Ventura Half Marathon 

Disclaimer: I received  a free entry to the Ventura Half Marathon  as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

This past weekend I ran the Ventura Half Marathon. It was my first time running a race in Ventura, which is such a cute little town to run in/visit. Packet pick up was at the Ventura Pier, with beautiful views of the ocean.

The expo was smaller than expected, but had good vendors (running gear, food, clothing, etc). The packet pick up was simple and well organized and they had lots of good photo ops!

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Check out the runner swag! Reusable Ventura bag, hat, nice tech shirt, and not pictured was all the snacks and Ventura tourist info.

After checking out the expo my bf and I went out to dinner at my FAVORITE restaurant in Ventura, Himalaya . Unfortunately I didn’t get any food pics (#fail). If you are in Ventura this place is a must. With our bellies full we went to our Airbnb…home? Room? I don’t know how you would refer to that, but we stayed at a cute home that we found via Airbnb – our first Airbnb stay! The proximity to the race is one of the reasons we chose this location, but let’s be real, this is the number one reason I chose to stay where we did:

v4Oh my goodness you guys! These cat friends were the best! We cuddled all night, then cuddled some more before we left.

Okay, okay, on to race day. The half marathon started at 6:30am so I arrived around 5:45am to prepare for the race. I also met up with my fellow BibRave Pros! It was great to meet Abby and Erica on race morning (you can read their reviews of the race here and here). The start of the race, and the entire race for that matter, was very well organized. The start line had corrals, and each corral was well controlled by the volunteers. A pretty big pet peeve of mine is runners running in waves/corrals that they shouldn’t be in, that didn’t really happen here that I could see. Perhaps it is because everything was so clearly labeled.

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So, I gotta be honest here, not a big fan of this course for the most part. I really did think we would be able to see more of the coast. You saw the beach at the beginning, a little in the middle, then again at the end since it is an out and back course. This isn’t a huge turn off for me, but I thought the views would be a little nicer. The course is nice and flat and perfect if you are looking to set a PR. There were quite a few cheer stations, which I LOVE! If you don’t run, but are reading this and you cheer at races, I just want you to know how much that means to me and the other runners. Running/racing is really hard and having people out there cheering us on helps more than you know. Another thing that helps is good pacers. I was in the 2:15 pace group, which I only decided on the night before. I have been recovering from a few injuries so I wanted this to be a fun and easy run. Thanks to Megan and Amy, who pace for Beast Pacing, I ran a nice and easy 2:09 half. They got me to about mile 9, and I was feeling great so I thanked them, took off and they cheered for me as I ran the rest of the race solo. v7

While the views aren’t the best, I still enjoyed this race a lot. The course was clearly marked, aid stations were stocked well and the volunteers did a great job handing us our water/electrolytes. Bottom line: awesome cheer stations, flat course and it ends on the beach! Food, drinks and beach time is a pretty great way to end a race.

I have also reviewed this race (and all my races) on BibRave. Check it out & leave reviews for your races –> BibRave.

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What Is It All for?

It’s no secret running has been tough for me this year. It all started last October when I injured myself while training for a marathon. So, yep – almost a year that running has been a struggle. I haven’t wanted to admit it, I haven’t wanted to admit that my running is just not at the level that it was a year or two ago. I am constantly comparing where I am now to where I was then, which is not a healthy thing to do. I have not been present, I have not been enjoying my journey, I have forgotten what this is all for.

Now, that’s not to say I haven’t been enjoying running, because I always do. However, this year I have felt a need to prove myself. To who? Everyone? Myself? I’d say both. I wanted to prove that I was a good runner, something I never thought about when I first started running. I remember my first sub 2 half marathon it was a PR by almost 15 minutes. And my first sub 4 was a PR by almost 30 minutes. People would tell me how great I was doing, other runners I had met would tell me those were crazy improvements. I had no idea, I just knew I was having fun. Then I ran a 1:43 half, when my goal was 1:45. If I had to pin point when I felt the need to prove myself, or maybe more accurately, prove my worth as a runner that was it.  The Urban Cow Half Marathon 2014.  It is my best half to date, and I find myself comparing myself to that race all the time. Stupid, I know! Especially when I encourage so many people on their running journey – slow or fast. I tell people being slow doesn’t matter, who gives a shit? You’re moving, you found something you love, that is what counts. Apparently I don’t listen to my own words.

I had Boston qualifying friends tell me I could BQ. I had people come up to me after races and tell me I was fast and they were trying to keep up with me. I was getting compliments on how fast I was. I’m not gonna lie, I liked it. But at the same time, I’ve never been one to brag, I’ve never let compliments go to my head. I am humble when it comes to my abilities. So what the fuck? Perhaps being the couch potato I used to be, the feeling of accomplishment you feel post race, the recognition, the belonging to a community…perhaps I didn’t want to lose that. And since everyone around me was trying to BQ I decided I wanted to also. Since everyone was talking about getting faster I thought I should get faster too. Of course there is nothing wrong with pushing yourself, setting goals and being your very best, but there is something wrong when it isn’t making you happy and you aren’t doing it for yourself.

There is a social pressure at times when you are a runner. One of the first questions I would get asked once people knew I ran marathons was, “Are you going to qualify for Boston?” When I’d run a race the most commonly asked question was, “What was your finish time?” Which really means (intentionally or not), “How fast did you run?”  It’s like I was letting people down if I didn’t set a new PR, or if I said I wasn’t interested in BQing yet. Obviously those are my thoughts in my head, I wasn’t letting anyone down. I think a  good analogy is when you are in a long term relationship people always ask when you’re getting married. If the answer is never, or you’re not sure there is this look of sympathy like, oh that poor girl isn’t ever going to get married. Maybe I don’t want to get married, maybe I don’t want to BQ, and nothing is wrong with that. You gotta do you. I know society is not intentionally trying to put pressure on me (unless you’re my mom asking for grandkids. I hope grandcats will do) but it does happen. So in the mix of pressure from wanting to “keep up” with the other runners and wanting to look good to those who don’t run I lost myself along the way.

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Fast forward to today.  I ran for the first time in 15 days. It was fun, I looked around, took pictures and enjoyed the fact that I was running along the San Diego bay. I ran by a bathroom that I love – which is so weird but it is clean and has letters all over it. I noticed there was a no climbing sign near the bathroom wall, then I looked at the wall and realized, that would be a really fun wall to climb. You’d be climbing the alphabet!

The skies today were overcast and gray, just the way I like it. I even did the tourist thing and went to the kissing statue for a photo.

3 miles today. Nice, easy and fun. I have 3 marathons within the next 6 months. Two are for charity and one is the CIM so obviously I have to run it, but I don’t have a training plan for any of them right now. I am running because I love to, and those marathons will be long run days. Today I came to the decision to run for fun and I tossed my Chicago plan out the window (not literally, I don’t litter). So if I want to work on some speed I will, if I want to do an easy run along the beach I will, hills – sure, why not? Running has been my time to be free of worries and responsibilities; it has been about connecting with the community, and being happy. So I am going back to that.

Because otherwise, what is the damn point (thank you, friend for your words).

This Body Can – Louise

I am very happy to present September’s  This Body Can post from Louise. I met Louise when I was attending an Iron Grrls Clinic and I saw her benching, I think. She had a Cat Town Cafe shirt on (based in Oakland, CA) so of course, being the cat lover that I am, I had to go tell her how much I loved her shirt. Over the months of training at BodyTribe I found out Louise is a cat lover as well, made a really great documentary about the Historic Rose Garden in Sacramento and loves & appreciates movement just like I do. I love her story and can relate to the “can’t” feeling she had in P.E. Shit, I failed P.E. in high school and had to take it again my senior year – so there you go; finding a love for movement and appreciating what my body can do is new to me, with in the last 5 years. Age doesn’t matter when you are on this journey. Sometimes it comes later in life, and that is okay. Thank you, Louise for sharing your story.

Like many women – heck, let’s go ahead and include all genders and say many people – I’ve struggled in thinking positively about my physical being. My earliest thoughts about sport/exercise/physicality were all some version of “I can’t.” I remember the horrible realization I had, in grammar school, as I tried so hard to “try hard,” watching the backs of all my fellow students grow farther and farther away, as they raced to the finish line ahead of me. I remember the exact moment: the Presidential Physical Fitness Test. Here it was, the measure of us all. Who could do a pull-up? Who could jump far enough? Who could run fast enough to meet the time? I watched as our class sorted itself into the Cans and the Can’ts, generally corresponding to boys (Can) and girls (Can’t),  and me – the very last of the Can’ts. I had been good at things up until this: I could read well, liked math, could draw. But this? I was bad at this. It made me feel terrible physically and emotionally. Of course, I learned later that the PPFT had a worthy motive – to encourage the physical education of children, and I’m very in favor of that. But for me it was a crusher. My takeaway: I can’t, and I hate ALL this stuff.

I don’t want to pin it all on President Kennedy, but it took a long time to turn this belief around. For me, the legacy of such a bad start including years of self-hate, disordered eating and mental health problems. I’m so very grateful I’ve been able to change this pattern, even though it came later in life for me. When I was around 40, I started going to a gym for the first time – a dumpy, inexpensive place with beat up equipment, chosen because it was the least intimidating place I could find. I booked a few training sessions, so I wouldn’t look like an idiot on the machines. I forced myself to shop for workout clothes until I found something that didn’t make me feel hideous and uncomfortable. My motivation was simple: I was under a lot of stress at work, and needed some way to handle it. I began meditating at the same time. I set some reachable goals: for a long time, my goal was just to get to the gym, just enter the building and change clothes. If, at that point, I just couldn’t… well, I didn’t. But that almost never happened. Once I got there, I generally felt like doing something. I started to look forward to this part of my day. I realized how effective the stress relief was.

louise.JPG                                                              Flip a tire 20 times and then beat the crap out of it with a club – stress relief!

I started really enjoying the feeling I had as I walked home, tired and in the mood for dinner. I started to feel strong. I noticed that I was not out of breath anymore on the stairs. My back pain disappeared. My tricep became noticeable. It was a new start, a much better start. I began to think, “huh! maybe I CAN.”
And now, even though I’m 52 and definitely noticing the changes that come with age, I am more able and confident – physically and emotionally – than I have ever been. After my first gym closed, I was lucky enough to land in a great place, and get access to an extremely talented and generous trainer. She has patiently worked with my fears and issues, always teaching me, always challenging me in both physical and mental ways. She has gently steered my thinking away from negativity toward empowerment and exploration. The gym I go to now is a haven of sanity and support, focused on hard work and proper form, and always filled with laughs, sweat, dogs, babies, music and friends. At this point, I actually seek failure at times, as when maxing out a lift. It’s just another tool to measure progress – my own personal progress, not someone else’s. It’s a joy to own that feeling so completely. Changing the way I think about success and failure has made a big difference to life in general, not just life in the gym. I am much more concerned with progress, momentum, and consistency than I am about numbers (my own or others’). This way of thinking allows me to try hard, and to be happy.

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