Category Archives: Long runs

5 Ways Progressive Runs Make You Stronger & Faster

Ever since I became a runner, I held onto the false belief that I had to run strong in the beginning while having fresh legs and just try to  keep steady at the end, which almost never happened, as I normally slow down. My preconceived ideas about running this way changed due to my amazing and super positive running coach Robert Ressl-Moyer, who provides me with a personalized training plan and who made me excited about progressive runs and hill workouts.

I am very lucky and grateful to have two excellent coaches for my upcoming California International Marathon that I will run on Dec. 3rd trying to qualify for Boston: our Fleet Feet Racing team coach, Chad Worthen, whose marathon personal best of 2:22 in 2002 qualified him for the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials in Birmingham, AL and who is an outstanding athlete and coach training over 200 athletes, and Robert, a terrific marathon and ultra-marathon runner, who finished the San Francisco Marathon 10th overall in 2:46:45 in July this year.

 

My training friends’ smiling faces after a tough hill workout. Coach Robert Ressl-Moyer is in the back right behind us, encouraging us with every hill and sending us the message that we can strive for more in our training. His positive and personalized training method has me working harder than ever.

 

What are progressive runs? First, let’s look at the definition of the word progressive, as I am sure you would want to become a more progressive person and runner.

Progressive means:

  1. Favoring progress.
  2. Making progress and moving forward.
  3. Continuous improvement.
  4. Relating to progressive education.

When applied to running, we all understand that progressive means increasing speed with each mile that we run. We start slower and we make each mile faster. When applied to life, being progressive simply helps us become more open to changes. Additionally, we don’t mind making sacrifices to constantly improve physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually.

Until this month, progressive runs meant running three miles faster, which did not seem too hard to do. Yet, when I received my new training schedule from Robert and saw progressive runs of 10 to 12 miles, I cringed. I did not think I could execute them, but being the problem solver that I am, I immediately jumped into action and turned on my Strava to talk to me every half a mile so that I can adjust my pace. That made me feel a little better, especially since I have difficulty staying at a slower pace in the mid 9s. My tendency is to run faster, so starting slower and increasing the pace for so many miles was definitely new territory, but I was ready for the challenge.

Today, on the bike trail I executed my 10-mile progressive run perfectly, even though I had to constantly adjust my pace, as I kept running too fast. I started the workout with a positive mindset at 9:50 pace and worked down all the way to 7:44 pace, feeling like a sculptor who chisels a piece of wood to give it the perfect shape.

 

The challenge was not to run fast at the end; it was to keep steady and slower for the first 6 miles. Progressive runs require great discipline! Good for the body and the mind.

 

Hitting my 5 miles of the progressive run and realizing that I was feeling great and ready for more fun.

 

As I kept running and counting down the miles, I realized that this 10-mile progressive run is a perfect training tool for half marathons. I loved it and continued running and writing in my head as I often do.

Here are the five reasons why progressive runs make you stronger and faster:

 

  1. They help you hold onto your pace, or even run faster on race day.
  2. They prepare the body to run stronger when fatigue kicks in.
  3. They increase mental toughness in runners of all levels and abilities.
  4. They help you tune in and feel the pace.
  5. They turn you into a more disciplined, patient athlete and human being.

Next adventure: doing a 12-mile progressive run.

For more info on running, training programs, or hiring a coach, feel free to check out Fleet Feet store, as they have the right training for everyone.

For more info on running and real estate, whether buying or selling, please e-mail me at carmenmicsa@yahoo.com, or call me at 916-342-2446. Running for real estate with joy!

 

Making Long Runs in New Places, Towns, & States Fun, Enriching, & Memorable!

Traveling to new places with my family means bonding, having fun, laughing, trying new foods, and exploring. We love to play sports, hike, visit museums and caves, and enjoy being together. Yet, my favorite way to explore new places is to do it at my own running pace before our children even wake up and are ready to start their day with us.

We have recently visited the Midwest and have enjoyed Chicago, the impressive, unforgettable, and most beautiful American city in my humble opinion, the sweeping and undulating corn fields of Illinois and Indiana, the magnificent lush forests, the balm weather, the history, and spending time with our friends.

After having spent a week in Illinois, we headed to French Lick, Indiana, a quaint, small town with a population of around 1,800. I also wondered about the name and found out that this town used to be a French Trading Post built near a spring and salt lick. Known for its Pluto Water and healing springs, French Lick is also the hometown of basketball legend Larry Bird.

 

The signs pointing to the many adventures around French Lick, IN.

From the moment we drove into town, I noticed the winding paths. As always, my husband helped me plan and plot my run, so I had a route ready for the next day.

THE HISTORY

 

On a crisp June morning with 55 degree temperatures, I took off for my long run that had to be at least 10 miles. I was soaking in the fresh air and was giddy with excitement. I was also thinking of my friends back home in Sacramento who had to put up with the 107-degree sweltering weather. In less than a mile, I arrived in front of the French Lick Springs Hotel, which is on the United States National Register of Historic Places for its architecture and old charm in our modern world (the hotel first opened in 1855).

 

Front of the French Link Springs Hotel, where I took the path leading to the next small city West Baden and the other historic hotel West Baden Springs.
Running down this paved trail was enjoyable.

 

After about two miles of running, I  reached the next town and hotel West Baden Springs Hotel,  also named the Carlsbad of America. I loved the arched entry and the brick path. I stopped to take some pictures, as well as learn about the history of  the hotel and its mineral water and baths that were alleged to cure more than fifty ailments.

The double arches confer a European appearance to the hotel.

 

As I ran on the brick path towards the hotel and the beautiful gardens, I learned that it was the original brick street installed when the hotel was built in 1902.

I loved running through the garden of West Baden Hotel, as the brick road reminded me of some streets in Romania, where I grew up.
I could not resist taking a selfie of the water fountain in the middle of the garden that was a healing place many years ago when visitors came to find cure to their illnesses by drinking the springs water.

