Making the effort .. to stick to the plan!

Hi All! So nice to be back , had a great holiday and hope you did too! I took the Thanksgiving week off. This time of the year is so busy. We seem to overbook ourselves in all areas, and I want to be thoughtful with this medium and not just rush thru a blog post. So lets catch up:)

The Plan- or at least the most recent plan is

  1. Try my very best to follow the dietary recommendations after learning about my food sensitivities.
  2. Follow the Running/Training 16 week Plan for running an Ultra.

Have you ever wondered what Lacto Ovo Vegetarian meant? Or maybe what a Vegan can eat or why they choose their dietary lifestyle? With my restrictions I fall somewhere between most dietary labels. Here is a breakdown for you:

Vegetarians have many reasons for making their decisions, Health Reasons, a distaste for Animal Products, or a love for Animals.

Flexitarian– the term was coined to describe those that eat mostly vegetarian or semi vegetarian.

Pescatarian– those that abstain from eating all animal flesh except fish.

Lacto -Ovo Vegetarian- those that abstain from eating beef, pork, poultry, fish, shellfish or animal flesh of any kind, but do eat eggs and dairy products.

Vegan– those that do not eat any animal products, even as far as not eating any animal -derived ingredients such as gelatin/collagen for animals. Honey seems to be under debate even today.

Raw Vegan or Eating Raw– diet consisting of unprocessed vegan foods, items that have not been heated above 115 degrees F. The belief is that the food consumed is more beneficial to us if not heated above 115 degrees F.

And Finally Macrobiotic Diet– includes unprocessed vegan foods and allows for the occasional consumption of fish. Sugar and refined oils are not avoided but Asian vegetables are promoted, such as daikon radish and sea vegetables that include wakame and other seaweeds.

My Diet- I currently do not eat Eggs, Dairy (also including goat), or Red Meat. This was my first holiday trying to follow my new restrictions and it was difficult. I accepted an invitation to a local restaurant known for their Buffet which has a wide variety of food choices. I assumed this would make my eating easier, well I was unfortunately wrong. Most of the main dishes had either cheese or a cream sauce added. I do find it necessary to tell whoever I am with why I need to make the choices I do and when I mention it is for health reasons that seems to be readily accepted. Why would people make a judgement on whether my food choices are for moral or physical reasons? And the other question… Why do I feel the need to give an explanation? I need to ponder on this more.

My Training Plan- I had posted the picture of the “16 week Running Plan for my first Ultra Race” in a prior blog. The weekly plan seems very doable, building from a 10 mile long run on the first week, and still leaves me with enough rest days. Today ends my second week, so I started the plan on the week of November 18th. I have stuck to the plan with the exception of moving Thanksgivings run from Thursday (bad weather) to Friday. Also I added a weight day.

Meal Prep-Vegan Pumpkin Cheesecake, Crusty No Knead Bread, White Beans, Turkey Pesto Panini, Cinnamon Steel Cut Oats, Veggie Dip. Also made a Thanksgiving meal ..just for the leftovers.

Hope you all have a Healthy and Happy week!

Making the effort .. to take stock!

Palm Springs in the morning light.

There is something to be said for taking stock of where you are. Could mean looking at where you are professionally, personally or health wise. But to truly take stock you have to be open to all that you’re going to see and that can be hard to swallow. It is not easy to look at your surroundings, your body/mind and put a value on it. To examine the choices you have made so far and to decide which of those you would do again or not. After you have come to those conclusions, what would be the next step? To make a plan…

I had been holding on to this for months!

I have spent the spring and summer building up my base. Running long easy runs, incorporating altitude training and weight training when I could, using hill workouts instead of speedwork and always conscious of the benefits of running/hiking with elevation gain. Now I can step off from my base and begin building with a plan.

Back to taking stock…Do you have an idea of where you are professionally? Do you enjoy it or spend too much time stressed out? What else do you see yourself doing? Where else could you do it? I moved clear across the country , but that story is for another day.

