Calling Members – Amiee Needs Runners for a 183 mile Relay/Team Run in San Diego

This April 28th and 29th, I’ll be running the self proclaimed “Ultimate Two-Day Road Trip.” Won’t you join me?

Wild Miles Team Realy Race is a 30 leg, 183 miles race that starts in Temecula and weaves it’s way over the river and through the woods to Del Mar. Note: The river is a metaphor. I don’t think we cross an actual river. There will be plenty of woods to tide you over though.

They’ll be plenty of obstacles on the course, but my team has hit one bump already. We’re short runners. That’s where you come in. I can’t read minds, so I can’t tell you why Wild Miles would be fun for you. However, I can tell you why I’m looking forward to Wild Miles. Perhaps someone who reads this will be on the same wavelength and we’ll make some awesome memories together.

Without further ado, Aimee’s list of Reasons to Run Wild Miles.

1) It’s unlike anything I’ve ever done before. I’ve tackled the 5K, the 10K, the half marathon and the marathon. What’s next? Ultra marathons? Perhaps. But I crave something with a little more flavor, a little more variety. How about a long distance relay? Wild Miles. That’s the ticket.

2) I love the Amazing Race. True, it’s not a race around the world and Phil won’t be there to hug me when my team gets to the finish line, but Wild Miles is sure to be an Amazing Race. I’ll get to work as part of a team to accomplish a task. I’ll have to navigate through unfamiliar roads. I’ll be in close proximity to my teammates for long periods of time. I get to wear head lamps when I run at night. Head lamps! I can’t tell you how excited I am for that part.

3) It’ll makes my parents nervous. Re-enactment of my phone call home to my parents after I told them I signed up for Wild Miles:

Aimee: “Hey Mom! I signed up for this new race with a bunch of guys I don’t know.”
Mom: “Guys you don’t know? I don’t know if I like the sound of that.”
Aimee: “Don’t worry mom, we’ll be safe. They’re picking me up in a van. Aren’t van’s cool?”
Mom: “Uh huh. Where are they taking you?”
Aimee: “I’m not really sure, somewhere in the middle of the desert.”
Mom: “Why do you do this to me?”
Aimee: “Because I love you.”

Awww! That could be the conversation you have with your mother, father, significant other or child. Making people nervous with your adventures is fun.

4) I’ll get to meet new people who are just as crazy about running as I am. Though I love running, my favorite part of a race is often the people you meet on the course. I love sitting and talking to folks before the start of the race. I’m fascinated by the diversity of runners. They can be all races, religions, shapes and sizes. They can be grandmothers, cancer survivors or Elvis impersonators. During the race I’m normally to busy concentrating on my breathing to say much. That’s where Wild Miles is different. During Wild Miles, I’ve got time spent running with partners and driving in the van. Plenty of time to get to know these other great people who I’m running with.

5) It’ll open the door to other fun runs. I view Wild Miles as a threshold to more adventure races. So far, I’ve stuck with traditional road races, but there’s a whole big world out there to explore. There’s Relay Races, Mud Races, Treasure Hunt Races, etc. Wild Miles is just the tip of the iceberg. Completing Wild Miles will open the door to other races I’d never considered before.

Is you’re mouth watering yet? I hope so. I don’t think I’ve written a persuasive essay. I’m a little rusty, but trust me when I say that it will be a great time with last memories.

If you are interested, please Email Aimee

If not, enjoy your running wherever it takes you!

Aimee – Member

Our life is our passions

Railey Beach, Thailand. Some of the best climbing on the planet.

After two weeks of traveling Cambodia, I finally made it to my final destination…Thailand. The land of a thousand smiles, the land of the most amazing food I’ve ever eaten, and the land of beautiful beaches and scenery. Just finished a day doing some of the best rock climbing in the world…in Railey Beach. Many of you don’t know but I climbed rocks and mountains for years. In fact, that was my big passion before getting into running/yoga. So I paid a guide yesterday to take me out not knowing how I’d do after over two years of not climbing. First couple of climbs for me were sloppy affairs…my technique was rusty…so I was pulling too hard with my arms instead of climbing with my feet and using the much stronger muscles of my legs. You have to be careful rock climbing that you don’t “blow out your arms” by cranking on them too hard. It is easy to completely exhaust yourself after just one climb. So I told the guide I needed to do something easier. I climbed some easy routes later in the morning…5.6, 5.7, 5.8. I began climbing slowly and focusing on my posture and especially using my feet. After another tasty Thai lunch we began climbing harder routes in the afternoon.

By doing something easier first, by warming up, and getting back to basics, my old form began to return. I began dancing on the rock, instead of cranking through cruxes, I’d work my feet up, then be able to reach through the cruxes, saving my arm energy. I climbed four of the most amazing climbs ever that afternoon, with a beach underneath me, a view of the Andaman sea.

