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Boost for the Glutes

29 Mar

A few years ago, I injured my knee after running my first half marathon. During my visit to the sports doctor, I asked what might’ve caused it. She responded that my core and glutes may not have been strong enough and my knees therefore compensated and got injured.

I was shocked at first, thinking there’s no way my core is weak! I do sit ups almost every day. But through the physical therapy, I realized there are lots of other muscles –such as my lower back, glutes and middle abs–I wasn’t developing properly.

As I continue training for my next half marathon just 5 weeks away, my new routine has more variety and consists of more than just running and kickboxing. 🙂  In addition to running, I’m now including Barre3 classes and strength training at the gym.

But if you’re just getting started, check out these 5 exercises from Map My Run to really focus on the glutes.

http://www.mapmyrun.com/blog/5-must-do-glute-exercises-for-runners-and-cyclists-5013/?utm_source=silverpop&utm_medium=email&utm_content=glute_button&utm_campaign=newsletter&spMailingID=51021902&spUserID=NDgwMzI4MDE3MjcS1&spJobID=883677353&spReportId=ODgzNjc3MzUzS0

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Hot Chocolate Run 5K 2015

1 Apr

Probably my coldest run to date, this year’s Hot Chocolate Run 15k/5k was a lot colder (33 F) than the run two years ago when we last ran it. But running with a great partner, joking around, and my awesome new zip up hoodie makes it all worth it!
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Parking? We always try to go prepaid to avoid the headache. This year, we parked off of Ralph Abernathy and exiting was a breeze. And the 5-minute walk to the site wasn’t too bad.

It’s all about the “base”
The biggest takeaway from this race was the importance of having the right equipement. While shoes are important, so is having the proper base and outer layers (for when you get too hot or the temperature rises), head wear (hat or beanie), gloves and pockets for storing necessities.

The last time I ran the race, it was too warm for January (temperatures close to 70 I believe), but I was dressed with a thick base layer underneath a fleece tech hoodie. I ended up sweating profusely to the point where I felt like it was Spring within the first mile.

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This year, I had my Underarmour base layer which I use for snowboarding under the full-zip fleece hoodie that all runners received. While it was chilly in the morning! The zipper and layers were perfect post-race while we enjoyed our hot chocolate and snacks!

USMC veteran Sergeant Le bounces back and inspires everyone around him

13 Nov

I’m a few days late from Veteran’s day, but it’s better late than never. So today I’m recognizing a veteran who has completely changed my perspective on our US military and given me a deeper appreciation. USMC veteran Le bounces back and inspires everyone around him – Check out the full article in USTA.

There are a lot of inspiring stories about people who’ve overcome many obstacles and grown so much through the process, but U.S. Marine Corps veteran Sergeant Le is my favorite. Aside from the fact that this is one of the most playful and encouraging people I know, I am proud to call this guy my “little brother”…not by blood, but definitely by heart, sweat and tears.

USTA  Balboa Tennis Club

Sergeant Lam Le (left) and Balboa Tennis Club director Geoff Griffin. Image from the USTA article. © San Diego District Tennis Association

To begin, I have known this guy since middle school and watched him grow alongside my younger sibling. He then ran cross country with me (and throughout high school) in addition to swimming. No matter his grade level or position on the team, he was always an encouragement not just to the slower runners, but to everyone. After graduation, he immediately enlisted in the USMC and excelled quickly scoring not just high marks, but placing in the top percentage in many activities and exams.

While on active duty in 2010, he was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, also known as bone cancer, which is defined by an aggressive, malignant growth within the inner bone. For someone as fit and healthy as Le and from a family with no previous history, this was truly a shock. Even harder to swallow, the best option for Le was amputation of his left leg which would prevent him from his previous activities including running. As a runner and swimmer, I personally could not imagine having to be in his shoes.

The cancer was tough, but not tougher than his unrelenting spirit, supportive family and determination to be more than his circumstance. The chemo was exhausting, but Le kept such a positive and playful attitude, the doctors and nurses couldn’t help but welcome him back for every visit. Amidst the chemo, the cancer had spread to his lungs and surgery to remove the cells followed. Despite the physical exhaustion and pain, Le maintained composure, patience and was back out on the courts and in physical therapy whenever possible. (Which served as a great reminder for me of the privilege it is to be healthy and to work out.)

Bubble Tea break

As a “big sister,” I’ve had the privilege of watching him from across the country grow not just as a determined athlete, but as a young man, as a student of new sports, as a “new runner” with his running leg, as a racquetball amateur, as a San Diego local and so much more.

