Category Archives: Running and Spirituality

10 Ways to Make Your Solo Runs Fun, Interesting, and Challenging!

“When you reach a dead end road, don’t despair. Instead, watch the sky, the swimming clouds, and the narrow paths that open up. After this exploration, pick yourself up and elevate your soul and mind with jumping joy.” Carmen Micsa

 

Jumping with joy!

 

Let’s be honest: it is always more fun to run with friends, especially those long runs. Yet, many times we need to run on our own for various reasons, such as time constraints, pace desired, coming back from an injury, and so forth.  This Thursday, May 11th, I had a terrific solo 6-mile run in the high 8s and felt so great after not having run for more than a month due to my tendonitis. While running, I usually listen to some of my favorite podcasts, such as The Hidden Brain, Runner’s World, The Moth, The Nutrition Diva, and a few others. This time, I was ready for a selfie running video, as an idea came to my mind. I wanted to explore running and exercising alone and how we can make it fun and exciting.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ow3SAkci4DI

 

During my solo runs, I love to stop more often and capture the pretty views that unfold in front of me.

 

I took this picture at Ancil Hoffman Park on Good Friday before Easter. Only after I  looked at my picture, I saw the divine cross burning in the sky at sunset. I was thrilled with my discovery and took my time before getting back to my run.

 

Ever since I got into running, I felt that I needed to test my body and lungs on my own first. From that first day in 2015 when I ran down the street from my house for half a mile, or so, I have discovered different ways to enjoy my solo runs. It wasn’t always easy, since I am quite a social person and love company, but here are my 10 ways to make your runs solo more fun, interesting, and challenging.

  1. Turn your solo run into that much needed mediation in motion, which is why it is good to leave the headsets behind sometimes.
  2. Listen to interesting podcasts that you like, which feels like running together with an intelligent, fun,  and well-read friend.
  3. Make an appointment with yourself and write it on your calendar. You can write something like: “Running 6 miles tomorrow around Ancil Hoffman Park with my new podcasts to listen. ” By penciling the run on your calendar, you won’t dread going by yourself. It will almost feel that you are meeting someone and you have to stick to the schedule and be punctual.
  4. Combine workouts, such as speed workout with hill repeats, one of my favorite combinations. Another combo I like is tempo run on a hilly course.
  5. Wear a silly hat, or piece of costume around the holidays (Christmas, Halloween) and enjoy the smiles you get from other runners and walkers, as well as from the drivers passing by you.
Wearing my Santa hat and my Christmas top.

 

6.  Find a new running route and create as many different routes around your neighborhood to have choices and be excited to get out the door and start running.

7.  Solve whatever problems you are having during your solo runs and you will be amazed at your creativity and ease of finding the right answers and solutions.

8. Stop to talk to other runners and make friends, or even run together just like I did in Las Vegas when I met two wonderful guys from Canada. We ran down the strip up to Mandalay Bay Casino and Resort and it was wonderful to chat with them and run together. We have stayed friends and are connected on Strava.

 

Picture in front of Paris, Paris with my new running friends. They were kind, fun, and interesting to run with! They had the right pace, too! Runners are the nicest people!

 

9.  Allow yourself to be poetic  and philosophical when running in beautiful places. I love writing little poems in my head, coming up with my own quotes, which makes my run quite exciting and interesting.

10. Give yourself a weekly challenge, such as taking a beautiful pic of wild flowers, animals, taking a selfie jumping picture, etc. You can do the same challenge a few times that week and that will give you even more purpose and something to look forward to besides your tempo run, speed workout, or easy run that day.

 

Besides making your  solo runs more interesting as I mentioned above,  there are also three gifts that come from running alone:

 

In other words, running alone should be practiced weekly  for all the reasons above-mentioned and many more that you might have yourself, as well as to become mentally stronger for your races when you are mostly likely to run by yourself surrounded by the other runners.

 

  1. Running alone is the gift of solitude and peace that your soul needs on a weekly basis to recharge itself.
  2. Running alone is also the gift of gratitude, as it will teach you to be more humble and grateful for that great running friend and partner who helps you pick up your pace and lifts up your spirits the days you do run together.
  3. Running alone is the gift of good health and extended life, as it will offer you so many physical, mental, and spiritual benefits.

