness, I tell ya... This guys threw BPMs at me like ammunition! I was so clueless and so overwhelmed. I sent him frantic emails and he told me to STOP OVERTHINKING it. So the next day, I just listened to my music, hopped on a bike and that shit came as second nature. Here I am, two weeks into my training, and I am teaching my class to him. I had no idea what to expect, but I wasn't purely excited for anything in a really long while. Yeah, I had races to run, and have a marathon coming up, but this was different. This was NEW. It was a crazy mixture of happiness, nerves, and anticipation and I couldn't get enough of it. It has been challenging and I don't think I have rode a bike this much in my entire life. I am so lucky to have a trainer who feeds me information and constructive criticism daily for my brain to absorb. I was pushed outside of my comfort zone and he just threw me in there..... and I couldn't appreciate that enough. Although I am still in training, Ryan has helped me find my voice and passion to why I want to do this. At first, it was.. hey, why not? But now it's more of I want to make a positive difference and spread self acceptance to Flywheel.

I have never been more ready to make this happen. We all have these things we want to pursue, but so often, fear holds us back. Fearing that we won't be able to accomplish whatever we are aiming to do, the fear of how we are perceived, the fear of can't. If there's one thing this training period has taught me, it's to push past fear. Not even a month ago, this was just an idea to me. It was a nice thought. And somehow, Ryan saw something in me the day of my audition and took me on board. I am totally taking advantage of his mind and knowledge along with the whole Flywheel Walnut Creek family. Thank you guys. It must take a ton of patience because I have so many questions!

What a difference a few months can make. You can change where you live, what you do, who you're with. You can change anything. Five years ago, running was never on my itinerary.. I never took a group workout class... I never saw myself as active. Here I am five years later, an accomplished runner, soon to be ultramarathoner and apart of the Flywheel Fam! Flywheel San Francisco SOMA is opening in September. I will for sure keep you all updated when my first official ride is in the works, ideally by the end of August!!!!! I just wanted to take the time out of my day (and lunch break) to write this because everyone has been so supportive. A lot of people ask how I do it. And always, my response is "do what?" Frankly, I love managing my position at City Hall full time, squeezing in training for my races, putting in a ton of time at Flywheel, never ignoring my family and making all the time in the world for my friends.  In all honesty, doing what you love should never feel like work. And although I do get tired, my body feels heavy, my muscles get fatigued, this is really the happiest I've been in a long while. The front desk even told me that people were already calling for my schedule. OKAY. I LOVE YOU GUYS. This means the world to me <3 Hope to kick your butts on a bike soon!

 

<3, Morg

ClassPassin'

You can ask anyone who personally knows me and they might say I'm a bit obsessed with movement! A group of my girlfriends talked me into joining Classpass so I did just that!

I DON'T KNOW WHAT I WAS THINKING BEFORE! I wasn't really into group fitness classes when I first started running. I tried out SoulCycle when they first opened their SOMA studio last year and was hooked ever since! Unfortunately, SoulCycle is not offered through Classpass, but there's tons of other great studios that are! It's around $100ish a month, depending on your location. You can go to ONE studio up to THREE times in one month, but they offer TONS for you to pick! Mind you, these boutique studios and awesome classes are around $30 per class, so I think it's totally worth it. I'll give you a guys a quick review on the studios I have been to through Classpass. You can also click HERE for $20 off your first pass!

FLYWHEEL OK, LET ME TELL YOU. Flywheel is awesome. They do not have a studio in San Francisco, but they do have one in Walnut Creek and Sunnyvale! What I like about Flywheel is that their first class is free (who doesn't like free?!) Also, they provide cycling shoes! I haven't been to the one in Sunnyvale, but go to the one in Walnut Creek. I actually used up all my classes through Classpass so I can already tell you how much I like it! The Walnut Creek studio also has a FLYBARRE, which is a challenging class and tough workout! It's clean, the staff is friendly, and their studios have showers, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, towels and lockers! The class itself is totally different from SoulCycle. SoulCycle is based more on rhythm riding opposed to Flywheel being about resistance and numbers. I like that the instructor gives us a range to stay in. They also have a segment in class where we concentrate on upper body with their 3lb and 5lb weighted bar (all while still pedaling on the bike).

