Exciting and New and Not Here

We’ve been working on putting up my new fitness website: Freal Fitness. Actually the webiste is about more than just exercise, looking hot on the beach, and having muscles galore. It’s about helping people have the best, happiest, healthiest lives possible. Therefore it’s FREAL.

We’ve come to the point where it was time to move the blog. Same great name, but now it’s part of the Freal Fitness website. No more new and exciting posts will be found here. All my posts from this moment on will only be found on the new Freal Fitness Blog. It will have all of the posts from the past as well. So head on over there. Sometime soon this one will disappear.

A Mushy Run

I went to this fabulous concert the other night – Rodrigo y Gabriela at the Greek Theater in LA. I was introduced to them by John and Liz, two people that used to attend my outdoor fitness classes. We were using great guitar music in one of our workouts, they suggested I give these two a listen. I did and I was hooked.

I stayed out late Wednesday night enjoying this high energy guitar duo, so I’d planned on pushing my Thursday workout a bit later in the day. So at 10 a.m., with the summer sun out in full-force (no fog  on that day), and the temps beginning their climb for the day, I headed out for a run. I figured I could do it then, when it was just getting hot and I was feeling pretty good, or I could wait until the afternoon when it would be hotter and I would probably be a bit tired from a night of rationed sleep.

I headed toward the beach. At least it would be somewhat cooler there. My run to Stearn’s Wharf and back home is a 7.2 mile run. The first 10 minutes were like most runs – working out my aches, stiffness, and getting into my groove.

Once I had those first few minutes out of the way, my run just got better and better. And all the better-ness made me all mushy (“say “mooooshy”). I got all sentimental, emotional, tender, and lovey-dovey about everything.

"I love you, ocean!"

At one point, on my way home, as I ran up a cliff-side road that gave me a gorgeous view, I looked over my shoulder at the gigantic Pacific Ocean. I took a deep breath, inhaling the scene, and as I let it out I heard these words come out my mouth, “I love you.” Yeah, I said that to the ocean. I hadn’t planned on saying that, or even consciously thought it. Those syrupy words just came spilling out. I told you I got all mushy. It didn’t stop there either.

Then I told the trees, the blue sky, the clear air, the grass, the bushes , and even the weeds that I loved them. I actually was saying this stuff out loud. Can you believe it? Then I started listing all things I love about myself (yes, I love myself, and you ought to try loving yourself) and my life. And I was getting louder as the words kept pouring out.

I was like that girl in the YouTube video, just kicked up a notch or two.  I was seriously mushified. And seriously happy and grateful for my life!!!

Life-Saving Sports-Bra

My best Jillian Michaels pose.

Okay, take a look at that picture!

Yeah, that one of me doing my best imitation of a Jillian Michaels’ pose.What driver would not see that loud, colorful sports-bra coming down the road?? I wore that thing on purpose – so I would be noticeable and finish my run alive, in one piece, and untraumatized. In fact, I picked everything I wore that day just so I would stand out to drivers.  The loud tie-dye bra, the yellow shorts – not a fashion statement, but a life-preserving action.

I decided to run the first portion of the Pier to Peak Half Marathon Course yesterday. I’d run the last 8.5 miles of that uphill monster last week and started to flirt with the idea of actually signing up for the event. I wanted to run this first part and see if I felt like I could take on the entire 3996  feet of elevation gain. That was going to be my decision maker.

It just so happens that this first part of the course follows a bit of Mountain Drive – a winding mountain road in Santa Barbara with no sidewalk, no real shoulder, and drivers who treat it like their own personal raceway.  I dressed loudly and started early to try to avoid as many drivers as possible.

There are some serious Jerk Drivers out there! I had taken off my white tank top in the first mile or so since it was hot. I hang it like a cape from the back of my sports bra. Refer again to the stunning photo at the side.  (I think it gives me super-powers.) There’s no way they didn’t see me, yet  a few of those drivers just about grazed me as they passed.) One actually headed right for me and swerved away at the last second. And I know he was looking right at me. Was he trying to brush me back, showing me that I was on his turf or something?

A runner wearing this would be noticeable, right??

Another driver actually honked at Laura and I. What? Are we not allowed to be here? Is this road your private property? Or do just have a chip on shoulder about runners? Here’s some shocking information for you, whoever you were. Runners are allowed on the streets. Surprise! So are walkers and cyclists. We all do our best to stay out of your way so maybe you could drive with a bit of kindness and consideration instead of acting like you are going to get extra points for hitting a moving target.

