This past Saturday I ran my very first 1/2 Marathon - yay! I had the pleasure of training with a wonderful group of moms from my children's school, who encouraged and motivated me. Here we are after we all crossed the finish line. Looking good!
I know that my 1/2 marathon may not seem like a huge deal, but it is to me. I wrote about why I started running and why I finally decided to run this race - you can find that post here. Honestly, it felt like such a big day for me, mostly because getting to race day proved to be harder than I had planned. First, I couldn't register because the race was full. Lucky for me a few spots opened on my birthday and I officially enrolled. Next, I hurt my foot on our 12 mile run two weeks before the big race....Lucky for me it healed. Then there was finding time to train. Finally, my baby scratched my eye so bad the week before the race that I couldn't see...Lucky for me it healed fast too. On race day I felt really good...both feet and eyes were working as they should!
My friend from my running group picked me up at 5:30 am and then we met up with the other ladies from our group to carpool to the race. It was fun and exciting getting there at the crack of dawn and chatting away. This particular 1/2 marathon is part of the Great Race of Agoura. The Great Race is a huge fundraiser (they have several races that morning) for local schools and really has a ton of community support behind it. The volunteers were out in full force so early in the morning and that made me super happy. A bathroom break was next and then we made our way to the start line, which is located at the top of a residential street.
I felt nervous and excited at the same time. The race starts easy...you go down that long hill that you climb earlier (to get to the start line) and for the next 3 miles you run on flat land through charming Old Agoura. At mile 3 you hit the trail head and for the next 7.5 miles you run on the Cheeseboro Canyon Trail in the Santa Monica Mountains. It is really quite beautiful...You would never guess that you are so close to LA and a major freeway! I started the trail portion feeling really great, with a good pace that I kept up until mile 6. That's when I almost cried. I realized that the hard part of the race was just starting. The flat trail was about to turn into a series of hard short climbs. I said a quick prayer and kept on going. Yep, those little rocky parts were harder and longer than I remembered from our practice runs but everyone was pushing along.
Then came the LONG steady climb up to the highest elevation. Most people, including me, walked for part of the climb. I made it to the top - pictured below - I was VERY happy to see this view! I knew that the next part of the race was mostly downhill!
It's a fast way down for about a mile...then you hit flat land, climb one more tough hill and finally you run on the streets for the last 2.5 miles. The last 2.5 miles took forever to finish. I was beyond excited to see that finish line! It was so nice to congratulate the ladies in my group on our run - we all did great! After the race my family took me out for a celebratory lunch - I enjoyed the biggest burger and cocktail! Here's a picture of me after I had made it up and down that hill!
How did I do? I finished in 02:07:11. I think that's great. 8 months ago I had struggled on my 1st post baby run. It was 2 miles and I cried when I got home because it had been so hard to complete. I have come a long way...until the next one!
Thoughts on running and training for my 1st 1/2 marathon....
This morning proved to be awesome - I completed my 1st long trail run. It's a big accomplishment for me simply because at one point I could not even run 1 mile. After the birth of my 3rd child I started running and over time I could run longer and faster distances. It never fails that just as I am getting better, I find out I'm pregnant. I keep up with running as long as my pregnant body allows, but my body does not appreciate it - everything seems to ache, always - when I'm pregnant. Running makes this worse. And I always have to run near places with bathrooms, which is a whole other problem. Then, the baby arrives and everything is turned upside down around the house for a few months and running is not at the top of my to-do list. My baby is almost 7 months old and I have a decent handle on things around here so it's back to the running. The past few weeks I have been feeling pretty good about my running and I started to think about completing my 1st 1/2 marathon.
I had been thinking about it for some time, but I was scared. I have run a few 5ks and have done well in them, but long distances scare me. I have never run anything longer than 10 miles and I am not a fast runner. Anyway, I found out that a few moms from my children's school would be running a local and very popular 1/2 marathon on March 22. I know most of them and they very kindly have included me in their training for race day. This morning they had scheduled a 9 mile run, mostly on the trail that we will run that day. I have to be honest, while I have run that distance before, the thought of keeping up with others, perhaps the fear of being judged as a slow runner, and running a completely new course all freaked me out a bit.