 

Running is social – connecting with a local runner

 

Around mile 3 into my run, I ran into a local runner. I asked him how long the trail outside the West Baden Hotel was and he told me that the path ended right after the bridge. At that point, I  figured I might as well repeat the same loop and asked him  if I could join him. David told me that he was running his usual three-mile  loop, so I was happy to have company and talk to a local runner. I found out that he was a teacher, married with two small children, and that his wife was a nurse. We talked about Indiana and why he liked it. I also told him a little bit about California and our lives there. He told me that  he enjoyed running 5K races and that he also ran a half marathon with his wife in Kentucky. David was polite, kind, and a good running companion, which made my long run more enjoyable. No matter where I meet new runner friends, I feel so blessed to be part of a worldwide running community. Our universal love of running does not need translating; it simply resurfaces like a well-balanced surf board above high and tall waves.

David kept me company for about three miles and regaled me with stories from his hometown French Lick, IN. I enjoy meeting new runners who are passionate about our sport and run with happy feet.

 

After an enjoyable run, I said good-bye to David and thanked him for his company. I only had four miles left to make it to 10 miles, so I  headed  back towards French Link, passing by churches, small restaurants, a  mini golf course, and small antique stores.

I loved the brick church and what it represented: Christianity , warmth, friendliness, and hospitality of Southern Indiana.
Our Lady of the Springs Church  founded in 1887 faces the street sign reading Indiana Street.

 

TRIVIA

 

Besides exercising, socializing, learning about the history of French Link and West Baden, I also gathered some fun trivia knowledge that I can share during my runs with my runner friends back home.

TOMATO JUICE 

In front of the French Link Hotel, there is a sign about the invention of the tomato juice. In 1917, French Lick Chef Louis Perrin ran out of oranges to squeeze for juice during the breakfast rush. With a group of Chicago businessmen waiting, Chef Perrin improvised and squeezed some tomatoes. The businessmen loved it and spread the word: tomato juice was great stuff. By the 1920, tomato juice was promoted as a health drink.

Tomato juice trivia

 

WEST BADEN – THE CARLSBAD OF AMERICA

According to one of the signs in  front of the hotel,Carlsbad means “Charles’ bath,” named for the Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV, who is believed to  have discovered the mineral springs at Carlsbad in 1347.

ORIGIN OF THE WORD HYGIENE

West Baden Springs Hotel had four springs all known for their amazing healing properties. One of the springs was named Hygeia, based upon the goddess of health in Greek mythology. Thus, the word hygiene comes from this Greek goddess’ name.

With running tours becoming more popular, I am grateful to go on my own running tours and learn on the go, as well as immerse myself in  the culture of the new places I visit. During this trip, I have become fascinated with fireflies, brick homes and buildings, the dancing corn fields extending for miles, and the ubiquitous  red barns.

When traveling, I also like to apply this German saying: “we grow too soon old and too late smart,” which matches with my philosophy to explore new places we visit with the eyes of a curious and inquisitive child and the soul of a wiser traveler.

 

This teapot was hung on the wall of the German Restaurant we had lunch in French Lick. Our kids loved the Polish sausage and the home-made pretzels.

 

For more info on running and real estate, whether buying or selling, please e-mail me at carmenmicsa@yahoo.com, or call me at 916-342-2446. Running for real estate with joy!

10 Reasons Buddy Runs are Fun, Interesting, and Challenging!

“The best way to relieve stress is not yoga or meditation – although those can be wonderful – but human contact. We need each other.”

Maia Szalavitz, The Sun Magazine

Although running is a wonderful activity to do solo, because it is a great way to problem solve, meditate, and reflect on life, running with your friends can be fulfilling, fun, and make those miles pass by quickly. To me, running with fun and interesting friends has been especially valuable during the long runs, as well as when doing trail running. The chatting, the laughter, the multiple perspectives on life and running have made me look forward to my runs with my amazing friends and training partners.

Holly has been my first running partner. We connected through the Fleet Feet training Facebook page and we became friends. It is always lovely to run together!
Although we went to graduate school together, Elisia and I became friends during my first CIM training with Fleet Feet in 2015. We ran many of our long runs together and had fun and interesting conversations. I am so happy that we reconnected through running.

10 REASONS RUNNING WITH FRIENDS IS MORE FUN, INTERESTING, AND CHALLENGING

 

  1. Running is a social experience and making new friends who love running as much as we do makes running much more enjoyable.
  2. Running is simply more fun when doing it with your running buddy/training partner, or doing it with a big group.
    My wonderful friend and favorite training partner Andrea and I jumping with joy during an easy run through Ancil Hoffman, or what I call my slice of Paradise. Lots of joy and excitement.

    3. Running with a good like-minded friend can make you step outside your comfort zone, such as adding push-ups after your runs, or doing squats and lunges at the bottom of a hill. My friend Cheri, who teaches an awesome core class at Cal Fit, inspires me to get those push-ups done.

After Cheri saw lots of my running posts and jumping pictures, she played around with her phone and came up with a brilliant way to take high jumping selfies. She set the phone on the 10 second timer and placed it on the ground, making our jump look really high. Fun photography I-phone trick that I would not have learned had I not met Cheri and started running together.

4. We all have a love-hate relationship with speed workouts on the track, but doing it together as a group makes it so much fun and challenging. Being on the Fleet feet Sacramento racing team, I get to train with the team on Tuesdays for our track workouts and long runs during the weekend. When I see my team mates run strong, I am motivated to run strong myself.

A fun evening doing speed workout with my Fleet Feet racing team. Josh and Tracy are much faster and stronger than me as a runner, which motivates me to strive and reach for more.

5. Running with others is beneficial to our emotional well-being, as we can talk about our successes and injuries to people who might have similar experiences and can be supportive of our journeys. The key, however, is balance, as we do not want to bring everyone down with our injuries. Instead, we want to find ways to be positive and encouraging of our running partners.

6. Trail running is the best to run with others for various reasons: company, support, strength in numbers in case a bear or mountain lion cross our paths, and the fun of being together in nature.

Having become part of the Trail Mix family of dedicated trail runners in 2016 has been the most amazing experience for me, as I have met incredible people and have explored new trails I never knew that existed before.
Exploring the Auburn Confluence trails with Adam and Aaron. Adam and I have been on the Fleet Feet Fit and now on the Racing team together.  He has also been an amazing training partner in 2016 when I trained for the CIM (California International Marathon), my third marathon.

7. Running with others gives us a different perspective on life, as talking about our ideas, problems, and challenges with our friends can bring solutions and answers that we could not have found on our own.

