Thursday, February 27, 2014

Focus On What's Important In Life

The only thing constant in life is change. This is something I have learned time and time again. Nothing is ever what you think it is. Life and your personal environment is in a constant state of metamorphosis. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. Change keeps life interesting. If nothing ever happened or changed, then where would the excitement of living life come from?

My life the past few months have been an absolute roller coaster. There have been some deep valley lows, and some intergalactic highs. Sometimes the changes come so rapidly you don't have time to adjust or absorb from the previous change. And let's not forget about external influences that can certainly dictate the energy in your space. I'm a pretty busy guy. I'm not one that usually sits still for very long. So with all that life throws at me, how do I keep myself from going to the CooCooBanana house? I focus on what's important in my life.

Drama, life changes, and unexpected events are going to happen. It's a fact and there isn't a thing you or I can do about it. What we can do is adjust our responses to said variables. The actions of others or other forces are powerless without the energy of our reactions/responses.

Whenever I feel myself getting down, or feel I am off balance...I try to adjust my perspective on life and course correct as quick as possible. I count my blessings. I remember that I am an able-bodied person that is blessed to be able to breath and blink my eyes on my own. On a higher level, I am able to run! Taking it a notch further, I am blessed to be able to run in amazing races around the country and have brands that stand behind me! I have a great family support system I couldn't ask for a better one. I have a job that helps me to realize my dreams. I am healthy. I am here. When I think about all of these things, life doesn't seem so bad anymore.

Now, if you do find yourself getting down or feeling off-centered, it is important to realize what those feelings are. You need to acknowledge them, work through them, and realign your mind, body and spirit. I know this sounds easier that it is, and it certainly is a process...but it's helped me in the past.

Why am I writing this post? Because I have found that the past few months for me have been full of interesting changes, and observations. I am sure you have your own experiences you could share, but this blog is a great way for me to get my thoughts out and reaffirm some basic principles. This blog is also here for you. So, if my thoughts help you in the slightest...well then I feel as if I have done something good.

Now, time for some meditation before bed. Stay focused on your prize.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

26.2 with Donna - The Weekend Recap

So, this past weekend I had the opportunity to travel to Jacksonville, FL to participate in the 26.2 with Donna, The National Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer! Many of you have probably seen previous posts, tweets, and updates about this race. Well, let me just say...this was a weekend I will never forget. Before I get to far into the recap I would like to share a thought. Marathoning allows me to see different parts of the country I wouldn't normally visit. I really do enjoy traveling...even if it is for a quick turn around trip. This trip was even more special than normal because I would be spending the weekend with some of my favorite people from #CorralG!!!!!

I landed on Friday evening and the lovely Jen and Jill were kind enough to pick me up from the airport. I had a minor delay in Tampa but that was okay, we made it to Al's Pizza to meet Marcia and Katie for tasty calzones! I was starving because I hadn't eaten all day. So needless to say, we tore right in to those lovely rolled up pizzas and they were TASTY! After that, we headed back to Ch├ęz Mar to settle ourselves and get ready for bed...ya know since some of us had the Donna 5K the next morning! Marcia our gracious host (@TravelRunEat) and the official Social Media Butterfly of 26.2 with Donna had everything covered for us! I am one of the National Ambassadors for the race, so I got my really nice Ambassador tech tee!

Butterfly Marcia presenting me with my shirt
The next morning, Marcia and I made our way to the Donna 5K. This would be the warm up to marathon day. The first thing I noticed when I arrived with Starbucks in hand was the instant sense of community that was out there. Everyone was smiling and ready to get out there and have a great time! That was absolutely energizing! I also noticed that there were so many families out there that were running together. This was the moment that I knew that 26.2 with Donna weekend wasn't just a race...this was a City of Jacksonville event! I've also never seen so much pink in one place before! The support and the energy was out of bounds! So awesome to see and experience. I was curious to see what marathon day would hold.

 Before the 5K we met up with other ambassadors Shannon, Liz, and one of my faves Krissy and we decided to take on the 5K together! Now THAT was an absolute blast! So many laughs and memories! Krissy even paced us to negative splits!

After the 5K we grabbed some Italian ice and headed into the expo! Marcia had Butterfly duties to tend to, and I had to pick up my race packet for the next day. The expo would be the place the remaining #CorralG folks that were in transit would time couldn't move fast enough for our mini reunion. While I waited, I did some shopping :). I was walking down one of the aisles and came across the best headband ever! A black and pink houndstooth headband! I walked up with my new friend Stacy at the Punkeelove Headbands booth and asked that she ring me up immediately! I wore this thing literally until I had to change later in the evening! I instantly fell in love with it!

