Category Archives: The joy of running

What the Beets? Why Every Athlete Should Make Beets Part of Their Weekly Menu

When it comes to endurance events, such a running a marathon, biking a century ride, doing an Ironman, and so on, most athletes reach out to energy drinks and caffeine before the start of their events. But what if we can replace the above-mentioned with beet juice instead and boost athletic performance even more?

 

 

 

Photo Credit: Jaclyn Schmidt

My picture during Urban Cow Half marathon on Oct. 1, 2017, where I had a big PR, finishing in 1:43:56 with a 7:56 pace. I felt amazing during the whole time and the Super Beets powder that I mixed in my water and drank it before the race sure kept me steady and strong.

 

A study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology in 2009 found that individuals who drank beet juice experienced up to a 16% increase in endurance compared to those who did not. Also according to Jacqueline Ritz, founder of the Paleo Mama blog, beets fight cancer, lower the risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure, increase endurance in athletes, and they are also an aphrodisiac. Being a high nitrate vegetable, beetroot, the red bulbous part, has become the super food for runners, cyclists, and other athletes. What if you don’t like beets and don’t wish to eat it, but still want to reap some benefits in increasing your endurance? There are many products on the market, such as this powder I buy from Wholefoods.

 

I have used this before races and my running felt effortless. I just mix a scoop with water and take it about an hour before the race, or a long run. Love it!

 

How high nitrate foods enhance our performance:

 

Another thing you can do to benefit from high nitrate vegetables is to eat more spinach, arugula, radishes, celery, lettuce, parsley, and rhubarb. Talking about nitrates, Amby Burfoot, the author of In Beet Juice We Believe published in the Runner’s World, explains how our body processes beets and turns them into a superfood. Burfoot points out that beets get their endurance power from helpful mouth bacteria that convert the nitrate in beets to nitric oxide, which appears to be the miracle substance. Nitric oxide can substantially lower blood pressure and somehow extend endurance. I guess we runners should not need too much more convincing regarding beets, which are good sources of folate, manganese, potassium, vitamin C, and dietary fiber, since we all try to avoid the famous “wall,” when our body rebels and starts hurting.

 

Ways to eat your beets:

 

  1. My favorite one is borscht.

 

 

Best borscht I have ever had made by my awesome friend and best training partner Andrea Brizendine. She added quinoa,  carrots, potatoes, and onions to it. I gobbled it up with whole grain bread and hummus. Delicious! It also makes me run longer and stronger! Isn’t this what we runners want?

 

To try this recipe and cook the same vegan borscht that my friend Andrea shared with me, please go to https://natashaskitchen.com/2013/05/18/easy-superfood-red-borsch/

So easy to make and so healthy! For a quick glance at the ingredients needed to make this,  see below.

 

Ingredients for Superfood Red Borsch – vegan style:

 

12 cups reduced sodium veggie broth
1 medium or 1/2 large onion, peeled and cut in half (ends removed)
3 medium potatoes, sliced
1/4 cup quinoa
3 medium beets, peeled and grated
2 good handfuls of chopped kale leaves
2 bay leaves
3/4 cup sliced carrots
1 Tbsp Mrs. Dash
3 Tbsp ketchup
1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
Salt & pepper to taste

 

2. Roasted beets, which I cut up, drizzle with olive oil, wrap them in aluminum foil, and roast them in the oven till they are tender.

 

3. Beet salad, which I used to eat as a child and liked its sweet taste. To make this salad, I cut up the beets and boil them till they are soft and tender. After they cool off, I remove the skin and grate them. I mix them up with a little salt and pepper and drizzle red wine vinegar on top. I keep the beet salad in a glass container in the fridge and eat it with roasted potatoes and other meals that go well together with this salad.

 

Credit recipe goes to my friend Cristina Nagy.

 

How about you? How do you like to eat your beets? Any special recipes you would like to share? No matter how you choose to eat, or drink them, one good thing could happen: you will BEAT your race PR with the mighty BEET!

 

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 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!

