• The Surf City Marathon: A Lesson.

    By Laura Conley

    The Surf City Half Marathon was a big lesson for me!  I learned to listen to my body and give it more than enough rest!!!  I had been sick the week prior to the race with the stomach flu and after drinking lots of Vitalyte to replace electrolytes and fluid lost I thought I was better. I knew that my digestive system was still not quite right, but I thought I could push through and be ok. Long story short - boy was I WRONG!!!  I started out the race very conservatively and then picked up the pace as the miles flew by.  Around mile 6-7 though, my stomach decided that enough was enough!  I started cramping and having to make frequent bathroom visits.  I think the running really churned things up in my gut all over again.  I was so disappointed that I couldn't keep running strong, but I never quit.  I just kept jogging/walking/bathroom visiting until I reached the finish line.  By some miracle I finished in about 1:30ish!  Still, I will always remember that race because it was a reminder that I am human and I should listen to the my body when it needs to rest.  I can't wait to come back next year nice and healthy to race a new Personal Record!!! :)

  • I'm a Tri Phase Mom

    When I was approached to write a quick blog post discussing my experience with Mother's Day around the corner and my being a mom and all, I can't tell you how different my mom life is now, compared to a mere 12 months ago. I'm a Tri Phase Mom and this is my story.

    My name is Karen and as I said, just over a year ago, I was a new mom trying to get back into the real world groove after having my second baby. Anyway, I was never what I'd call 'athletic' before. I mean, sure I'd walk with my friends on the weekends, flutter around the occasional aerobic class, try my hand at the sporadic jog - but I didn't know what it meant to push myself - so I never did. I was a pretty healthy eater and it wasn't like I didn't move during the day.  Still though, after my daughter was born I couldn't help but feel like I was in something of a fog. My life was not my own for the first time - and even though this was my second child - it felt different this time around.

    I confided in a workout buff but wildly compassionate friend of mine and the rest really, is history. I started working out with her three days a week. We took Tri Phase before our workouts - and in all honesty, at that point, I was just following suit. I drank the good tasting watermelon flavored water, ate what she told me to, and worked out harder than I ever have because well, she yelled at me until I did... in a nice, encouraging way of course. :)

    After a few weeks, I felt empowered. I started working out on my own, pushing through workouts I didn't think I was capable of, and feeling better than I had in years. It was then that I bought my own jar of tri phase endurance and took a look at the ingredients, calorie counts, etc. Now, I'm telling you this because my gut reaction was probably what yours is. 100 calories per serving? You've got to be kidding me. That basically means I have to run another mile to work off this drink before I even start doing anything. Mind you, I had never questioned it before and in fact, had lost 15 lbs by this point, but this social stigma hit me like a ton of bricks to the face. Women don't need extra calories - never drink them - watch them closely - eat lettuce - the socially constructed list goes on...

    Being the rational mind that I am though, I stepped back from my gut reaction and decided to do something different for a change: educate myself and boy am I glad I did.

    Tri Phase is what the experts call insulinemic, meaning that it is a prolonged energy source allows women (and men) to work out longer and burn more fat over extended periods of time. It first uses your fat as fuel, as opposed to depleting your glycogen stores, which, you guessed it, means you can say goodbye to that fat. Beyond that, the amino acid profile of tri-phase, includes beta Alanine, which buffers lactic acid. What that means that basically, your body is recovering while you're exercising, which in turn, decreases your soreness the next day. This, ladies and gents, means you can get back to the gym the very next day - and not blame your skipped sesh on the booty pain from all those lunges.

    All in all, you get more out of your workout, you feel better, more accomplished, and subsequently, you're inspired to get back to it and do it all again. Yes it's 100 calories per serving, but it seems like a small price to pay for the 500 more you burn, the miles that fly by, the competition you crush, the life you lead. Am I right ladies? Nowadays, I'm a proud half marathon finisher - 2 hours 15 minutes mind you- and tri phase addict. It helps me be the woman I have always dreamed of being. On top of it all, I've lost 26 pounds and can honestly say I feel better than I ever have... inside - which is what matters.... and the outside part isn't half bad either.

