Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Students Run LA 5k Recap

My race photos are not always a reflection of my love for our sport :). I definitely feel gratitude and happiness about being out on a race course - happy to be running hard, finding out what my body is capable of and how I learn from every experience. Somehow the camera snaps when I must be in deep thought pain about pushing myself a little harder, a little faster - trying not to leave anything on that course. It never gets old, I still laugh when I look at my race photos and see this:





On Sunday I raced the Students Run LA 5k race in Griffith Park. My love for Griffith Park runs deep -when Jerold and I got married, we bought a house a few minutes away from the park and loved running and biking there. I have memories of many 20 + mile runs from our house to Griffith Park, through the park and back. It covers 4,310 acres of land, making it one the the largest urban parks in North America (source) and it boasts the most breathtaking trails.

There wasn't a lot information about the race course and I found out that it would be a little bit on trail in the beginning and then on the road for the remainder of the race. 
We arrived early on Sunday morning and it was so nice to not have to fight through thousands of people to park and navigate the bathrooms. As I ran a one mile shake out run and did a dynamic warm up, I realized that unless the course sharply veered onto the road, we would be running on trails for the race. The trail was beautiful, but it consisted of the type of sandy like soft horse trails that your feet sink into. I knew it would be a fun experience no matter what, a way to test my fitness and see where what my body is up to right now.





The atmosphere was very friendly and everyone was smiling and happy to be out on a beautiful Sunday morning. We were led in a group warm up, followed by everyone high fiving each other and saying hello to people that you didn't know. I loved this and felt like we were all part of a special community.






Finally the race began and we were off. Eyeing the course and testing things out on my warm up, I knew the best thing would be to get to far right or left and try to find some hard packed sand, but it just wasn't there. I felt my feet sinking into the surface and knew I needed to smile, run as hard as I could and let everything else go.

Mile one: 6:50
As my watch beeped, I glanced down and saw 6:50 and knew this wasn't a race about time today. It would be a race about hard effort and so that was what I would do.

Mile two: 7:11
Puffing from the effort of soft trail terrain. I run a lot on the trails near my home and for the most part they are pretty hard packed dirt trails, so this was definitely different. This was HARD.

Mile three 7:05
I knew in my mind, I had to hold it together (suck it up!) and run as hard as I could. There were zero women in sight and the guys I was running next to were in the same boat I was in.

.1: 6:28
Run hard to the finish - legs burning from the terrain, but happy with the effort!


I knew at that point, I had to be the first woman to cross, and yet I couldn't think about - I was so happy to be finished.

Final time: 21:13

Coach told me to throw time out the window on a trail race and think about effort. I knew that in my heart, but nice to hear it from him as thoughts of a 21 minute 5K flashed through my head (Bummer! Despite this, I had a great speed workout this week with 8 x 800's at 6:07-6:10 pace). 

Jerold had his bike and I ran about a half mile cool down afterwards. Later in the afternoon, I ran another 4 miles for a total of 8.6 miles for the day.

I met some really great people at the race! Two alumni who trained for their first marathon with the SRLA program.






I also got to meet one of the founders (Paul) and the director (Christine) of SRLA.





The Running Is My Recess t-shirts have arrived! Buy a shirt and help an at risk kid find the joy in running!





Lots of running going on in my world this week, so focused on recovering well and taking it one day at a time.


Hope you guys are having a great week!


Have you ever raced on soft trails?


What is one goal you have for your summer running?



xo,
Natalie

Friday, June 2, 2017

Friday Stuff + The Anatomy Of A Hard Workout


Seriously. I have TWO more days of school lunches to pack and then we are finished for the school year! I really need some down time to refresh the batteries. The past month has been especially crazy with the rush of end of the year activities and next week will really be insane. Two schools, three kids = June madness. 
By the way, how is it June already? I feel like we just had Christmas break. I can hardly believe these kiddos will be going into 5th, 2nd and last year of preschool.






Captain Underpants The movie has arrived! I have read the book so many times to my kids and now the movie is finally here. Fun fact: The voice over actress part of me loves going to these animated movies, as I spent a lot of time working on commericals and a few animated TV shows. After years of voice training and auditions, I haven't worked in this industry in a while and some days I miss it.





Can I tell you how hungry I have been this week? I found myself trolling the pantry the other night, in desperate search of anything good to eat. I'm on tap for my first 50+ mile week in a while, so maybe that's why?

Let me I tell you about the monster workout I had on Wednesday. It was the first hard effort workout of the new season and I walked away drenched, glad to be finished, yet ready to put in some hard work this summer and see what happens. 






