Monday, November 16, 2015

What's on your running playlist?

Do you run with music? I don't run with music every time I run but some runs just call for something distracting. Whether it's a boring route (the dreadmill), a tough run (hills!) or you just need an extra push, music can be really helpful. I've always been a lyrics person so if the song has great lyrics, in addition to a great sound, I'm on it. I can recall several runs where the song I was listening to really helped move me along. So this is a list of the top songs I really love to run with, as well as some other music sources and podcasts for when I'm bored with my usual playlist.

Before we get into what we're listening to, I just want to put it out there that running with headphones isn't the safest thing to do. Always be aware of your surroundings, keep your volume low, or only have one earphone in so you can "listen" with your other ear. If you are going to have headphones in while you run, make sure your running route has minimal traffic (pedestrians, cars, bikes, etc) and you can hear it if someone or something approaches you.

As I was getting this post together, I realized there are eleventy billion songs I love to listen to while I'm running. If I posted every single one, this post would be 15 pages long. At least. So here are the top 10 songs that are doing it for me right now, in no particular order.

Coldplay - Every Teardrop is a Waterfall
Man, this is a good song. You'd never know this was a sad song based on the music (the title kind of gives it away). For some reason though, I just love to run to it.

David Guetta/Sia - Titanium
I mean, really. This song was written for a runner. From the line, "I'm bulletproof, nothing to lose," to "You shoot me down but I won't fall. I am titanium," you just can't help but feel a little invincible when you run to this song.

Fall Out Boy - Uma Thurman
I first heard this song when I was training for my first 50-miler and it just kind of resonated with me, especially the line, "I can move mountains; I can work a miracle, work a miracle." Ok, maybe that's the only line that resonated with me but it's a catchy tune that's fun to run to :)

Guns N Roses - Welcome to the Jungle
While this one may not be the most motivational, it certainly makes me pick up the pace. And want to scream a little. In a good way, of course.

Journey - Don't Stop Believing
This one has sentimental value. One of my very first childhood crushes was a Journey fan and this band will always hold a special place in my heart. But as a runner, this one will always be on my playlist. We can never stop believing that we can do what we set out to do!

Muse - Uprising
This is another one that makes me want to run through the streets screaming my face off. Again, it's not the most inspirational song, but it can certainly motivate me to keep fighting through a tough run or race.

Queen - Another One Bites The Dust
This one kind of speaks for itself. I equate the "another one down, another one down, another one bites the dust" to miles, and another mile has bitten the dust. And while they're not part of this list's 10 songs, Queen's We are the Champions and We Will Rock You are honorable mentions.

Young The Giant - My Body
I really like running to this song a lot. "My body tells me no but I won't quit," pretty much sums up why it's a good running song. Granted, it's now in a ton of commercials and it's lost a little bit of its luster but I still enjoy it.

Ricky Martin - Allez! (from the 1998 World Cup)
Yes, I know. This is a crazy one. Don't judge me. I'm telling you, running to this song will make you feel like you can run forever. Just add it to your playlist and thank me later when you've had the best run of your life.

Eminem - Lose Yourself
This song has helped get me out of a bad run so many times. It helped me finish marathons. In fact, it's one of maybe 3 songs I'll play over and over again to get through an especially bad patch. It just reminds me that this could be my last opportunity to run and do I really want to go out like this? The answer is always no.

Some others I'm enjoying right now include The Walker from Fitz and the Tantrums, Wild Ones from Flo Rida and Uptown Funk from Mark Ronson/Bruno Mars.

In addition to my own personal playlist, I'll listen to iTunes Radio station a lot (I love the Mixtape station). I also do Pandora and Spotify, though not as much anymore. There's also Rock My Run which has pre-made mixes categorized by type of music, length of mix (which you can use based on how long you plan to run) and even beats per minute to match your running cadence.

Lastly, I've just recently started listening to podcasts while running. I do this when I'm running outside and want to listen to something but still stay aware of my surroundings as much as possible. I started with Serial, which described the real-life murder conviction of Adnan Syed back in 1999/2000. And it blew my mind. I then started Undisclosed, which gets into the nitty gritty of the case and where it stands today. When I want something a little lighter, I listen to The Lapse, which is also real-life stories but really, really interesting stories. They're not always light but always interesting. I recently started listening to Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me from NPR. I know, old people like that one. But it's so funny. I have actually had to stop during a run because I was laughing so hard and couldn't breathe. I'm sure I was a sight to see for the people driving by. Some weird laughing runner. Also from NPR is the Pop Culture Happy Hour which has some interesting discussions about what's going on in current movies, books, TV shows, etc.

What do you listen to while you run? Any songs that will always have a place on your playlist?

