Friday, August 26, 2016

Life Lately + How Much Do We Rely On Running For Happiness?

Unbelievable that it is the last Friday in August, right? My kiddos are out of school until after Labor Day, so we are enjoying every last drop of summer. 
I have had so much fun with them and we have created some really wonderful, unforgettable memories together. Then there are moments that I feel like my bag of tricks is empty, I don't have any more fun game ideas or wild excursions, and I'm ready to hunt down a 17 year girl and beg her to play with my kids.

Blogging this summer hasn't been as robust as I would love it to be. I start a post and then suddenly there is a little person that needs something NOW MOMMY. 
Nighttime rolls around and exhaustion sets in so deep that I can't imagine writing a coherent sentence.


After dinner serenity



I am also still dealing with the crazy plantar fasciitis. My doctor told me two months ago that it was an acute case. An injury that I needed to treat constantly and give it time. I didn't like hearing that in the least, but I knew that I had to listen - ha, my foot made me listen.
I canceled a September marathon, and settled in for what I thought would be a few weeks. Surely, it wouldn't last longer than that?
Three months later and here I am, still battling and there have been times that I think it got the best of me. There have been moments of sadness, moments of frustration, moments of (yes) tears.
Why am I going through another entire summer of injury? I think to myself.

I realize that God doesn't give me more than I can bear, but I kinda need a break here God. Although, who am I to dictate how much is too much?
Jerold and I were talking the other night, and thank goodness my husband doesn't mind me constantly talking about my foot or some aspect of not running. Anyway, I asked him "Do you think I base too much of my happiness around running?"
His answer? "You should blog about it, I think it'll make you feel better and maybe it'll help someone else."
I will clarify and say that my kids and husband make me immensely happy, it's just that running makes me happy in a different way.


Happiness times a million, but I miss running.



I do feel super blessed to have such amazing friends - people like my friend Tina, who I had a chance to talk to on the phone the other week. We have never met, and yet it was like we've known each other forever. She was so kind and incredibly helpful - I hung up feeling refreshed and ready to face anything.

And my sweet friend Jen, who graciously offered to fly to Sacramento and run the last 12 miles of CIM with me to help chase a PR. I just need to start training :)

And my coach, who is always there - planning and helping me achieve whatever I want to achieve.

I have another round of acupuncture tomorrow morning and my foot is feeling so much better this week.
Better after taking 4 weeks off completely, going on vacation (three National parks in the most stunning locations. Happy Birthday to the National Park Service! Separate post coming on our trip.) and running slowly. Four miles at first, five at the most - and then realizing that my foot was angry with me. Again.
We got back from our trip the first week in August, I tried more running and then decided to take additional time off. I even took a few days off from all exercise - just total rest. Swimming (and pool running) are becoming my go to workout for now and I am working on getting stronger in that area.

Saturday, Jerold and I had a fun date night! A party thrown by my friend Leslie (an amazing runner) and she knows how to throw a party. We had so much fun! Tons of food, a live band, followed by a DJ - say what? There is nothing like partying with a bunch of runners and triathletes - we were all talking about what we love, running.


Everyone had to dress in white!



Sunday was the men's marathon (Go Galen, Jared and Meb!) and as I woke up at 5 am, I realized that dancing, (yes dancing - even in my Birkenstocks!) made my foot so angry. Ugh...
So, the rest of this week was filled with cross training and rest. I am hoping to run on Monday and I am going to take it like a serious beginner - 2 minutes of running, 1 minute of rest and so on for two miles. IF that goes well, I will do the same on Tuesday. Fingers crossed.


I am not giving up yet on racing CIM the first weekend in December, so we'll see where the cards fall.

Boston registration is coming up in the next few weeks and that is always exciting! 

Happy weekend my friends and happy running (run some miles for me, will ya?)

Happiness Is Running Life.


Anything fun planned this weekend? Do tell!

How much does not running affect your mood?


xo,
Natalie




Monday, August 15, 2016

Brooks Ghost 9 Review

I have been a huge fan of Brooks running shoes for a long time. I have tried many different models of Brooks running shoes and settled into the Ghost 7 a couple of years ago. The shoes ended up becoming my best friend - long training runs on trails or pavement, speed sessions on the track, tempo runs on the road. I truly felt excited to lace up those babies and take them for a run. After knee surgery, they were literally my comeback shoe.

