Self-Care

Self-Care

I would say that over the past six months or so, I’ve been trying to solve an enigma that is, my hormones. Women’s hormones—no, they are not “TMI”, and they shouldn’t be. If I had to pick one thing that gets on my nerves , it’s when people follow women’s health/period talk with a TMI disclaimer. Way to normalize a totally natural thing, amiright? 🙄

I’ve noticed in this time that at least 1.5-2 weeks before my monthly cycle, I’d get really bad fatigue (like, getting up after 7am was a struggle—and I’m an early bird) and breast soreness. But when I noticed that it deeply effected my running efforts, I wondered if there was a connection. As soon as my cycle began and for two weeks after, running at “faster” paces with an proportionate amount of effort seemed easier to do. But it was a different story afterwards… 
 
My “two weeks of hell” for this particular month began the week I returned from Tulsa, and seemed to subside by this past weekend. Oh, but the onset of the first week was an extreme compared to past experiences. 
 
It began with breast soreness and fatigue, as expected. But then it was mood swings…I started to feel randomly sad and depressed throughout the day, and easily frustrated by little things. All of this combined was the perfect way for me to be set-off by even the smallest of triggers…triggers that I’d be able to brush off on a “normal” day. 
 
And of course, I was in tears by the time Friday of that week rolled around. There was a conflict at work and I felt I was unfairly scolded to for something that had no basis in argument. Thankfully I had E to vent to, but I just felt ridiculously mad and was dropping F-bombs like nobody’s business. Like I said, I was mad, and I felt like my feelings needed to be released. 
 
I did sleep on it, and did my best to let my feelings play out. I did my best to treat myself to the best self-care as possible. 
 
Lunch date with the sis <3
Lunch date with the sis <3
 
This included lots of rest, thinking in solitude, and a refreshing lunch out with my sister and a movie that Sunday. We went to see Coco, and had lunch at the Tender Greens in Westfield Century City. 
 
Seasonal specials
Seasonal specials
 
It was my third time visiting a Tender Greens location, and my second time getting the Falafel Plate. The first time I had the Falafel Plate was when my plate included a side kale salad (with garlic dressing + parmesan), a green dollop of hummus that looked like guacamole, tahini sauce, and a crisp crostini bread.
 
Sister's plate on the left & mine on the right
Sister’s plate on the left & mine on the right
 
This occasion’s plate was quite different, but delicious nonetheless.
 
Um, hello there.
Um, hello there.
 
Seasoned veggies, butter lettuce , and a thin, lavash-like flatbread were included. The falafel has a nice crisp exterior, and a gorgeous green hue on the inside. The definition of a perfect falafel. 
 
Also took in some rooftop night views---I love looking over cityscapes at night :)
Also took in some rooftop night views—I love looking over city-scapes at night 🙂
 
But even with that incident now a part of the past, and having a pleasant weekend with the sis to help de-stress, I still was experiencing those PMS-like symptoms, but even stronger. In addition to the fatigue and soreness, I felt a mild loss of appetite, strong headaches that lingered throughout the day, and a cloud of un-motivation hovering over me as the following week came up. I cut down on my running mileage that week as well, due to feeling unmotivated and because shin splints were popping up again for me. Ugh, would it ever stop? 
 
After hearing me complain for days, my Dad suggested I address some potential vitamin deficiencies. He suggested I try taking a Vitamins B-12 supplement, and see if that put my energy levels back into balance. There was also the idea that Vitamin D could be something I may need to address as well, due to the demands of running and it being winter / less sunlight exposure and all. 
 
No running means waking up early anyways and heading off to lab as soon as I get up...and coming across squirrels plotting revenge...
No running means waking up early anyways and heading off to lab as soon as I get up…and coming across squirrels plotting revenge…
 
I started taking a supplement on Friday, and decided to take the weekend off from running to rest up. Saturday and Sunday were pretty relaxing, and I even went out for lunch with E at a new place at the USC Village—-Trejo’s Tacos!
 
Fresh all around
Fresh all around

I got the Cauliflower Bowl, and E got some chips and guac along with a cheese quesadilla and pink lemonade. My bowl was packed with beans, seasoned rice (almost as if it was doused in a spicy ketchup sauce?? But it tasted good…), fresh greens, pico, corn, and a cream sauce.

A feast!!!
A feast!!!

I even treated myself when I got home later in the day—to a seasonal flavor of Halo Top, Gingerbread House.

"I I had high hopes for @halotopcreamery Gingerbread House...but it had such a strong cinnamon flavor for me, and I wish the cookie pieces had a little more crunch to them 😕"
I had high hopes for @halotopcreamery Gingerbread House…but it had such a strong cinnamon flavor for me, and I wish the cookie pieces had a little more crunch to them 😕

It wasn’t a favorite of mine, but it was alright for a quick Saturday night dessert 🙂

This month so far has been a hectic and exhausting one for sure, but I’m glad that I’ve been quick to act and put my self-care first.

I’m hoping 2017 will end on a sweet and peacful note. Even though I won’t be around family, I’m hoping to spend some days with E sans work before she leaves, as well as planning to carpool with one of my friends to see my friend who lives in Vegas for New Year’s Eve. At least there are some exciting things coming up to keep me motivated 🙂

Are you aware of when you need self-care?

MTR: Week 14

MTR: Week 14

By the time this post is published, I will be exactly 5 weeks away from the marathon, and it’s hard to believe that the longest I’ve run so far is 18:00 miles!! The length itself is one thing, but the location was a whole other factor that really influenced the significance of the event.

elevation&Park

I woke up on long-run Sunday morning and assembled my necessities while munching on two bars that had a fair mix of carbs and protein. I was in a rush the day before with grocery shopping and wasn’t able to find the fuel I wanted to experiment with at the stores I visited (Clif Shot Bloks, or even vegetarian-friendly gummies at a decent price!), so I decided to experiment with my fueling strategy for the next long run.

I did bring a water bottle this time to run with. It was just not in a fancy hand-strap like I had planned.

Our team left for San Pedro, and after a quick bathroom break at the park we all assembled at for our starting point, we were off…to fend for ourselves against steep inclines, rocky trails, and precarious lanes near cliffs at risk for landslides!

But the hardest hill we faced hit us hard right before the 3 mile mark. I gave up on keeping my usual pace then and there—it would be in my best interest to just take each mile one at a time, and each hill one step at a time.

Despite the balmy weather (and consequent stick skin and hands, ew), I held on tight to my water bottle which sloshed loudly for the first several miles. Because of the added weight, I had to switch off between hands every two minutes or so! As I started to warm up, and as I started to approached more hills, I sipped on my water when I felt like it, and the sloshing sounds died down as I ran further and further north towards Ranchos Palos Verdes. There were some amazing, gorgeous views, and even though I was running with my phone in my belt, I didn’t want to stop and take it out due to a) sticky hands and b) the risk of losing my running mojo.

Our turnaround point was at mile 9, and I started to feel extreme fatigue in my legs around miles 11-13. I stopped a little after mile 13 to stretch out legs and shake out arms, and that helped me a little bit as I approached the San Pedro border again around mile 14. I surprisingly felt more refreshed around mile 14.5-15, and the dreaded hill we had to fight our way up in the beginning now felt like a breezy downhill ride. A lot of my teammates hated the downhill though, since it beat up their knees pretty badly.

As I hit mile 16, I mentally started to feel fatigued. I started to get annoyed by the slow walkers who most likely had just woken up and were getting some fresh air before brunch…and I was smelly, sticky, sweaty, and just wanted my Garmin to scream 18 MILES—STOP—YOU’RE DONE! And even though it was a struggle working for each point-something mile to get to mile 18, I eventually did, and I felt the relieved to be done, but accomplished for fighting through those hills.

I finished in a little over 3 hours, but because of all the hills, my pace wasn’t a concern for me. I’m sort of hoping that all the work I put into this run will help me during my next LSD challenge of 20 miles!

Sunday – LSD 18 miler group run at 10:43/mi

Monday – Rest

Tuesday6 mile morning solo run at 9:41/mi

Wednesday –   7 mile morning solo run at 10:02/mi

Thursday –  Rest

Friday – 7 mile morning solo run at 9:19/mi

Saturday –  Rest


Total Mileage ->   38 miles

The rest of the week’s runs were scheduled as usual, with Monday being the-day-after-a-long-run rest day, and Tuesday’s run being my routine morning route. Fortunately, my soleus ache from last week has subsided. I wasn’t pleased with how I was feeling on Wednesday’s run, since my pace was much slower than usual, I felt fatigued, and I was starting to feel burnt out and bored. It was supposed to be an 8 miler, but I cut it back to 7 when I passed my apartment right at the 7 mile mark and the temptation to head back and get ready for the rest of the day won me over.

Thursday’s planned 6 miler (turned 7) was pushed to Friday, and while I was anxious about that decision, it turned out to be the right one for me. I listened to my body, and it paid me back. I felt more refreshed on Friday’s run, and was pleased with getting back to my current pace. Saturday of course was a rest day—which I accepted gleefully since I was volunteering at an all-day, STEM-related event.

20 miles is next on the agenda—and then it soon will be time to taper! 

Have you ever felt “burnt out” after training for something for so long and so hard? 

MTR: Week 13

MTR: Week 13

Sunday was the day…I landed a new PDR! The morning started off scattered and frustrating due to lack of communication within the team I run with, but once we were off, it turned out okay.

I made the mistake of not bringing water with me on the run because I didn’t want to carry it for the entire 16 miles, but I don’t plan on making that mistake again for the 18 miler. Despite the rising temps during the run, I managed to not suffer from any serious symptoms of dehydration. I also didn’t feel the need to fuel during the run, but I noshed on our team’s stash of granola bars—along with chugging down two bottles of water—once I was done.

16milerLAriver
This week’s long run started off in Griffth Park, but we detoured at the freeway and ran alongside the LA “River” (river in quotes since there’s not much water….). Also found some shoes hanging on an arch during the run—did someone cut their long run short? 😉

Sunday – LSD 16 miler group run at 9:46/mi

Monday – Rest

Tuesday –   5 mile morning solo run at 9:43/mi

Wednesday –  7 mile morning solo run at 9:30/mi

Thursday –  6 mile morning solo run at 9:53/mi

Friday – Rest

Saturday –  Rest


Total Mileage ->  29 miles

I didn’t think that there was a significant difference between 13 and 16 miles, so that’s why I didn’t put pressure on myself to prepare with fuel and hydration during the run, but I do plan on investing in a water bottle with a hand strap, and experimenting with some chews or other kind of fuel for the 18 miler.

I got home later than compared to previous weeks’ long runs, and quickly got ready to go out again to refuel properly. I made it a short outing and came home to completely rest, and even go to sleep early like a Gra’ma 😉

Monday was an off day from running, Tuesday was a 5 miler through Downtown, Wednesday was a 7 miler that felt mostly uncomfortable due to needing to use the restroom mid-run (had to stop at Mile 5, but at least I felt better in the last two miles…), and Thursday was one of my most horrid runs of the week. I think I strained my left soleus muscle during the run on Wednesday, and so Thursday’s run was farrrr from fun. At least I got my weekday mileage checked off though, so that made it easier to accept two consecutive rest days from running on Friday and Saturday.

What’s the longest you’ve run without water?

MTR: Week 12

MTR: Week 12

Wow, this week. It definitely started off with a challenge, but the thing I love about a challenging run is the feeling of accomplishment you get right after.

Sunday’s long run was my first with the team after a month hiatus. It was originally a 12 miler, but then was changed to a (confusing/winding/uphill) 13 miler in Pasadena. It was hard due to the fact that the first 6 miles were uphill, and I could feel my legs ache sooner than I would have liked. Many of us had to stop around mile 3 to check our phones for directions—but many in our pack got lost at some point. I was lucky enough to stick with two other girls for the majority of the run, especially when we were making precarious turns on roads near clifs. Yeah…

At least the views were grand and beautiful, I just can’t say the same about the feeling in my legs. The ball of my left foot was numb for the first couple miles, and then I started to feel a dull ache near my hip. I also really needed to make a bathroom stop, which only added to the not-so-swell mood I was feeling during the majority of the run. My crew and I ended up skipping out of four miles since we made it back to our starting point at mile 9, but I still wanted to get my four miles in—after a bathroom break of course 😉 ! The three of us went out for a two mile out-and-back, but they left me after one mile, so I was on my own to complete the final three painful miles.

Since I did have my phone with me during the run, I took advantage of the opportunity and tried to distract myself by taking pictures mid-run:

mtr12
“Highlights” from Sunday’s 13 Miler -> The directions that did not help us from getting lost // the first mile on the run // heading back from a 2 mile out-and-back after a 9 mile bathroom break // happy to see the overpass and finish!!

After regrouping with my team, I realized that I had a better experience than a lot of my other teammates. Two guys ended up in the heart of Glendale, without phones, and had to rely on a local fire station for water and a friendly biker for directions (who also happened to offer them money and food!!).

Well, at least it was an adventure! I also tried to keep things in perspective, thinking about a documentary I recently watched called Desert Runners. I was only running 13 miles, but I had to remind myself that there are people who put themselves through much more extreme conditions (the four deserts) and run 24-26 miles each day for 5-6 consecutive days. If one is capable of accomplishing that, I can deal with a not-so-fun 13 miler. It is just another step that has to be crossed in this marathon journey.

Sunday – LSD 13 miler group run at 10:05/mi

Monday – Rest

Tuesday –  5 mile morning solo run at 9:15/mi

Wednesday –  6 mile morning solo run at 9:36/mi

Thursday –  Rest

Friday –  5 mile morning solo run at 9:18/mi

Saturday –   Rest


Total Mileage ->  29 miles

Because of the increasing elevation for the first half of the long run, my pace was slower than usual. I gave myself a rest day on Monday to recuperate, but I still lifted weights. Tuesday and Wednesday were refreshing runs since I got to run in areas I have never ran before, due to the fact I was staying with my Dad as he was in town for business. For some reason, Wednesday’s was a particularly slow run. Even my splits were up and down and all over the place! I am glad I was able to squeeze in the run though—even at the chilly time of 6:30AM. Thursday was a much-needed rest day—even from lifiting—since I had some lab duties in the morning and came home feeling super tired. So tired, that I felt the need for an early evening nap. I was able to get in one more run for the week on Friday, and allowed myself a rest day again on Saturday, since I wanted to be in fresh shape for the 16 miler I had to run the next morning. Well, more on that in next week’s recap 😉 

Being a SuperJane

Being a SuperJane

Firstly, I just wanted to say thanks for everyone’s support about the 10 miler. It had some good and bad moments to it, but I’ll delve into that later in this post :)!

Seeing that my first half marathon will be one of the See Jane Run races, I was incredibly excited when I learned I was accepted to be one of ten “SuperJane” Ambassadors. I first learned about this opportunity when the site was conducting a search for online bloggers, and I thought, why not give it a go?

SJR_Ambassador

I first learned about the See Jane Run races from browsing a few blogs about a year and a 1/2 ago, and after looking at their website, I was elated to find they had a popular Bay Area race. At the time, I wasn’t a runner (more of a jogger who was concerned about the calorie burn vs. the actual enjoyment of running), but I did sign-up to volunteer.

I was assigned for post-race clean-up so when I arrived at the race, everything was already in full-swing. I think the 5kers had just about finished, and were then just soaking up the sun and enjoying the post-race festivities. I remember seeing a stage where finishers could take post-race pictures, many vendor booths (Luna, FRS, and Pop Chips to name a few…), and even post-race massages (which I totally plan on taking advantage after my half marathon!).

Even though I wasn’t a serious runner at the time, I knew that I wanted to be a runner at this race, and I made the decision a few months later to sign-up for the following year’s half marathon…even before I had run my first 10k!! I figured that 6+ months to get ready would be enough time, and it was something I really wanted to challenge myself with.

So four 10ks later (five after this Saturday), I am nearing my first half marathon and I couldn’t be more excited (and I would be lying if I didn’t say nervous!!). I can’t believe that just eight months ago, I made huge changes in my outlook on running, and 13.1 miles doesn’t seem as impossible as I thought!

So how is my half marathon training going?

I am now in my 7th week of half marathon training, and overall, I would say I’m happy with my training so far. My weekly mileage has been lower than what I’ve been aiming for (I was looking at consistently running in the mid-to- upper 20s), often only getting to 18-20 miles per week. A lot of that has been outside fatigue from school stress, or lack of motivation to get a run in when I just want to be lazy on the couch for the rest of the evening. But I am willing to accept this, because not everything has to go according to plan in order to be successful.

What has been going according to plan are my scheduled long distance runs. I have successfully attempted and completed all of my scheduled LSD runs to date, and I feel accomplished for being able to push myself to tack on an extra mile each week…and not chickening out.

There was one thing I didn’t expect from this training however, and that was speed. I had one week during my training where I felt faster than ever before, and ran my fastest 5k in 27 minutes and something seconds! And I have been consistenly hitting a 9:30-9:50/mi pace with my shorter runs, so hopefully this is an indication that I’m doing something right with the LSD runs, and that my aerobic capacity and speed are benefiting because of them.

Even though my pace dwindles during my LSD runs, I see them as successes because I am able to complete them. Yesterday’s 10 miler, for example, seemed intimidating at first, but I had to keep that “one step at a time” thought in my head, and maintain focus.

I left the house around 7:15am in order to avoid the hot 90 degree temps that were forecasted for the day. I had my Garmin and MP3 charged and ready to go, and I ended up running loops on what is my usually 3 mi course. There was a nice, cooling breeze for about the first five miles, but then the weather started to get warmer so I backed off on my pace. The sides of my knees were also feeling tight, so I included some backwards and sideways running to give my quads a break.

By the time I came home, I chugged down some water and treated myself to some flavored coconut water. The electrolytes were seriously necessary.

O.N.E. Coconut Water Pink Guava - This was incredibly sweet...so sweet in fact that I couldn't even taste the coconut. I guess that could be a good or bad thing depending on your preference for coconut...
O.N.E. Coconut Water Pink Guava – This was incredibly sweet…so sweet in fact that I couldn’t even taste the coconut. I guess that could be a good or bad thing depending on your preference for coconut…

Even though the simple task of climbing stairs after my run yesterday felt so arduous, nothing beats the accomplishment of achieving a challenging goal.

Running 3.1 miles more than what I ran yesterday is much easier to visualize now. After reading this cute poem on the SJR website, one line really stuck with me:

If you can run a mile, you can run a [half] marathon.

While I did participate in athletics in high school, I never saw myself as ever enjoying it. But now, I’m running because I want to, love to, and because I seek challenges. I love the magic of morning runs and being able to take in the fresh air as the sun comes up. I love lacing up my shoes when I think I am most tired, and then busting out 3.5 miles in the evening just as the sun is setting. I love treating myself to naps, thumbing through running magazines while understanding the jargon, and dreaming about destination races. I also love the camaraderie and support runners have for one another, especially women runners.

I’m grateful for being able to represent See Jane Run, and having the opportunity to share my relatively nascent, but growing love for running.

The next few weeks will require some serious focus, dedication, and motivation, but it will all be worth it for the celebration :)!

If you’d like to learn more about See Jane Run and their races, you can read Jane’s story here.

When did you first realize your love for running?

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