 

Why Every Runner Should Do a Triathlon to Become a Stronger & More Well-Rounded Athlete

I graduated with my Masters degree in English from Sacramento State University in 2011. One of the highlights of my going back to school besides learning and becoming a better writer was biking from home to school using our beautiful American River Parkway. I was biking 20 miles round trip and loved my bike rides and the freedom they brought to my day. At the time, I was doing century rides for the American Diabetes Association in memory of my dear father who died of a heart attack due to his diabetes at the young age of 53.

TRIATHLON – A NEW SPORT TO MAKE US MORE WELL-ROUNDED

 

Now as a runner, I experience tremendous freedom and joy, but I also use the same muscles. After attending a free Triathlon information session at Fleet Feet, I have decided to jump right at it and do my first women only triathlon coming up on September 9th. Being new to triathlons, I did not even know what it really meant to do a triathlon. I found out that I would have to swim half a mile, bike 20 miles, and run 4 miles, so all doable.  Moreover, after taking some clinics and talking to my runner friends who have done them, I realized that doing my first triathlon will open up new fitness doors that I never knew existed. This reminded me how important explorations and trying new things are.

At my first swim clinic wearing a wet suit for the first time in my life and feeling like a seal – all sealed up – ha!ha!
I figured the wet suit is not needed, so I bought myself some comfy swim shorts for my triathlon, as Carolyn, one of the women who has done many triathlons told me that it is easier to swim in a swim suit and transition easier and faster to the bike. I agree and have accepted the great advice.

 

What is a BRICK in triathlons? Why runners should do them once a week, or every other week to become stronger and faster whether training for a triathlon or not?

 

Veronica, one of my trail runner friends , who used to do half Ironman told me that I needed to start doing brick workouts.  She explained to me what they meant, as I had no clue. The biking-running brick workout is one of the most popular, as one bikes first and then runs to prepare for the triathlon.  Second most popular brick workout is swimming first and biking second. These two brick workouts can also be done in reverse, meaning run-bike, bike-swim, but the idea is to experience the same conditions and order as in the triathlon.

https://www.trainingpeaks.com/blog/using-brick-workouts-in-triathlon-training/

According to Chris Carmichael, there are various type of Brick workout, which he describes in his article.

http://trainright.com/get-it-together-with-brick-training/

Doing my first brick workout in preparation for my first Triathlon. I biked for 12.7 miles and then ran 4 miles.

 

Meeting Christy, a new fellow biker, who rides 50 miles on her days off.  Wow! We rode together and  immediately connected due to our being health conscious, vegan, and loving the freedom and control that exercise brings into our lives. To new friends! To more happy rides!

 

TOP FIVE REASONS TO DO BRICK WORKOUTS AS A RUNNER, OR JUST FOR OVERALL FITNESS

 

  1. Excellent cross training exercises and routines.
  2. The two sports help work and train different muscles in our bodies.
  3. Reduced risk of injuries.
  4. Increased cardio fitness.
  5. Fun, fun, and more fun!

My first brick workout was biking 13.7 miles at a brisk pace and running 4 miles in the low 8s right after the biking. Although I felt my legs turn into bricks right after biking, I was able to run at a decent pace easing into each mile and being amazed at what my body could do. I felt confident and happy with my very first brick workout. I will report back after doing my second brick workout swimming and biking.

My selfie picture during the 4-mile brick workout. I had to quickly stop around mile 2, as it was getting hot. Running was not easy after biking, but what a great training!

 

Whether doing a triathlon, or not, I highly recommend mixing these type of brick workouts into your training to help you stay stronger and  infuse more variety and fun into your workouts. Happy feet! Happy pedaling! Happy swim strokes! This is my favorite order for my upcoming women only triathlon, but everyone will have different favorites.

 

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!

Running for Real Estate – 10 Tips on buying a home sight unseen!

When I first came up with the name of my blog, I felt pretty good about it and even gave myself a pat on the back for it. How appropriate! I love real estate and running, so running for real estate was created.