Then suddenly, just like that - they were gone. Poof. Discontinued. 
What? How can that be possible? I simply couldn't imagine running in another shoe. Right before the Boston Marathon this year, I bought a few pair to stock up (there was no way I would be switching shoes before Boston) and they lasted me for a good while.


This summer, I finally had to make a decision - what shoe would take me down the road this time?



Elevate your happy




I took a trip to a local running store (LA friends - Top to Top running store in Santa Monica is THE BEST! They love the sport of running and they will truly go out of their way to help you find the best shoe. You can also try a shoe for seven days, and if you don't like it, you can return it. That to me is priceless.)

I walked out that day with a shiny new pair of Ghost 9's in my hand, and I couldn't wait to give them a try.


Stats:

The Brooks Ghost 9 is a neutral shoe, has a 12 mm midsole drop, and weighs 9.1 ounces


Things I love about this shoe:

- Wide toe box. 
The toe box on the Ghost 9 is wider than the Ghost 7 and wider than any other running shoe I have ever experienced. It felt a bit strange at first, but I quickly got used to the extra room for my feet.
There is so much room for your toes to move and the mesh fiber is extremely breathable to keep your feet cool and happy.





- Excellent heel cushioning
The feeling is like running on a firm cloud. A nice amount of cushioning, but not squishy or too soft. My feet and legs feel protected in this shoe for long runs, yet I know I could run a fast tempo in this shoe.


- Midsole drop
I have come to realize that a higher heel to toe drop is a better choice for me. Especially as I am dealing with the tail end of Plantar Fasciitis, a shoe that puts less strain on my plantar and achilles is better for my foot. That said, it is very important to work on the strength and flexibility in your feet and legs.

Check out THIS article on finding your sweet spot. :)


If you need a neutral shoe with a higher heel to toe drop, I would highly recommend this shoe!

**I purchased this shoe and all opinions are my own.


What type of shoe do you like to run in?



Happiness Is Running Life.

xo,
Natalie


















Friday, August 12, 2016

Tips For Eating Healthy On A Road Trip

Hey Friends,
Happy Friday and happy start to the weekend!

Are you totally immersed in the Olympics? There is so much to be excited about, all I want to do is curl up on the couch and be inspired by all of the athletes. Need a schedule of the track and field coverage? Go HERE and check it out.

For many people, August is still a huge summer month, (my kids don't go back to school until after Labor Day) with lots of long evenings and fun trips on the agenda.
Even if your kids are back to school, many families still take time for weekends away to enjoy short vacations and soak up the last rays of summer.

Going on a road trip doesn't have to mean stops at McDonald's or questionable road side food.
With a bit of easy planning, you can eat healthy on the road!







Our family took a road trip this summer to visit three National Parks (2016 is the 100th anniversary of the US National Parks!). We visited Bryce Canyon National Park, Yellowstone National Park and Zion Canyon National Park. It was our longest road trip ever with kids and we knew that healthy eating was extremely important. I was in the beginning of marathon training and wanted to have healthy choices available for fuel. Not to say our family doesn't have fun! We love ice cream and fun desserts, but for the most part we enjoy eating super healthy. The challenge for me was how to feed everyone well while we were on the road.


1.  Make A List Of Food Ideas The Week Before

I was feeling really busy with laundry and packing, so it was important that I had a list of what everyone wanted to eat. I felt like I was more organized for this trip that I am for regular grocery shopping!



2.  PLAN AND PREP

We were so blessed to have my Mom with us on our trip and I am always so grateful to have quality time with her. The two of us put our heads together and planned (we needed enough food for breakfast and lunch for the trip to our first stop in Utah)...


- A large cooler with ice

- Plenty of bottled water

- Tons of fresh fruit (to feed 6 people)

- Grilled chicken

- Roasted squash

- Roasted asparagus

- Hard boiled eggs

- Turkey bacon (look for the brands without nitrates)

- Kale salad (ready made from Whole Foods)

- Individual containers of yogurt

- Popcorn

- Snap Pea Crisps (Trader Joes)

- Dark Chocolate (healthier than milk chocolate)

- Plates, utensils, napkins, cups


The evening before we left, we grilled and cooked all of the food. It was easy, because everything would be good to eat whether it was hot or cold.

For example - for breakfast on the road we had hard boiled eggs, turkey bacon and fruit. We also brought yogurt. The kids loved eating on the road and everyone felt satisfied.