And to find out how running with others will make you a stronger and happier runner, stay tuned for my next blog.

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!

 

Running Later in Life and How Running Keeps Us Younger, Healthier, and Happier!

It takes courage and determination to change at any age, but taking up running later in life to increase one’s health and fitness level is not what the every day person does.

Meet five incredible athletes all in their 70s who are not interested in joining any senior’s classes soon. Their passion and joie de vivre: running.

 

Last year while training for California International marathon, my third marathon since I started running, I had the pleasure and honor to meet these four amazing women Charlyn, Barbara, Carolyn, and Linda all in their 70s – so driven, radiant, humble, and truly inspiring.

 

Big 70 to 74 age group winners at Valentine 4-mile race this year. Carolyn in the red, Barbara in the middle, and Charlyn next to her.

 

We met during our Fleet Feet Fit track workouts led by our amazing coach Chad Worthen. Being the  gregarious and curious person that I am, I made friends with them and started asking questions. Charlyn amazed me first, as I talked to her and learned about her transformative and inspiring fitness journey . I even used her story on my mom to get her moving, which worked. My mom started running with me short half a mile distances the  summer of 2016. I have to say that her form was perfect  and that she did not want to run slowly. In 2017, a few months later after getting to know all these wonderful women, I have decided to interview them and learn about their extraordinary journeys.

 

Charlyn Frazier’s beginnings and progress as a runner

 

Charlyn Frazier started to run in February 2011 at the age of 66 after joining a local gym. She had played a lot of tennis in Southern California in the 70s and 80s, but after moving to Sacramento in 1990, she became inactive and put on a lot of weight in the next 21 years.  Luckily, her trainer at the gym suggested that she kicked up the cardio and try running.  

 Charlyn ran her first 5K race in 39:33. It was so exhilarating and she couldn’t wait to do it again.  Soon after that, she ran her first 10K in July 2011, her first half in October 2011, and her first marathon California International Marathon in 2012.  This was just the beginning of her enthusiasm and passion for running. As of February 2017, Charlyn has run 104 races, four of which are marathons. 

 

Charlyn finishing CIM 2016 with a big smile on her face. Another marathon in the books. Marathons are actually her favorite distance and she loves to train for them. Charlyn admits that  even though she is not nervous on race day, she is as excited as a child on Christmas Eve.

 

Her breakthrough in running came in January 2014 when she decided to join Fleet Feet Fit program. She immediately loved having coach Chad Worthen hold her accountable and give her positive feedbacks, while reminding her to get in her miles and stay focused during workouts. 

 

Charlyn wearing bib number 70 to match her age at the Urban Cow half marathon in Sacramento. What a joy!

 Charlyn’s advice to other new and seasoned runners

 

  1. Taking up running for the first time means to start out slow with short distances and work up from there. 
  2. Be ready to be amazed at how quickly your endurance and pace will build-up. For example, Charlyn finished her first 5K on May 30, 2011 in 39:33 and less than three months later finished a 5K in 36:08. Note that she set 5K PR at Run to Feed the Hungry in December 2016 with a time of 27:58.  
  3. It is very important to have a network of running buddies. It was a major step for Charlyn in her running journey when she joined up with Fleet Feet to train for her first Urban Cow Half Marathon. The camaraderie in a training group is a phenomenal motivator for setting that clock and meeting up on the road on a cold winter morning. 
  4. Meet and run with other runners who can inspire you to become the best you can be.  Charlyn has become friends with Barbara, Linda, and Carolyn all featured in this blog.

  Charlyn’s greatest accomplishments as a runner

 

  • In 2015 Charlyn finished 9th in Buzz Oates Run-Sac competitive division. In 2016, she finished 7th being rewarded with $75.00 and $150.00 respectively. She also earned a place on the 2016 Milestone 100-Mile Club having logged 116 miles in Buzz Oates races http://runsacseries.com/. This earned her a cool shirt, hat, and jacket! 
  •  Charlyn’s greatest honor has been receiving the Sacramento Running Association’s Award for 2015 Veteran Women Athlete – Marathon and SRA’s Award for 2016 Veteran Women Athlete – Road Running https://runsra.org/.

