Four Years Gone

WOOOAAAAHHHHH! What happened? It’s been four years since I last published a blog! I looked back at my drafts, and I have a blog started that says something like, “Woah!! Two years went by!” That was obviously two years ago.  Ahem.  Anyway.  I had several loyal readers pestering me to revive this thing, and so I finally came around. (Ok, it was only one reader. Probably my only reader.  Love you mom!)

The title “Four Years Gone” has a bit of a negative connotation I suppose, because I don’t really feel like they’ve gone… the last four years have been nothing short of beautiful.  If the title is reminiscent of the Led Zeppelin song, “Ten Years Gone,” you would be on the same page as I am.   A meandering exploration of sorts, the past four years have taught me about the fluidity that is inherently present in life and getting comfortable with change.  It has taught me about the paths we walk, versus the paths we seek.  From “Ten Years Gone,” these lyrics are particularly meaningful:

“Then as it was, then again it will be

And thought the course may change sometimes

Rivers always reach the sea.”

So in a nutshell, here’s what we’ve been doing:

  1. Kai: We discovered the overwhelming love and gratitude of adding Baby Kai to our family. With sleep deprivation so bittersweet and heavy like honey,  Mike and I developed an ebb and flow of nurturing our little dude. At the same time, we gave each other the gift of taking turns with Kai so we could get out in our element, whether that be surf or trails. Being a parent has no doubt been our most difficult endeavor yet, but not a day goes by that we don’t crack up laughing at the things he does or says.  While it’s almost never easy, our home is always filled with love and laughter. And farts. Boys fart SOOOO much.   IMG_5052fullsizeoutput_36b6IMG_5402
  2.  Running: Running in the mountains is everything. My heart still races when I’m driving towards the mountains, and my heart swells with awe. My breath slows as if I’m saving it all for the trail, like I will be nourished by the mountain air more so. Exciting right? I’m excited just writing about it. I still run barefoot, but mostly just in our neighborhood now a few times a week. Trust me, my neighbors think I’m really weird. I’m ok with it. The trails are too rocky/hot or I’m too much of a softie to get out there.  The trails in Portland were way more doable! Anyway, I’m still running in minimalist footwear on the trails with my top three being Merrell Pace Gloves, Luna Sandals, and Vibram Spyridons. The relationship between being a mom and being a runner is also important to note. Being a runner makes me a better mom. I’m so thankful to see my little guy when I return home, after the air drains my irritability.  On the other hand, being a mom has made me a better runner. Running feels easier now, and I’m more grateful, present and peaceful when I’m out there. Taking that time for granted is not an option anymore. Plus, pushing a baby out of your hoo-ha without any pain medication gives you new perspective on pain. 😉  Sitting in my wheelchair in the NICU a couple of days after my child was born, I wasn’t sure what my prognosis was going to be to be able to walk across the room normally, much less climb mountains again. My poor midwife had only seen 4 cases like mine in her 25 year career.  The first time I ran 8 miles on the trail with Mike, about 6 months after Kai was born, I sat at the summit and sobbed for a good 10 minutes. So, so grateful for my son’s health, and mine. IMG_5234IMG_5227
  3. Community: Ventura is still where we live, and it has become our home.  Living in one place for a while, we have found out how a place and its community sneaks into your heart and takes hold.  Mike and I are wanderers, and after moving around the country with minimal belongings, we still feel that wanderlust at times. But when it comes down to it, we love our friends so much. The ones with kids, the runners without kids, Dirtbag Runners tribe, and all the weird and wonderful people that bring us balance.AA16C48F-2BAD-4684-B789-D29C6B57EB9EIMG_7786IMG_7856IMG_7013IMG_5544
  4. Katie: Katie, my childhood friend and my college roommate,  moved to Ventura County to do a couple of rotations as a travel RN.  During that time, she moved in with me, and we were roomies again.  She was so easy to have around, just like when we lived together in college. And hilarious, as usual, telling gross stories over breakfast as she got home from the night shift, and I was just starting my day. Katie and I are about as opposite as you can get, except we both love to run.  Katie and I shared many miles together, both while we were living together in college, and whenever she would come visit me in Portland or out in Ventura.  Over the miles and the years, it was easy to call her one of my best friends.  Trail running came naturally to Katie whenever she would come to visit, but especially when she came here to live.  A creature of habit, Katie ran 4 miles almost every day on the road, but had no problem running 10+ mountain miles with me, even though she hadn’t run a hill in the months living in TX prior. Katie was a badass in her own right, solidified when she became a solo skydiver (I’m sure the skydiving community has a better term for that) and then ultimately a B.A.S.E. jumper. To make a long story short (this really needs an entire blog post), Katie and I hugged goodbye one last time when she walked out the door to jump her self-described “bucket list bridge.”  The Bixby Bridge in Big Sur was the one she always wanted, and it would be her last. Everything felt like it was shattering for days after Katie’s death, and nothing made sense. A sentiment, I imagine, many families are feeling now in the wake of the Las Vegas massacre. Love to all of you in the trenches right now.  Katie visits me in my dreams, which is both heart-wrenching and wonderful, leaving me both tearful and ravenous for just one more minute with her.  Katie was maybe the biggest Led-Zeppelin fan I’ve ever met, so when I was thinking about writing something tonight, the title seemed appropriate.  She even learned to play “Stairway to Heaven” on the guitar and debuted it at our best friend Lindsey’s wedding.  She stood next to me at mine.  She wasn’t perfect, much like anyone else, but this made her more likable and fun to be around. She also wasn’t fearless, like she may appear on the surface.  In fact she was full of fears, however hilarious and irrational they might seem at the time. She was terrified of a ditch one time while we were on the trail, and the rain terrorized her on another run, creating fog and funny sounds.  For some reason, she would duck and say with wide eyes, “What’s that?!” As if ducking would help with the rain situation. This is of course, was all ironic considering she routinely jumped off buildings or antennas. What I’m getting around to discussing, is the daily inspiration I gather from the life that Katie lived. I know for a fact that Katie was terrified of flying in planes, so she decided to start jumping out of them to overcome her fear.  I know for a fact that Katie was filled with anticipation and fear every time she jumped off an object, and that was immediately replaced with joy, adrenaline and the feeling of being weightless and flying. We talked a lot about that moment: The moment where you step off the ledge, and what was in her headspace. I think it was a meditation of sorts for her, that elevation out of her body to a place where fears and anxiety don’t exist.  That’s a place where many of us never have the pleasure of going, or never have the guts to venture there.  The degree to which Katie rose above her fears is knock you off your feet inspiring, and a practice which I’ve recently tried to cultivate in my own life.  It may be to a lesser degree, but getting out of my comfort zone is on the horizon to be sure.   My gratitude for having Katie in my life is never ending.
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    Last night out on the town together, about a week before she passed.
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    Parachute closing pin
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    We put a cross at the Bridge for her. I hope it’s still there.
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    Beautiful artwork made by the amazingly talented Emily Spahr after Katie’s passing.