8. Running and training with a group, such as my racing team,  can infuse more meaning and purpose into your life, as well as unveil  life’s pure joys. 

My team mates from Fleet Feet Sacramento Racing team, which I have joined last year in December after running my third marathon and having a great year with a few age group wins in races.

9. Running with others makes us more accountable, which is paramount to our success in life and sports.

I have run most of my 20 milers with my wonderful friends from FF Fit who kept me accountable and made me enjoy those 20 mile training runs for CIM.

10. Running with others brings the concept of togetherness to a new level and makes us happy, content, and physically and mentally healthy.

Karen and I became wonderful friends during the Parkway 20-mile race that we both ran before the CIM. This picture is at the start of the CIM marathon in 2016. Grateful for our amazing friendship.

And when in doubt of whether to run or not to run, simply reach out to your friends who will help you stay on track. Also remember: running is a two-way street, which means that  your friends are there for you and you will in turn be there for them. All for one and one for all – my favorite musketeer mantra.

“What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult to each other? “ George Eliot, Middlemarch

For more info on running and real estate, whether buying or selling, please e-mail me at carmenmicsa@yahoo.com, or call me at 916-342-2446. Running for real estate with joy!

5 Worst Running Injuries I had in My First Two Years as a Runner and What You Can Do to Prevent Them

Romanians (Yes, I am Romanian American and quite proud of it) have a great saying: “smart people learn from the mistakes of others, whereas not so smart people learn from their own mistakes.” I would love for you to learn from my mistakes and know that learning from your own mistakes is unavoidable. Besides,  when things happen for the first time, it has little to do with your intelligence level: it has to do more with life’s constant element of surprise, or what I like to call an ocean wave sweeping us off our feet when we are least expecting it.

Balance

 

One of the things I think I am pretty good at is balancing my busy parent, professional, intellectual, and athletic life.  I feel that I can juggle things, because I use my calendar well and try to write down all appointments, all my to-do lists, and still have room left for fun activities. I also found out that as a runner, balance is key. I need to balance my workouts, the time on my feet, as well as make room for tennis and strength training. But what happens when you become a little too confident in your running abilities? Well, you tip the balance scales to the heavier training cycle of running, so you start doing two runs a day even after a race you did the same day, which I have done and felt great at the time. You know that your form is good, so you won’t get injured, but overuse injuries can creep up upon us. Our bodies take the beating up to the point of quitting, so that’s when we start having problems.

 

Five worst running Injuries I have had in the last two years

 

I always thought I had a stronger body than my body really is! And, yes! I am an optimist who likes to wear the rosy glasses often. Moreover, just because I have played tennis for 22 years and never got injured is not enough to proclaim the Herculean strength of my body. As a matter of fact, once I started to run in 2015, I realized how many weak areas I had in my body, starting with the ankle which I injured in my first month of running due to poor form and improper shoes for my feet (I was wearing the low Altra shoes that offer no support to our ankles), but bounced back in 4 days. Then the knees pointed out to me that I had developed IT band syndrome, when I felt pain on the side of my knees and runner’s knee when my knees hurt right below the knee cap.

My first  half marathon Run the Sly in 2015, my first year running. I wore the copper fit knee sleeves to protect my knees from hurting, especially during longer runs.
My first CIM marathon that I finished in 4:13, even though I pulled my groin muscle at mile 18 and had to slow down.

 

Although I always ran with my knee sleeves on for about a year, as if they had magical powers, I had discovered that I could run without them with no pain when I forgot to put them on. That day I ran freely without any “crutches,” so to speak and felt like Forrest Gump .

Next injury took me almost six months to clear, as I had developed Planter Fasciitis after buying running flats that had a lower heel drop than I was used to and due to my tight calf muscles. Every morning, the sharp pain in my heel felt like walking on needles or stepping on a nail, but once I started my run, I was pain free and kept on going.

Towards the end of 2016,  I also developed a mild form of shin splints, with pain running up the inside of my lower legs.  Shin Splints can happen to runners whose feet maintain ground contact too long, or if the foot lands too far in front of them. Higher mileage will also contribute to shin splints.

My fifth injury came on totally unexpected on March 21st, 2017 after I did some intense speed workout on the track. I did 4 mile repeats and felt great until I got home and started to limp badly. My husband asked me if I twisted my ankle, or my foot. I said “no.” My speed workout felt wonderful as always.  I just didn’t know what happened, but I was sure I would be like brand new by the morning. And, yes: my rosy glasses were on. I had no clue that I had developed one of the worst injuries that only affects 0.6 percent of runners from what I have read – see how special I am?

I had developed peroneal tendonitis on my right foot, which is extreme pain on the outside area of the foot right above the ankle. Unlike all the above-noted injuries that never stopped me from training and running races, this one left me limping and unable to run. Yes, I was smart to stop running, while resting and icing, but it was mainly because my injury forced me to do that. I have not run in two weeks, doing aqua jogging, stretching exercises, and foam rolling.

After two weeks of rest and doing aqua jogging, Pilates class, and core exercises, I have tried acupuncture http://www.acupunctureinsacramento.com for the first time in my life to attack the tendon and be able to restart my Mountains to Beaches marathon training coming up on May 28th in Southern California. It worked so well and I highly recommend it, but check about your injuries with your doctor first.

Do You Have Peroneal Tendonitis? Here is How to Fix it

http://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/peroneal-tendonitis-stretches#2

Although the article below talks about 5 most troublesome running injuries, which I had all, my sixth running injury comes and goes depending on how long and intense I run. I have had piriformis syndrome on and off, which is simply pain in the gluteal muscles, making it hard to maintain a certain pace, once it kicks in. I like to call this injury a kick in the butt, not figuratively speaking, as that’s the area that hurts and slows me down.

