goals

FOOD!

Food is not your mother, your father, your friend, your enemy, your wife, your husband. Food is not your dream date, but it can be your date from hell. Food is not your lover but it can break your heart. It can promise to love you and then leave you heartbroken and lonely the next morning.

Our lives are weaved around eating and what we eat. Like bees hard at work creating a hive, we create our world of FOOD, thinking about what we’re going to eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner. Where are we going to eat? What are we going to buy? How are we going to cook the food we buy? It becomes obsessive to some of us. And that obsession replaces feelings, friends, and sometimes, life’s big moments.

Food is not a panacea, it is sustenance. Food is fuel for our bodies. We are living creatures and constantly moving, going. To do this, we need to eat to keep the engines firing.

When homo sapiens first evolved, we were hunters/gatherers. We ate what we could. But, as time went along, we learned that cooked meat tasted better and seasoned cooked meat tasted even better.

Like alcohol, drugs and other substances, food can be used to dull the senses. It’s probably misused in this manner more than anything else. To eat until one cannot move is to overeat. Food comas are not a very healthy thing to do, yet we still do it.

I’ve been developing and refocusing my view of food. We can change the way we see things. It’s never easy. I’ve stumbled and fallen, but I get back up and continue moving forward.

Food is wonderful, it tastes great. But it shouldn’t take the place of real relationships and well, LIFE. In my fifties, I desire more than ever to be as healthy as I possibly can. This means that I have to make choices, many of which involve food. I am not willing to sacrifice my dream so I can have another piece of cake.

To be the best runner I can be and one day, an independent professional trainer, I must use strength and determination to see the horizon ahead.

So, focus on your goals and forgo those trivial cravings and desires you have, because in the end, most of the time they aren’t worth losing sight of what is truly important.

Keep Moving!!!

HERE & NOW

Buffy

A great tragedy struck recently. Netflix didn’t get a new contract with Fox entertainment so they are cancelling Fox shows effective April 1st. This includes my favorite television show of all time, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. No shows has been able to show the angst, pains and loves of growing up quite as well as Buffy. Combining searing drama with humor and a little horror, plus even a musical episode, Buffy has been my favorite since its inception.

And now it’s going away…..

Because of its impending disappearance, I’ve been watching as many of the 7 seasons as I can. One reason why I loved this show so much is that it took time to bring out life’s problems and dealt with them in a very well-written, entertaining way, sometimes with vampires, other times with the Apocalypse or even worse. Yes, worse!

So, there was one episode I watched last night, “Normal Again” in Season 6, that really hit home. It was one where the evil trio of the time, Warren, Andrew and Jonathan created a demon who stung Buffy and made her think that her whole life was just her imagination and that she was really confined in a mental hospital. The demon made her think that everything that was real was false and that she should stay in the created world because the false one (the one with her friends in Sunnydale) was part of her sickness.

It would have been easy for Buffy to stay in the safe place, in her imagination. To stay with her mother and father (who in her imagination had not divorced but were happy together). It would have been simple to live in a comatose state, her brain thinking that the pretend world was real.

But she couldn’t. She had an evil to fight and had to find a way to reality.

We also have to fight our way to reality. It’s very easy to dream of what our lives might be like. I find myself doing this a lot, especially when things aren’t going so well, like now. I think of what my life would be like living in an area where I could hear birds singing from my apartment, or hey, having green grass to walk on, instead of hopping over dog poop. I dream of having enough money to pay my bills rather than choose between paying a bill and buying fresh produce. It is a challenge.

But the more we daydream and pull ourselves away from what we need to do, what we MUST do, the more we pull ourselves away from the Here & Now.

We must focus on what is to be done, today, right now, this very moment. If we can complete today’s tasks, then our tomorrow will be brighter. This is a fact!

Keep Moving Forward!

BACK AT IT!!!

If you’ve ever been sidelined from running and watched other runners gleefully breezing past you, then you know the helpless feeling of being sidelined due to injury. It’s discouraging and unpleasant. It’s what I’ve been going through the last few weeks as I wait for my right quad muscle to feel better.

It finally was this past week, so I got my now-heavier Self back to the gym. I gain weight like a rocket. If I go three or four weeks without working out, I can easily put on five to 10 pounds. Losing them isn’t quite so easy, so I have a long climb ahead of me.

During this forced time off, I had to determine what was wrong with my right leg. I now believe it is because of my right side’s inflexibility more than anything else. But not being able to run and having pain even walking gave me time to think. The quad muscle was never painful to the touch, instead it felt like a muscle does the day after a hard workout with that pain never going away and only exacerbating during my runs. So, a couple days before my first run back, I stretched and rolled and then stretched and rolled some more. I also worked on strength training and will continue to do more. I had gotten lazy about this over Christmas and know it only added to my muscle’s pain.

I took my first run since the Chinese New Year 5K yesterday. It was a short 2.5 miler, but I so looked forward to it. For the most part, my quads felt good. There was still a little stiffness and soreness during the run, but nothing like I had in early February.

So, this morning, I stretched and rolled as well. I even brought a hand roller to roll my quads out every hour. If this is what it will take for me to continue running, so be it. I’ve learned that for me, my training must shift, to evolve with my age. I can still do the workouts I want, but I need to prepare for them a lot more diligently. If it takes more time, it is definitely worth it.

Tonight, I’m at the gym again. Yes, I love my workout routine, I’ve missed it so.

Keep Moving Forward!

PONDERINGS IN A CONGESTED FOG….

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So, I’ve had a cold for a few days. I don’t feel too bad any longer. I did make it to work today. It felt great to leave the house and be in contact with other people. I contemplated going for a run tonight, but decided against it, figuring I will go out tomorrow night instead. I’ll rest one more evening and be more than ready for an easy run Thursday night.

During my down time, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking (and eating unfortunately). I thought about starting another website to promote health and fitness for folks 50 and over, but then I reminded myself that even though that sounded like a great idea, one is enough for me and I can combine whatever I want to do within here.

Eventually, I will add more to this site. There will be more in 2017. I will add more recipes, more health info and a lot more content, especially for those of us who are no longer on the shy side of 40. I will be adding interviews with inspirational and professional people I think readers will enjoy. I’m excited about the improvements and additions I’ll be including and I really can’t wait for 2016 to end. I will write more about how the year was for me, but it’s not making an easy ending for me, I’ll say for now.

Until my Holiday post, I hope you don’t drink too much egg nog (there’s like a thousand calories in that stuff), keep working out, be kind to those around you, (we’re all stressed out) and take a little time out to appreciate what’s really important ( the material things aren’t it).

Cheers!

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View from the top of Kearny Steps

SETTING GOALS

Inspiration and drive are sometimes in short supply. After this year’s San Francisco Marathon, I didn’t have much of either. It was much, much more difficult than I ever thought it would be; the training for it alone gave me burnout and took all the fun out of running.

So, as I was running last night in preparation for the Giants Race half Marathon race this Sunday, I had to think of ways to get the excitement back into running. After this race, I’m not signed up for anything. It’s not because I don’t want to race, it’s really lack of funds. I need to buy new running shoes this month, so spending more money on an upcoming race won’t happen for at least another paycheck or two.

During the last few weeks of marathon training, I realized that for the first time in a very long while, I had very little motivation. I still ran, but I barely stuck to my way of eating, which resulted in weight gain. I had promised myself that I was going to lose weight this year and here I was, not accomplishing what I wanted. In 2015, I had set out a goal to run 3 marathons this year and that seemed like a galaxy away. Obviously, that was asking too much of myself. But I also started wondering if marathons were for me at all….

I can’t accept that.

So, I took a few days off of thinking about my future in running and just lived my life. I admit that I didn’t workout as much as I should have, I didn’t go to the gym as regularly for a week, but it was the space I needed for a new perspective.

And it was during my run yesterday when I started thinking about my last marathon. I don’t want that memory to be my only memory of this race. I want to create better memories. There’s only one way to do that, to run it again next year, but this time, plan better, do better.

I have a full year it’s time to think about how I’ll do it. The California International Marathon, even though the same distance was nowhere near as difficult or taxing on me. It could be that my IT bands weren’t stressed out as much at the time of my race or maybe I was more prepared, or maybe this race is just harder on them because of those blasted hills. But none of that matters. What matters is if I am serious about doing it a second time, I need to make this time count!

So, I will keep you informed about my ongoing training. Up until next July, there are some shorter races I plan to do, including my half this Sunday. I’m looking forward to it, no stress at all.

Cheers!

Running Just for Fun

When I was training for my marathon, the stress of trying to get in my long runs and scheduled weekly running miles took their toll.

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Seen on my run: A wedding party frisbee game 

I took an entire week off running to help my IT band feel better. Because of it, I was forced to re-focus, reset my running brain and attitude towards running.

Knowing that the marathon was done and I do not have another planned, at least for the few months ahead, was a relief.

I do have a race, the Giants Step Half Marathon in September, but there’s no stress, it’s a fairly flat out and back and halfs are a pretty comfortable distance for me. I would like to PR this time around, but more on that in a later post.

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Lots of wild life in SF

The result of no stress and relatively shorter runs? Enjoyment, better times and greater satisfaction. This morning’s long run, a 6-miler is the perfect example. I’m gradually increasing my distance for my half. Today’s run was smooth, painfree and I spent a lot of it with a grin. I have rarely done that in the last months.