10.44 miles (on a Wednesday!) broken up like this:

2 mile warm up on my beloved trails

Then down to the roads for the tempo portion:

4 x 1.5 miles at 6:52 average pace (with 1:30 jog in between each set)

Ended with a 2 mile cool down.

There's something about running that extra half mile (as opposed to one mile repeats) that nails your butt. Lots of mental talk going on during this workout - first set was hard and by the third set I got into a good rythmn. At one point I broke the set into half mile segments times three (in my mind - not actually stopping) and that helped a lot mentally.  <-----Tip for you during mile and a half repeats!


Seven miles of recovery running yesterday and if the key is to run easy on the easy days, then I get an A+.





Finished up the month of May with 187.5 miles and onward to June.


Running Is My Recess - psyched about this movement and this awesome community of runners (check them out on Insta!) BTW, don't forget to buy a t-shirt, tank or mug - 10% goes to support Students Run LA! I can't wait to receive my shirt in the mail and of course I'll share it with you guys. #Runningismyrecess


Have a wonderful weekend filled with miles and smiles!



What's the toughest workout you've done in the past month?

How many miles are you running this weekend?


xo,
Natalie

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

It's Time To Get Strong + Training Update

We finally watched Patriots Day this weekend and it really struck a chord with me emotionally. I had heard it was a powerful movie, but it was so difficult to believe that it was real. Can there really be that much hate in the world? Can some people actually be devoid of emotion, numb to the tender flesh of human life?
I had so many questions firing rapidly in my head, tears flowing down my cheeks and by the end of the movie I knew that I would go back to Boston someday. As a marathoner, how do you not feel the pull to run through those streets, especially after what the people of Boston endured?
After I crossed the finish line six weeks ago, I felt like I had put in some good time there and I wasn't sure when I would be back. There are so many other races to explore and goals to accomplish, that it's impossible to do it all in a year. My body can safely take two marathons per year, so I know I have to choose carefully and wisely.




Celebrated with a low key and fun Memorial Day yesterday with my favorite people.




To remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom






On the menu: Ribs (I haven't had ribs in SO long.), potato salad (the healthy kind without all the icky mayo), a chinese cole slaw and an argula salad with artichokes. Lemonade and cookies for dessert - safe to say we were in a food coma, that is until my kids later asked "What's for dinner?" Um, yeah, that was your dinner, we ate at dinnertime - along with homemade pancakes for breakfast and a full lunch! I seriously have a crew of linebackers living at my house.


I made these with brown rice flour (swap out the white flour from your pancake recipe and replace with brown rice flour). They ate a million of them.


Training this past week went well. Mileage is starting to creep up a bit and I have been careful with maintance - a lot of PT exercises, stretching and rolling. I can't help but think that this time last year I was side lined with plantar fasciitis that lasted through the entire summer. I'm calling it post traumatic injury disorder - I think that's pretty accurate. I am so hyper aware of my feet these days and I will do whatever it takes to never go through that experience again. You can read my article for Women's Running Magazine about the 14 ways to manage plantar fasciiitis HERE.


Here a snap shot of my training week:

Monday May 22nd - 4 easy miles (easy recovery from the 12 miles at 7:23 pace the day before)

Tuesday May 23rd - REST (after 7 days of running, my body was ready for a break)

Wednesday May 24th - 7 miles

Thursday May 25th - 2 mile w/up, 15 x 1:00 on (6:10- 6:00 pace), 1 minute jog in between each,  mile cool down. 8 miles total.
Getting back to some speed here and it felt a little foreign, but good to let the legs turning over.

Friday May 26th - 9 easy miles with 8 - 30 second pick ups (6:58 pace)

Saturday May 27th - 7 easy miles

Sunday May 28th - 12 miles at 7:40 pace. I was more than happy to back down on the pace this week for the long run + it was hard to even do this run. I just wanted to snuggle at home and not run at all. It's normal to have days like this, but you have to push through anyway and keep going. Think about the long term goals and how each run is a tiny piece of the puzzle to get you where you strive to be.
It took about 5 miles for me to get into it and then around mile 9, I was totally over it - just wanted to stop, but this is where the mental toughness kicks in. I told myself if you can keep running hard at mile 23 in the marathon, you can get through this last 3 miles. 

47 total miles

Strength work. I wish I could tell you what a productive and kick ass week I've had in this department, but it just isn't the case. Push ups here, donkey kicks there, bicycle crunches, but nothing major. I really have to get back to lifting this week and focusing on strength work - it'll come back together this week.

