Runner's Footprints

Runner's Footprints

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Bic Soleil Review

This post is sponsored by Bic Soleil, but all of the opinions are my own.

All year long, we want smooth, beautiful skin. Depending on the season or our location of residence, our skincare routines and habits are important to support the vibrancy and longevity of our skin. With Summer around the corner it is important to get a close smooth shave. That's why I picked up a variety of Bic® Soleil® razors to find my favorite for the summer season. I went to Walmart and picked out the SOLEIL® Smooth Colors razor which has vibrant fun colors. The SOLEIL® Sensitive Advanced razor has a water activated moisture strip, and SOLEIL® Comfort razor lubricating strip is enriched with coconut milk for a smooth shave. 

My roles on the go have evolved from being an educator in my classroom, to a public speaker on stage, to an athlete on the road, in the ocean or on the mountains. Therefore, my skin care routines have also evolved to the adapting needs. Whatever role I am in smooth skin is very important to me. That's why  the SOLEIL® Sensitive Advanced razor was my favorite out of the 3. With the water activated moisture strip it left my legs with a smooth skin leaving the feeling of buttery smooth legs.  

Function at a great price is very important to me. Therefore, when I found the BIC Soleil ® razors at Walmart it was a WIN-WIN. Not only do the BIC Soleil ® razors offer a variety of types of razors for all skin types, but you can also get them at a great price, hence the win-win 😉 I have tried the SOLEIL® Smooth Colors, SOLEIL® Comfort, and SOLEIL® Sensitive Advanced to compare the close smooth shave they can offer and I love them! They are water activated, performance obsessed, and offer that amazing smooth shave all at a great savings. Try it out and let me know how you like it! Have smooth skin with a smile. You can pick yours up at Walmart here

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

10 Tips To Lose Weight

One of the most difficult challenges endurance athletes find is to regulate their appetite. With the amount of mileage and/training we clock in, the voracious appetite ensues and it seems to be pretty restless the remainder of the day. We are hungry ALL THE TIME. Or at least that's what it seems. How many of us begin to think about our next meal right after finishing the meal we just ate? How many of us calculate constantly well if I ran this many miles then I deserve to eat this much? How many of us are thinking about that scrumptious fatty temptation right now? Yes, this is the mind of an endurance athlete, a bodybuilder, or any active athlete.

It's a physiological need to consume calories so how can we ask ourselves to deprive it of a basic human need. The real problem with weight loss is not having the willpower, it begins with changing how we view food. Below are ten simple tips to incorporate into your lifestyle from easiest to hardest. The trick to changing a lifestyle habit is first changing our mindset. If we aren't willing to change how we view our relationship with food then we will never win. Behavioral changes begin with the mind. When we willfully step back and accept food as a powerful energy then we will see that food can either be your medicine or it can be your poison. Everything we put into our bodies matters. It will either help us or it will hurt us. The relationship we have with food should then be a positive one. Positive in a way that we use it to empower us. I share my personal tips because they work not only for me but they are backed with data. Realistically, it is hard to follow all of them 100% of the time; but it definitely serves as a refresher to come back to from time to time. So whether you are physically active or not, these ten tips can help anyone make some lifestyle modifications to create a healthy well being. 

1. Food is NOT a reward. 
You are not a dog. Wholesome food is our source of nourishment. It heals. It empowers. It strengthens. It rebuilds. The effects of food are the rewards that our body receives. If parents begin to use food as a treat for their children, they begin to develop this psychological association to food. Teaching children that wholesome food gives our bodies rewards is best--not an easy parenting skill according to childhood developmental psychology. I've worked with children of all ages over the past 15 years and it matters if we view the effects of food as a reward. Our childhood habits become adult habits. Food is your medicine. 

2. Drink hot tea before or after every meal. 
Hot fluid has two effects: 1) The warm liquid begins to raise the body temperature at a minuscule level. Research has shown that on average across regions people tend to consume less during summer months versus winter months. This is due to a physiological effect whereby when the body feels on average warmer, appetite is suppressed slightly. 2) The fluid provides a filling effect on the stomach. When distension occurs in the stomach, the hormone ghrelin stops being secreted. This hormone tells our brain we are hungry. We don't want ghrelin to reach the brain uncontrollably too often. When our stomach begins to get filled, the secretion of the hormone ghrelin is slowed down. I used Your Tea to kick off a detox for the first 14 days drinking tea before every main meal 3 times per day. The weight loss benefit of hot tea has two physiological effects that help us regulate appetite. It's usually best to drink it about 30 minutes before your meals because it then gives you time to control and think: am I really hungry or was I just "craving" something? Downing a bottle of water also helps. MANY times we confuse thirst to hunger or boredom. So try not to eat when your bored. Drink a bottle of water or hot tea first then wait to decide how hungry you really are.

