Happy Hours and Wedding Bliss: 5 Things I am Loving this Summer

summer beach fun

It’s hottttt in here!!   I find myself saying that quite a lot these days.  I make the statement not as a complaint but more as an observation.  Summer 2013 in the Bay Area is truly a gorgeous time of the year.  It’s no wonder summer has come to be my favorite season.  With the hotter months means lesser clothes, longer days, BBQs & picnics, as well as festivals, fairs, concerts and other outdoor activities.  I love it, I love it, I love it.  “What exactly are you loving?” you may wonder.  A lot of things,  to say the least.  Below are my absolute favorite 5 things I am loving this summer (in no particular order).

1. Happy Hours

Happy hours are grand for getting a group of people together over drinks, food, and shenanigans all for a happy affordable price.  There is never a dull moment at HHs since drinking has a magical way of opening up the shyest of souls.

My drink(s) of choice are red wine (cabernet or merlot) or low sugar cocktails such as vodka tonic or gin & tonic with a splash of lime.  Pair it with charcuterie and artisan cheeses to complete the spirit-filled evening.  This Summer, I plan to partake in many HH gatherings to hang with old friends and meet new ones.  Invitations are welcomed!

Yum, Cabernet is my favorite

Yum, Cabernet is my favorite

2.  Hiking Trails

Now I wouldn’t be bold enough to label myself as a back-pack wearing, tent-carrying, map-hoarding, hiking expert.  In fact I’m far from it.  I usually leave that role up to the people who I go hiking with just out of precaution (somebody has to do it).  Nevertheless I enjoy viewing amazing scenery from high up in the mountains.  The Bay Area is wonderful for that, offering hundreds of trails within less than a 40 miles radius from my front door.  Most trails, I can drive to in just 10 minutes or less.  I’m thankful to live in such an environment.

This summer I intend to really get my feet dirty in the trails with friends.  And if no one wants to come with me, I’ll just utilize MeetUp to find people in my area with a love for hiking trails.

View from Castle Rock Hike in the Santa Cruz Mountains

View from Castle Rock Hike in the Santa Cruz Mountains

Love this mysterious eery tree pathway - Castle Rock Trail in Santa Cruz Mountains

Love this mysterious eerie tree pathway – Castle Rock Trail in Santa Cruz Mountains

3. Coffee Shops

Coffee Shops are great for when I don’t really want to do serious work but need to get away from home to change up the scene.  They can get a bit loud depending on which shops you visit but I go for the entertainment.  It’s my chance to people watch and laugh under my breath at some of the outrageous-ness and cuteness that I witness.  It is guaranteed that a conversation will be ignited whether or not I initiate it myself.  For some odd reason, people are super friendly at coffee shops.  Hmmm, could it be the coffee?

4. Outdoor Running

Giving up my gym membership back in February of this year is probably one of the best things I have done for myself.  And I’m not just talking financial reasons either.  You see, with my gym membership, I was hooked on hitting the gym 4-6 times a week to get on a machine by myself with my headphones on looking at myself in the mirror for 30-60 minutes.  It made me anti-social and full of myself at the same time!

Being active is as important to me as breathing.  I NEED it in my life.  So I knew that giving up the gym would force me to get creative in how I stayed active.  Without the gym I have gotten into running and bikram yoga and I LOVE both.  My body proportions and overall figure have changed in such an amazing way – something that weight lifting and cardio machines alone could not achieve for me.  Not only that, but running outdoors and yoga are powerful mental (and physical) strengtheners.

From the beginning to end, you are engaged with your inner thoughts;  you become the center of focus.  I’ve had too many “aha” moments to count…it’s been a blessing.  Check out my recap of my See Jane Run Half Marathon Experience here. 

2013 SJR race medal

2013 SJR race medal

 5. Weddings

A guy’s biggest fear is a single woman who is obsessed with weddings. Lol it’s understood.  But weddings are on my top 5 not (only) because it is the perfect atmosphere to find my future love, but also because everyone is so joyous, people are beautifully dressed, music is on and popping, food is bomb.com, drinks are flowing, and it is ALWAYS a good time…for me.