Before I knew it, Jennifer, Joe, and Adam arrived! And the party officially kicked off! We chatted, caught up, laughed, and strategized plans for the remainder of the day. Although, that wasn't to hard since we all basically text each other every day. Do you guys have any idea how close we are...

Insert Kira...she came a little later ;)
After the expo and grabbing a quick bite, we heading back to Marcia's place! Some of us had to make ourselves fabulous for the Mayo Clinic fundraising dinner. Marcia, Katie, Jen, and I would be bringing sexy back! Our other peeps would throw a fun pasta party at Marcia's house!

The party begins
We had changed into our evening attire and made our way to the Jacksonville Mayo Clinic. I knew we were going for a fancy dinner, but I had no idea what to expect. I arrived with my ladies and met up with fellow ambassador friends Liz and Krissy! We all looked so great and had such a great energy about us. We knew we here for something special. We had the privilege of dining on delicious cuisine and met some new friends at our tables. Marcia was recognized for all of her incredible hard work as Social Media Butterfly with a gift from the Ambassador team from Tiffany & Co. She teared was so cute. Donna Deegan came to the stage and welcomed all of us, she shared some stories and yielded the floor to top fundraising teams to tell their story! It was quite incredible and inspiring! Then we were given the chance to hear from Mayo Clinic researchers and doctors who talked about the amazing relationship between The Donna and Mayo Clinic. It's incredible the amount of work that Mayo is doing to ensure that we finish breast cancer! What is exciting is that I can see it ending in our lifetime! I was so moved at the end of the dinner and presentation, all I wanted to do was more! The Ambassador team went up and gave Donna a hug after the presentations and we took group photos! It was such a blessing to have been part of that fundraising dinner. It really opened my eyes to a lot of different things.

The amazing Donna Deegan..she loved my Pink!

The Donna Ambassador Team - Photo Courtesy of Fellow Ambassdor Ashley (The Pavement Princess)

Before we knew it, it was race day! We woke up bright and early and headed to the start line. We were all ready and excited to take on the challenge! We all met up in the corral staging area and did some last minute strategizing and we always do! We were ready for a day of fun and memories. It's not everyday that the running family gets together for a race ya know.

Then the cannon went off! The show had begun! Some of us were running the half marathon, and the rest of us were taking on the marathon! It was all smiles as we left the shoot and made our way to storm the city of Jacksonville. We headed out and we were in great spirits! We were ready to really take on this challenge. We felt confident because we had one another. One amazing thing about us as a group is when we run together, no matter your pace or ability, we always stand by one another. This was very important as we went forward through the day. We started on a high as we made our way to Jacksonville Beach, where I saw and touched the Atlantic Ocean for the first time. It's really cool being able to run on hard packed sand on the beach. Feeling the cool ocean spray and connect with the energy of the ocean! Priceless. This was a very happy moment filled with various emotions.

Linz, Katie, and Marcia running the Donna on Jacksonville Beach
Thanks Jen for capturing the moment! 
At the end of the beach is where the race course splits for the half marathoners. So some of our friends turned left, Joe, Marcia, Katie, and I proceeded on with the marathon. I'm going to fast forward to mile 18. This is the point where I came to terms with the fact that today wasn't my day for a marathon. Every runner has a day like this. You know you are capable, you know you have the fight in you, but your mind and body just can not connect the dots. This is the point where I literally feel the factory workers in my body locking up for the day. I got a little discouraged, then kept talking to myself out loud. I said "It isn't your day, and that is okay. You're out here for a cause, so go finish it!" I had fallen behind Joe and Marcia who were on pace for an amazing fact Marcia PR'd!

Katie and I stuck to one another through the remainder of the race. She wasn't having the best race either, but that is okay. We stuck together and encouraged one another! We connected, we talked, we tried to stay in the moment as much as possible. At one point, Katie reminded me "This is easier than Chemo...we can do this." Those words resonated with me so deeply. There are women in my life I know that are battling Breast Cancer as I write this, and I'm having a bad marathon? These women probably wish they could be out here just to cheer us on! This changed my mindset immediately! My focus was to finish for them!

Between Katie and Donna's Angels carrying me through and reminding me that they were with me and that I could do this...that is how I got to mile 26.2. The race course was called Level Black as we crossed the mile 25 marker due to lightning in the area. Katie and I successfully crossed the finish line holding hands. I couldn't have done it without her. Donna's Angels were on my side. I felt them.