3. Eat an apple before you go out to eat. 
Sometimes we don't want to look silly ordering a hot tea in the middle of summer so pack your apples. Before you leave to go out to eat and you tend to overeat when dining or ordering out, eat an apple before your meal. It has a filling effect in addition to providing high nutrients, high fiber, while low in calorie. It's really hard to stuff our face with apples. So we helps slow down our eating. 

4. Drink your protein within 30 minutes after you finish training.
I cannot stress this enough. 1) This has importance in helping your body rebuild important micro and macro nutrients you broke down during training and that 30 minute window is crucial. It is when your metabolic enzymes are most active and will maximize the quality protein you consume. 2) Protein has a filling factor. This is also physiological. We have different enzymes in our gastrointestinal tract that help digest the three major macronutrients: carbohydrates, lipids, and protein. *Alcohol (ethanol) is NOT a carb. Review the biochemistry or ask any chemistry professor. Runners often make the mistake and call alcohol a carb. Carbs have 4 Calories per gram. Ethanol has 7 Calories per gram. To give you some perspective Fat (lipid) has 9 Calories per gram so you can see alcohol has a pretty close resemblance in caloric density to Fat. I'm not bashing alcohol at all for adult consumers, but it's important to know what we are putting in our bodies accurately. 

Back to protein: we have enzymes that digest protein later in our GI tract than carbohydrate enzymes so essentially when we consume protein, it takes longer to digest. If it takes longer to digest, it's allowing us to feel full longer. Drink your protein post workout. 

5. Carry healthy snacks EVERYWHERE you go. 
In your car, put trail mix. At work, bring fruit. In your workout bag, pack that protein or apple. Same as before. It's healthy. It's filling. And it regulates your appetite so that when you are ready to order or eat your meal, you are not ordering everything on the menu or gorging. Preparation is key. Make the time to pack your snacks. It saves on average over $4K annually if you pack your breakfast/lunch on workdays AND it saves you from being tempted to make unhealthy food choices. If you're already tired of apples, you can really choose any fruit that has a high fiber/high water content to help regulate appetite. 

6. At home, use smaller plates and utensils when serving yourself your food. 
Statistically, in countries around the world where obesity rates are lower therefore have less chronic health problems, it has been shown the use of smaller plates and utensils is ubiquitous. It really is only an American tradition where we think bigger is better in everything. In some things but not everything. Psychologically, it automatically restricts you to serve yourself less. Yes, it is a mind game we can willfully play on our own mind. Now just don't go serve yourself a second portion or else it defeats the purpose. Right? Sit farther from the serving area. Have a fruit salad with yogurt and mixed nuts ready to eat after your meal. Put away all remaining left overs before you go serve yourself again. If you are trying to lose weight, don't go to buffets or all you can eat places. You have goals so place yourself in conducive environments to those goals. It's the little things that collectively helps. 

7. Be aware of your environment: avoid eating in red rooms. 
I have a science background so I tend to like things backed with data. Statistically, research has shown that the average person will eat more in a red environment versus a blue environment. Something about red and how it's received in the retina then signals the brain to eat with a sense of urgency. Why do you think McDonalds is red? THAT was not a coincidence. Think about a lot of unhealthy fast food restaurants--there is a lot of red. A lot of these companies are tempting you more than just with their food. They have studied the psychology of eating. It's easier to play when we know the rules.

8. Keep a food journal. 
Keep yourself accountable and write EVERYTHING down, at least when you begin for a few weeks. You may not know the calorie content of everything so begin doing research. Look at nutrition menus. Google food products' calorie content. If you are committed and serious to losing weight, this is not work. It's empowering. You have the power to decide what quality of calories are entering your body. What you will find immediately is healthier food options tend to have lower calorie content; therefore, you can consume more and intake MORE empowering nutrients. You feel healthier. You are more energetic. If this is too cumbersome, which might be time consuming to do all the research, this is where some might opt to hire someone to do the research for them: basically create a meal plan for you. It's just like a training plan; it takes daily prep with the right tools if we want to see an impact. But anyone can write down everything you eat so start today IF you are serious about weight loss. "Ain't nobody got time for that" mindset will not get you to your goals. If it's important, we make time. We manage our time. 

9. View wholesome, colorful, nourishing food as fun. 
When you begin to self educate yourself of all the healthy meal recipes that are out there or hire someone to do the meal prep for you, you will see it is far from boring. The most amazing physiological thing about the body is that it is SO adaptable. After a few weeks of adopting healthy eating habits, your enzymes change. Your palate naturally changes (taste bud cells are constantly transforming). Your blood composition changes. Your body begins to then CRAVE healthy food. Don't believe me? Observe anyone who eats healthy on a regular basis. They, most of the time, are pretty excited about it. Because it no longer is an obligation. It becomes something our bodies craves and has physiologically adapted to. If a very healthy person goes on an unhealthy eating binge for few weeks, their body will react almost like it's going through a toxic process. Keep in mind the same thing is in the reverse. If you eat relatively unhealthy, trying to transition into healthy eating will be difficult, however the body and palate adapts to crave healthy choices. 