RUNNING FOR REAL ESTATE

 

Last weekend, I had the chance to literally run for real estate. I ran from home to a house in Carmichael that one of my out of town buyers was very interested in. I put my MLS key inside the pocket of my water hand held bottle and off I went all giddy at the thought of putting the title of my blog into practice. I felt like an inventor who is about to test his/her own creation after all the hard work that went into it. I felt like being a runner and real estate broker with a bigger purpose. I felt like a super efficient business woman mixing work with running. It was great to be able to do that.

Once I arrived at the house, I took a great video of the neighborhood and the house for my pre-approved buyer who was looking to move to Sacramento.  Later that day, we made an offer on the house, but the buyer did not accept the seller’s counter offer, so we’re looking for other homes.

Speaking of running, good shoes are always a necessity. My company Dynamic Real Estate is the proud sponsor of Soles4Souls and we collect shoes that get sent out all over the world. Many thanks to everyone who donated and please keep the donations coming so that people all over the world can explore their environment in their new shoes.

 

10 Tips on buying a home sight unseen:

 

  1. When buying rental properties, it is easier to buy something based on capitalization rate, as it is all about return on investment. Thus, having your agent take a video of the area/neighborhood and the house will be enough to help you with the purchase.
  2. Videos can be great, but doing your own research regarding the neighborhood, schools, freeway access, shopping, public transportation, and parks is key when deciding to make an offer on a house that you have not personally seen inside.
  3. Make sure your agent is honest and can share his personal opinion about the house, as if he/she were to purchase the house for themselves.
  4. Ask your agent the following question: “Would you purchase the house if you were me?” “Why? Why not?”
  5. Ask more questions about the location of the house, such as busy street, proximity to shopping, transportation, etc., because the video is just not enough  in making the decision.
  6. If making the offer first and then seeing the house inside once the offer has been accepted, which is not recommended for buyers planning to live in the house, unless they are very familiar with the neighborhood and floor plan, be open-minded. Reality is sometimes different than a short video.
  7. If making an offer on a house just like I helped many international and out of state investor buyers without seeing the house till after close of escrow, make sure you obtain a thorough home, pest, and roof inspection to know what’s in store for you. Even with those inspections, there might be items such as the roof, or heating and air that will require work, so be prepared for future repairs/remodeling.
  8. Make sure you hire a good property management company that will get you a good tenant and help with the maintenance and repairs.
  9. Arrange to see your investment property shortly after close of escrow if possible. I helped my mom buy a house this way in Savannah, GA and she only got to see the house a year later. Luckily, she liked the house and was happy with her investment property.
  10. Enjoy the adventure and find trustworthy professionals who can help you purchase the right property.

 

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 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!

 

5 Reasons Why Running and Biking Make a Great Cross-Training Team

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you have to keep moving.
Albert Einstein

My Biking Background

Before I became a runner, I used to love to bike places by myself and with our sweet kids who learned how to bike before they turned eight years old.

 

The kids and I doing a short bike ride around the neighborhood at the beginning of 2017.

 

I also used to bike to Sacramento State University when I did my Masters degree and loved the no parking hassle and getting my exercise done at the same time. I have also done a few century (100 miles) and 100K rides for Diabetes Tour de Cure in honor of my dear father.

After a long 10-hour century ride. I used to always get lost and my family worried about me.

 

Running and Cross-training

Yet, once the bug of running took a hold on me in 2015, I started to neglect my Specialized Women design road bike. With a sticker on the middle bar that reads in Japanese calligraphy, self-moving vehicle, my bike started collecting dust in our garage, because I had found pure joy and more freedom in running, not to mention an excellent way to burn roughly four times more calories.  I was thus preoccupied with my running Lunar 8 Nike shoes and my Brooks Cascadia shoes and following my training schedule provided by our racing team coach. At first, I was running 4 to 5 days a week, but then I increased to 6 days a week to cram more miles and get stronger, and yet more prone to injury.

Overusing our muscles doing the same repetitive motion will certainly lead to injury sooner or later, which happened to me last month in March after a tough track workout. Thank goodness, I can now start back running wiser and stronger after my tendon has healed. As I biked 20 miles today, I kept writing in my head, while feeling the wind, smelling barbecue meat cooking on the grills the day before Easter,  and watching the swollen and swift American River on my left side.