    Cheers to my watermelon drink - I could not have done it without you.


  • Palatinose as the Super Starch of the Century

    1What you should take before, during and after the raceThere is so much hype and so much debate today as to what you should take before , during and after the race. I understand, nutrition itself can be a logistical nightmare. Well I want to help make it very simple for you and give you some information based on twenty years of pure personal experience. It’s time to take the guess work out of running nutrition and for once take control of your cabinets so they are not occupied by thirty different jars, bars and gels. All of which stay unopened or partially used until the best-by-date is more than thirteen months past.

    Let’s start the spring off right and get ready for the your next 10k, half-marathon or marathon in the right way. This is the first blog in a series that will address the stages of fueling and what to take when.

    Let’s start with gels: They are taken during the stages of racing or running when you need portable nutrition and energy to keep up with the caloric output you are creating. My personal experience has been to avoid them like an ex-boyfriend. They may have looked tempting at mile 20 of the New York Marathon when my sugar levels were plummeting and my cognitive focus transient at best. However, I knew my chances of finishing the race would be slim once the gooey concoction hit my stomach.

    What you should take before, during and after the race

    We are talking cramping, spasm and all around agony when the high simple sugar content hit my system. See, when you are running and exerting yourself that hard and you flood your system with a very concentrated refined sugar source that is usually made from fructose corn syrup, the body has to jump to process it. All the blood is going to the working muscles, so the digestive system and organs such as the liver and pancreas are not prepared to handle the metabolic workload. So instead of “laser lime flavored energy enhanced shots” that are likely to send your system into a tailspin instead of delivering the jet fuel they claim, what are your options? Well, after twenty years of competitive running and passing up the little gold packets encapsulating gelatinous torture, I have finally (yes FINALLY) found an alternative. Palatinose.

    What is Palatinose? It is only the super starch of the century! What does it do? It provides the body with an easily digestible source of slow-burning carbohydrate that will offer sustained energy rather than the down and dirty quick hit from those other short-chain saccharides (saccharides are a fancy name for sugars. See Mr. Albritton, I did pay attention in science class). Where can you find it? Vitalyte Sports Nutrition’s “Chia Surge Endurance Gel.” The first gel on the market to utilize this incredible polysaccharide superstar and pair it with the nutritional benefits of the superfood Chia. It’s a match made in heaven. So next time you are perusing the sports nutrition aisle of your favorite bike, running or triathlon store, ask the sales representative to point you to the raspberry-flavored nectar of the running gods we at Vitalyte Sports Nutrition refer to simply as “The Gel.” Believe me, your stomach with thank you, your sugar levels will thank you, and your improved running time will be the proof in the pudding (or in the gel) that this super starch is the stuff that helps make champions.

  • Get With The Season

    Vitalyte_get on with season_VitalyteIt’s raining outside.! You want to pull the covers over your head and forget about the ten loads of laundry you need to do, the report you have to turn in on Monday and the horrible date you had last night. Seriously, you just wanted to get up today and go out for a run to clear your head and be in your own space and from the looks of things outside the only space you’d be in would be surrounded by non-stop puddles. Probably not your idea of an ideal Sunday workout you were hoping for. Temporary Vitamin D deprivation could be contributing to your bad mood.

    It definitely has nothing to do with the five White Russian’s you downed last night in a meager attempt to forget about the fact that you were trapped at a table for two with the most ego-centered, inconsiderate “ideal match” that you have ever met. Yep, not only do you want your money back from that on-line dating site that guarantees “chemistry” and the “perfect partner,” but you are in serious need of a hangover remedy.