My suggestion is if you feel the strain and stress of running marathons, you don’t always have to sign up for them. Take a few months off and run halfs, 10ks, 5ks or even don’t race at all. I will continue to do races, but with costs going up and up, I’ll be extra picky about which ones. And that’s perfectly fine. Remember, no stress.

Cheers!

 

 

Fake It Until You Make It

One of the most popular sayings I remember from AA was “fake it until you make it.” Like most everything in AA when I was a noob, I was pretty cynical about this. In fact, it really bothered me. Why would I fake anything? But over time, as I learned more about AA, about sobriety and about myself, I learned what a powerful statement it is.

AA is very fond of short, witty sayings. They’re easy to remember and can come in handy. But I found many of them didn’t ring true for me, or didn’t relate to me. Much like going through the motions of a weekly AA meeting, if there is no feeling in them, a witty saying doesn’t have any value. This was one of the reasons I stopped going to meetings, but that is an entirely different story….

When I first became sober, I was pretty angry, disgusted, and didn’t like the direction my life had taken. I was just another angry drunk, looking for a better way. Some of the folks I admired would quote The Big Book or repeats well-known sayings instead of using their own words. I found this a bit strange. However, as I worked the 12 steps, they became a very important part of my life (still are). I understood more how a small, inconsequential saying may be more powerful than we could ever imagine.

Life doesn’t always go the way we plan it. OK, it RARELY goes the way we plan it. This year has hardly gone at all the way I charted it out in January.

I’m very happy I finished the SF Marathon, but I wanted to do so much better than I did. And I never thought I wouldn’t have a job in fitness yet. But, sometimes things take longer than we wish them to take, sometimes things are more difficult, more painful and take more energy than we are ever willing to admit.

So, we can either whine and cry about how things suck, or we can face our adversities with a brave face and go forth into the dark of night. There WILL be morning. Even if we don’t feel like being brave, being happy or being in the moment, we really need to be, because if we choose to feel sorry for ourselves for too long, or stay angry or be resentful, we could fall back into those feelings and emotions that caused us to drink before.

And who knows, maybe one day, after you’ve held a brave face and smiled when you didn’t feel like smiling, you’ll actually really feel like smiling and the sun will rise once more, just like it always does.

Cheers!

 

2016 San Francisco Marathon

Yesterday, I finished the 2016 San Francisco Marathon. This was the first time I completed the entire course and it was the most difficult race I’ve ever run. All week, I was stressed out over my IT band. Would it bother me? Would it keep me from finishing?

SF Marathon

Pre-race

Let me start from the beginning….the race start time was 5:30am, but because I’m a slow runner, my corral start time was 6:22am. I woke up at 2:45am, groggy, blurry-eyed; it took me a while to have my sense about me. I’m really glad I woke early though. I had gone to bed at nine Saturday night, so I got plenty of rest. I had everything ready to go, but of course, I had to check everything two and three times, to make sure I didn’t forget anything.

I’ve never understood those non-elite runners who don’t carry anything with them when they run. I have to take so many things with me that I at least have to take a running belt with me.

After waiting and waiting for the MUNI Bus #38 that never showed up when it was supposed to, I walked to the starting line. It’s only about a mile and a half away, so it was actually a nice warm up and probably helped get me ready.

There weren’t enough porto-bathrooms, so I spent a long time waiting for one.

Marathon stop

Water stop at Chrissy Field

As I started running, I felt good. In fact, the whole first half went very well. I would have done great if I had just signed up for a half. It was after 15 miles when my right IT band and hamstring started giving me problems. I had to stop and walk a few times. I was very happy I brought my hand roller and used that a couple times. I also made two visits to Medical tables and iced the area. That helped a lot!

But as I got nearer to the end of the race, I wound up walking for about two miles. I couldn’t help it. The pain on my side was bad and there was NO WAY I was going to stop, but I just couldn’t run the entire way to the finish.

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Packed race on the Golden Gate Bridge

I managed to push myself to run the last half mile and I was even smiling finishing. My time was awful, but I don’t care. I finished and that’s good enough for me.

There were others who finished after me, but not many. By the time I ended the race, most of the cool goodies were gone and the sponsors were folding up their tables. I treated myself to a scoop of Nutella-Banana ice cream from Shoot the Moon in Embarcardero Center. It was delicious!

Since I’m not doing full marathons for a while, I probably won’t do this full course again, at least not for another year anyway. I may do the second half again, but I really don’t want to run on the Golden Gate Bridge anymore. Listen to me: RUNNING ON THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE IS OVERRATED. I hear people have this on their bucket list all the time. There are far, far better places to run than that bridge around here, trust me.