 

SRA (Sacramento Running Association) Achievement Award for Veteran Woman Marathon Athlete.

Barbara Rinker’s beginnings and progress as a runner

 

Barbara finishing the California International Marathon in December 2016 with a bright smile on her face. Running brings her so much joy and she loves competing. Her favorite distance is the marathon.

 

Barbara Rinker started to run at 50.

She remembers walking from the 20-mile mark of the American River Trail to the Fish Hatchery as part of a weight loss contest with Weight Watchers to lose pounds and get healthier. Then the walk progressed to a jog next to her long-legged husband. She eventually got pretty efficient at jogging and signed up with Buffalo CHIPS together with her husband. After running her first 10K in 58 minutes, Barbara was hooked by the joy of running. She also realized that running is as mental as it is physical.

 

Barbara’s advice to other new and seasoned runners

 

  1. The more you move, the more capable you are of moving.
  2. Appropriate rest days are just as important as running and workout days.
  3. Barbara’s advice to women 60 and older:  “make yourself available to other runners; you could find them to be great confidence builders. Find a good training group and talk it up with others of like mind.” 
  4. A proper running schedule will help you set and accomplish your health goals and increase the fun in your life.  Heavy breathing is good for the soul and the lungs.

Barbara’s greatest accomplishments as a runner

 

  • Barbara has run 11 marathons: 9 California International Marathons, 2 Boston Marathons, and 1 Avenue of the Giants.
  • Total number of other races: 172, including 1 30K, 23 Half Marathons, and a mixture of 5 and 10Ks.

Carolyn Slavich’s beginnings and progress as a runner

 

Carolyn Slavich was 62 when she started running.  She decided to try running when her daughter ran the CIM that year. Carolyn started to run around the track at the tennis club with one of her tennis friends. She doesn’t think she made it even 100 yards the first time she tried it, but kept at it until she could run 5 miles. Her first races were Susan G Komen 5K and Run to Feed the Hungry.  When she was 65, Carolyn’s daughter talked her into doing a half marathon. Carolyn ran the Sacramento marathon half, which became the Cowtown and the Urban cow about five times.

When Carolyn was 70 years old, she decided to try a marathon. She looked for the perfect training program, but they all were for people faster than she was. Then she found Harry Tortuga training for the Urban Cow half and was able to combine that with a marathon training program she found on line. Carolyn completed her first CIM at 70 in 5:39.

Carolyn’s advice to other new and seasoned runners

 

  1. Running is very personal for everyone and the desire to start running has to be there for an individual.
  2. Carolyn encourages everyone interested enough to give running a try, because the end result is an amazing feeling, especially once runners reach their goals.
  3. Running certainly keeps you fit.
  4. Runners are such great people and running is such a wonderful social sport.

Carolyn’s greatest accomplishments as a runner

 

Carolyn Slavich’s 1st AG (Age group) place at the Shamrock’s half marathon in March 2017.

 

  • Carolyn has completed 6 marathons and Boston will be her 7th.
  • Carolyn is not totally sure, but she thinks she ran 100 races.
  • She attributes her running accomplishments to her coach Chad Worthen and the Fleet Feet FIT training.

Linda Hall’s beginnings and progress as a runner

 

 

Linda won 1st place in her AG at the ZooZoom 5K race on March 26 (5K races are her favorite).  We’re both displaying our stuffed animals that we received for placing in our AG. I finished second in my AG.

 

Linda Hall was 32 and just starting her first job as an assistant professor of biology at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts when she started running.  She was working in a high stress job, setting up her own research laboratory, competing for grant money, teaching really bright students, and living in a big city. Linda had a husky-shepherd dog (Nikki) who loved running around Fresh Pond in Cambridge.  Once Linda started running with her dog to and from work, she was hooked. Linda has been running for more than 40 years.