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    Last long run together, in the rain 🙂 
  5. Vegan: You guys! I went vegan!! It’s amazing! You know I’m doing a whole ‘nother post on this so I can tell you what the hell happened with my health. Returning to the sentient, compassionate person I was meant to be has been nothing short of humbling and amazing. 84266511c1d

 

The last four years! So much happening and not a single blog post.  Haha! I’ve been too busy loving, laughing, running, grieving, and exploring.  The future is so bright!  I have so much hope, intention, curiosity and so many goals that I can’t wait to share  with you.  So, what’s been going on with you? Reach out to me, message me, run with me, hit me up. Community is how we will thrive, and I can’t wait to share with you.  Leigh Scarber on Facebook, bareleigh_running on instagram, and I never use Twitter but you can find me there too 🙂 Peace and love and happy trails.

 

 

LOVE Wins! And Valley Crest Half Marathon Review with Energy Bits

Wow!  I went running tonight only to realize I forgot to post my Valley Crest Half Marathon Review last week… hahaha… Please forgive me, my mind is on overload due to our house-buying process.  Did I mention we are buying a house in Ventura, CA??  We are so excited!!!  We hope to close this week.  Needless to say, my evenings after work have been filled with decorating websites, picking out paint colors, etc.  I wrote this post last week and was just meaning to add pictures before posting and I completely forgot.

Luckily, I received two bags of Energy Bits tonight in the mail courtesy of the Energy Bits Brand Ambassador program.  What a great company to be involved with!! If 10 bags are sold with your discount code, you get a free bag!!  I couldn’t be more stoked. Plus, Catharine Arnston, the fabulous CEO sent me a letter. If you’re interested in the Energy Bits Brand Ambassador program, please don’t hesitate to email me with questions at moffettleigh@yahoo.com.

So tonight, I ate 30 energy bits and went out for a beautiful run in my new home town of Ventura with my husband.  It was perfect weather with views of the mountains and sunset at every turn.  It was a little piece of heaven except for the three walker look alikes that appeared to jump out of the show The Walking Dead.  Watch out for them walkers.  Yeah, I’m not sure what was going on.  Anway, here is my original post from last week:

Post I forgot about last week: 🙂

Tonight while I was re-running the Valley Crest Half Marathon in my mind, I turned the corner to see at least 100 people cheering and celebrating the Supreme Court Decision today to move this country in the right direction: Away from hate and acknowledging love above all.  Tears welled up in my eyes as I realized how much this day means to me and what this day must mean to all these folks on the corner.  “WOOOO!!!! CONGRATULATIONS!!!”  I could hardly keep the words in my mouth.

A resounding “WE WON!!!” echoed through the crowd as I ran through.  I couldn’t resist taking some pictures of the individuals, couples, and families that were happily celebrating their well deserved rights today.  Thankfully, I was running barefoot tonight for a nice 5 mile afterwork run, and I could feel the energy coursing through me from the ground and all the joy connecting us.  I ran a little further, and I could hear some music.  It was so beautiful, that I stopped and looked around, trying to figure out where it was coming from.  I kept going and turned down the sidewalk to go down a little bike path behind our apartments, and I was getting closer to the music.  Finally, I got to the edge of a tunnel.  At the other end, a man was playing his saxophone to no one in particular, but was completely lost in it.  I’m partial to the sax, as I used to play when I was little 🙂  I stood there and watched him for about 5 minutes as he played the most beautiful song.  It was celebratory, but solemn all at the same time, as if he was saying to everyone out there celebrating, “Well, it’s about time, isn’t it?”  The saxophonist and the group were totally separate, but seemed connected to each other somehow, and I to them.  The song reverberated in the tunnel so perfectly that I was  thankful I was there to hear it, even if I was the only one there to listen.

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Impromptu Pride
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Fuzzy, but guy playing saxophone
Free Hugs
Free Hugs

So how does this all relate to the Valley Crest Half Marathon?  Well I’m not really sure it does, except for the part about being connected to some quality folks in one place at the same time.  Two weeks ago, Mike and I showed up to the Valley Crest Half Marathon to discover that we felt like we were coming to a reunion from the Born to Run Ultramarathons . Some of the same people were there that we met including my buddy David in the cowboy hat and his crew.  I also met some new friends including one great guy named Jacobus that had heard my interview with Caity McCardell of http://www.runbarefootgirl.com.  I was so excited!  It feels great to be a part of the running community here in California, and I finally feel like I’m home; this is where we belong.