Lots of fresh fruit to snack on!



3. Keep It Fun!

The important thing was to have FUN. This was vacation after all and I wanted the kids to have a blast. I made sure they had treats like dark chocolate and chewing gum (they never have gum and they LOVED it).


4. Don't Sweat The Small Stuff

If you forget something, don't worry about it. There is bound to be a small market along the way, or wait until you are passing through a city to stop at Wal Mart or Target to pick up extra supplies.





Are you following me on Instagram? You can check out some of the highlights of our trip there.


So many people have asked me: "How was it embarking on a roadtrip with three kids?!"

My answer? It was WONDERFUL. The memories we made will truly last a lifetime. It was great to show our kids part of the United States by car instead of always flying on a plane.

Lastly, as an athlete and a Mom, it was great to model for my kids that you can make healthy eating choices, even on the road.


Have you ever taken a long roadtrip? Where did you go?

What do you like to snack on in the car?


Happiness Is Running Life.

xo,
Natalie








Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Running and Safety

*** I had a completely different post lined up for today, but in light of recent events, I felt compelled to talk about this vital topic.


I remember like it was yesterday. On April 15th, 2013, I was holding my third baby - who was then two and half months old, and watching the Boston Marathon on TV. 
When they broadcast the news of the horrific events that hurt and killed runners, it really hit home for me. All I could think about was: "Not the running community. Please, make it stop."

Now it has happened again. Three young, beautiful, innocent women whose lives were suddenly taken while doing something they loved. 

Running.

Running is something that each of us love for so many reasons: therapy, exercise, the feeling of freedom as you lace up your shoes and hit the trail or road.
It becomes a habit, a joyful feeling and you certainly never think that you may not return home to your family.

This has hit the running community hard - can't you feel it? As a female runner, I geninuely felt scared yesterday. I feel scared today.
I won't let the fear stop me from doing what I love, but it does give me pause.


Am I taking the proper precautions when I am out on the road?








Here are 6 Tips we all need to follow to stay safe on the road:


1. Ditch the headphones. Just don't. Have. Them.
I know we talk about keeping one bud in your ear and one out, but honestly - that's not enough. Think about it. When a good song comes on and you are really immersed in it, you take away an extra sense you need to be aware of your surroundings. I only listen to music on the treadmill. Period.


2. Let someone know where you are running. There are apps (my husband uses Find my Friend) you can use to track your route, which is even better - because haven't we all changed our mind about which way to run?


3. This is important. Someone should know what your are WEARING when you leave for a run. Think about it - it'll make it easier for police to find you if they know what you are wearing (she had on a red shirt...).


4. Remember - early mornings can be just as unsafe as evening runs. A lot of times we talk about the danger of running in the evening, but early morning runs can be just as dangerous. 
It is usually still dark, there aren't a lot of people out and if you run every morning, it can be easy to track your pattern. Don't be a target.


5. Find a group to run with. 
I know this is hard for a lot of runners due to schedules, etc. 
I live near a lot of trails and the number one thing that I hear from other runners is DON'T run a trail alone. Another idea is to have a friend or family member bike with you on weekend long runs. My husband will bike with me when I start logging long runs during marathon training. Yes, it can be hard to arrange a baby sitter. Sometimes, he simply brings the kids and drives in the car to meet me at different points. Other times, we ask my Mom or a sitter to be with our kids. Safety comes first.
If those options don't work for you, at least bring your cell phone and practice #6...


6. Purchase Road ID AND bring a form of protection. A horn, pepper spray, or THIS new device.
I also think a self defense class is an excellent way to learn about protection.


For those of us on social media: Be careful what you post. As much as I love blogging about running and engaging with the running community, we all need to be safe. You never know who is tracking or watching you.
Don't post where you are running, never run the same routes at the same times and mix it up! Some days, I will drive someplace totally new to run. No one should be able to predict where you will be running.


An interesting way to think of it is equating running safety to hiking in bear country. There are signs everywhere telling hikers to run with groups of three or more people, carry bear spray and make a lot of noise.

Sounds a lot like what we should be doing as runners.






Let's all be safe out there, friends.


