Category Archives: exercise

Races, paces, and silly mistakes

Confusing indeed. Better luck next time, kid.

I ran my third 5K yesterday miles… or rather, I attempted to run my third 5K.

Per my marathon training plan, this weekend’s plan was to run a 5K at the idea race pace for the (much, much) longer race in May. Last month, I did some searching on and found the Campbell Valentine’s 5K/10K — scheduled for the very day I was supposed to run at race pace.

I signed up and yesterday morning, found myself heading to downtown Campbell to jaunt 3.1 miles. Alex kissed me goodbye, wished me luck, and told me he’d be waiting at the finish line. With my chip affixed to my shoe, I took off with the other runners, enjoying the warm sunshine and eager to add another race to my tick list.

But almost two miles in, I realized something was wrong. I kept running after the first mile marker, figuring the turnaround would be soon. It wasn’t until after the water station, when I saw the 2-mile marker, that I realized something was up…

A 5K is 3.1 miles… So for me to keep running in one direction and hit a two-mile marker was an indicator that I probably wasn’t going the right way… Sure enough, there were a couple of other 5K runners on the course that were figuring out the same thing — the volunteers we passed were a bit confused, but one mentioned she thought the 5Kers were on the other side of the creek we were running on. Awesome.

So we turned around, knowing that our 5K was actually going to be a 4-mile run — no regrets, any gained distance is usually a plus, though it was a little frustrating that there were so few people who knew what was going on or where we were supposed to be. Even more frustrating was that it was SO EASY to have gotten lost — there were no markers telling us that the 5Kers were going in a different direction. Looking back, though, it’s possible I missed an announcement as Alex and I rolled into the park as things were just about to get started.

All in all, an okay race — about 48 minutes for the whole thing for me, meaning a 12:00/mile pace based on the unofficial time. Hoping to get official results soon, though I’m happy with the results regardless.

Lessons learned:

– Get there early
Very possible that I missed an announcement about where I was supposed to go. Even though I didn’t cheat and run less than the course, it still skewed my results and gives me an inaccurate read for pace — I know I lost time stopping to look around, ask volunteers, find other runners and volunteers who could help
– Be prepared
This was my first race without my Garmin (since I got it, that is). Had I taken 30 seconds that morning to grab it, I would have had an accurate breakdown of my time, pace, and distance covered — and I probably would have noticed the lack of turnaround sooner.
– Be satisfied
At the end of the day, it was still one more race done. Still one more run accomplished. Still one more for the records. Maybe it wasn’t the best, fastest or longest race I’ve done, but it was fun and got my heart rate up. And Chipotle was the biggest sponsor of the race, so I was pleased to snatch up some free chips and guac after I was done. Delicious.

But the best part of the whole race? Alex told me afterwards that he is thinking about starting to run and interested in doing a 5K. I am so excited for him. He’s gonna be great… I can tell.

What have you learned through fitness? What do you hope to learn?


February Yoga Challenge

I’ve been looking, scanning, scouring for tips and tricks to get myself more motivated to be a little more consistent in my yoga practice. I love me some yoga, but struggle to make it a regular part of my routine… I’ve been interested in trying out hot yoga as well, but haven’t yet made it happen.

As fate would have it, a Groupon landed in my inbox last week — 25 yoga classes at Be Yoga for $25. WHOA! Since many drop-in classes at yoga studios are around $15-20 a piece, this was a steal — if I go once, it pretty much pays for itself. And the perk? Many of their classes are heated yoga classes, too! While I’m more interested in trying Bikram (hot) yoga, I think this will challenge me to try a more intense, decidedly-heated atmosphere before I jump into this challenge at some point. (Go big or go home, right?)

Heather recently posted about her yogaversary and mentioned a month-long challenge she did several months ago and what she gained from it. I really felt inspired reading that, and since February is American Heart Month, I have decided to embrace the heart-healthiness of yoga and challenge myself to a month (albeit a short one) of daily yoga in honor of heart health awareness.

Stay tuned… and namaste.

Back in the game

After taking about two weeks off to nurse an injury– caused by (in succession): a birthday (mine), a beach, dancing, and (lots of) alcohol — I decided tonight after I got home from work that it was ‘now or never,’ so to speak with regard to a run I’ve been wanting to go on for over a week. My knee has not hurt for the last week or so, but it does feel ‘funny’ sometimes and there’s been a twinge of something ‘not quite right’ if I flex it back too far or too hard.

That said, the trial trots up and down my office’s hallway and around my apartment were telling me that my knee was much better, but I still didn’t want to push it. (Okay, I was being lazy, too.)

But tonight I ran. I did an 11:20 mile pace, which is better than I’d been running before I tweaked my knee. I felt light, I felt strong, my pace was good and my form was awesome. Having stood at the edge of that “Oh, crap! I need to do that! Big Sur is coming up in May! I don’t want to duck out because of injury!” cliff, I’m completely one-hundred percent relieved that tonight’s easy run went so well… And really, it wasn’t so scary after all… 🙂

Here’s to a good 3-miler (hopefully! will have to see if body is willing…) tomorrow!

The hard part

It’s hard to get out the door.
It’s hard to warm up in cold air, when my breath still hangs in front of me.
It’s hard to get moving, thinking about how badly I’d like to be inside.
It’s hard to keep pace and keep going.
It’s hard to keep from sprinting to the end so I can just be done.
It’s hard to keep my form sometimes . . . which means back and hip pain most often.
It’s hard to push further than 5 miles.
It’s hard to climb the stairs after a run.
It’s hard to will myself to stretch out.
And it’s hard to remember to hydrate and do some core exercises.

But as hard as it can be, finish lines, milestone runs and knowing that today I did just a little bit more than yesterday becomes so incredibly worth it.

The baggy

I'm not 135 -- not by a long shot -- but maybe someday I'll be closer to that. I think my happy weight is about 140.

I’m losing weight? I’m LOSING weight?! Whoa!

About a month ago, I started the Eat to Live plan with one of my best friends. The diet part was pretty straightforward — LOADS of vegetables, plenty of fruit, and healthy amounts and sources of protein, with limits on starches and grains and absolutely no meat/dairy. I gotta say, I was pretty stoked — I had energy, felt good, and I never once went hungry. But in the last couple of weeks, I’ve definitely strayed from the designated path — letting some half & half fall into my coffee, occasionally reaching for an Oreo as they’re left out on the counter at work . . . but this morning, my jeans were baggy. Are baggy.

These jeans, purchased just two months ago, fit then without being snug . . . but now? I’m having to hike them up when I stand. When I pull the top away from my hips, I can clearly see my undies. It feels awesome. But I haven’t stepped on a scale in weeks . . . I really have no idea what I’ve lost (if anything, I could be in that gaining muscle stage too) and I’m surprisingly okay with that . . .

I still eat a load of vegetables, take in healthy fats and proteins and I’m going to the gym because I enjoy the activities I’ve been doing (spin, climbing, running, yoga) — not because I feel obligated to do so. I haven’t hit the weights as much (okay, haven’t hit them at all), but if climbing isn’t strength training, I don’t know what is. Maybe I’ll do weights tonight . . . for kicks. 😉

Anyway . . . I feel healthy, I feel good about myself and my body, and it’s starting to show on the outside, too . . . which is really the icing on the cake, right? 🙂

Happy Friday!

Spinning, spinning

Many will play, but she of strong mind and bottom tissue will prevail.

Last week, I took on a bold challenge in fitness: my very first spin class. I left work promptly at 5 and drove down to Planet Granite. My intention was to make it there in time for a 5:45 yoga class, but apparently there are no Monday night 5:45 classes. Not really wanting to wait it out until 7:30, I grabbed a snack and some water and checked out the class schedule — there had to be something else, right?

And there it was: “Cycling — 6:30 — Carole.”


Now, as I’d mentioned, I never tried this. I knew it would be hard, I knew it would probably hurt the next day, but what the hell. At the beginning of class, Carole got us warmed up and worked her way around the room to check out the bike set-up for any newbies (yours truly). I’d set mine up almost perfectly without any assistance, so you can imagine that after giving myself some mental kudos, something pretty humbling would have to occur next — because, of course, when I get those little ego boosts, inevitably something ridiculous has to happen. It’s like gravity.

Well, having gone to the gym with the explicit intention of doing yoga, I hardly came prepared with the appropriate footwear. Most of the people in the class donned snazzy looking spin shoes, but of course, I was left with the Sophie’s choice of this-is-not-a-smart-idea-Robyn-Elizabeth footwear: rock climbing shoes or my Vibram Five Fingers (another post for another day — I have drank the barefoot running Kool-Aid).

I opted for the Five Fingers.

Are you wincing?? (Rachel, did you just slap your forehead? I know. I. KNOW.) Yes, I often have to learn lessons the hard way — like “Why You Should Always Wear Stiff-soled Shoes to Spin Class.” Carole advised me not to wear those shoes again and to be very careful if I wanted to spin. Since she wasn’t outright kicking me out, I happily nodded and pedaled on. (Seriously, this is where the ominous music starts playing…)

And then the class really got going. We did jumps, we did hills, we spun fast, we spun slow, we cranked the resistance (whimper!), and we let up the resistance (aaahhh!) until an hour later, our class was just one big hot mess. I never knew my own body contained that much fluid to sweat, but apparently it did. The guy next to me had his own puddle under his bike. (Yeah, gross, but impressive!)

After the class, my knees really did not like me. They were angry with the workout (undoubtedly, their rage was misdirected — the shoes were the culprit). My butt REALLY, REALLY did not like me. (When was the last time I’d ever been on a bike? Ouch.) I’d found myself doing more jumps in class just to get my derriere off of the saddle. I wonder if Carole thought I was pushing myself. I just thought I needed to keep my butt bones from boring through what I assumed would be adequate padding…

Aside from being sore for a few days (the good kind of sore, mostly), I really liked the class — so much so I did it again tonight… with better footwear. I’m still trying to decide if it’s my good fortune or not to have decided to try spinning when the instructor is in the middle of her “Extreme November!” challenge — this week’s theme was “Extreme Strength!” — Oh. Goodness.

But in the words of our out-going Governator, “I’ll be back.”

Have you ever tried spinning? What was your first time like?

Climb on.


Don't bother asking me when I'll actually climb outdoors. Most days, I'm still working on getting myself to the gym.


I have a gym membership, but I don’t use it as often as I’d like. I seem to have found two great groups to join — a team of climbers who like to climb in the morning and a team that climbs in the evening, but I rarely get to the gym out of total insecurity.

Stupid, I know. Everyone has to start somewhere, right? But when you’re a rookie who pants at the top of a 5.6 (easy-to-medium difficulty) and your climbing buddy for the day is flying up a 5.11 (very hard), you feel a bit like a joke. Or at least, I do.

A couple of years ago, a careless mistake in a climbing gym (my mistake, no less) led to an accident — a 12-foot fall to the ground. I wasn’t properly clipped in and I fell hard. The fall knocked the wind out of me and left me with a couple of ripped fingers (I tried to grab the rope on the way down) and a twisted ankle. But mostly, it just left me shaken up. In a split second, my security was gone.

It’s the kind of thing that you just can’t even believe happened — frustrated with a route I was attempting to master, I unclipped myself to reevaluate my method. I stood back, worked out a new plan, and then went back to climb. I didn’t look. I didn’t see. I didn’t comprehend that my safety was at risk — that I had not properly clipped in and if I fell, nothing would stop me from plummeting to the crash-pad flooring, which is exactly what happened.

I picked myself up off the ground, gingerly put some weight on my hurt ankle to assess how badly I’d messed up and glanced at my fingers whose skin was opened up from the friction of the nylon rope. I caught my breath, got a sip of water and walked into the locker room, where I sat on the bench to process what had just happened.

And then, without even really thinking, I left the gym and I didn’t come back for over a week.

More than anything the experience was humbling — I saw just how quickly, easily my mistakes could take a fun experience and turn it into something that transformed me into a bundle of nerves. But my biggest mistake after the fall wasn’t that I beat myself up mentally (though I’m sure that didn’t help), it was that I didn’t immediately get back on the climbing wall.

When I did, I clipped myself into the auto-belay, took a deep breath and nervously grabbed the handhold. Then another. And another. My feet were probably 3 feet off of the ground — I’ve hopped off of counters higher than that. But I couldn’t shake the need to check my harness every .4 seconds. Clipped in? Good. Grab a hold. Clipped in? Good. Grab the next hold. But as I glanced down, I could actually feel the blood leaving my face. And then I put my foot on one hold lower, another hold lower, until I could step back down onto the ground. I was done after climbing 4 feet.

I tried climbing one more time that summer before deciding that I needed a break. My (relatively) fearless self became paralyzed by nerves and apprehension. Almost two years later, I joined a climbing gym in San Jose (actually, it’s in Sunnyvale, but whatever). I signed up determined to conquer whatever lingering fear was there — I’d been away from it for almost 2 years . . . that’s enough time to suck it up, right?

Well, I’m not there yet. I’m still incredibly nervous when I start climbing over my belay partner’s head. I still check my harness with almost every step up. And I still grip those handholds like my life depended on it — because when you’re climbing a 50-foot wall and you’ve had an accident before, you’re acutely aware that at such a greater height, your life could be dependent upon it (not to sound all dramatic, but it’s pretty true).

But in spite of all of my nerves and apprehension, I still love doing it. It exhilarates me and leaves me so proud of the accomplishment, even if it’s a lower-grade route.

For me, climbing has become more metaphorical than just a fun exercise, which is what it started off as. I started climbing when a dear, sweet friend‘s enthusiasm for the sport sparked a curiosity, an interest and eventually lit a flame for a new hobby I wanted to pursue.

Now, I’m learning how to fall back in love with the sport one foothold at a time as I’m working through releasing the fear and anxiety that come with climbing higher and higher. I guess the moral of the story is “Please don’t ever think you’re infallable . . . because you’re really not” “Always check. Always be careful. They don’t warn you about this stuff for no reason — especially when you’re taking on a hobby where safety truly matters.” (And the secondary moral would be, “Please bear with me — I’m still learning!”)

And I’ll get there — the grace of my climbing buddies and my determination to kick that anxiety to the curb will really help, I’m sure.

(And if you ever see me at the gym, hugs are always appreciated — they’re heart-healthy and have nerve-calming properties.)

Climbing? Climb on.

P.S. On a completely UNrelated topic . . . I came home to find one of my fish eating the other fish. I have a cannabal fish and I do not know how to process this (aside from being a bit grossed/freaked out.)