    Vitalyte2_Getonwithseason_vitalyteAs you reach for your Orange Vitalyte (My ultimate pick for the best “I drank waaaayyy too much” feeling), you just really want to get outside. So what are your options on a day like today? There are so many choices available when it comes to work out, you just need to look around. Of course there is always the old standby-yep that’s right. The 24 Hour Fitness down the street has rows and rows of treadmills, Stair masters, elliptical trainers, rowers, etc. The list goes on and on. You may have to put up with some sweaty over-biceped guys that refuse to follow “everyone must bring a towel rule,” but hey on a day like today it’s better than getting stuck in the downpour outside.






    vitalyte_indoorRockclimbingIndoor rock climbing can be your second option. Time to conquer your fear of heights. Grab a few of your friends and head to the indoor rock climbing gym. I did it for the first time and loved it and it is a great workout. Perfect for that blustery day. Indoor pool can be another option. Time to get out of swim cap and goggles and do some lap swimming. Not only is it great cross-training and you work muscles that you are not working when you run, but it breaks up the monotony of your regular workout routine.

    Finally, if you have a road bike, it’s worth it to invest in an indoor trainer. You can reenact the Tour de France in your own garage, stay dry and get in a stellar workout.! So during the inclement weather don’t stress. Your fitness levels don’t need to suffer because of the rain, sleet or snow. Just be creative. And when all else fails, head to the mall for a few intense hours of shoe shopping. That definitely counts as a workout in my book!

    photo credit: pinterest

  • My Embarrassing Moment

    Mike and Clarence over at Lace’s Running Store are some of my favorite retailers. As the account executive for Vitalyte Sports Nutrition, I handle a lot of accounts, and let me tell you these guys are great. So I was in their Scripps Ranch, CA location last week and Mike and I were reminiscing about high school running. Mike grew up in San Diego and used to watch me compete. He now coaches at Torrey Pines High School. As we were chatting about how I used to run with my long long hair tied up high in a pony tail, ribbons adorning my golden brown locks and of course my nails were always painted red, he brought up a blast from the past. “Milena, I ran into Saskia Hostetler last week. Do you remember her? You guys competed against each other in high school. When you ran for Fallbrook, she ran for Torrey Pines.”

    “Mike, I totally remember her. What is she doing now?”

    “She’s a doctor in Portland, Oregon. Anyways, your name came up in our conversation and she told me something that is going to make you laugh.”

    “Oh no Mike, what did I do?”

    “She said you used to get sick before your races.”

    “Ohhhhhh yes! I think I threw up before every single race. I used to get so damn nervous. Ha now, I’m so chill. Funny how things change.” I’m thinking to myself that I know this is going to have some kind of embarrassing outcome. What could it be? And then Mike divulged the cliffhanger.

    “Do you remember when you threw up on her on the starting line of CIF Finals?”

    I didn’t know whether to laugh, apologize or play dumb and conveniently not be able to recall it. Because honestly is always the best policy (at least in this case) I figured it best to use my high school stomach maladies to my advantage.

    “Oh My God, Mike now I totally remember. She was super cool about it. I even remember the color of Nike Waffle Racers she was wearing. They were green with an orange swoosh, at least until I hurled on them.” Mike’s laughter escalated and we were both laughing so hard we were crying. “Tell her I said hi and send her my apologies.”

    “She still laughs about it to this day,” Mike said.

    “So on that note Mike, do you want to hear about our awesome new Chia Surge Endurance Gel that we just launched.”

    As I wrote out Mike’s purchase order for the gel and some other Vitalyte products I couldn’t help but think back to my high school days of running. The run’s I used to go on with the boy’s varsity team and the things they would talk about to try to gross me out. Early 5:30am bus rides up to Mt. SAC Invitational and of course the stop at Rocky and Bullwinkle’s after for some go cart racing. And definitely not to forget the pre-race pasta dinner’s with the team and the time we pushed Coach Troy into the pool. It’s good to reflect back and see the fun that was incorporated with in the competition and the friends that I made and still work, train and compete with. All I can say is when I tow the line at the Hollywood Half Marathon in a few months I won’t be nearly as nervous. I’m just happy to be back training and racing. There’s no more pressure, no more stress, no more nerves. It’s about me and fitness and living a balanced happy life. So rest assured whoever you are standing next to me on April 7, 2012 at 100 Universal City Plaza, your Nikes will remain dry!