10. Change our relationship with food. 
I introduced this in my introduction because this point serves enough importance to begin and end with. Food has a powerful effect on our bodies. It has the ability to empower and regenerate every fiber of our body. At the same token, consumption of unhealthy toxic food choices are making micro damage to our insides, our arteries, our blood, and our organs. Each time we consume food, we make the choice: will I help my body be strong? Or am I willing to hurt it because my mind says it's ok? Out of sight out of mind can hurt us. Just because we can't see the damage doesn't mean it's not there. I'm not saying you have to give up all those guilty pleasures forever. Absolutely not. I'm human and love my desserts. I've just changed my relationship with desserts that it isn't a reward. It's calories with some nutrient content that I give myself permission to intake because I've monitored all week what I've been consuming. Not a reward.

The beautiful thing about our bodies is they are resilient. In the majority of cases, it will bounce back when we give it the tools to bounce back. The relationship I have with food is fluid. Contrary to what most may believe, I CANNOT eat anything I want as some lean athletes can because when I do, I gain weight easily as obesity/overweight runs in my family. This is why I wrote this article to revisit when I struggle through emotional periods and share with others that it is ok to start over again. Most of the time, I am very good with my lifestyle of eating because of two primary goals that I hold very high in priority: 1) I want to perform at my peak athletic performance as often as I can, which translates into a daily high energy level and frequency in racing. 2) I want a high quality of life as long as possible since chronic health problems and obesity have taken the lives of three of my grandparents (the leanest, most active one lived the longest and highest quality of life until age 94). This is why it is so important to me to eat healthy, encourage others to eat healthy, and most importantly, "make" my parents eat healthy. It took years to change old habits in them and myself about 15 years ago, but now I am proud they look better now approaching their 60th decade of life than they did 20 years ago. Genes are not an excuse. It's a reason more to empower your choices. Empower your mind. Empower your body by viewing food as the most powerful choice you make daily to ensure a high quality of life today, tomorrow, and for a lifetime. 

Please feel free to share with anyone you feel could benefit.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

How to Recover Faster

Once we embrace the joy of running, we find ourselves looking forward to lacing up again for the next run, speed session, or mountain escape. The rate of our recovery determines how fast we can get back out there doing what we enjoy, and this rate of recovery is unique for each individual. When an individual introduces a new training stimulus, increases training volume, or as we grow older, the rate of recovery slows down and requires more attention. The good news is we have the power to influence our rate of recovery at any stage of life or training. Paying attention to recovery allows us to train safely, while minimizing the risk of injury. There are three areas in our recovery: 1) physiological, 2) neural, and 3) psychological. Here are 10 strategies to improve your rate of recovery.

1. Active recovery - Incorporate low intensity or low impact days into your weekly routine such as elliptical, cycling, swimming, and walking. Because of the influx of feel good chemicals that flush into our body during and post workout, we may want to go hard everyday. However, active recovery helps flush soreness or compounding fatigue out of the legs.

2. Foam rolling / dynamic stretching / mobility drills - activation exercises in a gentle manner focusing on proper form helps with circulation and flushing the legs. 

3. Elevate legs - After a difficult training session or at the end of the work day, this allows the blood to recirculate back through the upper body systems so there isn't an accumulation of inflammatory factors in the lower extremities. 

4. Compression gear - From compression leggings, socks and sleeves, there is data showing this gear helps improve circulation. It has been in the past prescribed for pregnant women, individuals will poor circulatory problems in their legs, and also frequent air travelers. Another great addition to recovery is what you wear on your feet when you are not training. The ballerina shoes, thin flip flops, and very high heels above 3" are very taxing on the proper posture of the body and joints. My entire family (except brother, he'll learn once he gets older) uses OOFOS recovery sandals and shoes as lifestyle wear as it helps absorbs 37% of the impact saving your joints. 

5. Refuel wholesomely - What you eat post workout gives your body the building blocks to rebuild for your next workout. Choose wholesome snacks and balanced meals. We may want to indulge in the burger, pizza, or fries -- but remember these items are broken down then used as building blocks to build your tissues, organ systems, and process cellular mechanisms. We wouldn't put cheap gas in a ferrari. Also, supplementation is helpful to fill in any gaps. I use the convenient, pre-packaged Vital4U supplements and fiber everyday to support my microbiome. (promo NADIA saves 15% off first time orders). Opt to be built from healthy fuel choices. Be the ferrari.

