Thursday, March 21, 2013

On another (questionably) "Stellar" 5K run

So remember in my last post how I said "Holy crap I suck at trail running," and then said, "Hopefully next time I will manage to at least beat like twenty people."?

Well, the first statement still stands, and the second one is just laughable at this point.

I wasn't planning on running Stellar Nites again until April 3rd, but I was offered a discount code for myself and a few friends if we decided to run it this week. And of course I talked myself into it and got a few other people to join in as well.

I was actually feeling somewhat confident last night, going into the second round of this little series. Not egotistical by any means; I was just thinking, "Well, I know what to expect, and it's a warmer night than last week, and I've had plenty of water today, so why shouldn't I do better this time around?" But within the first two minutes of the run, I'm fairly certain I was dead last with no hope of passing anyone, ever. It seemed like everyone ahead of me was running WAY faster than last week, because I wasn't running any slower than last week, yet the distance between me and everyone else grew longer and longer every minute.

Still, I wasn't too concerned with everyone else at this point. All I had to do was finish it.

But before I had even run half a mile, as I was making my way up the first steep trail hill, my vision got a little blurred and I looked down at my heart rate monitor and it pretty much told me, "YOU ARE ABOUT TO DIE." That is to say, my heart rate was 190, which is basically 98% maxed out, which is really too high to ever let my heart rate get. I honestly thought I was going to have to turn around and quit. But I squatted down right in place -- without any worry of being in someone's way, seeing as how I was in last place -- and caught my breath for a minute while my heart rate came back down. And I pressed onward...slowly.

I managed to run most of the flat sections of the course, but walked just about every uphill section and even a lot of the downhills. It was pretty windy up there, and I guess I didn't take into account how much harder that would make things, especially with pollen flying through the air to battle with my asthmatic lungs.

Then, as I was coming back down from what is arguably one of THE most challenging sections of the course (the Sandhills of Death) and rounding a gated grassy field, a gardener was mowing the grass. Um, hi? People are running and breathing heavily AND THERE IS WIND BLOWING YOUR GRASS ALL UP IN OUR FACES. (That was really unpleasant, in case you couldn't tell from my caps attack.)

So anyway, I somehow managed to finish 30 seconds faster than last week, despite feeling much slower and much less awesome (which I didn't know was possible considering how lame I felt last week). And I was a wheezy mess for a good hour after finishing, which is further proof that wind and grass and pollen are not my friends.

I'm totally over-dramatizing this for maximum effect, and I am glad I did it a second time and super happy that I beat my previous time, but you guys. I really don't know if I want to do this again. I guess we'll see how my 10K goes this weekend and maybe I'll be feeling all awesome and hardcore again, ready to attack it on April 3rd. But I make no guarantees.

PS: The official results haven't been posted yet, so I'll update this page once they're up, but I'm honestly 99% sure I was the last person to finish this time. Let's just pretend it means that the 12 people I beat last week were too scared to do it again, and therefore I am still at least a little bit awesome.

Friday, March 15, 2013

On my first (organized) trail run...

Santa Barbara has this summer running series called Nite Moves, which has been around for I don't know how many years 22 years (!!), where a big group of people gets together every Wednesday for like 12 weeks and runs a 5K near the beach at sunset. (And I guess there's also an optional swim in there, but I ain't no crazy lady.) I actually have yet to do Nite Moves even once, though I keep telling myself I will do it one of these summers. Maybe this summer will be THE summer!

But anyway, one of my friends just started a brand new running series called Stellar Nites, which is a 5K sunset trail run at Elings Park which runs for six weeks before Nite Moves starts up in May. I've done a couple of informal trail runs in the last year (nothing too serious or challenging), so I wasn't really sure about signing up for this one. Then my friend Laura said I had to at least do the first one with her, and we all know I buckle under peer pressure when it comes to fitness activities. ("Sure, I'll go for a run right after my morning spin class AND strength training! What's the worst that could happen?")

So this week was the inaugural Stellar Nites run, and let me tell you: IT WAS AWESOME. It was extremely well organized, the trail was clearly marked, the weather was amazing, the views were stunning, the people were friendly and encouraging, and there was beer at the end. The only not awesome parts were:
  1. I was so slow that they ran out of food before I finished, and 
No joke, out of 168 runners, I came in 156th place. I only beat 12 people, you guys. (And there were some REAL old dudes and some freakin' toddlers, all of whom are apparently in better shape than I am.) Fortunately, whenever I am competing in any way (game night, sports, running), my goal is usually to NOT come in last. Therefore, I count this one a win.

The second I crossed the finish line, I'm pretty sure the exact words out of my mouth were, "I am NEVER doing this again." Aaaaaannd then about twenty minutes later I had reconsidered, and now I'm planning to do it the week of my birthday (in three weeks). Hopefully next time I will manage to at least beat like twenty people.

As I was approaching the photographer, I yelled, "Don't take a picture of me!"
Then I fixed my shorts a little (they were riding up somethin' fierce)
and was like, "Okay, I'm ready!"
The guy said, "You got like four more pictures than anyone!"
To which I responded, "That's just because I'm so slow." *grin*

Laura and her daughter Alexa, who both kicked BUTT on the run.
Pretty sure they finished like 18 minutes before I did.

As far as the course itself, it was really varied and fun, albeit extremely difficult in a lot of places. The most insane section, in my opinion, was when we were climbing up this steep hill of deep, fluffy sand. I don't know how ANYONE could possibly have run up it, since it felt like walking up a hill that was two feet deep with freshly fallen snow. Seriously, I think my shoes -- and socks -- were full of sand before I even made it halfway up that hill. It was like a circus fire.* But now that I've done it once, I think I will (theoretically) be more prepared for it next time -- at least mentally, if not physically. I'll let you know.

*(that is to say, intense...geddit? Circus fire? "In tents?" Baha, I crack me up.)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Thoughts on The Bachelor/Bachelorette...

Confession: I watch The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. Well, let me clarify. I've only seen the most recent season of each. But I'm pretty embarrassed to admit how much I got sucked into them.

The longer I watch these shows, though, the more I really, REALLY hate them. You can be sucked into something and not necessarily like it, right? It's like watching a car crash; you can't look away, even though you know it's a horrible thing that's happening.

Now, I totally understand this show from a worldly standpoint. Help one lonely soul find the person of his dreams by putting him in a room with 25 beautiful, eligible women? And as a bonus, we get to see some really awkward and funny interactions between all these women fighting for the same guy. That's (apparently) quality television.

But from a Christian perspective? This show is so sad, and SO contrary to the way God wants us to behave in relationships. Obviously, the main issue is that one person should not be dating two (or 25) people at the same time. He certainly shouldn't be making out with ten girls in one day. And as the weeks go on and the pool of potential mates is narrowed down, emotions get a lot more serious. It's not fair to the ones who are trying to win over one guy's heart, but it's also not natural for one guy to have his heart pulled in several directions at once.

I've had a hard time understanding how the most recent bachelor and bachelorette (Sean and Emily, respectively) came to decide that this was a good idea, considering they are both apparently devout Christians. Were their families, their Christian friends, and their churches really supportive of them going on this show to "find love?" I mean, I respect that both Sean and Emily were clear about their decisions not to have sex with any of the contestants they were dating (and I don't even want to think about what went on in past seasons to the contrary). But sex is not the only thing that should be saved for marriage! Your heart needs to be protected from exactly what this show is promoting: becoming attached to multiple people in a romantic and emotional way.

I have first-hand experience (thankfully a very small fraction compared to the people on this show) with feeling my emotions drawing me toward two people at the same time. And it is NOT a good feeling! My situation lasted less than two months, and it made a serious impact on my marriage. I imagine Sean hanging out with his new fiancée (spoiler alert if you haven't watched the finale) Catherine, and she says something that reminds him of a moment he experienced with one of the other women from the season. An intimate kiss or an inside joke. There's no way he isn't going to have those things come up (unless the entire show is an act, and, okay, I know probably most of it is, but still). He'll miss that other woman a little, wonder what she's up to. Maybe during his first real fight with Catherine he'll think back on those other women and wonder if he should have picked one of them instead. And what about Catherine? How is she okay with knowing that Sean felt himself falling "so hard" for "so many women"? Is it really worth all that confusion and angst just to be the one he picked in the end?

Gah. It just makes me sad, and kind of angry, and even more embarrassed that I became so wrapped up in this show. When I watched the first episode of Emily's season of The Bachelorette, I honestly was just bored and had heard it was going to be really great because she was a genuine, single, Christian mom looking for a great guy to love her and her daughter. And I thought, "I'll watch one episode and probably be done with it after that." Obviously, this show knows how to draw in its audience.

Even aside from the Christian perspective on this show, it seems deeply flawed anyway. The point is to find someone to spend the rest of your life with, and although many of the seasons have resulted in a proposal, only one couple from The Bachelor (two if Sean and Catherine do get married) and two from The Bachelorette have resulted in actual marriages. (At least according to Wikipedia, since I obviously don't keep up with the latest news on 25 seasons' worth of Bachelor/ette lives.) I kind of wish I could watch the first season of The Bachelorette, which apparently resulted in a marriage of 10+ years and two kids, to see how the season progressed and whether the couple did anything different to protect themselves against all the emotional catastrophe that this show creates.

My point is, clearly it's more about the entertainment than on actually helping people to find genuine, lifelong love. And I guess probably most people who watch the show would be willing to admit they know this is true. SO WHY ARE WE ENCOURAGING IT?! This is why I don't watch a lot of reality TV; it seems like most of these shows result in a lot of messed up lives and scandal and heartbreak. We must be forgetting that, although we're watching TV for our own entertainment, these are real people.

My one exception, the one reality show I am not at all ashamed to admit that I love, is The Biggest Loser. Sure, I know a lot of it is probably scripted and over-dramatized. But you can't script the weight loss. People are (for the most part, it seems) changed for the better when they are on that show. They learn healthy habits and improve their self-confidence by working through emotional issues. And I'm pretty sure there have been more genuine romantic relationships developed between contestants on The Biggest Loser than on the shows whose supposed purpose is to help people find love. What does that say about how true relationships are really formed? Is it all about being the prettiest girl with the best hair and makeup and the cutest laugh? Because I don't think the Biggest Loser contestants, with the exception of makeover week, are EVER wearing anything fancier than a T-shirt and shorts. And they're dripping with sweat like ten hours a day. And they probably smell really gross. And yet, people are finding connections there that are real.

I didn't mean for this post to be so long. I guess it's been on my mind since before last season's Bachelorette even ended, and after watching the Bachelor finale last night on Hulu, I just had to finally write something about it.

What's your take on these types of shows?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Reflecting on Colossians 3:12-17

This has been my default email signature for over two years:


Whatever you do, whether in word or deed,
do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving
thanks to God the Father through him.
* Colossians 3:17 *
And I hadn't actually stopped to read that verse in a long time before today. Suddenly I thought to myself, "Am I doing and saying things in the name of Jesus? Am I thankful in whatever I do?" 

The cool thing is, I do feel like I've been working on these characteristics lately, without even really meaning to. I've felt compelled to be a better employee at work, managing my time more efficiently and avoiding distractions (most of the time). I've felt a quiet urging to offer help to various people and things, and I've answered those nudges obediently. And I am feeling extremely blessed in return! I am learning that God has equipped me with a passion for hospitality and helping, and I've been finding myself constantly in situations where I have the opportunity to give of myself.

But there are still plenty of times throughout the day when I'm definitely not thinking on Jesus in my actions or words; I'm acting selfishly rather than thankfully. So I'm really glad I still have this email signature, and I'm glad God brought it to my attention today. It was like He wanted to tell me, "You're doing this. And I want you to keep doing it, and be even more intentional about it."

Reading that verse also reminded me of my second trip to Romania, back in 2007. I had memorized Colossians 3:12-17 during that trip. (I can't remember if it was at the suggestion of the team leader or something I just felt led to do.) So I went back and read that passage, since I have since forgotten most of it. Check it out:
Colossians 3:12-17 (NIV) - emphasis added

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

 I's such a good encouragement, right?! There is so much to be gleaned from this passage (and even more if you read the whole chapter). I think I probably memorized it back then because I knew I needed it to sink in deep, and I wanted it close to my heart so that it would remind me in difficult circumstances how I am supposed to respond -- Compassionately. Kindly. Patiently. Thankfully. And even though I don't have it in my brain word for word, I think it's still churning in my heart. I think it's the reason I have been feeling so many "random" nudges to check my attitude, realign my priorities, be more thankful, extend more forgiveness. 

I just love that God can use Scripture in this way. I may have read a verse one single time ten years ago, but God can still teach me and move me through that verse today. It makes me want to spend more time dwelling in the Word and cherishing it in my heart. (Which reminds me, I really should get started memorizing Philippians if I'm going to get the whole book down before my 30th birthday.)

Anyway, I just felt like sharing these thoughts today. I'm headed home to meet little Ezra, so if you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, get ready to be bombarded with adorable baby pics!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Weigh-In Wedensday: Week 10 and another hike!