My 20-mile bike ride today instead of my 20-mile long run, as I need to build back up slowly with my running and marathon training for Mountains to Beaches at the end of May.

I even imagined a funny conversation between my bike and I that went this way:

Bike: “So, now I am good enough for a 20-mile spin, because you can’t run in your snazzy Lunar Glide shoes, huh?”

Me: “Uhmmm! You know you have been my first love ever since childhood.”

Bike: “Yeah? And running is your hot lover who gets you high all the time.”

Me: “Nonsense. I just love to run and maybe my Lunar Glide shoes and you can be civilized and share the roads and trails from now on,” I replied while listening to the Runner’s World podcasts.

Bike: “I guess we can… Pedal harder! You can get a biker’s high without getting too tired, or too winded!”

Me: “Sweet! Maybe biker’s high is a little more real than unicorns.”

While biking and not getting tired, I also came up with five reasons biking and running can be best friends:

  1. Biking is a fast and great way to do intervals and hills with less pressure on our body.
  2. Biking can be done during a class indoors no matter what the weather is like, or outdoors for more sunshine and vitamin D.
  3. Biking can be a great training partner during off season, during an injury that allows you to bike, or just as an addition to your rest, easy days.
  4. Biking will build up your stamina and endurance, as well as provide excellent cardio benefits.
  5. Biking and running can become best friends and help you with that PR when running your next race.

As for me, I have decided to balance running, biking, playing tennis, strength training, and aqua jogging to avoid injuries. Running 5 days a week should be enough. Running and swimming the same day if I choose so can give me two intense cardio workouts and less stress on my joints and body. It will feel as if I am training for a triathlon and maybe one day, I will actually do one! Cheers! Happy feet! Happy pedaling!

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!

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!

 

 

 

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!

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!

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!

 

 

Shoes, Shoes, and Happy Feet- Tips on how to have blissful and blister-free runs!

Whether you are a new runner or experienced runner, there is a common denominator: SHOES.  Let’s face it: shoes can make or break our runs, which is why shopping for the right shoes is the most important aspect of running.

MISTAKE 1- HOW TO AVOID IT

I have to say that I was quick to go to our specialty running shoe store Fleet Feet when I became a runner, which was a good thing, but I was also quick to ask one of my good friends for shoes recommendation, which is the biggest mistake you can make as a new or experienced runner, and these are the 10 reasons WHY:

  1. Your feet are different.
  2. Your running mechanics and pace differ.
  3. The shoes that work for your friend’s feet, might make your feet miserable, or even cause you injuries.
  4. Shoes need to match your specific running goals, such as running 5K races, half marathon, or marathons.
  5. Road and trail shoes are totally distinct, so you need to know whether you will do road running, trail running, or both.
  6. Running is a unique experience and needs to be customized to your feet and body mechanics.
  7. Shoe brands and models change all the time, so your friend’s shoes might be an older version that is different from the newer/updated version of the same shoe brand.
  8. Do your own research and understand your foot type, whether you are a pronator, a supinator, or have a normal foot (I’ll explain the difference below).
  9. Only buy shoes that you can return in case they don’t feel good after taking them for a short and long run.
  10. Your friend’s experience with a certain pair of shoes is not your experience, so rely on yourself and the salesperson’s advice and recommendation when buying shoes.

Although there are many shoes that work for people with various feet, it is critical to know what type of feet you have, so spend a few minutes checking your feet before even heading out to your local specialty shoe store. These pics will help you, as well as the detailed article attached below.

Arch types
Arch types

http://www.northcoastfootcare.com/pages/Foot-Problems-in-Runners.html

After I bought the wrong type of shoes when I first started to run, I experienced knee pain, blisters, ankle pain, and just uncomfortable running, so I think we can all benefit from following Dusty Robinson’s advice regarding buying the right shoes. Robinson is the General Manager of Fleet Feet store, Sacramento, and he answered my questions regarding finding that right pair of shoes that will make you run blissfully and hopefully blister-free.