Racquetball in action

During his last visit, Le taught myself and a friend the basics of racquetball. While neither of us were exactly naturals at the sport, Le was great at guiding the ball to our spot so we could practice our swings. Similarly, he was also great at making us run all over the court when we were playing matches. For the basics of the sport, check out this “how to” from Racquetball Challenge.

Work hard, play hard

New leg and pumping iron

What working out beside this guy looks like

Running America’s Sweetest Race

22 Jan

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This past week, myself and a few other friends ran the 5K Hot Chocolate Run. I should’ve ran the 15K, but haven’t been properly training for it, so I chose the next best thing to ensure I hot my chocolate fix. After the race, we received the finisher’s mug with a cup of hot chocolate, a banana, rice krispy treat, pretzels and a marshmallow to dip in the chocolate fondue. (Is your mouth watering yet?)

Check out our treats!

Check out our treats!

Let’s back up to Saturday, aka race number pick-up day. The real reason I signed up for this race to begin with was not the hot chocolate, but the goodie bag which is a technical hooded sweatshirt. The best goodie bag ever! And to top things off, they even came in a cute colored drawstring bags plus they gave away free hot chocolate, chocolate squares and biscoff spread.

Square chocolate

Square chocolate

More hot chocolate (and calories)

More hot chocolate (and calories)

Although parking at the Georgia World Congress Center was no walk in the park, they were friendly volunteers in bright orange shirts to guide the way along with local and national running vendors from the Big Peach Running Company to Jeff Galloway and 110%. After looking though the sale bins of brooks running shorts, Thorlo Experia running socks (buy 3, get 1 free), 110% overdrive compression + ice kits (which my boyfriend really wanted to buy), we walked away with waffle energy snacks, energy blocks and a water resistant iFitness Ultimate II Neoprene running pouch.

After a Saturday evening practice run with my boyfriend, he broke out from a food allergy and we ended our night early. 😦 Early birds that we are, we got to the Turner Field orange lot just before 6 a.m. and we (by “we” I mean my bf) took a quick nap then headed to the blue lot for the fitness/zumba warm-up. Although there was a gear-check available, passed on this leaving valuables in the car and using our newly purchased running pouch to avoid the long lines.

Quick nap before the race

Quick nap before the race

Based on your seed time, all runners were placed in a coral. We were in coral D, but finished the race with lots of coral B and C and runners, so we took this as a sign that we’ll need to run in a higher coral next year. *wink The course was fairly easy with a big downward hill near the finish line that is very encouraging. It was definitely worth the run. I had such a great time, I might have to try the 15K next year!

Sporting the male & female tech hoodies and Hot Choco Run hats!

Sporting the male & female tech hoodies and Hot Choco Run hats!

In case you’re wondering about our “cool” running hats, I actually found a code when registering that got us the neat hats. So as a friendly tip, it’s worth searching for codes and discounts when registering for ANY race. Happy (cold weather) running!

An excited and accomplished girl (excuse the messy hair- Just took off the hat)

An excited and accomplished girl (excuse the messy hair- Just took off the hat)

Feeling Stood Up…Like the NYC Marathoners

5 Nov

Ok, so maybe I haven’t been training for the NYC marathon and I didn’t invest finances and travel costs just to find out that the world renown race would be cancelled the Friday before the race. BUT, I did wake up at 5 :15 a.m. to get to the 6 a.m. boot camp just to find one other person waiting…and it wasn’t the instructor. 😦 In search of inspiration, I checked out the NY Times article titled, “NYC Marathon Runners Find Their Own Way to Run — and Give Back.”

Instead of the 26.2-mile run, these “runners” delivered donated supplies from blankets and Home Depot gift cards to the destroyed homes of Staten Island residents in a 15-mile route. Instead of the physical and mental obstacles the runners had been training for, many of the international and domestic runners spent the day helping residents in the destroyed area.

This got me thinking, what’s my purpose for running and training? Is it just for myself or are there people and causes bigger than myself that I could and should be running/training for? My first reaction is that I should only run races that have some charitable cause behind it and not just the races with really neat giveaway items (such as the Hot Chocolate Run’s tech hoodie) or the races that make me look like a super fun person on Facebook (such as the Zombie Run or Disney Princess Half Marathon).

But on second thought, why would I run a race that I do not have motivation for? There’s nothing wrong with running these courses that challenge me or wanting a really sweet goody bag at the end of the race, but I still want to find something bigger than myself because I know that I run for fitness and overall well-being while others run for their lives, their job or their country. (Yes, I am still on a bit of the Olympics high, but I hold Olympicans and Paraolympians in very high regard.) I haven’t found the answer in the past hour since I read the article, but hope you let this ruminate throughout of your next run or workout.