Mar 6
2.0 lbs
Feb 27
1.0 lbs
Feb 20
(-1.0 lbs)
Feb 13
1.0 lbs
Feb 6
3.8 lbs
Jan 30
2.6 lbs
Jan 23
1.8 lbs
Jan 16
0.8 lbs
Jan 9
2.2 lbs
Jan 2


I warned you last week that this would be a little embarrassing. Since my last Weigh-In post, I've gained a total of 1.8 pounds. And that's not so bad, except when you look at the weeks in between. In the two weeks following my last post, I gained a total of 4.8 pounds! I completely lost the DietBet I had joined. I lost all willpower when it comes to what I put in my mouth, so I was basically eating everything in sight. And while I was still working out pretty consistently, it just wasn't enough to compensate for my crappy eating.

I'm happy to announce that I've gotten (mostly) back on track these last couple of weeks, and I've joined another DietBet -- one I am determined to win this time! Maybe I'll even win enough to make back the money I lost in the first one. 

I went hiking again last weekend, this time with my friend Michelle (also known as Soulmate, because we were pretty much made for each other). We tried out a new (to both of us) hike called Rattlesnake Canyon, which was purported to be of a similar length and difficulty to Inspiration Point. That proved to be true, and it was also insanely beautiful! So much greenery, lots of time near a quiet creek, and after about two miles, we came to a great open meadow where we could sit on a big rock and have our snacks before making our way back down. The trail keeps going beyond the meadow, so sometime I will probably check it out, but we knew we needed to conserve energy for the trek down.

Here are some pictures from Rattlesnake, totally not in any logical order.

Us at the trailhead after the hike.
Ignore my total guber smile, please.

I have conquered this rock!
This is the meadow two miles in. Pretty, huh?

Crossing the creek!

Michelle and I crossed the creek at different spots
and took pictures of each other on the rocks.
Because we are cute like that.

We got to enjoy this view multiple times as the trail wound
back and forth and took us further and higher.

This weekend I'll hopefully be finding a light hike to explore in the desert while I'm there visiting my family and meeting my new nephew Ezra, and the following weekend I'm planning on checking out Tangerine Falls with Helly and some other folks! I seriously want to make hiking a regular thing -- like, once a week if possible. It's an excellent workout, there are amazing bits of God's creation to see, and breathing fresh air makes me feel so alive!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Rediscovering my love of hiking

I've been absent for awhile (sorry!) and if you're wondering what happened to Weigh-In Wednesdays, fear not. It'll be back next week, no matter how embarrassing an update it may be.

Today, though, I want to talk about hiking.

Me (yep, with long red hair and braces), Caitlin, Lauren and Amy (and Parker!)
at the top of Inspiration Point, on my very first hike -- January 22, 2012.
I went on my very first hike a little over a year ago, LOVED it, swore I would become an avid hiker, went on a few hikes over the next several months, and then promptly forgot all about hiking, until last weekend! I got a small group of ladies together to visit my first love, Inspiration Point. The weather was absolutely PERFECT that day, and the group of girls was pretty spectacular as well.

Me, Natalie, Michelle, Nikki and Lindsey about halfway up.
Stopped for breath and for the sneak peek at the ocean view!

I was the caboose for much of the hike. These ladies meant business!

Such a clear, gorgeous day. Seriously, who wouldn't want to hike up to see this on a regular basis?

At the top! Nikki, Lindsey, Natalie, Michelle, me.

I wore my heart rate monitor to see how many calories I would burn on a two-hour hike, and it turns out it's kind of a lot. Like, A THOUSAND. And also, I didn't realize that hiking uphill gets my heart rate WAY up there. It may even be more intense than the MOST intense spin class I've ever taken, and that's saying a lot.

So probably I am just a little bit out of shape, because I know I've done this hike before and not needed to stop to catch my breath every 15 minutes. Or possibly the girls I was with were just way more hardcore than the other groups I'd hiked with previously, and I had to work harder to keep up? Maybe a little bit of both.

Anyway, this Sunday I'm branching out from my trusty Inspiration Point and trying out Rattlesnake Trail for the first time! I'll be going with Michelle (pictured above, also known as my soul mate) and another new friend, Ashlee (who happens to be my dear friend Amy's new roomie)! If anyone else in the area wants to join in, let me know and we'll coordinate with ya. The more the merrier!