I’m glad to report that we both arrived at the Sheffield Reservoir alive. It took some serious alertness on our part, waving of our arms, and jumping onto to the dirt at times, but we did it. I felt pretty good too.  I felt like I could tackle the remaining 9.1 miles of ascent.

I have now gone from, “I have no intention of signing up for this event” two weeks ago to hand delivering my registration form and money and doing everything shy of begging to get into this race. Funny how things change. Now if those crazy drivers would just stay off the roads on race day, I’ll be set.

A Dog’s Point of View

Please welcome my guest-blogger, and first-time blogger, Romero. He insisted he needed to tell Tuesday’s story. Keep in mind, he is a dog. A very cute, very adorable, but not so smart, dog.

I knew it was time . . . my favorite time. My mom, Rachel, started putting her hair up in a ponytail. Why do they call it that anyway? Why don’t they call it a doggy-tail? That would be much better sounding, and I’ sure it would make more people want to wear their hair that way.

Anyway, once she does her hair like that, I know something good is coming. Well, unless she won’t look me in the eyes. If she looks at me and makes noises at me, then I know I get to go along. If she avoids eye-contact, that’s a bad sign. That usually means I’m going to get left behind.

But on Tuesday she looked at me, talked to me in an excited voice, and was all smiles. All very good signs. Then came the moment I live for. She said that word. There are a couple of words I am really good at – dinner and walk. She said “Blah, blah, blah, go for a walk?”

That’s my cue. I ran to my leash and waited for her to put it on. Then we were out the door, but not actually walking. We were jogging. Rachel isn’t as fast as me, so I try to be patient, but it’s so hard.

Finally we got to one of my favorite parks. I knew what we were doing. We were waiting for my other friends, Laura and Dolores to arrive. Once they were there and I properly greeted them, licking them and telling them everything about my morning, it was time to workout.

I have such an athletic, fit, handsome body already. I don’t really need to workout, but I want to encourage my girls, so I go along. They each took off running in different directions. I went with Rachel. She feeds me so I give her my loyalty first. She ran all the way around the park, then pulled a piece of paper out of a funny looking bowl. Then she did some weird movements on her mat and then ran around the park again.

The first few times were really fun. I galloped, made quick, fantastic turns, and showed Rachel where to run. Each time, we explored a different little path through the trees. One of these was really great. It had lots of great smells and tall brush on either side. Then I smelled it. Something dead, something that I needed to roll in. Rachel didn’t much like that and ran really fast up to me to get me to stop. I don’t know why these humans can’t appreciate that glorious smell. Mmmmmm.

The girls just kept running around the park then coming back to do weird things on their mats. Over and over and over for so long.  Sometimes I took a break from Rachel and went  with Dolores or Laura. I tried to pick the one I thought would run the shortest route. I was getting just a bit tired. I was having a hard time keeping my tongue in my mouth. I gave Laura a look and she brought me some water. That felt better. I wanted everyone to just sit down in one place so I could lie down, but nooooo. They just ran again.

I had to go with them. It’s my job to keep them safe, you know. I have to show them the trails and look for dead stuff. I tried to tell Rachel it was time to be done. As we ran past the parking lot on one of our loops, I showed her where Laura’s car was. She yelled at me. I guess she doesn’t like me in the parking lot.  

Finally they were done with all that running. Whew! I plopped my strong, handsome, somewhat tired body onto the cool grass and watched them do more funny moves on their mats. I knew it was almost time to go home.

The humans gathered their stuff. And why is it that humans must always bring stuff everywhere they go? Anyway, I showed them the way to Laura’s car. I love this car. Laura takes me on hiking trips in this car. It even smells like me. Then, just in case Rachel was having any of her crazy delusions, I made a move to show exactly what I wanted.

When Laura opened her car door to put her stuff inside, I jumped in and made myself comfy on her backseat. There was no way in hell I was running home with Rachel. Even though it was only a mile, it’s a mile uphill. The last thing I need is to looking all ragged and worn out.

They all laughed, but guess who got chauffeured home? And I got to pass Rachel as she ran.

Pushed by the Hill Runner

That was one tough workout. My friend, Laura, I really pushed ourselves with the All the Way Arounds and the Countdowns. Of course, I had to tweak the Countdowns a bit to make them different from last week’s workout. So instead of DB Bear Crawls we did Man-Makers. We did 10, then 9, then 8 . . . get the idea. Ugh. (The video above was shot quite awhile ago. This time I used heavier weights and did pushup-row right, row left – pushup – jump to squat – clean and press.)