COREPOWER YOGA  I absolutely love Corepower!!!!!!! Not only because I did my yoga sculpt teacher training through them, but because they are an overall great yoga studio. Btw, yoga sculpt is a must go! It focuses on yoga poses with weights and also concentrates on arms, abs, and legs. You even get a cardio session! When I first wanted to start my practice, they were the first studio I found attractive. They are downtown so they are close by my work and they are also in Walnut Creek (right next door to Flywheel!). They offer a variety of classes: beginners, intermediate, sculpt, hot yoga, etc. Their studios are spacious and they also offer mat rentals. They have lockers and showers along with shampoo and body wash. Keep in mind that all their studios are heated to about 70 degrees, so you want to always stay hydrated no matter which class you decide to take!

BURN SF. Wow. I am crazy about this studio. It's in Hayes Valley which is just the perfect location for me since I can go before or after work! Very charming studio, I walked in and fell in love. They offer lockers, however, there are no showers. Just a changing room. My instructor, Titiana was so friendly! I literally just took this class on Tuesday and had no previous experience with pilates. Heck, I never even walked into a pilates studio before. Her class is called Total Body Burn and it's exactly what is sounds like. She merges pilates, weight training and cardio into one body sculpting, heart pumping experience. There's spring boards in the studio and the floor is matted. I never used a spring board before but man, the resistance on those things are incredible! I loved how she gave lots of ques to keep our form and constantly reminded us to breath. Will definitely be back for more!

Wheel House. Talk about perfect location. Wheel is right in The Embarcadero Center! They offer a variety of classes: yoga, sculpt trx and spin. I took their Athletic Yoga flow yesterday morning. The teacher (I forgot her name, my apologies!) asked if anyone had any injuries or wanted to concentrate on anything in particular. No one said anything, so me being the runner that I am, requested groins and hips! She was wonderful with modifications! Then this morning, my friend Jill and I tried out their TRX Sculpt class with Michaela! She had so much energy and met with us prior to class to explain how the TRX straps work. Again, this was completely new. The moves were challenging since it focused a lot of body weight and core. We know exactly where we want to be Thursday mornings!

SO FAR... I love Classpass. I look forward to being with them for a while! If this hasn't sold you on it, they do also offer gym time at local gyms like Crunch Fitness. I recommend it to anyone who loves working out, or just wants to try something new. The different studios and variations of work outs will really work out muscles you never even knew you had! And you'll feel stronger too! Plus, you can always join me for a class as well!

 

 

Running My First Ultra

 “Forget about speed on the long runs. Focus only on the component of endurance.” –Jeff Galloway

Movement. I feel a lot of people take advantage of their ability to move. It's something we don't notice we do everyday, effortlessly. It's something we don't see as a gift, but an obligation. I have found the beauty of movement through running, through sprints, through high knees, through hurdles, through stretching, through yoga.

My grandma had a stroke in November, which paralyzed her entire left side. When I visited her, it made me realize that some of the simplest things (sitting up, combing your hair, drinking water) was impossible for her to do without assistance. This was one of the many reasons why I wanted to commit to my goal of becoming an ultramarathoner.

Some do not even attempt a marathon in their lifetime. I believe it is a lofty goal that everyone should experience once. It's nothing you can put into words. It brings exhilaration, exhaustion, success, and relief. Not to mention, the hurt in your hamstrings, calves and quads. For some, their goals are to go faster, to have a better time, to qualify for Boston, to run in exotic places like the Great Wall of China. And then for some, one marathon is enough.

For me, I want to keep challenging myself. I want to go far. 50k (usually 31 miles) is my goal for 2016. I represent The North Face through their North Face Locals program, where they are giving me the opportunity to run their Endurance Challenge this December for the 50k Trail Race. I feel with ultrarunning, I have to adapt my body with increased mileage and of course, get used to running while fatigued. I need to experiment with different types of nutrition and hydration. I have to recalibrate my expectations of speed because I'm going to be slower on trails. Hills will be my best friend. And I will seek advice, but will try things for myself. The key for me is to develop my aerobic capacity and strength to handle the distance.