I just visited LA for a friend’s wedding and all of the above was in full effect.  It was full of smiles, groovy dancing and hip-shaking Nigerian music.

As far as I know, that is the only wedding on my summer list but boy I wish I were wrong about that.

Check me out at my friend’s Nigerian wedding below.  I am wearing the proper attire for the bride’s asoebi – “friends wearing attire made from the same fabric and gather together to celebrate the bride”.

Igbo Nigerian Wedding: me and my handsome brother

Igbo Nigerian Wedding: me and my handsome brother

What are some of your favorite things this summer?  Share in the comments.

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Click here to get juicy food and life notes straight from Chika to your inbox!

Chika Obih is a certified holistic nutrition consultant; blogger; and founder of Soul-Wholesome Nutrition based in Oakland, CA and also offers services virtually for those who are not local.  Chika is passionate about empowering people to take charge of their own health utilizing the power of wholesome, clean foods and holistic lifestyle solutions.  Contact Chika today to set up a free consultation.

Follow Chika on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

My 13.1 Mile Running Experience at the See Jane Run Half Marathon

A motivating 13.1 with See Jane Run

Making the commitment to run 13.1 miles may be seen as an act of torture by some.  But for me, it was a fun challenge that I wanted to add to my book of achievements.  In fact, back in December of last year I made it one of my 2013 goals to run a half marathon.  And on June 8, 2013 I did just that at the See Jane Run Half Marathon in Alameda, CA.  How did it go?  Keep reading for the race recap…

All smiles before the run

All smiles before the run

My alarm went off at 4:50am early Saturday morning.  I woke up with excitement ready to set a new personal record.  You see, the SJR Half was actually my second half marathon completed.  I ran my first half in San Francisco back in Spring 2011, over two years ago.  Back then I had just quit my corporate job and was inspired to train for the half since I had more time on my hands.  I finished that race in a remarkable 2 hours 15 minutes averaging a 10:13 minute mile.  I religiously stuck to my training schedule back in 2011 and the results showed.   With that experience under my belt, I expected to beat my  2011 race time easily – with half the training.  If only things always went according to expectations.

2013 See Jane Run Race Recap

I couldn’t have asked for better race weather conditions:  the sun was out yet there was a slight breeze in the air not too intense to be a nuisance, but a perfect balance to offset the heat.  Everyone was adorned with bright clothing – lots of reds, neons, oranges, and pinks animating the scene.  The SJR race is open to both genders but because See Jane Run is a women-specific atlethic wear retail business, I estimate over 95% of the 5,500 participants were women.  #girlpower

The half was set to begin at 8:00am.  With my fuel belt filled with my homemade electrolyte concoction, endurance gel, lip balm, and a fully charged ipod, I was ready to go.  The gun went off promptly and the race began.

In the first three miles, it is crucial to set the correct pace so as to not burn out too early which is guaranteed to cause extreme fatigue during the latter part of the race.  I averaged about 9:58 minute mile during the first 2-3 miles – I was on a roll.  Around the 3 mile marker is where the first water station appeared.  This is also where I must have lost my mind.  You see, the purpose of me wearing a fuel belt was so that I would not have to stop at any of the water stations.  All my necessary fuel was literally attached around my waist ready for me to grab whenever needed.  But I wasn’t thinking clearly when I saw the “energy drink” sign next to the water stop.  The words “energy” compelled me to run towards the water stop station where I mindlessly proceeded to down a cup of Gatorade.  I soon learned why people say “DO NOT drink, eat, or add anything new that you did not use in your regular training routine” – you never know how your body can react to new things.  Lo and behold, within 30 seconds of gulping down the enticing energy drink I felt an excruciating cramping sensation underneath my right side rib cage.  Ugh it hurt so badly, I began walking immediately. For about 5 minutes.  Super slowly. I lost so much time. Ugh.