  • Wine and Guys

    It’s 7:48pm, you just finished a Cardio-Kick Boxing class at the local 24 Hour Fitness. Not only are you slightly annoyed because the dude next to you in the class (yes the one wearing the Dolphin shorts and a t-shirt that was ten sizes too small with the saying “I hated math then I found out about Pi”) thought that you would seriously fall for a Friday night date request to a revival of “Bye Bye Birdie.” I mean seriously, all you really want is a date with a great, reliable guy who actually takes you to a place where pleather is not the appropriate attire and his debit card doesn’t get rejected because it is in his mother’s name. Your lack of satisfying dating experiences has you irritated and famished. You scavenge the annals of your cupboards only to find a seriously outdated can of green beans, a rotting garlic clove and a box of bouillon that still says “Made in the USSR” on the label. Sister it is seriously time for a cupboard/dating makeover. Wouldn’t a great chicken, fig and crimini mushroom with sauté and a fuji apple and arugala salad be much better than that the lone TV dinner that is frozen over with so much ice you will have to make a run to REI for an ice climbing pick to break it free! Pair the chicken dish with a great organic Pinot Noir from Trader Joe’s or break the wine “rules” and go bold with my favorite Cabernet: 2010 Spiral Wines Reserve Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. I guarantee you, as soon as you start dining better and raising the bar in the epicurean department, you will raise the bar in the guy category. You are taking a bold step by putting organic produce and free range meat in your refrigerator. You are committed to taking better care of yourself inside and out. So here is my recipe for the killer chicken dish and I will follow it with a killer recipe on how to find a great date.

    All the following can be purchased at Trader Joe's:

    Chicken and Fig Sauté: 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped (Fresh ones-not the ones from your cabinet please!) 1/4 white onion finely chopped 2 tbsp. artichoke tapinade 2 tsp. extra virgin organic olive oil 4 figs chopped 1 can white kidney beans drained 1 cup of crimini mushrooms sliced 2 boneless skinless free range chicken breasts cubed

    Sauté the garlic and onions in the olive oil until translucent Add the artichoke tapinade, figs and mushrooms Sauté for one minute Add the chicken and cook uncovered, turning chicken periodically until chicken is done Finally add the drained kidney beans and cook for two more minutes

    Fuji Apple and Arugula Salad: 1 bag washed arugala 1 organic fuji apple cored and diced 1 bag of cut and diced butternut squash 1/4 cup goat feta 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds 1/8 cup walnuts

    Combine all the above ingredients in a salad bowl and toss with the following dressing:

    1/4 cup of organic extra virgin olive oil 1/8 cup of balsamic vinegar pinch of salt and pepper

    Now open that bottle of vino, turn on TBS and watch Sex in the City, the movie, and vow to yourself that this New Year, not only will you be committed to a great workout routine that is feasible and a healthy diet, but your are committed to some great dates with guys that aren’t friends of your little brother. So now that you have mastered a great recipe for a fantastic dinner, here is my recipe for finding a great date.

    All these items can be found in your closet, in your best friend’s closet or in your address book: That sexy pair of heels you haven’t worn since the trip to Vegas with the girls Your favorite little dress A couple of your closest girlfriends-NO guy friends or little brothers allowed on this outing An open mind with no objectives other than to meet some cool people and have fun with your friends.

    Take the above to the newest restaurant hot spot and order a Cosmo at the bar. My favorite spot-Burlap in Del Mar, CA. The best Cosmo I have had and a great mix of people. When you have your defenses down and are ready just to have a great time and meet cool people, you will be surprised what happens. You’d be mesmerized by the number of guys who feel the same about dating that you do and when you move men out of the “evil and moronic” category in your iPhone list, you will see a whole new world of options open up. Lighten up on your “must have list” and take a closer look at the important aspect of any relationship, whether it is friends, partners or even training. They all have a few things in common that are important-consistency, it contributes to your well-being, and it makes your life happier. And of course, they all pair nicely with a great glass of red after a long day! I look forward to sharing more  in my next blog. Cheers!

  • Happy Valentine's Day to Me!

