Alyssa’s first mud run: Muckfest MS Los Angeles!

Do you remember when you were a kid and you got to play in the mud? Maybe your parents didn’t let you, but you did it anyway, finding that stray mud puddle on your way home from school. You delighted in the joyful sensation of sticky, wet, mud squishing around your toes, making mud pies, trying to slog your feet out of the quicksand as you splashed around in. Now, there’s a way for grown ups to play in the mud — and not just any mud — mud that’s for a cause, more specifically, fighting MS, or Multiple Sclerosis, a disease that affects over 2 million people worldwide. Women are 2 to 3 times more likely to get MS, and I can think of three female friends of mine who bravely fight MS. Muckfest MS was in Chino this past week, about an hour and 20 minute drive from where I live. I knew I would walk this 5k rather than run it, because running’s not my jam. I walked, I mucked, I conquered. Here are five reasons why the Muckfest MS was mucking rad.

1) You get to get muddy. Absolutely, fantastically mucking muddy. Covered. Soaked. Saturated. It’s fun. (And maybe, exfoliating. Think of it as a fitness spa treatment.)

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2) You can take the obstacles at your own pace, and that might mean skipping ones that just don’t feel like your style. I did, and didn’t feel self conscious at all – a really nice change from some of the other fun runs I’ve been on where the spirit is more competitive. However, you can also take on obstacles that challenge you in a good way – like the Spider Web. I was sure I’d have to be rescued like a kitten from a tree halfway up this giant rope jungle gym, but instead I scurried like a Mountain Goat to the top, and was super proud of my climbing skillz. You also get to do obstacles with names like BIG BALLS. The description? ‘When one big, swinging pair is not enough. How about 9 gigantic balls swinging over 4 mucky trenches?’

Photo from Muckfestms.org.

Me at the top of the Spider Web. Photo by Mike Murphy.

Me at the top of the Spider Web. Photo by Mike Murphy.

3) You get free beer at the end. And snacks. And professional photos. And a super cute t-shirt!

Photo from Muckfest MS Facebook page

Photo from Muckfest MS Facebook page

4) You get to walk on water! I tried really hard to be graceful on this one, and not take a tumble, and I made it across unscathed. If you don’t want to walk on water, you can jump in and swim like a duck. Either way, you’ll be encountering some muck.

I'm walkin on sunshine, heeeeeyyy ooooh... Oh, I mean water. Photos via Muckfest MS, facebook.com/muckfestms

I’m walkin on sunshine, heeeeeyyy ooooh… Oh, I mean water. Photos via Muckfest MS, facebook.com/muckfestms

5) You get to have a mucking blast, while knowing that money raised goes to fight MS, a disease that affects over 2 million people worldwide.

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We mucking rock.

Now – who’s doing it in 2015 with me? You can find out more information and the cities near you at MuckfestMS.org.

Have you done a mud run? Would you?

26.2: The Double Chin Dude’s Los Angeles Marathon

This past weekend, I woke my butt up at 4:00 a.m. (the night of the time change, no less! Who decided on that?!), and prepared to drive my husband and his parents to Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles for Matt’s first marathon! Matt, my double chin dude, has been diligently training for the past five months, suiting up after work and going on long, long, long neighborhood runs. On Sunday, I was a bundle of nerves (he wasn’t), thinking all the worrywart scenarios that a worrywart wife would worry: Would he be hydrated? Should I be worried because of what happened in Boston? What if he got hungry? Etc, etc. We dropped him off, headed over to a Starbucks, caffeinated, and prepared to wait a little while to get breakfast before we met him at the halfway point in Beverly Hills. Look at this beautiful sunrise we were treated with!

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There is NO editing in this picture. It was truly like the sky was on fire. It makes me think it almost might be worth being up that early more often. Nah, maybe not. I like sleeping. Especially in my warm bed. Around 7:30, Matt was off! We used the Friend Finder app on the iPhone to track his progress. The app is a little bit big brother, but in instances like tracking someone in a marathon or being at a big event, it was a great idea for keeping tabs on whereabouts.

