Friday, February 27, 2015

How I Know I'm a Runner

For the past few months — year even — I've been questioning whether I can actually call myself a runner. Are you a runner when you complete your first race? When you start running regularly? When you do a half or full marathon?

The doubt about what to label myself stemmed from my pace. I would often ask myself, am I a runner or a jogger? Is there a difference?

I've been told this week that now that I'm losing a toenail after running my fourth Ragnar I can really call myself a runner. I don't know if that's true, but here is how I know I am one.

  • On rest days, I get jealous of people I see running — especially on those gorgeous Phoenix winter days.
  • I plan my days and weeks around running. I now try to schedule hangouts with friends and family on Mondays and Thursdays, which are my rest days, or on weekends after my runs. I also have to plan my meals carefully so that I have the energy to run.
  • I own almost as many pairs of running shoes as heels. (I admit I don't wear heels often.)
  • Most of my recent clothes purchases are for running or yoga.
  • I struggle to wake up Monday-Friday to get to work on time, yet I have no trouble staying up all night for Ragnar Del Sol or waking up early to run a race.
  • I am constantly reading up on running-related content and wanting to learn more.
  • As soon as I finish a race I am looking for my next one.
  • I run because I want to prove to myself that I can do it, and that I can always improve. I love tracking my progress.

I don't pretend to know everything about running. I've learned so much in the past few months as part of marathon training, and I learn something new every time I lace up my shoes. Speaking of gear, my new running shoes came in and I tested them out before the Phoenix half marathon. The man who helped me pick out my running shoes showed me how to tie my laces in a double knot that comes out easily when you want it to. He says I'll never need to tie my shoes any other way. He's a marathon pacer who has finished about 200 races, so I'll take his word for it.

How do you know you're a runner?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Ragnar Del Sol 2015 Recap

My third Ragnar Del Sol, like the Ragnars I've done before it, tested me, rewarded me and taught me more about running and myself.

But let's start from the beginning ...

Last Friday, Van 2 of the Crazy Cervezas team set off for our exchange. After two years of being in Van 1, I experienced what it's like to be the finishing van. It felt odd to not be waking up at 3 a.m. to leave for Wickenburg. My wake up time was not until 7 a.m.! We decorated our van at my place around before we left at around 9.

On the way to check in, we spotted a coyote crossing the highway, an appropriate start to the race. We encountered our first challenge when we tried to find the exchange. One teammate's navigation app would say to turn left while another's would say turn right. We were able to figure it out in time to successfully check in and begin our first legs. One big change from last year was that the Ragnar app would be the only place we would have directions; there was no race magazine. It would have been handy to have the book, because the app on my Android never showed the maps; it didn't work. We could have sworn that we were told the app would show where our runner was while out on his or her leg, but that wasn't true. You could only know where the runner was if he or she texted the location. Directions turned out to be the major issue during the race.

We attended the safety briefing, met Van 1 at the exchange and our first runner was off.

I was Runner 8 this year. I began my first leg, which was 4.7 miles, around noon on Friday. I was grateful for a bit of cloud coverage as I ran. My adrenaline led me to start my leg at a faster pace than usual, but the incline put me in check. The elevation gain was 176 feet. We soon discovered we would not be around many other runners during Ragnar. I credit Van 1 for being fast, competitive runners, though our van was full of rock stars as well. I was probably the slowest on the team at around 10 minute miles. I had four kills during my first leg, the only kills I would have.  After my leg we had some time to eat and relax as our runner ran her 13.5-mile leg. Changing out of your running clothes is the best feeling.

Showing off my tattoo before our last runner began his first leg.

We had another chance to eat after our next exchange with Van 1. I feasted on some spaghetti at Barro's while my teammates had pizza. It was nice to have a full meal rather than snacks, although I was exhausted afterward. I tried to rest a bit in the van before my next run.

Ready for my second leg.

My second leg began sometime around 12:30 a.m. It was a 5.9-mile run in the north Valley. It started in a neighborhood and passed through the darkest area I have ever run in. There was not one street light on that second part of the leg. The only lights I could see were a few cars that passed me and tiny blinking red lights from signs. It felt incredible yet slightly terrifying. I didn't see any volunteers or runners. The only life I encountered for the majority of it was the horses at a ranch. I turned my music off at one point to listen for coyotes, but I didn't hear anything but a dog barking at me. I approached the "One Mile to Go" sign and looked back. Could I really have gone almost 4.9 miles without seeing any other runners? At last, I saw a headlamp behind me. It drew nearer. I felt a bit of relief to no longer be alone. He soon passed me, saying nothing. When I got to the exchange I told him that I felt happy to finally see someone and he seemed to feel the same way. A volunteer excitedly told us we were only the second van to come through that exchange. It was a strange feeling.

