When it’s just too dang cold to go outside!

Looking for a winter workout on those days that it is just too cold to go outside?  Lately when the alarm goes off at 5am it’s been about 30 degrees outside.  When the temps drop that low, I just don’t enjoy heading outside and pounding the pavement for 30 minutes to an hour.  If you are like me and don’t like the cold weather, here’s a recipe that works to get both weightlifting and cardio completed in only 45 minutes time, but is sure to burn those calories away!

** Weights – perform 3 sets of 10 reps each
Dumbbell Chest Press
Dumbbell Row
Dumbbell Shoulder Press
Dumbbell Curls
Tricep Extensions
  

Make sure you use a weight that fatigues your muscles…..you should have some difficulty performing the last few reps of each set.

** Peak 8 Treadmill Cardio – The basic concept of Peak 8 is to quickly raise your heart rate 8-9 times for 30 seconds each, with 90 second recovery periods in between.

Warm-up: Get moving and steadily increase your heart rate.  I usually set the treadmill at 5mph for my warm-up.

Sprints: Go as hard as you can safely and with control. Find your max effort.  I like to start out with my 1st 2 sprints at 6.5 mph until I get my legs loosened up, then for Sprints 3 -6 I set it to 7.5 mph, sprints 7-9 are increased to 8.0 mph. 

Rest: This doesn’t mean stop! Maintain at least 70% of your maximum (or 70% of your max heart rate) picking a pace that you can recover your breath.  I bring the treadmill back down to 5.5-6.0 mph to recover my heart rate during the rest phase. 

Cool down: Pick a pace that allows you to decrease your heart rate closer to normal and get your breath back.  I phase it down every 30 seconds starting at 5.5 mph and ending at 4.5 mph during cool down. 

0:00–2:00 Warm up
2:00-2:30 Sprint #1
2:30-4:00 Rest
4:00-4:30 Sprint #2
4:30-6:00 Rest
6:00-6:30 Sprin#3
6:30-8:00 Rest
8:00-8:30 Sprint #4
8:30-10:00 Rest
10:00-10:30 Sprint #5
10:30-12:00 Rest
12:00-12:30 Sprint #6
12:30-14:00 Rest
14:00-14:30 Sprint #7
14:30-16:00 Rest
16:00-16:30 Sprint #8
16:30-18:00 Rest
18:00-18:30 Sprint #9
18:30-20:00 Cool down

Perform this routine 2-3 times per week and you will be a stronger & faster runner by springtime when the temps warm up again.

What workout do you get in when it’s to dang cold outside to run?

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Loving Life in Olmedo

So, for anyone who is actually reading these blog posts… you know how embarrassingly bad I am at updating this thing. Anddddd for that, I apologize but you know, sometimes life catches up to you and you’re just going from one town to the next, working at a farm, and procrastinating on writing papers. Nevertheless, I still feel the need to update the rest of the world (aka mom, dad, grandparents, my boss and any other family friends who do care to know what’s going on in my life down here in Ecuador).

A few weeks ago our group of students went to Olmedo, a small Afro-Ecuadorian fishing community in the northeast of Ecuador. When preparing to leave for this trip, our class sessions focused on Afro-Ecuadorians, the struggles they’ve faced within the country, racism, etc. I was excited for our trip and ended up journaling my entire time there. Instead of writing a separate blog post, I’ve decided to just post my journal entries instead. Through these entries, I hope you’ll enjoy reading not only what we did but my insights during the entire trip.

Thursday, October 15th

I never realized how big Ecuador is for being such a small country. From Quito to Olmedo, the bus ride was 9 hours! The first hour and a half was brutal. The road was so so windy and carsickness hit me so hard I thought I was going to puke… When we finally stopped, Adriana (one of our program directors) gave me medicine, I bought some bread, and within the next 30 minutes I was completely out. When I woke up, I felt a million times better and we ended up going to get an ice cream!

Eventually, after 9 hours in that damn van, we made it to Olmedo. Driving up was definitely an eye opening experiences. The houses, all made of wood or metal, do not at all resemble typical “american” houses… This was a whole new level. Walking up was also quite an interesting feeling. We were a group of white americans walking up with our packs of luggage to for a mere four day stay in the community. Being in Quito & Ecuador in general has made me feel out of my comfort zone a hell of a lot more than I expected…

10857849_1019527164734308_6123592874344946322_nRight once we put our luggage down, the kids were waiting to play. We went down and played a little bitt of soccer and volleyball. A few of the kids were racing cars so I started to take some photos and videos of them but right away they started to ask to take photos and videos of their own. And as the people pleaser I am, I handed over my camera and ended up with quite a few funny photos. After lunch, which was delicious, we had a “break time” that ended up being us playing with the kids the whole time. We went down to the beach and the little boys attacked us- it was hilarious! Between asking for piggy backs, trying to wrestle, asking us to swing them around, playing in the water, having dance battles and them showing us around their town, it was such a crazy afternoon but it was so much fun!

It’s crazy to think of these kids’ childhoods. Seeing them all paying together constantly was absolutely incredible. They could play forever and ever with their imagination and their energy. Also, it’s incredible to think of the sense of community that exits here. These kids are all growing up together and spend SO much time together… plus, all of the families here are so close. It definitely is a “community” here and I love that so much. Life seems to be so much simpler- play with the neighbors, swim in the ocean, eat with the family… I’m just loving this trip so much so far and I’m excited for what the next few days will bring.