Running Is My Recess has a legit website, a small apparel line (10% goes to SRLA) and we are chugging along. Buy a shirt, tag your photos (#runningismyrecess) and join us! I can't wait to see you guys in a shirt! :)





Recognize any of the awesome runners on the website? Thanks to my sweet friends Sandra and Sue for being part of this! Happy to have Shawanna on here also - they all are amazing runners!
My plan is to rotate and have different runners featured every so often, so definitely let me know if you are interested in being featured.

Check out my article from Women's Running Magazine about all the details on the movement HERE.




Alright, it's time for a new week, time to grind and continue to be grateful for so many gifts that life continues to bring. Even through the hard stuff, it's worth it.


What did you do for Memorial Day?

Anybody race this weekend?

Future races coming up?! Give us the details!! :)


xo,
Natalie

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Getting Back On Track + My Fall Marathon!

I'm really happy with the way this post marathon recovery time has worked out. I took a solid week off from running and then started back slowly, totally running how my body felt and resting a lot.
It's amazing how much your body goes through during a marathon - 26.2 miles of pounding on your joints and muscles, not to mention the fact that you are totally dialed in mentally for a lot of hours. The dramatic range of emotions you feel before, during and after - oh and don't forget about all the months of training as well. I think you are truly honoring your body by giving it ample time to really rest and recharge.






I have spent these past five weeks since Boston (where did the time go?! BTW, I still have more pictures to share...) focused on my kids and so many little things that go by the wayside during marathon training. I've organized a few closets, done a good amount of spring cleaning, started cooking and baking a bit more and attending a lot of end of the year school events. 




A rare date night


This time of year is so insane (right, Moms?) with the emotions of another school year coming to an end, happiness because we made it and sadness because my babies keep growing. Thankfulness that I don't have to prepare lunches for three months (we get out of school in June) and yet laser focused on what in the world are my kids going to do all summer, plus planning travel, summer birthdays (Megan and Jerold), camps and more. I remember thinking a couple of years ago that we would have so much more freedom with travel once everyone was potty trained and taking zero naps. The time has pretty much come (at four, Elle could take a nap - but she formally dropped it a while ago and she is SUCH a little girl now.) I find myself in a semi constant state of remembering to be in the moment - even when the kids are whiny, cranky and driving me crazy (cause this is real life, not some glossy magazine life), cause I know soon they'll want to be off with their friends more than hanging out with me and I don't want to miss a thing. Sometimes I find myself a little hyper sensitive about it - did I ask Josh enough questions about his day? Did I spend enough time reading with Megan? I should really give Elle a piggyback ride to the bath tonight...




I've also kept running at the forefront of my mind. I have this ability to firmly plant running RIGHT THERE in spite of the utter continued craziness of our life. Running definitely grounds me, provides such stress relief and relaxation (#runningismyrecess - this community is growing, hastag your photos, join us and be inspired!!) and I know each day is one step closer toward achieveing some big running goals.

Last week was a good base building week and with 46 miles logged, it was my biggest running week since well before Boston. Ended the week with 12 miles at 7:23 pace, which was a relief to get this evening run done before the sunset. Thoughts of not wanting to run in the dark + getting fired up about a fast fall marathon ended with me running this long run faster than I should have, but yet I needed it and finally felt like my legs were back and I felt fresh again.

Coach and I have talked a lot about the next marathon and I given a great deal of thought about which one I really want to run. I want to set myself up in the best way possible for success - which means the following: (And tips for anyone out there looking for a PR) ----->

1. Close to home (relatively and preferably in the same time zone)
2. COOL WEATHER. Of course you can't predict the weather, but you can have a pretty darn good idea based on years of data.
3. Fast course (based on the data again, but of it's ultimately what you want - if you don't run well on pancake flat courses, then you should probably skip Chicago...)
4. Good course support
5. Competitive field, but not a super huge race (although some runners do extremely well at huge big city races).

I narrowed it down to the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon in November and the California International Marathon in December.
Both great races, big but not huge, very cool to cold weather, fast courses, good support, competitive field.

You probably can guess my answer...

CIM.

Yeah, I'm going to race CIM in December, although I was very, very tempted by Indianapolis because it would be so easy to see my Dad and he could come to the race, which would be amazing.