When training for half marathons or full marathons, I usually do long runs every weekend. This time around, my long runs will range anywhere from 10-28 miles. My plan is to actually train on the course since it takes place in the Marin Headlands. The race is in December, so it will be freezing, possible rain even! Wish me luck!

Happy running all!

 

 

Oakland Running Festival Recap!

WOW

This past Sunday, March 20, 2016, was The Oakland Running Festival, held in Oakland, Ca and the running festival provided all distances: Kid's Run, 5k, half marathon, relay, and marathon.

I was selected as a branch for the Oakland Running Festival last year, where I was responsible for promoting the race and giving out my discount code, so hopefully some of you were able to use it and get a good price!

My dad tagged along with me. He did a lot of my training runs with me (he walked and ran), but he opted out and told me only half marathons for him for now. So, next time for him as well! He did,however, follow me along the course, took pictures, cheered me on, etc etc. My dad is seriously the best cheerleader!

I tried something different with my week up to the marathon prep. I usually watch what I eat, but I didn't really care so much this time around. I drank beer and pizza the night before. I read somewhere that beer was a good carb load so hey, why not. I woke up feeling awesome, ate a banana, drank two bottles of water and was good to go!

My race started at 7:10 am. I literally love the Oakland Running Festival because it is so well organized. I feel like Oakland gets such a bad rep, but it's honestly a beautiful town, and the running festival is fun and such a family event! I stuck with the 04:30 pace group. I loved our group. There was five of us. I even ran with a retired couple who was visiting from the UK! It was the wife's first marathon and she did awesome. Unfortunately, we did not get a picture together...... But all in all our group had great energy!

The course itself was GREAT. 10 miles of incline through the Oakland Hills. The neighborhoods were beautiful and all the families set up their lawns with water stations and snacks. There was tons of hills, but our pack stuck together tightly. We stopped at most water stations and walked to finish water/electrolytes. The course combined with the half marathon at mile 17, which is where it got more packed, but it didn't take a toll on our group. We finished strong!

I was so exhausted after the race. I took my dad out to a late brunch in Berkeley, Café M, which I totally recommend! And of course, stop by Artis Coffee! They're right next door.

This was my last run in my Nike Lunarglides. I ran so many races and logged so many miles in them, but it's time to retire them! Last night I was sent a generous package from adidas running with two new shoes to train in: Ultraboost and adios! I can't wait to start training in those! I am taking the week easy... Lots of rolling out, stretching, Soulcycle and a little running!

 

Here are some tips to help all you marathoners!

 Recovering from a marathon (your first, fifth or 20th) everyone needs to recover, reset, regroup, and reflect!

First few days (1-3) .. NO RUNNING, NO CROSS TRAINING.... But lots of foam rolling, stretching and yoga!

  • Soak in an ice bath. If you haven't, it's seriously going to be cold, but is the best feeling on those sore muscles!
  • Eat lots of fruits, carbs, and protein. The carbs and protein will help repair the muscles while the fruits will give you a boost of vitamin C and antioxidants.
  • Massage! It'll help loosen your muscles. I went the day after, one whole hour, and of course I fell asleep!
  • Reflect. Take the time to rest and reflect: What you can improve on. Did you overtrain? Undertrain? Overhydrate?

Slowly...Make a comeback on the 4th day, but remember to always listen to your body!

  • Continue eating a healthy diet
  • Light running. 2-4 miles, and light cross training. Your focus should be to get your blood flowing again, not building fitness.

  • Epsom Salt Bath. I mean, it feels GREAT! It'll perk up the legs quite a bit and you’ll also sleep great.

  • Take a yoga class! I recommend Core Power Yoga, They're all over the place, and the c1 class is awesome for those tight groins and hips!

  • Or if you're crazy like me, take a SoulCycle class!

ONE FULL WEEK LATER

  • RUNNING! Three or four days of 4-6 miles very easy
  • .Begin cross training. Easy to medium effort. Remember, depending on your body, you are still recovering!

2-3 WEEKS LATER

  • Begin to slowly build back into full training. My suggestion is four to five runs of 4-8 miles.

 

You shouldn't worry about losing any running fitness during your recovery period. You always want to ensure proper recovery so you can train even harder for the next one! Remember, it takes about 2-3 weeks to get back into good shape!