Linda did not run any races until she moved to New York City in 1979 when she joined the faculty at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, where she was a professor of molecular genetics and neuroscience. She joined NYC road runners and also Prospect Park Track club. Linda’s first race was Leggs mini marathon, which was really a 10 k race in Central Park. That year Dustin Hoffmann was in the movie Tootsie.  He ran in that race in drag and was just ahead of Linda. The crowd was cheering for him, which was an indelible moment.

 

Linda’s advice to other new and seasoned runners

 

  1. Buy yourself a pair of good running shoes and vow to wear them out (it takes 300-400 miles).
  2. Then buy another pair of shoes and keep going.
  3. Running is a great way to relieve stress and to solve problems.
  4. Running can teach us patience and to approach problems systematically: one step at a time.
  5. Nothing seems bad after a nice run alone or with friends.
  6. Listen to your body and don’t try to do too much, too soon.
  7. Find a group of friends who are a little faster than you and stick with them.
  8. Running is a great way to maintain your weight, but you still can’t eat everything.
  9. Have fun with running, but listen to your body and you can keep running for many years. …more than 40 years for Linda!
  10. Running teaches you the importance of running your own race, but also the importance of encouraging others.

Linda’s greatest accomplishments as a runner

 

  • Linda has run 7 marathons: NYC marathon (4 times), Marine Corps, Grandmas (in Minnesota), and the San Diego rock n roll marathon

Besides these wonderful and dedicated women athletes, I also had the honor to meet and interview David Ghent, who competes and wins in the Senior Games in the 70-74 age group, which used to be Senior Olympics.

 

My friend Andrea and I met David Ghent at the American River College track stadium. We started chatting with him and found out how much he loves to sprint. We also learned that he is in his 70s and living life to the fullest. His favorite event is the 100 meters dash.

 

David Ghent’s beginnings and progress as a runner

 

David Ghent is a different type of runner; he is a 73-year-old sprinter who loves sprinting due to the fact that it is over quickly. David has attempted distance running, but found out that he didn’t have the mental fortitude for it. David started sprinting for exercise and fell in love with it. He was sprinting at American River Junior College one day when this man asked him if he ever thought about sprinting in the Senior Games, which used to be Senior Olympics. The Senior Games are divided into 5 year increments from 50 years on up. David had never heard of it before, but started checking into it and decided to enter his first competition in 2014. He won three gold medals and has competed ever since.

 

David’s advice to other new and seasoned runners

 

  1. It is never too late to start something.
  2. People put too much weight into numbers when discussing age. It is almost expected that when one reaches a certain age, one is to stop living and “take it easy,” which is a big mistake.
  3. If more people could experience the feeling of when endorphins are activated into the pleasure center of one’s brain and the positive effect that endorphins have on the thoughts and feelings of the person, maybe more would choose to run.
  4. Joining a running group is such a positive and motivating environment. It is more enjoyable to participate in doing something with other like-minded people than alone.
  5. Completing a marathon doesn’t have to be the end all of a goal. Just go into it with the thought of moving, as they say from couch to 5K.

 

David’s greatest accomplishments as a runner

 

  • To medal is the ultimate goal, but to be a participant and take in all that the Games have to offer and meeting the athletes is truly a privilege. To witness a 92 year young woman shot put and a 101 year young man shot put, throw both the javelin and discuss, and to run and finish both the 100 and 200 meter dashes is truly inspiring.
  • Every two years there is the National Senior Games which are held in a different state each time. One has to qualify to participate and each state has their own qualifying events. David was fortunate enough to have qualified in 2015 which was held in Minneapolis, Minnesota and again this year in Birmingham, Alabama. He will be participating in the 50, 100, and 200 meter dashes. He failed to advance to the finals in 2015, but that is his goal this year in Birmingham.
  • David has run many 5K races and finished 2 half-marathons.
  • David’s big goal and plan for this year is to run and finish the CIM, which will be his first marathon. He hopes to erase that from his bucket list.

When it comes to running and exercising to stay healthy and happy, running can be a great outlet. After all, life is rarely a sprint; it is a marathon, so why not run your first marathon at any age and find more inspiration from others who have done it and have transformed their lives, one step and mile at a time.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this blog, and if you have your own amazing stories to share, please comment here.

http://nutritionfacts.org/2017/01/24/exercise-as-a-treatment-for-depression/

http://www.runnersworld.com/walking

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!

