August Updates

At the beginning of the year, I had a goal to make 3 new recipes a week. I was signed up for 2 races, then a third. I was in the most peaceful relationship of my life. In February, for my 29th birthday, I visited my cousin just outside of Las Vegas, where we enjoyed meaningful conversation, delicious food, and we ran a half marathon relay together and I PR’d everything. I was hoping (and planning) to ride that momentum through the entire year.

In April I got shin splints and had to cut back on training a lot. I started adding in more trails (less of an impact on my body).

In May that peaceful relationship ended—which was fine, but it was hard to lose such a close friend.

Also in May, I realized that any pavement running caused my shins to ache, so I moved completely to running trails. I ended up dropping out of my June half marathon (more on that here).

I kept my July half marathon on the schedule, but I had just barely started adding pavement runs back into my schedule so the race was pretty rough. I felt so good as I started the race—but I soon realized that I went out too quickly. I started out at my usual pavement race pace, but I was NOT prepared or trained for that (trail running is very different—my pace is slower and I do a lot of power hiking). I crashed FAST. By mile 5 I hit the wall. I stopped and slow walked, calling Kathryn and leaving her THE MOST pathetic voicemail. I finished though, and am glad I did the race. But man oh man, I think it burnt me out more than I realized.

It’s been about 4 weeks since that race. My third planned race this year is next month, and my new training cycle was supposed to start yesterday. Every time I even THINK about running right now, I feel like my body gets 20 times more tired and I feel like crumbling into a ball on the floor. SO.

I feel like my body is craving slowness and gentleness. At the beginning of the year I taught a 3-class series of gentle yoga classes, but by the time I finished teaching those classes my focus had turned more to running. I felt like I was done teaching yoga—at least for the foreseeable future, and maybe forever.

But now I feel like it’s time to come back. To be gentle to my body. To come back to that space.

The year so far is not how I planned it to be. My hips are wider than I expected them to be (despite exercising more intensely and eating better than I did last year, if I’m remembering correctly), my bank account is about where I expected it to be, and I have run far fewer races than I had planned to.

And yet, this year is so much more than I thought it would be. I have healed from multiple heartaches faster than I ever have in the past. I feel SO much fulfillment in my job—a job that has grown over the last few months in really great ways, and I am so grateful. My heart has healed in miraculous ways, and things that would have triggered trauma in the past no longer shake me like they used to. I have been blessed with greater closure from past heartaches than I ever thought I’d receive. I have the joy of serving in the LDS Temple every week, which is bringing me more joy, light, peace, and clarity than I ever expected it to. I upgraded my living space to include more space and light. I’m learning how to care for my body better. I made really good cookies last week, and on Sunday I cooked my first roast! Monumental times over here! 😉

 

This year so far isn’t what I expected it to be, but despite the setbacks, losses, errors, and what have you, this year has led me to exactly where I need to be right now. I have no idea what the rest of 2018 will hold, but I have a feeling that it will yield some of the greatest gifts I’ll ever have.

Recap: Coast to Crest Challenge, July 1 – July 3, 2018

From July 1 – July 3, 2018, I completed the Coast to Crest Challenge, hosted by the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy! Here is my “race recap” 😉

I found out about the Coast to Crest Challenge from the @hike.sandiego Instagram account a few weeks ago and got excited, knowing that I’d be heading to San Diego this summer (where I grew up, and where my parents still live). The challenge, hosted by the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy (SDRVC), is to complete 5 specified hikes along the 70-mile Coast to Crest Trail anytime between July 1, 2018 – June 30, 2019, and take a selfie at a designated location along each trail. Those who complete the challenge fully receive a certificate and small prize pack.

I ended up being in San Diego from June 29 – July 3, which gave me just enough time to start the new round of the 2018-2019 Coast to Crest Challenge starting on July 1… and finishing just a few hours before I left to drive back to Utah!

I’m going to outline the five hikes in this year’s Coast to Crest Challenge, share my favorites, and give little tidbits about each trail.

General tip: I recommend doing these hikes earlier in the morning when the marine layer is still covering the sky. On the practical side of things, there isn’t much shade on any of the trails so the marine layer helps keep it cooler. On a personal note, I just think the marine layer also makes everything look really cool. This is also coming from the girl who lives in Utah, so we don’t have a marine layer there, just clouds and the occasional fog. The marine layer is now one of my favorite things about Southern California, just because I haven’t had it regularly for several years!