First, if the weather was like it was yesterday, it’s freezing, windy, wet and VERY cold. Second, there are metal grates in the street to keep the cars slowed down but are hellish for runners. It’s very easy to slip, trip or fall. I saw it happen. It wasn’t pretty. Third and worst of all, there were two lanes, the right going north and the left coming back south. Since I was towards the back of the pack, there were more runners in the South lane and they kept jumping into our lane to get ahead of the runners in their own lane. Because I had to deal with walkers and run/walkers, I tried to stay to the left of them, those lane hoppers were nearly running into me. It was like a video game! It was making me a little cranky. I was very happy to be off the bridge.

I do have a question for race directors. Why are aid/water/food stations always set up at the bottom of hills? The last place I want to take in nourishment is before I tackle a tough hill. I have never understood this. Since I wear a hydration vest I was able to pass up most of these until towards the end, when, unfortunately, many of these were folding up, just my luck.

I do want to give a big THANK YOU to the volunteers and workers. All the station workers, the police officers and the bikers who helped out with traffic and just making us runners smile, even when it hurt to smile. I love all of you!

The Expo the day before was nice. I was able to meet Lupe from one of the Facebook running groups I belong to and my friend Steve, so that was cool.

And, even though it was so difficult to finish, I DID finish. I made it and got my medal. I also had time to think about my future training goals and I will let you know once I get these more cemented.

Cheers!

Medal

My medal with Buster, my running mascot

This Is It!

Sunday is my next race – the San Francisco Marathon. I dare say it’s been really difficult getting there, perhaps even more difficult than the California International Marathon last December. My right IT band has been troubling me and lingering doubts over whether I could even finish have plagued me.

This past week I’ve been taking it easy. I’ve gotten a couple small runs in with lots of stretching and rolling. My leg has felt good and I am mentally in a good place going into race weekend.

The military have a saying “Embrace the suck.” So I’ll be doing that if it gets real bad Sunday, for I do NOT plan on giving up…I WILL finish this race.

But my goals have changed, for the next year anyway. I no longer think I should try to keep going longer. I think after Sunday, I’ll stick to half marathons and shorter and lose about 15-20 pounds, to be in prime shape. I want to run faster before I go farther. If I can kick this IT band thing, then I can run marathons much more efficiently and relatively pain free. RELATIVELY.

So, I’ve been quiet in here, at times frustrated, and trying to stay positive, which isn’t always easy. But it is always necessary. I will write all about my race with lots of pictures after it happens!

Cheers!

FIXED ON GOALS

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The Presidio

Ever since I’ve gotten older, I realize I have the attention span about the same length of the life of a sand flea. I get bored easily. Oh Shiny! I can be drawn to fun, new things without much effort.

But I’ve composed a short list of goals I would like to…I WILL accomplish in the next three to five years, so my focus must be on them.

So, when a great sale on running clothes comes up, or I see something extra delicious at Trader Joe’s, with extra calories to match, the temptation is so great to give in. This gets worse if I’ve had a bad day at work, or if I’m feeling especially venerable. I decided if I have a catchphrase to remind myself, or to smack myself, maybe it will make it less likely to spend or eat too much. Or miss the gym, or be mean, or…

Sometimes the pressure is so great that’s when I’m at my weakest point. And it is then that I really MUST have the strength to ask: How is this helping me? How is reacting emotionally going to help me reach my goal?

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View from Inspiration Point, the Presidio

I had a weak moment earlier this week. It’s a lot harder for me in my fifties to bounce back from eating badly or missing a workout. Unlike just ten years ago, the weight gained doesn’t just fall away. It takes twice as long. But bounce back I did, with two great runs and I’m off to the gym early today, the Saturday of Memorial Weekend.

This isn’t to say that there are no fun things worthwhile spending money on. Last weekend I went to two concerts and saw some great live music. I don’t regret it at all and I know there will be more. Once in a while, I’ll feel like going out to eat, or buying a new outfit as well. But these things can be worked into my budget, not done at the risk of losing sight of my dreams.

Going off my way of eating or budget isn’t the end of the world, but it is a detour and could cause a delay in getting to where I truly want to go. I have to decide if it’s really something worthwhile, which some things are, or if it’s just an emotional trigger. It never hurts to ask myself this before making a choice.

I finished the week with a great 4-mile trail run through the Presidio last night after work. There are so many trails through this corner of San Francisco I love not even knowing where I’ll go and just letting it happen. The weather was perfect and it was an excellent way to start celebrating the long weekend.

Cheers!

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The Spire, the Presidio