The weather was perfect for a race day here in California: It was a little drizzly and cloudy, which was perfect for keeping the heat at bay.  The course was delightful and rolling, located on the Mulholland fire road in the Santa Monica Mountains.  It was a “T” shaped course, which was nice because you almost always knew what was ahead.  I felt strong on the hills because Mike has been torturing me lately by taking me on the steepest hills in Southern California.  Not to mention, I’ve done a few “Hill Runs” with the Ventura County Trail Runners, which is a total joke.  The “hill” is more like a small Mt. Everest in the middle of Ventura that can only reasonably be crawled up and down, no running is actually possible.  But nevertheless, this self inflicted hill torture beautifully prepared me for all the hills on the trail and in life, and I almost sickeningly enjoy them now.  I think I’ve caught Mike’s hill obsession disease.

Again, this was a happy, happy race for me.  I don’t know if it’s California, trail running, the people, or Energy Bits that makes me feel high on life while participating in these races, but I feel like I could just go all day.  It’s probably all of the above.  I decided I would eat two servings (30 bits) of Energy Bits while running every 45 minutes during the half marathon.  I figured I would probably run around the 2 hour mark, so I knew this would be perfect.

This course has an epic downhill finish.  Probably the last two miles are downhill, which was ridiculously fun if you’re confident with your downhill running.  Unfortunately, I saw people picking their way down, but I felt totally confident with my energy level, my eccentric control and endurance with my quads(thanks to Energy Bits which naturally facilitates the release of nitric oxide ie a powerful vasodilator, allowing for more efficient delivery of oxygen and nutrients to muscles in need), and my footing.  The wonderful thing about minimalist running is that it allows the runner to feel the ground underneath them… with all the rocks shifting underneath, the toes are able to splay and respond to the changing environment.  I’ve been loving my Vibram Spyridons for trails around here in California.  They have great tread to prevent slippage, and a rock block under the mid foot to prevent sharp rocks from hitting where it hurts.  I’ve really found myself actually needing this extra protection around here because of the rocks, the dry dirt slipping underneath me, and the STEEP hills.  Seriously, I’ve never climbed and descended hills this steep.

So, I was holding a great pace on the way to the finish, and feeling great.  The last approximately 0.10 or 0.20 mile is a STEEP downhill with loose rocks to come across the finish.  This was exciting, as spectators were lined along the hill, cheering and bringing the runners in.  I was borderline out of control as I made my own little switchbacks (I call this my downhill skiing technique) down the hill, trying not to fall on my face in front of all the spectators.  I still have yet to fall during a race, but I know my time will come soon.  I made it across the finish line in 1:53:19, which is a new PR for a trail half marathon for me.  I was also lucky enough to score 2nd place in my age group!! SWEET!  My new friend Alisa also placed in her age group, not to mention smoked me with her time.  I hope to see her again soon!  I received a little trophy, and a brand new pair of my favorite Injinji toe socks as a prize.  What a great day!! Thanks to David Santiago for the photo below.

2nd place in age group! Sporting the Energy Bits tee
2nd place in age group! Sporting the Energy Bits tee

After the race, Mike and I took the next hour or so to talk with our new friends, shower up, then we went and looked at houses.  And guess what?  It was that day that we found the house that we fell in love with. A great day all around, a great day.  Can’t wait for the next race!!

New house
New House!

As always, please feel free to use my discount code “BAREFOOT” in the checkout area of http://www.energybits.com for 30% off a bag.  You won’t ever want to go back.

Running Free? Or Running Bound? And Earth Runner Huaraches!

The past few days, I’ve been celebrating learning how to run again after about a month off, including surgery on January 21st.  I have had a series of short, barefoot, giddy runs that have left me wondering why some people don’t run.  And on the other hand, I saw a runner that have left me wondering why some do.  During my brief, restorative runs, I have felt so completely free that I theorized that perhaps I am actually becoming more bound.  More bound to the sport, more bound to the love of running, more bound to the earth and its healing qualities, and most importantly, more bound to myself.  

Admittedly, I struggle with resting and allowing my body to heal.  The thing is, while I was sitting around doing all that healing stuff, my mind was lacking its usual outlet, which of course, is running.  All that sitting around can do funny things to a person, and that’s why I decided to head out the door and try to find some peace and quiet for my mind, which was consequently running amok.

So, I started with walking, which I did for a couple of days.  The next day, I walked again with Mike and was able to run four times for about 1 minute each time.  Now, I don’t mean really running exactly, more of a funny little skip/waddle combo that felt just perfect with the healing incisions in my belly.  Not to mention, I looked good, which is what really matters.  A few days later, I was up to my gentle skip/waddle for up to a half mile, which I did a couple of times, and I was starting to resemble a wannabe runner. Two days ago however, I had a real breakthrough.  I put on real running clothes, including my brand new huaraches, courtesy of www.earthrunners.com.  Thank you Earth Runners!   I will do a review of these guys once I’ve had more experience with them, but in the meantime, check out their website and what they have to offer.  I had a great first impression.

 

Earth Runners

 

Anyway, I went out for a run, and decided to start out very slowly, go until it felt right, then go back.  I gently plugged along for about a mile, then decided to turn around.  I took off the Earth Runners because I wanted to really feel the ground, and continued along barefoot.  I was going REALLY slow. And I felt REALLY good. Nothing hurt, and my body felt like it was drinking in the gentle movement and energy I was collecting along the way.  Afterall, that’s what healing is all about! Collecting energy vs. expending energy.  Whether I was barefoot or wearing the Earth Runners, I really felt connected, or bound to my surroundings.  This is good, Earth Runners nailed that part of it!

Last night, I decided to try that same 2 mile jaunt again, with the same choice in footwear.  Half in Earth Runners, half barefoot.  I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was meant to be running and finding happiness again.  Now, I know that recovering from ectopic pregnancy and surgery takes a toll on the whole person.  While the people around me have been instrumental in my recovery, it was as if I was in need of an old friend in the way of running outdoors.  So on I went last night, again slower than heck, but happy.  I was even whistling my new jam, Justin Timberlake’s “Suit and Tie.”  Don’t judge me, you know you love that song!