This week I'm linking up with the Tuesdays on the Run blog link up. The Tuesdays on the Run blog link up is with My No-Guilt LifeMCM Mama Runs and Marcia's Healthy Slice. Now that you're done reading here, go check them out!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Love your Lungs!

Pic from Heather Von St. James and
Did you know November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month? Well, I didn't until I was contacted by mesothelioma survivor Heather Von St. James (Twitter @HeatherVSJ) who is an advocate and blogger for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. She, along with us healthy lifestyle bloggers, are working to bring awareness to these preventable lung diseases throughout November and all year long.

Heather was a healthy, 36-year old brand-new mom when she started experiencing weird symptoms such as unexplained weight loss, loss of strength and trouble breathing. She was ultimately diagnosed with mesothelioma and given 15 months to live. Never a smoker, doctors attributed her cancer to exposure to asbestos as a child. Heather underwent an experimental surgery that removed her left lung. That experimental surgery and subsequent treatments gave her a life she never thought she would see. She just celebrated her 10th year as a cancer survivor and is dedicated to raising awareness of mesothelioma and other lung cancers (they're not just smokers' diseases anymore!) and helping others affected by these diseases.

According to the National Cancer Institute, lung cancers are the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Lung cancers have touched my life too. This month marks the 5th anniversary of the loss of my great mentor, running coach and friend, Mike Broderick, who died just weeks after being diagnosed with lung cancer in 2010. And my mom's cousin is battling lung cancer as we speak. When they hear someone has lung cancer, people automatically assume the person was a smoker. But this isn't always the case. Thousands of people diagnosed with lung cancer have never smoked but have been exposed to second- and third-hand smoke. Others have been exposed to pollutants such as radon and toxic materials such as asbestos (and exposure to asbestos can also be second-hand, as in Heather's case).

In addition to never smoking or quitting ASAP, there are ways you can prevent these lung diseases by loving your lungs and keeping them healthy. In case you can't read the graphic below, they include:

  • Practicing deep breathing exercises
  • Staying properly hydrated
  • Exercising regularly
  • Limiting your exposure to pollutants such as radon gas and asbestos
  • Monitoring your family's history and any symptoms of lung cancer, asthma, COPD and other lung diseases. 

Pic from Heather Von St. James and
Take care of those lungs, people! Go for a walk, go for a run. Make sure you limit your exposure to known pollutants whenever possible. Do the best you can to live a long, healthy life!

You can read more about Heather, lung cancer and mesothelioma on the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance website.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Week Wrap Up!

I wish I could call this post "Totally Bragging Post" because that's what it is. No, I'm not bragging about me, I'm bragging about my friends and clients that had AMAZING weeks. Seriously, I can't stop smiling at how well everyone did over the past 8 days. Here are the major highlights:

The week started with the first session of my strength training program. This has been something I've been looking to do ever since I became a personal trainer but just haven't been able to do it, scheduling-wise. But now the timing worked out to offer a 6-week program. I was notified about 6 days before the start of the program that my location couldn't be used, so I had to scramble to find another location. Thankfully, my good friend Chris, owner at Perfect Balance Therapeutic Massage, offered her space for our use. And it worked out so well! I capped the program at 10 and all the women kicked some major booty! It's a great group and I'm looking forward to working with everyone!

This day was also RACE DAY for private client Isabel. She has been working so hard since January. What started out as a way to get into shape and compliment her favorite sport beach volleyball has become something she really enjoys. Isabel worked towards a 5K and completed the Finish Chelsea's Run 5K in March. She loved it so much she then trained up for the Girls on the Go 10K in May. Then she was bitten by the running bug and decided to do the Celebration Half Marathon on Nov. 1. She did so well and I am so proud of her!! And now she's doing the Resolution Run 15K and Carlsbad Half Marathon, both in January. It's been truly wonderful to see her grow as a runner.

Look at the smile!
Friday I hit the road with my girls Smitha and Vanessa. We were heading for Azusa, just outside of Pasadena, for the Revel Canyon City Marathon. Smitha and I did the half marathon last year and fell in love with it! It starts in the San Gabriel mountains and heads downhill into Azusa. The marathon starts 13 miles higher up in the mountains. It's a 5400+ foot elevation loss over the first half of the marathon and then the next 10 miles have about 1000 ft elevation loss over rolling hills. Then the final 3 are flat. It's a beautiful course and we were up for the challenge.