Looking at health, we can determine strength and weakness and what you can actually control. Age is one of my weaknesses, and I believe that my discipline and commitment is one of my strengths. Am I taking stock of where I am at? Absolutely! I have to face that I have lived more than half my life now and what else do I want? I try not to see the years as a countdown but I would be lying to say I don’t sometimes. Maybe that is why I am supper focused on preventative health. Has this helped me to push myself to do what I want to do, to take more risks …yes. But it is not easy and there is always a possibility of failure.

To Take Stock American Heritage Dictionary

  1. To take an inventory
  2. To make an estimate of appraisal , as of resources or of oneself

This reflection is necessary considering tomorrow I begin my 16 week Training Program for the Antelope Canyon 55K Ultra. Below is some excerpts from an awesome article about training.

In an article “Three Lessons from Running Ultras” from Ultra Running Magazine by Drew Dinan on 3/13/2019

  1. Don’t Fear Failure-Fear the distance, fear the terrain, fear the chafing, but don’t fear the challenge of achieving something you never dreamed possible

2. Compare yourself to no one not even your former self-running is about being our best selves, whether that means finishing on the podium or just crossing the finish line.

3. The race is only a small part of a much larger picture. Before you click the register button, think about the hours hard work you will need to put forth in order to give yourself the best chance of success. Celebrate it.

Antelope Canyon ….Here I come!!!

Hiking Buddies- Boohoff Trail 7 mile with about 1500 ft elevations gain

Exercise-17 Miles hiking and running, 1 day of weight training/jump rope

Meal Prep=Baked Shrimp, Pasta with Creamy Pesto ( Creamy Cauliflower sauce from last week + Trader Joe’s Kale Pesto , Vegan Snickerdoodle Blondies, Tabbouleh

Have a Happy and Healthy Week!

Making the effort to… eliminate the annoying pebble in your shoe.

The sandy Boo Hoff Trail!

You know that feeling when a pebble has somehow made its way into the exact position in your shoe that causes pain? Ugh!! Of course you do! We all have had experienced that one nagging irritant that controls yours thoughts step after step. On today’s run with my hiking buddy, the sand seemed deeper and it did make its way in both of our shoes. It got me thinking of how those little irrational thoughts can take hold and sabotage the rest of your run or race. Maybe it is that the mind is super focused while running, paying attention to foot placement and stride that when your mind recognizes a irritant it stays on it until it is not an issue.

If you have prepared for your race or run by reviewing your route and weather then probably your equipment/gear is the cause of that nagging pebble. I have my favorite running shorts and shirts and when I have to wear another not so favorite it seems that is all I think about. It can be the way the shorts ride up, sports bra rubs a sore or the sleeves on a shirt have a rough spot. If you know that those tend to cause you distress then don’t wear them on important long training runs or races and try to keep to your favorites. And never try out a new garment on big day.

Do I have the answer for “how to distract yourself when you are irritated..?” No, but when you do have a problem during a run/race simply ask your self “Is there something I can do to make it better?” If yes , do it and if not just taking action gets you into the mindset of acting and not reacting.

All we can do is keep searching for the perfect gear and running clothes and yes I need to start wearing Gators.. lol!

Last week at work was busy and eventful so I need to do some “Thank You ” baking. Homemade Cinnamon Rolls it is. I was able to get a little bit of meal prep done for the week and happy about the effort I put forth in training.

Meal Prep- Yogurt Fruit Parfaits, Turkey Taco Meat, Vegan Chocolate Chunk Cookies.

Exercise- 25 miles including Pick Ups, Hill Workout, Long Run and Trail Run.

Have a Happy and Healthy Week!

Making the effort… to take the long runs/life easy.

This week my training seemed to finally start clicking. Yes! I decided to incorporate a long easy run to start to build up my base and the weather just wasn’t permitting in the desert. So Big Bear Lake and cooler temperatures was my Saturday morning destination. It was so worth the hour and a half drive up. “Long Runs should be at an easy pace….” That is what seems to be the latest theory on training, at least that is what I am learning. Again I am no expert on athletic training, and definitely a novice but I am trying to read as much of the latest research and opinions from respected sources.

Reading an article from Runners World….