As our last runner began his second leg, we heard multiple coyotes howling around us. I've never heard so many of them at once; it was amazing and yet scary.

My last run was 3.9 miles in the Scottsdale area. I raced to the exchange as our runner approached. My headphones were tangled, my running app wasn't turned on, and my armband wasn't on properly. I had to stop just after starting to get myself ready before trying to restart. The first part of the leg was next to the highway. The trail wasn't properly marked, or at least the signs didn't make sense to me. One said straight but it wasn't placed on the trail, it was to the left. I was confused about where to go. But it sure was pretty.

The signs then directed me to a bike trail that was paved. I approached a busy traffic light. I stopped to check what the signs across the street were saying. I expected to see some police officers stopping traffic to let me through the light safely as they often do, but I saw none. I hit the crosswalk button and waited for a few minutes before the light changed. By then a runner had caught up to me and passed me. About halfway through the leg my team gave me water. The 80 or so degrees felt like 90 or higher. I was grateful for the brief respite. At last I neared the last One Mile to Go sign of the race for me. I stopped to take in the view.

A couple of our runners got to run on the Scottsdale Greenbelt. We soaked in the sun as we waited for them to pass. I wished one of my legs would have been on this path.

Then our last runner began. We thought we were in a good position to give him water, but soon we saw him running away from us across the street. One of my teammates was unable to catch up to him to give him water, and he couldn't hear her behind. We rushed back to the van to head to Mesa Riverview to join him and the other van to cross the finish line together. The Crazy Cervezas were one of the first teams to cross.

Thanks for the memories, Ragnar!

The good

  • The medals this year connect to display a message on the back. I also liked the T-shirts we received, and the volunteer hats were quite a hit; many people were asking where to get them. 
I don't even drink beer, but I showed some sponsor love.

  • As usual, we met some awesome and encouraging runners along the way, and there are always hilarious costumes and van decorations.

  • I went into the race thinking about how I would have liked to run a longer distance as part of my marathon training, but it was also nice to not end the race being so sore and tired. 
  • A plus side of being one of the first vans to pass through exchanges was that all of the bathrooms were incredibly clean and barely used. 
  • I had some awesome volunteers on my legs. 
  • The views are always incredible. They make the lack of sleep worth it!

The not-so-good

  • The app, at least on an Android, did not function properly. The maps would never show up, which caused some frustration when the driver was unsure of where to go and the navigator could not quickly produce an answer. Also, the distances on the app did not match what was listed on the Ragnar website. I heard countless complaints from people whose legs turned out to be longer than what was listed. 
  • Additionally, there was an accident (the details of which are unclear to me) so we heard from a volunteer that some people were delayed. It may have contributed to our van not seeing many runners on our legs. The runs were a bit lonely. The best part of Ragnar is being part of the community and cheering each other on. We didn't experience as much of that as we usually do. The exchanges were nearly empty when we arrived and filling up as we left. It seemed we were just ahead of the crowds. 
  • When you're in a van with five other people, you see the best and worst of them and yourself. It's not easy being sleep deprived, hungry and sore but having to work through it. Patience is necessary and so is a positive attitude.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Marathon Training, Week 9

Last week was a recovery week in my training program. This worked out perfectly because I needed to taper before Ragnar Del Sol.

Monday: This should have been my rest day, but I skipped training over the weekend to celebrate my birthday in Rocky Point. I ran/walked 7.75 miles during the warmest part of the day. I could think of nothing but an iced lemonade, so I satisfied my craving with one from Luci's Healthy Marketplace afterward.

Tuesday: My birthday gift to myself was attending a Skullpt Fit class at Sutra Midtown that was taught by Vo. This was my first Fit class, and I'm so glad I signed up. It was a challenging, high-energy strength training session that included lunges, arm circles, burpees, and 7 and a half minutes of non-stop core work set to high-tempo music. Vo brings tons of enthusiasm to the class, even calling himself a dance instructor. He reminded us that we're all "getting fit, ladies!" I worked up quite the appetite, so I satisfied my hunger with a breakfast burrito from Luci's Healthy Marketplace. Later that day, Graham and I went to Runner's Den to buy me new running shoes, one of my husband's gifts to me. I'm excited to go back to running in Brooks shoes. Happy birthday to me!

Wednesday: Rest and recovery.

Thursday: More rest and recovery, as well as packing for Ragnar Del Sol! I went shopping for my snacks and did my laundry so I'd have enough clean socks and sports bras. You're welcome, teammates!

Friday-Saturday: 14.4 miles at Ragnar Del Sol! (Recap coming soon.) My average pace was about a minute shorter than it has been lately, so I was proud of that. The tough part for me was running with a cold. I felt congested and had a cough and runny rose on top of the lack of sleep that comes with the race. But for the first time I was not too sore to walk afterward. I credit my marathon and Ragnar training.

Sunday: I woke up from 12 hours of glorious sleep ready for a day of relaxation. I sipped tea from my new favorite mug, a birthday gift from my amazing friend Charlsy.

Weekly goal: 24 miles

Actual mileage: 22.15.

#1800MinuteChallenge: 1,137 so far.

February mileage: 70.81 so far.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Detaching from my Phone

Today's post focuses on one of the yamas of yoga: aparigraha, or non-greed, non-possessiveness and non-clinging. Something I am striving to let go of is the need to constantly use my phone so I can be more generous with my time to the people I love.

I'll start by admitting I've failed in my attempt to detach from my cellphone so far this year. The aim was never to stop using my phone completely but to put it away after dinner to give more of my attention to myself, my husband and my dogs. Graham has incessantly reminded me that I haven't done that. It's only February and I have already neglected one of my resolutions. But, instead of dwelling on my failure, I am taking the opportunity to reconnect with my intention: unplugging.

How can I do that?

By forgiving myself for not putting as much effort into this as I said I would, and by training myself to use the time I would have spent on my phone to be creative, productive and present.

On being creative:

Ideas often come to my in my sleep. When I awake, my first action is usually to turn off my alarm, text Graham a good morning message and then scroll through my social media feeds as I lie in my bed. I estimate that I waste about 10 minutes doing so when I could use that time for meditation, yoga or getting ready for work. Lately I've been better about it, rationalizing that I could always check social sites later; they will always be there. Do I really need to spend the first moments of my day checking up on what others are doing? Wouldn't that time be better spent focusing on myself and creating a plan for the day?

On being productive:

Tackling to-do list items is a much better way to spend time than logging on to social media sites. Of course, I will need to promote my blog and respond to emails. Scheduling posts and responding to emails at a designated time will help me stick to my goal. Besides, in most instances it is perfectly acceptable to respond to an evening email in the morning.

On being present:

More important than being creative and productive is being present. Life isn't the plans you make for the future but rather the moments in between the time you spend planning. It's taking the dogs out (my least favorite thing to do) and laughing at Capone's excitement. It's Graham and I tag-teaming dinner preparation. It's Graham coming into the bedroom to kiss me goodbye each morning, before I mumble out a response, roll over and go back to sleep. It's listening to Johnnyswim on the drive to work. It's those everyday moments.

Ideas on how to detach from your phone:

  • Turn off app notifications. Or delete apps altogether.
  • Let family members and close friends know you won't be responding to texts or emails after dinner. If it's an emergency, they can call. 
  • When in an elevator, instead of bringing out the phone, ask how the person next to you is doing. If you're alone, stretch out your arms and breathe deeply.
  • Limit yourself to checking your feeds twice a day. After you've mastered this challenge, reduce that to once a day. 
  • Leave the phone in the purse/pocket during dinner dates. Better yet, leave it in the car or at home.
  • Leave your phone on the charger in another room after a certain time. You don't need it around if you're unplugging.

To be clear, my point is to unplug when spending time with loved ones, especially during and after dinner. I'll still use my phone to promote my work, connect with loved ones, track my workouts and ideas, play music, etc., but I'll try to limit those uses to times when it is appropriate and necessary.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Marathon Training, Week 8

I took it easy this week because I needed it. I write down my goals each week, and one of them is usually "Run consistently." Not this week. Instead my goals included practicing more yoga and resting more.

Monday: Rest and stretching.

Tuesday: Yin Yoga at Sutra Midtown. The class was taught by Nelly, who has a calm, nurturing demeanor. She has a soft touch during adjustments. It's light as a feather, really. I loved her playlist, which included "Spirit Bird" by Xavier Rudd and "Work Song" by Hozier. I immediately added both to my yoga and running playlists. Afterward, I took the opportunity to share some of my favorite yoga poses to do between runs.

Wednesday: 4.65 miles. I switched my shoes to see if the pain in my calf would subside at all, and it kind of worked. I have a feeling I need to invest in new running shoes, and I need to do it soon in order to break them in before the marathon. It was a slow run.

Thursday: Yin Yoga at Sutra Midtown, taught by Dr. Steven. His class is more of a yin class than Tuesday night's session. You hold poses for an extended amount of time and use props regularly, even if you can do the pose without them. It's about doing less. It was an emotional day for me, and I could feel the tears squeezed in between my lashes as I lay on my mat. I needed this class.

Friday: 5 minutes of sun salutations in the morning and a 3.25-mile run after work. My average pace was slightly faster than my previous run, so there's a win.

Saturday: Long walk on the beach with my Valentine.

Sunday: Rest. This is usually the day I do my long runs, but we were in Mexico, so I saved my run for Monday.

Week's goal: 31.1 miles.

Actual mileage: 7.9 miles.

February mileage so far: 48.66.

Total minutes worked out: 259.


  • It's OK to rest. Listen to your body.
  • Go to yoga in the studio more. You get sequence inspiration and hear new songs to add to playlists.
  • I want to teach yoga regularly again. I have an audition coming up, and I hope it works out.


I'm 29 today.

I will spare you from a post freaking out about being closer to 30, because it doesn't scare me. I think life will only get better in my 30s.

Today I'm sharing quotes that I hope will inspire myself and others.

A photo posted by Marette Flora (@maretteflora) on

I wish I knew who created these two images I shared on Instagram. These have been important reminders lately.

Image via the Free People blog.

 Where will 29 take me? Let's find out.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Weekend in Rocky Point, Mexico

Graham and I spent the weekend in Puerto Peñasco, aka Rocky Point. This short trip was a celebration of both Valentine's Day and my 29th birthday. It was also an opportunity for Graham to see a town that has meant so much to me. My family is from there and many family members live there now, including my dad. Graham finally met him over the weekend. My niece also met him for the first time. Needless to say, a lot went down in less than 48 hours.

We could have stayed at my grandma's house for free, but I wanted to be near the beach. We waited too long to book a condo for a reasonable price, so we chose the Peñasco Del Sol hotel (which we booked on Hotwire). The master suite was spacious and clean, though the walls were a bit thin.

A highlight was a sunset walk along the beach. Saturday was a cloudy day, but the sun made a last-minute appearance. Shrimp boats in the water reminded me of my grandfather, who was a fisherman.

On Sunday, we went out to breakfast with my sister and niece. Mario's Cafe is located on Benito Juarez Boulevard, the main road into town, as you head toward the Old Port area. I devoured the chilaquiles, served with breakfast potatoes and beans. My only complaint was that I wished it came with more beans. (I always want more beans.)

Graham ordered pancakes, while my sister ordered huevos rancheros. Each dish was 85 pesos or less, which came out to less than $6 each. Such a good deal. For 40 pesos we got mocha and iced coffee. The iced coffee reminded me of the coffee I loved on Maui. I would order all of it again. (Our three meals came out to only $23.50.)

The rest of Sunday was spent celebrating my birthday with family. I learned both my parents make excellent ceviche and fish. We were completely stuffed. My dad also got me a birthday cake, which was smashed in my face twice by my aunt. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me!

Overall, the weekend was perfect for reconnecting both with family and Rocky Point and for celebrating my 29 years.

Happy birthday to me!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Packing List for Ragnar Del Sol 2015

This will be my third year running Ragnar Del Sol and my fourth Ragnar race overall, so I'd like to think I know what I'm doing now when it comes to packing. If you're a newbie looking for guidance on what to pack, here's what's I've thrown in my duffel bag the past couple of years.

  • Bring three different running outfits in three separate one-gallon Ziplock bags. That means three of everything: sports bras, socks, shorts, shirts, etc. Label each as Leg 1, Leg 2 and Leg 3. Mornings in the desert can still be chilly, so wear something to keep you warm when not running.
  • Running shoes.
  • Energy gels or drinks. (Or whatever method you use.)
  • Extra pair of shoes for when you're done running, such as flipflops.
  • Sunglasses.
  • Headlamp, taillight and reflective vest. Pack your reflective gear and lights in the bag for your overnight run(s).
  • Headbands, bobby pins and hair ties, if needed.
  • First-aid kit and/or any prescription or over-the-counter drugs you may need. I also bring Icy Hot.
  • Wet wipes. Use them to clean yourself after each run if you can't shower.
  • Earbuds and armband.
  • Toiletries such as shampoo and facewash if you plan to do any of that.
  • Toothpaste, toothbrush, mouthwash and floss.
  • If you wear contacts, bring an extra pair. Or bring your glasses. 
  • Costume and accessories that fit your team's theme.
  • Yoga mat.
  • Foam roller — at least one of you should bring one to share.
  • A towel if you plan to shower. 
  • Sunscreen.
  • Chapstick.
  • Blanket or sleeping bag.
  • Small pillow.
  • Paint pens for writing on other vans.
  • Optional: Magnets to tag vans, team shirts and glow-in-the-dark necklaces or bracelets.

My team has found that potluck style works great for dinner. Each person should bring something to share with everyone, plus snacks for him or herself. Each runner also brings at least a gallon of water. My favorite Ragnar snacks:
  • Salt and vinegar chips.
  • Peanut butter and bagels.
  • Bananas. (And other fruit.)
  • Crackers and cheese.
  • Muffins.
  • Veggie tray with hummus.
  • Pretzels.
  • Protein bars.
What do you pack for the overnight relay? What am I missing?

Ragnar Relay

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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Yoga Poses for Runners

If you search for yoga poses for runners online, you'll see countless sequences. I would argue that pretty much any yoga pose is beneficial for runners. But each runner yogi has his or her favorite poses to work out the kinks.

My favorite poses to do before or after runs are:

  • Downward-facing Dog with a twist.  Afterward, I also bring my right foot behind my left ankle and then shift to the left to get a side stretch. Repeat on the other side.
  • Pyramid pose. This pose gives just the stretch I need after running. You can clasp your hands behind your back, let your hands come down to the floor, or even bring your arms out like wings.
  • Low Lunge (Anjaneyasa B) to half split. First I hold a low lunge for a few breaths, and I might raise my arms up or clasp them behind my neck. Then I bring my hands down next to my feet and shift my hips back to straighten my front leg. I am gentle at first and may not fully straighten my leg. I flow back and forth from lunge to half split. 
  • Lizard pose. Sometimes I lower my back leg all the way down; other times I stay on my forearms and keep my back leg off the ground.
  • Pigeon pose. Nothing feels better after a day of sitting at a computer desk than this hip opener. I like to fold forward first for a couple of minutes before attempting to grab my back foot for the full variation.
  • Wide-legged fold with folds and twists. Folds are great for stretching out the calves, hips and hamstrings and calming the nerves. I love to incorporate twists into the pose as well.
  • Malasana. This hip and groin opener, while intense, also feels great after a day of work. It also helps work on steadying the mind and the breath because I have to really focus on my inhales and exhales.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

6 Ways Runners Can Use Pinterest

1. Find training programs, playlists and tips. Runner's World and Women's Running are just two of the thousands of pinners providing useful content about running. I try to stick to sources I deem credible, but you can follow anyone you believe has helpful information.

2. Test out recipes. Healthy eating is an integral part of training. An increase in exercise doesn't justify eating junk food every night (Sorry, folks!). Seek out recipes that help satisfy your hunger in a smart way. Countless graphics list ideas for pre-race foods. Use them as inspiration to test which fueling methods work best for you.

3. Search for cool races around the country and world. Looking for your next race? Use the search method to find themed races such as mud runs, relays, and color races. There's no shortage of lists of best marathons and half-marathons, either.

4. Get motivation through quotes. Chances are you follow a pinner who routinely pins quotes. Create your own inspiration board to peruse when you need a boost of motivation.

5. Shop for running apparel and gifts. Find the proper attire for the season's weather, look for fashionable clothes to fit your personality, or simply replace your aging running apparel. You'll often find reviews and lists of the best new gear or running shoes as well.

6. Share your accomplishments and lessons. Take part in the conversation by sharing your own blog posts or infographics with your followers.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Marathon Training, Week 7

The theme of marathon training last week was Test Your Limits. If the soreness in my right calf was any indication, I think I did just that.

Monday: Rest day. I went to happy hour with a former co-worker and indulged in even more cheese and chips to follow up my Super Bowl Sunday. At least I began the day with some light yoga and foam rolling.

Tuesday: I started my morning with some sun salutations (in my kitchen — my new favorite place to do yoga in my house) and foam rolling. I was amazed at how just a few minutes of this alleviated the soreness I had in my right calf. After work I ran 4.9 miles. I somehow turned around too soon during my out-and-back run. My pace ranged from 10:43 to 11:14 per mile. The soreness in my right calf reemerged, but I persevered — and I followed the run with more foam rolling.

Wednesday: 2.5-mile interval training. I finished 1 mile at a warmup pace, followed by .5 mile at the fastest pace I could muster. I slowed down for .25 mile and then sped up again for .25 mile. I finished the rest at a slow pace. The pain in my right calf resurfaced. I resolved to focus more on self-care over the next few days rather than mileage.

Thursday: I completed the Yoga for Tranquility and Mindfulness class from Yoga International. Sometimes I prefer to take a class either online or in a studio over leading myself, simply to be reminded to breathe. I also like trying out new sequences. If the instructor suggests a pose I am not ready for I often substitute my own pose, like I did during this class. The teacher instructed Warrior C in this class, which I didn't feel ready for at the moment. I opted to do Malasana instead, which coincidentally was the next pose she suggested. I also added some chaturanga pushups. The class lasted 33 minutes, which I counted toward my #1800MinuteChallenge.

Friday: The day began with my 5 minutes of sun salutations. After work I ran 5 miles at an average pace of 10:31. The sun is setting later now, and it was nice to not run in complete darkness.

Saturday: I'm the queen of procrastination. I painted part of the kitchen for two and a half hours before running. I'd like to think it was a workout because I had to stand on my tippy-toes and hold my arms up to reach most the areas I needed to paint. The plan was a 5-mile run, but my body was telling me that wasn't a good idea. I instead jogged a mile and walked 1.25 miles.

Sunday: 14 long, arduous miles. I try to give myself enough time to eat before my run, so sometimes I don't head out until 10 a.m. or later. There is little to no shade on my running route, and that wears on me. I questioned how I will ever run 26. 2 miles if I can barely get through 14. To be honest, I had to run/walk the last 3 miles.


Weekly goal: 32.25.

Actual mileage: 27.4.

February mileage so far: 39.4.


  • I need more strength training. 
  • I've stayed in my comfort zone as far as pace goes, and I need to push myself out of it.
  • Variety is key to staying motivated. New trails, playlists and strength training workouts will keep me inspired.
  • Social media can keep you accountable. Joining challenges such as the #1800MinuteChallenge and Ragnar Training have given me more reasons to keep going.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Running Playlist

For me, music is an integral part of any workout. The mental aspect of running (and most forms of exercise) is often the biggest battle we face. Music is the secret weapon I use to win the war against negative self-talk. Running is a form of meditation for me. The lyrics and melodies bring me out of my everyday thoughts and into a daydream. I imagine myself teaching yoga to the beat, running across the finish line, embarking on an exotic adventure, or just all-around kicking ass. I visualize myself getting what I want.

My ever-evolving playlist contains all sorts of artists. Right now I'm loving:

  • "I Lived" by One Republic. When I hear this song, my heart skips a beat. Why? I picture my intention, I picture completing my first marathon, I picture teaching yoga. Sometimes I get teary-eyed — it's that inspirational to me. Plus, it's a faster tempo song that gives me a much-needed pick-me-up on runs.
  • "I Bet My Life" by Imagine Dragons. I like the fast tempo at various parts of the song. There's a power in lead singer Dan Reynolds' voice that makes me in turn feel stronger and faster.
  • "Diamonds" by Johnnyswim. When Johnnyswim described this song during their show at the MIM, they said it was about saying "suck it" to people who didn't believe in them. But it's also a song about hope. 
  • "i" by Kendrick Lamar. "I love myself." What better mantra can you repeat than this as you run mile after mile after mile for your own good?
  • "Tom Ford" by Jay-Z. No explanation necessary.
  • "Lips Are Movin" by Meghan Trainor. This song makes me want to dance, and so I pretend I am doing just that instead of running.
  • "Geronimo" by Sheppard. The lyrics "I can see you/Through the curtains of the waterfall" remind me of my husband.
  • "Elastic Heart" by Sia. The words "I've got thick skin and an elastic heart" are on repeat in my head this week.
  • "Riptide" by Vance Joy. I'm not sure what the lyrics are — Vance himself doesn't remember — but I like the sound: "I love you when you're singing that song and/I got a lump in my throat because/You're gonna sing the words wrong."
I'm always in the market for fresh running tunes. Recommendations are always welcome!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

6 Etsy Purchases I Loved for Wedding Planning

Etsy vendors helped me immensely as I planned our Maui wedding. I gravitated toward romantic, floral designs in everything I ordered — to match my new last name. In the age of Pinterest, it's easy to get carried away with DIY, but chances are there's an item on Etsy that is both beautiful and reasonably priced. And vendors will often customize your item if you request it.

Here are my favorite purchases:

1. Natty Michelle card for Graham. This was originally a Mother's Day card that I requested she change to say "I love you." She happily agreed.

2. Bridal hanger from Passion and Love. I was hesitant to buy this because there are seemingly thousands of options for bridal hangers, but mine was nicely made.

3. His & Hers Vow Books from Noteworthy Designs. The shop will write your names in calligraphy on the first page of your vow books, which I loved.

4. Will You Be My Bridesmaid? cards from Natty Michelle.  My bridesmaids loved their cards! Natalie sent me a thank you card with it that I felt was a nice touch.

5. DIY Cake Topper Set from Pretzel Tree.  I requested pink and white flowers to match my wedding colors and the shop created a custom listing for me. I then painted my own topper, which I found to be fun and easy to do. The packaging was cute, too.

6. Custom Address Stamp from Note Trunk.  I absolutely love this stamp, and I regularly use it. I'm definitely ordering another if we ever move.

Image credits: 1. Jana Morgan Photography | 2. Jana Morgan Photography | 3. Jana Morgan Photography | 4. Natty Michelle | 5. Jana Morgan Photography | 6. Note Trunk


** This post contains an affiliate ad/link. I am compensated on purchases through this link.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Marathon Training, Week 6

Training for my first marathon was a struggle this week. The Super Bowl, having a friend in town, a Ragnar team meeting and overall fatigue were my excuses to not stick to my schedule this week. My goal was to practice yoga consistently, but that didn't happen. I am only human, and all I can do is try harder next week. I'm joining the Training for Tuesday Link Up (via Tracy and Alyssa) this week in hopes of acquiring some much needed motivation from my fellow running bloggers.


Here's how Week 6 went down:

Monday: Rest day. I did some light stretches, but mostly I just relaxed.

Tuesday: 5 miles. The plan was to do 4 miles at a comfortable pace followed by a faster last mile. I tried to do this but the last mile was tough. I cramped up; thus, my last mile was still pretty slow. My pace was almost 11 minute miles the entire time. But hey, I did it.

Wednesday: The plan was to do two runs totaling 7 miles, but I skipped the first one. I barely made it through my 3-mile run after work before heading to dinner with a friend who was visiting from LA. He was in town to cover the Super Bowl for work. We caught up over tacos and drinks at Joyride in central Phoenix. (I canceled out my run with the Blood Orange margarita. Yum!)

Thursday: Ragnar team meeting at Thirsty Lion at Tempe Marketplace. I did absolutely nothing active, which was disappointing, but I met my other teammates and became excited for the race.

Friday: Zero miles. I used the rain as an excuse to not run and went to Stingray Sushi with Graham instead. I regret NOTHING. The restaurant has revamped its menu since we've last dined there. There are now Latin-style options on the menu, including a crispy fish taco, which I ordered along with our sushi rolls and calamari.

Saturday: 5 miles. The best part was running into one of my good friends and chatting with her for a couple of miles. I made it a double-workout day by following up my run with a yoga practice from Yoga International. The class focused on opening the hips, and the apex pose was eka pada rajakapotasana, or one-legged king pigeon. Then it was time to head to downtown Phoenix for the Roots concert at Super Bowl Central, which was worth the effort to attend. According to my Garmin, I took 22,373 steps that day.

yoga, running, pigeon pose

Sunday: Phoenicians awoke to find fog filling the Valley on Super Bowl Sunday. Graham and I went to Dreamy Draw Recreation Area to check it out. I then waited for it to clear up so I could run my 12-miler. This was followed by foam rolling and lounging on the couch for the rest of the day. My pace was about 11:30 per mile, and my knees started to hurt about the 10th mile. But I did it! Feb. 1 was also the start of the #1800MinuteChallenge started by Living in Yellow. I'm excited to take part in this effort to complete 1,800 minutes of exercise in 60 days. I finished the day with almost 30,000 steps, the most since I've had my Garmin!

fog, Phoenix, Dreamy Draw Recreation Area
Fog at Dreamy Draw.
Weekly goal: 34 miles.