6. Hydrate frequently - The viscosity of our blood is influenced by how much we drink and what we drink. The more water and electrolytes we consume (such as Liquid IV), the lower the viscosity of our blood allowing it to flow freely in our circulatory system. Think of it as a free flowing freeway clear of any accidents. We don't want accidents within our circulatory system due to congestion from high viscosity. Drink water frequently.

7. Stress management / meditation - Chronic stress causes a physiological response in our bodies and the longer we don't manage it daily, the more it can cause damage within our organ systems thereby slowing down our healing and recovery process. The stress hormone, cortisol, has a purpose in our bodies; however, continuous elevated cortisol levels makes us immuno-compromised. Incorporate activities that help you unwind. You deserve at least 30 minutes daily to yourself everyday to exhale. The more you give yourself, the more you are able to serve others.

8. Ice baths - Data shows that after intense training sessions or competitions, ice baths help reduce the inflammatory response by constricting blood vessels so inflammatory factors don't leak into the body. Opt for 10-15 minutes in an ice bath if you can tolerate it soon after high intensity training.

9. Epson salt baths - Warm salt baths are relaxing, soothing, and the salinity has been shown to have restorative effects.

10. Sleep - The amount and quality of sleep impacts our energy levels, regeneration rates, and immunity among other factors. Sleep is the golden ticket to increased health in a variety of ways. Invest in a quality mattress (such as lull), pillows, and skip the late night TV watching to be able to go to bed earlier. Investment in your sleep has the greatest return in your body.


All of the above strategies are relatively low cost and can be done easily at home. There is more that we can still do for our bodies! I sincerely believe in investing in our health and wellness because the return is substantially more in lower health care costs, lower rates of injury, and overall a higher quality of life. Here are some more strategies you can incorporate into your wellness routine. 

11. Cyrotherapy - This is the new craze that has public figures and influencers radiating about it's amazing benefits. There is limited data on it's true physiological impact; however, there is a large amount of anecdotal reports of it helping individuals feel better and recover faster. It could be worth a try. 

12. Sensory Deprivation Tank - There is substantial data showing how creating a space to be one with our thoughts has a deep impact. You float in a warm, high salinity bath within your own private room that has meditation music that fades out if you wish. For me, I feel as if I'm floating in outer space where I get to unplug, slow down, and think about my thoughts. I highly recommend it. (promo NADIA25 saves 25% off at Just Float in Pasadena)

13. Acupuncture - Thousands of year of eastern medicine have practiced and documented the benefits of acupuncture for its healing, preventive, and treatment benefits. I've incorporated it for over a decade into my regular wellness routine. Once a month at least for maintenance; once or twice a week when I am injured or nursing an ailment. 

14. Sports medicine chiropractor - There are different forms of physical therapy and a chiropractor who is trained to understand the science of an athlete's needs is important. For maintenance, I aim for once per month; during high training periods, I usually opt for once per week. My trusted chiropractor are Dr. Andrew Lopez and Dr. Edgar Rodriguez in Pico Rivera.   

15. Sports massage therapist - Body work is extremely beneficial for regular maintenance, injury prevention, or treatment of muscular imbalances. During my peak training seasons, sports massages are crucial weekly. Referrals of great therapists work best. My dependable massage therapist is Franco Bodywork in Highland Park.

16. Compression boots - Similar to compression gear with a high twist. They immensely help increase circulation therefore recovery. Owning my own pair of Elevated Legs, I aim to use them 3x/week 30-90 minutes at a time.

17. Percussive tools - Self massage tools are very helpful in adding to your arsenal of recovery tools such as the Theragun now by Therabody. I use it daily pre runs for mobility activation and post runs for recovery. Email me for a personalized link / code for a discount on any of their devices.

Please feel free to share if you feel anyone could benefit from the info above and also contact me if you're looking for an endurance coach to help you with a training strategy to build during the off season or keep you accountable with science based training. Take care of your body. We only get one. Thank you for reading! 

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Top 10 Trail Races

Trails are where the soul can escape, dance, smile, and connect to our deepest thoughts. We can share them together or can find solace in exploring in solitude. The trails are where I find often my happiest memories, craziest ideas, and greatest clarity. 

Below I share my favorite 10 trail races for any level trail runner looking for something in the marathon, half, 5K, or relay distance options. If you like something longer, my favorite 10 ultras are here. Extend your trail adventure and explore the surrounding areas as each have hundreds of miles of magnificence. 

10. Yosemite Half
Location: Bass Lake, CA
Date: May
Weather: 40-70F
Results: 1:50:55 (2018)

If you love the outdoors and want a great list to explore of national parks, Vacation Race series offers an amazing to do list of national parks around the nation. The course is a mixture of fire road and paved road through the Sierra National Forest just outside of Yosemite National Park. Runners can camp at Bass Lake to be conveniently next to the start and then extend your trips for days to camp and explore the national park. As my first visit, my friends and I scored a half dome permit and were able to summit safely, even though it was terrifying in hail. Would I do half dome again? Too soon to say since that slippery climb has had some recent reported deaths. Hike safely friends. 