Friday, October 16th, 2015

Today’s been another crazy day but I’ve enjoyed it just as much! This morning we got to visit the “manglares” (mangroves) aka swamps. I’ve never seen anything like them! There were so beautiful and I never realized how important they are to both the communities and the environment. The swamp survives on salt water which is crazy! Fish and other animals hide their eggs in the roots of the swamp trees because the bigger animals can’t get to the them. Walking through the swamps was so incredibly beautiful. I couldn’t really believe what I was seeing.

I hate how “development” has this power to ruin so many crucial things. Like can it even be considered development when we don’t even understand the true value of some of these regions? I just don’t understand it and it makes me hate how the dollar rules our world even more.

After our explorations through the manglares, we took this tiny canoe through the river to another village. 12 of us were crammed into an 8 person canoe and we all were positive we’d capsize. Luckily, we didn’t! We finally made it to the other community and made our way down to the beach. The beach was BEAUTIFUL! I’ve never seen an empty beach before, especially one where the coast stretched on for miles and miles. It’s a picture that I’ll definitely treasure in my mind forever. Our walk along the beach took nearly 3 hours but I enjoyed it so much. We got to walk along and in the water, talk about quite a lot, listen to music, and just be weird. There was one time where Macie and I were comparing footprints and arches.. that somehow turned into Macie, Nikki, Jake, Rachel, and I having this competition to see who could get caught deepest in the mud. We were all just laughing so much and having so much fun being silly.

Later on during our walk we came across a man who was cutting up some coconuts… we end up buying them ALL off of him! We were just casually walking down the beach on the coast of Ecuador while looking out onto the Pacific Ocean and drinking coconut water straight out of coconuts. Like seriously… what is life?

We continued our walk and walked past a “piscina de camarones.” The shrimp farms not only ruin the manglares in the area but also take profits away from local businesses. It still blows my mind how easily foreign businesses can come in and absolutely destroy local businesses/ economies… It breaks my heart.

Coming back we had lunch and then ended up playing with the kids.We played some soccer and I tried to take some photos but the kids ended up taking over my camera. I wonder why they’re so obsessed with it… is it just a rare thing to see? to use? do they have mirrors in their houses? do they see themselves often? Their favorite part of taking photos and videos was seeing them after… I just can’t help but wonder.

Later that afternoon we attempted to learn how to fish. Florencio had this huge net and he showed us all how to do it but none of us were actually successful. I ended up playing with the kids the whole time anyways. They’re crazy but I’ve loved every minute with them so far. We swam in the river for hours just playing around. We were also able to climb this tree and jump off the top into the river which was SO much fun.

After dinner Macie and I went to play with some of the kids who were out. Camila and Cachete started to braid my hair which led to 2 of the older girls doing it instead. The rest of the night was amazing in the best of ways. Most of us students were just sitting around our main dining table and the kids were surrounding us- peeking over shoulders to look at what we were doing (writing, reading, painting), sitting on laps, running from one person to the next, all with Spanish conversations flying every which way. Life here has really made me question what is considered “the good life”… back home we have to go to college to have a big house, a nice car, a strong career, a sense of financial security, and all the material things we want but never actually need… But here life seems to be so much simpler. Play all day with the other kids in the community, swim in the river, fish, dance, and just enjoy the simplicity of life. I hope I can just take some of these feelings back to the US with me.

Saturday, October 17th, 2015

This world is beautiful & life is beautiful. Everyday being here has made me appreciate my life and others so much more. It’s crazy how different, yet how similar all humans are. I never expected to love this trip as much as I have but it has, without a doubt, been incredible. shown me so much about not only the “learning objectives” but also life in general. It’s made me challenge my beliefs and assumptions while also making me take a step back to look at who I am and what I want.

This morning we got up early and made our trek to another fishing village. The trek was SO long… All of us were stuffed into this tiny little boat for two hours. Of course after the insanely hot day yesterday, I didn’t bring a jacket today… and it was raining, just my luck. Although the boat ride was long, uncomfortable, and more than a little bit wet, it was still beautiful. Going through the manglares was so breathtaking that I just can’t believe the power of nature sometimes. I find the manglares so beautiful and am definitely a little sad to leave them.

We got to the other community and walked throughout it to one of the ladies houses. It’s crazy how much the two communities resemble each other in a way- the water source at the beginning of town, the cement walkway up to the main parts, the wood plank and cement brick houses, the bright and multi-colored facades, the kids playing through the streets, and so much more…

From there we all crammed into another boat (so many of us) to make our way back to the manglares. We spent the morning looking for conchas within the manglares. It was QUITE the muddy experience… I enjoyed the experience, but solely as an experience. There’s no way I could actually do that every single day for the majority of my life.After the manglares, we went to the beach to dig and collect more conchas (SO MANY CONCHAS). Once we finally made it back to the community, we got to go swimming in the river. It was so damn nice and I’m definitely going to miss swimming so frequently.

That afternoon we played with the kids again which meant piggy backs, walking around the town, playing in the sand, and braiding hair. Later on that evening, Rachel, Nikki and I helped in the kitchen to open up all the conchas from our morning. After dinner, a few of us sat on the porch of our hostel with a few of the local women while one of the men played guitar and sang. One of the lines from his song was, “Hoy estámos en Olmedo, disfrutando la vida.” Today we are in Olmedo, enjoying life. Later on that night, a few members of the community performed a Marimba dance show and at the end we all danced together. After dancing, we talked with some of the teens and ended up all going to the discoteca (dance club) together. We stayed out until almost midnight dancing the night away. My time in Olmedo was an eye-opening, incredible experience that I’ll forever be thankful for.12177911_10153695205806796_455247790_n

For more up to date photos and travel posts, keep your eyes on my instagram @gabbimcdaniel.

