Chasing your best self with Dorothy Beal

Why me? WHY NOT ME?

In 2003 I ran my first marathon at the urging of a family member who suggested that training for and running a marathon had the potential to change my life. I wasn’t sure how running that far could do anything to improve my life, but I had nothing to lose and everything to gain, so I hit register and signed up for my first marathon! What I didn’t know at that moment was: that one decision would ultimately alter my life course so much so that I now look at my life in two distinct sections – life before I became a marathoner and life after.

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When I crossed the finish line of that first marathon I changed from a girl who doubted herself at every turn to a woman who knew that she could do anything she set her mind to. I left that race not only a marathoner, but as someone who believed that self-limiting thoughts were what was likely holding me back from achieving what I wanted in life. If I could learn to flip thoughts such as why me? to why not me? I could transform my mind. If I could control more of what was going on in my head then I could learn to run my body and my life the way I wanted. 

It’s been almost 16 years since that first marathon and my love of the 26.2 mile distance has held steadfast. While that first 26.2 mile adventure was hard, it wasn’t impossible like I had previously thought. If I could run a marathon, what else could I do that I thought I wasn’t capable of? 

Before the soreness had even left my legs I found myself online, searching for other upcoming marathons. Less than a month after my first marathon I ran my second marathon, besting my time from the first marathon by over 6 minutes. While some would argue that you can’t get the best out of yourself in the marathon distance when you run more than one in a training cycle, I would disagree. There is not a universal definition of what it means to get the best out of yourself. It took me years and many miles to realize that, while some can find their best selves in the pursuit of a time on the clock, I am not my best self when I have a singular goal that is focused on a finish time. Does that mean I don’t love pushing myself and chasing numbers? No. It just means that in my life, the numbers on the clock aren’t the end-all be-all. Like an onion, my goals have layers.

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Running more than one marathon each training cycle is part of what I enjoy most when it comes to marathons! Marathons are parties to me, cooler than the ones I didn’t get invited to in high school, and more fun than the ones I probably shouldn’t have gone to as many in college. They are the best of what I love about the running community, squeezed into one day. Forty one of the best days of my life started or ended by running 26.2 miles. 

This fall I plan to run three marathons! Marathon #42, Berlin Marathon, is where I will earn my 5th star on my quest for the Abbott World Marathon Majors 6 Star Medal. Four weeks later Marathon #43 will be Marine Corps Marathon, the race that changed my life back in 2003. It will be my 11th time running Marine Corps Marathon and I will be running in honor of my grandfather, a Marine Corps Veteran. A week after that Marathon #44 will be an extra-special one, as l will be running to raise funds for an amazing charity that helps change the lives of children by building their confidence, increasing their motivation and giving them tools to help them be active for the rest of their lives. Three separate races, each a goal in and of itself, each also a part of a larger goal of successfully finishing three marathons in one training cycle, happy, healthy and injury free. 

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It might not make sense to some, to run multiple marathons that close together, but it makes perfect sense to me! Running has taught me that it’s okay to be who I am, to do what makes me happy and to not worry about what others think in the process. I love that quote “what someone else thinks of you is none of your business.” When I free myself from worrying about the judgement of others, I am fully able to be who I am meant to be.

Marathoning wasn’t something I ever thought I’d fall in love with. Yet here I am, almost two decades after watching my first marathon and declaring that I would never run one, chasing my amazing by running running multiple marathons a year. The feeling I get when I cross the finish line is what keeps me motivated to get after it year after year!

Shop the all new HOKA Rincon here and follow Dorothy’s running journey here.

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Evelynn Escobar-Thomas Chisels Away at the Perception of What a Hiker Looks Like

Four years ago I went on my first national park road trip with my husband and it changed my life. Now fast forward to the present. We ventured out on an amplified version of that trip. This time with my mom, a nature newbie, in tow. 

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Being based in Southern California (most specifically, LA) has its perks. We spent three days in three states. Equipped with the HOKA Kaha and Toa, we got a chance to spend time at these national and state parks along the way: Valley of Fire, Zion National Park, Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Monument Valley. 

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Although this wasn’t our first rodeo, we are by no means professionals. Experienced at best. This road trip and the hikes we did can be accomplished by people of all skill levels: from someone like my mom, whose trip was filled with firsts, to someone like me, who has learned and grown in these vast beautiful spaces over the past few years. They’re for people of all genders, people of all backgrounds. They’re for anyone with an adventurous spirit and an affinity for the outdoors. 

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Bringing my mom on this road trip with us was special. Before this, the only other National Park she had ever visited was the Grand Canyon. In one short weekend, I was able to witness how this outdoor experience changed her outlook on what it means to really getaway.

Being out there and present in itself is so empowering. To be able to chisel away at the perception of what a hiker at these parks looks like from one generation to the next is incredibly moving. To be a representative of my community and ultimately an ambassador of this experience and these spaces is something I don’t take for granted. And to be an agent of change or to at least plant the seed in those who would’ve never given these types of activities a thought – whether it’s because of a lack of accessibility or exposure culturally etc – is rewarding. If you have a car and can cover lodging and gas (it’s even more affordable if you have a tent and stay at campgrounds), you too can do this!

