Week 1 of Marathon Training!

marathon memeAs always, marathon training did not exactly get off to a smooth start this year (suspiciously, just like every year so far) but hopes are still high. I kicked off the first of my 12-week training plan to get ready for the fabulous Honolulu Marathon on December 10th. I’m all about supporting my city and running on my own turf, through a course I know all too well by the time race day rolls around.

This marathon will be lucky number 5, and I’ve got myself on a pretty fun plan of preparatory races leading up to the big day. I’ve got my absolute favorite – the Xterra Gunstock Trails Half Marathon – at the end of October, as well as the Val Nolasco Half Marathon – which mimics the final leg of the real deal – in November.


I’m coming off a sprained ankle a few weeks back, so I’m treading carefully and doing my super boring ankle exercises when I actually remember to do them. On the bright side, my first long run – eight hot & steamy miles around Honolulu – went by super quick & easy. So, there’s that.

Anyways, I’m using this super flexible plan from He and She Eat Clean to train. I chose it because it’s 12 weeks (sweet!) and works in tons of cross-training, which is the only way I can mentally handle preparing for a marathon.

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Honolulu Marathon 2016!

This past Sunday I woke up bright & early to take on the Honolulu Marathon. The start line was a quick ten minute drive from my apartment, I didn’t have to hop on a plane, and I know the course all too well. The Chinatown – Waikiki – Kapiolani Park – Kahala Loop is the favored long run course for anyone and everyone on the island training for any and every marathon. I know the hills, the heat, the downhills and ebb and flow of the concrete jungle the course winds through. However, I still didn’t exactly feel ready – or all that enthused – the night before.


I trained hard and heavy for the first three months in preparation for my Marine Corps Marathon I did in October. Since then, I’ve barely even hit the pavement aside from a ten mile Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving and a few easy paced five and seven milers here and there. And because I didn’t really care, and figured I’d struggle anyways, I decided that going wine tasting with some friends in Kailua and then downing a few beers at my boyfriend’s office Christmas party was a great idea, because f*ck it – why not?!


Well, surprisingly, it all worked out fine. The race was totally ok, albeit a bit painful. I’ve been extremely lucky in that my other marathons just flew by in a blur. Miles blended together and I felt like I flew through them in batches of five relatively unscathed.


This marathon was different. For the first time, I felt each and every mile. I felt like I actually did run a full 26.2, exactly, to the step and second. For the most part, I hated it. I never bonked or hit a wall, but I never soared through a single stretch of the race either. It was slow, grueling, and packed with people. It was hot and muggy without even a semblance of a breeze. I spent the majority of the race bobbing and weaving through a thick crowd since the Honolulu Marathon apparently doesn’t believe in corrals. I spent quite a bit of it biting my tounge as well, and keeping my temper in check as I was cut off, stepped on, and physically pushed by cute little old ladies and their sharp, bony elbows.


Regardless of all of these facts, I had a fantastic time. I realize it makes no sense, but blame it on the runner’s high – no matter how miserable the race, we always want more. It’s the feeling at the end of the marathon that runners remember most vividly, even though it’s a teeny fraction of the time we spent suffering to get there.

The Honolulu Marathon will never be my favorite race, and I really wouldn’t recommend it. However, it’s in my city and on my turf and it’s impossible not to do it each year I’m still on the island. So, most likely, I’ll do it next  year with the same lackluster attitude and general ambivalence and inability to simply stay away.


Plus, the medals are pretty cool 🙂

Happy racing!

Nikki

Marine Corps Marathon – Part 2!


I woke up the morning of my second Marine Corps Marathon well rested, hungry, and a teensy bit nervous. I had only gotten about two-thirds of the way through my training plan, I hadn’t gotten over 16 miles on my long runs, and I hadn’t ran much in the past few months. Soccer games and hikes? Yes, ma’am! Running, though? Not so much.


I was so antsy and anxious at the start line the previous year, but this time around it was more like, meh – hopefully I finish without a major injury. My no-effs given mentality was totally freeing and, as it turned out, effective 🙂


I hung out with my dad in the VIP runner tent for about an hour. The tent had a glorious buffet of energy gels, Clif Bars, bagels, cream cheese, bananas, apples and coffee. As in normal life, I stuck to banana, half a bagel, and some coffee to hold me over till the start.

I made a friend at the bar the night before (pro tip: beer has electrolytes!) and we met up at the start line. We expected to be around the same pace, so we linked up and took off together. We stuck for the hilly first eight miles, but I wanted to go slower and he wanted to speed up. This wasn’t my first rodeo, and I’ve made the mistake of starting out too fast – no Bueno.


Despite my lack of training, the miles flew by quickly. The crowd was awesome as always, with especially riveting signs rooted in the craziness of the current election. There were rock and jazz bands, spectators in full costumes, and – best of ALL – a female firefighter running the entire marathon in her full gear. GIRL POWER, YEA!

I kept seeing my dad with his awesome sign at regular intervals, cheering me on and telling me I was getting close to the bridge. The bridge is the cutoff at mile 19, which you have to reach in four hours or else get kicked off the course and ride home on the loser bus with a drill sergeant. I’m not sure if that’s actually true, but my dad swears that’s the case 🙂


Finally, I got to the bridge. I was so excited that I ran up and hugged my dad and almost cried. I was DOING IT. Without fancy gear or trackers, without anyone to run with, and despite the fact that I had every excuse in the book to opt out or quit – here I was. Proudly pushing through.


The rest of the race I ran simply because I wanted to be DONE. I let myself walk for 30 seconds at every mile marker, and found myself weaving through a sea of walkers for the last 5 miles. I hit the wall – the biggest, baddest, meanest wall I’ve ever encountered – right at mile 25. Shit.

I’ve gotten lucky in that I’ve never really bonked. I’ve gotten tired, or bored, or was in pain, but I never got to the point where I felt like I couldn’t continue. That last mile felt like hell on earth. It was the longest and worst part of the entire thing.
By the time I rolled around to the VERY UPHILL finish line (who did that???) I was totally gassed. It was an immense accomplishment and relief to finish. Plus, I found out that I hit a PR – 5:15:05. HELL YEA!


I am so happy and blessed to participate in this kickass event for a great, wonderful cause that I wholeheartedly believe in.

I can’t wait till next year 🙂

OORAH!

Slow & Steady Wins the Race(s)


I’ve never been one to post (or even support) transformation photos. They’re equally discouraging & misleading; simple things like time of day, lighting and filters can turn a normal tummy into cut abs. Along with other nonsense overloading Instagram, like wraps, cleanses and crash diets, transformation photos give the illusion that immediate results are expected & achievable. Its just. not. right.

The harsh reality is that lasting health and weight loss take time, consistency, and a lot of patience. Between these two paradoxes, it’s easy to feel lost, or hopeless, or impatient, angry and frustrated, as many people are. But with enough time and consistency, transformation do happen.

Big magic just takes time.

When we see problems in our lives, we tend to think ‘big’; giving up entire food groups, or food altogether, or thinking we have to run six days a week to look or feel ‘healthy’. In reality, we should be thinking small. It might seem insignificant whether you grab a croissant or a banana with your coffee this morning, but over enough time, that choice has a powerful impact. The difference between the pastry and fruit is thousands of calories and grams of sugar over enough time. That croissant might make you feel sluggish every day, so you drink more coffee or soda and indulge in a heftier lunch. We’re effecting the lives of our future selves, and it’s not even 10 a.m.


I came to this epiphany after finding a Facebook photo of myself after my first half marathon two years ago, exhausted and beaming with pride. Because I see myself in the mirror every day, I don’t notice the subtle changes occurring. I was so stunned by it that I scrolled through my phone to find a picture of me running my last half marathon a few weeks ago – was that really me?

I realized that, because we live with ourselves every day, we don’t see the magic happening. I’ve been running consistently for two years, and my love affair has positively impacted all areas of my life. I seriously cut back on drinking, ate more healthfully and started playing soccer, which in turn caused weight loss and my own transformation. It happened organically and naturally – so much that I didn’t even notice it.

The takeaway: Positive life changes happen with consistency, time, and joy. We improve our lives on our own accord when we truly love what we’re doing. I think we all make the mistake of shooting for weight loss first, when it’s actually just a side effect of finding activities we enjoy and loving ourselves enough to take care of the bodies we live in.

A Week Without Running


I have a confession: I love exercise. I dig it, savor it, cherish it, crave it, revel in the endorphine-induced highs and bask in the DOMS-laden lows. I arrange my life around my workouts, and absolutely enjoy pushing my body and self physically, emotionally, and mentally. Just like coffee, I need my daily fill of exercise to stay healthy, happy, and, well – ME.

I finally went to the doctor after a week long miserable cold and was prescribed NO exercise for an entire WEEK. Zero, zilch, nada, not even a tough yoga routine. It’s unfathomable and sounds like torture, but it is my fault. Since I refused to rest and recover properly last week, my cold escalated into full-blown bronchitis teetering on the edge of pneumonia. If I don’t rest, I’ll be out for months – which is the only thing more impossible than getting through the next week without stepping foot in the gym, ocean or track.


Taking a step away from my vices makes me take a hard look at who I truly am. Yes, I love working out – but it’s not just the act of it that has me hooked. It’s the fact that I’m perpetually building towards something – a greater, faster, leaner version of myself – that gives me purpose and positivity each day. Fitness makes me more focused, happy, and driven in other areas of my life. Taking it away leaves me clinging to a more stripped-down, bare and true version of the woman I’ve become. And it’s important that I love her, too, even if she can’t run ten miles this Sunday at race pace.

It’s great for our health when workouts become so ingrained in our daily lives that they represent a part of our well being and identity. But fitness alone, whether its body weight or shape or leanness, shouldn’t predict our happiness. The key is to be happy with you are first and foremost, and utilize exercise as a daily act of self-love. That is true success – and the health and happiness we should all strive for.

Training – the Vegan Way


My schedule is  a fitness junkie’s dream: I have two half marathons, two full marathons, a Spartan race and a long season on two different soccer teams crammed into my life before the end of December. While I’ve got lots of training and recovery plans in the works, it only makes sense for me to shift to the most wholesome, healthiest, and ethical diet possible. For me, that’s a vegan diet – whole foods, plant based, and focused on the unprocessed foods I already love. From fruits & veggies to legumes, beans, nuts and seeds, I’m stoked to fill my plate with a powerful array of macro and micronutrients that’ll put my exhausted body at optimal health and recovery speed.


Plus – sorry about it but veganism is pretty badass. From endurance athletes to mma fighters to pro soccer & basketball players, a plant-based diet is the way to go 🙂

I’ll be dutifully blogging my progress, training times and go-to meals as I get through this crazy next few months! I’m happy to share this beautiful way of living, especially when I’m blessed to live on a tropical island with gorgeous farmer’s markets all year long. I may not be an elite or professional athlete, but I am an athlete – and just like abs, endurance, speed and recovery are built in the kitchen.


I’ve gone vegan before, but always fell off the wagon for convenience reasons. I also was a poor, starving college student at the time, so my diet was more junk food vegan than exploring the endless, bountiful world of plants and whole-foods substitutes. Now, however, I’m a working professional that can afford the vast array of veggies, nuts, seeds, sprouts, legumes, beans, starches, and grains that comprise a healthful diet.

I’m proud to tackle this new lifestyle and incorporate it into my training & nutrition. It’s a peaceful, mindful, and of compassionate way of living – and I truly can’t wait to make it my own.

Here’s a few infographics on veganism & athleticism, and the potentials for getting strong & sexy the plant based way!

Motivation Monday: Marathon Love

99ccab23e2764b5ea1f81790fc0bcf7cFalling in love with marathons is something I never expected to take over my life. My first affair with them was painful and abusive, and I was positive that our next run would end in similar tragedy. Yet, I gave the marathon one more chance to win my heart – and it did, with grace and gusto.

I’ll be totally honest: my first marathon was a painful, long, torturous disaster – or at least parts of it were. Running marathons is an endless cycle because you get super excited about running and training and can’t stop yourself from shouting it from the rooftops and bringing it up at every possible social event, because it is so. exciting. Next, you’re at the start line and pumped up by all the other runners. Then, you breeze through the first 12-18 miles and feel like a strong, sexy badass that could run a thousand marathons.

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Struggling through Mile 20

Finally, the tough part starts to kick in. Your muscles go from a dull, manageable ache to a sharp pain. You start to feel some serious burn on that muscle you strained a few months ago, or even that toe/ankle you broke a few years ago. And then, somewhere around mile 22-24, your bones begin to hurt and collapsing from some injury/death sounds promising and peaceful. Then you’re near the finish line, and there’s tons of strangers cheering you on and you can’t believe you made it this freakin’ far and you get pumped up by adrenaline and cross that damn finish line.

 

Finally, you get your t-shirt and medal you ran all those miles for and feel like such a rockstar you rush home to sign up for yet another marathon.

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This, my friends, is how it happens – at least at the first affair.
My second marathon was much different. I was nursing a sprained ankle and had just come off crutches. I probably shouldn’t have ran at all, but even the cries of friends, family and future consequence couldn’t keep us apart.

I toed the start line with high hope and found that the marathon loved me, too. I breezed through the first half without even walking. I found an easy, natural rhythm and skated by the next ten miles, stopping when the pain was causing me to limp and resuming my pace when it subsided. I’m pretty old-fashioned, so I left the painkillers and motrin at home. I remember being shocked as I crossed mile 22, and even more surprised as I eased down the hill at mile 24 and cruised through the finish line with only a slight limp and even less pain.

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All smiles at the finish of the Honolulu Marathon!

Now, marathons and I have quite a torrid love affair going on. I feel strong, sexy, happy, and healthy every single day. I look forward to continuing our romance with two half-marathons in the next six months and another Honolulu marathon at the end of the new year. I find myself eating healthier, sleeping better, and making wiser choices without much effort or thought.

It’s well worth the incessant hunger, constant eating, chafing, cramps, sprains, strains, pains, and struggle. Because I love running marathons – and marathons (for now) seem to love me, too.

Here’s a few running memes to make you laugh & relate 🙂 Happy running!

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2016: Back to Blogging!

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The New Year is all about fresh starts and clean slates, so I figured it was the perfect time to get back into this little blog of mine. These past few months have been a busy, crazy, chaotic flurry of changes – a new job, new people in my life, another marathon, and lots of injuries and adventures in between. Now that 2015 is officially in the past, I’m excited to start this beautiful New Year and fill it with travels, races, fitness, and lots of blogging, too.

The past year felt like a transition from ‘kind of a hot mess’ to ‘happy.’ I’m a little older and wiser, and have learned to use running, soccer, and good friends as therapy. I ran my first two marathons in two months, and am already signed up for a full and two halves in 2016. I’ve finally got myself grounded in so many areas of my life, and am beginning to feel happy, healthy, and free once more.

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Marine Corps Marathon (left) & Honolulu Marathon (right)

I’m not a huge believer in resolutions, but I do firmly believe in intentions. We can all take a moment to reflect and decide the direction we want our lives to go, or how we’d truly like to live. Some may set intentions to be more forgiving, outgoing, and social; others may focus on building their internal self and finding inner peace. For me, I seek to find balance; a harmony between all the hobbies and attributes that comprise who I am.

I’ve truly missed blogging and all the wonderful women (and men!) I’ve met and connected with over they years. I still read most of my friends’ blogs consistently, and am excited to contribute my own posts to the cool little community we’ve built.

I look forward to reading, posting, and connecting like my old self! Miss you all J

Love & Aloha,

Nikki