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We set up station in Beverly Hills, right along the corner of the famous Rodeo Drive. While we waited, we made signs and cheered on other runners. I didn’t think being a cheerleader would be so fun– it was such a great boost to call out someone’s name, wiggle a sign at them, and see how they lit up into a huge smile and visibly got a burst of energy from being encouraged.

After about an hour of cheering, we saw Matt’s yellow shirt in the distance! He ran right up to us, and was still in remarkably good spirits for having just run 17 miles. We showed him our signs, exchanged some quick hugs, and he was off again.

 

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Next up was our friend Jason! Jason also was in a good mood and looking remarkably chipper for running 17 miles in 80 degree heat. (With no electrolytes – the marathon ran out of Gatorade! No good.)

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Once Jason and Matt were on their way, we headed over to Santa Monica, a lovely two hour drive thanks to the families of 26,000 people trying to get to see their loved ones cross the finish line. Matt finished his first marathon in 5 hours and 20 minutes, and I’m so amazed by his efforts! While I don’t see myself as the marathon type, I think it’s an incredible physical and mental challenge. I may not be the running 26.2 miles kind of person, but I just might be the walking 60 miles type person. More on that later ;)

Matt’s advice to anyone wanting to run a marathon? “Just keep training.” What do you think? Could you see yourself crossing the finish line at 26.2? Have you? Share your stories!

(PS: Weigh in post coming soon! I missed last week but weighed in yesterday. :) )

 

 

The Los Angeles Neon Run 5k

It happened. I don’t know how, but I’ve become THAT person — the one who pays money to run long distances. And yes, I know, a 5k which is barely 3.2 miles is not necessarily long distance when you compare it to the friends of mine who regularly run 8 miles, 16 miles, 27 miles… but to a gal like me who’d rather run reports than laps, it’s pretty unique that I’ve spent ACTUAL money to run for pleasure!

This Friday night, I ran the Neon Run 5k with my husband and my pals Jason and Amy. I was really nervous about running with the three of them because they’re all regular long-distance runners, and Amy is actually a seasoned marathon pro (Jason just signed up for the LA Marathon! Can we get a “Heck yeah!” going for him?). I warned all of them that they should feel free to run ahead, as I knew my pace would be slooooow and sometimes include walking. We ended up losing Jason and Matt in the crowd but my marathoner Amy stayed by my side and encouraged me to keep going when I just wanted to walk. I originally (aka, months ago) had grand plans of running the whole 5k, but as health stuff got in the way, those plans were put on the back burner and I went with a revised goal of just improving the time and experience of my last 5k.

Before the Neon Run!

Before the Neon Run!

The run began at 8 pm, and despite its disorganization (no clearly marked signs, confusion about start and exit), we had a great time. We decked ourselves out in glow paint and glow sticks and while I couldn’t run the whole 5k, I think I ran about half of it. I know I did better than the color run as our time for walking the color run was one hour and 15 minutes, and the time for this run was 48 minutes. Also, I burned 731 calories during the Color Run — and 530 calories this time. What that means is my body is getting more in shape, meaning the same amount of exertion causes less exhaustion. All very good signs!

Blacklight Tent at the Neon Run

Blacklight Tent at the Neon Run

The most fun part was running through the blacklight tents. You were sprayed with glowing paint and then once you passed a blacklight, you glowed like a firefly. I wasn’t thrilled about the blacklight color spray they used, because it smelled like wet dog and was sticky, but you know, all in the name of fun. They had some bass-heavy techno music playing through out which kept everyone pepped up and ready to roll. After our run we headed off to iHop, where we had a very late celebratory dinner. I definitely had an awesome time, but if I had to rank this run compared to the Color Run, I’d give it a 5 out of 10. It was fun, but didn’t feel as well put together as The Color Run (not as many water stations, not enough signage indicting start, exit, halfway, etc). However, I love the idea of the fun runs, and hope to squeeze in a couple more before the year ends. I’d really like to be able to run a 5k in its entirety sometime soon, so maybe I can target one for Thanksgiving or the end of the year.

You glow, girl!

You glow, girl!

Do you have any suggestions for “Fun Runs” I have to do? I’ve heard about the Frozen Hot Chocolate 5k, and the Spartan Race, but what else is out there that’s a “must do”? Also, would you pay to do a fun run?