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Our itinerary for day one included Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada and Zion National Park in Utah. Since the Valley of Fire was just a stop on our way to Zion we only had time for two small hikes— the Fire Wave, a 1.5-mile trail, and White Dome, a 1.25-mile loop. While there were signs recommending we stay off the trails because of the heat, we ventured out and enjoyed the trails anyways. If you do head to this park in the summer, make sure to bring a ton of water or it can definitely get unsafe pretty quickly. It was about 90 degrees while we were out there. They don’t call it the Valley of Fire for nothing. Thankfully we were well equipped to stay safe and hydrated during our visit.

If you only have time for one hike at the park I highly recommend doing the Fire Wave. It leads to a smooth basin covered in beautiful streaks of multi-colored red rock. Although the Valley of Fire is technically only a Nevada State Park (fun fact: it’s actually their first state park!) it packs a big punch. It’s definitely worth the stop along the way. 

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Last but not least, we ended our day with a 1-mile hike taking in the views of our final destination, Zion National Park. The Canyon Overlook trail is an awe-inspiring must-do for anyone’s first visit to Zion. It’s not strenuous at all, but it does lead to a grand view of the western part of the park. We ended our night at a hotel right outside the park in Springdale and rested up for Saturday’s big Arizona adventure.

Next up was an early morning hour-and-a-half mini road trip to Page, Arizona, where Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon awaited. These stops aren’t the most strenuous, but the sights are amazing. If you haven’t been to Horseshoe Bend recently they now have an official entrance gate, parking lot and walkways – all things that did not exist during my first trip to Page. Since Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon are about 15 minutes away from each other, you can knock these out relatively quickly. After Horseshoe Bend, we went on a guided tour of Lower Antelope Canyon. Home of Microsoft wallpapers, popular Instagram photos and more, this well sought-after slot canyon mystified us just as much as the first time we experienced it. The smooth red canyon walls and formations in the rocks leave you awestruck. One of the highlights this go-around was the dino footprint our tour guide pointed out to us right outside the canyon. The Southwest can sometimes feel almost mythical. After our tour, we headed out another mini road trip a bit deeper in Arizona to Monument Valley, a new destination for us all.

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During our first variation of this road trip, we opted for the Grand Canyon post-Antelope Canyon. The Grand Canyon and Monument Valley actually have the same drive time from Page. If you haven’t seen the Grand Canyon I highly recommend going there first on your variation of this trip, but if you have, then Monument Valley is the way to go. The drive over was amazing. The variations in rock formations and colors made for a beautiful ride. Once we got there, we headed out on a tour of Monument Valley’s restricted lands. For those of you who don’t know, Monument Valley is on Navajo Land. Anyone can drive the scenic route, but to go deeper you have to be accompanied by a Navajo guide. Exploring the restricted lands was one of the most memorable moments of the trip. Getting to hear Navajo folklore and the history of the land from our guide, Vern, was magical. The energy and sights in Monument Valley truly leave you feeling enriched and energized. After a full day of sightseeing, we headed back to Zion (an almost 4-hour drive). This part was a bit rough but the day we experienced made it so worth it.

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After spending so much time out of Zion we dedicated the final day to face the one and only Angel’s landing, inside the park. For my mom, it was her first major hike so this was a pretty big deal. Anyone who knows Angel’s Landing knows it’s no easy feat. It felt as if the culmination of everything we experienced over the weekend came to a head at this final test, if you will. We strapped on our Kahas and Toas, and we made our way up the 2.5-mile trail. Although the trail is short, it is considered to be one of the park’s most strenuous hikes. It can get pretty narrow, has tons of drop-offs, all the while being over 1400+ ft. up. Not to be discouraged though, we saw people of all ages and levels heading up the trail. Things really started heating up once we hit the chain rails. If I had a dollar for every time my mom thanked HOKA for the traction up the narrow pathways I’d be rich! It’s true though. Not only did the Kaha and Toa do their job, but they kept us comfortable every step of the way. Whether it was in the lowest of the Antelope Valleys or the peak of Angel’s Landing, we were covered. After some grit and determination (also known as tight clenching grips and muscles), we ended up almost 1500 ft. up at the tippy top of Angel’s Landing.

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There couldn’t have been a better end to our grand adventure. The hike for sure pushed my mom to her limits. After all she experienced over the weekend, she literally came out on top and accomplished a trail she never would’ve imagined herself doing. I, on the other hand, was happy to finally get Angel’s Landing under my belt. My husband and I never got to complete the trail during our first visit because of time. Completing it during this second trip felt so vindicating. One thing to note though, there were a ton of people enjoying picnics at the crest. Had we known that was the thing to do, we definitely would’ve come prepared with something to eat. On the way back down we basked in our accomplishment and inevitably had to begin the trip back home. But first, we caught an impromptu helicopter ride to get a closer look at Zion! After taking in views from an even higher elevation we finally hit the road and made it back in the wee hours of the morning. 