Anyway, I was whistling and shuffling along when I heard chaos behind me.  What the… I turned around, and I was about to get passed by another runner!  She was stomping towards me, with a look on her face that read, “GET OUT THE WAY!” and she had headphones on, but there wasn’t much point because I could hear her music blasting.  It was something I didn’t recognize, but I remember thinking it was hilarious because it was a bubbly, poppy tune with a fast beat.  It was a funny paradox because the girl attached to the tunes looked like she would sooner die than try to have a bubbly conversation with me.  She actually looked like she might die if she had to take one step around me, so I decided to give her some leeway and hop onto the grass next to the sidewalk so she could charge by. As she passed, I turned and gave her a lopsided smile and a cheerful wave, but she just glared and stampeded on.  I wanted to ask her if she was enjoying herself, but I figured she a) couldn’t hear me b) might kill me and c)I already knew the answer.

So, while I was pondering why some people don’t run, I found my answer through Miss I’d Sooner Die.  Unfortunately, instead of enjoying ourselves, feeling the chill in the air, experiencing the ground beneath our feet, and drinking in our surroundings, we blast music in our ears, lock our feet up, put on an “eat shit” face and try to barrel through a 3 mile run and hope to experience none of it.  Other times, maybe we hop on the treadmill to avoid the elements and put on a TV show and let the machine think for us.  My intent is not to criticize these runners, because I have absolute respect for anyone who is getting out there and putting their health first.  But, I do think that we’ve become a society that is much more bound to technology and distraction than bound to ourselves and relationships.  Relationships involving each other as well as relationships with our surroundings.  I’m guilty of this as well, when I’m networking on social media or sitting here on this blog instead of talking with my husband. But taking the time to escape those vices is valuable, and well worth the time.

Running has to be one of the purest forms of exercise, because you really don’t need any equipment.  We could even run nude if we weren’t risking getting arrested!  Now that would be entertaining… anyway,what was I talking about?  Oh, right, running is pure.  Yes, so the question is, are you running free?  Or are you running bound?  Both? And if you’re running bound, what are you bound to?  Maybe the best answer is to run free to find yourself bound to your heart, the earth, and your surroundings.

 

 

Holiday Half Marathon Race Recap with ENERGY BITS!

Wow this race recap took a while for me!  Sometimes, life gets in the way…  I am still at home recovering, so I have some time to catch up.  The Holiday Half Marathon and 5k is a festive little event in North Portland near the Adidas campus that took place on December 16, 2012.  This was my second year running it, so I felt pretty confident I could beat my time from last year.  Last year, I ran it in 1:47:23.  My goal time going into the race was 1:45, and I felt that was a perfectly attainable goal.

My mistake with this race was not getting my things ready the night before…Hehe, I think it’s safe to say I was a bit over-confident.  “It’s going to be fine!” I thought to myself, no problem.  We sat around, had a nice dinner, and went to bed.  We woke up with plenty of time to eat some breakfast, but realized that we didn’t have any coffee.  I am not a coffee drinker, but it’s my tradition to have a small cup of coffee before a race to give me an extra kick in the pants.  Caffeine has certainly been shown to do that with running, so I was insistent that we get coffee somewhere.  So we decided we would hit the 7-11 before the race, which was the only thing open that early in the morning on a Sunday.  The absence of coffee in my pre-race routine must’ve been the thing that kicked off the chaos that ensued.

While I was pouting around the house about the missing coffee, I began putting my race clothes on.  I had this really silly ugly Christmas turtleneck from my Mrs. Claus costume from the Jingle Bell Run, so I decided to wear that to be “cute” and festive during the race.  I also donned my striped elf socks over my tights for a little extra flair.  My running jacket happens to be green, which was perfect for the theme so I put that on too with the intention of converting it to a vest during the race. Knowing that we needed to stop and get coffee, we hurried out the door with probably not enough time…

We got coffee and headed downtown.  About 2 minutes onto the interstate, I realized I’d forgotten my watch.  Now ordinarily, I really wouldn’t care that much because I’ve never been much for wearing the watch anyway, but today, I was going for a PR!  OH NO!!!  I would need to monitor my pace in order to get the time I wanted right?  PANIC!!  I was driving, so I obviously started beating the crap out of the steering wheel with my clueless husband sitting next to me with his mouth hanging open.  “I FORGOT MY WATCH!!”  We really didn’t have time to go home and get it, because parking down there is a complete nightmare.  As in there’s none right around Adidas, so you have to take a shuttle if you don’t get there early enough, which of course, we didn’t get a ticket for.  So we kept on heading downtown, and I was frantically coming up with ideas.  “Can’t you download a thing on my thing? You know what I’m saying??” I was practically shrieking.

My husband is wonderful, and knows how to translate.  “A GPS running app for your iPhone?” he said, trying not to laugh at me.  Of course he could laugh, he had his stupid GPS watch.  He got to work on my iPhone as I continued to curse myself for forgetting my watch and for wearing such a silly turtleneck.  I realized this was going to be a problem because it was pouring rain.  Now, a cute Christmas turtleneck from Goodwill is one thing if it’s nice, sunny, weather, but it’s a terrible idea if it’s down pouring.  Heavy cotton is the last thing you should be wearing in the pouring rain and wind.

When we pulled up to Adidas, we realized we were too late, because they’d already shut the roads down so we couldn’t get through to try to find a parking space.  We were directed down to the parking lot a couple miles away, so we would need to take the shuttle.  Which we didn’t have a ticket for.  We were screwed!  The guy mercifully let us onto the shuttle, so I plan to contact Foot Traffic to see if we can donate some money to them or a charity of their liking for letting the bandits on the bus, wearing an ugly Christmas turtleneck nonetheless.