BioSkin Calf Sleeve Review

We are all guilty of it……we don’t make time for proper RECOVERY!!! We all strive to get better, push ourselves faster, and run farther. The only problem is that we don’t take the time to ensure that our bodies are adequately recovered to ensure we can met our self-imposed goals. So when BioSkin reached out to me and asked if I was interested in being a Brand Ambassador in exchange for wear testing and providing a review, I was all in.

Ambassador

BioSkin designs and manufactures compression gear, orthopedic braces, for athletes on every level. They make sure to pay attention to the little details in products to ensure they not only perform, but more importantly are comfortable to wear.

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The interaction with BioSkin has been extremely classy and they have been very responsive to my inquiries. My calf sleeves came a couple days later in the mail and even included a hand written card from Jake…..that’s pretty damn thoughtful if you ask me.

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I was pretty eager to try out the calf sleeves, as I’d just recently completed a half marathon that I hadn’t really trained for and my calves were still a little sore. In addition to that, I’ve been suffering from Achilles tendonitis that I believe is a byproduct of tight calves. Thursday night rolled around and my wife asked if I wanted to run with the Sloppy Moose Running Club…..I was hesitant at first since I’d already gone for a short run that morning, but decided it was a perfect time to try out my new calf sleeves.

Sloppy MooseNow one thing I wasn’t prepared for was just how tough they were to put on. These things are tough to get on, but it makes sense once you think about the fact that they are compression gear and meant to reduce the vibration in your muscles. When you order calf sleeves from BioSkin, your calf measurements are required to make sure you get the proper fit. You have to make sure that your skin is dry and you haven’t recently put lotion on, and I’ve found that it also it also helps if you have a thin sock on to help the sleeve slide over your heel. Once you get them on, you really don’t even remember you are wearing them. That is the sign of a well-designed product if you ask me!! The calf sleeves have a single seem that runs down the back of your calf, but you don’t feel it at all.

Once out on the road running with my wife (and about 50 other members of the Sloppy Moose Running Club), I never felt the need to ‘adjust’ the sleeve or needed to pull it up at all. These things stay in place!! That is a great thing while out running and helps to prevent chafing. And all you fellow runners out there know there is nothing worse than chafing while you are running………..the only thing that could be worse than that is the dreaded BLISTERS!!!

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I bet you wanna know if they work, did they make my muscles less sore, did I run faster, recover quicker? Truth be told, I don’t really know, but I do know that much of running for a mid-forties amateur athlete is mental based and if a quality product like BioSkin Calf Sleeves can help me over another self-imposed barrier, it has done its job!! The calf sleeves did significantly reduce muscle vibration in my calves, which over longer distances should help you maintain your performance.

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I will be using my calves sleeves during my winter workouts with 9RUN6 as I’ve pretty much shut it down this year as far as racing goes.  I don’t have anything definite on the race calendar until the Blue Diamond Almonds Shamrock’n Half Marathon (March 13, 2016) and the inaugural Pony Express Marathon (May 1, 2016) and you can bet I will be wearing my calf sleeves for both.  Use code RUNNWINE*PEM2016 when registering for the Pony Express Marathon and receive to save $10 off registration.

Pony Express

Next on my wish list from BioSkin is a pair of the Compression Shorts to help reduce hip and glute pain on longer runs.

 Disclaimer: I was provided with a pair of calf sleeves, all opinions and reviews are my own and not influenced by the BioSkin company and/or their employees.

Gabbi Goes to the Amazons

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When I was looking into study abroad programs, I knew I wanted something different. I wanted the whole study abroad experience of course- living in another country, taking classes, immersing myself in a language- but I also wanted something more. Luckily, I found HECUA. With this program, I not only get the typical aspects of studying abroad but we also have three different field study trips to different regions within the country. These trips allow us to develop an even greater understanding of the many complex themes we’ve focused on within the classroom.

Two weeks ago, at 6 AM on Thursday morning, we set off for our first trip- five days in Yasuní, a part of the Amazon Rainforest. Twelve college students plus two of our program staff crammed into a van and we made our way to the airport. After an hour commute, we arrived at the airport, checked our baggage and had some free time before boarding our flight.

While sitting in the terminal eating breakfast with some of the other students, I couldn’t help but think of the last time I was in that very airport. I had just gotten off a plane from the United States after spending another amazing summer working at Camp Tioga followed by two weeks of traveling the East Coast. Arriving in Ecuador I literally had no idea what the hell I was getting myself into. I remember going through customs, waiting for my luggage, magically finding wifi to send my mom a quick message saying I arrived safely, and then walking through the gates to find my host family. I was so overwhelmed, anxious, nervous, and excited for everything that was to come. And somehow now, I’ve discovered a love for this crazy city of Quito, made some pretty rad and amazing friendships, and learned more about myself than I ever expected.

After our short thirty minute flight to Lago Agrio, we began the first leg of our very long journey towards Yasuní. During this part of our journey, we focused on the effects of oil exploitation within the small town of Libertador. In order to truly understand the extent of this destruction, a local man joined our group to explain the influence of the petroleum companies, las petroleras. We hiked through some of the forest surrounding the town while our guide pointed out the various ways the petroleras have destroyed the forest and in turn, how this has destroyed the lives of the indigenous living in Libertador.