Hitting the road with these beauties! 
We were part of a larger group, Southern California Moms Run This Town (MRTT). I actually met Smitha through our local San Diego MRTT so it has a special place in my heart. There are so many wonderful women in this group, I just can't take it sometimes. The awesomeness is too much. If you're looking to meet up and run, walk, skip or just hang out with like-minded women, check out your local group. Anyway, women from the San Diego area, Temecula, Riverside, Orange County, LA and all over SoCal were part of the team and were just under 200 people strong. The largest team that did the race. We had a team shirt and most of us opted to wear the beautiful For the Birds print from Spandits. It was great to see the camaraderie along the course.

Saturday morning was an early one. We needed to get on a bus before 5:00am for the hour-long ride to the marathon start. I won't lie, it was a bit scary for me, being on a creaky school bus as we ride up, up, up a windy mountain road. I was glad when that was over. When we got to the start, we had an hour to spare so we parked ourselves in line for the port-o-potties and tried to keep warm. It was so cold!! Vanessa, private client Leslie and I happened to get our throw-way jackets from the sale rack at Target and we all looked like the Unibomber!! We had to take a pic to showcase how menacing we could be as Unibombers (with flowery pants and skirts, of course).

We are the Three Menacing Unibombers
After many more pics, more trips to the port-o-potties and lots of laughs to pass the time, it was go time. We lined up and off we went. As we expected, the course just went down, down, down. But it wasn't really bothersome until we got to about halfway (more on that later). The scenery was just breathtaking. I'm so glad the sun was up for us to see just how gorgeous this area really is. We passed a couple of campgrounds and I'd love to go back up there with the family to explore the area a little more. And drive up and down the mountain instead of run :)

I am one lucky girl to be able to run in such beautiful places!

Smitha and I were Twinsies!

Vanessa and me somewhere along the course

When we hit the halfway point of the race, it was like a second race began. The next 10 miles were rolling hills. I ran this course last year and it felt like a completely different course after running down 5400+ feet over 13 miles. Every hill felt like a mountain and our legs were so confused. It was not pleasant to say the least. At about mile 23, we were heading into Azusa and the course completely flattened out. That was another tough transition. But we hunkered down and powered through that last 3 miles to the finish line. And what a sweet finish line it was. Vanessa and I ran the majority of the race together and after 26.4 (we thought 26.2 wasn't enough) miles of laughs, we finished strong. Then came Barbara who finished with a 6 minute PR (we were in the bathroom when she finished so we didn't see it...friend fail). Then came Smitha. Aside from being one of my dearest friends, Smitha is also a client and she ROCKED her race. She PR'd by about 10 minutes and felt great at the end of her race. Leslie also finished well, despite dealing with leg cramps. A finish on a tough course like this is an awesome accomplishment!  

The finishers!
After the race we headed to Congregation Ale House to celebrate. We ate like the queens we are and enjoyed a cold adult beverage. Smitha and I were a little nauseated from the run but ultimately able enjoy our meals, drinks and the time with our friends. We conquered the tough Revel Canyon City course and we have the sore quads to prove it!!

Burger and tater tots!

Beer + medal = happy!

Saturday was also a banner day for private client Cheryl with her 9th marathon finish at the OBX Marathon. While finishing her 9th marathon is certainly an amazing feat in and of itself, she followed it up with an 8K on Sunday. AND this was all part of her training as she gets ready to do the JFK 50 Mile run in a couple of weeks. This will be her 3rd JFK 50 and she is gearing up for her first 100 miler next year. I've been working with Cheryl since we lived in Maryland. I remember our first meeting when I was pregnant with my twins and she came over to my house because I was on bedrest and couldn't go meet her! She has always been a strong runner but she has become such a powerhouse rock star.

Sunday was another great session for my strength training program. These ladies are a lot of fun to work with and they're up for all of my torture exercises.

Sunday was also an amazing day for three of my private clients. Erika ran the Mission Inn 10K in Riverside. Not only did she crush her previous 10K PR by 3 minutes but she was the overall female winner!! This is a fantastic win for her as she does not love racing and has been working hard to get used to the process. I'd say she is getting the hang of it!

Last but certainly not least is private client Jennifer and her very first marathon finish at the Santa Clarita Marathon. Jennifer participated in one of my half marathon programs back in Maryland but moved to Northern California a few years ago. We connected again when she started to run about a year ago after dealing with some injuries. She has worked super hard all year and decided to take on the marathon. She was supposed to run the Santa Barbara Marathon, but when it was canceled less than a month before race day, it was time to scramble. She decided on Santa Clarita to get the most out of her hard work and training and not have to prolong things for a race further out. Even with knee trouble, she finished her race. That goes to show just how strong and tenacious she is! So proud of you, Jennifer!