On the bus, I tried to familiarize myself with my new running app on my iPhone thanks to my wonderful husband.  I also realized at this point I’d forgotten a hat, which would have been pretty crucial in the weather.  We pulled up to Adidas for the start with a few minutes to spare to check our bag and prepare to start.  The line for bag check was wrapped twice around the garage.  Wow!!  I think they underestimated the amount of people at this race!  Here we were, 20 minutes until the start with hundreds of people trying to check bags, and the line was immobile.  The porta potty situation was pretty poor too, forget about going to the bathroom before the race.  There must have been more people than last year!  Either that or our planning was terrible, I’m not sure which. Probably a bit of both.

In line, I adjusted my Injinji socks and my VFF See Yas, which were just starting to get a little hole in the pinky toe.  Wow, I’ve been putting some mileage on these!  I suppose I’ve had them since April now, that’s pretty good for such a thin sole. 3 or 3.5 mm if I remember correctly?  I feel almost sentimental towards those shoes!  I also counted out 40 Energy Bits and swallowed them with some water.  Here goes nothing!  First race with Energy Bits!  I’d been training with them, so I knew I could expect a wonderful surge of energy that would carry me through the race, despite a pretty low start to the morning.  No one to blame but myself for that though…

Because it took us so long to get our bags checked, we were stuck in the middle to the back of the crowd.  It was raining pretty hard at this point, and I realized that I had also forgotten to convert my jacket into a vest and check the sleeves.  I had no choice but to take the sleeves off and pack them into the back of my jacket, which makes me appear to have a giant booty bouncing around from far away.  I’m told it’s pretty entertaining!  You’re welcome, to the people running behind me 🙂  I had my iPhone in my front pocket of my jacket, which also felt big and bulky to say the least.  I started the iPhone as I crossed the timing mat, which was pretty awkward because I was juggling my phone and some red “throw away” gloves.

There were lots of turns during the first part of the race, so I was effectively blocked in by runners as we funneled through the narrow streets.  I was pretty antsy, so I scurried over to the sidewalk with a couple other runners who were doing the same in order to pass some of the others.  This seemed to work pretty well and I was trying to make up the time that I’d lost being blocked in earlier.  I finally fished out my phone to see how fast I was going, and I was holding a 6:30 min/mile pace at that point!  Ok, ok, that’s too fast!!  To get a time of 1:45, I would need to hold 8:00 min/miles, or slightly less.

I slowed down to about 7:30 min/miles, but I am incredibly stubborn and could not convince myself to go any slower than that.  I honestly don’t know what’s wrong with me sometimes.  I just feel SO GOOD during the first half of the race!! I can hold this, it’ll be great!  I fell into running with a group of ladies that looked very strong, a local running group.  I was feeling great, so I tried to talk to them a little, saying some encouraging things.  By this point, we were starting to see some of the leaders coming back, which is always inspiring to pick up the pace a bit.  The race is mostly out and back, but it’s a bit further out than it is back.  I said something like, “Wow, it’s great to see the really fast people coming back!  It gives me a little more energy!”  The ladies I was running with were not amused.  They apparently all knew each other and did not particularly want to associate with me.  Oh, I forgot to mention I was also wearing Christmas underwear over my pants.  Superhero style.  With the Muppets character, Animal on them.  So I guess wearing a soaked Christmas turtleneck and underwear is not quite as cool as their slick tech running club shirts! Oh well, that’s ok.

During the race, it began to monsoon.  That was some of the most killer rain and wind I’ve ever run in, much less raced in.  The rain and wind made things irritating.  My gloves became sopping wet, and I couldn’t work my phone with them on, so I decided to throw them out.  I then tried to shelter my freezing hands with my shirt, but it was also dripping cotton.  My jacket, which I was wearing as a vest, is supposed to be water resistant, but nothing could resist the pelting rain and wind. My vest offered no protection to my phone, which became totally soaked.  My fingers were so cold, that at about mile 9, I was totally incapable of working it.  I’m pretty sure my phone also just completely pooped out at that point and decided to quit.  The only real problem I have with this race course aside from the terrible weather that struck is the cant in the road.  The cant is quite severe on many parts of the course, and I felt like I should have been in a velodrome.  The road was so slanted, sometimes I found myself running from side to side because I couldn’t stay on a straight path!  Cant is a bit of a pet peeve of mine, but it could be because I’m a PT and notice things like that.  I even began to imagine at one point that I was developing hip pain from the awkward surface, but decided it was all in my head.  (It was.)  On the bright side, there are some nice neighborhoods that we ran through, as well as a pretty view of the river.

Along the road with the pretty view, the wind was threatening to blow us over.  My race number, poor thing, couldn’t hang.  Probably about the same time I lost the ability to use my fingers and my phone, my race number took flight.  I’d noticed that one of the four holes had ripped, so my race number was hanging by three safety pins and flapping provocatively in the wind.  I was trying to bow my head into the wind, which was coming from the right on the way back, when all of the sudden I saw a race number flying around.  “Oooh, that sucks, bummer for that person,” I thought, looking around for the idiot without a race number.  It took me about 5 seconds to realize that I was the idiot!  Oh no, my race number with my chip is flying around!!  I started chasing it around on the ground, but of course,  as soon as I came up to it, the bastard would fly away again.  Finally, the rain worked in my favor and held it to the ground long enough for me to get it.  Mind you, my fingers were still not functional so I sort of balled up the number and held it in my left hand.  I had to keep looking down to make sure I was still holding it!