Oil runoff has polluted a majority of the bodies of water within the forest and gas pipes burn 24/7 contaminating the air. One of the biggest issues facing the communities within Libertador is the lack of clean water. All of the water from natural sources within the rainforest has been ruined by oil exploitation and even the rain water has become acid rad due to the gas pipes. Farmers struggle to maintain any form of harvest because every water source is contaminated and having to import clean water is outrageously expensive.Water is a human right and it’s unfathomable to me that this entire town is forced to live without an easy access to clean water

.The worst part of it all is that the petrolera ruining not only the water supply, but also the livelihoods of the town’s citizens is owned by the Ecuadorian government. Members of the government come in every so often to complete regular “checks” on the water supply and every report they’ve published argues that the water is clean enough to use… Look at these photos and tell me that argument is valid. It’s astonishing the things governments will do in the name of development. But sadly, we are not innocent in this process. Supposedly we benefit from oil exploitation every single day but do we really? Not only has oil exploitation ruined the livelihoods of thousands of indigenous communities within the Amazon, but it has led to the destruction of one of the most biodiverse regions in the world. This very use of fossil fuels has led to the climate change threatening our world today.

Excuse my french, but this whole concept of “development” is fucked up. How can this type of development be sustainable fifty years in the future? We’re exploiting the land for what it’s supposedly worth but can this destruction really have an economic value when in the long run, it’ll only hurt our society? I found this quote the other day that really encapsulates the irony behind modern day development, “when we destroy something created by man we call it vandalism… but when we destroy something created by nature we call it progress.” It may just be the San Francisco tree hugger in me coming out but seeing the destruction first hand and hearing the stories of livelihoods lost broke my heart. I don’t know how to change this or what I can do as an individual to limit my own carbon footprint, but I sure hope our future leaders realize how big of an issue this really is.

After our time in Libertador and several hours in various buses, boats and vans we finally reached Yasuní. The main theme of the rest of the trip was much happier. Over the course of the next four days, we spent hours upon hours hiking through the rain forest (including a night hike!), visiting a bird watching tower, going down the Tiputini river in a canoe, and spending an afternoon on a lagoon in Limoncocha. I was blown away every single day by these experiences. Leading up to our trip we talked about the mega-biodiversity that exists within the rainforest. But it wasn’t until we were exploring the rainforest day in and day out that I could truly comprehend just how much diversity existed within this region. The beauty of the rainforest is incomprehensible, I mean I spent five days in one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet and I still can’t believe how much life I saw. I fell in love with being surrounded by green ALL THE TIME, hearing the many noises of the rainforest, waking up to tapers walking through our research stations, and simply being in awe of everything around me.

This trip was a once in a lifetime experience and when it came to an end, I was not at all ready to leave. But, at least I was leaving with a more developed understanding of both the intense biodiversity of the Amazon Rainforest and the effects on both the environment and the people of oil exploitation. The best part of it all, this is my school for the semester… we take the themes we’ve learned in the classroom and then go on a trip to connect them to the real world. I still can’t believe how lucky I am to live this life and I’m forever grateful.

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Our cohort on one of our last days of the trip!

Life at la Pachamama

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La Pachamama Granja Integral– my internship site for the semester

My first day at the farm I was anxious, excited, confused, and completely and whole heartedly out of my element. I mean, the closest I’ve come to even working in a garden is watering the plants when my mom would ask me too. But, even then, most of the time my brothers were the ones to do that chore. I’ve never owned a plant, or even tried to for that matter. So, when I found out I’d be spending this semester working on a farm in the north of Quito, I was a little bit shocked. But, being the optimist I attempt to be, I reminded myself that everything happens for a reason and it would be an opportunity to explore and branch out from the experience I already have.

All I really knew about the farm before starting work last Tuesday came from the short description on the program website. It reads, “This is a group of women who have escaped poverty and violence to collaborate on a community organic farm. They focus on developing technical and interpersonal skills. Beyond growing produce and raising Cuy (guinea pigs), the women market and sell their products in local neighborhoods. The program empowers women to be self-sustaining and economically independent. HECUA students spend many hours in the farm harvesting and selling.”  And with that explanation, the name of the bus I was supposed to take, and my #grassrootsgear tagged baseball hat I headed to the north of Quito for the first day of my internship.

Luckily I didn’t have to make the bus journey alone. Another girl from the program, Sophie, lives a few blocks away from me and we both work at the farm every Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. Over the course of the semester, we’re required to spend 204 hours at our internship which is roughly about 20 hours a week, give or take depending on the classes and field studies assigned we have in a given week.

Starting at the farm I was so intimidated. Knowing virtually nothing about agriculture and having to learn it all in Spanish was quite daunting. The first day Sophie and I picked weeds for nearly four hours…. and let me tell you, Stinging Nettle is abundant here and the worst weed to ever exist. Following that we had lunch and then we spent the afternoon taking these little tiny seed things off of branches. Talk about a riveting internship.

Honestly, the first week was pretty tough. I can be an outgoing person, but I can also be pretty shy and at the farm, I definitely started out leaning to the shy side. Not only was I was coming into an environment where I was completely out of my element but I was also extremely insecure about my Spanish skills. I mean obviously I can speak Spanish, I had been living in Quito and surviving for more than two weeks by this time. But I still get a little bit nervous when I meet people who are native speakers. However, by the second week all these anxieties were put to rest.

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Homemade pasta!

After that first week of weeding A LOT (aka getting stung by stinging nettle more times than I can count), picking seeds off of branches, and only talking with the women a little bit, things started to turn around. I became more comfortable with both my Spanish and my abilities on the farm. As I like to say, I’ve been promoted and no longer only weed… even though I still do it a lot. I’ve spent hours on the farm watering plants, picking fruits, feeding the cuy (guinea pigs) and chickens, organizing client orders, sifting the compost for the fresh soil, and yesterday we even made pasta from scratch! I’m beyond glad to finally do a little more than just weeding, but what I’m most thankful for is the relationships I’ve developed with the two other volunteers on the farm along with the five women.