 

Trail #1: Santa Ysabel East Preserve Kanaka Loop, 1 July 2018

July 1 landed on a Sunday. I don’t typically run on Sundays to observe the day of rest, but sometimes I hike! I knew I needed to use every day I could to complete these trails, so on Sunday afternoon I grabbed my brother (thank you, Gary!!) and we went up to Julian to hike this trail.

The SDRVC website said that this trail is 6.7 miles and rated easy/moderate. My Garmin clocked us in at 7.09 miles with 958 ft of elevation gain (which doesn’t matter much in San Diego, but I live in Utah where most of my hikes include climbing at least a bit up a mountain, so I pay attention to elevation gain!).

I liked this hike and had a lot of fun doing it with my brother. I also learned that I’m scared of cows (they’re huge and just stare at you) and I’m grateful that Gary kept his cool while I nervous laughed every time we passed near them. There was little shade on the hike, so if you do it, I recommend wearing a hat + sunscreen.

Fun Fact: We also saw a lot of rabbits and a coyote. Gary, did I miss any animals?

 

Trail #2: Piedras Pintadas Trail, 2 July 2018

I did Trails 2 and 3 on Monday, July 2, and I chose to run them — though I stayed conservative with my pace and hiked a bit of the uphill to conserve energy, knowing that I had more trails ahead over the next two days. I was also treating these two days of running as my “long run” during my “peak week.” If those words mean nothing to you, continue on! I’m just nerding out about running training. Haha!

This was probably my FAVORITE trail out of all of them. The website said this trail is 4.4 miles round trip and rated easy. My Garmin said it was 3.91 miles and had 331 feet of elevation gain.

The route took me from the parking lot, to educational signs about the Kumeyaay Natives who used to live in the region, to crossing a stream, then to a loop that led me near Lake Hodges and up the hill to an incredible overlook—then back to the beginning. It was a beautiful area. The trails were also well maintained, clear, and mostly flat with some gradual inclines, making it very hikeable/runnable for most people (there is a retirement home across the street and I think some of the residents walk on these trails).

 

Trail #3: Santa Fe Valley Trail, 2 July 2018

My second trail on Monday… and my least favorite of the whole challenge. Website says 4.4 miles round trip and rated easy. My Garmin said 3.74 miles and 390 feet of elevation gain.

By the time I got there, the marine layer had burned off so the sun was shining pretty brightly. I also saw no other person on the trail, which is kind of eerie to me. I let my brother know where I was and when to expect me back, just to be safe!

Most of the trail ran along a golf course, then a lot of switchbacks in a canyon lined by neighborhoods, and ended at power line poles. The two things I liked: the switchbacks made the incline very gradual, so I could pretty easily run most of the switchbacks; and there was a very small stretch of the trail that felt a bit tropical and had a small lake nearby, that felt a bit like Jurassic Park maybe? So that was cool, but also only lasted literally a minute or two while I ran by.

While I wouldn’t recommend this trail… I do recommend it if you want to complete the challenge! 😉

 

Trail #4: Raptor Ridge, 3 July 2018

THIRD AND FINAL DAY! The website says 4 miles round trip and rated easy/moderate. My Garmin said 4.51 miles and 363 feet of elevation gain. *I should note that I started my watch at the parking lot, and you had to run by a palm tree farm for a bit and cross the street before the trail itself started. On the way back, I stopped by watch right before crossing the street and walked the rest of the way back along the palm trees to the parking lot. So the trail is probably somewhere between 4-4.75 miles.

The Raptor Ridge Viewpoint trail was pretty beautiful. This is probably my second favorite hike (or tied for second with the Ramona Grasslands Preserve). It starts, as I said, at a parking lot across the street from the actual trail. You then walk beside a palm tree farm for a bit before crossing the street at a designated spot. After you cross the street, you’re then in a more open area with a lot of native Southern California plants. The trail is mostly flat here, with some small rolling hills. The trail then takes you off to the right and you begin making your way up the hill. There are benches and picnic tables at the viewpoint—and it really is an incredible view! I recommend walking around a bit and seeing the different vantage points. I like this more rural area of Escondido/San Diego a lot.

Note: There is no bathroom or port-a-potty at the parking lot or anywhere along this trail. A plant may or may not have been watered during this trail run.

Personal note: While I was trying to take it easy yesterday, I really did my best to push my pace today—though my pace ended up being very similar to those of the day before. During the second half of this run, as I began my descent, I started to feel my right IT band get tight—which has never happened before—and I started noticing some tightness in my shins too. I had to take it easier on the downhill than I would have liked to because of this. I think this was just from overuse over the last couple days. Gratefully, I didn’t notice either issue on the next run.

