Sunday, November 29, 2015


Not me. Not ever.
.  . . And I’m back. 

I’m feeling supremely good. I have the runners’ high that everyone speaks of. When I began the running journey in 2008, I thought people were mad for getting excited over running.

Who gets giddy, excited, high from running?

I'm the girl who "ran" Track and Field in high school and did all the weight events to avoid the running portion of Track and Field. I never understood the runners high. When I got deeper into my marathon training, I learned that it is an actual thing and it's something somebody even like me can have.

Training has been difficult. I started off strong in the spring and summer, but after going through a difficult “break up” in the late part of summer and early fall, those necessary training runs fell by the wayside. A friend called me out on Face Book and suggested I do a 10k that was to benefit brain tumor research. After dallying on signing up for a 10k closer to home, I immediately signed up for that one. I was re-commited to endurance training and dug out my marathon training schedule from 2008/2009. I started laying down the miles.  Muscle memory is great when you're revisiting a neighborhood you haven't been to in awhile, but the muscle memory I experienced with these runs was amazing. Sure, my muscles got a little tired and fatigued. My lung capacity isn’t what it was, but these runs were nothing like the first 3, 4 and 5 mile runs I did when I first found the sport of endurance running.

I was feeling good, but not great. And, certainly not confident. I figured I would use the 10k (6.2 miles) as a training run and just train through. This way, I wouldn’t need to worry about time, a PR or anything. But, I’m a runner, I worry about those things. As my coach from my first marathon told me- Have 3 goals: 1 that you can achieve with work, one that is doable, and the third should always be to finish. My goal was to do a sub 1:21 10k. That was my pace during my marathon, and it was a better 10k pace than the race I did with the closeted smoker. With my toes on my left foot bothering me after a 5 mile run the week before the race and my bridge of my right foot bothering me, I readjusted…. Sub 1:30. Well, that’s what I told everyone and what I tried to tell myself. But I still wanted that sub 1:21 even though I was doubtful I could achieve it.

Within the last year, I discover I have a small wheat intolerance, which forced me to change my eating regimen the night before my long runs. For my 10k, I had a giant bowl of quinoa, some grocery store sushi, 2 glasses of red wine and promptly overslept. I woke up at the time I should be leaving for the race. Fortunately, my ex-boyfriend who was a runner drilled it into my head that you need to lay out all your clothes on a chair the night before. That way you can’t possibly miss anything. When the chair is empty, you know you have all your stuff and you’re ready. 

After waking up late, I threw my extra quinoa in the microwave and ran around the house like a maniac cursing that I slept through my alarms and the imminent road closures I would experience when I got closer to the course. Unable to do my traditional pre-long run morning ritual, I shoveled breakfast into my mouth at red lights. Some how, as I got closer, the road divergences weren’t too bad. Pulling into the parking lot, I finished breakfast and had half a banana.

The rest of the morning was a lot of pre-race festitivies to get the runners excited about the run. This was, after all, a brain tumor event. Survivors were wearing grey shirts. There were probably 10 of us I spotted on the course.

The first mile was slow. So slow. People kept passing me. I was getting discouraged, but dug in. I had been here before, slow to start and run my own race. I kept telling myself, "don’t psych yourself out. Just run the pace that feels good." I knew looking at my watch, I'd inherently slow down thinking my pace was impossible, so I just kept running.

One of my running friends who had run the 5k, found me just after mile 4 and we ran a mile together. She had to peel off to meet friends for brunch, but she told me I had a downhill to look forward to for the rest of the course. I passed people who had passed me, shared waves with other brain tumor survivors and almost crashed into a woman who decided to cross the course at the finish line. 

When the official results came out, I was floored. I didn’t run a 1:21 10k; I ran a 1:13…. A full 8 minutes faster than what I wanted and a full 18 minutes faster than what I expected. This puts my overall pace at 11:46. Sure, it’s a race pace, but my natural pace is somewhere between what I WAS running and this. Now, I have a new sweet spot, a new training pace. I know I can endure long runs at this pace. 

Coupled with tempo runs/intervals/200 repeats/hill repeats, you name it, I’ll get my sub 2:30:00 half. What’s more this and the ballroom go hand in hand. My balance from ballroom has strengthened my core and overall improved my form. My running strengthens my cardiovascular and allows me to keep up with my daning parter/coach. 

I’m absolutley humbled by what I’ve been able to accomplish. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: It’s Amaing What You Can Do Without A Brain Tumor.

Thursday, October 8, 2015


... I'm starting virtually from square one and I hate it.

I've been down this road before; I know how difficult these early miles are and how they will be a test of mental and physical strength.

While not relishing these early and painful miles, I've done it before. I'm ready for it. I'm not going to belittle myself for not being the pace I was last year and I'm not going to cry if I don't PR at my next race (November 8).

I am so happy to be back out there, working back towards something I love so much. Endurance running saved my life and while I don't need to keep running with saving my life on my mind, I can run with the joy that I am able to run (no matter how slow the pace is). I've been consistent this week. Cross training tomorrow, a long run on Saturday and a recovery run on Sunday. These small victories are better than what September looked like and for that, I am grateful.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

But everyone's doing it.

I did it! I did a cleanse. Now, I can say I'm an official Angeleno. Living/working in the city it seems like everyone is on a cleanse or has done a cleanse. You compare notes, talk about how long you did it, benefits of cleansing etc. Friends were concerned about a completely liquid and gave me alternate modalities. I combined what my old roommate and trainer suggested along with the Clementine Cleanse. I stuck to the exercise method laid out by roommate/trainer and leaned up. I was happy with the results, but less happy with the month-long diet after.

I’m struggling with that diet. I have more slips than successes. In general, I do better when I’m given suggestions for success rather than a strict diet. The strict diet makes me like an obstinate child. I'm sad... AND I know a chocolate chip cookie recipe by heart. Ok, I'll make a quick half-batch. This is no way to get to my rhythm skinny.* (Rhythm skinny, a term I've given ballroom dancers who do Latin styles in skimpy outfits.) One friend delicately pointed out, "Rhythm Skinny"was a goal in the beginning of the summer. The gentle reminder helped me reframe that I was trying these limited diets for myself rather than doing it for society or someone else. But, with heartache that is too deep to describe for a fitness & exercise blog, staying on track and honoring my original goal has been more difficult, especially when I know the chlorate chip cookie recipe by heart. Besides, dieting is no fun. My family doesn’t diet well. We do best eating sensibly and the exercising. I’d rather do that. Focus on physical things I like to do, rather than deprivation.

Exercising and eating while working for yourself is tough. I was pumped about producing a horror short with a very talented director. But, since he didn’t feel comfortable signing a contract guaranteeing me pay, I’m walking away.  I can work for myself, investing time in my own projects and have a better Return On Investment of time. In exciting news, an oncologist I’ve worked with approached me to help build his neurogenetics center, so when posed with the question: Would you rather produce a horror short or help find a cure for cancer, my answer will always be: Help find a cure for cancer.

The next couple months will be busy. October has 2 weddings and at the end of the month I have my dance showcase where my routine is nearly full bronze with some silver patterns thrown in. I have a 10k in November and then holiday races. With the new projects and a wonderful relationship coming to an end, my heart and mind are all over the place. I’ve been using the Hal Higdon off and on, but I needed a better focus. I’m nearly starting from square one again. It seemed appropriate to bring out the big guns and use the training schedule that was specifically designed for me by my first coach. The early miles are short, but he has lots of cross training built in.  (The cross-training will be great for ballroom dance and/or weights.) While Ryan had to move to MSP for work, I’m loving using this. I feel like I have him looking over my shoulder. This with a modified diet program from my former roommate and Italian trainer, I feel rejuvenated. Everything will have to be recalibrate. I'll have to remind myself while it's okay to be sad, sugar will not be the million dollar pill to make everything okay. 

Friday, August 28, 2015

Highs and Lows of Summer Training

The trouble with summer in Los Angeles is that it’s hot and sunny. Prior to the miserable heat we got in mid to late August,  I’ve was  gaining training success, measured by consistency and endurance. While I reviled in my success and increasing stamina, after each workout I swore to myself I would write about my running high when I got home. I got preoccupied when I got home. With another month between posts, again I failed.   And it seems that's how I've lived most of my summer. Riding the highs and lows of successes and failures. It felt completely out of my control.  There have been days where I can't wait to get out of bed, waking before my alarm clock and getting to the park to throw some miles down. There have been days where despair gripped me and all I wanted to do was hit snooze. 

Despite depression and sadness lurking in the background there have been more days of happiness than anxiety I won't be able to get "it" right, whatever "it" is.  
I had a short-term Italian roommate during the summer. He is an actor and personal trainer and we talked about cooking and the entertainment industry. Even though he has many training certificates, I never explained how I’ve been working to get myself into Marathon Shape. That just seemed too personal.  

He was a night owl and usually asleep when I was leaving to go on my morning run. Reflecting on the shorter runs I did when I first started endurance running, I focused on theseIt seemed silly to drive 10 minutes to go to the park to go for a 1.5-2 mile run, but this is the same park where I’ve done most of my training. My feet and soul understand the packed dirt and the turns.   