My pace stayed at 7:30 until about mile 6 when I decided I really needed to slow down.  I slowed down to 7:45 or so until right after the turn around, when we started going uphill and into a headwind.  At that point, I looked down at my phone and I was going 8:30 min/miles!  Luckily, it was at that time that my lifeboat arrived.  I felt strong and the Energy Bits were working.  I kicked it up a notch, bowed my head into the wind and took off.  I checked my phone again and kept it steady at 7:45 min/mile throughout the rest of the race.  I think, anyway, but I’m not sure since I couldn’t look at my phone after mile 9.  But I must have, based on my finishing time.  I felt strong, and hammered through those last miles despite the conditions absence of the ability to use my fingers.  I couldn’t even stop at the last water stop because I was incapable of grabbing a cup!  Again, totally my fault.  I was figuring that I had maybe a mile left, when all of the sudden, I looked up and saw the mile 13 marker.  What?? I only have 0.1 mile left?  That set a fire under my Animal underwear, and I took off!  I tore for the finish, and was so happy!  My finishing time was 1:42:16, 5 minutes faster than last year, and a new PR for my half marathon.  Mike blew my mind with a finishing time of 1:27:33!!  That’s a pace of 6:41. He never ceases to amaze me.

What I want to really focus on, is how Energy Bits got me through this race.  One couldn’t ask for worse conditions and worse planning on my part.  A poor start to the morning was followed by pure energy, focus, and the ability to stay above the intrinsic and extrinsic barriers that I faced during the half marathon. I truly felt I could rise above the weather, the cold, and the idiotic wardrobe choices.  So have you heard of Energy Bits?

Let’s talk about them. I discovered Energy Bits when I became interested in using real food for fuel vs. the sugary gels that I’ve used in the past. Don’t get me wrong, I still use Clif gels for a kick in the pants, but prefer to use cleaner energy if possible.  Energy Bits have one ingredient.  One.  Spirulina, which is a form of algae, has been recognized as the most powerful, nutritionally dense food in the world.  And that happens to be the one ingredient in Energy Bits.  The minimum recommended “dose” is 30 bits, but more is obviously more beneficial to your performance.  I took 40 before the race and it really seemed to do the trick for me.  During training runs, I ate Energy Bits and had some of the fastest training runs I’ve ever had.  And I typically don’t train fast, which is a flaw of mine, but these things just facilitate a stronger, faster run.  Not to mention, a happy run!  It sounds silly, but I always feel really happy, or almost elevated, or dare I say high?  Keep in mind, Spirulina is NOT a drug, it’s just an amazing superfood!  While it may sound hard to believe, healthy, pure, nutritional food is the key to our health and therefore our performance in athletics.  We are unfortunately, a society that is run by pharmaceutical companies and gimmicks to put a band aid over our problems and provide temporary fixes, as well as temporarily boost our performance.  Overall health is about enriching our lives with the best foods on this earth, and increasing our longevity.  That’s what Energy Bits are about.  Health, performance, and longevity via the simplest route you can think of:  Find the most nutritious food on this planet and grow it organically for the most pure supplement and performance enhancer.  Did I go off on a tangent too much?  🙂  Don’t get me started on pharmaceutical companies…

Anyway, on the Energy Bits website,  they discuss the performance aspect of the bits for athletics:

“For any sport or workout, you need glucose and protein and for a really top performance, your muscles need rapid access to them. This is why nitric oxide is so important. It opens up blood vessels so key nutrients can quickly get where they need to go. Our algae tabs are the trifecta of nutrition because they provide your body with glucose, protein and even nitric oxide. All naturally too. Our algae tabs have the highest concentration of protein in the world (over 60%), all in amino acid form so it quickly converts to glucose. This gives you an energy boost and mental wake up without chemicals, sugar or caffeine  All for just one calorie per tab. We recommend our ENERGYbits® algae tabs (which are 100% spirulina)  for any athletic or high endurance activity.   Spirulina algae has been a favorite of Olympic athletes and trainers for decades. You’ll find out why the first time you try them.”

I am so impressed by this company, that I recently became a proud ambassador for them.  If you have any specific questions for me, please ask me as I’m happy to answer.  I should mention that the bits are going to be a powerful tool for me while I’m recovering from my medical emergency, as I’m slightly anemic due to blood loss.  I couldn’t tolerate an Iron supplement, so I’ve started taking the bits daily to see if this is beneficial for getting my hematocrit levels to rise.  Here is a little snapshot of some of the nutritional highlights of Energy Bits and spirulina, taken from the website:

Nutritional highlights of Spirulina:

  • Provides 12 times the amount of bio-available protein as steak
  • Is composed of 60%-64% protein compared to meat (27%) or soy (34%)
  • More beta carotene than any other whole food
  • 58 times more iron than raw spinach
  • 12 times more iron than beef liver
  • Richest source of antioxidants – necessary for health, and anti-aging
  • Richest source of vitamin A (which helps your eyesight)
  • Richest plant source of GLA to reduce cholesterol and blood pressure

Summary:

To summarize the half marathon, a poopy start to the race followed by even poopier weather and slanted roads ended up ending on a high note as I finished 5 minutes faster than my fastest half marathon, and 3 minutes faster than my goal time thanks to Energy Bits as fuel and my Animal Christmas underwear.

Interested in ENERGY BITS?  ASK ME QUESTIONS!!  INTERESTED IN A DISCOUNT?  USE the code BAREFOOT at checkout at EnergyBits.Com for 30% off!

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The Underside of the Tapestry

Sometimes when we think we’re at the top of our game, life gives us a good whack to bring us back down to earth.  I thought I was pretty invincible and ready to have the best start to 2013 with two big races and one epic fun run coming up.  The Mac Ass 25K with lots of elevation gain, followed running the entire Wildwood Trail (31 miles) in Forest Park, followed by the Hagg Lake Mud Run 50k.  I’ve been chomping at the bit, running up and down mountains, running at high altitude, running on snow, and cross training with skiing down double black diamonds in Jackson Hole, WY.  Invincible, right?

Wrong.  On Thursday evening and into Friday of last week, I experienced a medical emergency.  My illness was totally unrelated to running, but nevertheless, I ended up in the ER with my wonderful husband at my side.  Both of us pale faced and in disbelief, we finally accepted the fact that things would be different for a while.  We would need to recover emotionally and I would need to recover physically.  One at a time, doctors told me that I needed to rest including no work, no strenuous exercise, and definitely no running.