  1. What is the most important thing when buying new shoes for new and experienced runners?

“FIT, which means more than length of shoe. The most important aspect of any fit is the shoe shape matching your foot shape. From this starting point a new or experienced runner has a lot of options based off their own preferences, and, of course, shoes that will reduce their chance of injury.”

  1. How can you tell what type of shoes work the best for the way a person runs?

“This is truly a loaded question. Fitting of shoes is as much an art as it is a science. Sure there are mechanics involved, but there is also the runner’s history of training, injury, the type of experience they want to have in a shoe, etc. The only way to really tell is to be assisted by a FIT Specialist. With that said, a good rule of thumb — be sure you feel like you are sitting “in” the shoe not “on” the shoe. This is the first sign that shape of shoe doesn’t match your foot.”

  1. Please explain the pronation and supination and what type of shoes those runners should buy and what type of shoes should they avoid?

“Pronation is the foot’s natural movement from outside to inside in an effort to adapt to the ground and absorb shock. Supination is the movement from inside to outside that occurs towards the end of the gait cycle allowing the foot to act as a propulsion device. Typically those who “over”-pronate (pronating is normal, over-pronating or moving beyond a neutral position is when we have a point of concern) will utilize a range of stability shoes that help in slowing the rate at which the foot is pronating. Those who supinate (or “under” pronate) typically utilize a neutral and often times more flexible shoe.”

  1. What is a stability shoe and what is a speed workout or track shoe? Please explain the difference they make when running a 5K vs. a half marathon.

“As stated above, a stability shoe typically assists in slowing the rate of pronation. With that said, this is a complex issue and in a proper personalized fitting the solution for each person can vary quite a bit. As for a speed workout or track shoe, in most cases this simply means something that is lighter. When trying to run faster you don’t want to carry more weight than necessary. You are also often times going a much shorter distance so you can afford to be in a shoe that is less structured (or protective). This shoe can be relative to your current training shoe. For example, someone wearing a stability shoe for training could workout in a lighter yet stable light weight trainer as their “speed shoe,” whereas, a person who trains in a neutral shoe, may opt for a racing flat for their speed days.”

  1. Why should runners be careful about the unconventional shoes so to speak, such as Hoka, Altra?

“The main reason runners should be careful is that there is no ‘best shoe’ out there. It is an individual process in finding what will work for each person and make sure that the  mechanics match up to the runner’s preferences. The shoe your best friend uses most likely is not the best shoe for you. This is where a proper fitting is where the real answers come from.”

  1. What are your top three tips when someone is looking to buy a good pair of running shoe?

“Well of course, visit Fleet Feet Sacramento and work with our trained FIT Specialist would be my first tip. But in all seriousness, people call professionals when they need help with real estate, plumbing, mechanics, etc. Yet, with all the advances in shoes, people continue to think that simply picking shoes out on their own is a good decision. In walking and running we land with 2 – 4 times our body weight and take 1400-1600 steps per mile. We should want the absolute best solution underneath us when we do this wonderful activities.

Robinson’s most important tip: your fitness shoe is likely to be a half to full size larger than your everyday shoe and pay attention to shape and comfort.

 

MISTAKE 2 – LEARN ONE WAY TO AVOID PLANTAR FASCIITIS

 

Another important aspect of buying the right shoes is the heel drop. The article from REI website is quite good to explain this, as well as how to get the proper fit for your shoes.

https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/running-shoes.html

It took me more than a year to realize the mistake I made this summer. I wanted lighter shoes for my 5K races and track workout. Without doing much research, I found a light pair of Saucony online and bought them. I ran in them on the East Coast during our vacation and experienced calf pains. At the end of June, I developed plantar fasciitis, for the shoes had a very low drop, instead of the regular 10 mm drop that my other Saucony shoes had. Having such a height shoe drop is unfortunately a quick way to develop plantar fasciitis along with other factors, such as sudden increase in mileage, calf tightness, and overuse.

Now that we have so much more knowledge about shoes and feet type, we have to remember to wear the moisture wicking pair of socks. Balega brand is my very favorite, as my feet are comfortable in my shoes and stay dry, blissful, and blister-free.