Traveling and Running – 6 Tips to Explore New Places

Ever since I became a runner, I have changed the way I see the world. I pay more attention to details, I am more creative, and I love to see nature, animals, plants, trees, and new places and cities in motion.

My first breakthrough came last year (2016) when we traveled to the East Coast, and I got to run from the mountains in Tennessee to the beaches on Hilton Head Island. During that trip, I thought to myself that every city should have a running tour, as it is so much easier than creating our own tours when traveling to new places, although it feels great to be explorers.  Sacramento, for instance, has Sac Running Tours http://www.sacrunningtours.com that offers two 4-mile run tours: Capital City Highlights featuring Sacramento history and places of interest and Urban Art featuring the large murals, public art, and graffiti around downtown/midtown, which I went on last year ( 2016). Both tours are $30 each. They also offer personalized tours at any distance for individuals or groups.

Last month, our family traveled to Las Vegas. This article http://www.bootsnall.com/articles/10-11/running-while-traveling.html about running while traveling is right on. In my case, I chose to run up and down the strip in Las Vegas in the morning and late afternoon to experience all its bustling, music, street shows, and lights  at my own pace.

Not many people around during my morning run.
Yet, exploring busy cities and new places takes some preparation as well as spontaneity to make your running adventures even more fun and exciting.

 

  1. One of the best times to explore a new place is in the morning, as it is more tranquil, less traffic, and less busy.
Treasure Island Casino before its visitors show up. The stillness of the pirate ship and the uneventful dock made me enjoy it even more while snapping a quick pic.

2. Plan your route ahead either by searching online, Strava, MapMy Run, or even better asking the front desk at the hotel you’re staying, since they know the area and will have some great recommendations.

I knew that I needed to do a 10-mile run, so I fugured that running from Westgage Hotel, where we stayed past Luxor would get me close to my running and exploration goal.

3. Try to join local runners/running groups, or simply join other runners that you come across during your run.  Around mile two into my run, I was fortunate to come across two tall, handsome, and very polite Canadian runners who allowed me to run with them after I asked to join them. Making friends in a new city takes us beyond the geography of that place; it places us closer to the locals and visitors from all over the world, which makes  it much more rewarding and fascinating.

Enjoying the company of my tall Canadian friends who ran with me about 4 miles.

4. Best way to immerse yourself in the new place you’re visiting is to allow yourself to stop and smell the flowers, so to speak. In my case, I stopped to take jumping pictures, watch the street shows,  and visit the inside of the Bellagio Casino to delight in their Chinese New Year flower exhibit (the year of the rooster) during my two days of running and exploring Sin City.

Jumping with joy in front of Caesar’s Palace.
Watching the knife juggler who travels all over the world with his shows.
Exquisite topiary celebrating the Chinese New Year.
The vibrant red carnations sure make this stand out.

5.  The joy of running in a new place is to listen to its throbbing arteries, so leave your headset at home and be aware of your surroundings, while staying safe.

Looming casinos, shiny and bright.

6. Besides making us feel good, the joy of running in a new place is to bring your family back to some of  the sights and rejoice together.

Our family enjoying the water fountain show in front of Bellagio.
Our sweet children being silly in front of the Tour Eiffel Tower replica.

Traveling immerses us in the heart and soul of new places; traveling and running connects us to the deeper beats of new places we visit and revisit. Let’s strive to stride around the world!

Please share your stories and running adventures be commenting on this post. Happy feet!

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!

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!

The Serendipity of Running – How to Live a More Creative, Productive, and Joyous Life!

 

Running is serendipitous!

