I sit here like most of you on the last week of the year, reflecting on 2016. The year started with my move across the country to Los Angeles without knowing anyone except Matt’s brother and sister in law. From the minute I arrived here it just felt right. The decision to leave Chicago, all the friendships, family and a way of life behind was well thought out, but did come with a bit of a risk. When you move to a new city, find a new job, make new friends you never quite know if it is going to work out as you envision. For me, it was truly a blessing in disguise. The transition was pretty smooth, I have meet so many new friends, and the change of pace in life was something I didn’t even realize I so desperately needed to function properly. (yes living a life amongst palm trees, beaches and mountain trails is as amazing as it seems) Overall the common thread of my year though was try new things…sometimes it can help you find where you were meant to be all along.
But how did this all work out so well? This is LA afterall. The city with a reputation of being the opposite of friendly and inviting. To be honest, I found the people to be generally wonderful. (the traffic on the other hand not so much) How was this possible? By searching out and embracing places, people and events that had a sense of community.
In Chicago I was pretty heavily involved in the running community, via my run club Crew Runs the World, Nike+ Run Club, Fleet Feet and Girls on the Run. Much to my surprise, finding groups like this in LA was even easier and much more welcoming than I imagined. I have tried a few different options, but want to highlight a few that have made all the difference in my new life.
November Project: It’s not a cult, but it is seriously something I can’t get enough of. If you live in an area without a tribe and don’t know what November Project is, let me enlighten you. It is a group (there are various tribes throughout the world) that meets twice a week for a 45 minute outdoor workout. The workouts are can include drills, hill sprints, burpess, squats, (all the painful exercises) and are for all fitness levels, all shapes, all sizes, all people. I will be the first to admit the LA tribe has some really athletic, fast people in the group, but this free fitness group is different. They push each workout to help you reach your potential, high five you until your arm hurts, and finish with a cheer tunnel that makes you want to come back for more. There is no comparing yourself to others, but instead the focus is on encouraging others to just show up and give it your all when you get there. There is also a social component to the group and so many options to train, race and even drink fun drinks together. I am looking forward to getting to know people in the group even more in 2017.
Oiselle: I honestly don’t have enough words to express how much I love being a part of the Oiselle team. Earlier this year, I decided to join the Volée and it was one of the best decisions I have made in 2016. Lucky for me in July I was chosen as an area leader and have had the opportunity to make new friends in Southern California via various meet ups over the past few months. But the Volée is more than just meeting friends to go for a run. The company, its values its athletes have empowered me in ways I didn’t imagine. From watching Kara Goucher at the Olympic Trials, to getting trail running tips from Devon Yanko, to meeting Sally (the CEO) at a track meet and seeing first hand her love for the Oiselle athletes, to getting to know Heather and Lesko the duo behind the Volée ;two of the most beautiful, caring, encouraging, inspiring people I have ever met. Don’t even get me started about meeting at the start line of a race with other Oiselle runners in our singlets, ready to conquer the world. This sisterhood is not a marketing ploy. These are real women, empowering real women to be real runners who reach goals that dreams are made of.
Nuun: I have been a Nuun ambassador for a couple years now, but the friendships I have made through this program have been a key to my success in the move to LA. When I ran Hood to Coast in 2015, I made friends with other SoCal Nuun runners. Those friends introduced me to others here in LA especially in November Project. Lauren helped coach me through my first trail race. Jody, who is just an all-around amazing, welcoming person, and I connected quite a few times this year, even ran a race together. I am so happy I get to see her now (although I need to make that a more regular thing in 2017). The best part though is I have met tons of others in LA from the nuun community, including Hyla and Stephanie who I see at November project and at Oiselle meet ups. One of my favorite Nuun events this year was running Ragnar Trail Tahoe. Trails + Camping + Nuun friends was seriously the best way to launch into my trail running adventures.
To recap, in the past year I ….
The moral of the story, if you want to have an amazing year, try things you never thought you would do, get outside as much as you can, and most of all find a tribe and discover a community of amazing people to feed your soul.
Check back next week to see what I have planned for 2017.
If you hadn’t’ heard already, the main reason for my move from Chicago to LA was the weather. I wanted the ability to run all year, in the sun. I finally gave up my badassery winter running attitude and accepted the fact that I needed sun more than snow in my life. This past weekend when Chicago was in the middle of a deep freeze, I was reminded how important of a decision it was for me to move to a warmer climate and the impact it has had in my life. Ok, let me interject here that I am not trying to rub it in to my Chicago peeps.
This weekend I did a 10 mile run in the sun, on the beach at it was glorious. The temps have finally cooled in LA and a 50-degree winter run is what I consider just perfect. Seriously, my long run felt so good and a lot of that had to do with having warm sun on my body. For so many years I spent doing the hardcore winter training in Chicago, being “weatherproof” to the elements. There were so many early mornings meeting friends for below zero runs. I am not going to lie, running in horrible conditions does a lot to make it easier push through races because you face the weather demons and win.