MISTAKE 3 – RUNNING IN THE SAME PAIR OF SHOES

We all know how easy it is to spend $100 or more on a good pair of running shoes, but as much as we try to save money by owning just one pair of shoes, this could be a super costly mistake. According to a 2013 study, runners who rotated among two or more different pairs had an injury rate 39 percent lower than single-pair runners. That is quite a study and a revelation for some runners who might want to get at least two pairs of shoes to rotate.

And if you are like me and already made this mistake, don’t feel bad. We’re here to share and make one another stronger. I also have to admit that it took me a year before I really bought my second pair of shoes and started to rotate them. I can tell you that I have had my strongest year so far winning many 5K races, finishing second in my age group in the Pony Express marathon in May, and just running faster and stronger. Another great change I made was to buy a very light pair of Nike shoes for my track workouts and 5K races, which has also made me faster.

What can I say? Shoes, shoes, and more shoes!

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!

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!

Pony Express Marathon & history- My Second

“Men Wanted” “The undersigned wishes to hire ten or a dozen men, familiar with the management of horses, as hostlers, or riders on the Overland Express Route via Salt Lake City. Wages $50 per month and found.” – Ad in Sacramento Union, March 19, 1860.

Maybe our modern day Sacramento Bee newspaper ad should have read this way: “Runners wanted! The undersigned wishes to complete 26.2 miles by running on both sides of the river and be familiar with the management of steady feet, controlled breathing and pace, as well as muscle fatigue, body aches, anger, and lots of swearing from miles 18 and on. Wages $0 per month and a huge shiny medal at the end.”

CourseMap300ppi-1-791x1024

I first heard about Pony Express, the new marathon galloping in town May 2016 at last year’s Expo for the California International Marathon. At the time, I was so overwhelmed and focused on completing my very first marathon that I just obliterated the amazing offer to run this historic marathon for about $80, if I had signed up at the Expo, but here is what I found out later about this new marathon that I did not think I would run.

A few historic facts about Pony Express as outlined on the National Park Service website https://www.nps.gov/poex/learn/historyculture/index.htm:

PonyRiders_Pic

Pony Express was in operation for only 18 months between April 1860 and October 1861, but it became synonymous with the Old West.

More than 1,800 miles in 10 days! California the Pony Express could deliver a letter faster than before from St. Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento!

On June 16, 1860, about ten weeks after the Pony Express began operations, Congress authorized the building of a transcontinental telegraph line to connect the Missouri River and the Pacific Coast.

The passage of the bill resulted in the incorporation of the Overland Telegraph Company of California and the Pacific Telegraph Company of Nebraska.

November 7, 1860: Pony Express riders carried word of Abraham Lincoln’s election as President from Fort Kearney, Nebraska to Placerville, California in a record 5 days. This was considered one of the most significant accomplishments by the Pony Express.

On October 26, 1861 the Pony Express was officially terminated.

Most of the original trail has been destroyed by time or human activities. Short fragments of the trail can be seen only in Utah and California. However, approximately 120 historic sites may be available to the public, including 50 existing Pony Express stations or ruins.

After having completed the CIM, my first marathon in 4:13:21, I decided to train the whole winter to get stronger and faster for my first ultra marathon Folsom Gold Rush 50K for which I had signed up right after the CIM while on runner’s high- ha!ha! I also ran Super Sunday Run, ZooZoom, and American River Parkway 5Ks and placed first and second in my age group, so I decided to test myself by signing up to run the inaugural marathon in Sacramento, http://ponyexpressmarathon.com/runner-info/registration-information/marathon/ Pony Express on May 1.

My goal for this year was to run a 50K trail run, Folsom Gold Rush on May 14 and the California International Marathon in December to try to qualify for Boston. Yet, at the encouragement of a few good runner friends, I thought it was a good idea to try to qualify for Boston by running the Pony Express that was hosted by the Rotary Club of Sacramento and benefited Courage Worldwide and Alpha K9. It also promised a flat and fast USATF-certified course that started and finished on Capitol Mall and ran along both shores of the Sacramento River. It hit many points of interests in our beautiful Sacramento, such as Old Sacramento, Tower Bridge, Raley Field, and Land Park.