When your legs get tired, run with your heart.

A kind woman saw me holding my right abdomen area and asked if I was okay.  She knew what I was going through and simply said “don’t give up” before trotting along.  Those words were all the inspiration I needed.  I quickly snapped out of my sad state and mustered up a slow jog. The cramping pain lingered for about 15 minutes total.  Soon after the cramping passed, I looked down at my right foot wondering why it felt like I was running barefooted on hot rocky concrete.  Turns out my cotton socks were the source of the chafing — a painful skin irritation sensation caused by friction.  Each step I took I wanted to scream “ow, Ow, ouch!”.  But I had this quiet resolve to finish strong.  Through it all, my race pace slowed to about an 11:26 minute mile average.  I finished the race in 2 hours and 29 minutes overall.  It felt so good to run with all my heart crossing that finish line as fast as my feet would allow.  Feelings of pain and joy intertwined my whole body.

At See Jane Run Expo day before the half

At See Jane Run Expo day before the half

What did I learn?

First of all, anyone running a 13.1 race should be commended for such an accomplishment regardless of time finished.  It takes continuous commitment, resolve and determination to train 3 months out and then run under race conditions with thousands of other people.  When it is all said and done, there is this awesome feeling that since you ran 13.1 miles, you can succeed at anything life throws your way.  It definitely made me feel like superwoman (who just got the worst beat down of her life).

I also learned that prior race experience from 2+ years ago should not dictate my current race training schedule.  For SJR, I committed to running my long runs each weekend – or every two weeks due to traveling.  But I did not run much during the weekdays towards the last 6 weeks of my training schedule.  I figured if I could run 2 hours straight, that was enough.  But the woorah and excitement of the race environment made me feel unsure of myself which is most likely the reason I went for that “energy drink” in the first place.  Had I fully committed to my training schedule I would have relied on the tactics I used going in and not let outside triggers affect me.

I learned to wear socks built for long distance running!!!  I shake my head in disbelief as I think about this elementary mistake.  Crazy that I’ve worn cotton socks throughout my training without any issues; the chaffing decided to make its wonderful appearance on actual race day.  Just my luck.

It wasn't the minimalist thin-sole running shoes but the thick cotton socks that made my feet hurt.  How ironic!

It wasn’t the minimalist thin-sole running shoes (which I love) but the thick cotton socks that caused the pain and discomfort. How ironic!

Most importantly, I learned that I can accomplish anything I set my mind.  Mind over matter indeed.  Although the throbbing chafing pain and cramping never brought along thoughts of quitting the race, I did contemplate walking the rest of the way.  But instead, I relied on a jog pace in which I could either slow down or speed up depending on how my energy was and how much pain I was willing to tolerate. In life, there are so many unexpected events and negative words that can easily stop us dead in our tracks and make us give up on our desires and goals.  But by changing your mindset and resolving to continue pushing on, it is possible to overcome challenges to achieve goals.

Race completed, smiling in the champagne line ready to fill my glass. Cheers!

Race completed, smiling in the champagne line ready to fill my glass. Cheers!

What’s next for Chika?

I accomplished my 2013 goal to run the See Jane Run Half Marathon and concurrently was inspired to run another one – with a goal of beating my SJR race time. By following my training schedule and wearing the proper socks, it’s a goal that I can surely accomplish.

Cheers to running, setting goals, and learning new things along the way!

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Click here to get juicy food and life notes straight from Chika to your inbox!

Chika Obih is a certified holistic nutrition consultant; blogger; and owner of Soul-Wholesome Nutrition based in Oakland, CA and also offers services virtually for those who are not local.  Chika is passionate about empowering people to take charge of their own health utilizing the power of wholesome, clean foods and holistic lifestyle solutions.  Contact Chika today to set up a free consultation.

Follow Chika on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram