Bladium Alameda 6 Week GRIT Challenge – Getting into GRIT

Bladium Alameda 6 Week Grit Challenge Fitness Challenge

I love a good fitness challenge, so I was so excited that the wonderful people at Bladium Alameda invited me to join their Bladium GRIT Challenge, a six week HIIT-focused fitness challenge that encourages participants to set exercise and health goals and work towards them in a supportive “we’re all in this together” atmosphere.

The challenge is complete with a before and after body composition analysis, fitness assessments, nutritional support, workout tips, and motivation from Bladium group fitness coaches via a members-only Facebook group, and for the competitive folksprizes for those who have the most improved body composition and improved athleticism at the end of the challenge.

Specifically, this fitness challenge is focused on incorporating several Les Mills GRIT and SPRINT classes into your weekly workout routine.

What are Les Mills GRIT classes?

Les Mills GRIT classes are 30-minute high-intensity interval training (HIIT) fitness classes. These classes are short, yet intense, and designed to keep your heart rate up and burn fat.

Classes include GRIT Strength, GRIT Cardio, and GRIT Plyo. Les Mills Sprint classes are also included in the challenge, which is a HIIT-style spin class that will leave you dripping in sweat after a mere half hour.

GRIT Cardio is a bodyweight-based workout that is filled with burpees, tuck jumps, mountain climbers, and all the things to make you want to melt into the gym floor and never get back up again.

GRIT Strength is 30 minutes of HIIT-inspired strength training using a barbell, free weights, and bodyweight. If you’ve ever taken BODYPUMP, Strength features lots of the same moves, but done faster and with no rest time between sets.

GRIT Plyo is another 30-minute workout involves lots of explosive jumping and agility work. (This type of workout is NOT my forte, so it’ll be fun to push myself here!)

GRIT Cardio 30-Minute Workout Results on My Apple Watch

My Starting Point

I had a DEXA scan done by BodySpec a year ago and was so excited to get another body composition scan as a part of this challenge. Nutrishop Alameda brought equipment into the gym so that all participants could take the 5-minute scan. All I had to do was take off my socks and shoes (and any heavy clothing), stand on a scale-like contraption, enter a few details about myself, like my height, weight, age, and gender, hold onto some small joystick buttons, and let the thing scan my body.

body composition scan machine from nutrishop alameda at bladium

My results printed out in a matter of minutes, and I snapped a shot so that I could remember my stats.

Right away, I was super excited to see that my BMR had increased by about 100 calories. This means that even if I were to literally lie in bed all day and not move at all, my body would automatically burn more calories that it would have doing the same thing a year ago. (Thanks, weight training!) I have also gained several pounds of muscle since my last scan (hence the higher BMR), and I have lost some body fat.

Honestly, I’m starting this GRIT challenge feeling comfortable in my skin, and I believe my mindset is in a generally good place. A huge reason why I workout is for mental benefits, and I eat lots of vegetables and “healthy” foods because I love and crave them, not as punishment.

However, I do want to improve my athletic performance and achieve a few other goals by the end of these 6 weeks.

My Goals for the Challenge

As a runner who wants to improve my speed, one of my main goals for this 6 week challenge is to lose body fat while maintaining my muscle. Less body fat means less effort to run, which should help me cross finish lines faster. GRIT Cardio and Plyo should be a huge help here!

In order to maintain muscle, I’ll have to maintain some level of weight training (GRIT Strength) + solo gym sessions, as well as properly fuel my body with ample nourishing food.

I’ll aim to take at least two GRIT classes each week at Bladium, as well as get in one or two short lifting sessions, and three runs. By combining the short 30-minute GRIT classes with a short lifting session, I’m setting myself up for five days at the gym each week, which should help give me two recovery days for yoga, foam rolling, and light stretching.

Finally, I’d like to be more aware of how and why I eat over the next several weeks. I’ll be pushing myself to fuel my body with primarily nourishing foods that will give me enough energy to perform well. I’ll also try hard to avoid trigger foods, like chips and alcohol, but I’m not going to 100% restrict myself from anything. Meal prep combined with intuitive clean eating will be lots of help here!

 

Wish me luck as I continue into Week 2 of this GRIT challenge!

Have you ever participated in a fitness challenge? Would love to hear how you stayed motivated!

 

*Bladium Alameda sponsored this post. However, all opinions are my own!

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2017 Lululemon Seawheeze Half Marathon Recap

Running along the ocean in Vancouver during the Lululemon Seawheeze Half Marathon

I love running, and I love traveling. So it’s only natural that my wanderlust and wandering legs would combine forces and take me across country borders for my first international runcation, the Lululemon Seawheeze Half Marathon.

I’ve heard amazing things about the production of this Vancouver-based race and its enthusiastic crew of Lulu runners who flood online registration and scoop up every available entry within minutes.

However, I also know the race boasts a rather expensive $158 CAD race entry fee. So when a fellow runner tipped me off that Lululemon was giving away free race entries to people via Twitter, you bet I jumped online within seconds and was tweeting away my desire to get hooked up with a comped entry. Not only did I get one for myself, I got a free entry for Michel too!

Yoga in Vancouver during the 2017 Lululemon Seawheeze Package Pickup Party

The Lululemon Seawheeze is not only a half marathon, but also a yoga party, shopping extravaganza, and music festival all wrapped up into one femme-friendly package. The race occurs on Saturday morning, with the package pickup party and the opportunity to shop exclusive Lululemon designs going down the day before, on Friday. The yoga festival and concert happen Saturday evening, so the whole Seawheeze experience is a full two days of movement and fun.

Breathe In. Run Wild. Sign for the 2017 Lululemon Seawheeze Half Marathon

I showed up to bib pickup Friday late afternoon, so I missed out on the shopping frenzy, but I was still able to pick up my race bag (which included a Lulu bag and water bottle) and enjoy some yoga, free samples, and sunshine before grabbing dinner and settling in for a good night’s rest the night before the race.

We woke up early Saturday morning, excited to start moving, but once Michel and I left the hotel we struggled to find an open coffee location near the start line. I *require* coffee pre-race, so we wandered around (kinda) frantically until we finally found a Starbucks that opened 30 minutes before the race started. Crisis averted!

We made it to the start line (albeit a bit late), and took off into the wonderfully fresh and crisp Vancouver morning with the 2:05 pacer (Seawheeze refers to each one as a “pace beaver”) and her posse of goal-driven runners, just a tiny chunk of the 10,000 runners that participate in this race.

Lululemon Seawheeze 2017 Start Line in Vancouver, BC

Every few miles or so we passed a cheer station, mostly sponsored by local fitness studios, as well as musicians and entertainers lining the streets to motivate us forward. There was even a cheer station of police officers and firefighters who cheered us on with Super Soakers and Backstreet Boys hits.

Breathe In, Run Wild Seen along the course of the Lululemon Seawheeze 2017 Half Marathon

Nearly all of the race is run along the water, and the whole thing was spectacularly beautiful. But the most amazing part of the race was the final few miles, ran along the famous Vancouver Seawall and through Stanley Park (one of the most gorgeous public parks I’ve ever seen). To say the views were majestic would be an understatement. Ocean to the left, thick, lovely trees to the right. It was perfection.

Running along the Seawall during the Lululemon Seawheeze 2017 Half Marathon

Michel and I sprinted to the finish line together, and a minute after we crossed we were rewarded with the most legit half marathon medal I’ve ever received, some water, and a cold towel (nice touch!). After a few post-race photos, we were also given a pair of Seawheeze sunglasses and a Vega bar on our way from the finish line to our next destinationfree brunch hosted by Seawheeze.

Walking from the Lululemon Seawheeze finish line in Vancouver, BC to post-race brunch

Lululemon Seawheeze Half Marathon Finisher

2017 Lululemon Seawheeze Half Marathon Medal

For the number of people participating in this race, I couldn’t believe how well-organized the post-race flow was, as well as how quickly we made our way through the brunch queue. And best of all, seriously BEST OF ALL, I was so excited to reach the front of the brunch line and see that one of the four food tents was labeled allergy-friendly.

Lululemon Seawheeze 2017 Brunch Box - Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Nut-Free

Post-race brunches are often bagels or pancakes, so being gluten-free, I usually just get half a banana, or I don’t even bother waiting in line for free food. However, I was so freaking excited to pick up a brunch box that was gluten-free, dairy-free, and nut-freeand no, it wasn’t just a piece of fruit and some lettuce. We’re talking gluten-free banana bread, people!

Lululemon Seawheeze 2017 Brunch Box - Gluten-Free Chia Pudding with Jam, Gluten-Free Banana Bread, Fruit, Chocolate, and Other Lululemon Free Swag

After enjoying some of the brunch, stretching out, and getting a few more photos, Michel and I headed back to the hotel to shower, change, and explore the beautiful city of Vancouver.

We returned to Stanley Park later that afternoon for the Sunset Festival, which included some outdoor yoga, food, drinks, games, and a concert featuring Young the Giant and Cold War Kids.

All in all, it was a perfect race and perfect day!

What I enjoyed about the Lululemon Seawheeze Half Marathon

  1. A well-produced race that felt organized and efficient
  2. The most beautiful course I’ve ever ran (truly!)
  3. Free Lululemon shorts with race entry
  4. A full weekend of pre- and post-race activities
  5. It’s not a local race for me, so I was able to enjoy a fun runcation.
  6. Free gluten-free brunch option
  7. Lots of free goodies in addition to the Lulu gear

Tips for Next Year

  1. Plan to be ready to buy tickets the minute they go on sale, or prepare to not get a guaranteed race entry.
  2. Follow Lululemon on Twitter. Maybe they’ll give out free race entries again next year?
  3. Save some money for this race. The entry fee is hefty, plus if you’re a Lulu fan you’ll want to shop the exclusive “runners only” shop. On top of that, if you’re coming from the states, remember to fold in travel costs.
  4. Take photos along the course. It’s a good one.
  5. Plan your morning coffee strategy ahead of time, or stay at a hotel that provides non-janky coffee at an early hour for guests.

Have you ever ran the Seawheeze Half Marathon, or do you have an interest in doing so?

Want to run your first half marathon? Here are my top 10 training tips!

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Half Marathon Training Plan + Carb Cycling

Running a track workout for half marathon training

I spent most of my weekend getting some much needed rest, creating an updated vision board, and outlining a new half marathon training plan and carb cycling program for the next eight weeks. It was exactly what my stressed and rundown brain and body needed to wake up this morning feeling wonderfully rejuvenated and ready to attack my goals.

The training plan I created culminates with the Virgin Sport San Francisco Half Marathon on October 15th. This will be my 13th half marathon (woohoo!), and my goal is to PR.

I was lax in training for my last two races, which I’m totally okay with. Priorities shift and life happens. However, after cocooning away this weekend, I knew by yesterday afternoon that I was ready and motivated to kick up my training for this upcoming half.

A PR for me will involve training not only hard, but smart, resting mucho, and prioritizing good nutrition. To help with this, I’ll be sticking to my training plan as best as I can (I promise to not forget you, hill runs!), avoiding alcohol (I’ll miss you, wine!), and experimenting with carb cycling.

My Carb Cycling Plan

Put simply, carb cycling is eating more carbohydrates on some days, and less on other days. I’ll be eating more carbs on days where I’ll need the extra energy (i.e. HIIT workouts and long runs), and fewer carbs on days where I’m resting or doing something light, like a recovery jog. I’m starting this cycle with three “lower carb” days, three “medium carb” days, and one “high carb” day and will re-examine and potentially tweak it after a few weeks.

I’ve never played with my carb ratios like this before, so it’ll be exciting to track my energy levels and see how it affects my training.

I’ll also be prioritizing nutrient-dense foods throughout training. My starchy mainstays will be regular potatoes, sweet potatoes, bananas and other fruits, gluten-free oats, and some rice, and I’ll still be loading my plates with lots of greens and other veggies, in addition to protein and healthy fats.

My 8 Week Half Marathon Training Schedule

As for my training schedule, the plan is to train six days each week, but to always listen to my body and rest if more downtime is needed.

My primary focus for cross training days is to strengthen my glutes, quads, and hamstrings, and I will also be striving to improve my mobility, especially in the hips, as much as possible.

Weekly Plan

Monday: Speedwork

Tuesday: Cross Training (Strength-Focused)

Wednesday: HIIT Workout

Thursday: Hill Run

Friday: Cross Training (Strength-Focused)

Saturday: Long Run

Sunday: Rest/Yoga

New to training for a half? Check out my Top 10 Tips for Training for a Half Marathon.

*No information on this site should be relied upon to determine diet, make a medical diagnosis, or determine treatment for a medical condition. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified healthcare professional and is not intended as medical advice.

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Essential Running Gear for Half Marathon Training

Essential running gear includes Takeya water bottle, shower pill body wipes, momentum jewelry wraps, SPIbelt, my apple watch, energy gels, sunglasses Nuun Energy, and my Apple EarPods

When it comes to half marathon training, the most important thing you can do for yourself is buy a pair of running shoes that fit you well and that are right for your run. But besides some good kicks, there are so many other pieces of essential running gear out there that can benefit you before, during, and after your run.

As a running newbie, I was hesitant to invest in many training accessories, as I never really knew when I’d get sick of the whole running thing. But after completing my first half marathon, I could no longer deny that the running bug had bit me hard. I soon found myself spending hours wandering the aisles of my local running and sporting goods stores, and spending my hard earned cash on moisture wicking running socks and foam rollers.

And as I trained for half marathon after half marathon, I learned that buying the right pieces to help you prepare for, endure, and recover from a longer training run were key to better and happier performance.

Now, when I pack my bag or get ready before heading out the door to put in some mileage, I make sure to bring a few pieces of essential running gear so that I can thrive while training.

Headphones

When I run by myself or hit the treadmill, a good playlist is everything. My Apple EarPods work well for the shape of my ears and allow me to listen to the beats that keep me moving for miles.

Insulated Water Bottle

If I drive to a trailhead for a run, I always keep this Takeya Insulated Stainless Steel bottle (filled with water, of course) in the car to sip on pre-run and enjoy post-run when hydration is critical. It keeps my water cold for hours and hours, so even if it the bottle sits in a hot car for two or more hours, your precious water will remain just as cool and crisp as when you filled it.

ShowerPill Body Wipes

These body wipes are literally my favorite thing ever. If you’re a girl (or dude) on the go, with a full day’s worth of plans after a long Saturday morning run, use one of these bad boys in lieu of a full shower and you’ll feel fresh as can be. The wipes themselves are super durable, large in size, and kill stinky germs without feeling too harsh on my skin.

Momentum Motivate Wraps

Okay, so Momentum Motivate Wraps aren’t necessarily “essential” for every runner, but I love wearing them when I run a longer distance and fatigue or mental exhaustion is likely. All I have to do is look down at my wrist and she “she is strong” to keep killing my run and make it to the end with confidence.

Running Belt

For years I ran with my iPhone in my hand. But then I bought a SPIbelt, started placing it in the zippered pouch instead, and my life changed. I found out that I could run so much more efficiently without my stride being hindered by holding a phone. Plus, this nifty piece of running gear can also carry my ID, keys, or anything else. The best part? It really does stay put and doesn’t bother me one bit while running.

Energy Gels

Okay, okay, I normally don’t advocate for ingesting packets of sugar. But when running double digit distances, I always have one of these at some point in the run for carbohydrate supplementation. I’ve trained for a half marathon on a Whole30, opting for mushed up banana instead, but, for me, energy gels are the most convenient way to deliver glycogen while running longer distances.

Fitness Tracker/Smart Watch

I use the Nike+ Running App on my Apple Watch to track my mileage. While the app can be glitchy, it’s just so easy to look down at my watch and see my distance, pace, and run time, and I use it for every single run.

Sunglasses

If you’re going to be outside in the sun for a while, protect your skin with sunscreen and your eyes with a pair of sunglasses. I got mine for free after running a 10K, but I love them because they stay on my face while running and my bank account won’t shed a tear if I ever lose or break them.

Nuun Energy

When I’m kinda lagging on energy, I pop a Nuun Energy tablet into my water. These guys have electrolytes and caffeine, are great for alleviating post-run cramps, and they don’t taste overly sugary. My favorite flavor is Cherry Limeade.

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Where to Hike: Wildcat Gorge Trail at Tilden Regional Park, Berkeley

Wildcat Gorge Trail Tilden Park Berkeley

Tilden Regional Park in Berkeley boasts a small farm (with goats!), a lake, a botanic garden, and almost 40 miles of trails for hiking and biking. If you’re in the Bay Area, it’s a wonderful place to visit for some fresh air and forest bathing.

Last Monday, Michel and I took off for the Berkeley hills right after work and enjoyed a short spur-of-the-moment hike to alleviate some workday stress and talk about the things we always talk about while outdoors – how much we love California, what our current fears and dreams are, and what we think about alternate realities.

Together we explored the Wildcat Gorge Trail, a moderate 4-mile loop hike that Michel had heard good things about. While the afternoon was a pretty sunny one, by the time we arrived at the trailhead the temperatures had chilled and the fog was thick.

We parked at the Island Picnic parking lot and started down the Selby trail. We had to navigate around a fair amount of muddy steep inclines at the beginning of the hike, but once we reached Lake Anza, the trail was relatively dry and had a few manageable hills.

The hike features some beautiful redwoods, a steam with some mini-waterfalls, gorgeous canyon views, plus a few killer mediation spots.

We’ll definitely be back!

Forest Bathing in the Redwoods

Looking up into a redwood tree

Wildcat Gorge Trail Tilden Berkeley - Beautiful Opening

Wildcat Gorge Trail Berkeley

Tilden Park Berkeley

 

 

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Thoroughbred Treadmill Studio – A Treadmill Workout You’ll Love

thoroughbred-treadmill-studio-and-represent-running-ambassadors

Treadmills and I have a love-hate relationship. The use of one is obviously awesome for working on intervals and prepping your body for hills, since, you know, you can control your speed and incline manually. In fact, running hills on the treadmill in preparation for the San Francisco Nike Women’s Half Marathon saved my butt (literally) for the notoriously steep Mile 10 haul of the race.

But until this past weekend, my opinion has always been—and I think many people will agree—that treadmill workouts are just kind of boring, and not as enjoyable as getting an outdoor run in.

However, that opinion was rocked last weekend. I took a 45-minute treadmill class at Thoroughbred Treadmill Studio in Mill Valley on Saturday, and no joke, this was seriously one of the most fun and rewarding cardio classes I’ve ever taken.

Think of it as SoulCycle, in terms of energy, but on a treadmill instead of a bike. About 45 minutes of working out in a darkened room with awesome music pounding, as well as an instructor guiding your incline and speed, led to a super sweaty, super satisfying workout that flew by faster than any treadmill workout I’ve ever attempted.

Our instructor, Jake, was very motivating, helped everyone get oriented with the treadmills before the workout (which all had a thin, black cloth veiling each machine’s screen), and explained that the studio blocks the screens to urge each of us to run not according to numbers, but by feel. So, throughout class, instead of telling everyone they should be at a 5.0 incline and running at 7 miles per hour, we were told to start at a casual pace, then add and subtract clicks to the incline and speed throughout the session.

thoroughbred-treadmill-studio
Learning the basics of the class structure, as well as how to use the treadmills

We started with a warmup, moved into ladders and speedwork, then ended with a well-deserved cooldown—with an emphasis on the well-deserved part.

Thoroughbred partnered with Represent Running and Under Armour to offer this class for free, and it was great to meet the founder of Represent Running, JT, before class, as well as get a sweat sesh in with fellow Represent Running ambassadors Christina and Charla, among tons of other runners.

I had an amazing time and will happily make the trek back out to Mill Valley from Oakland for another treadmill workout at this studio. I’m hoping I can get a few more sessions in before the Across the Bay 12K in on July 10th.

Reasons Why I Totally Recommend Thoroughbred Treadmill Studio:

  1. The treadmills are AMAZING. Thoroughbred exclusively uses Woodway treadmills, which are the best treadmills out there, by far.
  2. The verbal guidance from the instructor was on point. Throughout the entire workout, our instructor, Jake, emphasized the importance of “beautiful running” and reminded us that the best runners in the world never look tired. Even when they’re surely nothing but exhausted, their posture is great, chest is out, and shoulders relaxed. Hearing Jake remind us to focus on running beautifully helped me tremendously during that workout and has stuck with me throughout each run I’ve done this week.
  3. The music was great. I’m super motivated by music when I workout, so hearing some good remixes of Missy Elliott, Rihanna, and more were the perfect backdrop to the run.
  4. Everyone was so nice! From check-in, to finding the locker room, to getting used to the treadmills, working out at Thoroughbred was such a lovely experience. Plus, our instructor gave out high fives to everyone individually before we made our final and fastest push of the class. Thanks, Jake!
  5. The classes are perfect for all levels. Whether you run a 7-minute mile, or you’re more of a casual jogger wanting to get a little faster, everyone can move at their own pace during class and push themselves on their own terms.