    If the benchmark for a successful Valentine’s Day includes a shop-worn half-dozen saran-wrap laden bouquet of red roses, a few out of date Ferrero Rocher chocolates and an off-brand greeting card with the word “love” mistyped, then I have hit the mother-load jackpot. Yes it seems that the only time the “ex-boyfriend” can even remember Valentine’s Day is when I am gone for good. And by gone I mean I have thoughts of Cancun at Spring Break and Vegas escapades that can only be recalled with the assistance of iPhone photos and Visa debit card receipts. Yep too little, too late. The gas station roses just won’t quite make up for two and half years of sub-par treatment and caviar dreams. I mean seriously, did you really think that ringing my doorbell at 10:24 pm Valentine’s night was going to impress me. No. What really impressed me was the $6 amazing cocktail I had at Flavor in Del Mar and the two extremely well-mannered and polished twenty-something young men that had enough class and maturity to hold an intelligent conversation with us for half the evening. So how does love lost but identity gained have anything to do with a woman’s blog? And by God Milena, how does it relate to running? Well here is my parallel so listen closely ladies. You may want to put away the Droid, turn off the Mac Book Pro and instead pour a great glass of lambrusco and take note. It really all has to do with attitude.

    You have all heard the saying “No one wants to play with the toy until someone else does.” It seems that saying not only holds true in the dating world, but in all aspects of life. Your kids don’t want to pay attention to you until suddenly their best friend notices how awesome “Mrs. Kellerman” is. Your husband really doesn’t seem to take notice of the ten pounds you lost until his best friend points it out. Even the dog tends to take for granted your dedicated outings to the dog park until you are too busy a few days to take him and he misses out on the chance to see that oh-so-fine Bichon Frise with the perfect puppy pedicure. Yep, you are officially transparent, or so it seems. And then one day you have had enough. Instead of packing lunch you give the kids money and let them “fend for themselves” at the school cafeteria. Instead of making sure your husband has his favorite stock of Trader Joe’s Chocolate Covered Potato Chips on hand, you conveniently print out a MapQuest with explicit directions from your house to the closest location. And instead of taking Mr. Biggles to the pooch park, you hire K-9 Commando, owned and operated by a former CIA agent who now will teach the chocolate lab all the commands he missed out during his formative years. And what do you do with all this new free time. Simple, you put on your running shoes, head out the door with your new Jaybird headphones (my pick for the ultimate all-time favorite running headphone) and take yourself on a much needed, much deserved, long-overdue run. The time alone is worth all the trips to Nordstrom in the world, and the message you are sending to those around you (that mom has boundaries) is actually going to help everyone around you be much happier and healthier. Now they start to look inside to problem-solve and actually can reflect about the efforts other’s go through when then love and care for someone. I always say actions speak louder than words. I used to tell my ex that consistently but he didn’t seem to understand, want to hear or choose to listen. He had two and half years to figure out the importance, meaning and love that comes with that phrase. Unfortunately, he figured it a few months after I left and Valentine’s Day came and he had no one to spend it with. He left flowers on my doorstop along with a voicemail that was garbled between tears, an attempt to clear himself of the guilt he doesn’t want to deal with and a few long-winded apologies. I contemplated leaving the six red half-dead roses out on the porch. However, the lover of beauty in me brought them in, placed them in a vase and waited to see if they would come back to life. I deleted the voicemail and didn’t return the call. The roses were completely wilted the next day. Take back your power by under-doing, leaving the heavy lifting alone and do it with love in your heart and a smile and kind words. Those around you will sit up and take notice. You deserve the respect. I hope you had a wonderful Valentine’s Day. And if it wasn’t what you wanted it to be, then here are my suggestions. Go buy yourself a dozen roses, a new pair of running shoes and some Jaybird headphones. You will thank yourself down the road!