Well, I ran it...it was hard...and I will do it again next week. Funny thing - I kept thinking that a rattle snake was going to cross my path or that a mountain lion was going to leap out at me from behind the brush. I took this picture when we reached the top of a steep hill...nice, huh?
I was reminded about 2 things on my run:
1. Comradery is awesome. On today's run, right around mile 5, I felt exhausted. The newness of running a long distance (for me) on a hard trail was beginning to take a toll. My feet hurt and I doubted I could run any longer. Then, I started to focus on my friend running in front of me. I just followed where her feet landed and kept ker pace. Later, when I couldn't run up the steep hill, another person in my group waited for me. I saw 3 other groups of women running the trail. The sense of "we are doing this together" was really nice.
2. Usually the best rewards require a lot of work, and it can be painful - physically and mentally. Yes, those of us who have been in labor can totally relate, right? I am not suggesting that we should all push our bodies to the point of exhaustion but the health goals that we set for ourselves often mean doing things we don't want to really do. Sometimes they hurt and that's ok.
I'm not training for a great finishing time, just for the ability to persevere and make it across that finish line with some friendly running partners. Looking forward to March 22nd race day!
Did you a resolution to lead a healthier lifestyle this year? For many people, a new year means new health and fitness goals. While our fitness goals often start strong, many of us find that keeping up with an exercise routine becomes a challenge.
One of the most common reasons that keeps a lot of people from maintaining or even starting an exercise program is that they believe the myths that exercise needs to be done at an expensive gym or that could simply never be an active gym going type of person. Both are wrong! In truth, plenty of scientific research actually shows that, any kind, and any amount of exercise is better than none at all. Did you know that according to research, in spite of all the hype on trendy exercise programs, for many individuals it is easier to stick to a home-based fitness program?
That’s right - you do not need a gym membership! In order to get your daily dose of overall-just-good-for-you physical activity you only need a pair of athletic shoes, comfortable clothes and a little motivation. Keep it simple! That’s why I am so excited to share with you The California Milk Processor Board’s new series of ten (10) “Hazlo Ejercicio” video segments to encourage you to get up and get moving! The trainer and his assistant will coach through the video segments, just like having your own personal training, for free and at home! The exercise routines are fun to do, especially with your family, right at home!
The video segments will air on Despierta America every weekday morning from January 7th to January 18th between 7 am and 8 am (PST), but you can always visit Hazloejercicio.com to watch more easy-to-do exercise videos and share them with your friends.
One of the reasons I am super excited about sharing the video series with you is because I am expecting my 5th child and staying healthy throughout this pregnancy is super important to me. With 4 other young children in the house, getting to the gym can be hard for me on some days, so having a great selection of easy and fun exercises to do at home is a great fitness option!
One of my favorite exercises from the series is called the Ninja Black. The name is cool, but the exercise is super easy to do. See, all you need is a mop (or broom!). The Youtube video will show you exactly how to do it!
A few other tips:
- Do not try to do it all at once: short bouts work just as well. Scientific research shows that moderate-intensity physical activity can be accumulated throughout the day in 10-minute intervals, and it can be just as effective as exercising for 30 minutes uninterrupted. Small exercise segments are ALWAYS better than no exercise at all!
- Daily fitness-time. Set aside specific days and times for exercise, and just make it as much a regular part of your daily schedule as everything else you do. Make it your goal to carve out your own special time to take care of your health.
- The family that works out together... Recruit friends, family, and children in your mission to health. Think of it as showing them how much you love them by motivating them to be active and healthy!
This is part of a sponsored campaign with the California Milk Processor Board and Latina Mom Bloggers. However, all opinions expressed are my own.