The 5 Most Troublesome Running Injuries

 

When it comes to healing all kinds of running related injuries, I recommend reading James Sullivan’s advice below and then read about my healing methods.

http://www.mensjournal.com/expert-advice/how-to-recover-from-running-injuries

 

CARMEN’S 20 HEALING METHODS FOR THE ABOVE-MENTIONED INJURIES AND ADVICE:

 

  1. Listen to my body and address the issue promptly.
  2. Read many running books and changed my running form after reading the Chi Running book by Danny and Katherine Dreyer. I highly recommend it, as I was able to apply the lessons and improve my form and speed.
  3. Read about the injury and take action to heal the body while running, if safe to run.
  4. Changed the type of shoes I wore and currently run in the Nike Lunar Glide 8, which are better for my feet.
  5. Changed my running shoes every 400 miles to avoid injuries.
  6. Rolling my foot on a tennis ball daily and often while working at my desk to get rid of Plantar Fasciitis.
  7. Using the foam roll often and doing different Yoga stretches.
  8. Doing weekly core and strength training exercises, such as squats, lunges, kettle bell swings, bridges, and so on.
  9. Doing hills to strengthen my body, especially my gluteal muscles.
  10. Running much slower on my recovery days to allow my body to fully recover.
  11. Running with friends to keep myself accountable.
  12. Using the sauna to loosen up the muscles and recover well from tough workouts.
  13. Using the Epsom salt baths after long runs.
  14. Not running the day before a race and especially before a marathon.
  15. Using the chiropractor once to realign my body.
  16. Using the acupuncture and common sense to heal the tendon.
  17. Not taking Levofloxacin or Ciprofloxacin antibiotics, as they can weaken the tendon and ankles, leaving one more prone to injury.
  18. Talking to other runner friends and asking for their advice.
  19. Staying humble.
  20. Being wiser about life and running – hopefully!

 

CARMEN’S 12 GOALS FOR RUNNING STRONGER AND INJURY-FREE IN THE FUTURE ALL THE WAY TO 100:

 

  1. Balance my tennis and running better, meaning that I won’t do a speed training session the same day that I play tennis. Instead, I will do an easy run the day I play tennis, or no run.
  2. Strengthen my muscles more.
  3. Do more stretches after my runs and ice more often at the first sign of soreness.
  4. Give up racing, if a small nagging injury is present and wait to be totally healed.
  5. Run mostly 5 days a week instead of 6, unless I am behind my schedule and my body feels healthy to handle the extra pounding.
  6. Do two easy runs a day when feeling good, but never a hard run followed by an easy one. After a hard run, or race, I can do aqua jogging to relax the body and muscles.
  7. Incorporate aqua jogging and biking into my weekly workouts for cross training and getting the body stronger.
  8. Listen to my body more and respond with rest when needed.
  9. Be flexible in rearranging my running schedule, if my body cannot accommodate a speed workout that day.
  10. Mix road and trail running, but avoid running too many hills on tired legs.
  11. Order custom orthotics for my high arched feet to take away the pressure from the calf muscles.
  12. Use acupuncture, deep tissue massages,  and active release techniques to stay strong and healthy.

 

I have tried Crossfit for a month and got my body stronger, while learning to incorporate some of the moves into my own strength training schedule, such as the deadlift move.

 

Although these injuries seem to be too much, I have enjoyed my running tremendously and highly recommend it to all my friends as the best mediation in motion out there. I have been successful at it, winning many age group races and even winning first female overall in the Gumby 5K trail run this year. I believe that with the right plan and improved running technique, I will continue to run many more races and marathons. Running is life!

For more info on running and real estate, whether buying or selling, please e-mail me at carmenmicsa@yahoo.com, or call me at 916-342-2446. Running for real estate with joy!

10 Tips for Running and Having Fun in the Rain! Don’t Let the Rain Dampen Your Stride!

When it comes to running in the rain, there is no middle ground: runners either love it, or hate it! Unfortunately, I have been leaning towards the haters group and have stalled and waited around for the rain to stop. Today, I had no choice but to go out in the rain and wind, which makes it even harder. Yet, before leaving the house, I told myself that I needed to have fun with my 10-mile run, so I composed another rap song just like other times when I ran in the rain. Rain equates rap? You might ask. Yep! The tapping sound of rain inspires me to rap, for some odd reason.

 

Tips for Running in the Rain:

 

  1. Do not overdress, as a matter of fact underdress!
  2. Wear just shorts and T-shirt, if it’s not too cold, as clothes will get soggy and heavy.
  3. Do not rely on those expensive water proof or water resistant jackets; you will still get wet, so why bother?
  4. Apply glide, or Vaseline to toes, armpits, and other areas of your body that can get chaffed.
  5. Be ready to run in wet shoes and socks, which you won’t bother you, once you settle into your comfortable pace.
  6. Run at your comfortable pace, but allow yourself to be slower, especially if running in the wind and rain like I did today.
  7. Allow yourself to notice nature, animals, and people you meet, and that way you can be creative, such as coming up with songs, poems, etc. to make the time go by faster and have something to amuse yourself with.
  8. Watch the road and run in good traction shoes to avoid slipping and falling.
  9. Pat yourself on the back for sticking to your running schedule and for toughening it out, as you never know what the weather will be like on race day.
  10. Have fun during the run and relax with a hot soup, tea, or cocoa after the run. It will be all worth it!
American River flooding large portions of our Jedediah Smith Bike Trail.

Advantages of Running in the Rain:

 

  1. I was alone on the bike trail today with wild geese who seemed confused to see the closed trail.
    Wild Canada geese exploring the closed trail
    Geese staying away from the wet trail.

    2. I rejoiced in nature and all the bursting blossoms on the trees that reminded me that winter is almost over and spring is inching forward. I loved this blooming tree so much that I came up with a little poem:

    Flurries

“Kissing the bike trail

the soft, delicate petals

are not crushed by pedals

on this rainy, windy day. ”

Blossoms kissing the trail. A flurry of white.

3. The wind and rain act like resistance bands, so running in the rain is fortifying for the body and mind.

I had the rain, wind, and the hills keeping me in tip top shape today. Happy and wet feet!

4. You get to inspire others to exercise rain, or shine.

The River is quite high at the Harold Richey Memorial Bicycle Bridge. Harold Richey was also known as Mr. Bike Trail.

Disadvantages: None.

Go out and run, bike, or walk!  A little rain won’t melt your souls! On the contrary, it will fortify them.

For more info on running and real estate, whether buying or selling, please e-mail me at carmenmicsa@yahoo.com, or call me at 916-342-2446. Running for real estate with joy!

How to Lose Weight, Have More Energy, and Run Faster on Real Vegan Food!