However, this weekend when I was out for my Saturday long run in the “cool” temps with sun on my face and sand under my feet I knew I was truly in my happy place. I realized sometimes it is ok just to find a way to make running feel good again, and it doesn’t always have to be about making the run as challenging as possible. As I went farther along in my run reflecting on my blessed life, the sacrifices I made to move across country didn’t seem so bad. I realized I can find other challenges in running to conquer, that don’t involve horrid weather.
This week I was back at the grind. The next few weeks will be primarily spent running on roads. I have seen other trail athletes take this approach (especially Sally McCrae) and I am going to try it out too. I will try to focus more time on strength training and trying to improve my speed for the long miles, versus hill climbing and endurance. I am hoping this approach to base building will serve me well once I start trail running training again in February.
My training this week wasn’t too spectacular but I did get in the following workouts:
Random thoughts from the week:
**I’ve been testing out Epsom salts and I have become obsessed. I don’t really like to take baths, but I have found the salts from Epsoak really help. I also started using them with body scrub in the shower and I am loving that option. Pro tip…get them with added fragrance…makes all the difference.
**My eating sucks right now, with holiday parties and cookies everywhere. I have decided to try to balance as much as I can but not stress too much about it for the rest of the year. In January, I am going to attempt vegetarian eating for at least a month (although I might include fish) in the hopes that I can slowly remove meat from my diet. I have done a lot of research on the benefits of eating a plant based diet I am convinced it will work. I just need to get my taste buds on board with that concept.
Happy holiday everyone! Since all the cool kids are doing it, I’ll be back next week with a sappy year-end review.
When I first came to LA, the most frequently asked question I got was “why did you move to LA”? My standard answer was “I moved for the weather”. Oddly enough most people didn’t get it, until I reminded them how exhausting Chicago winters can be…especially if you are a runner. Yes, my main motivation for moving across the country was to be able to comfortably train and run races all year long.
Now that it is December and winter has finally arrived in LA, I must make good on that rationale. After a few weeks off, and a move to a new neighborhood it’s time to get my rear in gear and start training again.
Even though it is LA and winter running here is soooo much better than winter running in Chicago, it still can be a struggle some days to put on the shoes and head out the door. Dark mornings, cool temps and gloomy skies have provided not so great excuses to skip runs and extend my recovery time. Which means it’s time to dig into the running toolbox, and use the tips and tricks to get myself out the door. Yes, I realize the irony, when only a year ago I would get out to meet a friend to run on 20 degree days with no issues.
First up: Pick a race…. actually pick 3. Yep, I signed up for a half marathon, then another, then another, all within 3 weeks of each other. (They are all road races, but it is base training for a late spring, early summer trail running series) January 29th Phoenix Women’s Half, February 5th Surf City Half and February 19th Palm Desert Half. I find having a race to train for, gives me the motivation I need to run consistently in the winter. I am super excited for the Phoenix half, because I will be meeting up with a large group of Oiselle ladies and a leadership meeting. I am running the other two as a Bib Rave Pro, so you will hear more about those events in the coming weeks. (Yeah for so many racing options in winter)
Second tip: Great gear. Yes, even though I am running in Socal, I still run first thing in the morning when the ocean front temps are chilly. This year I stocked up on Oiselle long sleeve base layers and will occasionally add a jacket to layer. I find layering works well, so I can peel off as my body warms up.
Third tip: Recovery tools. Seriously kids…proper recovery is the key. I have committed to properly stretching and rolling out the tired muscles this training season. I am the first to admit I get lazy with that, but it really does make my recovery time so much better so that I can get back out the next day without legs that feel like lead. In the warm months I love ice baths after a long run, but this winter I am going to try Epsom salts. I received Epsoak to try, so stay tuned on how that goes.
Fourth tip: Journal the process. I have been a bit of a slacker on this as well in the past, but I am determined to record running experience each day. I use Strava to record my mileage, but I need more details, because I can never remember the "run". I will note how the workout went, my hydration & nutrition and the actual experience (was I tired, did I hit my marks,etc) I just got the new training journal from I Believe called Compete and boy it is filled with goodness. My intention is to use this spring training as base building for spring/summer trail racing and more significant fall races. I hope the journaling will give me more detail on what worked and what didn’t. I also plan to hire the coaching services of Ekiden again and I will also use this journaling time to record notes and tips I learn.
Training officially kicks off for me this week, and with that so will the blogging. . I will share my weekly runs and the base work I am doing to begin trail racing again. I have big goals for 2017 and with lots of hard work I will check them off one by one.