I chose CIM because I have been trying to run this marathon for years. Literally years and something always comes up to prevent that, so I think 2017 is the year to do it. I will have to fly up to Sacramento, but it's a short flight and zero time change. Great course (I need to practice my downhill, which I need to fine tune that technique) and it is the location of the USA Marathon Championships this year! The field of women is going to be incredible and I can't wait to be a part of it. Every year this race has extremely cool to cold weather and I am going to relish that - I love the idea of running a marathon in 30-40 degree weather. 

Bonus: My Dad is coming here for Christmas!

Well, there it is - the fall marathon plan. 

Right now is just building a base again, dialing in some speed this summer, trying new things and enjoying lots of daylight, fresh peaches, watermelon, trail runs, camping, playing in the ocean, laughing, outdoor dinners, swimming, SUP, catching up with friends, taking a nap in the backyard and - enjoying life.

Take life by the horns and steer it in the direction you want to go.

Anything is possible.

xo,
Natalie



Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Family Day At The Los Angeles Zoo!



This post was sponsored by Stonyfield yogurt and the AZA. All opinions are my own.


Our family absolutely loves being outside and we adore animals, so going to the zoo is always a special treat. Every time we visit the Los Angeles Zoo, we have a unique and fun experience learning about many different species of animals. It is a beautiful place, tucked away nearly twenty miles from the ocean in a quiet part of Los Angeles county. This zoo is definitely a must for anyone who visits LA, especially if you have kids! 
When Stonyfield yogurt offered to send our family to the zoo in partnership with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), we were thrilled to go!





Stonyfield is really into cows and they started a Mooovement (pun intended) sponsoring a program that gives kids free access to zoos and aquariums across the country. Stonyfield is workly closely with the AZA and their SAFE program (Saving Animals From Extinction) to save some of the planet's most endangered species. Want to find out more about the program and how you can get a free ticket for your child to visit the local zoo? Click HERE for more info!







It was an extremely hot day in Los Angeles, but we were lucky that the animals were happy and out sunning themselves for us to cruise by and say hello. We saw graceful flamingos, chipper chimps, lazy tigers, happy hippos and so much more. Meercats, alligators, elephants, gorillas, zebras, a huge condor, several varieties of parrots, sea otters, tons of fish, a huge black bear eating his leafy greens and the list goes on. We were really excited for snack time and our Stonyfield yogurt that was tucked away in a small cooler was the perfect snack to reenergize and cool us down.





As a Mom with three kiddos, I love seeing their eyes light up with excitment over each animal and the questions are endless. They also loved taking ownership of the map, deciding what they wanted to see and the best way to get there.

You can spend an entire afternoon at the zoo and never see everything, so we'll be making more trips and learning as much as we can about endangered animals and what we might be able to do to help. This trip was also a great way for our family to spend the day together and we shared many special moments.











Check out THIS video that asks kids and adults - can a cow save endangered animals?



From now until the end of September, when you purchase two specially marked YoKids yogurt packs, you get a FREE ticket to your local AZA affiliated zoo or aquarium with purchase of an adult ticket.

Summer is a great time to get out with your family and explore the zoo or aquarium. 

I 'm sure you'll have as much fun as we did! 


When was the last time you visited a local zoo?

Have you ever been to the LA Zoo?

What is your favorite animal?


xo,
Natalie






























Friday, May 12, 2017

Friday Favorites!

Well hello weekend, I've been waiting for you :)

How's your week been? Running wise, I've had a good week - we are starting to lay down a foundation of miles to slowly start up training again. Patience is always the key word and I am content to be patient right now. Just keep running day after day and gradually add in some speed work (I had a good 8 miler yesterday with 10 x :30 second repeats) and knock off the post marathon recovery rust. I'm close to narrowing down a summer half marathon, looking for another and searching for some short races to try. Getting back into core work and weights and I'm always considering new ways to get stronger with weight training. It's been nearly four weeks since Boston - where did the time go?




There were a few awesome things that jumped out at me this week, and I wanted to share with you guys, so let's get to it!

1. THIS article from Outside Magazine. Four pros talking about how they each made a comeback after injury or pregnancy (or both!). Everyone has setbacks and it's nice to know that elite runners go through some of the same fears that we do. Super inspiring read.

2. The snack I had today was bomb. Period. I almost wished I hadn't discovered it, cause it's seriously addicting. Garlic and butter infused popcrack corn. :)
Pop a batch of fresh popcorn on the stove and while it's popping, melt two tablespoons of butter with 2 cloves of garlic (I used a garlic press). Pour over the popcorn immediately, add salt to taste and enjoy!





3. My friend Sandra was having a blast today swinging on THIS! Doesn't this look like so fun?! My kids would love it, but I want a turn!