Sports, Nutrition, and Energy

 

I loved sports since childhood and have been blessed with tremendous energy to keep going for hours, doing gymnastics, playing soccer, tennis, handball, basketball, and running, which has become my greatest passion next to tennis. Having been so fortunate to have all this energy, I never thought that I could increase my energy levels even more by becoming vegan, but once that happened, I was amazed. I also felt that I fully earned my nickname the “energizer bunny” that a lot of my friends bestowed upon me.  However, the main difference in my stamina came in 2012 when I decided to become pesco-vegan http://www.livestrong.com/article/98689-pescovegetarian-diet/ after watching Tamra, one of my tennis friends who is vegan eat after our tennis matches. She was my inspiration! One day after our singles match, I told her I was ready to become vegan, so she gave me many good pointers. I thus made the switch right away and turned fully vegan for the first month, after which I added the seafood to my diet.

The pesco-vegan diet

 

It follows the vegan diet, meaning no dairy products, no meat, no eggs, but adds seafood and wild fish, which are good sources of Omega-3s and are great for brain function.  In less than a month, after I changed my diet, my energy level doubled and I felt twenty years younger. I also lost weight, even though I was never big, but the belly fat after giving birth to our sweet children would not go away until I changed my diet and dropped from size 8 to size 4 in just two months.

As a pesco-vegan, I used to enjoy wild-caught salmon with a variety of side dishes. Always buy wild-caught fish if you decide to eat fish.
Salmon and sweet potatoes

 

The Fully Vegan Diet

 

In December 2016, while taking a Pilates class at California Family Fitness with Linda, a vegan for more than 27 years, I decided to become fully vegan and not eat any more seafood. Last year, I had a phenomenal year in running winning seven races in my age group and setting 16 PRs (personal records) out of the 18  road and trail races that I ran,  and I never ran low on fuel or energy. I also got accepted into the Sacramento Fleet Feet Racing Team, so fueling my body properly is super important. I have fun making big pots of lentil soup, vegan burgers, salads, pizza using the fresh herbs dough from Trader Joe’s, and pasta.

Pasta with mushrooms and zucchini.

 

Lentil and mixed whole grains- Yummy!
Carbs are great for runners and all other athletes!
Salads are great and so easy to make! You can top them with beans for extra protein, tofu, Quinoa, and seeds. Delicious and so healthy!

While all this sounds good, you might wonder why you should accept my story. How about other runners or athletes? Do they share a similar story with mine? Pretty much so!

Interview with Josh Fernandez, writer, English Professor at Folsom Lake College, vegan marathon and ultra runner who is on the Sacramento Fleet Feet Racing team

Josh will run Boston this year, 2017!

What made you decide to become vegan?

“At first, it was my friend Toni Okamoto, who runs a website called Plant Based on a Budget http://plantbasedonabudget.com/.  One night, I was at dinner and I called her and asked her about being a vegan. That night, she convinced me that I could easily go from being a vegetarian to vegan. Eventually, we started running together and we ran the Running With the Bears marathon where I met one of her friends, a guy named Dave Wiskowski. He was really cool an ended up running a lot of the race with me. He is an ultrarunner and a vegan. Actually, at the time, he was a fruitarian. An ultrarunner who only eats fruit! I love weird stuff like that.  Anyway, he’s a really amazing guy. A true inspiration. Together, they convinced me that cruelty-free eating is the only way for me.”

 How did changing your diet affect your running?

“I became a vegan several months before the California International Marathon in 2015. I thought to myself, “Well, this will either help me or kill me.” I started eating a lot of avocados, veggies, and pasta. I could feel a difference in my body right away. I felt leaner. I had more energy. I started training with very little fatigue. I got this feeling that I could run forever. Maybe some of it was a placebo effect, but it didn’t matter. I felt strong. That year I knocked almost 20 minutes off my marathon PR and qualified for the Boston Marathon.” 

 Was your experience as a vegan only positive?

“Yes. I used to get tired every day at around 3 p.m., like this really low energy, sluggish feeling, especially if I was at work. At 3 p.m., I would literally rest my head on my desk and struggle to get up. Then I’d pound a coffee, which would keep me up all night. I don’t get that tired feeling anymore and I attribute that all to being vegan. Dairy, especially cheese and lard, weighs me down quite a bit. Cutting that stuff out produces really beneficial and exciting results if you’re an athlete.”  

 What is your favorite source of protein after a long run? 

“I love avocados. I really like to eat a big fat sandwich with avocados, spinach, bell peppers, cucumbers, and hummus. I wash it down with a smoothie made with kale, celery, ginger, apple, garlic and a scoop of Vega protein powder. I think when you’re vegan for a while, your taste buds morph, so even sort of gross food (like garlic in a smoothie) is somehow incredibly appetizing. That’s what my wife says, at least. “

 Any pros and cons of the vegan diet?

“The only con is when people invite you over to dinner, you have to engage in the awkward conversation where you let them know they’re either going to have to make a vegan meal, or you’ll just “bring something from home,” which never happens. But luckily, when you’re vegan, nobody really invites you to dinner, anyway.” 

Any specific advice for runners or anyone else looking to change their diet and become fully vegans?

 “My friend Toni suggested (since I really loved cheese, like in a sick way, enough that I would sometimes eat a block of medium cheddar for lunch) that I should become a vegan in phases–first you get rid of  milk, then eggs, then cheese, etc. So that’s what I did and it really worked. I don’t miss cheese anymore. When I’m craving pizza, Amy’s makes a really good frozen cheese-less pizza that hits the spot, since I don’t like the taste of imitation cheese. You’d think with all the technological advances in the world someone would engineer a cheese that doesn’t taste like toe fungus, but I guess that’s not really a priority. Anyway, I think everyone loves animals, so I would suggest that everybody go vegan. Don’t make me bust out pictures of what happens at factory farms.” 

 Why vegan vs. vegetarian?

“For me, it comes down to two things: health and compassion. I feel my healthiest when I’m not weighed down by meat and dairy. I also feel the most connected to the world when I’m not causing pain to other animals.” 

Now that you have two opinions on turning vegan, I urge you to find out what works for you as far as your diet, consult a nutritionist, read more about the vegetarian and the vegan diets, and embrace the change.  I wish you a healthier, speedier, and more amazing 2017. You can do it!

For more info on running and real estate, whether buying or selling, please e-mail me at carmenmicsa@yahoo.com, or call me at 916-342-2446. Running for real estate with joy!

