Monday, August 15, 2016

Princess and the Pea

"Often it isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, 
it's the little pebble in your shoe" -- Muhammad Ali

The worst part about Mondays is that Monday is always Monday. Rarely, if ever, do people get excited to greet it when it arrives. It's usually hardest when you had a great weekend - but sometimes a bad or boring weekend can make the impending work week difficult to bear too. I'm not sure what gives this week, but I'm already over it.

I intended to wake up this morning at 4:45am. Yes, this is early... even for me. My intention, however, was to wake up early enough to do yoga and still get my morning mile in with my dog. As with most of my best intentions, I failed miserably. Despite setting several alarms, I finally got up in a panic around 5:30am. So much for yoga! I quickly gathered Diego's things, jumped in the car, and headed to the park. I usually order my morning coffee or tea from Starbucks as we head back to the car, and today was no exception. I arrived - and my order was never received. UGH. It shouldn't come as any surprise that I rolled into work about 20 minutes late... forgetting my workout shoes in my gym bag, and forgetting my morning snack at home. 

I got home even later than I had expected. I picked up my dog, changed into shorts, and promptly crashed on the couch. When it came time for my evening walk with my neighbor, she had to wake me up. Ridiculous. We slowly did our evening walk, and I resigned myself back to my house even sleepier than when I left. When I finally called my mom to check in, I had no idea how to respond to her question about my day. My answer was... meh. 

My tardiness notwithstanding, today wasn't a bad day. I didn't have too many meetings, and only one meeting was less efficient than I had hoped. We had a fun lunch to say goodbye to my intern, and I even got answers to emails that I sent on Friday. I didn't work out, but I still got some walking in. All that, and I still felt "meh" about my day. It wasn't good. It wasn't bad. It just... was. 

Even though my workouts usually improve my mood, I've been fairly melancholy for the last few weeks for some reason. My weekend was uneventful and "boring," but I got to spend time talking to a few close friends and that was nice. My long run on Saturday was painful and hot (I need new shoes!), but my pace had improved since my last 6+ run in July. For every yin, there was a yang. Nothing was dreadful. What gives?

Even though my workout consistency has improved, and even though my run pacing is getting better, I feel very much like I've plateaued. I've racked my brain for the last hour trying to think about what's holding me back. 
  • Is it my diet? (Probably... there is definitely room for improvement!)
  • Is it my shoes? (Maybe... my new ones should be here by Thursday!)
  • Is it my energy, or lack thereof? (Could be... I'm always tired these days.)
  • Is it boredom? (Meh... I like routine for exercise, so I don't think this is it... yet?)
  • Is it my self-esteem? (Possibly... it's taken quite a few hits lately. Sigh.)
I've talked through the years about journaling, but I've not practiced it much lately. I recently read about "guided" journaling, and think I may try that for a few weeks. I have a lot of travel coming up in my schedule, and maybe one of those trips will be the reset that my body (and brain!) needs. Until then, I'm going to try to find that pebble in my shoe so that I can get it out and appreciate the journey instead. And if I can't find it? I need to find a way to tune it out, and focus on what I need to do to be successful in my fitness journey. Have you had this problem? How did you fix it? I may want to talk this out with you... If not, wish me luck!



Sunday, August 7, 2016

Moon Rocks (Visiting Vasquez Rocks)

"A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, 
bearing within him the image of a cathedral." - Antoine de Saint-Exupery

If I can't make exercise fun, I won't do it. Well, I will do it... but I might not enjoy it. That's not to say that I don't enjoy traditional forms of exercise - I love yoga and weight lifting, and enjoy running (when I have a goal in mind). Aerobics classes, pilates, zumba, etc, however, have no appeal to me. And let's not even talk about sports... I don't think I could be an athlete if I tried. So what's a girl to do? Hike!

Lucky for me, my niece loves hiking as much as I do! She and I planned to do several hikes while she visited this summer, and we really got excited when the Girls Who Hike LA event at Vasquez Rocks was scheduled. I knew we both would enjoy it - the rocks and desert-like landscape is reminiscent of the places back home I like to hike, and would be more familiar to Katie too. Plus, Vasquez Rocks Park is a filming location, so you know this movie fangirl just had to visit it one of these days!

The Girls Who Hike LA event was loosely based on the same loop described by Modern Hiker on his post here. The trail we actually took is located on AllTrails, although I still haven't figured out how to read their trails other than via GPS. I was excited to take this particular loop, however, because it included a brief stint on the Pacific Crest Trail. The Pacific Crest Trail is a 2,600+ mile trail that runs from the Mexican/California border all the way to the US/Canada border in British Colombia. While mentioned often in literature, it's probably most famous for being the trail that Cheryl Strayed took in her autobiography, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail.

I trusted that Kaitlyn would be up for the hike when I researched the trail before our adventure - the trail that Sharron planned covered a little under 5 miles total, and less than 1,000' foot elevation gain. I also figured that we were well prepared because I had been taking Kaitlyn with me for nightly 2-3 mile walks in the park after work every day. I knew it was going to be a hot one, so I made sure we had plenty of water for our hike too.