 

Trail #5: Ramona Grasslands Preserve, 3 July 2018

LAST TRAIL!! The website said 3.5 miles round trip, rated easy. My watch said 3.4 miles round trip with 277 feet of elevation gain.

I had intended to do this hike first on Tuesday, but when I arrived just before 6am I discovered that the gate was locked and wouldn’t be open until 8am. I was pretty frustrated (I had woken up early to get back on the road to Utah as soon as I could, and this altered my timing a bit), but it turned out okay. When I finally got there, I was grateful that there was a nice port-a-potty in the parking lot (with water and paper towels even—see, these things matter to me, haha) and that there were several cars already there. This is apparently a popular spot, and I understand why!

This is another very runnable/hikeable trail. The incline is mostly gradual (the back end is a little steeper at a point but it’s still very manageable), the trail is clear, and the mileage is definitely doable for hikers of most experience levels (the mileage is probably closer to 3 miles if you just did the Wildflower Loop, or even shorter if you just did the smaller loop to the left, whose name I can’t recall. So there are a couple different options. The challenge had me complete both loops). For all of these reasons, I definitely recommend this trail to everyone! It’s also very beautiful, and I’m guessing at a certain time of the year, Wildflower Loop is particularly beautiful (though the plant life was pretty sparse at this time of the year).

Aside from feeling tired, I felt pretty good on this trail. I continued to run/walk it, but found bursts of energy to go up little hills toward the second half, and power to the end. Miraculously, even though this was one of two most inland trails (the most inland being the first one in Santa Ysabel), I even had the marine layer covering for the first half of the run, until around 8:30am. That was sure a blessing!

AND DONE!!

To summarize: from July 1 – 3, I hiked/ran 22.5 miles—which is more miles in THREE DAYS than my average WEEKLY mileage lately (my weekly mileage lately is closer to around 17 miles). I am SO STOKED and SO TIRED after completing this challenge!

I THINK I was one of the first people to finish the challenge for the year—if not THE first. I finished just before 9am on Tuesday, July 3, 2018. According to Instagram (#c2cchallenge), it looks like another man finished later that day. I think he was hiking the trails (as I think most people will do) so that’s even more time on his feet, which is crazy impressive to me.

I loved this challenge. It was worth the 5am and 6am mornings, even during my “vacation.” It was (mostly) worth feeling so tired during this trip, and it was definitely worth starting my day each morning on the trails. If you live in San Diego or are going to the area sometime, I recommend checking this challenge out. You don’t need to do it in 3 days—you have an entire year to do all 5 hikes, and you can do them at whatever pace you’d like, as long as you’re on your feet!

Thanks to SDRVC and Hike San Diego for creating and managing this awesome challenge! It was a joy to participate in it!

I think I’m dropping out of an upcoming race, and here are my thoughts on that.

Written 1 June 2018 —

I dropped out of the AF Canyon Half Marathon.

At the time of writing, I haven’t actually done that yet, but I’m saying it out loud to see how it feels. (Undecided).

Yesterday I hiked/ran in the mountains with a new friend (Melissa/@runninlong— Instagram friends are so great!). We went 8.5 miles. She let me take my own pace for it, and pause when I needed to. It was SO nice, and while my legs felt a bit like noodles afterward, I did my usual icing and compression sleeve routine, and the next day I felt pretty dang good! I noticed my quads a bit, but barely.

Tonight I rode my stationary bike for 10 minutes to warm up, then decided to go for a night run—because I LOVE night runs in the summertime, and it’s finally getting warm enough to feel like summertime. I did NOT take it easy because I had a burst of energy to get out before I left. I By the end of the mile I was going at an 8:30 pace—ending at just under 9 minutes for the entire run (I started slower and reached that 8:30 pace toward the end). I focused on keeping my knees bent to absorb the shock of the asphalt. I felt good as I ran, but as soon as I stopped, I felt horrible.

Both of my shins hurt. The outside back of my right knee hurt. And when I went inside, sat down, and started stretching and icing my legs, my right calf cramped up.

That’s when I realized, I don’t know if I can do the AF Canyon Half. This is me writing out my feelings.

The AF Canyon Half is a downhill race, and my goal pace would be just a bit slower than what I was running tonight. That is more of an impact (because of the downhill) at the pace I was running tonight. The last downhill training run I tried to do also hurt my shins (last Saturday—I only made it the first 4 miles downhill before my shins hurt too badly, and I knew I risked injury if I continued my run).

