Quick, Functional Workout and Groupon Half Marathon

The only thing that saved me from turning into a couch sloth yesterday evening was the lack of red wine in our house.

empty wine holder

After a long, mentally draining day I was tempted to throw the towel in on my cross-training/strength workout. I hadn’t planned out exactly what my workout was going to be, and you know what they say…


But there have been some inspiring posts up in the past week or so, including this functional workout posted by Julie at Peanut Butter Fingers, and this post on how to design a workout by Taylor on Lifting Revolution, so I sucked it up and got a little creative.

always sierra workout

I had planned going for three rounds, but by the end of the second my arms were like jelly and my stomach was grumbling for dinner. I was pretty shaky on the last few burpees, but the benefit of doing burpees on concrete is the added motivation from fear of scraping layers of skin off your knees/hands/face.

always sierra

By the end of the two rounds sweat was dripping and I felt 100% more energized.

For all you Bay Area folk, had any of you seen this Groupon deal for the inaugural Tiburon by the Bay Half Marathon? I’ve been debating over whether I was going to get it all week, and now I’ve missed my chance.


The timing wasn’t that great as it falls on the weekend of a good friend’s birthday, but I’ve really got to get over this idea that a beam of light is going to shine down on me when I’ve reached the perfect amount of readiness for a half-marathon. Suck it up, buttercup! (I’ll take a medium, thanks.)

Always, Sierra

Any half marathons on the horizon?

Do you create your own workouts? What’s your favorite?


Five Things I’m Looking Forward To In Aruba

A day of heavy computer work and sitting yesterday left my hips all achey and my ankles all twingey, so I did some yoga at home to stretch things out.

yoga on hulu

Quick tip: Hulu is a great resource for free yoga “classes”. Most of the classes are 20-30 minutes long so you can combine different target areas to customize your workout. (One caveat: you still have to sit through 30 second commercials in some of the episodes, but I use that time to focus on my breathing…or check my phone for messages…bad yogi, bad!)

I wanted to take it gentle on my hips and ankles so I wouldn’t have to worry about hobbling around in…Aruba!

Tonight I’ll be hopping on one of these…


..and tomorrow I’ll be waking up to this!


Y’s brother is letting us use his timeshare, and I could not be more ready for time spent with good friends and some tropical paradise in my life. I’ve been doing some research to let the anticipation build, and here are a few things I’m looking forward to.

1. Running to the California Lighthouse – The lighthouse isn’t open to the public, but the views are supposed to be spectacular, particularly at sunset. First lit in 1916, it is named after a steamship that sank not far off the coast in the late 1800s. It’s around a 6-8 mile roundtrip run depending on where in Noord you start. Exploring new places on foot is one of the reasons I started running, so I’m super excited. Word on the street is that all the local goats hang out there too, and you know I love me some animals!

2. Learning some Papiamento – Papiamento is the official language of Aruba. Its parent language is believed to be Iberian,  but it has grown to incorporate parts of Dutch, English and Spanish. I enjoy hearing the rhythm of different languages when I travel, and I hope to pick up at least a word or two. With phrases like

Eynan e porco su rabo ta krul (“That is where the pig’s tail curls”): that is where the problem lies.

how could this not be an awesome language?

3. Exploring Arikok National Park – Almost 20% of the island of Aruba has been dedicated to create this national park that is home to burrowing owls, bat caves, wild donkeys, cascabels, and Arawak Indian drawings. Horseback riding and hiking are both options, and there’s a Natural Pool to take a dip in too. I’m not sure if we’ll make it here since it’ll be a short visit and we’re staying on the other side of the island , but I hope we do!

4. Absorbing the culture – By absorbing, I mean opening my mouth and inserting deliciousness like pastechi, croquettes, and calco stoba. Checking out the flea market would also be fantastic, and I found this great website for birding.

5. Taking some time to just be – I’m going to enjoy the chance to get out of my head a bit. To get away from the busyness and sense of urgency that comes from putting out a dozen small fires a day. There will be sun salutations. There will be sketching and poems and rambling sentences. Laughter, and hugs, and joy at winning roulette. There will be fun in the sun with good friends. Restoration and relaxation.

I’ll have some scheduled posts going up until I get back next week. I’ll leave you with this priceless gem, something I’ve been humming all week and that I never get tired of…

Always, Sierra

What’s the last vacation you took?

Have you been to Aruba? Any recommendations?

What’s your favorite Beach Boys song? Did you see that one episode of Full House? You know the one!


Beginner Swimming Tip #1: Don’t Forget to Breathe!

The clouds parted yesterday evening just long enough for me to get some laps in.

lap pool

I haven’t swam laps since last summer and it showed. Lucky that I had the pool to myself so I could flop around gracelessly without veering into someone’s lane and giving them a bloody nose.


I spent an hour the evening before getting deep into high elbow catch vs. straight-arm freestyle on YouTube, but too bad I couldn’t put it to use. Ever heard that expression look before you leap? Yesterday, I forgot to breathe before I stroked. 

Seriously though! Was it always this hard to breathe while swimming? Because I could not catch a rhythm at all. I was practicing sighting (if sighting means looking for birds in the sky), water was getting in my ears, I was going every other stroke, and then every fourth stroke, and then bilateral the way I like it, and then hey let’s just hold our breath for a while, shall we?!

So then I came home and did some googling and what popped up? “Common Freestyle Flaws and How To Fix Them” on active.com, in which the first point is:

take a breather - active.com

Where was that helpful reminder two days ago?!

High elbow catch, take a backseat. Here are some specific things I’ll be working on in the next few sessions to make breathing in the pool easier:

  • Exhaling fully, at a steady pace, when my head is in the water to make sure that I get a full breathe when it’s time. I do okay at this most of the time, but every once in a while I try to hold my breath.
  • Keeping my head steady under water by focusing on the black stripe on the bottom of the pool.
  • When I’m ready, breathing parallel to the water by gently turning my head to the side. I’m really good at either lifting my head out of the water or rotating my head too much towards the sky. Both of these things can cause momentum to slow and lead to a stiff neck.

I fought the good fight and got 2 x 15 min intervals in…a good enough starting place to me!

Always, Sierra

When’s the last time you went swimming?

Do you feel graceful in the water?

Any favorite swimming pool games? Growing up, mine was color shark. One person gets out and faces away from the pool. Everybody in the pool picks a color, and the person that’s out of water starts calling random colors. If yours gets called you quietly swim to the other side of the pool. If the shark hears you, they can jump in and catch you, but if they turn and no one’s moving, they have to take one step farther from the pool. So much fun!