The hike was relatively easy/flat for the first mile or so. We could view the famous rocks throughout that first mile, and only saw one PCT hiker on the trail as we made our way out. We had a fairly steep-ish descent as we made our way down to the PCT junction, heading south towards the tunnel to experience that stretch of the infamous trail. This area was fairly rugged and overgrown, features that I really enjoy when I hike in the desert. Rocks, fossils, and other sediment were exposed in the sandstone, making for fun conversation between my niece and me.

After a brief break at the tunnel, we headed back the way we came and started our climb to the tops of the surrounding rocks of the park. This is where things started getting hairy for the less adventurous/experienced of our group. The only child on the trip fell during this portion of the trail, and my niece rolled her ankle shortly thereafter. I was glad to see I wasn't the only one breathing heavily during this portion of the trail, but a noticeable gap between the front of the pack and the back was starting to form. 

Somewhere around the famous rocks themselves, the front of the group left the back of the pack. It was better for all sides. As a back of the packer, I could sense the relief. The front group was more physically prepared for this hike, and I was worried about my niece and wanted to slow down too. Once the gap was realized, I noticed that we weren't alone in taking our time, taking pictures, and enjoying the stunning sky. Our back of the pack was around 1/4 of the total group, all determined to still enjoy the hike and fellowship with each other.

As we made our way back to the valley floor, however, some bit of panic set in. The path was not as obvious at the bottom as it was up top. Several of us tried to map the trail to see if we were still heading in the right direction. Two of the girls were very close to giving up. One girl sat down. We shouldn't have feared - our back of the pack leader was tremendous! She kept everyone calm, and cheered the group on to finish the hike back to our vehicles. (If you're reading this, Angela - THANK YOU!)

The temperature in my car read a very hot 95 degrees by the time we returned to it. My niece was hot, sore, and in pain, and as much as I wanted to join the girls for lunch, I knew it was best if we just headed back home. After the initial soreness died down, Kaitlyn and I talked about the hike. She actually really liked it! She was just woefully ill-prepared. That's my fault - I'm sorry Katie. (At least this experience helped me prepare for our much more strenuous hike at Pinnacles a few weeks later!)

As for me, this is a hike I really want to tackle again when it gets cooler in the fall. My hope is that the Sand Fire didn't destroy it - I'll have to do some research and see. This hike reminded me a lot of hiking back home, and that made me very happy. I'm not so sure that the giant group hikes are quite my speed, but it was fun meeting some of the other girls from GWHLA. I look forward to seeing them at the networking event in October. But for now... small group hikes are the hikes for me!

Take charge this week!

--- Becky

Live in the Los Angeles area (or visit often)? Like to hike? Consider joining us at Our website links to our blog, which includes hiking trail reviews, gear reviews, and more. Want to join our hikes? Informal meet-ups happen all the time and group hikes happen once a month. You can only get that info by joining our closed Facebook page. Our founder updates our Instagram regularly too - be sure to check it out!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Mas o menos

"You can do anything...
... but not everything." 
--David Allen

Today is the last day of July. In my head, this will always be the last day of summer (although, yes, I know... summer lasts well into September). When I was planning out my summer, I only had one goal: I wanted to run 100 miles during the two months of summer. I didn't come up with this idea on my own, mind you - I have a friend on Instagram that does this every year, and her goal inspired me to try it this year. She actually uses the full summer to accomplish this goal, but I'm crazy and always try to do more than expected.

When I came up with this goal, I figured it would be super easy to achieve. I planned a running program for the summer, and between that program and the "Streak" I did with my niece, I figured I would hit 100 miles in the second week of July. The second week of July came and went, and I was no closer to my goal. And here I sit on this 31st day of July, and I'm still 6 miles short of the goal. What happened?

I could do what I always do and analyze all the reasons I fell short of my goal. I'm not going to do that today. No, instead I'm going to concentrate on everything that went right over the last two months. More specifically, what I did right in the last 26 days. (There's a time and place to let the demon in your head win, but he's had enough wins lately. Today is MY day.)

The last 26 days have been enlightening... challenging... and restful. No, I didn't finish running 100 miles, but...

I completed a 10K race, focusing on fun over pace. I scheduled hikes, focusing on fellowship with friends over photos for Instagram. I worked with a trainer, developing a weight training program that doesn't take away from my race prep. I worked out at lunch... and loved it! (Ok, showering at work is hella weird, but I'm a grown person... I'll get over it). Overall... July was a pretty darn good month! So I'm not going to stress that I missed my century goal by 6 miles (I'll hit those by Wednesday anyway). 

I'm still using the Red Rocks App Running App for my short runs, and I'm loving it! My speed has increased a full minute/mile, and I can only see it getting better from here. I feel strong, and fit-ish! I don't look fit-ish, but the hell with it. I'm really excited for August. I am increasing my distance runs starting next week, and have a trip back to New Mexico planned soon too. I'm sure the month will fly right by! Now, I'm off to bed so I can get up bright and early tomorrow. I've been sleeping in much later than usual for the last couple of months, and that stops here. Onward and upward... always!

Cheers til then!