sub-8 minute mile!

I decided to run a timed mile, since I think it’s a pretty fun (but probably inaccurate) measure of general fitness, and it’s pretty accessible, and what’s not to love about collecting data over the span of one’s life? The last time I ran a timed mile was 201 blog posts ago in 2012 and my time was 8:55. Today, I ran it in 7:53!! Which is GREAT. I was expecting an improvement since my last mile, since I feel much more physically fit than I used to be, but I wasn’t expecting under 8 minutes! Here were my splits:

Lap 1 – 1:39
Lap 2 – 2:07
Lap 3 – 2:10
Lap 4 – 1:55

I think the main thing I struggled with with this mile was my running gait. For the last few years (3?) since I started running regularly in norcal, I’ve been wearing barefoot shoes and running on my toes. I initially started doing this to alleviate knee pain, and I do think it’s helped because impact force is taken by ankles and calves rather than purely by the knee. On my typical runs and on my half marathon training last year I never ran for time and just took my own pace. So this was the first time in a long time where I wanted to go fast. I found after my first few steps that it was basically impossible for me to run fast on my toes! I switched to heel striking/running with my entire foot and my pace was definitely faster with longer strides for the first lap. But, I think I overdid the speed and I was pooped after lap 1. Lap 2 and 3 I switched back to toe-running for comfort and ease, but it obviously slowed down my pace. For my last lap I went back to running on my full foot for the speed, but I was so tired!

It’s crazy how exhausted you can be after just a few minutes of high intensity cardio breathing. I was sooo pooped. I felt like I tasted iron in my mouth, and even now a few hours later my throat is still dry. (Or maybe I’m coming down with a cold.) I do think I tried very hard in this mile, though in hindsight I probably could have stepped it up just a tiny notch on lap 2 and 3 by changing my gait – maybe cutting my time down 10-15 seconds? Mentally it was a bit of a struggle because I wanted to practice ahimsa (non-hurting) but also tapas (commitment) lol. So conflicting! But we did it and it was great and exhausting. Again in 2020!

cardio!

Man, I’ve missed cardio. Seven months after my half marathon (mistake), I can finally say that my knee is basically fully healed and I can now run and hike and yoga without any hindrances. Well, still taking it easy on my knees in yoga (virasana and related postures) but this week I ran 2.5 miles and hiked 5 miles without any issues. :) Hurrah! Thank you, body, for doing what you do even though it took awhile. I’m only getting older though, so I think it’s time to be more careful with my body, since it’s only going to take longer and longer to heal these types of injuries from now on. 😐

Tomorrow’s Mother’s Day, so I’m throwing a celebratory brunch at the house for all the extended family, with all the next generation too. I’m making roasted potatoes, french toast, avocado toast, cinnamon rolls, coffee cake, bacon, omelettes, and eggs-of-all-kinds. Except poached, I’m not really into poached eggs. Also I’m making cold brew coffee, though it’s taking forever to drip, and I’m not sure if I did it correctly… but coffee drinkers will be coffee drinkers, so I’m not too worried heh.

Anyway, other than work and yoga, not much is going on lately. Stanley and I threw a 2016 birthday party at our new place, and I’d say it was a total success! For future reference, we made tacos, and made about 12-16 cups “sides” (slaw, corn, kimchi), and ended up cooking about 9 lb of meat for about 20 attendees. More seating would probably be nice, but our space was big enough to fit everyone seated on the ground like true Asians. Looking forward to next year’s birthday party already!!!

13.1

Ok, so Nancy, Josh and I ran 13.1 miles (continuously) on Sunday! It was pretty anticlimactic and I kind of feel whatever about it, but I do feel like it was a significant thing that I was glad to be able to accomplish!