.. On easy days, you’re mostly using slow-twitch muscle fibers. They have a higher density of mitochondria, high levels of aerobic enzymes, and greater capillary density than fast-twitch fibers, which are more involved in higher-intensity training, says Dan Bergland, principal sport physiologist at Volt Sportlab in Flagstaff, Arizona. On easy days, “you increase mitochondria and capillaries and blood flow to those muscles, so they’re better able to utilize oxygen,” he says. “Without that, you can’t do the intense runs.”

Then there is the whole subject of fueling/glycogen stores…from Greg McMillian

With long runs during a marathon program, you are trying to accomplish two distinct purposes. On the one hand, you are trying to maximize your ability to burn fat and spare your limited muscle carbohydrate (glycogen) stores as well as improving your leg strength and resistance to fatigue (both physical fatigue and mental fatigue). You are also trying to teach your body to better handle lowered blood glucose levels. On the other hand, you are trying to become more economical at your marathon race pace (learning to burn less fuel for a given pace) along with testing out your race equipment and nutritional plan. You also want to give the mind a taste of the focus and determination that will be required in the latter stages of the marathon itself.

My long run (10 miles) started at 39 degrees with the sun just barely up in a very clear blue sky and my confidence at a high. Well that didn’t last long, I mean the confidence part the weather stayed just perfect. Mile 1 -10.40 min pace.. so I thought this was too fast. Tried to slow down the next three miles but still managed 11.0 min pace and checked my heart rate which was high ( meaning extra effort) but the only thing I could blame it on was the altitude. So now I am thinking slow it down Marta … the goal of this run was to not push it.

Why do we seem to always be pushing it? Whether it is my long run, or just in day to day, I can’t help but strive for more. Now I know in certain situations that is a good quality to have but not if you cannot control it. The final last three miles of my long run were at a pace I had planned for but by that time the pace wasn’t as flowing as I had hoped. I finished happy with the long run and banking the 10 miles but also with a feeling that I need to get my pace under control. I will take a serious look at my exertion or effort and try with practice to know how a long easy run should feel.

Exercise Week- 24 miles total that included, hill workout, pick ups, long run and a trail run. No weights or plyometrics.

Meal Prep- Steel Cut Oats with cinnamon & apples, Bacon, Deviled Eggs, Homemade Chicken Soup.

Have a Happy and Healthy Week!

Making the effort … to see the shadows.

The Boo Hoff Trail in the shadows.

Another week that feels as if it were a month. Do you ever have those weeks? Maybe it is we cram too much in each hour of each day, too much scheduled, or it is just the pace of life in 2019. A mostly good week that ended with my third training trail hike/run in the dark. Today’s hike was in a more agreeable temperature but not the perfect 50 -60’s that I am dreaming about. My hiking buddy and I started out on the trail with our headlights at about 5:00 AM. Not much talking in the beginning, just trying to breathe as we ascend up. I did notice about 30 minutes in that I wasn’t anxious or even thinking about some of the fears that I had before on my previous hikes in the dark. Amazing what facing your fears, bringing them out in the light can do. The rising light in the sky would stop us both in mid-sentence as the hike continued. The turn around point for me was a Spring Energy gel washed down by lukewarm water and a smile because now we would run. I have not gotten strong enough to be able to run up the 1600 feet (3.5 mile) or maybe my mind has convinced me of that. This trail is more technical so I definitely will need my confidence and maybe a third lung if I intend to run it completely. As we were running down the trail we saw that the rising sun had cast glorious shadows along the terrain and that got me thinking. Do we honor the shadows like we should?

The eye is always caught by light, but shadows have more to say. Gregory Macguire

All the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow. Leo Tolstoy

The dark does not destroy the light; it defines it. It’s our fear of the dark that casts our joy in the shadows. Brene Brown

I recently enjoyed an outdoor photography workshop where this idea of taking pictures of what is in the shadows was discussed. It surprised me when the instructor right from the beginning had us taking photos in the shadows not in the light. He then talked about showcasing the shapes and darkness that the shadows cast and that it can enhance the composition of a picture. I now see that the intensity reaches another level for both the lightened area and the dark. I believe that shadows can truly enrich a photograph.

