running

Summer 2017 Charity Walks

Have you ever been driving around running errands, minding your own business, and wanted to stop by your favorite donut shop, when suddenly you come across a big orange construction sign saying, ROAD CLOSED, and you feel like your whole day is ruined. Then, to make matters worse, you find out the reason the road is closed is because there are hundreds (or thousands) of people participating in a Walk/Run event that benefits a super amazing charity, so you drive home and feel doubly bad 1) because you didn’t participate in such a great event and 2) because even though it’s clearly an important event that will benefit many, you’re still pretty upset your route was blocked and you didn’t get a donut.

I’ll admit it, I have.

HOWEVER, I’ve also been amongst the crowds, running and/or walking for a great charity that I care about, and I can honestly say it is way more satisfying than any donut. (Which is saying something, because, you know, #donutsarelife)

With the arrival of summer right around the corner, we’re in for a season of beautiful mornings, perfect for both donuts and charity walks—and if you are living life to fullest: both—and since one of the hardest parts about signing up for a walk/run is knowing which ones are available to sign up for, I figured I’d do the work for you.

WARNING: this does take away the “I had no idea this was happening!” excuse you might have planned to use to not sign up. Sorry about that.

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Relay for Life

Who you’re walking for: American Cancer Society

Distance: varies

Find more information here

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Light the Night

Who you’re walking for: Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

Distance: About 3 miles

Find more information here

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Walk to End Alzheimer’s

Who you’re walking for: Alzheimer’s Association

Distance: 2-3 miles

Find more information here

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AIDs Walk

Who you’re walking for: multiple AID’s related charities

Distance: 6.2 miles (a 10k course)

Find more information here

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Strut Your Mutt

Who you’re walking for: Best Friends Animal Society

Distance: varies

Find more information here

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March of Dimes

Who you’re walking for: March of Dimes Foundation

Distance: About 3 miles

Find more information here

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Walk for Wishes

Who you’re walking for: The Make A Wish Foundation

Distance: 3.1 miles (5k course)

Find more information here

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Walk MS

Who you’re walking for: National Multiple Sclerosis Society

Distance: 1-3 miles

Find more information here

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Buddy Walk

Who you’re walking for: National Down Syndrome Society

Distance: varies based on location

Find more information here

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Breast Cancer 3-day

Who you’re walking for: Susan G Komen for the Cure

Distance: 60 miles over 3 days

Find more information here

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I’d recommend any and all of these and any others you can find. There’s truly no greater feeling than helping someone, and being a part of events like these where you can see and feel the direct impact of the difference you are making is unbelievable.

So I challenge you this summer to get out there and be a part of something bigger. Walk, run, sit down and cry, I’ve done all three at a variety of different races and I’m a better person because of it.

Also, be sure to check out this website to find more charity walks near you, and if you know of any other upcoming runs/walks that benefit great charities, please share them below!

My Journey (So Far) to Winning the Heisman

One of the goals I set for myself in 2017 is to run 1000 miles, and this past Sunday, I hit the 200-mile mark! Woo!

You still have 800 to go, you know.

Hey. Enough of that, negative brain. I’ve run 200 miles!

HELL YEAH SHE HAS. 

Thank you, positive brain.

This is an exciting goal for me. Not only because accomplishing it would be incredible, but because even believing I could try to accomplish it is something I could have never dreamed of a year or two ago.

Over the last few months, I have had a number of different obstacles—i.e. my body trying to convince me it’s falling apart—in regards to this goal, but while they should discourage me, they’ve done exactly the opposite. I feel motivated, I feel inspired, and most of all, I feel able. Even on the days when running sounds hard or tiring, I don’t have that lingering doubt in the back of my mind that I’ve grown so familiar with. I really believe I can do this, and hell, if there’s a better feeling than that, I haven’t found it yet.

But while this goal seems wholly attainable to me, and I know I’ll stop at nothing to achieve it, I respect its grandiose. I know I can’t get over-confident and go all tortoise/hare on the thing, and so I still go into every run with the same amount of respect and dedication.

Among my family members, I’ve started referring to this goal as “winning the Heisman.” Am I a male, college level football star? No. But the way I see it, if a kid tells his parents he wants to win the Heisman, they’ll probably smile and tell him to “go for it”, even though they know he has a loooong way to go, and for me, with running, it’s very similar. I have never been a runner before, ever. And so having a background that was practically dedicated to not running, it seems pretty far-fetched to come out with a goal like, “I want to run 1000 miles in one year.” But the truth of the matter is, every year one kid does win that Heisman trophy, and so I figure, why can this be the year I win mine?

January/February Favorites

Do wappa do wappa do wappa do wappa

DUN

DUNDUNDUN

DUNDUNDUN

DUNDUNDUNNNNN

Wait, wait, wait, pause.

Okay, I thought I would be kind of epic if I started off this Favorites post with an Eye of the Tiger type vibe, but I can see now that it looks more like a post-wisdom teeth slur/stroke hybrid type of situation.

Apologies.