Are you looking for a workout that is effective, yet you can do it with your baby or child?
by Kristine Lopez
Try working out with your stroller and baby. There are several exercise programs out there such as Stroller Strides (www.strollerstrides.com) or Stroller Fit (www.strollerfit.com). These programs use your body, your baby, a stroller, and the environment around you to get a workout!
I can personally attest that these programs are effective and fun. I began working out with Stroller Strides when my 4 year old was 3 months old and continued to do it till well after my second son was born. I lost all my baby weight and then some, plus made some great friends! In fact, I found it so effective and fun, that I purchased a Stroller Strides franchise for a short time.
I have to admit; I still occasionally teach classes and bring my 4 year old and 20 month old along. So, don’t think you can’t do this type of program just because your child is older. As long as your kid will go in a stroller, these types of workouts are for you!
What makes these types of programs effective and fun? First off, you don’t have to leave your baby in a gym at 6 weeks old worrying about what he/she will be exposed to. Many times, new Moms – whether it is the first time or 5th time – NEED to get out. This is a great opportunity to do just that without having to worry about your baby being “exposed” to other people and get a workout with other people in the exact same boat as you. Another bonus…your baby/child will have other children to socialize with! These types of groups typically have activities for the children after the workout is over.
So, what if you don’t want to join a group like this, and/or don’t want to spend the money? Do it yourself and ask a girlfriend to join you! Here is what you need and a sample routine to get you started:
What you Need
1) Exercise Tubing – you can get these at a sports store or online (try www.spri.com)
2) Stroller (preferably a fitness stroller, but any will work)
3) Yourself and Baby
4) Sun block!!!
Sample Exercise Routine
NOTES: When walking, keep your stroller close. Your arms should be near a 90 degree angle, your torso tall, shoulders back, tummy tight. Your stroller form will protect your back and make your exercise more effective.
1) Warm Up with a 5-10 minute brisk walk
2) Station 1: Walking Lunges
a.Holding the stroller, stand tall with your abs engaged to support your body. Step your right leg forward pushing the stroller with your step so that you have a wide distance between your feet. Bring left foot to your right so feet are together and repeat on the other side completing 15 full lunges.
b.At the end of your 15 lunges, pulse down for 10 on each leg and repeat the process one more time.
3) Walk – 5-10 more minutes – if you find a hill, do it. Hills are booty blasters!!!
4) Station 2: Biceps
a. Biceps: Hold the handles of each end of your resistance band in each hand. Step on the band with both feet and curl your arms as if you were holding 2 dumbbells. Do the motion SLOW and controlled. Do not let the band snap back. Control with the bands is key! Do 3 sets of 15 repetitions.
5) Walk – 5 minutes
6) Station 3: Squats with Overhead Presses
a. Squats: Take your resistance band as you did with the bicep curl. Now instead of curling your arms to do a bicep curl, bring your hands up to your shoulders (or waist for less resistance) and begin squatting. Be sure to stick your booty back, tummy tight and shoulders back. When squatting, do not let your knees go over your toes. If they are, don’t squat as low, or push your booty back a bit more.
b. Overhead Press: Take your resistance band as you did with the squat bringing your hands to your shoulders. Now press both hands up extending arms straight up overhead. Bring them back to shoulders and repeat.
c. Do one set of 15 reputations of squats, then 15 overhead shoulder presses, and then repeat the process one more time.
7) Walk 5-10 more minutes followed by more walking lunges if you want!!!
8) Always end each workout with a good stretch. Use your stroller for balance.
Whether you get moving by yourself, with a friend, or with a group, the single most important thing to remember?? Get moving – after your doctor’s approval or course! You will find that exercising – especially with your kids - will give you extra energy, confidence in yourself, and not to mention, you are being a great example and role model to your child!
NOTE: For guidelines on how long you should wait to get back to your exercise routine, check the ACOG (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) website (www.acog.org).