Location: East Glacier Village, MT
Date: June
Weather: 40-70F
Results: 1:45:56 (2017)

Camp at Red Eagle Campground for the expo and race start/finish, then run through rolling hills (1200' gain) on a stunning beautiful point to point course with miles of mountain ranges. Most of the Vacation Races give options to camp, local lodging, or nearby hotels for diverse options. Afterwards, explore the 1500 square miles of more wilderness inside Glacier National Park. With glacier carved peaks, there is 700 miles to explore and let your soul just be. Wildlife ranges from mountain goats and grizzlies. 

Location: Gallatin National Forest, WY
Date: June
Weather: 30-60F
Results: 2:05:42 *injured (2018)

Enjoy the rolling hills of the Gallatin green forest neighboring Yellowstone National Park. Combine it with the 5K for a challenge medal and extend your stay to camp/hike the 3500 square miles of wilderness. After the race, enjoy canyons, alpine rivers, lush forest, host springs, alpine rivers, and the infamous Old Faithful. Camping and visiting here for the first time was the best.

7. Infinite Trails World Championship
Location: Bad gastein, Austria
Date: June
Weather: 30-100F, rain or humidity
Details: 3-person relay teams (25K/60K/45K)

Nestled within the Austrian Alps, this multi day event will bring together 300 teams from around the world to surmount the peaks amongst great beauty your heart can embrace. Beginning on Thursday evening, all runners run the prologue to seed your teams on race day Saturday. Your three person team will be 1st) 6000' gain in 25K, 2nd) 12,000' gain in 60K, and 3rd) 4500' gain in 45K. Each their own unique challenge and your motivation to bring your A game for your team. I was honored to coach 20 runners to their first international mountain race and dominate out there impressing many AR communities from around the world. 

Location: Anchorage, AK
Date: June
Weather: 60F/75F
Results: 4:22:12 *injured (2012)

For any outdoor enthusiast, Alaska has everything for your tantalizing soul to explore from glacier cruises, hunting, hiking, to city and wildlife tours. In the summer, the climate is pleasant and 24hrs of civil twilight around the Summer Solstice will be a very unique experience. Those heavy hotel drapes will come in handy for sleep. With rolling hills, the point to point course is a mixture of trail on rocky tank trail and mostly road. Occasional bear sightings have not been uncommon. A wonderful city, well organized event, and great state to visit and return. 

Location: Napa Valley, CA
Date: March
Weather: 40F/55F
Results: 3:40:13, 1st FOA (2008)

Calming streams will be your soundtrack as you run along a lush single track within Bothe-Napa Valley State Park. Rolling hills, stream crossing, and some technical sections makes it a rewarding oasis in a local treasure untapped by tourists. Located minutes from the area's great restaurants, wineries, and hotels, the event is capped at 300 selling out every year in it's 30th annual. It was a hidden gem my family and I were able to share together in 2008.  

Location: Los Padres National Forest, CA
Date: November
Elevation: 5000' gain
Results: 6:17:02 (2013)

As part of the allwedoisrun series by RD Luis Escobar, the Red Rock trail races, located just outside of Santa Barbara, are miles of challenge. The single track course for the marathon climbs over 5000' through tree covered steep and long ascents. Course support is minimal; therefore, you're required to carry minimum of 60oz fluid. When the RD says it's your fault you get lost, it is in his races. Great painful fun. 

Location: Manitou Springs, CO
Date: August
Elevation: 7K gain to 14K altitude
Results: 7:10:16 (2011, 2013)
** favorite feature: high altitude

As “America’s Ultimate Challenge,” PPM fulfills its name. Claimed as the most difficult marathon in the US (Inca Trail Marathon for N. & S. America), the race begins at 6,300 elevation climbs for 13 miles to the summit at 14,115 then descend back to the start. At this altitude, the mountain controls the day so be prepared for anything as you crush your quads hands on knees to the summit in thin air. Pro tip: try to find your appropriate placement with the first couple miles before it goes into single track. Add 2-4hrs to your regular road marathon time depending on climbing fitness and altitude sensitivity. If you want double pain, you can opt to do the Ascent the day before, too.  

Location: Birling Gap, Sussex, UK
Date: March
Elevation: 4200' gain
Results: 4:55:57 1st US, 4th FOA (2013)
** favorite feature: severe weather

With the world famous Seven Sisters and far reaching views over the English Channel, the marathon shoulders the coastal towns of Eastbourne and Seaford, which lie on the eastern section of the South Downs National Park. Where white chalk cliffs meets the sea, this course has produced one of the most iconic landscapes of Britain. With four distances to choose from, there is something for everyone to enjoy. In 2013, I ran the marathon with 4200' gain where it faced one it's worst race weather on record with risk of being cancelled up until the day before. Race day, we faced 30F, 30mph winds dropping windchill factor to 15F as we pushed through hail that pierced our rain jackets. An joyous punishing that I would do again-- probably the worst weather I raced in, substantially worse than Boston 2018 (record coldest race day). Mountains have a unique offering.

