Month: October 2014

Emotional Halloween

When I was a kid, Halloween was my favorite holiday. As I grew only and went to college, I still loved it, because my friends and I threw amazing parties; they were the best around and were talked about throughout the year.

Year later, though, Halloween doesn’t hold the same appeal as it used to. I do love the ancient Celtic idea of Samhain though. They believed that this night marked the New Year, and that the veil between the living and dead was the thinnest. They communicated with passed away loved ones and blessed the just harvested crops to hope they lasted through the long winter. This more serious idea of October 31st means more to me than drunken debauchery, considering I don’t drink and don’t like to be around crowds that do. I miss the Halloweens I used to enjoy, but I don’t miss the drinking or the hangovers…

Speaking of drinking and celebrating….the San Francisco Giants won the World Series this week. And what a series it was! I couldn’t have asked for a better set of games had I planned it myself. Talk about Torture!!! Somehow, they pulled through victoriously and today was the parade. So, I split my time at our work Halloween costume party (I was Ozzy Osbourne) and going to see part of the parade. I got to see Hunter Pence, Gregor Blanco, Joe Panik, and Jeremy Affeldt. It was fun. It was also raining, but that didn’t damper the spirits of the few million who came out to watch their heroes.

Last night I went out for a great 2.5 mile run. I really enjoyed it and everything felt great. But during the night, the IT Band of my right leg started feeling tight, and this morning it was a little painful. During the day, it downright hurt and was sometimes hard to walk. It was a little upsetting. I really don’t want another thing holding my running back, especially since I’ve been working so hard to do things right.

Since I’ve been home from work I’ve been rolling and stretching it. It does feel better. I won’t run tomorrow….I’ll roll it, stretch it and see how it feels. I’ll try an easy run Sunday and see how it goes. I can only do so much, the rest I’ll leave up to God….

Sunday Mornings Are the BEST!

My life these days is fairly predictable. Whether it’s during the week or the weekend, things don’t change that much in my routine outside of work. I’m focused on running and training and healthy eating and all around healthy living and combined with saving money (or trying to) for my new York vacation next year, I don’t have enough funds to go out and do lots of extra things on the weekends anyway.

This morning the alarm went off at 6am. I had a 5-miler and I charted out a course through Golden Gate Park. Today was the very first morning of the season when it felt “chilly”. At 56 degrees, I know it’s not cold to many folks around the country, but for us in the Bay Area at this time of year, it’s cooler than we’re used to. From now until through February, the weather will get colder, reaching the coldest in December.

An Unkindness of Ravens

An Unkindness of Ravens

It was lovely running weather. The skies, even at the park, were a pure blue and at 9am, there were lots of runners, cyclists and others out enjoying the morning. My run felt really good. I started at the Panhandle and went up JFK Drive to Transverse, then cut through to Middle Dr and took a few dirt paths to MLK Dr out to Ocean Beach.

The wind ripped past me at the ocean’s edge. No surfers out today and very few people near the water. It was just too windy to enjoy.

I finished off my run with a blueberry bagel from Safeway and waited for the MUNI bus home.

Cheers!

Cold morning at the beach!

Cold morning at the beach!

Pay No Attention to the Shouting Runner….

I love sports and to be more precinct, I love hockey. I’m a big New York Rangers fan. Since we don’t have an NHL team here in San Francisco, I started following the Rangers years ago. I tried to follow the San Jose Sharks, but I never took to them. San Jose is worlds away; might as well be Los Angeles to me. So, the Rangers grew to be my team. The nearly won everything last year, and I’m excited to see what they can do this season.

Even more exciting, I’m traveling to New York this upcoming February, so I’m saving up my dollars to go. I already have my airline tickets, game tickets and hotel reservations. Stoked!

Tonight the Rangers played one of their dreaded rivals the Long Island Islanders, otherwise known as the Fish Sticks, which refers back to the stupid logo the team used to have that looked like the Gorton’s fisherman. I went out for my run after work when the Second Intermission started.

Tonight was the first visible night of Fall. The wind was blowing stronger than ever before and the air had a welcomed chill, especially after the heat of this past weekend. It felt good to run. My body felt good and even though I was doing a demanding hill run, it was a great run.

The Rangers were doing good. The score was tied, but the team was on top of things. And then…..one of the rookies blew it and then it all went to hell. The Rangers lost to Long Island 6-3. I was shouting at this certain player during the last half mile of my run louder than I had meant to. Fortunately, few people pay attention to anyone shouting in San Francisco. That alone says a lot about what type of city we have. We have enough crazy homeless people everywhere that someone shouting doesn’t cause anyone to even look up.