 

Concrete Runner's Season 3 Kick Off/ BBQ

As many of you may know, I am part of an awesome running group located here in the San Francisco Bay Area called Concrete Runners. I completely forgot how I stumbled upon the group, but I'm pretty sure it was through this one small app you may not have heard of called.......  INSTAGRAM! ( haha ) I did a meet up with them, not knowing a single soul. It was their Flash Run in January 2014. Mind you, I have NEVER ran with a group before. It was just me running with my dad for about a year so this was all new! I followed a few of them on Instagram, so I knew what faces to look for and BAM! The rest has all been an amazing piece of history! I have ran with them in Chicago, LA, Toronto and mostly here in San Francisco. I must say, they are a big part of inspiration in my life, and a great source of motivation too. I know some might be intimidated by a big group, but everyone is literally SO welcoming. Everyone has their own pace and nobody gets left behind. Sooo, if you are locally here in the San Francisco Bay Area, I suggest you give us a shot.  Everyone is so generous with their positive energy.... You might just love it!

We had annual Kick Off BBQ this past Saturday. Honestly, from last year, the group has GROWN. I was happy to finally meet some of you guys face to face! It was great because we had about 200 people RSVP for the event. Our crew provided food and drinks for all the guests so we had LOTS of food to stuff everyone's faces with! We met at 8:00 a.m. for a warm-up stretch led by one of our rockstars, Abel. Then we were off! We did a nice six mile route starting from Chrissy Field to Hoppers Hands, to the Golden Gate Bridge across to Marin County then back across the bridge back to Chrissy Field! We then enjoyed BBQ, lots of it, and mimosas! It was an awesome Saturday and overall awesome event. So, THANK YOU, to the lovely Concrete Runners OG's, Arlynn (our founder) and Jess & Tiff (our captains) especially, who organized the event, to Angelica and Janelle for getting the potlock and setup together, Skooter for BBQing, and to our wonderful photographers, Vinny, Rene, Naytron, and Neil! And a big thank you to everyone who came out to enjoy a Saturday morning run with us. If I forgot anyone, I deeply apologize! There's so many of us, I can't keep up anymore! But hey, I can't complain about the growth! It's awesome there's about 200 others in this area who share the same interest! We appreciate all the support, as running is something we all love doing. We have built a strong bond with the sport and hope to spread our love for it with everyone.

Also, please follow @ConcreteRunners on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Periscope for more runs and upcoming events. I am SURE you won't regret it!

Work a 9-5?

Most people sit at a desk these days, and when you’re not sitting at a desk, you’re sitting on the couch binge watching Netflix, or sitting down for dinner. Even if you’re an active person, chronic sitting increases not only risk of heart disease and diabetes, but also pain, fatigue, anxiety, increase blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and metabolic disorders! I mean, WHO WANTS THAT?! This is why it is VERY IMPORTANT to MOVE while you're at work. Such work places push ergonomics and I highly encourage my colleagues to stand or to stretch often! You won't only feel great, but you'll have more energy too. And when you have more energy, you can certainly fit a work out right after you get off. Am I right?!

So, you might have a desk job, but there are things you can do right at your desk that will help break up your day and get your body moving. Do 2 or 3 of these movements every 20 or 30 minutes and you may feel better, physically and mentally.

 