4. Great article about Olympian Kerry Walsh Jennings - Lululemon's newest elite ambassador. She looks awesome in this white collection and love her attitude as a Mom and an athlete. Side note: I hope she is down to earth and cool in real life. Jerold got a chance to meet her at a charity event and said she was very kinda snobby... Say it isn't so, please! You know, here are my two cents on celebrities - actors, athletes, whoever. You have to be humble and kind... I mean you don't have to, and I think about what their life is like in a bubble. Do they encounter a lot of creepy people and it makes them keep their guard up? Could be. I like to go with the notion that you should keep your feet on the ground and be kind, but then I'm not a celebrity so... #thereyougo


5. In honor of Mother's Day, I wrote an article for Women's Running Magazine about my perspective as a Mother Runner. To all the Moms out there - HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!!

Before I sign off, I have to chat about Running Is My Recess. It's my newest baby - I guess we could have gotten a dog, but I can't handle a fourth child right now. My kids are cautiously asking, but they know deep down that it's MOMMY who is going to be stuck with dog walking, poop cleaning, potty training, dog washing, dog training and everything else I am forgetting. I remember getting my first dog at like age 6, his name was Benji, he was a poodle and it was a not great experience. Who knew poodles could be mean?! I would jump on the couch screaming and my Mom would have to rescue me. Needless to say, we lovingly gave Benji to our neighbors who didn't have young kids and it was the best decision for our family. We adopted another dog named Benji (I was really into that name) months later. He was a cocker spaniel and an absolute dream. He was my constant companion for a long time...

Whoa, I digress. Sorry to veer off into the opposite direction. Running Is My Recess! Yes - it is up and running on Instagram. Tag your photos #runningismyrecess and connect with this growing community. We'd love to see where you went for a run today!! I am also featuring runners on my blog and Facebook each week...











Have a wonderful weekend!

xo,
Natalie

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

You're Worth It: Celebrating The Whole You


This post is sponsored by Stonyfield yogurt and Prana, but all opinions are my own.


Do you ever have the feeling that life is moving at such a rapid pace that you don't truly take time to enjoy it? Often, I reflect on my days and it's always off to the next task, next location, another line item to check off on my never ending list. I look at my kids and notice how much they are growing right before my eyes. I want to take a mental snap shot on the priceless, crazy moments that happen throughout our week. It brings me such joy to focus on each of them and where they are in their childhood - as they say the days are long, but the years are short. My kids are so free, innocent, full of love and laughter. They have the uncanny ability to see the world as a beautiful place, without a care in the world.

When was the last time you had that feeling? That life was so rich with adventure, free from the negative and you were able to toss away your cares, if only for an hour...





Living by the sea is therapy for me and when I'm near the water, it brings such peacefulness to my life. Suddenly the stress melts away, I feel so energized and ready to take on anything. I love SUP and that is one of our go to activities during the summer, but I've had the desire to learn to surf for a long time. I'm pumped that this is the summer that I'm going to try it and of course you want to look good too! I'm loving this Lorelei Sun Top from Prana - it's perfect for hanging at the beach, indulging in a little SUP or surfing. The bright electric orange color reminds me of sunny days, dancing in the surf and soaking in every ounce of playtime that I can.





What I love about Prana is that they are committed to seeking out materials from sustainable sources, the people that make their clothing are treated fairly, and the processes they use improve the industry as a whole. As a Mom, runner and a consumer that makes me feel good about wearing Prana's fun and stylish clothing. 

I'm so happy that Prana and Stonyfield are pairing up on this campaign - two companies that truly care about making their products from organic, sustainable sources (Stonyfield is now a certified B corporation).

As a marathoner, I'm very focused on what I put into my body for maximum performance and recovery. After a run, I really look forward to cooling down, stretching and then grabbing a bowl of Stonyfield organic whole milk yogurt. Paired with chunks of granola and colorful berries, it makes a perfect post run snack.





As the days grow longer and summer makes it's long awaited appearance, I will be running a lot and training for a fall marathon. That means lots of delicious Stonyfield yogurt for me and the whole family! I'm also psyched to sport the Lorelei Sun Top from Prana. 

From now until May 31st, enjoy 15% off your whole Prana order - simply use the code WHOLES17NRF.

(This offer is not valid for influencers, on gift certificates, or valid on any other offers.)


What is your favorite snack after a run or workout?

Have you tried anything from Prana's clothing line?
(You can check them out on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter)

xo,
Natalie