Working on the farm for so many years, the women have quite a bond. My favorite parts of the day are our little rests in the morning where we share juice, bread, sometimes eggs, sometimes fruit. It’s the time I get to know the women best and they get to know me. Sometimes we will just spend a few hours of our day, sitting and chatting. They’ll ask me about my life back in the US, what I’m doing after my time in Ecuador, how I’ve liked it so far, etc. And we talk about their lives-,what they did before the farm, their children, their families, and so on.

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Marie, another volunteer on the farm who came all the way from Germany

The more time I have to get to know these women the more I’ve fallen in love with my internship. Yeah, I don’t really know how the hell I’m gonna put this on a resume yet (if you have ideas please send them my way). But I do know that the genuine compassion the women have shared with me has changed my outlook on life in Quito and has taught me more than any of my class sessions so far. Sitting in the shade behind the greenhouses, with my cup of jugo (juice) in one hand and a roll of pan (bread) in the other, while talking, laughing, and bonding all in Spanish has become what I look forward to most in the week. Yes, the days are long and the work is pretty tough… but the memories I’ve made so far and the relationships I’m creating make the work oh so worth it.

So… Where has Gabbi been lately?

11144470_997177813635910_5092666326865737705_nFor those of you who don’t know aka those of you who aren’t on Instagram (because let’s be real, I constantly post on Instagram, follow me at @gabbimcdaniel and check out #gabsrunstheworld on Insta), I’m currently living in Quito, Ecuador for the semester and somehow it’s already been 3 weeks since I’ve arrived… Time is a weird paradox here. It feels like I’ve been here for months yet at the same time it feels like I just got here a few days ago. Either way, living here has definitely been a completely new experience and through all the ups and downs, I’ve had the time of my life so far.

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The Fall 2015 cohort!

The program I’m participating in is a little bit different from your typical study abroad program and these differences greatly influenced my decision in coming to Quito. HECUA offers students the opportunity to live, study, and work within the city. The entire program has an underlying social justice base– perfect for my little USF “change the world from here” heart. My classes focus on politics and development within Quito along with social change and community participation. Although I only have classes for about 6 hours a week (NOTHING COMPARED TO HOME), the themes have been quite heavy and I definitely have been able to recognize the social and economic issues within Ecuador first hand. Along with my classes, I will complete an independent research project on a topic of my choice within Ecuador (if you have any ideas please send them my way!). Lastly, I also have an internship here! I’m not sure if internship, in the American understanding of the word, is the best way to describe it… It’s more like volunteer work. My internship is on La Granja Integral Pachamama, a women’s collective organic farm in the north of Quito. As someone who has never even had her own plant before, so far my internship has been completely out of my element. But hey, I’m rolling with it one day at a time!

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View of Quito from the upstairs bedroom in my house!

Along with the educational and work aspects of my program, I’m also living with a host family here in the center of Quito. I have a host mom and dad, along with 2 older brothers and an older sister. I’m the youngest in the family here and that is SO weird to me. Growing up with all younger brothers being the youngest has left me with so much free time, something I definitely am not too used to between work, classes, and the rest of my life. With all the free time, I figured I might as well actually post semi-actively in order to keep all you cool people up to date on my life.

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Lovin you Quito

Between all the trips we’ve made around the city thus far (which will be posted about in a later blog post) and the amazing group of students that are in my program, I’ve fallen in love with Quito. It’s been a crazy three weeks but I’m looking forward to all of the experiences and memories that’ll be created over the next three months.

Back Of The Pack Runner tackles The San Francisco Marathon

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Well it finally happened……my 1st Full Freaking Marathon!!! The last Sunday of July I was blessed to be able to participate in The San Francisco Marathon, thanks to my training/workout group at @9run6!  I found that San Francisco is both the perfect place and the stupidest place to run your first marathon.

All runners have to pick up their race packet and bib number at the Expo location on either Friday or Saturday. With so many runners in TSFM, I thought for sure we would be waiting in lines to get our stuff.  Boy was I wrong, we walked right in, made our way to the pick-up area and got our race packet and bib and got directions to get our shirt from the next table over.  It was all done within a matter of minutes. Since we had plenty of time to spare, we decided to mill around the expo. We needed to pick up a shirt for one of our good friends @WholeHeartRuner and I wanted something as well. I also looked around for some arm sleeves to wear during the race, but never found any that I liked that weren’t pretty think. Ended up making it out of expo without spending any more moollah, which was great since the shirts were fairly spensive.

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My wife and I both love the water and the Golden Gate Bridge is my wifey’s all-time favorite bridge, we walked along the San Francisco Bay Trail to get a good view. It was kinda chilly so we made our way over to our hotel to check-in. Unfortunately it was still fairly early and we couldn’t check in….so we might as well sit in the bar and drink a Bloody Mary. Before we knew it, it was time to head over to AT&T Park to catch the Giants vs. A’s. The game was a BLAST and the Giants won to boot. After the game we made our way out of the stadium and walked down the Embarcadero before deciding to get some dinner at Delancey Street Restaurant, where I had some pasta primavera with a glass of red wine. Then it was back to the hotel to ‘try’ and get a good nights sleep.