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If you’re up for the challenge I highly recommend this thrilling road trip itinerary to anyone and everyone. It will be one of the most grounding weekends you’ll ever have! Get out with your friends and family, explore and push yourself and your HOKA shoes to the limits. You’ll be glad you did.

Shop the HOKA Toa here.

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Shop the HOKA Kaha here.

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Time to slow down with Koya Webb: 3 yoga poses for runners

HOKA fan Koya Webb says that both yoga and running have greatly impacted her life. Running serves as her stress relief, while yoga keeps her flexible and strong for runs.  Koya originally discovered her love of  yoga when she was injured as a Division I track athlete. “Yoga was a gift that healed my body, mind and spirit,” she says. Now, she practices yoga every day and integrates simple poses before and after her runs.

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Here are three of Koya’s go-to yoga poses that help improve strength and flexibility in runners and yogis of all abilities.

  1. Forward fold

This stretch will help target your hamstrings after a hard run. Focus on melting your heart toward your thighs. To build in a hip stretch, try bending one knee and really lean into the movement, then switch.

2. Wide leg forward fold

You may already be doing this yoga pose as a part of your cool-down, but you can mix it up by pointing your toes slightly inward to get more out of this stretch. Walk your hands to each side and hold to give your tired legs some individualized love and attention.

3. Triangle Pose

Start with both feet facing one direction. Shift your weight to your back leg and lean sideways as you motion your arms perpendicular to the ground. If you’re feeling unstable, try a wider stance to keep yourself grounded.

If you need more guidance, check out the video below for Koya’s demonstrations.

Shop the Hupana Flow here— the shoe that can take you through all day, any day.

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Chasing a sub-four mile with Brock Moreaux

HOKA fan Brock Moreaux came close to achieving his ultimate goal as a college athlete: a sub-four minute mile. However, he didn’t let the end of his college career stop him. Now a track and cross country coach at the University of New Orleans, Brock continues to train for a sub-four minute mile. He has found new determination in being a role model for his team.

We sat down with Brock to learn more about how being a coach inspires him to chase his amazing.

HOKA: Why do you run?

Moreaux: This is the million dollar question for a lot of runners, especially post collegiate, and I don’t think that I can directly relate it to one specific reason. I do it for the health, community, friendships, opportunities, satisfaction and motivation. This sport has been a big part of my life for almost ten years now and it has provided me with endless amounts of opportunities and memories. Some of the best times of my life were spent training with my teammates at McNeese State, traveling the country for races and trekking through single track trails in the middle of nowhere. It provides me with a certain happiness that I have not been able to mimic with any other activity.

HOKA: When did you realize running a sub-four minute mile was an attainable goal for you?

Moreaux: To me, the sub-four minute mile is the Holy Grail of distance runner achievements. Some scientists actually thought that it was impossible. It is the perfect example of why you should not put limits on yourself. The moment that I realized I wanted to pursue this goal was after watching my good friend and college roommate, Jarrett LeBlanc, achieve it in 2015. I was fresh out of college, and I was actually in that race (about 15 seconds behind though). It was such an electrifying moment for him and all of his supporters. It was ten years in the making and so exciting to see someone who worked so hard accomplish it.

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HOKA: What goes through your mind while attempting a sub-four minute mile?

Moreaux: It is as much a mental barrier as it is a physical barrier. I am sure that it will feel like the longest four minutes of my life. There was a point when I was extremely proud of running under two minutes for 800m, so to do that back-to-back is big! For me, the mental barrier will be the biggest challenge. Trying to get myself to relax as much as possible, yet run really fast— to push even harder every lap, even though the last lap was already hard. It is the Holy Grail of distance running for a reason! It won’t be easy.

HOKA: As a coach for University of New Orleans, what do you hope your team can learn from you?

Moreaux: I hope that my team can learn the value of commitment and hard work in all aspects of life. I was not special at all coming out of high – only running 4:51 for 1600m and 10:58 for 3200m. I was extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to walk-on to a Division I program (thank you, Coach Gilroy). However, my commitment and work ethic was unmatched. I did everything in my power to work up the roster and earn my spot. I try to bring that same work ethic and level of commitment to work with me every every day to drive these athletes to be the best they can be.

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HOKA: How has being a coach impacted your running?

Moreaux: My team constantly reminds me why I love this sport. Running can sometimes become very monotonous whenever putting in high mileage or training for distance races. You can sometimes fall into a phase where you are just going through the motions: wake up, run, repeat. They unknowingly remind me of the real reason that I am out there and that I should be grateful to put some miles in. They also remind me of how far I have actually come. Training is not always linear, there will be several times when you have to take a step back in order to move forward. It helps to have that reminder.

HOKA: So, how do you think it will feel when you finally run a sub-four minute mile?

Moreaux: I have no doubt it will be a very proud and satisfying moment. Many years of hard work, and many years of dedication from me and all my supporters. I am very pleased with my running career thus far, but I think this would be the perfect way to thank everyone who has supported me throughout the year. This goal is about much more than just myself.

Shop the all-new HOKA Rincon here.

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