But hey, now that you know the intention behind the introductory gibberish, you can totally start this post over and get the full effect of the do wappa’s…

No? Well okay then, let’s just get started, here are a few of my favorite things from January and February:

Running!

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Go ahead, roll your eyes. I deserve and accept the gesture. I mean, who wants to hear about someone that loves running, right? Running sucks! Except, well, I don’t think it does…at least not anymore. Maybe it’s because I’ve been doing it consistently for over two months now so my body no longer feels like it’s going to spontaneously combust (as it has done every other time I’ve ever decided to “become a runner”) or maybe it’s because one of my goals for 2017 is to run 1000 miles, so I feel like in a way I have to love it. Regardless, I’ve recently discovered that I do. Oops.

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Nerd Wax

Speaking of running, have you ever noticed how completely annoying it is to run with glasses/sunglasses? There you are trying to get in the zone and there your glasses are, bouncing around your face like a drunk guy at a nightclub, causing you to break your focus and, depending on whether the glasses are prescription, sending you in and out of ranging levels of blindness. Enter Nerd Wax, stage right. Put a little on the bridge of your nose and your glasses will hang on tighter than a drunk guy at a nightclub, but unlike him, you’ll definitely want to take Nerd Wax home.

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Books

When I’m not writing, I’m usually reading, (or running, or eating, or sleeping or asking my brother to clarify popular teenage slang terms or looking up new quesadilla recipes) but mostly reading, and so more often than not, when a favorites post comes around, I have multiple books that I’ve recently enjoyed, making the selection of just one, HARD. So, I’m just going to start recommending two. It’s a safe median, I think. It lets me give you a little variety without writing you a book…about books. So yeah, two. And I’ll do the same for movies and music. Onward!

Here are this months’ recommendations:

Nicola Yoon is quickly becoming one of my favorite new writers. I read her first book Everything, Everything (which is now a motion picture!) and loved it with my whole heart, and The Sun is Also a Star was no different. She just knows how to make your heart swell, and she tends to do so without your permission.

Anna Kendrick is arguably one of my favorite HBINM’s (Human Beings I’ve Never Met) (pronounced, hib-i-nims) and I was so excited to finally get to read her debut book, Scrappy Little Nobody. Long story short: I LOVED it. Throughout the process of reading it I was the physical embodiment of a LOL and I would highly recommend it.

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La La Land & The Submarine Kid

As an artist, La La Land was an absolute dream to watch. As a lover of movies, La La Land was an absolute dream to watch. As a human being, La La Land was an absolute dream to watch. Honestly, there’s not much else I can say.

On a completely different token, The Submarine Kid is a story about a soldier suffering from PTSD. It’s told in an incredibly unique way, while still remaining honest, and is extremely well done, well acted and well, just go watch it! It’s currently on Netflix.

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James Arthur & Lauren Alaina

One of my favorite things about iTunes is the expressive language used by the reviewers to describe albums. Those people bring out alllll the adjectives, let me tell you. So I would feel rather unworthy trying to describe anything about these two albums. That being said, let me just leave with you with the names and a few words iTunes uses to describe them:

Back from the Edge by James Arthur: “energetically soulful”, “lusty neo-R&B”, & “gospel-tinged behemoth”

Road Less Traveled by Lauren Alaina: Hmm…the adjective guy keeps it brief here with simply: “crossover gold”, but it should also be noted that an iTunes user rated it as “the best thing that has ever happened”, so there’s that.

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Cinnamon Bun OreosI mean, this shouldn’t be that surprising, as this cookie was essentially my muse this month. But seeing as it’s still an incredible cookie that I have yet to go a full week without consuming, I thought it deserved another round of recognition.

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Have anything you’ve been loving over these last couple months? Let me know! My Amazon cart is always open…

See my previous favorites post here.

The Boy on the Skateboard

Yesterday after work I went for a run. And since it’s become much more of a common after work activity, I found myself once again opting for a new route, a new change of scenery.

I made my way out of my neighborhood and onto the main street, turned left and suffered up a steep hill where a bicyclist nodded at me in approval, as he too struggled. Once at the top I fought through quick breaths, knowing it would be more beneficial than stopping, and eventually made my way down the other side. I crossed another intersection, making my way down a street lush with trees that looks beautiful in the fall.

Upon reaching the next large intersection, the light turned red and I paced back and forth at the corner, waiting for the green. As I waited, a boy about the age of my brother rolled up behind me on a skateboard and began waiting at the light next to me. I continued to pace, listening to my music loudly, and most likely singing under my breath like a winded sleep talker.

When the light turned green, the boy set down his skateboard and rolled passed me easily, pumping his right leg multiple times to put a good amount of distance between us. After a few minutes, I started to feel a slight cramp forming under the right side of my ribcage. It was minor, but it immediately sent my mind into overdrive, making the idea of quitting extremely attractive. Just then, the boy turned back to look at me, to—I assume—see if I was still running. I took a deep breath in and out, trying to work through the cramp, determined not to let him see me quit. Why this mattered so much to me, I did not know. I didn’t know this boy, I had nothing to prove to him, but I couldn’t stand the thought of “failing” in front of him.