Learn more about Thoroughbred by checking out their website, then trying a class out for yourself (the first class is only $15!).

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My Top 10 Tips for Training for a Half Marathon

tips-for-running-your-first-half-marathon

A lot of people who have run a couple 5ks and maybe a 10k or two tell me that they have an itch to run their first half marathon, but feel intimidated by the training involved, or don’t know how to get started.

As someone who is currently training for my 10th half, I’ve had the opportunity to learn from lots and lots of training mistakes, and also gain pieces of wisdom from more seasoned runners along the way.

I’ve included some of my best advice below and hope it can help you complete your goal of crossing that finish line with a smile on your face!

Pick a plan.

As with accomplishing any goal, it’s important to figure out a roadmap for how you’ll reach that thing you want so badly. “Just running” each day until your half marathon will not cut it. Having a plan and sticking to it as best as you can will give you a well-rounded training program to help you best prepare for race day.

Increase your mileage slowly.

One of the surest ways to injure yourself and put the kibosh on your training plan is to start out running way too much at the beginning of your training plan. If you’ve never run more than 3 miles at a time, don’t pick a plan that has you running 6-milers during Week 1. Take your time increasing your weekly mileage, and don’t increase it more than about 10% each week.

Vary your runs.

If you’ve selected a good plan, it’ll likely include tempo runs, hill repeats, long runs, and lots of other fun running variations. Again, “just running” everyday will not make you a better runner. But running up hills once a week, doing speedwork at the track another day, and making sure you complete that weekend long run each week will help you become faster and better able to manage longer distances. Just because you can run 5 miles each day, you shouldn’t necessarily do it. Somedays 3 miles at the track working on speed is much more effective for training than a slower, steady 6-miler.

Cross-train.

Cross-train. Cross-train. Cross-train. Lift weights. Do squats and lunges. Strengthen your core. I attribute some of my best half marathons to an increase in resistance training and HIIT workouts sprinkled into my running schedule. I like to throw these things in twice, or if I’m lucky, even three times, each week to round out my training.

Train with a friend.

Hold yourself accountable to waking up for those 6am training runs by training with a friend or joining a half marathon training group. If you’re at all competitive, this is a great motivator, and if you’re on the more chill end of the spectrum, the post-long run brunches will be even more enjoyable with a buddy at your table.

Take rest days.

Half marathon training is taxing on the body. Your body NEEDS to rest on a weekly basis to make sure it can adequately recharge for another week of intense workouts. I know it at first seem challenging to sit back and not run or hit the gym for the day or two, but taking time to rest your legs, do some light yoga, or foam roll will greatly benefit your body on the days you do run.

Experiment with fuel and nutrition.

The last thing you want is to suck into a packet of Gu at mile 10 of your half marathon and immediately throw your stomach into an “I’m going to throw up now, you crazy fool” tizzy. Practice taking mid-run nutrition – like electrolytes and gels, and try to create some consistency around what you eat and drink the night before and the morning before a long run. I always make sure to have lots of water the days before a long run, as well as the morning of. Before a long run I always have a cup of coffee, big banana, and a healthy amount of almond butter. It works for me, but might not work for you, so try things out then stick with what seems to produce good results. Maybe it’s a slice of gluten-free toast, maybe it’s a fruit bowl and half a bagel. And don’t eat anything new or crazy 24 hours before race day. Stick with what your body knows and enjoys.

Study the course.

Are you running a flat course, or one filled with rolling hills? Are you running on a dirt trail, or city streets? What will the temperature be like at that time of year in that area? Study the course early so that you can train accordingly, then make sure you know where hydration and electrolyte stations are before you start your half marathon.

Have fun!

Duh! You paid to run this thing and you will have worked really hard to get your body conditioned to run 13.1 miles. Remember, some races are better than others in terms of results, but you can always enjoy yourself and be content with all you’ve dedicated over the past few months. Smile for the on-course cameras, take in the scenery of where you’re running, feel good that you’ll soon be able to cross a finish line after running 13.1 miles – a very long distance!