A faucet had been turned on somewhere at the top of my head and rivers of sweat were just flooding my face. My arms were starting to feel like they were going to fall off. But why stop there? After 50 minutes of hard work, we both wanted to be done. Instead of just ending it there, we decided to “put a cherry on top” of our workout.

Warning: This girl is an animal on the hills!

Five Hill Sprints seemed like a fitting way to end this super-challenging workout. So we picked our landmark – about 30 yards up the hill – and took off on our first sprint. Let me stop here to tell you something about Laura. She’s a nut. Now that she’s got her whole iron-deficiency thing under control, she’s a fricken animal in the workouts and especially when it comes to running hills. She’s much better at this than I am. She speeds past me every time. The only times I’ve ever beat her to the top were when she was anemic. I loved those days. Nice, huh. She loves running hills so much, she’s got it in her head that we are going to sign up for the Pier to Peak and run a whole half marathon uphill. So as we reached the bottom of the hill for our next sprint, she had a plan in mind.

“Let’s run a little further each time!”

Being one who never backs down to a challenge – and that’s what this was – I answered with a confident, “Sure!”

I picked out a row of trees just beyond our first marker and decided to run to one of those with the runs we had remaining. Each a few yards further up the hill than the previous one. And off we went. With each sprint up that hill, Laura finished further and further ahead of me. Did I mention that hills are her thing?

Finally we were about to start sprint number five, our last one for the day. I had my tree picked out and was ready to push up that hill for a good 70 yards. Then Laura looks over and with a villainous look in her eyes says, “Let’s run to that car! The front of the car!!”

The car she was pointing at was about 100 yards up the hill. Ugh. But, of course, I agreed. I did warn her that by the time I got up there, it probably wouldn’t look like much of a sprint, but I would get there. And off we went, arm pumping, knees driving, lungs working hard, and every muscle in my legs just screaming.

“We’re in training for Pier to Peak, you know!” Laura is totally convinced we are both signing up for that rigorous race.

Laura beat me by a good 15 yards on that final sprint. She supposed to. That’s her thing. She is the Hill Runner! And pushing me was her role to play today. That’s what workout buddies are supposed to do.

A Day Without a Cellphone – On Purpose

Try obeying this for a day!

Ahhh, Sunday morning. This was a different sort of Sunday for Shauna and I. See, we have been on this journey to live more simply, more peacefully, less hurry-hurry, bizzy-bizzy (yes, I do know how to spell), less multi-tasked and ultra-productive. To that end, we made two big decisions in the last 24 hours.

  1. Turn off our cell phones (and only phones) at 8 p.m. every night. See my “Cement Running Shoes” blog for some background on this decision.
  2. One day a week, live cell-phone-free. The dumb things can just stay off all day long.

Sunday was our day without plans, and our day without cellphones. A day wide open, to do whatever we wanted. This is the day of the week where I usually don’t run or do a workout. We get out, have active fun, and do human-powered stuff. Here’s how it went.

Slept in just a bit, then made some fabulous (vegan) multi-grain blueberry pancakes. We took our dog Romero and went for a hike in the foothills of Santa Barbara. I’m more of an exploratory hiker, so I’m always up for taking some unknown trail to see where it goes. This day, it would take us UP. We started by following a stream bed, but it was dried up, so we followed another trail. Steep climbs, lots of sweat, scrambling over boulders, maneuvering around trees, more sweat, . . . and did I mention lots of sweating?

I realized when we hit a sheer rock face, where the trail was no longer doable for our dog, exactly where we were headed. Up to Cathedral Peak, the toughest hike/climb in our foothills, and definitely not a hike for our dog. We headed back down, making a date for next weekend to ascend this fabulous peak.

We had lunch at our absolute favorite lunch spot – HOME. I’m serious. Homemade food is always my favorite. ALWAYS. I love knowing everything that goes into making my food. And let’s face it, a stranger just isn’t going to care about your health like you will. For restaurants, the bottom line is profit, plain and simple. After enjoying every single bite of my current lunch favorite (an open-faced toasted whole grain bagel, topped with my cashew cream cheese, basil pesto, tomatoes, peppadews, and broccoli), it was time for some gardening.

This seem like a chore to some, but not to me. It’s physical. It’s providing for ourselves. It’s creative. It’s exciting. Don’t laugh! I’m serious. We pulled our first leek yesterday and I was thrilled. Another strawberry was ripe and a perfect treat. Just pulled it right off the bush and popped it in our mouths. Thrilling! There’s something amazing about growing your own food. And there’s something about getting your hands dirty, being one with nature and the process of life.

And there’s the whole Gandhi aspect. What does Gandhi have to do wtih gardening? He had these 11 Vows he lived by. One was Sharirshrama or Bread Labor. Basically it means that we should all perform useful physical labor every single day. Some even say that it means that if you don’t perform such work, you haven’t the right to eat. Interesting idea. It would certainly make us all healthier, more helpful, and definitely more appreciative of what it takes for the food we eat to end up on our plates.

After getting sweaty and dirty in the garden, I hit the shower. Then onto our bikes we hopped and rode downtown to catch a movie.

It was a great day. It was an active day. It was a weird day. I kept feeling like I was forgetting something by leaving my cell phone behind. I found myself thinking certain noises in the background were my phone. I felt almost guilty having it off. Not that I get many phone calls at all. I don’t. It’s just that I have this overdeveloped sense of  . . . responsibility. That I always have to be “there” for whatever it is I feel might happen. Dumb idea. I obviously have some issues to work through on this subject. I want to go through a Cellphone Free Day without thinking about it at all. Just enjoying the peace.

As I recall, back in the B.C. days – “Before Cellphones” – we all somehow got along without being constantly connected, constantly available. Actually life was just fine without all those phone calls and apps.

Today was an exercise for me. It felt odd and awkward at times, but it also felt like a vacation. Soon I intend to have one Disconnected Day a week. I intend to turn off not only my phone, but my computer and TV as well. Having one day a week without electronic entertainment will be great for my inner health.

Cement Running Shoes

These look just like the ones I felt like I was wearing today.

Had a crappy night’s sleep last night. I knew I had to get up ridiculously early this morning so I went to bed early like a good girl. Then, just after I’d fallen asleep, the phone rings. Ugh! I hate that. It wasn’t even anything important. The call lasted maybe one minute, but it woke me up. I spent the next hour or more lying in bed trying to go back to sleep.

I was feeling a bit tired and fatigued this morning as I worked a booth at the swap meet – like, I almost fell asleep standing on my feet. Once my morning project was over, it was my time to run home. I had planned for this. I had dressed for it, hydrated for it, eaten an early lunch and everything. All should have been good right?

It was just after 12 noon when I got started with my 6.33 mile run home. I knew right away what sort of run this was going to be. Someone had apparently swapped out my running shoes. They took my light Adidas Supernovas and put some cement blocks on my feet while I wasn’t looking. Must have been that time when I was sort of dozing off.

My feet felt heavy. Every step took so much effort. I felt like I was barely moving. Just plain sluggish. Lucky for me my run was a one-way route. No chickening out, no changing my mind or direction. This was my way home. Period. So my option was to wuss out and walk it or just keep running. Me and the word “wuss” just don’t work well together, so I chose the latter. Suck it up and keep running.

A few chunks of concrete broke off my feet about 20 minutes into the run. That’s about the time I got to the beach. Something about getting alongside the ocean always helps me. Not that I underwent some miraculous transformation or anything. Though that would  have been nice. This would have been a great day for one of those runs where I feel light, as if I’m gliding almost effortlessly.

I just accepted where I was – wearing concrete shoes, working my way home, one heavy step at a time. I stopped fighting it, being bugged about it, or comparing it to my wonderful runs. I decided to just let all that go, and just be right where I was. I looked down at my cement shoes and made friends with them. Fine, I’d just run a bit slower today.

And then, just as I made peace with my situation, a couple more chunks broke off. (Isn’t that how it always happens?) I felt a bit lighter, a bit more at peace, and started just enjoying the great views right in front of me. Ocean, sands, sunbathers, volleyball players, people barbecuing, people getting married on the beach, all the sights we get regularly here in Santa Barbara.

My cement shoes never fully broke off. I still had a few stubborn chunks clinging to my feet as I climbed my final hill home, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as when I started. I even ended with a teeny-tiny burst of speed. I wasn’t too impressed with my time, but I was with the fact that I didn’t give up or get negative. Even better I learned my lesson.

 Tonight, and every night from now on, I’ll be turning my cell phone off at 8 o’clock. No more interrupted sleep for me. My sleep is just important to my fitness as my workouts, my runs, my stretching and my food choices.

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