The balance of light and shadow.

Light and shadows add a sense of balance, and balance is what we all should be striving for…. Right?

Exercise for the week – 21 miles running/hiking, 1 day weights & balance, 1 day jump rope and one legged exercises.

Meal Prep-Baked Crusty Bread, Steel Cut Oats (will add toppings of fruit), hummus & veggies bowls, Pizza Zucchini bites, & Salmon (3 ways- plain, Pesto, spices)

Have a Happy and Healthy Week!

Here is something to leave you with ….

This is NOT me and hope it is NOT you 🙂

Making the effort… to surprise yourself!!

#2 Night Trail Hike/Run could not have gone better!

Do you know that feeling when you go in to something with low expectations, a little anxious, worried and you totally surprise yourself? Well I truly wish if you haven’t, that you do!

Surprise yourself every day with your own courage.

Denholm Elliot

The most delightful surprise in life is to suddenly recognize your own worth.

Maxwell Maltz

The moments of happiness we enjoy take us by surprise. It is not that we seize them, but they seize us.

Ashley Montagu

I believe that Ashley, Mazwell, and Denholm must have been on my Night Trail Hike/Run! My hiking buddy and I decided to do another Night trail hike/run this weekend and we just happened to pick a night with humidity and heat. I was dripping sweat down both my forearms before we got to the trailhead a little before 5:00 AM and grateful for the water I brought. Breathing always feels more of a struggle when I am overheated, so this hike up felt more difficult but good. I did notice about mid way thru that I was not as anxious as the first Night Hike, much more confident and a little chatty. We talked about our upcoming Joshua Tree Night Hike 1/2 Marathon in November and our plan to get a look at the route over the next month. Also I was thinking thru my next 6 months training regimen that will prepare me for my first Ultra, and after that just not thinking, just enjoying my surroundings.

Yea.. I surprised myself but is it more than that. That feeling fed my momentum. It is not easy to create momentum and unless momentum continues resistance can set in and destroy the progress you have made. When you gather momentum, you simply ride the ride, you take on the bumps as they come and you move forward until you reach the goal. This feeling makes me feel unstoppable and I wish it for you.

Exercise for the week- 1 day weights, 12 miles, night hike.

Meal Prep- Overnight Oats w/ apples, Israeli couscous with tomatoes, Chicken Enchiladas in Green Sauce.

Have a Happy and Healthy Week!

Making the effort to…. to improve the composition of our health picture.

View of Santa Monica from the Los Liones Canyon Trail

I am using the word Composition in the title of this week’s blog as a synonym, referring not only to the reference in photography (went to an awesome workshop) but also for the picture of our individual health. I have written about the health exams I have had recently and a few still in the process. The results will give me a better composite of my health. I had the following labs: CBC w/differential platelet, Metabolic panel, Lipid panel, Thyroxine Free, TSH, Vitamin D, 25-Hydroxy, Triiodothyronine (T3). The results from the CBC and Metabolic were right in line. The Lipid and the Vit. D results had me more concerned only because Vitamin D levels have been known to decline with age and had been low the last time I was tested. I was happy to see that my levels were with in normal range but will continue to take the Vit D3 supplement. My Total Cholesterol has always ran high due to my high HDL(High density lipoprotein) count ( 95, range is >35). The view point out there is still that a high HDL is beneficial. HDL helps to remove LDL (Low density lipoprotein) cholesterol from the blood and transport it to the liver where it can be processed and eliminated. I am use to my total cholesterol number being higher but unfortunately this time the LDL was above the recommended range. After speaking with my physician we decided that I will be adding oatmeal to my everyday diet until my numbers are within range. So, if I had not taken the tests I would not have this information and I would not be making these small changes to positively effect my health. I have also scheduled a food sensitivity and a micronutrient level test.

Composition literally means to put together, so when you think about the composition of your health, you need to think about all the elements that effect your health. If we look at how to improve the composition of a picture, photographers look at techniques or simple guidelines like balance, leading lines, texture, symmetry, depth of field and so on. Let’s use those techniques in another way. Balance can be associated with eating and exercise habits, keeping on track most of the time but allowing a few special times when a treat or a rest day are necessary. Leading Lines, keep your focus and follow the path you set for your self. Texture, keep it interesting in your eating and exercise. No one wants to eat boiled chicken and salads every day or only run on a treadmill 1/2 hour every day. Symmetry or order can be as simple as cleaning out closets or making your bed every day.

This picture has a different subject matter but a better composition than the picture above!

Had a wonderful day at the Outdoor Photography Workshop up on Mt San Jacinto and learned that I have much to learn.

About 20 Miles of Trail Running and Hiking, 1 day of Weights and 1 day of Yoga. Meal Prep: BBQ Chicken, Quinoa Tomato & Kale Salad, Corn Muffins and Matcha Tea.

Have a Happy and Healthy Week!

Making the effort …to be Happy and Enjoy the Day!

Finding a New Trail on San Jacinto!

“Okay….1..2..3..Jump!!” Imagine two female hikers on the Round Valley Loop trail with the mid day sun shining, surrounded by huge boulders, pine trees and both facing a IPhone propped up to take a live action shot. Well… taking many shots because each picture kept getting worse. I think we actually scared the animals by all of our laughing and snorting.

Had too much fun out there on the trails plus a killer workout!

That day was a good one…. When was the last time you had a really good day and recognized it? To be HAPPY in today’s world is difficult but I believe our health depends on it. How can we be happy?

  1. Know what makes you happy (for me it is being in nature, travel and animals, finishing daily tasks, running/hiking or working out, photography, challenging myself and coffee). Each person has unique needs to achieving happiness. Look at your needs.
  2. Move forward in the direction of obtaining happiness, it will immediately put you in a positive state.
  3. Surround yourself with positive, happy individuals and know that everyone deserves to be happy. Negativity can effect anyone, it wears on you and can be very difficult when you hear it constantly.
  4. And IF you find yourself happy.. then it is your responsibility to be content and have gratitude.

Experiences make us happier than possessions. Material things come and go but memories last a lifetime. I enjoy traveling to new places and even though traveling comes with it’s own list of stressors to know that you were able to get thru them gives you a sense of accomplishment.

Being able to manage the emotional ups and downs is important for both body, mind and can build resilience. Exercise is an extremely effective stress reliever and can even quick start a dropping energy level. A negative mind set can lower your body’s immunity and increase inflammation so keep it positive.

I was reading the Harvard Health News Letter and in it it the article discusses the pathways to happiness, which are recognizing what makes you feel happy and minimize pain, engaging fully or being totally immersed, and searching for meaning outside yourself by giving back and doing good. The last one I do believe is the most important for me, I believe it is vital that people should give back to our community. I volunteer for organizations that I believe in and that I respect their purpose. I just volunteered last night for a 100 mile endurance race and it made me so happy to know that I was helping others and that I was able to assist the athletes and make them smile.

I also was listening to a couple of Ted Talks and it is always surprising that the simplest of ideas can really make an impact to me. One such talk implied that by saying out loud as soon as your feet hit the floor in the morning “It is going to be a great day” … it starts you out in the right direction (positive) for the day. Let’s give it a try!

Work Outs for this week- Ran 10 miles, hiked 6 with altitude, and did a day of weights. I will try to do more miles and incorporate one more day of weights now that I am making progress.

Meal Prep- Salmon ( 3 different ways), Homemade Pesto Sauce, Twice Baked Potatoes, Parmesan Baked Fries, Green Salad, Pina Colada Cashew Balls.

Have a Healthy and Happy Week!

Making the Effort …to take responsibility for your health!

Seeing more Blue and Green hiking on Mt San Jacinto

Last week I talked about taking care of my health and that brings me to a touchy subject. Taking Responsibility for your own health….