 

 

16 Life Lessons I Learned from Running in 2016!

“Running gives us the total freedom to be ourselves, while negotiating life one stride at a time.” Carmen Micsa

Physical Fitness Lessons

  1. When in doubt you can do something, just do it anyway. I have learned this lesson this summer during the week I ran 101 miles just to see what it is like to run like an elite runner. I had started my week with a 15-mile run on the American River Parkway in the morning. In the evening, I went running through Ancil Hoffman Park and doubted I can have a decent 5 mile run, but to my great surprise, I ran in the low 8s and felt great. It also helped to see a coyote roaming around and trying to beat the summer heat.
    On the American River Parkway
    Coyote prowling around Ancil Hoffman Park

    2. When the legs get heavy, stop clenching your fists and teeth; instead, lighten up! Anytime I am tired, I love looking up at the sky. The turkey vultures seem to  have the smoothest and seamless fight pattern. They glide effortlessly and float with grace. I try to imitate them, while making my body glide down the trail with ease and determination to  end the heavy breathing and my body’s fatigue.

    The ducks were quaking and moving while I was just admiring them and taking a break from my long run.

    3. When you feel sluggish, look for someone slower than you to make you look better. I remember being at the end of my run and getting into a desperation mode when I came across this steady and determined tortoise crossing the bike trail. I smiled big and understood that slow and steady is a good thing; yet, I still found enough strength to push a little faster and not listen to my tired body.

    Feeling as slow as tortoise? Get those legs moving!

    4. Body aches all over, but you still need to get your easy run in, which is by no means easy. I remember starting my group strength training class this summer to get my body stronger and avoid injury. After my first class, I got  super sore, as my bosy was not used to the intensity. The next day, I had to do a Fartlek run that started with a 2-mile warm-up. I felt the gluteal muscles halting my entire being and thought to myself that I could just skip this and wait till the next day to run. Yet, once I finished my first two miles and got into doing my Fartleks, I felt so much better and the speed agreed with me.  Moral of the story: find that sweet spot to push past pain and a tired body.

    I used to wear knee sleeves, but not anymore.

    5. Knee pain is making you wince and stop more often than you want. My knees used to bother me until I started to run faster and changed my form and cadence. The quicker turnover of my feet also alleviated the strain I was putting on my body, so every time I get tired, keeping my form as intact as possible is key. http://www.runnersworld.com/race-training/the-great-cadence-debate

Mental Lessons

6.  Relax the mind. Although this is only my second year as a runner, I ran 18 races ranging from 5Ks to 50K this year. I PRd 16 of them and won 7 races in my age group. One reason I enjoy racing so much is because I am really good at relaxing my mind. I know I will be prepared and I do not worry or stress about the outcome of the race. I try to enjoy every minute, while I visualize myself running at a great pace propelled by all the racers around me. I can honestly say that I am not nervous when racing, whether I run a 5K or a marathon, which is why relaxing my mind with positive images and a good pep talk really works.

Winning first place in my age group at the Fabulous 40s 5k run, which felt hard due to the heat, but I ran relaxed and was excited to see my results at the end.

7. Tell your brain stories. You might scratch your heads here, but the reality is that our brains will not distinguish between a true statement or a little white lie, which by the way you should not make a habit to use unless you need to make yourself believe in your ability to keep on running strong. For instance, my favorite mantra is “fresh legs,” which I tell my brain towards the end of a race when I am tired. My brain will accept the story; my finish will be much stronger.

My body was done after 7 hours of running my first 50K, but seeing my sweet Sophia at the finish line running next to me has activated my “fresh legs.”

8. Let the positive energy carry you over the mental threshold. At the beginning of a race, most of us possess this positive energy, but towards the end when legs are tired and want to quit, the energy decreases. My trick to increase and keep my positive energy consistent is simply to observe my breath, the sky, the trees, and anything else that will take my mind off any negative feelings or remarks.

During my first 50K Folsom Gold Rush, I kept my positive energy by noticing the harmony and perfect flow of nature.

9. Surround yourself with positive and vibrant people to boost your own mental strength. We runners underestimate the power of our own words and others, so in order to perform at the level we want, it is imperative to surround ourselves with the doers and believers instead of the naysayers. When our family and friends believe in us, our minds are like a well-prepared plot of land waiting to receive the seeds that will later will grow into healthy plants. Our minds are no different and need the same clearance and preparation.

Finishing California International marathon strong. I had so many friends and family who cheered on me and believed in me so that made my running the marathon easier and more enjoyable, as my mind received all the good vibes.

10. The power of distracting the mind and redirecting our thoughts. I can honestly say that all women who are mothers like myself will get this very easily. During long runs, I have learned to distract any negative objections my mind brings up, as well as redirect my thoughts to more positive images, such as celebrating at the finish line. Additionally, whenever necessary, I treat my mind the same way I used to treat our toddler kids by using the power of distraction. The beauty of this is that my mind will accept distractions when body and legs are tired, whereas our children who are older now detect any attempt to distract them when I change the subject.

Even stopping for a jumping picture can be enough to distract the mind and infuse energy.

11. Let imagination guide the mind. During my 20-mile race before running CIM (California International marathon), I used one of the signs someone made for us runners to fuel my imagination and to make me run at marathon pace the entire race. The sign read: “Pain is temporary. Facebook pictures are forever. ” I smiled when I saw that, because as the Facebook queen- ha!ha! I could totally relate to the sign. I even started to write my won FB post in my mind, which helped me continue my run at a strong pace without hardly any pain.

Feeling strong during my 20-mile race three weeks before my CIM marathon.

Spiritual Lessons

12. Running brings us closer to God. With every step and stride, we go through a giant leap of faith. We believe in ourselves and are grateful to the higher powers guiding us. Moreover, when I ran my first marathon in 2015, I felt that God attached angel wings to my shoes that helped me run non-stop for 26.2 miles.

Finishing the first marathon CIM 2015 was truly a divine feeling.

13. The Zen of Running. Running with calm and composure turns us into Zen runners.  It is easy to overreact and worry about things that are not under our control, but if we learn to harness the Zen in us and smile when things get tough, then we will enjoy ourselves more and will be stronger mentally.

Enjoying a trail run on a frosty morning and feeling Zen about my run and life.