All in all, 26.2 with Donna is an absolutely incredible race! The energy and the spirit of the participants, the city, and the spectators is unlike anything I've ever seen. Chicago had spectators, but the folks in Jacksonville PARTY! They celebrate the runners. The city literally shuts down! The neighbors are so friendly and encouraging, the route is flat and scenic, and you can feel nothing but love positivity when you are out there. Yes, I had a bad day, but this is no reflection on the race. Some days we don't have it. The Donna did a great job of helping to keep me focused and grounded. Sometimes we can loose focus, and we let our inner voice get the best of us. Sometimes it takes a great race and a great friend to remind you of some important things.

I love this race. I really do. It was everything Marcia told me it would be! Spiritually moving and absolutely inspiring.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

5 Reasons Why I Love Skratch

As a runner, one of the most important things is hydration. Sometimes, water is enough...we need to ensure our electrolytes are primed and ready for that training run or that race. There are tons of different drink mixes and tablets out there and I have some of my staples and go-to items. But, Skratch Labs hydration mix changed my world. This stuff is the real deal! Much like my relationship with EnergyBits, I like to fuel and hydrate with products that are as clean and natural as possible. Skratch not only is a natural product, but it is absolutely delicious! So I want to talk about 5 different reasons why Skratch is now my hydration of choice for training and races!

5. The Cool Swag! The folks over at Skratch are real down to Earth! They understand their customer and want to provide high quality hydration mix, and they want you to look awesome when you're drinking it. No shock to anyone, but I like to make a statement...and water bottles are an essential part of that! I scored the Polar Bottle and the Liberty Bottle. My Polar Bottle did an amazing job of keeping my Skratch cold for hours! And it looks really awesome! My Liberty bottle is a little more subtle but just as neat. With it's matte black finish and debossed Skratch logos make it sleek and stylish. It gets bonus points or being made out of 100% recycled metal materials! It also does a great job of keeping the good stuff nice and cold! Yay for's important.

4. Variety! Skratch comes in four varieties; daily electrolyte mix, exercise hydration mix, HOT exercise hydration mix, and hyper hydration mix. Now I haven't tried the hyper hydration sounds intense. I want to focus on the daily electrolyte mix and the daily hydration mix as those were the items I used the most. I tried the hot mix, and it is VERY tasty and does a great job of keeping you warm when it's chilly outside. The electrolyte mix is what you'll use when you are in the midst of battle. And the daily hydration is a new addition to their line up. I found myself addicted to this stuff as a daily beverage! Let me explain why...

3. Daily Electrolyte Hydration is AMAZING! Hydration can be boring, but your water doesn't have to be (hey that's a good line!) Water by itself is pretty bland, but adding Daily Electrolyte Mix by Skratch takes it to the next level. Now this isn't their sport drink mix at all. This is meant to drink throughout the day to remain hydrated when you don't want water, and you want to stay away from other naughty beverages such as soda. It comes in two flavors; lemons and limes and raspberries. I love them both! They are crisp, light, refreshing, and overall just delicious. It isn't overwhelming or gritty. You can't go wrong! I highly recommend this for your everyday hydration needs!

2. Exercise Hydration Mix Keeps You Moving! Listen, I love a good hydration mix that isn't overpowering with flavor. When I am racing, I like the taste of water, but always want just a hint of flavor to awaken my pallet keep my mind stimulated. Exercise Hydration Mix meets the challenge head on! The mix comes in lemons and limes, raspberries, pineapples, HOT apples and cinnamon flavors. I tried raspberries and lemons and limes and I was very happy with the results. With this stuff, I had absolutely no stomach issues or cramping what so ever! The mix is made to help maximize your performance, and I definitely felt the results. Partnered with EnergyBits this is a marriage that is meant to last Talk about amazing performance! Real Food + Real Hydration = Real Performance!

1. All Natural! Skratch is all natural stuff. They only include ingredients we normal folks can pronounce and understand what they are for. It's naturally sweetened with cane sugar and they use real fruit juices in their powder to create the out of this world light flavor profile! No cramps, amazing taste, great style,and very affordable! For a one pound bag of Skratch, you are looking at about $19.50, which for what you are getting in my humble opinion is absolutely spot on!