I ran behind him for a while and watched him continue to turn back and look at me. At some points he would step off his board and carry it, allowing me to gain ground on him, and sometimes I thought I might pass him, but he always seemed to sense when I was getting close—probably because of my blaring pop music and loud mouth breathing (I know, I’m a really cute runner)—and he would set down his board and draw farther ahead.

As we drew closer to a large intersection, I could tell that he was getting tired. The breaks between boarding and walking became more frequent and his looks back were almost every other minute. That’s when I realized that it was not he who was challenging me to keep going, but rather me challenging him. Whatever the reason, whether for pride or pure motivation, his backward glances were to note the effort I was putting in so he could try and match it. Similar to my thoughts on him, he had no relation to me or any reason why he had to keep moving, and I wouldn’t have thought any more or less of him if he stopped moving or skated forever. But there was something about me, about my actions that were motivating him to challenge himself.

We have a lot of influence on each other, whether we know it or not, and I think it is important, especially in today’s society to remember the value in our unique ability to do so. It is easy to script our actions to fulfill the wishes we assume are being made by others, but that doesn’t benefit anyone, including the one we initially set out to impress. We are much more likely to inspire others when we do things on our own accord, to challenge our own willpower.

When I got back from my run, I found myself thinking a lot about the way the boy kept looking back and I decided to use it as a motivating factor from this point forward. I think that we can often misconstrue a look as a judgment or a negative opinion, but maybe, just maybe that look is one of awe and inspiration.

Is she still going? Wow. Maybe I can keep going too.

Opening the BIFC Door

As many of you know, my family and I climbed a mountain last year. A MOUNTAIN. It was one of those, “did I really do that?” type of moments that was immediately followed by, “we definitely deserve cake for that.” Let’s just say I opened the BIFC (scientifically pronounced Bifsee) door.

We all have this door. Some people kick it open Kool-Aid man style, without fear or hesitation, while others fiddle with the keys and hide from the moth living on the screen before we even attempt to push it ajar.

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This past October, I came across an ad for the LA Big 5k, an event held the day before the LA Marathon as both a challenge for the general public and a warm up for the Marathon runners.

I’ve never been a runner, ever. The last time I remember running for sport was 6th grade when I was trying to keep up with the boys and get an A on my physical fitness test. (Side note: I got a B because I couldn’t do a shoulder roll. I was convinced I’d shatter my shoulder blade and have to learn to cook with my feet.) I don’t really know what made me click the link, maybe it was the inspiration of my brother signing up to run the marathon, or maybe it was because I’d watched Thor the night before. Either way, I clicked the link, filled out a form and before I knew it I was signed up to run 3.1 miles in the middle of March.

My first reaction was panic. WTF was I thinking? What if my lungs dissolve into a puddle of blood and weakness and I die amongst thousands of 6-packed super humans? Would they use my clothes as sweat rags and my tears as a hydration refresher?

January marked the official start of my self-training. My regimen was extremely detailed: run until you might die, then stop and walk for like, a long time.

My first trip out I made it about a half mile before my lungs went to war with my ribs and my heart tried to out do the drum solo in Whiplash. I walked it off, panting wildly, and half-heartedly waving to neighbors as I slobbered my way back to a realistic breathing pattern. I picked the speed back up, much to the displeasure of my shins, and then I walked again, waving and slobbering like I was an out of shape record on repeat.

For the first month, not a single time was fun. Every time I started to run I dreamed of the moment I got to stop. I would pick a pole, an intersection, a tweaked out squirrel, anything up ahead that I could will myself to keep running towards, stopping on a dime when I got there and cursing myself for this entire process.

Over the course of the second month, I used the same process, but eventually I would pick a pole, reach it, and then tell myself to run passed it to the next one and then the next one and then the next one.

In a blink, it was race day. I was standing amongst 5000 of my sweatiest acquaintances, when at 8:00 a.m. on the dot, the MC gave us the green light, shouting, “GO! GO! GO!” into the microphone.

I had long decided to set my own pace. I was not racing, I was running and the only person I had to beat was the one inside my own head, telling me to quit.

When I reached Mile 1, I was both discouraged and excited. It was: “Woohoo 1 mile gone!” and “THAT WAS ONLY 1 MILE?!”

The 2nd mile marker sat at the bottom of a hill, which, on any other day would invite me in to spend the afternoon eating hot dogs and watching my favorite team play baseball, but today it only offered a challenge.

At the top the path flattened out, only to curve and dip and loop around to yet another hill, seemingly steeper than the last. I could see the Mile 3 sign at the top and I knew that the finish line was waiting just beyond it. So with a deep breath, I pushed myself up that hill like Thor himself was waiting on the other side. Once I reached the top, I could see the arch marking the finish and was overwhelmed at the amount of people lining the path, cheering. I picked up my pace, suddenly unhindered by anything, and against every assumption my negative brain had made over the last 12 years, I finished my first 5k without a stitch of walking.

Why?

Because I F*cking Can.

Find your own BIFC door, then Kool-Aid man that thing and never look back!