Pura Vida in Costa Rica

I recently returned from one of my favorite places in all the world. The morning of January 2nd, 2015 was a last minute, spontaneous whirlwind moment of buying tickets and packing my backpack all in effort to visit a place in the land of “Pura Vida”, where I left a piece of my heart 3 years ago. Nosara, is a serene, unspoiled corner of Costa Rica, where you’ll find monkeys hanging in the trees, and sea turtles on the sea shore. Famous for its surf and yoga, the atmosphere of Nosara makes it easy to leave your worries behind you. Soon you find yourself completely submerged in the present moment, which manifests a deep and wonderful feeling of happiness and pure contentment, of “Pura Vida”.

Part of what makes this little tropical surf heaven so lovely is the lack of industrialism and it’s dedication to preserving the natural environment. There are no lights, and no building within 200 meters of the beach. This is to preserve and protect the ritual of the sea turtles migration and nesting. It was to my surprise on a pre-surf beach run one morning, that I stumbled upon about 40 baby sea turtles making their way to the ocean. They were the most incredibly cute little creatures I have ever seen! Witnessing their vulnerability and observing their struggle first hand definitely reignited my passion for protecting our oceans and all the beautiful creatures that call it home.  

The main beach in Nosara, is called Playa Guiones, and it’s endless, expansive shores and consistent beach break is where I spent the majority of my time. I’d typically start my day with either an early morning surf, run, or hike. The beach is so large that I could run for 30min without seeing another person. The lineup was rarely crowded, and the surf consistent. Not to mention the water is a comfortable 83 degrees, reassuring your mind and body you could surf all day if you wanted to. Aside from the surf, my favorite thing about Play Guiones is its hypnotic sunsets. At the end of every day, locals and visitors alike migrate to the beach to watch the breath taking sinking of the sun, into the endless horizon. It’s a beautiful thing as the shops close their doors, people stop what they are doing, and they simply come to sit on the shore and watch the sun go down. There is an overall feeling of peace and gratitude for the gift of another day, the gift of good surf, and the gift of being alive to experience all of the world’s beauty. 

It’s not just the land and the ocean that create a relaxing and simplistic atmosphere in Costa Rica. It is also the beautiful people who originate from this 3rd world country, the Ticos, and their “pura vida” lifestyle. “Pura vida” translates to “pure life”, and it is the law of the land in Costa Rica. The expression is used in many forms, from a greeting, to a synonym for “excellent”. Similar to “hakuna matata,” it’s a worry free philosophy which basically means, life is wonderful, enjoy it; Go slow, savor, and be present in every minute. Ticos follow this lifestyle and are some of the happiest, longest living people on earth. They are wealthy when it comes to love for life, family, and nature. Though when it comes to possessions and dollars, they may not have much. That’s the beauty of it. I am a firm believer in what’s simple is true, and that the greatest things in life, money can’t buy. Ticos live large on very little. Take a trip to Costa Rica and you will be reminded of the line that separates the difference between wants and needs. You need very few material things to thrive, and what you find in nature and in the goodwill of good people is much more satiating. Costa Rica is plentiful of those two things, good people and nature’s bounty. “Pura vida” is very similar to the life perspective I’ve been able to develop growing up on my island home. For that reason, Nosara, like Catalina, holds a piece of my heart always.

I am thankful for the opportunity to visit such a sacred, beautiful place. For those of you yet to experience it, please go if you get the chance. And for those of you who have been, I am sure you can agree with all that I have said. Whether you want to simply surf, need to do some soul searching, or want to give back by volunteering with the Costa Rican wildlife, a trip to Nosara may be just what you’ve been looking for.

Pura Vida. 

 

Thinking Outside "The Box"

I am an island girl. While I am just 22 miles across the sea from the hustle and bustle of L.A, life on the island is like taking a step back in time to a simpler way of life. Two Harbors, the town that I call home, is technically a village consisting of about 100 residents, 1 restaurant, 1 small store, and a handful of buffalo. There is no gym. Believe it or not, I have never actually been into a real, modern day gym. I ran on a treadmill once while visiting the mainland, it was torture! 

As an athlete, one of the most common questions I am asked is how I train to preform like I do, without the use of a gym, machines, and a coach. I usually answer by pointing to the hills. This island, and the ocean that surrounds it, is my gym. My backyard consists of endless empty trails, dirt roads, mountains, beaches, and the open ocean. Every day, and every workout is an adventure.

Here are 3 of my go to island style workouts. I know not everyone lives on an island, but if you can get outside, get creative, and use your imagination, you’ll be surprised at what you too, can do in nature’s gym!

TRX Trek

TRX suspension trainers are a great, convenient, and versatile tool to have where ever you go, especially if you go outside. When I am looking to combine strength and endurance, I load up my pack with the TRX, a 15lb plate for good measure, and then I head for the hills. I hike about 4 steep miles to the top my favorite ridge line, where there is a shade structure that is the perfect anchor for the TRX. The view from up there is rewarding all in itself, so I stay awhile and complete a full body circuit before packing up and hiking back.

Adventure Tri

Swim, bike, run. One of my favorite things to do on warm summer days! However, not always in that particular order, and sometimes I paddle instead of swim. I usually start on my bike and cruise down the coast about 5 miles to a point that looks out over the ocean. I stash my bike in the bushes and grab a pair of swim goggles that I’ll hold onto as I start to run or hike the ridge line a few more miles down the coast till I’m at one of the most beautiful beaches on the island, Emerald Bay. There, I jump into crystal clear water and swim in the direction I came from until I end up back at my bikes location. I am often accompanied by schools of fish, curious sea lions, and if I’m lucky Ill spot an abalone shell for my collection. Ocean swimming is incredibly invigorating, leaving me with ample energy to hop back on my bike, ride to retrieve my shoes that I left at the beach, then turn around and bike all the way home with the biggest smile on my face.

Lifting Heavy Things

Rocks, beached logs, tree limbs, tires, and ropes are all essentials in my outdoor gym. You can use them to squat, flip, deadlift, carry, climb, jump on, hang from, and do pull ups. The possibilities are endless. Currently my most valuable pieces are an 80lb wood block that I found on the beach, and a simple rock that’s shape fits my grip perfectly. I squat down and flip the wood block across the field in front of my house when I’m doing a strength training circuit. I use the rock for underwater rock running, which is just what it sounds like, using a heavy rock to submerge yourself underwater and seeing how far you can run with it before you run out of breath! It’s mentally and physically challenging, but improves several areas of fitness. 

Life on the island, immersed in some of the best nature has to offer, is what sparked, lit, and continues to fuel my success as an adventure athlete. From paddling 22 miles across the open ocean, to biking half way across the island to simply check the surf, before running back for boards, the island has a way of keeping me outdoors and active every day. It’s not so much a means of exercise or training as it is a lifestyle.

I believe everyone can benefit from going off the beaten path, thinking outside “the box”, getting out of the gym, and into The Great Outdoors. Our surrounding environment is constantly changing and ever evolving, causing you to benefit from consistently having to challenge yourself in order to adapt and overcome nature’s obstacles. The seasons change, as does the weather, therefore, so do the workouts. In this way, nature keeps me balanced and never bored. Nature will keep you humble. Nature will challenge you and shape you into a better athlete, so get outside, climb mountains, dive for dreams, and make nature your gym.