Sometimes things just don’t work out like we expect them to—even the best of things.

A few years ago I was working a full time, relatively fulfilling job as a social worker. I was helping people! I was building relationships, working creatively, and every day was different! I had my own office! I wrote such eloquent court reports (I really love writing, if you can’t tell)! And I regularly got to go to court and be all official! I worked hard and I cared about my work!

But my shoulders ached. (As I typed that, I just dropped my arms off of the keyboard and whispered aloud, “Oh, crap.” The pieces are fitting together now).

My shoulders ached and all the yoga, stretching, Deep Blue Rub, and chiropractor appointments couldn’t get the ache to subside.

I had registered for classes to work toward my SSW (social work license) that summer. With the stress of work increasing, I decided to drop that program and get my license later. As I drove home from work on the day that I dropped the social work classes, I suddenly realized that my shoulders didn’t hurt anymore. For the first time in months, my shoulders were relaxed, and I realized that maybe this wasn’t my path right now. I put in my notice at work and left a few weeks later.

How does it sound to not stress about hitting that PR? Pretty dang nice. How does it sound to just run and hike in the mountains? With all the fresh air and grounding earth and green trees and satisfyingly burning muscles? SO nice.

There are things that intimidate me about training trails, but if I could have 1000 days like yesterday morning, I’d gladly take them.

I think God has more in store for us than we do for ourselves.

If I hadn’t left my job as a social worker, I don’t know if I’d be where I am now—so fulfilled in a completely different field of work, making less money and working fewer hours right now, but grateful for the many opportunities for growth and creativity with this company.

There are other things that are hard, like a recent breakup that has me feeling a great deal of missing—but I’m appreciating the opportunity to work through the layers of my own character, insecurities, and shortcomings. A couple weeks ago I asked God to show me what I am to learn from this, and I continue to have “a ha!” moments as time goes on.

I don’t know what’s going to happen as life continues to unfold—in running, love, employment, and what have you. But I can tell you that my faith and hope in God have never been stronger.

If I drop, I drop. Maybe I’ll rest my legs for the next week, then couple weeks after that, and feel energized and ready to run the AF Canyon Half. Either way, it’s going to be okay.

History of Running, Part 3: Surviving

That breakup. The 3-year on-again-off-again relationship with a man I loved, but who could never truly love me back—because you don’t treat people you love the way he treated me. I know that now. While he ended it in the beginning of October, we technically kept dating until January, and I kept holding on until March (which is insane, I know. But there was so much chaos, manipulation, codependency, and trauma mixed together that it was so, SO hard to break away). That timeline is important for you to know because it goes along with my running at the time.

The weekend after the breakup, I ran the Red Rock Relay with three friends from my church congregation—Sam, Dane, and Melissa—and my ex’s awesome sister and her friend. Six of us in a van driving through the mountains of Utah all day. We each ran 2 legs of the race. A majority of us had injuries. I was not properly fueled, as I had barely eaten or drank anything all week from grief. And I loved the whole day. (Okay, the dehydration and cramping and suckiness of my second run wasn’t great, but I still did it, and obviously don’t focus on that while looking back on the day as a whole, haha)

While I knew Sam and Dane casually from church, I don’t think we weren’t super close friends before the race started. But during this race, we found an appreciation for the TV show New Girl and from that time forward, we started watching new episodes together every Thursday night. After the run, the 3 of us also went to get Noodles & Co. together. We started hanging out regularly from that time forward.

Toward the end of November, there was some drama with my ex (who I was still seeing regularly at that point, if you recall). I was devastated. And this is where Sam came in. He worked with his running coach to switch around some training runs to go on a 6 mile run with me that night, way below his normal training pace (and knowing now how serious he is with his training, that is HUGE). We ran 6 miles down Provo Canyon in the dark (we forgot lights) and in the constantly pouring rain (couldn’t wear my glasses!), while Sam told me stories, and I found the strength that I needed to find that night. It meant so much to me. (I believe this was also the furthest I had run since my 10k back in June 2014).

At Christmastime I remember talking to Sam on the phone while I was visiting family in San Diego, and he offered to coach me to help me reach my running goals. I was unsure how dedicated I was to the things I wanted to accomplish, so I pushed pause on the idea. But by March or April, sometime during the peak of grief and trauma, I was all in. I needed something to work toward, and something that I could have some control over. Training gave that to me.