The last few blocks were all downhill and I was traveling faster than I had ever realized. It it felt so good! My legs were light and strong, I was bounding down the steep sidewalk like nothing could stop me. Even though the game went into the garbage, my run was pretty awesome. So, I guess taking my frustration out on the pavement in an excellent run is much better than throwing my TV out the window. Wouldn’t you say?

Cheers!

MEET MY BEST FRIEND

I read voraciously. I read books, magazines, online articles; anything I can get my brain upon about running, health, fitness, cooking, and the like. I love it all so much that I feel like an anteater sucking up all the little bits of data I can.

One of the items I read a bit ago said to use a foam roller before and after each run or workout. I have a roller and I already use it after my longer and harder runs, but I never thought of using it beforehand, nor did I think of it before or after my strength training sessions.

My foam roller

My foam roller

I can tell you that it’s made a HUGE difference in my workouts and runs. I roll my top thigh area, my IT bands, my bottom thigh area and my calves about 20 times before each run or workout and then the same after. If my back is sore, I will roll that as well, but that’s not as mandatory for my runs as my legs.

And if it has been an extremely difficult or longer run, I’ll roll a second time afterwards and then once more in the morning.

So, I have a special relationship with my roller. It’s helped a lot to get me back into running shape. I know longer feel knee pain at all, so I must be doing something right. And my IT band muscles are hardly ever tight now.

Everything is a continuing work in progress. I don’t think I’ll ever learn it all, but I’ll certainly trying!

Cheers!

REST DAYS

So many times I hear my running friends say how much they don’t look forward to rest days. While there are a few disadvantages to them; one of them is cutting back on caloric intake, another is not being able to run.

But there are so many advantages to having a rest day, like getting the laundry done. And seeing one’s friends. And going shopping, and just relaxing. And hey, how about catching up on all those shows you’ve been missing all those nights you spent running and working out?

And besides all the obvious household needs, your body has necessary needs like muscle repair that will not get done if you don’t take one rest day a week. It needs downtime to get well. Then you take the risk of injury. Some people can run every day, but not as many as popular opinion wants to believe. I shy away from folks who cheer others on to “just go run” rather than say to “run smart” instead. Being a smart runner sometimes means running less, but staying injury-free. And, on top of that, muscle growth doesn’t happen unless rest time is taken. You think you get those great abs, thighs or biceps on the days you work them? Nope. You get them on the days you don’t.

What I’m saying may be obvious, but it does bear repeating. I think the problem arises when runners may see rest days as some sort of punishment. It isn’t. Think of it as a reward. Doing laundry isn’t a reward, of course, but your clothes smell awesome when they’re clean and your friends and that cute girl on the bus won’t mind sitting next to you. Trust me on this.

Cheers!

HOT WEATHER IS HERE!

Aquatic Park

Aquatic Park

Most years, we in San Francisco don’t get warm weather until late August. The thermostat swells until mid-October when the rains start and then it won’t get warm again until spring. I love this time of year. Last season, it didn’t warm up at all, so I felt cheated out of our warm weather.

This time around, I’m taking full advantage of the sun’s rays. The last couple of weekends I’ve taken time out in Saturday afternoons to relax in the sun, on a nice grassy hill overlooking the Bay. It’s beautiful there and surprisingly uncrowded. Yes, I do wear sunblock and a cap, but I do also tan nicely. After a tough morning workout, it feels great to lay, sleepily in the sun, basking in what will be gone in a month’s time.

Running in the heat, though, does present some problems, and not being used to it doesn’t help. I went for a 4 miler Sunday morning. I tried to get out early, around 8:30 in the morning and took it slow. It was already warming up. Fortunately it was a little cooler than it had been the day earlier. The run went well. I was so happy to go an extra mile.

I remember going 3 miles out about two months previously when I felt that excruciating knee pain. On this run, there was none. It was a delightful run. I did walk a few times and sipped some water along the way.

I treated myself to a protein smoothie and Blue Bottle coffee from The Plant afterwards.

One thing that really helps me are my strength training sessions at the YMCA and rolling before and after every run. I am also careful about doing warm ups and cool downs with my runs. Mindfulness is mine.

Since I got back into running, I’ve lost 7 pounds and lost 2.5 inches in total. I have a ways to go yet, but it’s a start!

Cheers!

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SF Bay Bridge