My main goals for my second marathon: to beat my last year’s time and set a new PR (personal record), try to qualify for Boston, which I knew would be challenging, but doable, to use this marathon as a benchmark for my CIM, and last, but not least, to use this as training for my 50K. With my plan to run Pony Express, I felt I was scoring on many levels.

The week of the marathon

I ran lightly two days that week and prepared myself physically and mentally. I visualized myself running smoothly and efficiently in the low 8s per mile, which I needed to qualify for Boston. I also slept well, ate my carbs, brown rice spaghetti with vegetables, fruit, and hydrated well.

The day before the marathon

I went to pick up my bib number and spent time at the Expo. As opposed to the CIM (California International Marathon), the Expo was quite small, but had some nice booths and vendors. I even bought myself a crafted neck cooler from Artful panache that contained tiny, non-toxic, water-absorbing polymer crystals. The crystals can go from dry to wet hundreds of times and will last for years.

My bib and bottle of beer
My bib and bottle of beer

START LINE

After a good night rest, (I am blessed to sleep very well the night before big events) the morning of the event, Catalin, my sweet husband, dropped me off at the start line on Capitol Mall and 6th Street. We arrived at 6:20 a.m. We stayed in the car a little longer and chatted. It was pretty quiet around there, which felt so different from the CIM. Last year when I ran CIM on December 6th, the event felt like an ocean with towering waves crashing against the shores of inactivity. The excitement from the CIM was definitely absent. I acquiesced the stillness of that May 1st cool morning right before the start, but knew that we would have some noise, cheering, and hopefully some more excitement as we got closer to our 7 a.m. start time. I went to the restroom – always a good idea before races. I also wanted to find some of my CIM runner friends, so I kissed my husband good-bye and told him that I would see him and the kids at the finish line.

To my great delight, I came across my friends Jennifer, John, and Robert who were all doing the half marathon, as the Pony Express had four events: marathon, relay, half marathon, and Running for Rhet 5K kids’ run. We took pictures together. My CIM friends
I promised to post them on our Run4Ever Facebook page that I had created after we finished our CIM training so that we would keep in touch and continue to run together whenever we could. We wished one another good luck. My friends also told me to go for my BQ (Boston qualifier time), which needed to be 3:45 minutes based on my age, but I needed to run it in 3:40 minutes to be accepted. They told me that I could do it! I smiled and looked down at my shoes, as if checking for growing wings. I believed in myself and having others believe in me was huge, too.

There were about 8 minutes before the start, so I proceeded to find my pacers, two gentlemen who promised to take us to the finish line in 3:38 minutes, which was my plan, too. They both seemed nice and experienced, but one of them kept fiddling with his watch, which got me a little nervous. The start happened about 5 minutes later than 7 a.m., as the organizers kept talking, which also got me a little antsy. Two men on their horses led the way, reenacting the original Pony Express. This placed me back into history and made me feel grateful to be running this marathon healthy and happy. I started strong, running with joy and a huge smile on my face. Our pace group was small and cozy with one more woman and a guy who was running his first marathon. After going over the Tower Bridge, we had a little more room to run and keep a steady pace of 8:16 per mile. I felt downright elated from the start. I kept talking about the Boston qualifier and how I had my mind set on it that day. The pacers and the other two runners were super encouraging (maybe too encouraging- ha!ha!). I felt in control of my pace, breathing, thoughts, and the running universe. We ran by the river, admiring the stillness of the water and its smooth flow that matched our even pace. The morning was as quiet as the marathon. Hardly any spectators and cheerleaders on the course, as not many people even knew this marathon was happening. The temperature in the low 70s was pleasant at first. Half-way into our marathon, it got into the 80s, making it hard to keep our pace.