  • Harmony

    Your alarm rudely awakens you at 5:30 am with the audacious blare of Adele’s “Rollin’ in the Deep” that your twelve year old downloaded for you while you were busy cooking dinner, helping your fourth grader diagram sentences, and taking two phone calls from your hysterical mother who can’t find her Shih Tzu for the fifth time today. You are fatigued. You are tired. You are exhausted. Any you have every right to be. You are balancing the dynamics that many modern women struggle with: Work, family, the in’s and out’s of daily life. There isn’t much left in your day for you. When there is, you are just too tired to make it to the gym or out the door for that run you keep telling yourself you will get to. Well it is time that your Nike’s don’t look like you just took them out of the box even though they are five months old. They are crying for some TLC and would do just about anything for some scuff marks or even a ripped shoelace. Something to show them you care. But no matter how many pep talks you have with yourself, how many times you say “I will get to it just as soon as I finish...,” or how many motivational reruns of Dr. Phil you watch, you just can not seem to gather the energy to get out the door. Well I am going to offer you a few ways, that during the new year, you can decrease fatigue and increase your endurance and help to bring some much needed energy as we start 2012.

    Remember in my last blog we discussed setting realistic goals. Now that you have determined that your goal is to decrease fatigue so you can have some energy for your own workouts, how do you go about getting to your goal. These are three steps that I have utilized throughout my career to help me refocus on goals I have set. First, I always de-clutter my environment once I have set a goal. I determine the factors that are keeping me from achieving my goal and if there is anything in my immediate surroundings that I can remove, I do so immediately. For instance, you have determined that one of the reasons you are so tired is because you are not getting to bed early enough. Determine the factors that are keeping you up late. Then, make the adjustments necessary so you can get into bed on time. Sometimes you have to be creative. For example, I turn off my phone and do not answer calls past 9:00pm. My mind needs to wind down and it is time to go into rest mode. Whatever it is can wait until the morning when I am better suited to deal with it. I also clear space in other aspects of my life once I have my eyes focused on a goal. I make sure my closets are in order, paperwork filed and gone through and everything organized. The clear space in my physical surroundings makes it easier for me to go from A to B to C through out my work day. Being organized means I spend less time looking for things and more time training. Hey I have even put boyfriends out with the recycling because the relationship was too distracting and not adding the support and encouragement I needed during the times I was working towards a goal. Now I am not saying that your kids, husband, pet fish and dog should be waiting out on the curb at the next trash day. But instead, anything that you can determine that is actually not healthy for you needs to be re-evaluated.

    Ok, you have cataloged, codified and classified. The shelves are standardized and everything is accounted for. What to do next? Once I have created more space for myself, I immediately feel my stress levels decrease. With increased breathing room I can finally carefully choose what I want to add back to my life. At this point, you should be focused on reintroducing those aspects that add value to your life. Let’s say you have set the goal to have more energy so you can finally start working out. You have tailored everything accordingly in your life and you are ready to start your workout regime. Something that would be of value to your goal would be to add a training session per week with a personal trainer. This will help you reach your target faster.

    You have harmonized your life and added those things that bring increased worth. One final step left. Add the extras that make a difference. Now you are finally at the place where you have the energy and time to add the “extras” to your life. For instance, taking the time to make a healthy breakfast before work will definitely give you more energy than your old 10:30am habit of two jelly-filled donuts at the office break room. Having your water bottle that sits on your desk at work filled with Vitalyte instead of triple-caff, extra-bold, quadruple pressed coffee, is a much better hydration solution. Slipping on your Nike’s and heading out for a walk or a run instead of putting on your slippers and heading to the couch for a few hours of TV when you get home is a much healthier option. It is true that one positive change leads to another and even though there are times when you would really like to leave the kids outside next to the Hefty Cinch Saks, now that you are less stressed, less fatigued and more energized, when those moments do happen, you are better equipped to handle them. Happy harmonizing and look for my next blog about what to cook for that healthy breakfast.

  • Dancing With Myself


    I’ve decided that I want my own nightclub in my next home. A place where Billy Idol can be blasted at 3:00 pm or 3:00 am and “Pour Some Sugar On Me” rules the sound system. A place where I can dance in my pink LuLuLemon “No Limit” Tank, white Victoria’s Secret boy shorts and have my own 2011 rendition of Risky Business. A place where there is no closing time and I am free to make my own decisions. Until I can afford that space I guess my living room will have to do. Well technically it’s not my living room but Ryan is kind enough to let me share his apartment until I can find a place.