1. Inca Trail Marathon
Location: Inca Trail, Peru
Date: July
Elevation: 10,700' gain
Results: 10:32:57, 3rd FOA (2012)

A backpacker's thru hike dream usually completed in 3-5 days: the Inca Trail can now also be done in one day as the most challenging and beautiful 26.2 miles I have ever done. Race participants camp at the start line at 8000' altitude and prepare before dawn to trek through 5 ecological zones in varying weather of heat, cold, wind, rain, hail as you climb to the highest point on the course at 13,7000' over Dead Women's pass. With a firm cut off 11 hours due to Peruvian government restrictions, two thirds of the field did not finish in 2012 under the cut off and were forced to camp overnight to finish the next morning. Be prepared to ascend over 3000 steps through history as alpaca graze the land around you until you are greeted with your magical finish line: Machu Picchu. 


If you would like to visit more of my top lists, below are some more of my favorite categories. Feel free to email me if you're looking for a new fitness / training program to keep you motivated and accountable through the changing circumstances. 
Thank you for reading! 

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Top 10 Trail Ultras

The human psyche functions strongly when we look forward to something. Whatever that may be for you, I invite you to follow it with small steps each day. The world is changing everyday and the event industry will be adapting in the future. I share below my favorite 10 ultras in the trails I am grateful to have experienced. Reflecting on our progress helps shape our vision for the future: what goal do you want to set for yourself this fall/winter? Motivation comes and goes. Inspiration for a greater purpose is what keeps us going. Let's get inspired for what we can do.

10. OTHTC Desert 50K
Date: Early December
Location: Ridgecrest, CA
Typical Temps: 50/80F
Gain: 2500'

A small feeling event with SoCal local trail runners looking to squeeze in one more fast trail ultra before the end of the year. With minimal gain, this 50K is great for beginners, first timers, or the avid looking for a fast 50K. Course mixed with service road, single track, and sporadic sandy spots. Three time finisher as top 3 females. 

9. Avalon Marathons, 50K, 50 Mile
Date: mid-January
Location: Catalina Island, CA
Typical Temps: 50/80F
Gain: 4500'

A great way to stay motivated through the holidays is to plan a nearby island vacation to kick off the new year with friends. Running almost every Catalina Marathon hosted, Avalon 50K brings me back five years for the friendships and clients I have trained through the years. Course is mostly service road with majority of gain within the first four miles then rolls through the island gently until the last harsh three miles downhill on asphalt. The race has grown to a few hundred each year. A great way to kick off your year and this one helps me stay on top of my training through the holidays to bring a test in progress placing in top women each year. 

8. Bishop 50K, 50M, 100K
Date: early June
Location: Bishop, CA
Typical Temps: 50/80F
Gain: 5500' up to 8000' altitude 

Had the honor to coach 20 runners for this event, most as their first ultra. Get ready for anything from service road, single track, heat, altitude, to a technical finish that will be probably longer than the prescribed distance. All of my athletes did amazing and I am happy to support a local race with a hard working RD, Tom. The icing on the cake: won first female overall leading some of my fastest (sub 3-hour) road marathoners, Ferdinel and Duvan, to their first 50K.

7. Harding Hustle 50K
Date: July
Location: Santa Ana Mountains, CA
Typical Temps: 80-100F
Gain: 3500' up to 5600' altitude

Summer heat is a given. Challenge yourself in a mixture of service road and single track to climb some gorgeous vistas in SoCal. Exposed landscape, this one will test your heat tolerance and tenacity. Finished 4th Female Overall in this toasty one. 
6. Bryce Canyon Half, 50K, 100M
Date: June
Location: Hatch, UT
Typical Temps: 30-80F
Gain: 5300'

A great excuse for a road trip and visit everything in between. As a gift to my little brother for graduating college, we went on a week long trip to Bryce, Zion, and Vegas-- suffering must be included. While I did the 50K and he did the half, we car camped and endured the summer heat to see some gorgeous terrain. A must do, even more than once. 

5. Caballo Blanco 50K, 50M
Date: February
Location: Copper Canyons, MX
Typical Temps: 70-100F
Gain: 7000'

The Tarahumara culture is absolutely inspiring. They run through the scorching heat within these canyons in sandals, cultural dresses for women, and jeans for men to endure the absolute toughest conditions not as training but as a way of life. It was an honor to run side by side, experience, and see what I did. Trek into the depths to see how far down you can dig into your soul. This race was it. 2nd Female Overall taking home a cash prize I donated. I would do it again in a heartbeat. 