There was a moment late afternoon, as I stepped on a stalactite, 60 feet off the ground, where it all came back to me…the thrill of living on the edge…the fear of falling…the views…the exhiliration of doing something I thought I couldn’t do. And I thought to myself “why do I not do the things I love” in California. Rock climbing was a lover I let slip away. Partners got married, had kids, mortgages, got responsible….all the things I’ve been avoiding. This became an excuse for me to not live. I’ve been fooling myself to think running, yoga, resting was it.

I love running. I love yoga. I also love so many other things that have come back to me on this trip. I try to go out dancing every night…usually to the local Cambodian or Thai clubs. Often the only farang (westerner) in there. Here thousands of miles from home…in the middle of a dance floor…I am home. I feel the freedom to express myself with my hips, arms, legs, and my smile. That energy and enthusiasm is so contagious, it spreads so quickly. I can find dancing partners here very easily, no attitudes, no looks at me like “who are you” like I face in Los Angeles.

So here Southeast Asia, I’ve fallen in love with so many things. Girls. Food. Climbing. Yoga. Running. And Dancing. The things that make me feel alive. I’m not sure how all this experience will manifest itself when I return and go running with the Beach Runners, teaching yoga, teaching english.

But I do know I’ve changed. I’m opening up. Becoming more of me. Instead of what I think I should be.

I’m learning to live more passionately. More on the edge. With a big open heart unafraid to express itself, let the joy of living spill out for all to see and to return to all the things I love when I come back to the California. Life is short. When we die we will be remembered for the things we loved.

So love something with all your heart. Even its only for a minute or an hour or day or even better…

a lifetime.

Run with Joy,

Gary Smith, ChiRunning® Instructor

John’s AZ Rock ‘n Roll Marathon Report

John (2330) PRs in AZ Because He Sticks With the Beach Runners’ Program

On Sunday I ran the Arizona Rock-N-Roll Marathon in Phoenix (and Scottsdale and Tempe). My time was a PR, which is comforting since it was only my second marathon.

I learned a few critical lessons leading up to the marathon. First, avoiding injury. Two weeks prior to the marathon, while running with my usual Beach Runners’ group, I started feeling shin splints in my left leg. As it did not go away after a mile or so, I stopped. I stretched my leg for about a minute, and then I walked for a minute. I then ran slowly for about 1 1/2 miles, alternating between the concrete and sand (and checking my footprints in the sand to see if my foot-strike looked good, per the Chi Running book). I then met up with coach Steve — who was resting at his mid-way running point — to discuss the issue. I resumed my slow running, focusing on my form, and my leg was feeling better. I did not resume my normal pace until I turned around with some of my usual running buddies who were heading back. I finished my run without any shin splints, and only missed less than 2 miles of running versus the rest of the group. Big deal.

Second lesson: more fuel to avoid bonking. On a couple of my long runs leading up to the marathon, I simply ran out of gas. My body felt reasonably well, judging from my recovery time post run. I had only been eating about 1 gel pack per 45 mins to 1 hour. So for the marathon, I decided to eat a gel pack (100 calories each) every 1/2 hour.

The marathon itself provided a third lesson: you can’t prepare for everything (at least until you’ve done a lot more than 2 marathons). The day of the marathon was the coldest day on record in the Phoenix area in 16 years!!! Phoenix weather this time of year is supposed to be like Southern California’s: pleasantly in the high 40s or low 50s in the morning. But the race started at 29 degrees. Brrrr!!!!! I knew enough to bring extra shirts and other clothing that I could toss away as the race proceeded. Once I warmed up, however, I really did not need any extra clothing. But many of the runners were only comfortable with much more clothing. With this weather, unless a runner had been used to running in sub-freezing temperatures, you really didn’t know for sure what you needed until you did it. Fortunately for me, I guessed correctly.

I had run the Long Beach marathon in October at 4:42:27 relatively comfortably, so I figured I could go at least 4:30:00 in this one. But I decided not to have any sort of printed time pacing on my wrist (unlike the L.B. marathon). Instead, I ran at what I felt was a comfortable pace, with my trusty Garmin to tell me my current heart rate to check that I was not stressing myself.

The Garmin also told me what my average pace was, but that led to my fourth lesson: technology might fail you. About 1/2 way through the race, the Garmin lost connection with satellites for a few miles. It reconnected for another few miles, but in the last 6 miles it received nothing. So much for keeping tabs on your average pace. (Although this marathon had timers every 1 mile.)

As the marathon progressed, I used the first lesson about avoiding injury. At some points in the middle of the run, I felt some extra pain and stress in my right foot. During those times, I eased up a little bit on my pace, and focused on my running form including breathing “into” the injured area. This always worked, since my foot would feel better after a couple of minutes. And I had no significant foot pain in the last several miles of the race. I had prepared mentally to walk or stop and stretch if easing up on the pace only resulted in the same or increasing pain, like I had on my weekend run 2 weeks ago. Fortunately, my body responded without those measures.

At the 20-mile mark, I employed a fifth lesson from Beach Runners: go for a negative split. I felt reasonably well at that time, so I took my metronome and increased the tempo from 88 to 90, and leaned a little more to increase the speed. At the 24-mile mark, I still felt okay so I increased the tempo to 92 and ran like I wanted to have nothing left at the finish line. (Leading up to Sunday, I had run at 88 or 90 in my long runs, and at 94 on my weekday “tempo” or “interval” runs, so a 92 was not new to me.)