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Where to Run: Half Moon Bay Coastal Trail

Running_Along_Half_Moon_Bay_Coastal_Trail-1

Two Saturdays ago Michel and I woke up early, shared a large French press and some paleo pancakes, and hopped in our car, affectionately named Ravi, to drive to Half Moon Bay for our long Saturday run.

We were anticipating a hot weekend, so we figured running with the ocean breeze would feel great. Plus, we have both been a little bored with our usual long run paths, so I welcomed the idea of mixing up the routine with a small road trip and brand new path.  Oh, AND we had just watched Jaws the night before and like to live life on the edge, so why not hit the ocean??

Half_Moon_Bay_Coastal_Trail-1

The Coastal Trail, or Coastside Trail, is about a 9+ mile out and back trail that extends the entire coastline of Half Moon Bay. It’s a flat, mostly-paved trail with sweeping views of the coast and lots of beautiful scenery to soak up. There are lots of restrooms and water fountains on the route, as well as beach access if you choose to cut the run short and relax on the sand instead.

We parked near the Half Moon Bay State Beach Campground and turned around at the Half Moon Bay Kayak Co. rental spot, making it an easy 7.5-miler. The weather was spectacular, lots of surfers were out enjoying the waves, and, best of all, the whales were out too! We saw at least six whales over the course of the run, which meant lots of stops to point at whale blows and whale tail and squeal in delight. IT WAS AWESOME.

Smiling While Whale Watching in Half Moon Bay Happy to see whales in Half Moon Bay Stopping to Whale Watch at Half Moon Bay

Post-run, Michel and I cleaned up and changed into beachwear, walked to a local market to grab lunch (kale salad, chips and salsa, and La Croix for me, a large sandwich and mac and cheese for him), and returned to the beach to eat, relax, and enjoy the beautiful summer weather.

I highly recommend taking your next long-ish summer run to the Half Moon Bay Coastside Trail. Get there early to avoid traffic, especially on a nice day, and plan for a beach picnic afterwards. I know I’ll be back soon!

Half Moon Bay Coastal Trail Distance 7.5 Mile Run

Run Details

Place: Half Moon Bay

Distance: 9+ miles (though I only ran 7.5) out and back

Terrain: Flat, mostly paved, along the beach

Amenities: Lots of bathrooms and water fountains along the path

Final Advice: Get there early and park for free outside of the Half Moon Bay State Beach Campground.

 

 

 

 

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Running My Way to Positive Body Image & Self-Love

Melissa from Cook Slow Run Fast running by Lake Merritt in Oakland, CA.

Before I became a runner, I used to obsess about how much I weighed, how I looked, and what I ate. I fell into the same mental traps that many women (and men) have battled. My abs sure didn’t look like the woman’s on the cover of Self magazine, and I fixated on how my body would never compare to hers.

At the time, I thought that the best way to feel better about myself was to punish my body. I grew up with an aversion to running (I prayed for sickness every school mile day), so I deemed this as appropriate calorie-burning torture.

However, soon after I bought my first pair of running shoes since high school P.E., and got over the fact that thighs have the tendency to rub together when you jog, I forgot that I started this running thing out of self-hate.

With each run, I found myself focusing more on—and excited about—going just a little further or getting just a tiny bit faster. Rather than simply jogging around the comfort of my neighborhood, I wanted to see if I could make it to the lake without stopping—and in record time!

I forgot to worry about how I looked to people driving by, or how the body jiggles when it moves, or why I even compared myself to that woman on the cover of Self in the first place. Instead, I found myself thinking about how it good it felt to run a little further and a little faster.

I stopped seeing my body as a burden, and realized that it’s a beautiful and miraculous machine. I saw what I was capable of. While my pants got a little looser and I began to see a bit of muscle definition, what I cared about wasn’t the number on the scale. Rather, I impressed myself by shaving a few seconds off my mile time, taking on that crazy-tall hill by my house, or finishing a race with a smile on my face. My accomplishments meant more than my appearances.

I’ve since learned to embrace my body for exactly what it is. I’m on the shorter end of the spectrum, “long” is not the best word to describe my legs, and I was born with curves. And I love it all because it’s who I am. I no longer hate, or even simply accept, who I am. Rather, I’m empowered by it. I’m strong and unstoppable.