And though I don't have any pics and haven't had a chance to talk with either of them, private client Alexis and running program alum Chris both had exciting weekends. Alexis completed her 6th Ragnar Relay of the year - Ragnar Las Vegas. She is awesome and all of this is leading up to her first trail marathon in January! Chris was set to do the Disneyworld Wine and Dine Half Marathon (this is the same awesome Chris that let us use her studio for the strength program). There was some crazy weather and they had to delay the start of the race and modify the race course. It wasn't quite the race she expected but still had a fabulous time. I've been working with Chris for about a year and a half and she is AMAZING. She had heart surgery almost 5 years ago and is now running half marathons and race challenges and reaching heights she never thought she could. She has come a long way!!

So it's been quite a week for me, professionally. I just feel so incredibly honored and fortunate to be able to work with such amazing women. I work with some amazing men too, but this week was all about girl power! These women are strong, inspiring and unstoppable!

Personally, it was an ok training week. I wasn't able to get all of my miles in around work, kids, etc., but I felt good during the race on Saturday. I still think it's pretty crazy that a marathon is a training run for me. I'm a bit sore from the crazy course and its roller coaster ride but other than that, I feel good. I am happy with how the week ended for me and this coming week is a light one, training-wise. Things start getting crazy with my oldest's school schedule as they have off for Veteran's Day this week, then next week they're off for parent-teacher conferences and then they are off the week of Thanksgiving. Should be interesting trying to get everything in!

How was your week? What was the best part?

I'm linking up with Holly at HoHo Runs and Tricia at MissSippiPiddlin for their weekly wrap up link up (say that 10 times fast). Leave me a comment about your week and then go check them out!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Hitting the Road for a Destination Race

This weekend I'm getting outta Dodge and heading to Azuza, CA (outside of Pasadena) for the Revel Canyon City Marathon on Saturday. I'm super excited to get away with friends, even if we have to run a marathon to do so :) I did the half marathon last year and it was great fun. This year we decided to do the full and I'm really looking forward to it.

Before I continue, this week I'm linking up with the Tuesdays on the Run blog link up. The Tuesdays on the Run blog link up is with My No-Guilt LifeMCM Mama Runs and Marcia's Healthy Slice. When you're done reading here, be sure to check them out!

Even though I'm treating this race like a training run, it still requires planning and packing like any other destination race. So not only is there the stress of the race itself (getting to the expo, race start, um...running), there's the whole traveling aspect to make it even more stressful. Thankfully, this race is within driving distance so we can just throw things together in the car. But traveling to a race that requires an airplane ride makes things even trickier.

I always start out by checking the weather for the race and then I make a list of everything I typically need for a long run, with the weather and race course (e.g., trails) in mind:

  • race clothes (layers and/or jacket if it will be cold or rainy)
  • socks
  • shoes (Altras, of course)
  • hat
  • throw-away gloves and pre-race clothes if it will be cold or rainy
  • dry clothes for the drop bag if it will be cold or rainy (otherwise, I don't usually do a drop bag)
  • hydration pack
  • Skratch
  • nutrition (I've been using different stuff such as my own sweet potato, pretzel bites, Honey Stinger chews and Skratch fruit drops. I haven't yet decided what I'm doing for this race)
  • sunblock
  • RunGoo
  • Garmin
  • stuff specific for a trail race if necessary (gaitors, buff, etc.)
  • post-race items such as compression socks and flip flops
  • massage tool (travel size The Stick or foam roller)
  • empty plastic bags for nasty running clothes 

I typically bring extra of the hydration and nutrition stuff just in case. If I'm driving to my destination, I'll bring bottled water with me to make up my Skratch when I get there. If I'm flying, I'll just pack the Skratch and deal with the water when I get there. But I get all that stuff together in my suitcase first so I know I have it. If I'm flying, I try to take as much of my race gear in my carry-on as possible because I'm anal and I want to make sure everything makes it with me to my race in case my suitcase doesn't. It makes for a heavy carry-on but a less stressed-out me.

After I have all my race gear together, I pack my regular clothes and shoes, toiletries and anything else I'll need for travel. Then I make sure I have any waivers or other materials for packet pick up and throw them into my carry-on with my boarding pass. I also pack plenty of snacks because, well, I like to eat.

And that's all. I try to keep it simple. I remind myself that I'm usually traveling to a city that will most likely have something if I forget it (trust me, I've traveled to a race before and forgot my shorts). If I make a big deal about things, I'll get obsessive and crazy. I'm obsessive and crazy enough already. In fact, I've been on this "did I lock the door and/or shut the garage" kick lately that will be the death of me. I can't tell you how many times I've left for work or whatever only to return 15 minutes later to make sure I've locked the doors and shut the garage door. I need an intervention.

Anyway, those are the main necessities I bring with me for a destination race. Did I forget anything? What do you have on your race-cation travel list?