4. Antelope Canyon 55K 50M, 100M
Date: March
Location: Page, AZ
Typical Temps: 40-60F
Gain: 3700', SAND

One of the most magnificent places to see. From Horseshoe Bend to the sand colored canyons, you will be mesmerized on every turn and challenged as you trudge through sand for about 48 miles out of the 50. I'm grateful for what I saw and know that our beautiful Earth deserves respect. 

3. Speedgoat 50K
Date: July
Location: Snowbird Ski Resort, UT
Typical Temps: 50-80F
Gain: 15,000' up to 11000' altitude 

Claimed as the most challenging 50K in North America , I would say in the world given its gain in 34 miles. It packs a punch in quad crushing pain and landscape to view for miles on end. I feared this one for awhile-- with the push of some avid 100 mile friends, I look the plunge and committed training for it. The fear of doing something I was absolutely afraid of propelled me to give one of my best trail performances beating both of my 100M friends who run regularly 3-hour road marathons. There is something special about doing something you are really afraid of. The RD, Karl Metlzer, is a hard ass and there's a reason for it. 

2. Transrockies 120M
Date: August
Location: Colorado Rockies, CO
Typical Temps: 30-80F
Gain: 20,000' up to 13000' altitude 

I've traveled to half the US states and 27 countries; Colorado remains one of my favorite mountain feels. This was my first stage race and kicked off the mental acceptance that I may be a stronger mountain runner than I acknowledged. There is a 3 day and 6 day event. The RD, Kevin Houda, really looks out for all his runners so this will be the ultimate "adult summer camp" that you won't forget. 7th female overall after a strong competitive field with past Olympians. Want to hike the entire thing? You definitely can, as all levels are completing this event. 

1. Hardrock 100M
Date: July
Location: San Juan National Forest, CO
Typical Temps: 30-90F, hail, heat, anything
Gain: 34000' gain up to 14K altitude several times

If you're a seasoned ultra runner, you know this one. The bucket list for any ultra veteran to suffer the extreme majesty with over 60K gain/loss probably in the most mesmerizing terrain the US has to offer. I was honored to pace at HR100 2017 and hope to return in 2020 if it doesn't get cancelled or postponed. A heart clenching experience to see veteran 100 milers grind out the most pain possible. Dream big they say. Definitely, yes. 

*** What am I currently training for? If you are following me on strava, I'm currently moving 2-3 times/day in mini training sessions for sanity, faster recovery, and progress for the fall. Join me in this journey to look forward to challenging ourselves into something absolutely extreme for clarity, cleansing, and liberation of one's own inhibitions. Below you can find a short documentary clip about Ultra X Mexico and lists of my other favorites. Stay daydreaming. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Top 10 International Races

We long daydream for our perfect vacation. What that means for each individual differs from mood to mood and circumstance to circumstance. There are moments where I want to escape to the depths of the forest, jungle, or mountain peaks and then other times where I enjoy exploring the tasty cultural cuisine the city has to offer. Some of my best trips have been when I give myself the time to exhale and enjoy the moment, whether it be in a bustling city or serene landscape. Here are my most memorable international ROAD races I would recommend on your next spin around the globe. 

Location: Jakarta, Indonesia
Race Date: February
2016 Race Temps: 90F, 90% humidity

As the capital and providence of Jakarta, you can enjoy the metropolis, openness of the seas, and suburbs in the outskirts. Proclaimed to be one of the world's cities with highest traffic similar to Manila and Mexico City, I visited Jakarta to host a coaching clinic for triathletes, help launch a coffee product, and enjoy a local large running event with the warm community. Be ready for some heat and warm, welcoming locals alike. 

Location: Legazpi City, Philippines
Race Date: August 2015
2015 Race Temps: 99F, 100% humidity
2015 Results: 1st US, 4th FOA

Reclaimed as the most scenic, challenging race of the Philippines, Mt Mayon is a tropical paradise for any traveler comparable to if not more than Hawaii and Costa Rica. Beaming in biodiversity of green lush, food, culture, and kind locals, the triathlon will begin in crystal clear water adorned with coral reef below then continue through the city's hills. The first and only triathlon I did without a wetsuit due to heat. Get ready to SUFFER in the high heat and humidity. Having the locals and children cheer your name as an internationally known triathlete, the Filipino community are a favorite. 

8. Bermuda Marathon 
Location: Hampton, Bermuda Island
Race Date: 1/18/09
2009 Finishers: 76
2009 Race Temps: 60F
2009 Results: 3:58:11, 22nd total

Take a vacation during Bermuda’s low season located off the east coast and enjoy the island’s two-loop course as it hugs the perimeter along the shoreline. Locals are friendly and welcoming. The event offers the Bermuda Triangle Challenge if you're interested in racing three different distances on three consecutive days. 