 

 

Runnin’ away from “running”

I’ve talked about my hopes and disdain all the same for running, here, here and here, to be exact. I’ve always marveled at runners – how the idea of pounding on the pavement for 26 miles sounds fun, how they’re drenched with sweat and covered with pollen yet they have a ‘runner’s high’, how they consider it FUN when really, it’s effing hard and I’m not sure how I understand how it’s so awesome that people like my office mate wake up at 5 AM every morning to jog around Los Angeles before the sun comes up. I mean, really? What’s better than being in bed? I guess health??? Anyways… despite my skepticism about running, tonight I think I might have unlocked a big reason to why me and running don’t always get along.

I have the high school mentality of running, where in my high school gym teacher would scream, “FASTER!” as we looped around and around the track. I felt like a chubby bunny chasing a carrot, except there was no carrot, just cruel, cruel exercise. On days when I didn’t lie about having cramps to get out of it, I hated the days we’d run “the gold course”, a three or four mile loop that circled around the back of the high school. My best friend and I actually liked the gold course, because we’d be really fast in the beginning, and then stop behind the school, slacking off for awhile, and then cut across the field and pretend we finished with everyone else. HA! I’ve been an exercise avoider for many years — for shame, but also, kind of awesome. Slacking off in PE class was pretty much the worst thing I did in high school, so I’ll take it.

Tonight, I knew I had to squeeze in some exercise, so I donned my fancy FitBloggin’ tee, cranked up the Nine Inch Nails, and set to it. The first few minutes I wanted to die (ok, slight hyperbole. Maybe not DIE but at least go back into my cozy little house and eat tortilla chips from the pillow-sized bag we just bought from Costco). I could feel my boobs jostling uncomfortably with every step, my arms were itchy, and I just couldn’t find a pace. I was out of breath and my chest was pounding within seconds but then I realized something. SLOW DOWN. I slowed down. My bootcamp instructor used to tell us “You can jog as slow as you want, just don’t walk.” So I jogged reaaaallly slow. Like almost speed walking slow, but enough that I had a little bounce in my step. And it got easier. I made it a half mile without stopping to walk, actually starting to feel like, “Hey! This isn’t so bad!”. By the second mile loop, I was doing much better; enjoying the smell of a neighbor’s wood burning stove, seeing the stars light up the smoggy hills of Los Angeles like twinkling sapphires, feeling the pulse of the pavement below me as my body settled into a natural rhythm. So that’s what I’ve been doing wrong with running, I’ve always focused too much on the speed rather than the quality. By slowing down, I was able to keep it up for much, much longer, still get an awesome, sweat dripping work out, and even better, I actually enjoyed my time on the run, rather than how I usually feel, which is trying to run away from running.

When it comes to running have you found you need to alter your pace to make it more enjoyable? Are you more of a sprinter with a need for speed or are you fine being all like “Slow and steady wins the race”?

PS: Whatcha doing tonight at 9:00 PM EST? Join me and the Diet to Go ambassadors on twitter with hashtag #DTG for a live chat with a chance to win tons of cool prizes. We’ll be chatting it up about what it means to be “common sense healthy” and how little tweaks can help you make big changes for your summer shape up. Hope to see you there!
 

Morning Bootcamp Recap

Good Evening, or if you’re reading this in the morning, Good Morning! Well, I survived my early morning bootcamp and I’m here to tell the tale. It wasn’t easy getting out of bed, and I snoozed 10 minutes past what I should have, but I made it to the park and was so excited to see my dear friend Merrie. Greeting a smiling face always make a workout that much better. We started out with some simple warm up drills – knee kicks, butt kickers, squats and jogging around the tennis court. I handled the warm-up ok, but by the time we started SPRINTS, I was questioning my physical aptitude.