Crap.  Today, it is difficult for me to get up the stairs.  It is difficult for me to bend over and put on my socks and my shoes.  I was so tired after showering that I had to sit on the couch for half an hour before attempting my next move.  My point is, this is one of the most emotionally draining and humbling experiences of my life.  That being said, here’s what I’m thankful for:

  • My prior heath and fitness level to keep me strong during recovery
  • My beautiful partner in life, my husband Mike to hold my hand
  • My family who has been so supportive and knowledgeable in our time of need.  Thanks Jill, Mom, Dad, Claudia, Ken, and Lauren!
  • My friends who are my second family, they’re calling and texting and sending love.
  • My co-workers who are working overtime to see Mike and I’s patients when we cannot be there.  And my supervisors who are like family at this point and sending their love and compassion.
  • The future prospect of health, running and new life.

My friend, Emily, gave me a beautiful image to get through this difficult time.  She said that the underside of the tapestry is twisted in knots and tangles, and sometimes it’s easy to get lost in the endless web.  It takes some time, but eventually you will be able to see the top of the tapestry, which holds a beautiful, intricate design.  Without the knots and tangles holding it together, the design wouldn’t be as beautiful or well put together.  Thank you Emily, for that healing thought.

In the meantime, here are some pictures that we snapped before our setback:

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Goodbye Oregon, Hello California! Happy Trails…

Well, it’s official.  Mike and I gave notice to our wonderful director at work on Friday that we will be setting sail in February.  Since we both work for the same company, we decided it was only fair to give a 2 month notice in order to give them plenty of time to fill the positions.  It’s a scary thing, really, when you love a place and you’re comfortable there to find the courage to spread your wings. I was feeling that 12-21-12 was going to be the beginning of a new era, and so it is.  It just so happens to be exactly 2 months from when we are planning for our last day.

2.5 years ago, Oregon was supposed to be a temporary stop on our way to California.  This place is something special, I guess!  I said a long time ago, this city has soul, and I think it always will.  Mike and I have really grown here, both individually and as a couple.  I found a love for trail running, barefoot running, racing, and eatin’ greens.  Mike also found a love for trail running, triathloning (is that a word?) and snowboarding.  And all of the sudden, we have incredible friends and relationships that we didn’t think we’d find here.  All of the sudden, it feels like home.  And now, we’re leaving.  Why?  I’m glad you asked.

Ever since I met Mike, he’s been California dreamin’.  Mike is more at home in the water than most people, and definitely more so than anyone I’ve met.  He lives for the ocean, it gives him energy and then quiets him.  This is important, because otherwise, he has so much energy he bounces all over the house and he’s difficult to deal with.  And all this after he’s run for 10 miles, completed a Suffer Fest video on the bike trainer, and lifted weights.  I’m exhausted just watching him. The only thing that seems to wear him out is surfing, and so we’ve come to the conclusion that we need to live basically on the coast.  But, I will go crazy if I’m taken away from trails for running, so we found the seemingly perfect place: Ventura County, CA.

Ok, ok, so we haven’t been there yet.  We’ve been on a trip to Northern California and Southern California, but never anywhere Central.  In March, we are going to meet up with the family to check out Ventura County and of course, Santa Barbara for vacation.  There’s supposedly good surf there, and supposedly good trails nearby to explore.  I’ve also heard there’s mountain lions… I will crap my pants if I see a mountain lion.  Please, someone tell me they’re just a myth?  Like sharks, right?  Sharks are the main reason I don’t surf more!

So the world didn’t end Friday, but it did signify the beginning of a new era and a new adventure for us.  We can’t wait to live in a sunnier, drier place and begin to lay down some roots.  We’re looking forward to buying a house and becoming part of a new community.  That being said, we sure are going to miss Portland!  What an incredible place we chose to start our lives together.  Portland will always feel like home and I think our new friends are going to turn into old friends.  And I’m definitely going to leave my heart on the Wildwood Trail, where I found myself and my love of running.

Ventura, CA
Ventura, CA

Tears for Sandy Hook and Running in the Darkest Hour

I’ve spent the past few days fluctuating between sheer elation for the gift of life and utter despair for the premature loss of life and hope last Friday.  How can we move forward?  How do we keep our faith in humanity?  I honestly don’t know.

On Friday, my last patient of the day had a 5 year old and a 3 year old.  Two precious babies who were spared from knowing the gory details of the massacre, but who seemed somehow aware that all was not well in the world. My patient’s eyes were glassy as she held them close and tried to participate with therapy.  We both were in a different world though, as we watched her two healthy boys wriggle around, their little faces glowing with wonder.  How? Why?  Who could do this?

On Friday after work, I went for a run.  I didn’t know what else to do, and I was getting ready for the Holiday Half Marathon on Sunday.  I went for 4 miles in the darkness, and let the tears flow.  While I don’t have children of my own, I’ve felt the joys of holding little ones close as a babysitter and as a friend to mothers.  Their eyes, full of life and innocence, can never seem to open wide enough to take in all the world has to offer.  At times I felt numb, and other times so full of emotion that I had to stop, squat down and cry.  It was a healing cry, and a yearning to reach out, to do something.  A cry for help from the Earth to pick us up and put us back together.  Especially our friends in Newtown.

But it felt good to run.  It felt good to go fast and feel something so real that it was terrifying.  While everyone is dealing with this tragedy differently, I feel that it’s important to face the reality that it happened.  And it happened at an elementary school, the most horrible place I can think of for a massacre.

2012 has been a wild and crazy year for just about everyone I know.  A year of trials, a year of lessons, accidents, triumphs, and love to name a few.  On December 21st, 2012, some believe that the world will end, thanks to the Mayan calendar ending on this date.  While I’m not sure that will happen, I do think that we are entering a new era of sorts.  A time to reflect on the changes that need to be made and a time to realize what is really important to us.  So what is really important?  For me, it’s relationships.  Relationships with ourselves, with each other, and with our environment.