I finished the race at 4:21:31, with an overall pace of 9:59 min/mile. Between the data provided by time chip and my Garmin (resetting the “lap time” at various times as I passed distance markers), this is how my race broke down by intervals:

First 6.2 miles (10K): overall time of 1:03:03; interval pace of 10:10/mi

6.2 mi to 13.1 mi: overall time of 2:12:53; interval pace of 10:07/mi

13.1 mi to 20 mi: overall time of 3:22:51; interval pace of 10:09/mi

20 mi to 25 mi: overall time of 4:10:26; interval pace of 9:31/mi

25 mi to finish: overall time of 4:21:31; interval pace of 9:14/mi

As I crossed the finish line, I felt tired, but I didn’t have all that much pain, other than a dull pain in my gut (aka my “chi”) and, strangely enough, some pins-and-needles in my arms. Immediately after I stopped, however, I didn’t notice anything in my gut or arms. Instead, I felt T-I-R-E-D and I had P-A-I-N all over in my legs. No joint pain or shin splints or the like however; just muscular pain as if I had just run 26.2 miles. Curiously, my butt felt okay post race. “Butt” once I got to my parents’ car for the ride to their house, as soon as I sat down, the P-A-I-N in my butt felt worse than in my legs.

Post-race, I employed a sixth lesson: have lots of fuel. (At least this works for me.) After the Long Beach marathon, I didn’t eat much and after about 15 minutes I was incredibly woozy. I had to lie on my back or stomach for a couple of hours until I felt good to walk around for a cab ride home. This time, my wife Laura had ready for me a protein shake, electrolyte drink (Ultima), peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches, and bananas for me to scarf down. So, even with feeling tired and pain, at least I avoided the woozy feelings this time.

I sit here today, 2 days post marathon; I’m feeling pretty good. Like I might go out for a short, easy run on Thursday (like I did after the Long Beach marathon). No way I’m going to be out of commission for a couple of weeks or more like a lot of marathoners.

Here’s to ChiRunning® and to the Beach Runners!


The Killing Fields of Cambodia


Yesterday I visited the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek. In 1975 after Pol Pot came to power in Cambodia, his army the Khmer Rouge, entered Phnom Penh and evacuated the city. And I mean the whole capital of Cambodia, sending people out to the fields for a “reeducation” in living a simple agrarian lifestyle. The professors, teachers, doctors, lawyers, basically anyone that was a professional or had any iota of education was executed. And their whole family was then executed.

This was the story throughout this beautiful country of Cambodia between 1975 and 1979. In all, over 2 million people killed from torture, executions, or starvation. A whole generation of professionals wiped out in one of the worst genocides of the 20th century while the world watched and did nothing.

I sat on the bus from Siem Reap speaking to an Cambodian lady who lived through that time. She was forced out of Phnom Phen with her family when she was six. Her family escaped the Khmer Rouge and lived in the forest for three years eating bugs, plants, anything that was edible. Then she lived in refuge camps for many years after that before moving to Australia. She could not speak without tears in her eyes.

Cheong Ek, one of the largest killing fields, had 86 mass graves and 9,000 bodies found. So what do you do in such a sombering location like this?

Something that we practice every Saturday…I meditated under a flowering Jasmine tree.

In fact in this land of the Buddha, I am meditating every day. Sitting quietly in Temples which are everywhere. Sitting under trees. Sitting in my hotel rooms. Trying to calm my mind.

Coming from the hectic Los Angeles lifestyle of commuting, frenzied work, teaching, coaching, writing, building a business, I had so many things on my mind starting this trip. Whizzing by at a million miles an hour.

Meditation was very difficult and still is difficult. But its getting better. This morning I sat in the Buddhist temple Wat Phnom, built on a site where four Buddhas where found left by the river. A temple with 700 years of meditation inside. And closed my eyes and felt what I teach in yoga, the sweetness of my breath.

Not forcing it, just feeling my breathing breath me. Slowing down. Turning inwards.

So yesterday, I sat meditating next to the mass graves of Cheong Ek and tried to listen to what all those people would tell us…

getting quieter and quieter…


Cheong Ek

8,000 skulls in a tower
I sit quietly next to mass
graves of headless
women children men

Their crime was their minds
Thinkers, writers, educators

And I wonder what they
would whisper in my ear
As I sit under this Jasmine
Tree counting breaths

Remember us?
Tell our story?
Don’t let this happen?

Or would they be screaming?
Maybe they might have even
saw a bit of beauty
a monarch butterfly
a flower
a lotus flower in the bloody pond
Maybe after days of torture
They found some peace
in Buddhist breaths
Kneeling blindfolded
before the hoe the machete the cane

I sit here listening today
amongst holes bones
clothes with no people

And watch butterflies dance
from grass flowers to flowers

Hearing not anger but a second
of peace just a second reminding
us to do what they couldn’t



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