ATT Park

Race morning came and the alarm went off just before 4:30am. I wanted to make sure I had enough time to get some food in my system and ‘take care of morning business’ before we needed to head down to the starting line. As much as I wanted to, I just didn’t have much of appetite. I’m certain it was because of nerves. I was in Wave 6 which started at 6:10am, so at 5:20am we started our 1.5 mile trek down the hill to the starting line. My plan was to just hang in the back of the pack of runners in wave 6 and run MY pace. My goal was to finish in 4:39.40 (10:40/mi). I had just recently finished The Shamrock’n Half Marathon in 2:03.21 (9:25/mi), so I definitely thought this was attainable. The horn blew and out of the chute we went. Things went GREAT during the first half of the marathon, the views were beautiful, running the Golden Gate Bridge was awesome, and then up into The Presidio area. While running up Lincoln Boulevard, it was great to be able to look across the bay to Point Bonita Lighthouse. That’s where my wife and I got engaged last year. My pace times were right on point, averaging 10:34/mi at just past the half way point. At this point I’d followed my pre-race strategy of 1 GU Energy Gel every 4-5 miles even though I didn’t feel like I really needed them.

Getting Ready For Hawaii

Just after making our way into Golden Gate Park, I decided I needed to eat something and I just didn’t really feel like another GU. During the week prior to the marathon, we had gone to a Sacramento River Cats baseball game and they were handing out sample packs of Jelly Belly’s. I’d also participated in a golf tournament and for whatever reason in the ‘goody bag’ for that there was a small pack of fruit snacks. I’d brought both of those things along with me and ‘thought’ to myself those would be perfect to eat right now. To this point I was feeling pretty good and pretty confident that things were going to plan and I’d be able to at least be close to the 4:39.40 time I wanted. At mile 13, I passed the #WeRunSocial cheer squad that consisted of @pavementrunner and @fitfam6, plus some others I didn’t know. It was awesome seeing 2fitfam6 out there and get a Hi-5 along the way. @fitfam6 even got a picture of me coming over for that Hi-5 and if you look close at the picture you can see the pack of fruit snacks in my hand.

Mile 13

Shortly after passing the cheer station at mile 13, things went south for me. I was starting to feel the miles and putting one foot in front of the other just wasn’t as effortless. Plus I started to have some stomach issues……..most likely from all the sugar I’d just consumed in the form of jelly beans and fruit snacks. Finally at mile 14.5 I had to walk and boy was that a HUGE mistake. After I walked, I just wasn’t ever able to get a steady run on again. The last 12 miles or so were a STRUGGLEFEST!! The miles went by much slower and I just couldn’t get a good gait going and my breathing was labored. Coming up on mile 16, I knew I’d be passing the #WeRunSocial cheer squad again and that gave me the motivation to try and save face in front of all those great runners and I set off running again before seeing them. It was beyond great to have David of #fitfam6 meet me and run a 100 yards or so with me and cheer me on and try and pump me up. I remember him telling me ‘you look great’, but I think he was just trying to keep me motivated and moving along because I’m sure at this point I was looking beat.

Haight Street Walk

After mile 16, it continued to be a struggle, but I continued on with a walk/run (more walk than run I’m certain). With the exception of actually crossing the finish line, one of the best parts of the 2nd half of the race was the free mimosa station set-up at mile 22. I’m never one to say no to a mimosa, so of course I obliged. I even told the guy, ‘Hopefully this will make the last 4 miserable miles better!’ I kept trying to have those little talks with myself that all run/walkers have, ‘ok, at the next corner I’ll start running’ or ‘at the light pole I’ll run again’. It didn’t really work as I continued walking more than running. It got to the point that I was calculating in my mind how long it would take me to actually run a mile and deciding if I even had that much energy in me. More often than not, the answer came back NO. It was somewhere around mile 20 that I had to accept the fact that I wasn’t going to finish in 4:39.40 or even meet my secondary goal of finishing in 4:59.59. See, it took me 3:52 to finish 20 miles so I knew I would have to run 10:00/mi for the last 10k to finish under 5:00 hours. Coming up on mile 25, I had already decided that I was going to run the last 1.2 miles and finish strong……….but my mind and body had different ideas I guess. The mile 25 sign was coming up and I started a slow steady jog and as I made my way around AT&T Park, I had to walk again. This time I made the deal with myself that when I could ‘see’ the mile 26 marker I would run all the way through the finish.

Finish Line 2ATT Park1ATT Park4

I was about a ½ mile out from the finish when I could see, so off I went. It was a fast pace, but it was a jog and I finished strong and of course passed a couple other runners in the chute coming to the finish. Official finishing time of 5:27.53, not at all what I wanted, but it was a marathon completed nonetheless.

Finish Line 1

For me personally, the 1st half of the race is breathtakingly beautiful, starting at the Ferry Building, running down The Embarcadero towards Pier 39, into Fort Mason then Chrissy Fields, up onto the Golden Gate Bridge, then the climb up into the Presidio before dropping down into Golden Gate Park. But once you exit Golden Gate Park, for me, the race view turned ugly. Maybe it was just me and the fact that the race had beaten me and I was discouraged and looking for things to not like, but I don’t think so. Just like my wife, I’d much rather be near the water with views of the ocean or bay.

finish

For the ‘Back Of The Pack’ runner, like myself, the marathon is a mixed bag. You are definitely proud of the accomplishment of finishing, but at the same time you are disappointed with the finishing time and know you can do better. Now I know I’m never going to be an elite runner and run a BQ time, but I’d like something more respectable. All of my local running friends run in the California International Marathon (CIM) every year and have encouraged me to run in it because they believe I can do better there. But I just don’t know if I want to yet, that would mean I would need to start training again around the middle of August. It’s a huge commitment of time to train for a marathon and I’m just not sure if I want to commit the time again so soon. In addition, I’m an Ambassador for next year’s Pony Express Marathon here in Sacramento, so I could run another marathon then………..or I could run the half marathon and try and set myself a new PR and finish in under 2:00. Even I don’t know what I will do, but I do know that I’m not ok with that marathon finishing time. I will be back again someday and attempt to conquer that 26.2 miles again!!!