 

Ahh! You might exclaim! The author is trying to invoke serendipity to make us run more! Well, she will need to work hard to make this happen!

purpleserendipity_nob8

It might be just the opposite, I would add. One aspect of Walpole’s original definition of serendipity, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serendipity often missed in modern discussions of the word, is the need for an individual to be “sagacious” enough to link together apparently innocuous facts in order to come to a valuable conclusion. How many times do you go on a run expecting a typical run, but then things turn out serendipitous? Are you able to detect these moments easily, or do you just run along and miss them?

seren_def_nov8

 

Serendipity at Ancil Hoffman Park

For instance, I had a really fun run and hiking coincidence one weekend when I was still pretty new to running.  Our kids wanted to relax and stay home with my husband, but I decided to go on a 2-mile run to Ancil Hoffman Park right after the cleansing rain. Once I got there, there was a group ready to go on a hike, part of the meet-up group Trail Mix. I asked them if I could join the hike. Our energetic and youthful guide, a man in his late 70s, who still does speed walking races and is super fit, said yes, so I  went on a 4.5 mile hike all around Ancil Hoffman Park (my total for the day: 2-mile running and 4.5 mile hiking, which was just great). The people I hiked with were delightful and quite cheerful. We all enjoyed seeing deer, a jack rabbit, turkeys, and relished the scenery.  I love exploring and experiencing new things, as well as being open to serendipity.

Deer grazing
Deer grazing

Another time, I woke up earlier than my normal time on a weekend, because I had a busy day, but I still wanted to get my 5-mile run in. I decided to run through my slice of Paradise, as I call Ancil Hoffman Park .http://www.regionalparks.saccounty.net/Parks/Pages/AncilHoffmanPark.aspx

As the sun gently pushed its way through the tree branches, the artist I listened to on my Ted Talk podcast said the following Egyptian proverb: “Anyone who wants to see the sunrise clearly needs to wipe his eyes well first.” At that moment, I stopped on the trails and took this gorgeous sunrise picture. I love the spiritual and meditative side of running.

As I ran down the trail, I turned around and saw this beautiful sunrise. I stopped and snapped a picture, smiling at the serendipitous moment.
As I ran down the trail, I turned around and saw this beautiful sunrise. I stopped and snapped a picture, smiling at the serendipitous moment.

 

Serendipity at Jensen Park

 

Another time, I went on a quick 4-mile run after finishing all the activities with the kids. I ran to my beautiful Jensen Botanical Garden. http://carmichaelpark.com/jensen-botanical-garden/

Once there, I noticed the colorful tulips surrounding the old oak tree in a circle of love. At that moment, I smiled sheepishly and came with my own diagnosis: ORD, obsessive running disorder- ha!ha!

The beautiful tulips surrounding the majestic and old tree in Jensen's botanical garden
The beautiful tulips surrounding the majestic and oak tree in Jensen’s botanical garden
Spring tulips

Symptoms: increased happiness and productivity at work and life, lots of joy and satisfaction with life, tremendous energy and endurance, laser beam focus, increased concentration and efficiency, exploration of life’s many trails, routes, vistas, etc.

Cure: More running and more meditation in motion.

Time frame for cure: When patient turns 100 years old- ha!ha!

Towards the end of my run, I stopped and talked to one of the gardeners. She immediately offered to give me a tour of the community garden. As I entered the garden, to my left, there was the Misca family garden, which is not our family (we do not have a green thumb – ha!ha! and our name is spelled with a c before before the s), but another wonderful Romanian family. Right away, I appreciated the serendipity that running brought along into my life, as well as the sounds, the smells, the thoughts, and the people I met along the way. Pure bliss.

I pray that God allows me to kick up my heels till I’m 100 to enjoy the serendipity of running and to spread the joy. I also pray that you do the same. Happy feet!

Please post your serendipitous running moments under the comments for our contest. The best one will win a $5 Starbucks gift card.

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!

Ten Steps to Start Running at any Age!

According to the Runner’s World magazine, there are eight crucial steps to help someone start running.

http://www.runnersworld.com/get-someone-running/8-steps-to-help-someone-start-running?cid=NL_QOTD_-_09092016_8StepstoHelpSomeoneStartRunning&utm_source=RWD07&utm_medium=email&smartcode=YN_0000988866_0001568475

I agree with all their steps, but I have come up with my own 10 steps to help you start this amazing journey. First, I need to share with you my mom’s story and how she started to run at 63 years old after never having exercised in her entire adult life, other than taking short walks to get places she needs to go, since she does not drive.

