Los Angeles Winters

This past Sunday I woke up at 7AM (I don't think I've slept in for the past several months) and took a more or less planned trip, an hour and a half down the Pacific Coast Highway with my friend Carmen. After spending a couple of hours at a meeting in Dana Point, we decided to just spend the rest of the afternoon driving around Orange County. We indulged in some amazing fish tacos and cocktails at Bear Flag, soaked up the sun at Newport Pier, and took a drive to snack at my favorite mochi ice cream spot, Mochilato.

Vitamin D is real. Being both transplants from New York City, we came to a realization yesterday that this was probably the most time we've both ever stayed outside in general. Aside from being in the office half the time, a lot of my extra time is literally spent outside. Whether it's running, hiking, or just hanging out - the winter and the weather in California is way too contagious to not enjoy or appreciate. Needless to say that I'm so over the cold, snowy winters of the east coast. 

We Run SF

“The only opponent you have to beat is yourself, the way you used to be.”  - Haruki Murakami

"We Run SF" was always a really faraway dream -- literally and figuratively. After seeing many posts of this event in the past couple of years, I always thought to myself that it be so awesome to be involved in an event with many other people in the beautiful city of San Francisco. However, I was living in NYC at the time, and in no way thought that 1) I would train for any sort of marathon, ever and 2) fly all the way over to SF just to participate. If you knew me, I was never athletic. The most I run would be 1.5 miles at best (with a walk break) with light cross-training and a few classes of yoga at NYSC. Not enough to clearly push my body to a new limit. 

Fast-forward a couple years later. I moved cross-country to Los Angeles for a new life change. Nike posted about a sign up for the 2014 Women's Half Marathon in San Francisco and I thought, "Well I'm here now. What can happen?" and on the very last day of sign-up, I entered. It was a lottery at that point and the event typically sold out to 25,000 other people. I thought, "At least I put my name out there".

Two days later, I got the confirmation: "Congratulations, your entry has been accepted." Um. What? Wait. Really? I was freaking out to myself. I signed up on a whim, on a "at-least-you-tried-and-put-it-out-there" kind of attitude. ME? Doing a half marathon? Running 13.1 miles? I get so tired after just running 1! So many things, too many things ran through my head as I silently freaked myself out at my desk at work. 

But then I became determined. In many ways, this became a door opening to a lot of new things. 

Moving to LA has been both scary and exciting. A new life experience and a new chapter in my life that I can add on to the books -- something definitely out of my comfort zone. Most of my family and all of my friends are back home in New York City and New Jersey. And while I do have cousins in California, I didn't have a solid friend or network base here. So I made it one of my personal goals when moving out here to expand my social network and social circles. I'm not going to lie, running started enabling me to do all of that. 

When I moved to Downtown LA this past June, one of the first things I did was Google "downtown running" -- which took me to the DTLA Running Group that regularly meets every week. I met an array of awesome people who did nothing but encourage me and let me in (and also got me into the routine of ending our runs at the local watering hole with $1 tacos). This was the start of my training.

Training took some time acclimating and getting used to. Starting runs (until this day) still suck, but ending them has always been so hard to stop. This is the irony of my running journey. Regularly running 3-4 miles and considering them "short runs" still seem a bit abnormal to me. Gradually working up to 12 miles is still a craze idea. Getting injured? A part of the process. You wouldn't be a real runner or a marathoner if something didn't start hurting, especially as a beginner. I would have never imagined myself having to regularly go to CVS or online to Amazon to buy aspirin, ankle braces, ice packs, and compression sleeves. But it was addicting. I couldn't stop, no matter how much it hurt or how long I'd be out. It was also the first time in a really long time, where I started experiencing runner highs again. The feeling is so, so amazing. The rest of your day or the rest of your evening can definitely be changed with a great run, no matter how short, long, or challenging it is. 

To record my progress in short tidbits, I also started posting photos on Instagram of my progress, hash-tagging #werunsf. I never would have thought that it would lead me to meet a new group of amazing and beautiful girls (also running the Nike Women's Half)  that wanted to hang, run and train together. I was entranced, a little nervous, but so excited. I have never been surrounded by all these great individuals with such a passion for life and health (and also big fans of cute sportswear!). Running has truly blessed me with all these new and amazing friendships and continues to open the door to do so. 

photo credits to my beautiful friends: @ melliecay , @ listar , @ ohkafrin , @ jennyvalles

photo credits to my beautiful friends: @melliecay, @listar, @ohkafrin, @jennyvalles

Ultimately, this whole experience and journey has been a great one. Physically and mentally, I am in the best shape of my life. It has been consistently a mood-lifter, a health-boost, and a feat to make me be stronger, healthier, and happier. Nike did such a great job with this event that I honestly cannot wait do it again next year - along with other races coming my way. While I'll have some bad days, some mediocre days, and some days where I just "can't", I have started meeting a new version of myself: one that I am totally in love with, one that I am totally proud of, and one that makes me so excited to see - over and over again. This whole new wave of self-love, this whole new version of myself - this is the me that has been hiding for more than a decade. I feel unstoppable and I can't wait to do more.

Wish me luck. 

Makoto Shinkai

“I probably just want to leave a trace of myself behind in this world.” 

Makoto Shinkai is one of my favorite directors. His art, story, cinematography, and production quality is simply out of this world that sometimes I find myself watching the backgrounds of his movies more than the actual subject(s). His approach to an "everyday" situation in which most of his films are based on is always done in a tasteful, sophisticated way so much that it does not succumb to being cliche or even cheesy. What I love most about his work is that he is always able to bring an animated realism to moments that would simply pass us by, moments that we often take for granted. 

Indulge yourselves in some of my favorite pieces he has done. I am not going to lie, I can watch these films over and over and over again ...