The Time Is Now!!

SF Marathon

Well here it is already, just a couple days out from my 1st full marathon, The San Francisco Marathon.

I’m not exactly sure what emotions I am having going into this race.  It ranges everywhere from excitement to fear to nervousness to elation and on and on and on.  My training has of course had its ups and downs, but all in all it seems to have come together fairly well.  I didn’t get in as many super long runs as I would have liked, so we will just have to see how that plays out on race day.  The longest run I got in as part of my training was an 18 miler, so that could come back to haunt me this weekend.  I’m not sure if emotion and adrenaline will be enough to carry me all the way thru to the end, or will I crap out and the last 8 miles will be a strugglefest to the finish line.

During my training I relied on the Nike+ Coach app to layout which days to run and how far to run.  For those that haven’t used it before, it is actually a pretty sweet little app.  You input what race distance you are training for, what the date is, and what level (beginner, intermediate, or advanced) you are committing to and it will give you run distances and type of run to perform on each day.  It will keep track of your weekly mileage and your total mileage for the program.

Nike Coach

Now I wish I could say that every week I hit my mileage mark each day /week, but that would be a lie!!  For me, I have found that I need more than 1 days rest after my double digit runs.  My body just needs more time off than that.  The long runs are always scheduled on Saturdays, so that meant that I missed most of my Monday runs.  And since my wife and I began a Power Vinyasa Yoga class on Monday nights at Solfire Yoga, so I’ve missed a couple Tuesdays as well.  These are just some of the things that make me nervous for the race.

ProgressSol FirePNG

There are 2 things that are guaranteed from this weekend though; 1) No matter what I will get a PR, and 2) I’ll cross that finish line with a smile on my face!  I guess when it comes down to it, it really doesn’t matter what my time, I just need to enjoy it.  After all, it is my 1st full marathon in one of the most beautiful cities in California and you only get 1 first.  The beauty of the city is more than just visual to me, it also holds a special place in my heart because it is the city I have watched my daughter grow into the young women she is today while attending University of San Francisco, and in addition my wife and I got engaged at Point Bonita Lighthouse just across the Golden Gate Bridge in Sausalito.

And hey, I’m just shy of 46 years old and I can still participate in running events and workout with kids who I am old enough to be there dad and hold my own.  That in itself makes me feel proud of my accomplishments and encourages me to keep going and be the example for others my age.  Don’t use your age as an excuse for not getting out there and competing.  If you don’t want to compete against others, compete with yourself and just try to be a little bit better than you were yesterday.

Wish me luck and I’ll see you on the other side of twenty six point fucking two miles!!!

Twenty Six Point Freaking Two

Solano County’s Toughest Trail Run

11390341_953954774624881_1069308508659995029_nI’ve always been drawn to the idea of trail running. I mean it’s seems like an endless adventure. With trail running you can run somewhere exquisite whether it be over endless hills, through lush forests, or on the side of a snow-capped mountain. It perfectly embodies the phrase, “Adventure is out there!”

Although I’m fascinated with trail running, I didn’t really start getting somewhat into it until this past spring. In San Francisco both the Presidio and Lands End area offer quite a few gorgeous trails filled with hills, stairs, amazing views and a much-needed escape from the stresses of daily life. With November Project, I also had the opportunity to head down to Mill Valley and run a few of the trails down there with the San Francisco Running Club.

As you can tell, my trail running experience is pretty limited compared to most of the runners I know. However, I did have the opportunity to run my first trail half marathon with my dad this past weekend and what an opportunity that was! A few months ago I started looking for a half marathon to run before I started my six-month adventure of traveling the east coast, working as a camp counselor, and studying abroad in Ecuador. I also wanted to find a half marathon that my dad would also want to take part in as a part of his training for The San Francisco Marathon.

11391309_953954867958205_830242176339211841_nI stumbled across the Lynch Canyon Trail Run, did some investigation, and sent the information to my dad to see if he was interested! A few days later (and a few phone calls of me talking him into it), my dad and I were registered for our first trail half marathon and Dianne, my dad’s wife, was registered for her first trail 10K!

If you’ve read any of my posts before, you know I’m pretty bad at the whole training schedule thing. I kind of just go to NP workouts, do some speed work, and fit in a long run on the weekend if possible and call it a day. Well, this half marathon training was no different. I went to November Project three days a week, tried to do some speed work, and tried to fit in some long runs whenever possible. Disclaimer: I know this may be a running blog and you may be judging my inability to stick to a training plan. To that, *shoulder shrug*, I’m just a college student running for fun when I can.

After a crazy last month of school and two very quick weeks, it was time for the Lynch Canyon Trail Run. Seriously how does time go by that fast?! Heading into the race I was pretty worried about the hills and by pretty worried, I mean extremely worried. I didn’t really have a specific strategy or goal time and my main goal was “to not die.”

Honestly, this race kicked my ass in the best way possible. It was tough with around 2,000 feet of elevation gain but it was still manageable. I know I live in San Francisco most of the year and get to run hills weekly but man, it sure feels like I still suck at running hills. The temperature was perfect and the morning was filled with fog which sparked a little bit of San Franciscan homesickness in me.

11393199_953954574624901_5917269373064436127_nIt took me a long while to find my groove with this race and the first 3 miles felt like the longest three miles I’ve ever ran. However, I never really had too strong of a sense of fatigue hit me during the race. In past half marathons, mile 10 had always been somewhat of a wall for me. I’d get to mile 10, be so excited that I only had a 5k of distance left, but then struggle significantly to run the last 3 miles. This time, I felt really strong throughout the end of the race. Come mile 11, I thought to myself, “Oh shit, you’re almost done Gabbi!”

I ended up finishing the race in 2:12:59, almost three minutes slower on the dot than my very first half marathon. I guess most people would be pretty disappointed that their 3rd half was slower than their 1st, but here I am, stoked beyond belief! I expected to come in with a much slower time due to the hills (and lack of proper training). Considering this course has almost three times the elevation gain compared to my past two, I think I managed pretty well.

I also got first in my age group, only because I was the only one in my age group! Not many 19 year olds decide to spend their last Saturday morning home running a trail half with their dad. In order to compare my efforts to someone else I looked at the age group ahead of me, 20-29, and I still would have gotten third in that age group! #podium

11167953_953954497958242_4940428687273547305_nOverall, the race was awesome. It had a good number of participants but was still pretty small and personable. My dad got a taste of real hills. I finally ran another half marathon and got to see that I could handle a trail half. Also, the medals are so unique and beautiful! Every year they are hand crafted and I really love mine. The race director has done a fantastic job at growing this race over the past 10 years. If my schedule allows, I definitely hope to run this race next year!

Next up on the race calendar for me: Oakley Mini 10k this Saturday in New York! It’ll be my first “travel” race and I get to run it with one of my best (and very speedy) friends from camp. I can’t wait!

You can’t outrun your results!!

Man oh man, where do I start?  Well let’s see, I’ve been wanting to utilize Inside Tracker for quite some time as my training intensifies for this years The San Francisco Marathon, but at the same time I didn’t want to shell out too much cash. For those of you who don’t know, Inside Tracker has a platform that tracks and analyzes key biomarkers (blood tests) and provides personalized optimal zones for each biomarker based on their sophisticated algorithms and large scientific database. In short, they will tell you everything that your doctor doesn’t about your blood test results and then provide you with the knowledge to get you into the optimal zone for each biomarker.

After reviewing the different plans available from Inside Tracker, I determined that the DIY option was the best option for me.  I can get my bloodwork performed for free at Kaiser and the DIY option allows for you to enter up to 30 different biomarkers and best of all it only costs $49 smackers!  Being a runner and knowing my doctor wouldn’t order all of the tests I wanted, I focused on the following biomarker categories: ‘Energy & Metabolism’ and ‘Oxygen & Performance’.  Getting my results back from these tests showed the good, the bad, and the REALLY ugly truth about what’s going on within my body.

Upon getting my test results back, I immediately set out to enter the information in my Inside Tracker account. If you are anything like me, you usually get your results back from your doctor and see that some biomarkers are out of whack, but don’t really know how to improve them.  Inside Tracker not only lets you know your optimal zone for each biomarker, but also lets you know what foods (fuel) to consume to get you there.  This is what makes Inside Tracker so valuable to not only athletes, but everyone!!!

My REALLY ugly truth : I gotta say, my results were VERY shocking, especially the Energy & Metabolism biomarkers. Both my Total Cholesterol and LDL’s came back at close to 100 mg/dL outside of my optimal zone and my Fasting Glucose was 20 mg/dL too high. By all technicalities, this makes me a pre-diabetic. Not really what I was expecting to hear, but that’s the reality and as Inside Tracker says #BloodDontLie.  This was an extreme shock to myself as well as anyone who knew me and my eating & exercise habits.  All of this can lead to increased risks of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and weight gain, while at the same time decreasing energy.  Sounds like all bad things for a runner and endurance athlete.

Total CholGlucose FoodsLDLGlucose FoodsGlucose

My bad truth: My results also showed my Iron, Transferrin Saturation (iron binding level), and HDL’s needed some work. They all fell within the normal range, just not my optimal range. I wasn’t too worried about these since my REALLY ugly truth required immediate attention.

IronIron FoodTSHDL FoodHDL

My good truth: As a saving grace, I did have some tests that fell in the optimal range that included; Ferritin, Hemoglobin, Triglycerides, Potassium, White Blood Cells, Alt, and Total Iron Binding Capacity.  For now, I’m not going to worry as much about these as the foods and Vega One I need to fuel my body with for my REALLY ugly and my bad truths should continue to maintain these in the optimized range.

Even after reviewing my results from Inside Tracker, I was still pretty overwhelmed and unsure of exactly what direction I needed to go. I knew what I needed to improve, not only for my running performance, but also for my life. Trying to take in all of the different food choices became a little bit too much, so I set-up my own spreadsheet with information and then identified what foods I needed to eat more of to improve each biomarker. This provided me with an easy snapshot view of which foods I could consume that would make the biggest impact on my biomarkers that I now try to eat every day.

Red = At Risk, Yellow = Needs Work, Green = Optimal Range

Red = At Risk, Yellow = Needs Work, Green = Optimal Range

As you can see, my top 5 foods to consume on a daily basis are oatmeal, spinach, almonds, tuna, and apples to help get me into the optimal ranges for those biomarkers that were off the charts. I’ve also added Vega One Nutritional Shake to my daily regime as it provides me with 6 servings of much needed greens, 1.5grams of flaxseed, and 20 grams of plant based protein to help build and repair muscles.

My plan at this point is to make sure my fuel choices are as close as possible to the recommendations provided by Inside Tracker and get retested in 90 days.  As much as I would love to complete the Ultimate Plan by Inside Tracker that will provide me with results for 30 different biomarkers, I believe the cost will be prohibitive. But I will at the least be able to use the DIY Plan again, and see if the Inside Tracker recommendations of how to improve my biomarkers works.  If all goes as planned, my biomarkers will be well on their way or be in the optimal zone for each category.