Running is the glue that brings all these relationships together.  Running strengthens us physically and ignites within us the inner glow we need to move forward.  Running with others captures the moments that are most raw, when we’re not afraid to be ourselves and seek help from our friends.  And running with the Earth beneath us provides the healing energy needed to keep our faith in humanity.  Running in the darkest hour, like I did on December 14, 2012, can provide us with an inner peace and courage to go towards the light.

While I hope that the world doesn’t end on December 21st, I do hope that we can all continue on our journey, one foot in front of the other. Hopefully, stumbling towards the light.

A QUESTION FOR YOU:  WHAT IS MOST IMPORTANT IN YOUR LIFE GOING INTO 2013?

Sandy Hook Parents
Sandy Hook Parents

Final Thoughts on Vivobarefoot Achilles and a Sad Farewell

Well, my toes are officially abnormal.  I was so excited about the Vivobarefoot Achilles, but sadly I had to put them back in the cute little bag they came in and send them home.  Away from my crazy middle toe that cannot be tamed.  My overall impression was good other than my toe issue.  But unfortunately, because of my whacky anatomy, I really couldn’t run over a mile in these little cutie pies.  Take home message for these shoes: Try them on before you buy!

 

Pros: Ground feel, appearance, easy peasy strapping system (somewhat uncommon in running sandals!), zero drop, 3.5 mm stack height, high quality materials, 4.2 oz weight, vegan.  Love the furry friends!  Split toe design provides good stability, no slippage when running.

Cons: Split toe design is not for everyone.  Case in point, check out my misbehavin’ toe below.  Split toe design will take some getting used to for all you folks with a smaller space between big toe and middle toe and will require a period of breaking in.  Blisters could result during the break in time.

 

HAS ANYONE ELSE HAD TROUBLE WITH THE SPLIT TOE/CAGE DESIGN?  I’D LOVE TO HEAR!  PLEASE TELL ME I’M NOT THE ONLY ONE WITH WHACKY FEET…

 

Bad toe!
Bad toe!

Holiday Half Marathon Preview and Energy Bits?

There comes a time in training for an event that you think to yourself, “Wow, I can never run that mileage that I’m supposed to run during training!”  Then, there’s that pivotal moment when you realize that not only have you done the training, but you’re faster and stronger than before.  That’s the beautiful thing about running.  You only get out of it what you put into it.  So when that moment comes that you realize you’re a BAMF, (I just learned what BAMF means) celebrate your strength and say, “Hey Jack! Hey, you’re gonna do this race boys.”  On a side note, I’ve been watching WAY too much “Duck Dynasty.”  Have y’all ever watched that show?  I think I’m slowly turning into Uncle Si.

This coming weekend, Mike and I are doing the Foot Traffic Holiday Half Marathon in downtown Portland.  I am still putting my costume together.  I’m thinking tacky Christmas underwear over my tights with a Christmas turtleneck.  At the very least, anyway. Now usually, I am content to have a goal of just finishing the race, but for some reason Mike and I both decided to actually go for a PR.  My goal time is 1:45 or around an 8:00 min/mile pace, and Mike’s is 1:30 which is about a 6:45 min/mile pace. Yes, he’s fast!

My husband was hit by a car in April of this year, and ever since then, he has had a zest for life that is difficult to keep up with.  Ok, I’m totally exhausted. He has always been athletic, but I’ve never seen someone so determined to recover from an injury.  He was obsessive about his rehab and has carried that over to his training for the Portland Triathlon in October, (hit by a car and 6 months later racing again) Run Like Hell 10K, and the upcoming Holiday Half Marathon on Dec. 16.  Needless to say, his energy is contagious and I decided to actually try to run faster too.

We found a half marathon training program that was labelled intermediate, but if you ask me, it’s harder than that.  I still have this ingrained fear of running more than 2 days in a row due to my history of injuries over the last 15 years give or take.  I now realize that I can run more than two days in a row, or even three or four, without getting injured due to my barefoot running and veggie fuel.  And I’m a BAMF.  So I’ve been running 30+ miles per week for the last several weeks, which is more mileage than I’ve ever logged during back to back weeks consistently.  That may not sound like much to some, but to me, it’s still not even real.

For fueling runs, I typically use Clif Shot Gels, which have never done me wrong.  But, they may not be as right as I’d like them to be. I’m getting picky now!  All gels in general are pretty sugary, and so even the ones without caffeine can leave me feeling a little jittery at times.  I’ve already known some about the benefits of adding super foods to the diet including spirulina and chlorella, two forms of algae, as I already use Catie’s Greens. Anyway, I was snooping around the Twitter, and I kept seeing posts about bits and Energy Bits and #PoweredByBits.  I was curious, so I checked out their website.  I will go into much greater detail on a later post, but the Energy Bits are basically pure, compacted spirulina. Obviously, an all natural, plant protein superfood magical tablet. Sold.  I talked with one of their ambassadors, Ray Jackson @RayRunsLong who is an ultra runner, and was convinced when he told me they could fuel his long runs.  So long story short, I ordered a bag and off I went.  I will officially review Energy Bits later when I’ve logged more miles with them, but these things are great so far.

So that pivotal moment, the one when I realized that I am going to meet my goal time this weekend, was last night when I ran 8 miles after eating 20 or so Energy Bits.  After skiing 3 hours in the morning. Man, I felt good! So I think I will use the Bits this weekend when I fuel up before the race vs. my usual Clif Gel.  It’s a little scary, but I’m going to take the risk based on how I’ve been feeling while using them.  Just a pure, happy energy during running.

In the meantime, a QUESTION FOR YOU!  WHAT DO YOU USE FOR FUEL, and WOULD YOU EVER TRY ENERGY BITS?