And with that, I raise my grande Starbucks creme brulee half empty holiday cup to the NYC marathon runners who ran an impromptu relief run.

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Half Marathon Training – Putting the Cart Before the Horse

24 Aug

I’d like to think of myself as a pretty motivated person, but a little extra nudge never hurt anybody. So, I signed up for my first half marathon – the Disney Princess Half Marathon which will be held on Sunday, February 24, 2013 at “The Happiest Place on Earth.”

Have I started training? No, I really don’t count doing 1.5 miles randomly twice a week as actual training. But I did download the Jeff Galloway Training Program and have scanned through it. Even better, Jeff Galloway actually has a training class in Atlanta that one of my friends had signed up for last year.

In addition to my random runs, I also have a kickboxing membership to Bangkok Boxing in Midtown that I try to attend twice a week. It’s a great cardio workout that also works out my arms (so I can pump harder) and tones my core (for strong abs and back to maintain a proper running posture). While I’m no beast at it, it’s definitely a lot of fun and I never regret making it to a class.

Do I have any support? Yes, I signed up with my beautiful sisters who live in the sunny west coast of California. We each have our own reasons, but a half marathon was one of the top items on my list of “30 things to do before I turn 30.” While there are several other items on that “30 before 30” list that I’ll share later, this will hopefully be the stepping stone to perhaps someday running a full marathon or Iron Man. Who knows. 🙂

If you need inspiration, check out “Unthinkable” by Scott Rigsby to learn about his amazing journey as the first double amputee to finish an Iron Man. And he’s just as interesting if not more in person!

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So, will you join me? If not for the race, at least for the training and ‘get fit’ mindset!

My official training will start either mid September (after Labor Day of course) or October, so stay tuned to check out my progress. And I’m always open to any advice you veteran runners have when it comes to training, diet and tips!

To Join or Not to Join?

10 Mar

Gym membership

With my big girl full-time job, I decided I needed to join a gym to force myself to stay in shape. In searching for the nearest gyms to both where I live and work, I was able to narrow it down to LA Fitness and Bally’s. After polling my Twitter and Facebook friends, LA Fitness was the clear winner.

I’ve officially had my membership for a month now and, although I do NOT have buyer’s remorse, would like to reflect on what I’ve done and what I’ve failed to do. To begin with, the membership was a lot more expensive than I thought it’d be. There’s the one time initiation fee that I couldn’t get waived, but did get a little upgrade to a premium account so I can visit any gym location and not just the one by my house! (I’m really looking forward to trying an LA Fitness in LA!) Then, there’s the monthly fee that I did expect and slowly but surely I’ve seen the withdrawals from my bank account.

With the new work schedule and dealing with Atlanta traffic, I’ve been trying to set a workout schedule either before or after work. When I do make it in, it’s a battle. In the evenings, I’m fighting for a machine. In the mornings, I’m fighting for a shower, blow dryer or simply space for my bag.

At the local gym, I’ve been running into former classmates, siblings of friends and even some of my friends’ parents which can be both a good and bad thing. I often welcome the excuse to stop for a brief chat when I’m done with my sets.  At the gym by the office, everyone is either so self-absorbed or chatting away with their workout buddy (which just reminds me that I don’t have a buddy).

At the school gym, I was able to bring up to 2 guests for $5 each at any time. With my new membership, I can only bring a friend once with a pass or put them on my VIP list. Under my VIP list, a guest can come with me for 2 consecutive weeks then wait 6 months before visiting again.

Looking at the free class schedule, I had gotten pretty excited about the spin, latin heat and cardio kickboxing classes, but haven’t gotten a chance to try any out. Either the timing doesn’t fit my schedule or I feel I could get a tougher workout by myself. Don’t worry, I will try the classes at some point or another. The one class that I really wish they had is Zumba so I can get my dance and workout on at the same time! (My sister just took a class and even got compliments from the teacher and was happily sore the next day.)

Aside from location, cleanliness, large lockers & showers… there has to be a pool. Despite the fact that I have taught at many different pool sizes and knew that any other pool with less than 8 lanes and no diving well would be a downgrade, the pool comes short of my hopes. The pool does not invite or even beckon my name like pools end up doing, however, I will hit the waters sooner or later. (Just hoping I don’t smell like chlorine at work.)

That’s my assessment of my new gym membership. I’d love to know  your favorite gym, machine or even workout song that keeps you pumped!