Location: Havana, Cuba
Race Date: October
2017 Race temps: 80F, 90% humidity, HOT
2017 Results: 3:54:55, 14th FOA

A destination I always wanted to visit.  For my father's 59th birthday, we made it a trip to visit and as his ultimate race trip planner, I found an affordable AirBnB, amazing spots to dine and experience all the music, culture, and food. My dad was a child again revisiting all the history of Cuba with the 1950s car culture. The two-loop course runs through the city and oceanfront with the majority running the half marathon -- we learned this the hard way. The second loop is lonely and mostly international runners (the locals know better) as it was exposed, 
extremely  humid creating a huge positive split. I would highly recommend it overall and would return for the half marathon next time. 
Location: Mexico City, Mexico
Race Date: August
2019 Finishers: 40,000
2019 Race temps: 80F, 40% humidity
2019 Results: 3:55:00

In 2019, I partnered with JLab Audio to launch a product and event during race weekend and was able to visit the city, meet wonderful people, and enjoy delectable cuisine. The course is rolling hills point to point at 7,300' altitude. Given I was out of shape in July/August 2019 as my off season after a very heavy coaching season in Winter/Spring 2018-2019, I was humbled. It is a large field so you will never be alone on the course. The latino energy of the spectators makes your heart inspired.

5. Barcelona Marathon
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Race Date: 3/7/10
2010 Finishers: 4,054
2010 Race Temps: 45F/60F
2010 Results: 3:37:52, 38th total

A cherished trip memory because I was able to combine it with visiting my family in Spain and it was the last marathon I ran with my mom. I cannot say enough how wonderful Barcelona is for its cuisine, culture, history, and kindly natured locals. The course meanders through many historical sights. Enjoy a paella de Mariscos, great bottle of wine, and make it a vacation to remember. I dropped tears of joy as I finished through the fountains and museums of Barca.

Location: Quito, Ecuador
Race Date: September
Race Temps: 50s, marshmallow clouds

As the capital city, Quito is nestled in the sublime Andes Mountains at 9,000' elevation. With rolling hills everywhere, you will be challenged with thin air and blessed with warm energy of Ecuadorian people. Aid stations are every 5K with individual closed packets for hydration-- a typical feature of international Latino events. Embrace the energy of the culture as you see many locals push through winds, altitude, and hills.  I ran this for a couple years as my birthday race with my dad until it ended. Instead, Quito 15K continues, which is a very popular long running event drawing runners from all over South America and world. I highly recommend the Quito 15K for the energy, great organization, and large field size. As our family is in Ecuador, we usually extend our trip, hike up to 15,000', and enjoy the humble life of Quito. With my Incan blood, I hope to return soon again. 

3. Great Wall of China Marathon
Location: Beijing, China
Race Date: 5/22/16
2016 Finishers: 2,500
2016 Race Temps: 85F, 80% humidity
2016 Results: 5:07:35, 25th FOA

With over 70 countries represented in the field, the marathon, half and 10K draws in 2,500 from around the world to participate in one of the most historic landmarks of the world: the Great Wall of China. Completed as my 127th marathon, this was my 3rd most difficult marathon (after Inca Trail and Pikes Peak) that forced hands on knees crawling up the concrete block stairs in blistering heat. The marathon has over 5,000' vertical gain with 5,164 steps in the heat, humidity of May. A memorable experience to share with my dad running the marathon and mom running the half. 
Location: Berlin, Germany
Race Date: September
2019 Finishers: 45,000
2019 Race Temps: 57F rainy
2019 Results: 3:44:32

One of the most historical international experiences for road races. The field is massive, energy is high, and is nonstop from start to finish. You will be accompanied by runners from start to finish pushing for their goals in this world major as you run through amazing historical sites of Berlin. It was an honor to experience this for the first time in 2019, even if it was a downpour the entire time. As a sustainability race, it was difficult to get to my gear, get a post race wrap, and find my post race location as a foreigner. Learn through my mistakes: make the extra purchases and ensure you have it all translated beforehand in your phone in order to orient yourself post race.

1. Rome Marathon
Location: Rome, Italy
Race Date: 3/22/09
2009 Finishers: 11,010
2009 Race Temps: 39F/55F
2009 Results: 4:01:21, 25th marathon

My favorite international road marathon. I love everything about Italy. Everything. Passing through over 20 tourist sites in Rome, some course highlights are running through the Vatican City, Pantheon, Fountain de Trevi, and notably the start and finish are at the Coliseum. The entire run is as majestic as they get and listening to the spectators cheer in Italian makes the experience unforgettable. It was the best pizza, best wine, best city, best gelato, and best race vacation I can ask for. After the marathon, I took a tour via train of the northern cities Florence, Milan, and Venice. My only regret was not staying for several weeks. 


Hope you enjoyed my tour of favorite international road races. Feel free to enjoy my other top lists below and thank you for reading!