The hardest part of the class for me was all of the running. I’m not a runner, not sure I ever will be, and that’s ok. Sprinting across the tennis court was hard for me, but miraculously, I found myself not caring that I was among the slowest in the group. It’s taken me two years of blogging to get to a point where I’m not ashamed of my slowness when it comes to physical activity – that’s the reason I’m there. My weight loss or fitness is not a competition, and if I’m moving too slow for someone, they can kiss my booty. The only race I’m in is with myself! On that note, the teacher marked our scores for sit ups, push ups, squats, planks and “6 inches”, where you hold your legs six inches off of the floor with your upper body off the floor, as well. I am hoping to improve my scores in almost all of these categories, but specifically, push ups and planks. I don’t have a ton of upper body strength, and to get to a point where I can confidently hold a plank for 30 seconds rather than wobbling like Jello would be awesome! By the time we got to ab work and could lay on our towels, I was in heaven to take a “break”. One nice thing about doing bootcamp at a park is you get to be in nature, surrounded by the blue sky and chirping birds. It was a nice retreat from my usual gym time view.

So here’s the best part about bootcamp – it was hard and tiring, but afterwards, I felt SO AWAKE. I rushed home, showered and headed to work, but I didn’t have the same midday slump I usually get. I felt accomplished too, knowing I started my day with something good for me. It was also nice to come home from work and be “free” for the night, to do homework without having the “I have to go to the gym” looming over me. I am super sore right now, but I know come Friday morning when I rise at 6:45 again, my body will be ready for more. This bootcamp is three times a week for five weeks, so the bootcamp coupled with my T/TH zumba classes should have me ready to strut in my swimsuit in no time.

So tell me about your workout today! Did you get one in? What was it? How do you feel?

Geek chic after bootcamp with my glasses and stripey sweatband!

Geek chic after bootcamp with my glasses and stripey sweatband!

Running in Rainbows: The Color Run

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Running in rainbows leaves a beautiful mess after the Color Run LA!

One of my goals in life that I hope comes across on the blog is to always have fun. Exercise is something that I usually don’t view as fun – because it’s WORK. The huffing, the puffing, the sweating, the panting, the “Am I done yet?”, the cramps in your leg if you don’t sweat, the expensive shoes, the mid-workout wedgie… I could go, but I won’t. ┬áIt was kind of a big deal when I found exercise I actually enjoyed, like zumba, boxing and hiking, and realized that burning calories didn’t have to mean torture. Last year, I saw The Color Run on Skinny Emmie‘s blog and I knew I had to go. I’m a big fan of color in general, and getting pelted with it in all white sounded awesome!

White and bright before the run.

White and bright before the run.

I set up a team and was joined by 9 lovely people – some I have known for a very long time and some I had just met. We were named the ChromatiKids, and began our adventure pristine and clean in fresh white.

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blue

While I had originally hoped to run this 5K, I knew I wasn’t prepared enough to run, so I opted for a steady walk with most members of my group. (There’s another event coming up in March I think I might try to run! Woohoo!) We had a great time gabbing as we ascended the hills around Dodger Stadium and approached our first color- BLUE! The course was set up so that you would go a distance uncolored, and then as you came upon a landmark, say, 1 mile, you entered the color “zone”.

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Next, we came upon orange, where I was pelted with a rather large color bomb on the top of my head. For the first time, I lived a day in the life of a ginger. It was kind of fun, but I don’t think you’ll see me cheating on my beloved Ms. Clairol.

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Next, I hit up yellow, where I took on a mustard-like hue thanks to my personal color-chef, pictured here. Don’t I look sunny?

pink

Pink was our very last color zone, and that called for a jumping celebration! I was feeling really good at this point because I felt strong and somewhat in shape through out the whole 5k. I even ran a couple parts of it and then doubled back to join my team. It’s awesome to actually feel your efforts adding up!

MATTANDI

Color Run Team ChromatiKids After the Run!

Color Run Team ChromatiKids After the Run!

My only advice to those of you participating in a color run is to CLOSE YOUR MOUTH during the color zones. Because I’m sometimes not the brightest, I giggled my way through the first zone and ended up sputtering on a big old ball of colorful cornstarch. I learned my lesson and kept my lips zipped, but that was the only little “oops” I had during this awesome event.

color run finish line

Color Runners Rock!

I had so much fun at the Color Run and it was an awesome way to spend time with friends, get some fresh air, burn a ton of calories, and enjoy something totally unusual. I’ll have memories of being pelted with color for a long, long time! So bloggies, what do you think – would you do the color run or do you prefer to stay un-pelted with color?