I'm in love with this stuff, I drink it all day long! I am due to place another order myself :) Give it a shot and tell them I sent you! Skratch Labs is awesome! Thank guys!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

2014 Asics LA Marathon...Redemption Awaits

It's approaching. In just 23 days I will be taking on the Asics LA Marathon for the second year! This race and I have a history...and I have a bone to pick with it I first ran this marathon in 2013. It was my first solo marathon without my running family and my second marathon in general. I was excited to get out there and show Los Angeles what I was made of. The race fell on St. Patrick's Day last year, so you can imagine the sea of green that filled the streets from Downtown all the way to Santa Monica. I felt great the first 19 miles of the race. I blew right through Downtown, zipped through Silver Lake, and made my way through Hollywood and back up the Sunset Strip. The strip elevation varies and rolls so you have to be careful and watch your pace. I gotta say, if you want a tour of Los Angeles and all it has to offer, run this race! You will see everything! I even saw some new things...and I have lived in Southern California my whole life!

Something happened when I turned the corner to mile 20. I hit the wall. I hit the wall to date harder than I can remember ever hitting it before. I hit the wall so hard I thought my body was going to just let go. It happened so fast, I wasn't sure what was going on. I ended up stopping at a medical aid station, hydrating, applying Biofreeze to my sore muscles, and continued to walk the last 6 miles from Brentwood to Santa Monica Pier. I was almost in tears but didn't let it show on my face. When I turned the corner to Ocean and was on the final approach, the last .2 miles of the race the spectators were amazing! I kept hearing "Keep Going!" "You're almost there don't quit!" Mentally I felt like I completely gave up. I was defeated. I knew I could do better and wanted my first solo marathon to be one for the books. Well that it was. I did finish the race with a very respectable time of 5:42. Not bad for a first time out, but I knew I could have done better had I not hit the wall. So what happened?

I was hydrated thankfully. The problem came with nutrition on the course! I wasn't consuming enough calories during the appropriate times. So basically, my body ran out of energy, sucked the nutrients from other parts of my body to supplement which leads to extreme fatigue and cramps. I was toast. I've since learned what works for me in terms of caloric intake and I am doing MUCH better with this. Thank heavens.

Today, fellow So Cal runner pal Tracy posted a photo of the 2014 LA Marathon medal! I am just gonna say it, MUCH better than last year's medal. It had charm and whimsey and all that...but I like this one much better. That's just me. Anyway, I instantly got charged! I have 26.2 With Donna to focus on first (which is next week and I am so can still register by the way). I want to go out there and show Los Angeles who's boss! I run this city! I want to get out there and not only have fun and enjoy the sights, but finish faster and stronger! Can we say further, faster, forever? I have gotten stronger, I have learned a lot, and I am ready to ROCK IT! I am excited! Cheer me on! I will be out there enjoying every moment! It will also be hard not to stop for brunch again on Rodeo Drive. Let's the journey begin From Dodgers Stadium to the Sea! POW!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

What Moves Me!

Everybody is different. Everyone has a different motivation, training or race day ritual, or something that gives them that extra little push they need to keep going. I am no different. I know that I am an odd bird...almost a flappy bird...but I wanted to share with you what it is for me that keeps me motivated and what I focus on when the going gets a little tough.

Enjoy the Moment

Whether it is a training run, or a race...enjoy the moment! Each stride is a gift, so it's important to remember that I am blessed to be able to participate in this activity. Staying grounded is very important.

Appreciate the Energy

Whether I am alone, with friends, or among perfect strangers there is always energy being transferred between runners and spectators. Some people are nervous, others are anxious, some are determined. I appreciate everything. I may be focused on my run, but if I can see and sense someone needs a 'You Got This' I give it to them. When I ran Surf City a couple weeks ago around mile 11 I took a short walk break and a lady who was running stopped and gave me some really awesome encouragement! Never met her before, and she was just so encouraging and nice! That's what it's about!!! Positivity and being in the zone!

Zone In On Your Prize

It may be a medal. It may be a PR. It may be reaching a goal or watching your dream come true! No matter what it is, focus in on it if you need an extra push! Some races I have a goal in mind..usually it's for time. I do my best to maintain a consistent pace and fuel properly so I can reach that goal. Some days it doesn't happen, and that is perfectly fine. I say to myself...Hey you missed sub 2, bring it in strong for a great 2:05! You may miss and that is okay, but having something to meet you at the finish line is ALWAYS helpful! Maybe your spouse is there with your puppy waiting and all you want is the hug! It may be the satisfaction of finishing! No matter what it is, material or not it is yours and no one can take it away from you!