I encourage all women (and men) to lean into their current body with gratitude, and running is a great way to do so. Whether you have a beautiful, naturally thin body type, or one that’s composed of gorgeous curves, learn to love it by pushing it physically. Forget the Photoshopped models on the covers of beauty magazines, hit the pavement and chase after your own body happiness and self-love.

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Across the Bay 12k Race Review

Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 3.54.30 PMYou know that tempo run or track workout you’ve been “meaning to do” for dayssss now, but every other little thing just keeps getting in the way? Yeah, that’s been me with this race recap. But I’ve finally laced up my blogging shoelaces, so to speak, and am here to tell you all about my most recent race – the Across the Bay 12K.

Hosted by Represent Running, this is the second race in the Run the Bay series, the first of which (the San Jose 408K) I ran and wrote about back in March. This race, like the name implies, is a 12K (about 7.5 miles) that starts in Sausalito, spans across the Golden Gate Bridge and along Crissy Field, and ends at Aquatic Park in San Francisco.

The race begins with a big ol’ uphill to get up to the bridge, but it was actually ideal, as it spaced the crowds out. After that, it was pretty flat or downhill until the very end at which there was one final climb up Fort Mason, then a glorious decline that took you straight to the finish line. And best of all, YOU GET TO RUN ACROSS THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE!FullSizeRender 2FullSizeRender 3I ran this race with my boyfriend Michel (thanks for being so supportive of my running passion!). Since the race was a point-to-point, there were buses organized to take us from the finish line to the start line. We arrived a bit late, but after a short warm-up and a quick photo we eagerly jumped in with the third wave of runners and crossed the start line.

I have to say, the weather couldn’t have been more beautiful the day of this race. There wasn’t a bit of fog in sight, and a bunch of whales were even spotted right by the bridge (to cheer us on, obviously).FullSizeRender 4Michel and I ran the race together, which was great. With nice weather and someone to talk to and laugh with while you’re running, the course is incredibly enjoyable and the time just flies by. We didn’t run for time, but sometimes you just have to go with the flow and enjoy the experience without being competitive. And take lots of running selfies…IMG_4454 2
After we ran past Crissy Field, along Marina Green, and up that annoying Fort Mason Hill, we descended into Aquatic Park and sprinted to the finish line to be rewarded with 49ers-inspired medals, water, and bags of snacks. And tons of sunshine.
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I truly enjoyed this race and would recommend it to anyone who has completed a 5K or 10K and wants something a little longer in distance before taking on a half marathon. I’m already excited to run it again next year.
Why I Enjoyed the Across the Bay 12K:

  1. I said this already but…you get to run across the Golden Gate Bridge! Even better, you get to run along the side that is normally reserved for bicyclists, so you get a different, refreshing view. This was one of the most beautiful courses I’ve ever ran.
  2. The organizer, Represent Running, did a great job of spacing the waves. I was worried there would be some serious bottlenecking on the bridge, but there was none due to 15 minute time differences in corral start times, as well as that big hill at the beginning of the run.
  3. There were tons of photographers along the course – more than I’ve ever seen at a race – and lots of great photo opps.
  4. Finishers received a sweet medal (seen above) and a great Under Armour shirt designed by San Franpsycho.
  5. All of the food items in the finisher’s bag were gluten-free! Oh, and there were free popsicles provided during the post-race festivities.
  6. If you don’t want to run the 12K, there is also a 5K option that keeps you within the San Francisco city limits.
  7. Oh, and how cool is the artwork on the sign below? Little touches like this really show that the organizers tried hard to make this a great experience overall.

Tips for Next Year:

  1. If possible, carpool or get dropped off at the bus loading zone before the race by a non-running friend. We had a semi-challenging time finding parking nearby.
  2. Get there early. We waited a while to get on a bus to shuttle us from the finish line to the start line and missed the beginning of the wave we should have started with.

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To round out the day, Michel and I went to church nearby, then had a decadent picnic of gluten-free beer and sandwiches at Lake Merritt in Oakland while we listened to the Oakland Municipal Band play calypso music. It was perfect.

If you want to check out the next race organized by Represent Running, check out the Let’s Go 510K, which is on October 9th, 2016 in the East Bay.

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