Mom’s Running Story

On Wednesday evening, September 7th, 2016, I came home elated from my track workout with Fleet Feet Fit running group that I joined to prepare for the California International Marathon that I will run this December, hoping to qualify to Boston. I sat next to my mom and told her what a great workout I had. I also told her that we have a few ladies in their 70s running with us and that they  were amazing. I added that running makes your knees stronger and that’s when my mom clicked: “I guess I should start running, too.”

I was speechless, as my mom usually refuses any kind of physical activity, but then I realized that this was the moment that I was waiting for: my mom’s desire to change and try something new. I immediately transcended my surprise and shock and replied: “Awesome! We’ll go tomorrow morning on a very easy run/jog/walk around our neighborhood.”

“I’ll be ready and wear my good shoes,” my mom said.

The next morning after I dropped the kids off to school, my mom and I took off, after doing a few stretches. My mom started to run with a straight back, relaxed shoulders, and a perfect stride. She ran about a quarter mile, after which we stopped and walked a little bit. Once she started again, I took this amazing video of her first run ever at the age of 63 (she’ll turn 64 in December), which shows that we don’t have to be athletic, strong, gifted, or special to start running. We just need a gentle push, the motivation to better our health, our bodies and minds, and the desire to try new things, as you never know what you like if you don’t try and experiment with life’s joys and surprises.

In reading about Dr. Walter Bortz’s exercise dictum in the Runner’s World magazine: “It’s never too late to start, and it’s always too soon to stop,” I knew that my mom’s timing was perfect and was so happy for her. Her lower back and knees have been giving her a hard time for many years, so she decided to get her body stronger, which is what we all need to do: counter any weakness in our body with new strengths that come from running. We can overcome an aging body and can sharpen our minds at any age.

Carmen’s advice and 10 Steps to Help Non-Runners  Start Running:

 

  1. Share your running excitement with your non-runner friends by showing them your Strava app, telling them about your beautiful running routes, your races, etc.
  2. Do not ask your runner friends to start running unless they are very open to trying new things. Instead, let your friends ask that they go running with you, or let think them it was their own idea to start running at their own pace and in their own way.
  3. DO NOT tell your non-runner friends that running is EASY like I did with one friend I turned away from running, even though I meant to say that it is easy to go out wearing a decent pair of shoes and just run.
  4. Encourage your friends to start slowly and with only one mile or less on their first official run, as well as to take walking breaks until they build up their stamina and strength.
  5. Emphasize the need to go to a specialty shoe store, such as Fleet Feet in Sacramento to be evaluated by a running specialist and buy the right shoes, as they will make or break your non-runner friends.
  6. Encourage them to join running groups after they can run for at least 30 minutes without stopping. Running with others builds confidence, excitement, and most importantly, commitment.
  7. Encourage them to eat real food and hydrate properly.
  8. Challenge your stubborn non-runner friends to a 5K race by telling them that it is too hard for them to do it and see their ambition go up.
  9. Encourage your friends to read articles in the Runner’s World and other publications, watch videos, and learn more about nutrition, as knowledge is power.
  10. Share the mental, physical, and spiritual benefits that come from running and be your friends’ running ambassador to help them change their lives with running.
Running with my mom! What a special feeling and moment! Running is life!
Running with my mom! What a special feeling and moment! Running is life!

 

My mom's second run on the American River Parkway.
My mom’s second run on the American River Parkway.

And if you wonder about my mom’s commitment whether to run or not to run, please watch this video. Running is a CHOICE to feel infinite JOY. Running is also a CHOICE to be healthy and strong. Running is LIFE.

 

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!

Running is Oh, so Easy, and Oh, so hard!

“If you want to become a runner then get onto a trail, into the woods, or on a sidewalk or street and run. Go 50 yards if that’s all you can handle. Tomorrow, you can go farther.”

Scott Jurek

My first month as a runner when miles felt double and sometimes triple the distance.
My first month as a runner when miles felt double and sometimes triple the distance.

That’s pretty much how I started running down the street for like a quarter mile in March 2015, after which I increased the distance, my stamina, and so on. Therefore, if you hear me say running is easy, I refer to this aspect of running that allows great flexibility, a road right outside your home, and a decent pair of running shoes.