During the marathon

Around mile 10, I felt invincible. “Keeping this pace is easy,” I said to myself. “I can do this and make it to Boston,” I continued. Never a good idea to let your mind race, or feel overconfident. At mile 11, my amazing Trail Mix friends greeted me with loud cheering and “Go Carmen.” They worked that aid station as volunteers, best ones in the event! And, yes! I am biased! I was finally able to eat real food, which I like the best during my runs. I grabbed four slices of oranges and pretzel sticks and gobbled them up. I was looking strong. My friends’ cheers propelled me with renewed energy and enthusiasm. I kept going strong till half point.

Around mile 15, I lost our pacers. They continued to run with their 3:38 min. sign up like a torch of torture, a reminder that steadiness and humility are more valuable in life than short-lived speed and overconfidence (one of my favorite lesson from this marathon!).

Around mile 18, as we came back over the Tower Bridge, I got mixed up with the kids doing their 5K race. I did not see any signs for our marathon route and ended up crossing the finish line with the 5K runners. I realized that I got lost. I kept asking people until finally someone pointed to the right side of the bridge, where I needed to make a right. I was demoralized and upset on myself for being ME: not always paying attention and having my head in the clouds, dreaming of Boston, philosophizing, or writing poems in my head. At that point, I realized that I had missed my chance to make it to Boston, as I got detoured by .7 miles, or about a good 6 minutes. Yet deep down, I knew I would have a nice PR at the end. I had to keep going and forgive myself for getting lost. The course was well-marked overall. However, at that crucial point when runners from different races mingled, I felt they had no volunteers to direct us and make sure we did not miss making that right turn, but then, I don’t like to point fingers. I needed to take responsibility for my own mistake. My feet felt heavy. My heart sank in resignation. My mind continued to chatter about irrelevant things. However, after being back on track and on the course, I needed to pull the reins of my being and regain control. I started to run steadily again and focused on finding equanimity and serenity inside my heart, mind, and soul. I had to chase a different goal: a big PR from last year’s marathon. Life was still good and my getting lost was not the end of the world. It could always be worse, one of my favorite things to say in life, as cheesy as it sounds.

Around mile 22, I got another small joy and victory seeing my friend Ashley, one of our CIM runner friends who cheered loudly for me as I ran through quiet Land Park neighborhood. Most of its residents did not know about the marathon, for it was barely advertised. I already got over being upset for running such a quiet marathon with almost no cheering, so I decided to withdraw in my Zen universe: my strong mind. I had to pull some strings to finish strong.

After mile 23, I decided to leave any worries behind and run one mile at a time. I started to run in the 9s at mile 18 and continued that way till the finish line. My gluteal muscles were a little sore, but my knees were strong, so I kept running and looking forward to see my family and friends at the finish line. As I crossed Broadway Blvd., I got closer to the Capitol and 10th St., where the finish line was. I started to pick up my pace, realizing that I would finish in 4 hours! As I made a left to run towards the finish line, I saw my family! Sophia peeled away from my husband and ran next to me holding hands towards the finish line. She wore her white dress shoes, not her tennis shoes, but she kicked her legs high with delight, joy, and great pride to see her mom finish her second marathon. All my troubles had drifted away like summer clouds. I laughed and smiled as we ran together. This was definitely the most favorite and cherished moment of the marathon!

Crossing the Finish Line

Pic taken by Alex Micsa, our son and my favorite race photographer
Pic taken by Alex Micsa, our son and my favorite race photographer

Our son Alex was running on the sidewalk and took tons of pictures of me crossing the finish line. He has been an amazing race photographer in many of my races. I kept waving and smiling at him with great joy and gratitude. I also saw my husband hurry towards the finish line, as I seriously picked up my pace and crossed the finish line in 4:00:11. I finished second in my age group, which I never expected! This was my pleasant surprise of the marathon. Award_PonyExpress_16
CarmenFinish!

What a great marathon and PR! I did it! Boston will have to wait till I will run the CIM this December. I lost and found myself during my second marathon. I made my own history of humility, serenity, composure, determination, strength, and inner peace. Pony-up, Sacramento! Kick up those hooves!

CarmenKids_Carriage!
UsPonyExpress_May1!

For more information on running, or real estate, please contact me here, or e-mail me at carmenmicsa@yahoo.com.