14.  Running is humbling. We as runners know that every race can take a sharp turn in a good or bad direction, so we  try to stay humble and not let our minds take off with too much elation and excitement.  As Lao Tzu says in one of my favorite books Tao Te Ching: “The further you go, the less you know.”

A humbling view from one of my trail runs through Cronan Ranch. The view left us in pure awe.

15. Running is serenity soothing the mind, soul, and body. When calmness turns into serenity during my runs, I experience an exhilaration similar to being on the peak of the tallest mountain. My poem about serenity that I wrote after one of my runs can also attest to this indelible feeling:

Serenity

“The crowns and branches of the trees

dip themselves in a pool

of serenity.”

The flowers at the edge of the river brought peace and serenity to my run at the beginning of spring this year.

16. And last, but not least, running is my meditation in motion. With every stride, I feel the pulse of the earth underneath my feet. I meditate on the mundane, the nature around me in correlation with God’s amazing grace, life and death. When I meditate and run, I am in sync with the world around me and feel so ALIVE. Running is LIFE.

The blooming trees in spring offer the perfect backdrop for my meditation in motion.

 

With all the lessons learned in 2016, I feel that I am barely scratching the surface of life and that the further I go with my running, work, being a mom, wife, professional, writer, friend, the less I know. I ran 1,649 miles in 2016 and looking forward to running even more in 2017. Namaste! Happy 2017 filled with wonder and many spiritual wanderings.

For more info on running and real estate, whether buying or selling, please e-mail me at carmenmicsa@yahoo.com, or call me at 916-342-2446. Running for real estate with joy!

 

 

Run, Eat, Pray, Love! Thoughts about Running my Second California International Marathon with a 26 minute PR From My First CIM!

RUN

“You need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select your clothes every day. This is a power you can cultivate. If you want to control things in your life so bad, work on the mind. That’s the only thing you should be trying to control.”

I am using Elizabeth Gilbert’s book title Eat, Pray, Love book as part of my blog title together with a few quotes from her book, because I am deeply interested in the philosophy of running and what it takes to razor time, so to speak, when slashing and shaving your old PRs (personal records).  And, yes I shaved 26 minutes from my first marathon, finishing CIM in 3:47:47 and only missed my Boston qualifying time by 2:47:47 minutes.

At the start line, walking to my 3: 43 pacing group.
Trying to stay warm at the start line. We had the best weather we could have asked for.
With my friends Karen and Nikki and our pacers 10 minutes before the start.

To run a marathon well it takes dedication, hard work, perseverance, and many good choices, such as how to train, what to eat, what to wear, and, most importantly, what and how to think  about an upcoming marathon.  As the above quote says, I selected only positive, radiant, and confident thoughts during all my months of training and before the marathon. I also visualized myself smiling and running , such as in this picture taken by our sweet son Alex when I came by our house around mile 14. I also smiled and tried to defeat “the wall” coming up at mile 20 – see video below, as my quads got tight  and slowed me down enough to lose my pacing group. The video below was taken by Robert Fausett, the son of one of my good tennis friends, Janice Cowden.

Smiling and running. Waving at my family at mile 14 . Picture taken by our son Alex Micsa.
Smiling and running. Waving at my family at mile 14 . Picture taken by our son Alex Micsa.

 

https://www.facebook.com/robfausett916/videos/1343230939042508/

EAT

Stop wearing your wishbone where your backbone ought to be.”

During my intensive 3-month training with Fleet Feet Fit, a more customized and demanding training group than Fleet Feet CIM training program, I constantly worked on my nutrition and what made me feel well-hydrated and fueled.

I don’t know about you, but I love to eat real food during all my runs, but especially during my marathons. I have discovered what works for me and I am happy to share with you so that you don’t have to choke and get a stomach upset on gels and other highly engineered foods. Not only do I like to eat real food, but being pesco-vegan, I have even more restrictions. The pesco-vegan diet follows the vegan diet, meaning no dairy products, no meat, no eggs, but adds seafood and wild fish, which are good sources of Omega-3s and are great for brain function.  In less than a month, after I changed my diet in 2012, my energy level doubled and I felt twenty years younger.

Favorite marathon food I ate every 5 miles during CIM. I did not eat the fig bar, but ate the other two.
My favorite breakfast before long runs. I add a little blueberry jelly on top and also eat a banana.
Post run bar that’s healthy, has little sugar, and has my favorite ingredients: dark chocolate and nuts.

 

PRAY

“There’s a crack (or cracks) in everyone…that’s how the light of God gets in.”

I am a firm believer that God is present in my life and trust his/her timing, guidance, answer to my prayers, and his/her amazing grace. Whenever I pray for something and ask God to help me accomplish a higher goal, a loftier pursuit, or something as difficult as running a marathon, I ask God to help me if he/she thinks I am ready for the next step. Pushing for things that I am not ready for can end in disillusionment. However, by letting the door cracked open, I invite just enough light, wisdom, and sunshine that my heart, soul, and mind needs.

I was listening to a podcast and the author said this quote. I turned my back and saw God’ radiant light and reveled in this sunrise. Running is mystical and answers many of our prayers.

 

When running a marathon, I feel that praying is particularly important and gives us the extra strength we need to conquer the marathon beast lurking out around mile 21, or so. I also believe that running

a marathon is the most humbling experience that reminds us to stay grounded and run in the moment. We all have goals, but we need to understand that our times can derail up and down, more likely down depending on the day, the course, and our physical and mental preparation.

In my case, during the CIM I started to really feel my sore quads, especially the left one around mile 20, which made me slow down, lose my 3:43 pacing group,  and reevaluate my goal. I accepted that I would probably lose the Boston qualifying time, which needed to be 3:45, but I really needed 3:42 to make sure I got accepted, and that I needed to continue to run strong to get a big PR from my last Pony Express marathon that I ran in May, and an even bigger PR from my very first marathon, last year’s CIM.

I prayed, ran, and stayed focused not even hearing my name being called by friends and spectators, or seeing my friends’ special signs for me all the way to the finish line.

Sign made by my awesome friend Holly and her daughter. I gave Holly a high five at Fair Oaks and Arden and loved seeing them cheer on me and the other runners. Cheering gives us energy.
At the finish line with our son Alex. So special!
At the finish line with my husband and our daughter Sophia
At the finish line with Andrea, my friend and amazing training partner.