Mile 1 – 9:41 /mi
Mile 2 – 10:52 /mi
Mile 3 – 11:47 /mi
Mile 4 – 11:28 /mi
Mile 5 – 11:40 /mi
Mile 6 – 11:58 /mi
Mile 7 – 11:53 /mi
Mile 8 – 11:50 /mi
Mile 9 – 11:09 /mi
Mile 10 – 11:13 /mi
Mile 11 – 12:32 /mi
Mile 12 – 13:29 /mi
Mile 13 – 13:44 /mi
Mile 13.1 – 13:32 /mi

I think these mile splits are super funny because it just gets so slow in the end. But we were running and not walking and that’s what counts! One foot in front of the other – the last couple miles felt like forever. According to my fitbit, 27,845 steps and 2 hours and 40 minutes total. Unfortunately, that’s 21 minutes slower than the women’s average half marathon time. But whateveverrrrr we did it! All done. Not interested in doing this ever again. It wasn’t that exciting and the recovery is a literal pain. My quads and hamstrings are really tight, my hips and ankles are really sore. Also probably never interested in a full marathon either…

Really excited to not run for at least a couple weeks. Probably a couple months. I’ve done enough running for the year…

labor day weekend

Someone said that in 2015, Memorial Day was at the earliest day possible and Labor Day was at the latest day possible, defining the longest unofficial summer, but in my mind the longest time between paid holidays/free 3-day weekends at work. Certainly felt like a breath of fresh air. It’s amazing how much just a single day of disruption to the norm of working life can feel so liberating.

I didn’t do much this weekend – it was great. Took a couple naps. Normal weekend activities like running, yoga, farmer’s market. We went to the mall on Saturday to browse and run errands; I bought a pair of shoes from the Nordstrom sale to consider for a few weeks. (Still the best return policy ever.) Yesterday I went hiking with Kristen, Rose and Yvonne at Sanborn County Park, which was recommended by Eric(‘s dad) as his favorite hike because of the full shade. It was pretty nice, only about 30 minutes away and mostly flat. I think hiking a loop is typically more fun than an out-and-back, plus the trail we took (from Sunnyvale Mountain Trailhead to Indian Rock and back) didn’t have a lot of vista points nor was the rock at the end that exciting. But the walk was nice, and the shade was super appreciated on the 96 deg F high day. I carried an extra 10-15 lbs of water, snacks, camera, miscellany, for a cross-training day instead of running per my half marathon plan. It was totally fine and I’d like to potentially carry more next time if the trail was similarly flat (~600 ft gain/3 miles one way).

Yesterday afternoon Nancy and I dropped by Fitgeek (running shoe store by Ike’s in Cupertino) to chat with the experts about running shoes and methods, and to get “gait analysis” done on our running form. As expected, my running form is good (mid-foot strike, no over- or under-pronation) but my feet do land a little more centerlined under my body than ideal. Best joint alignment is for the feet to land directly under the hips. I’ll try being more conscious about my running form next time, and see if it makes any difference. I run in near-barefoot shoes, and I asked the guy if there was anything I could do about arch soreness. He basically said if it’s not pain, my body will probably adjust to it, but if it bothered me I should try a shoe with a little more stiffness. I’m going to try putting heel/arch half inserts into my shoes during my next run, too, to see if my plantar-whatever gets less sore.

It was fun to watch my feet and legs running in super slow motion, to see how the feet land and legs adjust and absorb motion. Somewhat disappointing that they didn’t have any magical fix solutions for my miniscule complaints, but grateful that I don’t have actual aches and pains that would keep me from my goals. Nancy’s analysis was about the same, lol.

changes

Recently I’ve been noticing that my leather jacket fits a little tighter than comfortable. I’d been in denial about it for awhile and just attributed it to wearing it unzipped, or lumpy clothes underneath, or something. But I’m pretty sure it fit much better when I bought it (one year ago) and have decided that my shoulders have probably gotten wider. I don’t have any baseline measurements, but yesterday Je measured my shoulder span (back, bone-to-bone) at 15.5″. Shall report back and use this new data point as a future reference. I mean, this is not really a significant thing, I’m both happy (yay shoulder muscles!) and sad (leather jacket fits funny :() about this change in my body but in the end, whatever. Although I think this is the first sustained tangible difference I’ve noticed in my body shape since beginning to exercise consistently (~2 years).

In other news, I stopped washing my hair with shampoo after chatting with Wesley about his no-poo lifestyle change. I figured I might as well try it, since I don’t particularly like washing my hair and the more low-maintenance I can make my life the better. (Standard work-aversion tendencies.) I use baking soda and tea tree oil when I feel like my head is getting uncomfortable (about once a week) and otherwise rinse with water or skip a shower entirely. I don’t typically take long showers but I have found that not needing to lather, rinse, condition, rinse saves quite a bit of time. Hope it helps with the drought as a side effect :) It’s been 3 weeks and the only minor down side is that my hair smells like hair instead of smelling like flowers (which used to only last 1 day after shower anyway…). My solution is to spray a bit of perfume or rub a bit of essential oil into my hair. No complaints from me so far, but just a few complaints from Stanley… I’ll probably commit to this for a few more weeks before evaluating whether to stay or not.

If anybody is interested in trying no-poo though, I’d have to say it was a pretty easy transition for me since I used to go 2-3 days before showering, and my curly hair hides grossness pretty well. Typically (from what I’ve read) the scalp/roots will first over-produce oil in the first few weeks while getting used to not being stripped, before adjusting and getting to a happy place. Maybe my standards are lower but I felt like I was over the hump in like 1.5 weeks – more typical is a 5 week transition.

In other other news, I’m training for a half marathon. I’m following a couch to half marathon plan vaguely, but started at week 10 of 20. The plan does two short runs during the week (3-4 miles) and then one long run on Saturday that varies from 5 to 10 miles (more then less then more again). So far my longest run has been 7.5 miles (I mapped my run wrong and was short of my 8 mile plan lol) with no joint pain and no sign of impending injury. Nice! I will say that my calves have been really sore after the long runs though… might go check out a running shoe store this weekend. I plan to complete the 13.1 mile run by the end of October – do you want to be a morale booster and join me for a few miles in the middle? :)

today’s heyuan gym flow

Decided to log my flow from my “home” (Doubletree Heyuan) practice just now. 50 minutes total. Could have probably taken things a bit slower but the music/noises in the gym were too distracting. Not particularly sorry about my mixed sanskrit/English pose names…

In hindsight, the flow probably could have used some more seated stretches after navasana, along with some pigeon/lizard/quad stretches.

begin in seated meditation, breathe and set intention
cat cow x 5 ish
active child’s pose
child’s pose side bends
spinal balance, with elbow to knee x 5
“spinal balance half moon”
thread the needle

tadasana
standing side bends
half sun salutations x 2
sun salutation classical, knee to nose/outside/inside x 2 before hold in ajaneyasana, with side bend
sun salutation B, twists in first chair

tadasana
warrior 2
side angle/reverse warrior 2 flow x 3
side angle
triangle
“vinyasa” to other side and to next sequence

three legged dog to starfish, with two breath hold with hovering leg
crescent
crescent twist
“vinyasa” to other side and to next sequence

goddess, with shoulder stretches
prasarita padottanasana
prasarita twists
tripod headstand, with attempted leg twists (…not really)
center, then into crow
jump back into chaturanga and return to down dog

jump into malasana
with twist, with full bind on both sides
tadanasa
gorilla pose
fingers-to-toes-elbows-out

tadanasa
dancer
to warrior 3
to standing splits
to standing half pigeon
half pigeon arm balance
back to tadasana for other side

“vinyasa” to reset to down dog
jump through to navasana
straight legs, fingers to toes
bridge x2
wheel
happy baby
garudasana twists

savasana

santa rosa island

Stanley and I went camping with Dennis, Matt, Layla + Kyle, and a few of Dennis’ outdoorsy friends at Santa Rosa Islands, Channel Islands. Dennis planned it as a quasi-Introduction to Backpacking weekend, which meant that some of us rented backpacks to see what it was like to carry a 30 pound thing on our backs. But the hike in to the campsite was only about 1.5 miles, and we never moved campsites, so I’m pretty sure it barely prepared us for any future real backpacking we may or may not do.

I think my backpack ended up being around 32 pounds with what seemed like barely anything in it:

  • sleeping bage
  • tent
  • exped sleeping mat
  • manduka towel (could have done without this)
  • one set of spare clothes, swimsuit (could have done without this)
  • a sweater (could have been a windbreaker)
  • a box of scones, cheese and salami for the first day
  • misc electrical: battery pack, xiaomi yi camera, cell phone

Stanley carried all the food, which included two cans of tuna, almond butter, crackers, tortillas… our packs were relatively even in terms of weight, even with his being about 15L smaller.

Anyway, overall the experience was not bad at all, though it wasn’t very backpacky. It wasn’t difficult to carry all our stuff on our backs for a 2 day trip, and per expectations on the Internet, we had significant amounts of extra food on our way back.

We did an 8 mile hike to Torrey Pines loop trail on the first day, and a 11 mile hike to Lobo Canyon the second day. After the second day my hamstrings were ridiculously tight… in hindsight, I think this is because I wore my Nike barefoot shoes the entire weekend and the extra extension of my calves and hamstrings was unexpected. I was so surprised at my soreness because I always feel like I’m a relatively fit and capable person, haha. But I could barely walk that second evening.

The last day we spent hanging out at the beach for hours – the totally empty beach with white sands, blue waves and skies, was really relaxing. The pictures from my Xiaomi definitely didn’t do the place any justice.

I do wish we visited the island while the flowers were blooming, so we’d traipse through fields of grass and wildflowers instead of hay, but in the end I had a good time hanging out and taking it easy on a receptionless island an ocean away from any city.

climbing

I went climbing (bouldering) for the 2nd time last Friday. I really enjoy it! I think it’s pretty crazy (and yet exactly as expected) how difficult it is to traverse one’s own body up a vertical incline. In order to climb well, you need acute control over your limbs and strong muscles, as well as some amount of gracefulness. By the end of the day this time, I was able to solve V1s with ease, but got stuck on a particular V2…

The second major perk is the general friendliness of climbers. Almost everybody is really encouraging and gives suggestions and advice to new climbers like me very freely. And I guess because there is so much “try, try again” mentality in bouldering, most folks are super chill. (Although there was this one guy being annoying, climbing difficult climbs, and then trying something near-impossible on an easy climb… and when he fell he kept yelling “Fuck!” and I was hella annoyed at him internally.)

The soreness in my serratus is finally dissipating today on day 3. I actually think that climbing may help with my 2015 handstand goal and maybe even with my pull-up goal? So maybe I’ll try to go more often than once every six months…

yj live! sf 2015

I spent the weekend (Thurs-Monday) at the Yoga Journal Live! San Francisco event, volunteering and taking classes from a handful of well known (I guess) teachers. One of my biggest take-aways from the conference was that hearing all the other teachers talk about what they thought yoga was really helped me figure out what I thought yoga was.

To me, yoga is about awareness, acceptance and stability. The physical practice uses the breath to help guide focus the mind in times of (muscular) effort. Off the mat, yoga practice continues in the form of mindfulness in all situations. Maybe, for example, being aware of ones faults, accepting them, and working toward minimizing consequential harm to oneself and others. Otherwise recognizing that we do not have complete control over the situations that we find ourselves in, and letting the associated negative thoughts come and go. Via the physical practice, yoga teaches us to let go of bias and see situations clearly even through emotional turmoil, like the disappointment of a perceived failure.

I feel grateful that even before I started yoga, I had a grounded personality and was generally able to stay relatively calm in times of distress. But I do think that as I’ve gotten older, and maybe with the help of yoga, I’m even more level headed than before and able to “take it as it comes.” I’ve been able to see and set my priorities more easily and therefore been able to maximize my experiences more fully.

Plus my triceps are so, so strong. SYKE! Just kidding. Wishing everybody a satisfying and successful step forward in their life’s journey today, no matter the size.

(Cross-posted on my yoga tumblr Posted on Categories fitness, personal, yogaLeave a comment on yj live! sf 2015

centuries

Basically all I blog about these days is exercising and yoga. Well. That’s cool, I guess…

I got an automated email from East West Yoga, congratulating me on my one year anniversary at the studio. So I (finally) registered my online account, and checked the visit history; I went to yoga 93 times from 7/8/2013 – 7/8/2014! Pretty solid. I should shoot for 100 in the next year :)

Also, I may have mentioned it before, but I’ve been tracking miles-run since the beginning of 2014, and I will almost surpass the 100 mile mark for the year as well. And it’s only July! What whaaat.