Health and wellness go hand-in-hand with living a zero waste lifestyle. Live simply, yet fully. 

I was not even half way into my second half marathon in as many weeks and the discomfort in my right iliotibial band (IT band for short) had quickly escalated from noticeable to downright painful. As I attempted to adjust my gait, a sharp pain shot through the entire outside of my right leg, from knee to hip. It hurt so bad I came to a dead stop. “Can I finish this race?” I asked myself. It was that bad. One of the functions of the IT band is to provide support for the knee. It is common to develop IT Band Syndrome from continual downhill. Unfortunately for me, this course had a total elevation loss of 1400 feet (933 net elevation loss), so there was plenty of downhill remaining.

Magical string? 
I stopped, stooped over with my hands on my knees, and noticed a thin, synthetic cord about a foot long, directly in front of me.
Without thinking I picked it up and tied it around my leg right at the source of the pain, just below my knee. A symbolic solution, at best, I told my mind that unlike last time, I was physically in great shape, making great time, and I was going to do everything in my power to minimize injury to enable a solid finish.  

It is not clear to me how I managed to finish this race. The pain was so bad I almost cried. I almost stopped. I wanted to quit. It must have been a combination of adrenaline, the support of random strangers cheering me on and complete, absolute focus. Somehow, when it was all said and done, I finished 114th overall out of 1324 racers with a solid time of 1:42, which means I ran 13.1 seven minute and fifty-two second miles in a row. Even at that most painful point of the race I still managed to run an 8:46!
Hundreds of running wrapped in balloons
blankets (sorry it’s blurry!)
I have a love/hate relationship with races, but have completed four this year (40k relay, 10k, 20k, 20k). From a zero waste standpoint, races are incredibly wasteful. From water bottles to Gu packets, everything is disposable. Even the water stations were stocked with Sparketts bottled water (owned by Nestle). Over this past year I have grown accustomed to politely declining metals, snacks, t-shirts, promos and other swag, but was pretty disappointed with one giveaway in particular: emergency blankets. Every runner was encouraged to take a single use, Mylar emergency blanket because not only would it be 40 degrees Fahrenheit at the start line, but given the setup of the course, we were bused and dropped off over an hour in advance. I actually spent way more time that anyone should in a port-o-potty because it was way warmer inside that thing that out! It was quite spectacular (in a bad way) to watch 1300 half marathon racers shed their balloon blankets at the start of the race. Without realizing it, racers accepted an hour’s worth of comfort at the expense of a material that will be in a landfill for hundreds and hundreds of years to come.
In spite of all the waste, I am come to appreciate so many positive upsides to participating in formal races. Most of the running I do is in my neighborhood, placing me in a constant battle with traffic signals and cars. Stop-and-go sucks in a car. It is even worse while running. I have come to appreciate formal races because they are on closed courses. There is definitely something fun and satisfying about running up Figueroa in downtown Los Angeles or down Azusa Canyon without the normal stress and worry that come with sharing the road with cars. Even cyclists were made to wait for police escorts on Saturday. 
Another solid benefit is the support I received from random strangers. There was even a cop who cheered me on near the end! Likewise, there is nothing more gratifying than cheering on a runner who looks like she is about to pass out, causing her to immediately smile, perk up, and continue on with a new found sense of purpose.
I totally passed that guy for a solid finish!

I took up running about two years ago because I was tired of letting myself down professionally. I used to tell myself over and over again that I could only accomplish great things in groups, but not alone. I allowed that irrational concept to dictate my level of success (or lack thereof). During any given run there is always a point where, for one reason or another, I want to give up. In fact, I would argue that if you don’t want to quit at some point, it is probably because you weren’t pushing yourself hard enough.
Running is a metaphor for life. Set a goal (complete the LA Marathon in February 2016), develop a plan (workout routine) and execute on the plan. Don’t stop. Don’t be discouraged and most importantly, don’t give up.

V is for Veggie-powered

There is that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing: there is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches.