Happy New Year’s Eve!

I started the last day of 2013 putting my body through the paces with an early morning strength workout. There’s something special about waking up before the rest of the house/world and getting your sweat on.

New Year's Eve workout

I’m hanging out now in our breakfast nook, AKA my new favorite spot, taking a little time for a hot toddy and reflecting on the year past.

hot toddy reflections

2013 was a big year for me: multiple career moves, moving to a new house, new animal, focusing on healthy living, new blog, travelling to new destinations, and handling my dad’s passing to name a few. It’s not hard to see how it all passed so quickly.

I went into the year without any resolutions, and I haven’t decided yet if I’ll be making a resolution for 2014. I used go into every new year with a laundry list of things to change and improve. Fact of the matter was, not keeping them also used to be my thing. As optimistic and shiny as the clean start of January 1st seems, we can choose that clean start for ourselves at anytime. It can be January 1st…or March 8th…or November 26th. Making small changes along the way is much more doable then picking 10 things to change at the start of a New Year.

Oprah Winfrey Quote, Cheers to a New Year

Still, whether or not there’s a resolution to be put in place, there is value on taking time to reflect on where you’ve been, and where you’d like to go. Here are a few of my favorite blog posts over the past couple days, I hope you find them as motivating as I did.

Wishing you a Happy New Year’s Eve, and safe celebrations. See you in 2014!

Always, Sierra

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Favorite Posts of 2013

Recaps of the year’s favorite/most viewed/best posts are so trendy in blogland, I couldn’t resist. I thought it’d be a quick post to crank out, but I’ve managed to put together a significant body of work for this blog’s first year!

It was fun to peruse the posts, cringing at some of the awkwardness (don’t worry it’s not going anywhere), and taking joy in the year’s memories and accomplishments. Check out some of my favorites below, and I hope you join me in 2014 for more fun and shenanigans!

10. My first blog post has to make the list! Just a little bit about the motivation behind my blog and how I finally made the leap to start writing.

9. We moved! We got a cat! We celebrated Christmas with Mom in the new spot! There have been so many positive changes in my life, I loved sharing them in this post.

8. My purpose for the Run to Feed the Hungry race this year was to spend the morning taking some time out for myself and reflecting on the things I’m grateful for…the loved ones in my life and a body that can carry me through a 10K. The Thanksgiving Feast that followed? A minor bonus :).

7. A girls trip to Cabo San Lucas? Memories to treasure. Planning a trip to Cabo? I included a few travel tips as well.

6. My Fave Newbie Runner Moments. Because we all have to start somewhere.

5. There’s been a lot of hiking this year, but exploring Point Reyes National Seashore was one my favorites. It also inspired another post I liked writing, how to survive a wildfire.

4. Weekly Workout Recaps are one of my favorite category of posts. I’m a geek for numbers, data, etc., anything that helps me see progress over time, and they’re a great way to reflect on the progress I’m making (or not making as the case may be). I chose this one to highlight because it was a great week for balance. I got my miles in, took in a ball game with the Mr., and discovered an amazing new brunch place with the girls. That’s the kind of week I want to have every week.

3. Discovering a new to us camping spot in Lake Tahoe was a blast. Fishing, beautiful scenery, a huge meadow and a creek all to ourselves…what’s not to love? Maybe the bug bites..

2. Race Recap: See Jane Run 5K. A huge PR for me of 32:59, and on a warm day to boot. Next 5K goal? Sub-30!

1. Celebrating my Dad on his birthday, the first since he passed. Go tell someone you love how you appreciate them just the way they are!

Here’s to another year full of many more favorites!

Always, Sierra

Workout Recap: Week 1 Half-Marathon Training, 12/23 – 12/29

It’s official y’all. Come March 2014, I’ll be making my half-marathon debut!

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I had a lot of back and forth with the Oakland Half. I’m vaguely worried of getting bored on the course since it won’t be all that new to me and parts of it are definitely not scenic. I’m also a little dubious after reading about long courses and looking at the course map with its ridiculous twists and turns. But! The Oakland Half has one big thing going for it…it’s close to enough friends and family that I’m sure I can bribe at least a couple to come out and spectate. I’m gonna need it :).

Today was Week 1 of training, also known as get back on the horse week. I’m loosely following Hal Higdon’s plan. I added an extra step back week early on to give myself some time to build up any lost fitness, for 13 total weeks of training. I’ve also added in two days of strength work and 400m repeats on alternating weeks to work a bit on speed. I’ve got it all posted on our refrigerator like a good runner in training, and I’m taking some delight in putting a big fat X through the days when I finish a workout.

Half Marathon Training Plan

Monday: 2.3 miles, 13:15 min/mile. Holy crap there are hills in my new neighborhood! It had been so long since I ran that my poor Garmin was neglected and dead, not that I really needed it. The plan was to run 3 miles, but I made it to about 2.3 miles before I called shenanigans. I finished out the three miles walking with Pita, and took it as a lesson learned about what to expect on future runs.

Tuesday: Stretch & Strength Rest. Mom came up early Tuesday and we promptly kicked Christmas Eve off with a little bit of moonshine, some shopping and failed sugar cookie making. (True Story: whole wheat flour does make a difference when the recipe calls for all-purpose).

Wednesday: 3.07 miles, 15:45 min/mile. After a morning of presents and breakfasting, I snuck out for a run. Lots of new trail to explore, and a little bit of coyote.

Trail Running, coyote

Thursday: Rest. Two to three mile walk with Mom to enjoy the pretty weather and good company.

me & mom

Friday: 3.07 miles, 12:07 min/mile. First run of the week on flat ground, and the goal was to take it easy with all of the hill running to date. Mission accomplished.

Saturday: 4.02 miles, 11:35 min/mile. Did y’all catch the UFC fights? I’ve been getting hooked this year watching TUF, the athleticism they all have is amazing. My heart broke for Anderson Silva and his leg breakage, too shocking.

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And even though she didn’t win, Miesha Tate fought with her heart and looked good in the octagon.

Sunday: Walking around the flea market for a couple hours counts as cross-training right? Right! Found some cute earrings for a dollar, holla! (I couldn’t resist.)

Flea Market Finds

Running Total Miles: 12.16 miles

Overall: Off to a good and excited start. This is the first time I’ve followed a training plan of any kind, and it feels good to go out and run with purpose. Skipped strength because 1) I’m in holiday mode and 2)…yeah, that’s all I got. Making it a priority for Week 2!

Always, Sierra

Are you a UFC fan? Do you think Anderson Silva will be able to recover and come back?

Have you ever followed a Hal Higdon training plan?

Our First Christmas in the New Spot

Merry Christmas! Better late than never, right?! How were your celebrations?

Shortly after Thanksgiving, the Mr. and I moved into a new spot. The first couple weeks of December felt like a never-ending cycle of packing, unpacking, cleaning, fixing, sleeping and pancaking. Pancakes were the only thing that got me through!

Moving

Our new place has more space, more wood floors, and more quiet. So much quiet that the first night I couldn’t sleep. It’s pretty amazing to not hear sirens/BART/crazy neighbors 24/7.

It also has more ghost…child-sized ghost.

ghost hand

A better living situation wasn’t the only thing we gifted ourselves this holiday season…meet the newest member of our family!

kitteh

He’s going by kitteh for the moment, and he is full of kooky affection. The Mr. brought him home for the ASPCA about a week ago, and after a day or two of getting used to his surroundings he’s settled right in.

family

With all the changes going on, Christmas snuck up on me. I didn’t get the decorations and tree up until the weekend before, but they came together nicely.

Christmas Decorations

Once the decorations were up and Mom was in town, Christmas snowballed and took on a life of its own! There were gifts to be opened…

emergency underwear, keyboard, matching camo hats

…and dinner to be eated!

Christmas Pot Roast

We went non-traditional-ish with dinner this year, considering the amount of advanced prep I was able to do was non-existent, but it still came out pretty awesome. My first pot roast, green beans and bacon, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes and the Mr.’s tasty gravy…(ha, that didn’t sound dirty at all).

Mom and I went for an after Christmas morning stroll to work off some of the deliciousness, and enjoyed the beautiful weather.

me & mom

Running slipped on my list of priorities during the madness of the month, but my final gift to myself this Christmas is an entry to my first half marathon! Training started Monday, details to come. Another feature of my new neighborhood? Hills galore!

hills galore

Hope y’all had a great Christmas!

Always, Sierra

Any suggestions for cat names?

What was your first half marathon?

 

Twilight Trail Run [Remembering How to Play]

Growing up, summer nights were one of the most alive times of the year. Our family house is on a court, and there were plenty of cohorts in adventure around my age. The big streetlights would turn on around dusk, not signaling time to go home but time to get started.

We’d be out until at least 10pm, playing tag, capture the flag or hide and seek. Venturing into the shadowy nooks and crannies was equal parts intimidating and crucial for staying alive in the game. A little scary being “preyed” on, but exhilarating! When we finally got the call from our parents to come in for the night, we ran into the safe comfort of home lights with an imagined air of danger trailing behind us, already thinking ahead to the next night’s shenanigans.

Last week, I knew I’d be getting out of work an hour earlier than normal, so I planned on swooping my four-legged creature up and taking her for a sunset trail run along one of our go-to trails. Leave it to Bay Area traffic to derail my plans, getting us to the trail head about 45 minutes later than planned. When we got there the sun was already pretty close to the horizon, and I had a moment’s hesitation. If I pushed forward, there’s no way we would be finishing by sunset, and I hadn’t brought a flashlight or headlamp with me. To go or not to go?

A roughly 2.25 mile loop planned, I knew I could finish it up in under 40 minutes. It would be well into dusk, but not quite pitch black, so we forged on.

Twilight Trail Run

We weren’t too far along the trail before I started imagining all the things society tells us we have to fear in the dark. Attackers lurking around the corner, broken bones with no one around to help, coyotes prowling Pita and waiting to snap her up. Was I running in exhilaration or fear? Or both?

Twilight Trail Run

And then those summer nights came back to me. Those nights when the dark was a safe haven to protect me from the “seeker”, when shadowy corners were to be embraced, when playing in the dark was a privilege, a sign of independence, and not a cause for panic. As I remembered those nights, my steps lightened, my awareness sharpened, and my running became pure exhilaration. Laughter came bubbling out. With every step, I remembered what it felt like to play. How often do we get to play anymore? Not shooting for a heavier weight or a faster pace, but merely getting lost in the pure fun of what we’re doing? Just doing for the sake of doing?

I’ve been reading The Essential Sheehan lately, and the following has stuck with me.

“Some of the good things in play are physical grace, psychological ease, and personal integrity. The best are the peak experiences, when you have a sense of oneness with yourself and nature. These are truly times of peace the world cannot give…play  is the place to find them – the place where we are constantly being and becoming ourselves.”

Pg. 30

Out there running the trails in twilight, I felt like I connected with a part of myself that I hadn’t had a conversation with in some time. Schedules were forgotten, society’s rules and agendas faded away, and all that remained was me and my dog, racing the light, peace and exhilaration in every step.

Wishing you many moments of play this week.

Always, Sierra

I’m all about running safely, even when I am trying to capture that feeling of play. Be sure to let someone know what trails you’re running and when you expect to be back. Take a cell phone with you, even if you’re not sure you’ll have service. And be prepared! I didn’t have a flashlight or headlamp with me because I didn’t think I’d be out past dark, but in the future I’ll be keeping one in my car.