I trained to PR my 5k, and to run my first half marathon. Sam helped me do both of those things.

Race for Red 5k: 26:54 (average 8:39 min/mile pace). A HUGE PR, if you remember any of my other 5k finish times. I didn’t race the smartest—I definitely went out too fast and struggled on the way back in—but this was my first time incorporating speed work into my runs, and I could see the impact that had (and I learned that I really enjoy speed work)!

AF Canyon Half Marathon: 2:04 (average 9:29 min/mile). I ran with my friend Haley the whole time, who I had done all of my long runs with while training! Sam and our friend Mikala also ran, so it was fun seeing them at the finish line, along with Haley’s mom and brother Mic. To this day, completing this race is one of my biggest accomplishments. (It’s also one of my favorite races, and I’m signed up to do it again this year).

___

There you have it, where it all started. Sometimes I look at people who have been running since they were track stars in high school, or people who started running and LOVED IT and never stopped progressing, and I feel like my journey is less. But just because I progressed more slowly doesn’t make my joy from the sport any less, or make the accomplishments that I reach any less meaningful (I don’t totally believe that last one internally yet, but I’m working on it).

The point is: This is my journey, and I love it. Running has saved me multiple times, and continues to do so. I have run more races since the AF Canyon Half, and my training is still changing and evolving. You can read about those races in the race recaps, and I’ll continue to share as my journey progresses!

 

Race for Red 5k, May 2017

AF Canyon Half Marathon, June 2017

Temple to Temple 5k, July 2017

Nebo Half Marathon, August 2017

Cottonwood Heights Thanksgiving 5k, November 2017

 

Saints and Sinners Relay, February 2018

Rex Lee Run, March 2018

History of Running, Part 2: Maintaining

Run Through the Lavender 5k, Summer 2015
Thankful 5k, November 2015

Temple to Temple 5k, July 2016
Red Rock Relay, October 2016
Voices of Courage 5k, October 2016

The period from 2015-2016 was defined by me starting then leaving a job in social work (July 2015-March 2016), and continuing an on-again off-again relationship (off most of 2015, on again in January 2016, if I remember correctly, then “off again” in October 2016, but still chaotically around). These things + the stress that accompanied both of them (whether or not I realized exactly how much stress at the time) caused my running to take a backseat. (Edit: Those things are true, but I think the bigger thing was, running just wasn’t my priority. It felt good so I still didn’t, but it wasn’t where my focus was. Different seasons for different things). I’d still run, but I was definitely not keeping up momentum from the running I did in 2014. It was more of maintaining. I was still just casually lingering around the 2-4 mile range.

In summer 2015 I did the Run Through the Lavender 5k with some girlfriends, which was (aside from the Ragnar Relay the year before) the first race that I did “with” other people. While I didn’t technically run with them, it was so fun to start and end together. Before, running had always been a solo endeavor, and I really appreciated the social aspect of this race for me.

 

In the fall of 2015 I trained with my friend David to run the Thankful 13- 5k race on Thanksgiving morning. I remember running around the neighborhoods in Springville on late chilly evenings. It was fun to run in new places, and to train WITH someone (Note: When I say “train” I still just mean slowly running 1-3 miles a few times a week). We ran it on Thanksgiving morning. It was freezing (more cold than any Thanksgiving morning since), but I gave it my all and really enjoyed it. (Chip time: 30:46— average 9:56 min/mile pace).

I ran the Temple to Temple 5k in July 2016. My boyfriend at the time surprised me at the start to run it with me, which I LOVED, and we made our way through Provo to the finish. I don’t have my time for this, but I’m pretty sure it was around a 9:30 pace. I really lingered around that pace for a very long time.

At the very beginning of October that relationship (kind of) ended, and I ran a relay the next weekend. But I’m going to come back to that relay in the next post, because that was a big thing for me, and goes along with what came next.

Also in October 2016 I ran the Voices of Courage 5k with BYU Women’s Services and Resources (where I was teaching yoga on Saturday mornings at the time). My finish time was 31:46. I remember that I came in wanting to get a PR (“personal record”) for my 5k time, but the first half mile was SO congested that I realized that would be impossible (like, the course took us on a narrow sidewalk beside the buildings, so there was no room to move forward. You just had to go with the flow of traffic). I took it easy, enjoyed the race, and was grateful that I could support an organization that I worked with and appreciated so much.

There you have it: my continued casual running. Next up: Structured training and focused goals—and using running as part of my trauma recovery experience.