  1. Standing Chin-Tucks: Looking straight ahead, pull your chin and head straight back then tilt your head forward with yourchin almost touching chest, then return to a neutral position. This stretches your neck and also improves posture. Do 15 repetitions.
  2. Shoulder Blade Squeeze: Round your shoulders, then pull them back and pull down. Repeat for 20-30 seconds.
  3. Standing Kickbacks: Holding on to your desk with legs hip-width apart, extend one leg back while squeezing the glut muscles. Repeat on the other side. Do 10-12 repetitions.
  4. Side Lunge: Starting with your feet together, take a medium step sideways, and bend down as if you’re about to sit. Use your arms for balance by reaching out in front of you. Return to starting position. Repeat on the other side. Do 15 repetitions.
  5. Desk Push-Up: Place hands a little wider than shoulder-width apart on your desk. Come up on your toes to make it easier to tip forward. Lower your chest to the edge of your desk, and push back up. Do 20 repetitions.
  6. Squat to Chair: With your feet shoulder-width apart, sit down, reaching forward with your hands, and stand back up in quick succession. Do 15-20 repetitions.
  7. Single Leg Dead Lift: Place your right hand on your desk, and place your weight on your right leg. Fold your torso forward, while simultaneously lifting your left leg backward. Do 10 repetitions on each side.
  8. Mountain Climber: Get into a push-up position on the floor. Pull your right knee forward to touch your right wrist or arm, and then return to push-up position. Repeat on the other side. Try to pick up the pace, and do 20 quick repetitions.
  9. Heel Raises: Stand with your feet a few inches apart. Slowly raise your heels off the floor while keep your knees straight. Hold for 3 seconds, then slowly lower your heels to the floor. This strengthens your calf muscles. Do 30 repetitions.
  10. Toe Raises: This strengthens your shin muscles. Raise your toes and forefoot up off the floor. Do 15 repetitions.

So please, if you're reading this at work, which most likely you are, GET UP! Get your blood flowing and your heart pumping!

Now it's time to enjoy a nice long weekend in the snow with my hubby!

 

Xo,

MO

High on Sweat- Staying High-drated

This is for my newbies, the new runners who are just starting. A lot of you have asked me how to maintain weight loss when running or ask what I do when I'm thirsty, or ask if I drink soda or if they can still drink alcohol when training for their first race.

If you ask anyone who knows me personally, they will probably tell you I drink a TON of water. Water for me is my biggest necessity... I mean, next to my soy vanilla lattes! I get so surprised when people tell me they barely drink a bottle a day! I, too, didn't drink water so religiously. I mean, my idea of hydration was Starbucks twice a day so trust me when I say I'VE BEEN THERE.  I aim to drink a full bottle when I wake up and a full bottle before bed and tons of water in between that time as well.

The human body is made up of 60% water, which can make staying hydrated while running an exhausting challenge. Everyone intakes and expels water in different ways so there's no magic formula for it. When you start running, or take up any new physical activity, hydrating early and often and monitoring urine color (aim for light, lemonade yellow) tend to be the biggest keys to a successful run! Also, it's key to weight loss! I mostly drink water (8 500mL water bottles at bare minimum) and I have one 16oz soy latte on most mornings as well. I do reward myself with red wine often too. I like Cabernetbut do not drink hard liquor at all. Once you learn how to hydrate yourself properly, your goals for a marathon, next big race, or weight loss will fall into place!

It may take time before you can comfortably intake water regularly to be prepared for a long run, but be patient with yourself.  During your training period, carry a water bottle WHEREVER you go. The last thing you want to do is chug a bottle prior to a run. Trust me, you'll feel it. What I like to do is keep a case of water in the trunk of my car or keep bottles at my desk so I never have an excuse to not drink it.

There's also gear out there for those runners who want to stay constantly hydrated during runs too. They have hydration backpacks such as Camel Bak, which is strapped to your back and come in several sizes. I personally have never used one, but was told it fits like a vest and has it's own drinking tube. It can hold a lot too such as phone, keys and wallet. There's also a hydration belt, which can hold 16-21 oz bottles as well as a fuel belt which usually hold up to four 8 oz bottles that slip into little holsters. Last, there's the good old handheld bottle. It slides over your hand, creating a natural grip and most of them come with a little pouch where you can stash gels or a card.

Now comes to the question.... Water or sports drinks?! I am that runner who drinks water throughout months of training then when race day comes I drink all the electrolytes offered along the course! Now, I would advise you guys to try electrolytes during training runs because they don't sit well with everyone. I would recommend Nuun since they are a sugar free tablet and they're tasty!

 

Here are some quick tips for staying hydrated during your big race day!

  1. Drink small amounts of fluids if you’re thirsty, but don't force yourself to drink.
  2. Add electrolytes to your prerace fluid consumption, in capsule form and/or include some sports drink to your intake.
  3. Alternate taking water and sports drink during the race; water at one aid station and sports drink at the next one.
  4. When aid stations are frequent, like every mile, take fluid at every other station.
  5. Try salty snacks like pretzels or crackers for alternative run nutrition. 
  6. Take electrolytes during training runs and/or races. 
  7. Avoid taking any NSAIDS before or during the race if at all possible.
  8. Eat a good prerace breakfast, one that you are familiar with like a bagel with peanut butter and a sports drink.
  9. Stop drinking if you hear or feel your stomach sloshing.
  10. If you don't feel well, get to the medical tent quickly. 