At 25 yrs old I had been drinking, smoking, had no basic cooking skills and to tell you the truth I was intimidated by cooking so fast food was my main intake. I admit I was immature and felt terrible but finally woke up, took charge of my health, quit smoking and drinking and got educated. I always admired athletes and I wanted to feel better but it wasn’t until I took responsibility for my health that things finally clicked. I started running and as I began to feel strong I wanted to look at all areas of my health and the natural next step was Nutrition and going back to school. My interest in Nutrition just grew and grew and I still am amazed to think of the concept that what you eat can effect your health both positive and negative. Now take that one step further… Who is responsible for the nutrients you take in?

This is such a bigger subject than just taking responsibility, it is also connected to forgiveness and courage. Now you need to take it from here as I continue to try to for myself. Take a good hard look at yourself and your health and how you see your future self.

Making the Effort !

I did promise to show my supplements that I take and just remember that it is ever changing and this is in no way a recommendation for you. The information from the science and medical fields should improve as they learn more and each person should look at the latest to form an opinion. I take the time to read and research the latest information so that I can make the best decision for myself. Here we go!

Vitamin D3, Psyllum, Calcium, Glucosamine/Chrondroitin, Ubiquinol, and a Probiotic
These supplements help with promoting a healthy immune system, bone/joint health, and stomach/digestive health and should be used in conjunction with a healthy diet.

I do recommend that you sign up for a few reputable health/wellness news letters. I am currently reading the Wellness Letters from University of California, Berkeley. In the February issue it discussed the long-awaited clinical trial funded by the NIH called the VITAL study. For the past 5 years the study looked at Vitamin D and Omega-3s and their protective effects against a wide array of diseases. The results were printed in the New England Journal of Medicine. The studies looked at whether the supplements could reduce the incidence of major cardiovascular events or cancer, but as what usually happens the study showed data that was unexpected and needs to be looked at closer ( read for yourself). Another important item to mention is that you need to be confident in the supplements you take. Look into the brands, if there are any recalls listed with the USDA and be careful purchasing supplements that are not made in this country.

Meal Prep for this week; Vegan Caesar Dressing (to be used for the Kale Caesar Salad) Fruit Salad, Almond Butter, Meatballs (for Green Curry and Marinara) and Tuscan Mushroom, Kale & Zucchini soup.

Have a Happy and Healthy Week!

Making the Effort to take advantage of destination runs …and seasonal fruits/ veggies!!

Crystal Cove State Park, Laguna Beach

What a way to celebrate the July 4th Holiday but to …explore! Decided to take advantage of an extra day off this week by driving to a new location to run a trail. I have definitely been craving to see water and I am lucky that if I head the car west I will eventually run into it.

Living in the desert has made me appreciate different terrains. Sometimes I literally stop, take a minute and look around at the neutral colors of the desert in amazement. It also makes the green pines I see greener and blue water even bluer.

I am a huge fan of State Parks and Crystal Cove did not disappoint. I chose a tough but scenic trail, about a 10 mile loop that would give me some views of the blue and green. Now there was one thing I did not anticipate.. humidity (ugh!). It turns out when I left Palm Springs it was about 15% humidity and after wringing out my shirt after my run I checked the weather app for Laguna that morning and it said 79% humidity. Well, we will call that added training:) The trail really pushed me and I got more training being comfortable with elevation, sand, technical parts, and single track. I had packed a lunch and after my run I sat myself down at a picnic table and smiled while I ate.

10 miles and a gallon of sweat

Training for this week turned out to be pretty good. I ended up with 25 miles (quality) and was able to get one day of weights in. Still need to incorporate more yoga/stretching. So how are your weekly workouts going? If you are in a rut I recommend you get out of your ordinary, it will ignite your enthusiasm.

Now let’s talk Seasonal Fruits and Veggies- I think it is obvious that the benefits of seasonal produce are huge. The benefits are not only the taste and convenience but the high quality. “Knee high by the fourth of July…” that is a Midwestern saying about Corn and who doesn’t love Corn. Also Figs are in season so that has been on my mind this week. FYI- You probably won’t find a better plant source of calcium than Figs. Remember to freeze left over produce to use later when season is past.

Meal Prep- Corn Salad, Yukon Gold Baked Potatoes, Shrimp, Frittata, Fig Bar, and Flour-less Almond Butter Cookies

Have a Happy and Healthy Week.. Enjoy!!