Actual mileage: 25 miles.

January steps and miles: I had 9 days out of 31 that I did not make my steps goal, and they were mostly on rest days. I ran 94.7 miles, which is about half the mileage I ran in all of 2014.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Super Weekend: The Roots at Super Bowl Central

It's an exciting time to be a Phoenician. The Super Bowl and the Phoenix Open drew hordes of tourists, and there was no shortage of events for locals to attend as well (if you wanted to shell out the cash).

I'm not into spending money to see a celebrity show up to a club past midnight and stay for half an hour (depending on the celebrity), so I opted to attend the free Roots show at Super Bowl Central downtown.

The adventure began when Graham and I set off for the light-rail station at Montebello Avenue. We drove up to see a "Lot Full" sign at the parking lot entrance, but we thought maybe we'd get lucky. We saw a car pull out of a space in the last row, and it had another empty space right next to it. The first hurdle was conquered. We scarfed down the last of our personal size pizzas and walked over to the light-rail station. For $8 we had all-day passes to get us down to the madness. A train had just arrived, but we boarded the train that had already been waiting at the station — it was nearly empty. It was soon announced that the operator was on a break and the recently arrived train would be leaving first. We decided to stick it out so we could have a seat rather than ride a packed train. About 30 minutes later, we deboarded at Third and Jefferson streets, in the middle of the brightly lighted Times Square-esque block party.

We walked toward the Visit Mexico experience, which had LED screens of Mexican landmarks, large M-E-X-I-C-O letters to take photos with, sand sculptures of more landmarks and a green-screen photo booth. You could also buy some Mexican food and margaritas, of course.

We found the stage where the Roots would perform, but it took more than 15 minutes to get into the audience area. At various points our bodies were directly on strangers', and many concertgoers resorted to pushing to get through. We considered leaving the entire Super Bowl Central but decided instead find the nearest restrooms. The portable toilets were located by Central and Washington. At this point, 7 p.m., the washing stations had run out of water, and the bathroom I entered was out of toilet paper. Good thing I had napkins in my purse. We wiped the soap off with a paper towel and walked back toward the concert stage.

This time we managed to find a few feet of space to watch the show. We formed a "circle of trust" with a couple of Seahawks fans and a middle-age woman who was a huge Roots fan. The two Seattle fans were completely decked out in green and navy. Our plan was to not allow anyone to pass through us and invade our space. We succeeded for the most part, except for a few people who saw me and decided the short girl would be easy to push past.

At about 8:45 p.m., when the Roots were scheduled to perform, a local radio host tried unsuccessfully to pump up the crowd. She didn't seem to know how, other than saying something like, "Let me hear it, Seattle and New England!"

Within a few minutes, the Roots were on stage and the crowd became visibly more energized. The dancing began, the lights brightened and the music did not disappoint. At one point the Roots played "Jungle Boogie" — the crowd loved it. As Graham and I danced, I thought, "This was worth the effort." They were as good as I remember them being when I went to "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" in 2010.

I couldn't understand why, but the crowd thinned out toward the end of the show; we later found out people were no longer being let in. Anyone who left couldn't return.

After more dancing, we decided to slip out a few minutes early to beat the crowds who would be trying to leave soon. But we couldn't leave before getting a photo with the giant football.

Finally, it was time to wait for the next light-rail train. From the station we could hear the music from the nearby Tostitos stage; the "Cha-Cha Slide" was playing. A teenage girl in front of us took the opportunity to shoot a selfie video of her singing the lyrics and dancing. Many of the commuters, including Graham and me, also danced and sang. The train arrived shortly after. As its doors opened directly in front of us, I scrambled to find a seat and succeeded. My tired legs couldn't take anymore standing or dancing. This final victory was the cherry on top of a fun evening of participating in the Super Bowl revelry.