Happiness Is Running Life.

xo,
Natalie

Friday, July 29, 2016

Live Unlimited

Happy Friday friends! I am so happy that it is finally the weekend, but a little sad that July is coming to an end. I love this month so much and all that is signifies:

Summer, 4th of July, our wedding anniversary (15 years!!!), beautiful peaches, Jerold's birthday this Sunday the 31st (Happy Birthday honey!!) and so much more. 
I feel like July is the true heart of summer and although August will be wonderful, I will miss it.

I have been excited to write this post for a while. I have been LOVING my Live Unlimited bracelet sent by the Muscular Dystrophy Association. The campaign is inspired by the strength of MDA families who are defying limits every day despite the challenges that diseases like muscular dystrophy and ALS often create. These diseases take away everyday freedoms that most of us take for granted, including walking, running, hugging, dressing ourselves, talking and even breathing. There are currently few treatments and NO CURES.

Six dollars of each sale will benefit MDA to support groundbreaking research across diseases, clinical care for kids and adults from day one and support services for families in hometowns across America. 
I love what the MDA stands for and wearing this bracelet reminds me to never take life for granted. Each day lived is truly a gift and we should live it to the fullest.

Live Unlimited.







The MDA had an awesome idea of sending a bracelet to someone who inspires you to Live Unlimited. Someone who takes chances, works hard and enjoys life to the fullest.
There are many people in my life that fit this description, but I chose someone who inspires me to strive to be a better runner. I chose my friend Jen, who truly is an incredible Mom of four gorgeous kids, wife to a great husband, and an amazing runner. I have written about Jen on the blog before and you can read all about her HERE.







When I look at Jen and her running, it makes me feel fired up. It make me wants to get out on the road and truly get after my goals and dreams. Jen has had her share of injuries and setbacks, but she never lets that stop her. After 25 marathons and a PR of 2:58 (+ a 1:24 half marathon), she is now aiming to run sub 2:50 in the very near future.




Live Unlimited!


Jen and I have talked so much about running and injuries - the latest conversation was my dealing with PF and her dealing with a small tear in her calf. That injury also left her sidelined for a couple months this summer, and now she is slowly back to running again. Jen always has such a positive outlook on life, and when she can't run - she bikes and swims (let me say - she is also an incredible swimmer!) like a true champion.
Jen reminds me that in running you never, ever give up. Even when you are down, you keep slaying those dragons to be your absolute best. If you keep chipping away, working hard and banking months and years of good training, your dreams will come true.
I have no doubt that Jen will capture a sub 2:50 marathon time and that day will truly be INCREDIBLE.

This program sponsored by the MDA, (with bracelets made by Endorphin Warrior!) will inspire so many people dealing with Muscular Dystophy, ALS and other related diseases to be their best. No matter what obstacles life throws at you, we are strong enough and resilient enough to rebound to greatness.

Note: Jen and I were sent Live Unlimited bracelets, but all opinions about the MDA and this program are my own.


I hope you all have an incredible weekend!


How do you Live Unlimited?


xo,
Natalie





Monday, July 25, 2016

First Run in 4 Weeks + Why I am Going Wheat Free For A While

Happy Monday friends!

I hope you had a wonderful weekend and stayed cool in the heat wave that is impacting almost everyone right now.

It was really hot in Southern California this weekend and unfortunately a really intense wild fire started in a city about 40 miles from where I live. Thousands of homes were threatened, ash was heavily in the air and the sun looked like a red fireball. It was all very surreal...








If you have been following along, you know I have been dealing with a bad case of Plantar Fasciitis. The injury caused me to cancel my September goal marathon and take four weeks off from running.
Sunday marked four weeks of zero running, I wasn't experiencing any pain in my foot and I was ready to give running a try.
I ran four easy miles and it felt fine. I took it nice and easy and ran on soft surfaces, which made it a pain free run.






I talked a little about this on Instagram, but I feel a bit fragile mentally. Almost the entire run, I was cringing inside hoping I wouldn't be in pain (The pain is like a fireball in your heal. Wendy calls it the devil and she is so right.). I felt foggy and foreign and out of running shape. How in the world did I run a marathon three months ago?
I know that the fitness will come back when it's time. Right now, I need to focus on healing completely so I can continue to make forward progress.
Blogging has been a little haphazard these past weeks, and I have felt like the complete attention to my kids coupled with this injury has left little time for anything else.