How I Got Started

Me? I was never a runner growing up. Thinking about running used to make me cringe because memories of being the last one in gym class to finish the mile would flood my mind. Hell, I used to walk the mile on Wednesday afternoons. The pain of coming up with countless excuses, forging sick notes, skipping PE. I dreaded it so much. My dad put me in basketball during elementary and middle school. Of course, that didn't last long. Then college came. I gave rowing a shot, that didn't go far. Any sort of physical activity was literally the last thing on Earth I could imagine myself doing voluntarily up until 2013.

It's true what they say about the "Freshman 15." I found myself scavenging for food in college. I ate cup noodles soup, ordered Chinese take out, lots of Starbucks frappachinos, chili fries, ice cream, you name it. Whatever was around to eat, I ate it. I was at my heaviest during my third or fourth year in college (2011-2012-ish). I went shopping with my roommate one summer and wanted to buy a pair of shorts. We were at Nordstrom and I picked some of the ones I liked. At the time I thought I was a size 5, but no. Reality set in and I was a size 13. Now, don't get me wrong, I understand that we all come in different shapes and sizes. There's nothing wrong with being a size 13, but I, myself, wasn't happy with that.

I think that was the big turning point.

There was a gym at my school, so I would go after my 8 a.m. class and run for ten minutes because honestly, that was all I could give at the time. Running was hard to me. I didn't like it, but I didn't like my body image more. I did casual running for a bit, but wasn't seeing results I wanted.

My dad, who's 55, is a long time runner. I told him I wanted to sign up for an actual race, so we did just that. Mind you, at this time I knew NOTHING about races, nothing about running, proper form, shoes, zero, zip, zilch. We used to watch my dad run races in San Francisco when I was a kid and remember waiting at the finish line for him with my mom, my brothers and my grandma. I just remember there was a lot of people cheering, but that's all I knew about races. I thought it was pretty cool that people could accomplish those things, especially since I could barely run a mile. I wanted to be one of those people to do something I never really thought I could. My dad was very confident in me, but didn't set any expectations that I couldn't meet physically. He took me out to buy my first actual real pair of running shoes. He got me new running gear, socks, you name it! And we changed my diet completely, so I stopped eating meat and only ate fish once a week. I cut out all the Starbucks frappachinos, and drank tons of water.

My dad took me out on runs along the Embarcadero in San Francisco. If you run past Pier 39 and back, it's a good six mile loop. We started slow, and he paced me during the whole route. He told me if I ran too hard and too fast during my first few days of training, I might hate it and not want to stick with it anymore. We did the run and walk method, which worked, and it is a technique I recommend to all newbies! This method really built my endurance and stamina to the point where I didn't have to walk. I saw myself improving and I started to see the results I wanted. Plus, I found this one-on-one time with my dad invaluable. We spent time and hung out, but running with my dad was some real quality time bonding, which is something many dads don't get a chance to do with their daughter.

My dad was there the morning of my first race. He saw me take off in my wave and was there waiting at the finish line. We signed up for races together after that and trained a lot together. My dad wasn't just my dad, but my running coach. It soon came to a point where my dad and I weren't running the same pace anymore. I, of course, got faster with ample amounts of training. My dad told me he could no longer keep up with me during races, which was a bittersweet moment.

My dad has taught me a lot about running and training. "Whether you run a 1:28 or a 3:00, finishing is the important thing." That stuck with me most. Running is simply getting what you put into it. So if you put a lot of time, blood, sweat, tears and work, the rewards will be endless. It will become a lifelong habit. I have not looked back ever since my first race and I thank my dad for encouraging me to commit to one of the greatest passions I've ever known.

My dad and I at one of my first races, 2013. 

My dad and I at one of my first races, 2013. 

So here I am. Present day with a lot of folks asking me how I got started and how they can get started? I hear a ton of excuses as to why they shouldn't:  they don't have the right shoes, they don't own a sports bra, no time, no energy, the don't have a gym, blah blah blah. For every excuse I hear, I follow with, "how do you know until you've tried?"  The beauty about running is that just about anyone who's anyone can do it and succeed and also has the power to change your life. I have gotten my family to start, my friends, my coworkers and ideally I want to get you (yes, you, the reader) to start too. Here are some of my most convincing reasons why you should run. Let me know if I'm wrong.

1. You can run EVERYWHERE. I do my share of traveling so my goal is to run wherever I am. I mean how cool is it to tell people you ran through a village in Indonesia, through the beaches of the Philippines, through the mountains of Nevada, through the blistering cold in Colorado? The more accessible your fitness routine is, the more you'll stick with it. Traveling for work? Vacation? You can run just about anywhere. Rain, sleet, snow, heat. You can still go for a run!

2. Make new friends. I've met some amazing people at the starting lines of races. I've also met some of the most amazing individuals I know through my local run club. The beauty of it is that these people become more than just your running buddies, they becomes friends, and they are all like-minded runners with similar goals.  

3. "Me-Time". Running is the BEST "me-time" I get. It's my time to unravel the day, reflect, think and plan. Running is my stress reliever. If I have stress going on in my personal life, I take it out and pound it on the pavement. Once I'm done with my run, I'm done with it. Not only does running boost the brain’s serotonin levels, regular exercise can make you calmer and more stress resistant.

4. Accomplishing goals. There's nothing like setting a goal for yourself and then crushing it.  A 5k, half marathon, marathon, weight lost, muscle gain.  There's no better feeling than seeing yourself accomplish something you didn't think you could do. I mean, you get bragging rights too! 

5. You'll smile more. I have been told by literally everyone that I am the most smiley person they know. It isn't called a runners high for no reason! Running will make you feel good. And when you feel good, your mind and body will follow. You'll smile so much that it might even be contagious!

6. You'll sleep better. If you exercise regularly, you'll get better shut eye. Especially if you have a crazy, hard workout. I do my best to get 6-8 hours of sleep. And it's never broken sleep. It's "knock out and wake up right before my alarm goes off" sleep.

7. Loads of energy. Some think that since I run often, it drains me. Total opposite! My physical activity reenergizes me. I would say it reenergizes me even better than a nap!

8. Happy Heart. Running three of four times a week can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol naturally. Plus, there's no better feeling than getting your heart pumping and body moving!

9. Happy bones.  Running is key to building strong and healthy bones and also slows bone loss. And NO. Running won't cause arthiritis. Your body is composed of living tissue that constantly rebuilds themselves. Living tissue grows stronger when it's used. And use is better than abuse.

10.  To make a difference. When you're ready, try to race for charity. When the training miles get tough, remember the cause you signed up to run for and how the people you're running for can benefit. I was a St. Jude Hero for a few races through the Run Rock'N' Roll series. Honestly, it had it's tough times when I first had to raise money, but found ways to meet my goal. Always run for a reason.

11. Alpha Abs. A strong core improves postures, strengthens limbs and helps make everyday activities a breeze! Running engages that midsection and strengthens all those important muscles. Plus, who doesn't want a carved core?! 

12. Bring the furry friends. I personally do not have my own fur child, but it's definitely on my list! Dogs are a man's best friend for a reason, but can also be man's best workout partner too. Your fur baby will benefit too, as they also need exercise. It'll be a great treat for them!

13. Get a natural glow. Believe it or not, working up a sweat can rid your face of gunk that clogs pores and leads to breakouts. A solid sweat session can also boost natural oils, keeping things fresh and healthy. Just remember to remove makeup pre-workout and wash gently afterward to avoid breakouts.

14. Save some cash. Forget fancy equipment or a pricey gym membership. When it comes to running, all you need is a road!

15. Eat more carbs. This is my favorite reason. Runners, as I know, LOVE to eat. And they can EAT. I mean, who doesn't love a pasta dinner?! During intense training like preparing for a race, increasing carb intake might help running performance and boost mood during harder runs.

There you have it! How I got started, why I got started and why you should start!

Happy New Year all!