The morning people are very different than the evening-after-work-runners. They engage and encourage. One particular morning sticks in my mind. I had done my run and stretch and now working on my Rhumba walks. Since I was engaging different muscles and focusing more on balance and core, I was using a chain link fence as a guide in case I started to tumble. While I focused on posture and not losing balance, a barefoot runner (a little younger than my dad) engaged me in conversation.  We talked about the passion for running, family etc.  

The nice thing about the running community is that your community is always expanding. Our schedules didn’t always coincide and truthfully, there were days I didn’t sleep well and had to sleep in ‘til 7am and by thenit was too hot to run. On one of the days where we were exercising at the same time, he waved me over and introduced me to a tattooed runner. In turn the tattooed runner offered to run a lap with me if I wanted company.  Now, I had two new running friends.  

On one of these running days I was doing a short run and the barefoot runner asked me if I did 2x2s. I confessed that I didn’t because I hate 200 repeats. He invited me to run one with him. Not wanting to offend a new friend, I did a 200 with him and as I did my cool down, I thought, well, that wasn’t so bad. And I remembered that when I try something new, it’s never easy the first couple times, I just need to stick with it.  

August heat has settled in again, and I continued to talk with my roommate about his training, eating regimen and the benefits of fasting. He’s back in Italy now, but from this distance he offered to monitor me in a controlled week-long fast whenever I wanted. The fasting I am not worried about as there are plenty of cultures that using fasting in religious practices. My roommate turned trainer and I discussed the best time to start the program and what he'll permit me to do. Walking. Twenty minutes a day, that's it.  Once I’m done with this, I can start training again. I have a dance showcase in October and even found a fall 10k I want to do.  While continuing to develop other projects with my partner, I'm also producing a horror short. Am I taking on too much? Possibly. But that’s what I do. I have goals. A lot of goals. Besides, the man I was dating has to move for work and the practicality of a multi-continent relationship for 3 years is grim. The additional challenges will help pre-occupy my mind. As comfortable as I am internalizing things and staying in my head-space, there isn’t a better outlet than exercise.  

And while I struggle with staying active and staying with a training schedule while building a career, one thing is for sure: While I may not be in marathon shape, I am at my most fit and feel more like my family than I ever now that I am getting (physical) balance and need to be active I never had. 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Training While Traveling

I had the best of intentions when packing to go film in Atlanta and then travel to Boston and Connecticut to see friends and family. I packed my running shoes, pants, Garmin watch and various lengths of running shirts. Heck, during filming I woke up early one morning and contemplated hitting the gym. Instead,  I rationalized with my sleep deficit more sleep would be better. Instead of going to the gym, I slept and then had breakfast of waffles and peanut butter.

My trip to Boston was no better. I saw some good friends and sure, it’s Boston so there was walking, but staying an extra day to walk the Freedom Trail held no appeal. The most walking I did was from my friend’s house to the T stop (a half mile) and then taking a circuitous route from his office in the Prudential Center to my other friend’s work at Boylston and Tremont. In Boston, again, I had failed at carving out time to exercise. What I was successful in doing was drinking copious (for me) amounts of alcohol and eating terrific food while seeing friends.

And, what did I do when I got to Connecticut? You’d think possibly the week and a half I had at my parents’ would garner some exercise. Hardly. The most I did was walk a mile every other day with my mom and her horse. These short walks were often followed by a nap. Okay, so maybe I was over 8 hours behind on my weekly sleep goal of 56 hours a week. There are two times in my life I remember sleeping as much as I did,  the first was the weeks after my brain surgery when eating breakfast would tax me so much it often resulted in a 4 hour nap. The second time was the summer after I graduated college, and before I left for Los Angeles. I know sleep shouldn’t be the enemy. But, there is so much I want to do.  One thing that changed my attitude on naps was reading that Ryan Hall takes naps. Ryan friggin Hall naps! Holy moly.

Did I get any runs in during my trip? No. In fact, I left feeling fat and bloated from eating too much and not exercising.  On the other hand, I was deeply satiated by seeing family and friends. Now that I'm back in Los Angeles I can refocus. Sure, these miles are going to be more difficult. Prior to the shoot I felt like I couldn’t take time away from pre-production and invest time to run. This was a setback. This is also insane mind you. We are always going to have things that are going to clamor for our attention. If we want to live a long healthy life, we need to carve out time for us to maintain our fitness goals.

Back to square one. Again. I logged some slow short miles this week and next week will be more of the same. In all likelihood many of the coming weeks will be slow short runs before I feel ready to tackle an official marathon training program.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Emotional Energy

There are days you go out on an easy 3 mile run.  Today was not one of those days. A mile into it, I realized I didn't have enough emotional energy to sustain me. I walked the other two.

Going to try again tonight.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Running Place

I got out of my car at the Sherman Oaks/Van Nuys Park like it was nothing. I didn’t expect anything miraculous. I’m undertrained and I have been struggling with my runs.  I keep meaning to print out a new Hal Higdon training schedule. I keep meaning to sign up for a new race to give me something to push for. I have friends running Boston, Big Sur… running. They have races on the books.  I am pushing myself with the business I launched with my producing partner, keep pushing myself with ballroom dancing… to understand Cuban motion, isolation, relaxing my shoulders et cetera. I have been terrible about running. I didn’t expect anything special about my run.

As soon as my feet hit the packed dirt, it was like I was home. This is the place where I logged all those short 3 mile runs during my first marathon training. This is where I did my first 5 mile run and this is the place that I ran with family at my side during my brain surgery rehabilitation. 

I love this place.

And no matter how tired I get, this place, “The Running Place” all you have to do is get to the next turn, the next light post, the next water fountain before you give yourself another goal to strive for. Unlike road running, I wasn’t coming up with excuses to stop, I just kept going. If I got tired, I slowed my pace. These early runs I’ve run without a watch. I will continue to run without a watch for the next couple weeks.

I don’t have a race on the books. I’m simply running for the joy of running. To supplement with days I don’t dance. 

I still have the goal to get into Marathon Shape, but having cardiovascular strength supersedes everything.

This place, is home. I will be printing out the Hal Higdon training schedule to put on my fridge. I will do a modified week one until I am ready to plunge feet first into a training schedule.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

REBUILDING MY RUNNING BASE - an embarrassing situation

Running. It must be done if one wants to get into MarathonShape. I know I ran in the last three months. Trouble is, I can’t remember my last run. I remember runs I’ve been on, but narrowing down a specific date eludes me.

I have fond memories of running my marathon- the crazy ones where I was running by San Diego’s Wild Animal Park with low blood sugar, and spectators wearing animal masks passed out Icees. I hit the mile shortly after that at mile 20 and remember my mom riding a bike as close to the course that was allowable. And, while hitting The Wall was not fun (why should it be, it’s call “The Wall” for a reason), getting in a shape where I can run 26.2 miles is still a goal. Trouble is, it’s not as big as it was directly after surgery. Directly after surgery I needed to be normal. I was chasing health while running away from the hospital, from the ICU and the deep fear that I was sick, the brain tumor would be part of my life forever. Perhaps, it will be. But, the further I get away from surgery, the less important running 26.2 miles is. 

I am chasing other goals… Chasing developing several TV shows, chasing the full Bronze that will lead to Newcomer Silver in Ballroom… chasing writing goals. And, while I chase these, I know running is necessary. It is necessary so I can have a long and healthy life so I can continue doing things I love. It’s also necessary for my soul. Running has given so much and I found a love for those long runs (even the short ones) with friends. It’s a great way to get out there and explore your city. And, you can’t do much exploring if you can’t run. So, I’m running. For now, not to get back into MarathonShape, but to get back my cardiovascular shape. To get back to where 10 miles feels good. And, to get back to that, I have to start slowly.

It’s embarrassing. I’ve run 10 miles. What the F is wrong with me!? I remember when I first

started running and had no experience. I thought I had to get out there and kill it each time. That is far from the truth. When I joined a running group, my perception started to shift. I had been pushing myself to run 3 miles a day. Now, on my first long run with them, I was regulated to run 1.5 miles. ONE POINT FIVE.  And on that day, while I waited for my then boyfriend, I met the man that would soon be my coach. He took me back to square one and a slow build. Yes, the slow build was the right way… even if it is torture for the ego.

I am back to square one. It is torture for the ego. I know when I was at my peak, I could run 3 miles in about 33 minutes. With time being a precious commodity now, on yesterday’s run, I didn’t want to go out and run 3 miles. I gave myself 30 minutes. Somehow, this was easier. For better or worse, I would get miles in while not sacrificing time from freelancing. In that time, I ran 2.33. From my fitness history, it’s not great, but this is start. More importantly, I got out for a run. By this time next week, I want to run 2.5 miles in 30 minutes, and then keep building. Each week I will reevaluate and figure out how to push myself. Getting out for 30 minutes is not daunting with all the tasks I have to do. It makes it easier for me to wrap my head around running again. It has become necessary for me to build back like I've never run before. It’s a little embarrassing, but that's the truth...