A month after I started to run, I ran the Zoo Zoom 5K race and finished third in my age group. I guess running is easy- ha!ha!
A month after I started to run, I ran the Zoo Zoom 5K race and finished third in my age group. I guess running is easy- ha!ha!

 

RUNNING IS EASY

I don’t know how many non-runners I can convince with the above-mentioned statement before I actually make them run away from running, but I will explain my reasoning and my positive affirmation about running as an easy, healthy, and even highly enjoyable activity.

  1. Most running takes place right outside our doors, so we don’t need any special places to start running.
  2. Running is easy to do on your own.
  3. Running does not require much planning, as you can always lace up your shoes and bolt outside your home.
  4. Running is plain fun every time we decide to venture outside of our homes, our worlds, and our comfort zones.
  5. Running is powerful, as it opens our hearts and souls to new possibilities, while we continue our journeys down the path of exploring life with curiosity, mindfulness, and awareness.
  6. Running is social and can bring people together.
  7. Running is blissful and puts us in a great mood after we are done.
  8. Running is healthy for the mind and the body.
  9. Running helps us live longer.
  10. Running makes us smarter.
  11. Running makes us happier and more content.
  12. Running is an easy way to explore new places.
  13. Running is time efficient.
  14. Running burns a lot more calories than other activities about three times more than biking, for example.
  15. Running makes us sleep better.
  16. Running increases the good hormones in our brains.
  17. Running takes us closer to nature.
  18. Running brings us closer to God.
  19. Running is healing.
  20. Running is LIFE.
Enjoying nature and the deer at Ancil Hoffman Park, my own running Paradise.
Enjoying nature and the deer at Ancil Hoffman Park, my own running Paradise. Picture taken by my friend Holly Macriss.

THE HARD, THE BAD, THE UGLY, & THE STRUGGLE

One of my good friends from Sac State Kellie Edson shared this wonderful story about the butterfly and the chrysalis and their metaphor for life’s struggles. So powerful! It applies to running, too, as we struggle sometimes, but then we finish our short and long runs, our races and marathons as changed people, light, beautiful, and victorious!

“Along a dusty road in India there sat a beggar who sold cocoons. A young boy watched him day after day, and the beggar finally beckoned to him.

“Do you know what beauty lies within this chrysalis? I will give you one so you might see for yourself. But you must be careful not to handle the cocoon until the butterfly comes out.”

The boy was enchanted with the gift and hurried home to await the butterfly. He laid the cocoon on the floor and became aware of a curious thing. The butterfly was beating its fragile wings against the hard wall of the chrysalis until it appeared it would surely perish, before it could break the unyielding prison. Wanting only to help, the boy swiftly pried the cocoon open.

Out flopped a wet, brown, ugly thing which quickly died. When the beggar discovered what had happened, he explained to the boy “In order for the butterfly wings to grow strong enough to support him, it is necessary that he beat them against the walls of his cocoon. Only by this struggle can his wings become beautiful and durable. When you denied him that struggle, you took away from him his only chance of survival.”

The butterflies swarmed around and filled the day with the beauty of their colorful wings.
The butterflies swarmed around and filled the day with the beauty of their colorful wings.

From this story, here are 10 hard and yet beautiful aspects of running:

  1. Running is hard, or I should say challenging, since I don’t like to use the word hard.
  2. Running is a struggle on some days depending on our mood, pace, environment, weather, the alignment of the planets, etc.
  3. Running reminds us of our own fragility before we can feel our strength.
  4. Running leaves us breathless literally, not figuratively.
  5. Running takes a lot out of us.
  6. Running can take a toll on our bodies.
  7. Running takes courage.
  8. Running is not for everyone, and yet we were born to run.
  9. Running means getting outside our comfort zone and that’s challenging.
  10. Running is sweating.
The love of running!
The love of running!

Yet, when we run, whether it feels easy or hard, we can all ask ourselves: “How can we disrupt our complacency and satisfaction with things we do on all levels of our lives?” Answer: “By gently pushing ourselves to do more and to require more of ourselves, as we are all perfectly capable of reaching higher professional, fitness, intellectual, and any other goals we set our minds on achieving.”

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!