    I have two dogs that I inherited from the non-committal 42 year old ex-boyfriend who preferred to give his Ferrari more respect than me. So I left, dogs and all. Until I can find a space I can call my own, the dogs are roaming “on the farm” in Fallbrook with my mom’s two Great Danes. It’s hard to find a place near my work and training area where I can have two dogs. So in the mean time I am staying with whatever friend has room at the time.

    I prefer stability. I prefer a space to call my own. I prefer consistency. But this is what I have right now and I am going to make the best of it. What I have learned is the value of true friends. People who have stood by me and opened their hearts and doors to me. I am grateful. Everyone knew I could do better and I deserved to be treated better but I guess it took me longer to see it because I was trying to create my ideal in an environment that could not sustain my desires. But I think it was really more than that. I think I truly felt it was OK to be mistreated. I mean seriously why would a man want to respect and care for a woman. Why would a woman feel a man actually deserved love let alone need to be loved. This was something I looked at deeply. The explanation was pretty clear as my parents obscure empty co-existence flashed through my mind. I took inventory of the relationships in my life. None of them what I wanted but rather what was deemed okay for me. I mean after all I was a serious athlete and there were certain things I just didn’t “waste my time doing.” I was told it was a bad distraction. I was told I didn’t have time for it. I was told there was no room for it given my serious training regime. I was such an obedient,conditioned athlete that I listened. So I was left with a relationship role model that only depicted lack of respect and disdain. Well fortunately for me there was a deep sense inside myself that said there was more for me. I deserved more. I deserved better. I deserved love. So I left. I left with my sense of self. I left with my respect. I left for good.

    It’s been quite some time since I’ve been in the passenger seat of the red Ferrari. Do I miss it? I miss that feeling you get driving along at 120mph, the wind blending the salty scent of the Pacific with the burning scent of exhaust. But that feeling wasn’t a free feeling. I was someone’s passenger. Someone who wanted to take me along for the ride, have me sit and enjoy and do as I was told and then they could drop me off at my house when they were tired of me. That wasn’t so free. I wasn’t smiling very much during those times. So much was missing and I felt like I was faking my way through life. Pretending everything was OK. Pretending I was happy. Pretending I could make do. I guess I was so used to persevering through intense two hour trainings and holding a 5:45 mile pace for 26.2 miles that I MUST be able to persevere through a relationship and get to the end. But the end of what. This was my life, not a race. So at that point I learned to separate Milena the woman and her needs from Milena the athlete and those needs. That is when I started to explore parts of my self that had been badly neglected. That is when I learned who I really was. That is when I learned what happiness is.

    Running has never been better. In fact, life has never been better. My running is truly an extension of my inner state of balance or imbalance. This inner state functions much better when I speak my truth and value myself not just as the athlete, but as the incredible woman I am. I am embracing this part of my life with passionate enthusiasm and I feel like I have been introduced to a new person. Someone I like a lot. Someone that deserves the best. Someone who is happy. It’s funny how it often takes a difficult circumstance to reveal the best in us. I guess that’s why we have triathlons, marathons and the Three Day Walk. I will let my perseverance rule supreme in those events, but when it comes to my next relationship, I am going to let love, respect and happiness be the center of attention but for now I will continue “Dancing With Myself” in the living room.

  • What I'm Thankful For

    As I’m standing in front of the mirror brushing my hair in “my bathroom” at my mom’s house, I’m having flashbacks to my middle school days of the late 80’s when I was sporting the permed long curls that I took the liberty of highlighting myself with a couple of bottles of Sun-In, and long summer days spent running carefree at the beaches in Carlsbad.