No matter what it is, just always remember that running is a gift. Running and participating in this great activity is a wonderful blessing. Don't take it for granted. The community is full of incredible people! Appreciate, praise, and encourage one another! We are all in this together as runners! Run on and be good to one another.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Help Finish Breast Cancer

You have been hearing the buzz around the interwebs about #runDonna! What is it? When is it happening? Well, let me help! 26.2 with Donna is the nation's Breast Cancer Marathon! What I love most about this race is 100% of the proceeds from registration and fundraising donations go toward breast cancer treatment and research! 100%! Since it's first run in 2008, #runDonna has contributed more than 3.5 Million dollars to beneficiaries. 70% of the proceeds go to the awesome folks at The Mayo Clinic who use the funds to further their already incredible breast cancer research! They are among the leaders in this area! The remaining 30% of the proceeds go toward The Donna Foundation, who's mission is to help provide breast cancer patients with critical financial needs!

How could you not want to support such an awesome cause?

This year, The Donna falls on the same day as the runDisney Princess Half Marathon and The Gasparilla Marathon. All three of these races are in Florida and competing for your registration and participation. As awesome as Princess and Gasparilla both are as races, if you Run Donna, you'll be making a difference in someone's life! People depend on The Donna and the funds they raise! The goods news is, you don't have to choose which race to run!!!

26.2 with Donna is offering a new program this year, the virtual race! Virtual runs have become increasingly popular over the past year, and Team Donna is bringing the breast cancer marathon to your door, your neighborhood, and your life!

So how does it work? You can click here to register right now! There are both half marathon and marathon distances. You'll have until March 2, 2014 to complete your run. There is a fundraising commitment of $150 dollars in addition to the either $30 registration for half marathon or $50 for marathon. Think of that as a complete registration for any race. When you do the math, it isn't that much more...and the funds go to the Mayo Clinic and The Donna Foundation as with all races! Upon finishing you'll receive the beautiful finishers medal and your finisher's certificate! This really is a great opportunity!

I can't wait to get to Jacksonville and run this amazing race with some of my closest friends! I know I've been on my Boston excitement, but right now it's all about The Donna! This is an amazing race, with amazing people who are behind it making it happen! I am happy to be part of the team! See you at the finish line!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Boston Fundraising Contest #1 - iPod Shuffle Giveaway

WINNER! Congratulations to Erica from for winning the iPod Shuffle Giveaway! Thank you to all of you that donated and entered this giveaway. I don't think I won the banner, but we are certainly moving the line forward!

So, the fundraising for Boston is underway! I am headed toward that $7,500.00 goal for the Boston Bruins Foundation, which helps provide resources to local charities and children in the New England area! I am still very excited about the chance to work with the Bruins Foundation! Something fun happened today! So Crowdrise, which is the online tool that the BAA has asked us to use for fundraising (and this is a good thing, because Crowdwise is super easy to use) kicked off a contest today! They are giving fundraisers a chance to win an official Boston Marathon banner from the awesome folks at John Hancock!

It is no secret or surprise to any of my friends that I totally LOVE race banners! The Bling Annex (which is where I hang all of my race memorabilia in my house) is literally covered with one full wall dedicated to these things! I love them! They are special memories and keepsakes! Some people collect stamps, I collect vinyl banners.

So, how do I win one of these things? Well, that's where you guys come in! For every donation I receive that is over $50.00 from now until midnight 2/14/14, I will receive an entry and a chance to score this banner. They are only giving ONE away, so you can imagine how stir crazy I am going! So what's in it for you? Well three things that I can think of! 1. You are helping some great kids get some awesome resources such as money and people to assist with athletic, academic, and community outreach programs. 2. You help me :) 3. You feel great knowing what you are doing really matters, not just to me, but to those great kids I can't wait to hang out with when I get to Boston!

So, starting today any donation I receive over $50.00 until Midnight on 2/14/14 will get you entered for a chance to win AN iPOD SHUFFLE! That's right you guys, you toss me $50, you could win a 2GB iPod Shuffle in the color of your choice valued at $49.00!!! This is coming out of my pocket. I will ship it directly to you with a note expressing my gratitude! Even if I do not win the banner (which would SUCK) one of you will still win the iPod! I will announce the winner on Saturday 2/15/14.

Please remember, the money you donate goes DIRECTLY to the Boston Bruins Foundation, which is a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Organization.

Help me get there guys! WE RUN TOGETHER!


Here are the official rules for my contest:
-Open to US residents 18 years or older
-Donations must be made through the official Crowdwise site and applied to my fundraising account before 11:59 PM PST on 2/14/14 in order to earn a chance to win
-Only one winner will be selected to win
-The winner will receive ONE 2GB iPod Shuffle in the color of their choice. iPod will be shipped to you with my gratitude!
-Value of the iPod shuffle is $49.00 (not including shipping)
-Winner will be randomly selected