Finding sand crabs with my kids = priority #1 :)


I had my first session of dry needling last week and it wasn't as bad as I anticipated! I am going back for two more sessions this week along with PT.
My acupuncturist and I talked for a while about food and how food can help the healing process, or sometimes hinder it. Wheat and grains can sometimes cause inflammation in the body and he is suggesting that I try going wheat free for a while.

I was already aiming to try the Whole 30 program (I cut oatmeal out of my diet a few months ago as it was making me feel sluggish) and this information made me more focused on giving it a try.

Here is what I ate yesterday (My goals were on eliminating wheat and grain):


Breakfast
I made a batch of delicious almond flour pancakes, a side of blueberries, one hard boiled egg and a piece of turkey bacon. 

Snack
Peaches and blueberries

Lunch
Steamed kale and avocado (large bowl)

Snack
An apple with almond butter + an RX bar 

Dinner
Baked chicken, quinoa and kale (tons of kale in the house this weekend!)

Dessert
Small piece of dark chocolate


I know I would be eating more if I were logging more miles, but I felt really full and satisfied. I also drank a lot of water. Not the 100 ounces that I aim for, but probably 60 ounces.

We'll see how it goes! I am allowing myself not to seek perfection, but test it out and see how my body reacts to it. The real test will be when marathon training starts again.

By the way ---> I wouldn't wish Plantar Fasciitis on anyone!!! I am working on a post of everything I am doing to combat this injury and come back stronger.


I hope you all logged some awesome miles this weekend!!!


Have you ever dealt with Plantar Fasciitis? If so, please share your secrets of dealing with it! :)

What are your thoughts/experiences of eliminating wheat and grains from your diet?


Happiness Is Running Life!

xo,
Natalie

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Diz Runs Podcast + A Running Update!

Is it just me, or does it feel like summer is flying by?

Our summer has been filled with a ton of fruit (juicy, burst in your mouth peaches, delectable plums, blueberries by the boatload...), non stop pool time, walks at the beach, days where we stay in PJ's till 10 am, and just a whole lot of FUN. The kids have had some great camps to go to, but the last couple of weeks we have been hanging out together. Zero agenda, no place to rush off to, no hurrying out the door. It has been SO nice and a much needed break. It's been interesting to watch the process of my kids unwinding. They are so used to being on a GO, GO, GO schedule, that it was a little difficult for them to slow down. Now, they love digging for worms in the backyard, laying under a tree, searching for roly polys, and discovering toys they had forgotten about.
The joys of a lazy, hazy summer...






Running has not been on the agenda for me the last three weeks. As a runner, you start to understand the stages of non-running grief: 

1. Denial of a possible injury

2. Quickly dealing with injury 

3. Settling into the new reality of the injury and slowing down on running

4. Not running at all and taking more time to heal


Number four is always the hard part and that is where I am right now. Three and a half weeks in and it feels sort of normal, but not. I put aside my goal marathon, placed a later marathon on the calendar and I'm working hard on healing. I know it's kind of a crap shoot to place another marathon on the calendar (CIM in December), but I am going to go with it. If it's meant to be, it'll be - and I feel pretty darn strong that I can kick the PF (plantar fasciitis) and rebound stronger than ever. You have to believe that in your heart and if you don't, you might as well throw in the towel right now.
My super speedy friend Jen (who is coming back from an injury and aiming to run a sub 2:50 marathon later in the Fall) told me that each injury or setback makes you stronger, faster, better.

I believe that.

At this point, I have been icing, stretching, going to PT, got a cortizone shot, received custom orthotics, doing all of my specific exercises, wearing a splint, rolling, cross training and of course resting.

Today, I decided to try dry needling (from a licensed acupuncturist)...













I have to go back next week for another session - probably 3-4 total and we'll see after that. I decided to try this method first rather than the some other intense options. I haven't had any pain walking on my foot the last couple of days and if that continues, then I am allowed to go for a short run next week. I could actually go sooner, but I am going to be really, really conservative and wait until it's been 4 weeks of rest.




I am very honored and excited to be a guest on Denny Krahe's Diz Runs podcast! Denny has been hosting his show for quite some time and has had an array of incredible runners on the show.
When he contacted me, I was really happy to sit and talk with him about all things running. We had a lot of fun and I am happy to share it with you :)







You can listen to the episode HERE!!




I hope you are having a wonderful week filled with fruit, sun and fun.




Happiness Is Running Life!


xo,
Natalie