    In “those days” the drive from Fallbrook to the stairs at Tamarack Beach seemed like an eternity.  The twenty mile one-way trip was always filled with anticipation and excitement as I couldn’t wait to grab my boogie board out of my parent’s Ford Bronco and dive into the waves.  My sister was the surfer and would go out and shred with the boys but she was too cool to drive with us.  She would pull up in her red Pontiac Fiero with her board strapped to the top, secured with Thule racks.  She sported the Uggs back then too just like today on Thanksgiving.  She’s always been cool like that.  As I comb through my long blond hair, not much has changed over the last nineteen years, but things have definitely evolved-for the better.  I am the one that surfs now and my sister has temporarily put the waves on hold while she is caring for her two month old little boy.  I still have long blond hair but thank God it no longer has any trace of the chemically induced curls, and the color, well I have upgraded from the bleach in a bottle to the perfect highlights Lisa at Model Call Salon in La Jolla gives my hair.  Yep, she grew up in Fallbrook too and we have a ton of fun chatting and laughing about the days at Bonsall Elementary, the underground newspaper her brother started and oh my gosh did you here that Dominick’s Deli opened up a second location in town.  You know, all the vital details.

    I still run but now instead of running into the waves with my boogie board, I run marathons.  Boston Marathon, New York Marathon...I’ve run them both.  Placed eighth and ninth respectively.  Not bad for a girl who got her start in a small town.  But you know I wouldn’t have had my childhood be any other way.  When I come back to Fallbrook for the holiday so many good experiences come back to life.  I run up Mission Road from my mom’s house and turn onto Stagecoach Road and run right past the high school where I spent four very focused years.  In those four years I won twelve San Diego CIF section titles and five California State titles.  I have an easy time retracing my steps on the high school track as I recall the 10x400 meter repeats Coach Hauck would have us do every year on the first day of track practice.  Our track isn’t dirt anymore.  Nope, it’s been replaced with a state-of-the-art all-weather red eight lane track.  Mr.  Hauck would’ve been proud.  He passed-on a few years ago. Collapsed right at the track he had devoted so much time to.  I run up Stagecoach to Ranchwood Lane.  A quiet, anonymous street with a handmade wooden sign stating its name.  I make a right turn and immediately remember all the runs with the “boys.” Donny and Ian Forsyth, Tim Heck, Brian Purcell.  Mr. Hauck knew I was too fast to run with the girls and that the boys didn’t dare allow themselves to be beaten by a 4’11” 75 pound girl, so I ran many runs on Ranchwood Lane listening to boys be boys while I hurried to keep pace. Now instead I’m listening to a mix of Bon Jovi, Alicia Keys, Usher and Kings of Leon on my iPhone 4S.  I’m laughing to myself because the only cell phones back in 1991 looked like a big grey brick and weighed about the same.  Now I have one strapped to my arm and I can order a pizza with my Urbanspoon app or check my account balance with my Bank of America app.  Like I said not much has changed, but a lot has evolved.

    As I make the turn off Reche Road and head south on Stagecoach Lane to retrace my steps, the smell of sagebrush mixed with a late fall crisp, but warm morning totally awakens my senses and I remember the trips we would take in my dad’s red 1991 Jeep Wrangler up to Fresno, CA each year for the California High School Cross-Country State Meet.  It has always been held the weekend of Thanksgiving.  Yep we would pile in the Jeep, turkey-cranberry sandwiches tucked away in the back and I would play my Gameboy and listen to Oingo Boingo on my Sony Personal CD player during the five hour trip north.  My mom has the 1991 Red Jeep Wrangler now.  It’s had a few rebuilt engines put in it by Eric at Peter’s Automotive, but it still runs great and everyone in town still knows my mom by her car.  In fact, I saw Mr. Hutcherson at the gym in town this week and he asked how the car was running.  He sold my parents the Jeep back in 1991.  As I make the turn off Mission Road up towards my mom’s house I remember the thousands of times I have made this turn before.  Sometimes exhausted after a two hour training run, sometimes soaking wet after being relentlessly pelted with rain during an early spring run, sometimes numb after trying to process the change in my life that I didn’t like, but this time secure, content and happy.  You see, I am not just the girl that runs really fast and can beat the boys anymore.  I am a woman who has a career, is fit, intelligent and back doing exactly what she loves to carefree.  Not a lot has changed, but a lot has evolved.  And for that, I am very thankful.

    Follow Milena on as she blogs about sports nutrition, healthy sports drinks, being a woman and a modern athlete, as well as her personal life.

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