LOVE

“Zen masters say you cannot see your reflection in running water, only in still water.”

“What does love have to do with running a marathon? ” You might ask. The answer is: everything! When you run with joy and smile through the miles, you feel an immense love for others, for yourself, for exercising, for being together, and for the whole world. Another aspect of our love for running is the stillness of our minds and thoughts while hitting the pavement and while fatigue wants to steal our joyous stride.

During training for CIM, the love for running with our training buddies and our dear friends keeps us going during those four weekend of running 20 miles to be well-prepared for the marathon.

During a 20-mile training run- jumping with joy with my amazing friend Andrea.
Running track with my crazy fit runners Adam and Romero.

Running with love and appreciation for our families, friends, and our happy feet will make any marathon training and race so much more meaningful  and give us a new perspective on our lives. And when in doubt: run, eat, pray, love, and then repeat for your next marathon.

For more info on running and real estate, whether buying or selling, please e-mail me at carmenmicsa@yahoo.com, or call me at 916-342-2446. Running for real estate with joy!

Tips on Having Your Best 20-miler – Running Gear, Nutrition, and Having Fun!

What does running 20 miles and having fun have in common, you might ask yourselves? I agree: it is an oxymoron. One that is harder to grasp for most of us. In fact, when I did my very first 20 mile training run last year in preparation for the California International Marathon, I felt like someone who can’t swim, as I imagined drowning in my own breathless repeated gasp for air. And then the knees screamed at me, screeching and halting, while my brain could not process why I needed to stress my body by running 20 miles when cars are perfectly capable to carry us places.

My friend Elisia and I ran the whole time together and finished strong in the rain. She told me: "We never walk to the finish line. Let's finish strong." OUr last miles were wet, too, as it started to rain.
Last year, my friend Elisia and I ran the whole time together and finished strong in the rain. She told me: “We never walk to the finish line. Let’s finish strong.” Our last miles were wet, too, as it started to rain.

This year, as I am getting ready to run my third marathon, my approach has changed. Now I am looking forward to the fun challenge of running four weekends of 20 miles in a row, according to my training schedule, too. Today, I ran my third 20 milers together with my runner and blogger friend Adam, and I felt great during and after the run. Adam did a great video on gear during our run, in which we talked about our hydration backpacks, shoes, sunglass, hats, and so on – see below.

https://www.facebook.com/Adamtherando?pnref=friends.search

Obviously, as highlighted in the video, hydration and fueling during a long 20-mile run is crucial, which is why we both described our backpacks. When doing an unsupported training run like we did today, it is imperative that you have your own hydration (I drank almost 1.5 liters of water mixed with Tailwind, which provided carbs, electrolytes during my run today), gels, fig bars – my favorite, snacks, and other small necessities without adding to much weight to an already long run. Both Adam and I commented on how comfortable we felt with our hydration backpacks, but this depends from one runner to another. It is advisable to try what works best for you.

PREPARATION FOR YOUR LONG RUN

Running a 20-miler puts a lot of stress and pressure on our bodies, which is why we need to be prepared before, during, and after our long runs. Here is what I recommend that you do, but feel free to  tweak these recommendations to fit your running style and philosophy.

BEFORE THE RUN:

  1. Prepare all your clothes, running shoes, fueling, hydration the evening before just like you should do before your races.
  2. Eat your carbs, protein, and hydrate well the whole week before your long run, but especially the day before.
  3. Skip the protein the day before running your 20 miles, as you need to fill up your muscles with glycogen. Focus on qood quality carbs, such as spaghetti with marinara sauce, sweet potatoes, bread, fruits and vegetables.
  4. Get excited about running long.
  5. Try to vary your running routes to enjoy different sights.
  6. Plan your long run with your running group, or least one running buddy, as running by yourself will be “crime and punishment” – ha!ha!
  7. Set your alarm clock.
  8. Go to bed earlier and try to sleep seven hours.
  9. Visualize yourself having an amazing run.
  10. Don’t worry and go with the flow.
Fueling my body before my 20-miler
Fueling my body before my 20-miler

DURING THE RUN:

  1. Start slower and pace yourself.
  2. Run with a partner who has a similar pace.
  3. Chat, chat, and chat some more during your run to forget about those miles.
  4. Enjoy the views and conversations.
  5. Hydrate and fuel well. Start taking a gel or your favorite carb source of energy after 45 minutes of steady running.
  6. Practice your hydration and fueling during these long runs and take it seriously.
  7. Pay attention to your breath and check on your form regularly.
  8. Running a 12 or 13 miler comes a little easier to most of us runners, so keep going until you hit 15 miles.
  9. With five miles to go, think of it as your five mile day and keep going.
  10. Keep smiling as you pass mile 18, as the happy ending is near.
  11. Take a quick video of yourself at the end of your run to assess how you are feeling and how your run was.  Here is my video and a few pics I took:

Focus on nature and the beauty around you to make your run more fun!
Focus on nature and the beauty around you to make your run more fun!
Picture break in Old Sacramento
Picture break in Old Sacramento

AFTER THE RUN

  1. Do your cool down, light jog, or walk for a little bit.
  2. Do your stretches and a few lunges.
  3. Change to dry clothes right after your run, especially if you have to drive back home.
  4. Eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or a protein bar as you are driving back home and drink more fluids, preferably some chocolate milk.
  5. Change your shoes and wear slippers.
  6. Get home and prepare yourself a protein shake with spinach, berries, and almond milk, or the milk of your choice. Add a scoop of high quality protein powder. I like to use Vega powder.
  7. Take an Epsom salt bath, or use a Jacuzzi tub while sipping your protein shake.
  8. Relax, stretch, massage your body.
  9. After your relaxing bath, eat lunch and repair your damaged muscles with lean meats, beans, rice, potatoes, etc.
  10. After lunch use your foam roller and relax.
  11. If you have access to a pool, go for a swim and your muscles will be happier.
  12. And last, but not least congratulate yourself for a fun 20-miler. You did it!

HAPPY FEET! RUN WITH JOY!

For more info on running and real estate, whether buying or selling, please e-mail me at carmenmicsa@yahoo.com, or call me at 916-342-2446. Running for real estate with joy!