happiness

Bay to Breakers 2018

It’s been a long time since I ran those 12 kilometers across San Francisco. Since the 1990s, although I can’t give you the exact year. It’s all a bit blurry. Back then, I ran it every year. It was A LOT smaller then. In the 80s when I started running, there were about 20,000 runners, most did run, there were few walkers, and we ran to Ocean Beach and partied our butts off at the Polo Fields. The beer trucks offered unlimited free beer for all, as well as food samples. We’d be passed out by noon. It was quite the party!

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Waiting for the beginning

Then it got too big. I remember the last time doing it, over 80,000 participated. That was when the walkers and non-runners started joining in. There were too many problems with drunks and the race had to change.

So, the race directors put a stop to a few things. There used to be floats, those were banned. The floats at the end of the race were gone (which were really fun and a huge part of the festivities), and they did their best to get rid of all visible alcohol, or as much as possible. The also cut the race back to 40,000 participants, most of whom are still walkers, or so it seemed today.

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Hayes St Hill (stock photo)

I have no problem with walkers, although today I really wished they had been honest about their pace and started in the Walkers Corral, but I got over it after running around a few thousand of them. At the beginning of the race, the walkers were blocking every area. They were all walking six, seven in a row on the left and right, everywhere. It was insane. But I realized that if I didn’t change my grumpiness about it, it would spoil the day for me, so I just took it in stride and kept running.

I decided to run it for nostalgia’s sake. I’m NOT a nostalgic person usually. I rarely look backwards as I’m too busy looking foward. I’m not the type of person who sighs, wistfully looking at how life used to be. That’s how you get old. And I refuse to get old. Nope, you stay young by constantly moving forwards, working towards a future, attainable, albeit challenging goal.

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This is what I ran for today! 

I had a good race today. For the first time, they offered an additional 3k along with a cool second medal, so I went for it. And it was my favorite part of the race, as most people doing this section were runners. I took everything in stride, laughed at the great costumes, ran away from the naked people (there were a few), and met some really nice people.

Even with one pit stop, my time was good. It was a productive day and I’m happy I did it. I won’t be doing it again, as it’s really a part of my past, but it holds a special place in my heart. San Francisco wouldn’t be right without the Bay to Breakers. It’s an amazing moving block party that can also be called a race. You should try it just once, but do it with an open mind and a great sense of humor. Costumes are optional but never a bad idea!

Keep Moving Forward!

 

 

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Life’s Hurdles

One of the very worst nightmares a renter in San Francisco has is of losing their apartment. Even with rent control, we still fear for our lives that someday, we won’t have our coveted living space. San Francisco is a tiny area, surrounded on three sides by water. I won’t get into the politics or history, except to say that because things are what they are, apartment prices are some of the highest in the US, studios renting for around $2500 to $3,000 a month.

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View of SF from the Coastal Trail

There are so many new people moving into the city from all across the globe every year, most being employed in the tech industry, that anyone who isn’t making tons of money, is soon priced out of the housing market.

It hit close to me a couple weeks ago when I found out my landlord is selling the building. My stomach sunk an I felt like getting sick. It was very stressful for a while there, but things have gotten better. I have since learned that being old, I not only have rent control, but I also have protected status, which will help immensely. And I do not think that the new landlord, if he does indeed buy the building, will be able to tear down the building or get rid of us without paying us A LOT first.

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One of my favorite trails, 2 miles of blissful downhill!

OK, so that’s the stress I’ve been dealing with these days. Thank goodness I have running. It doesn’t make everything wonderful, but it gives me a respite for a little while and takes the edge off, and it’s a lot healthier than shots of whiskey.

I have a few races coming up later this month and June, so it’s important to keep up with my training and I have my first 50k in October, so increasing my mileage is vital. I haven’t been very good about my eating, so I’ve gained a few pounds. Losing those will be added, as I get more focused on training.

My runs have been pretty good. I Yesterday, I went for a nice trail run in the Marin Headlands. Even after taking a wrong trail and having to climb up a very steep hillside, past thick groves of poison oak, I enjoyed myself. Few things feel as good as pushing myself as hard as I can on the trails. I came home, tired and hungry, but satisfied.

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Wildflowers

I choose to not allow worry and stress dominate my life. Bad things happen, as do the positive. It is all part of a balanced existence. But it will not affect my health. If I fall, I get back up, again and again and again.

Keep Moving Forward!

ALL TRAIL WEEKEND

This past weekend, I spent part of each day on trails and it was magnificent.

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Part of my favorite trail in GGP

Right after work Friday, I zipped home, changed and headed out to Golden Gate Park.  The weather was great, sunny, but a bit breezy, so perfect for a trail run. I only get to run the trails in Golden Gate Park half the year. When it’s too dark after work, the park isn’t safe, so I run elsewhere, but when the sun is out, it’s near magical. I dashed through 3.5 miles worth along the north side of the park, from Stanyan Street to Ocean Beach. Afterwards, I watched the wind surfers having fun in those cold waves before heading home.

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Ocean Beach is always active!

Saturday night, I volunteered at a Pacific Coast Trail Runs Night Sweats, featuring a marathon, 15k and an 8k. All distances started and ended at night, meaning the runners had to navigate through steep inclines, declines and single tracks in darkness. It’s a challenging and fun course. My friend Michael and I manned an aide station at a turnaround point near the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge.

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Before the Night Sweats races

It was really chilly out when the sun set below the hills, so we huddled in Michael’s SUV watching the prepped tables, waiting for the runners. There were only a few marathoners, so they showed up one by one, with 5 to 10 minutes between each other.

The wait wasn’t boring, though, because the area hosts a number of different wild animals. At first, a racoon came to see what kind of food we had. I chased it away. Then a half-dozen foxes scampered though the area.  You have to figure there’s plenty of rodents to keep them healthy with all the goodies the tourists leave behind in the disposal bins. Then an hour or so after the foxes, the coyotes prowled around, curious over us. There were two of these. One was pretty big and he walked onto the parking lot as if he owned it.

Little flashes of headlights alerted us to upcoming runners on the trail above. They had to run down to us, where they’d get the nutrition they needed and head back up. Ours was the last aide station and then the runners had 6 more miles of trail left to the finish. It’s not an easy course in the day, let alone at night and several runners had fallen, but all seemed to be ok.

We stayed at the station until the sweepers came through, at about 1:30am and then headed back to San Francisco. I got to sleep around 3:00am.

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There are hundreds of trails in the Headlands

Waking up at 10:00am Sunday, I felt rested and ready for the day. It was going to be nice too. I waffled between just getting a run in the city or going back to the Headlands like I had planned. After all, it was late and I wasn’t sure if I could get ready in time to catch the bus. I went for it and got breakfast, coffee and changed, all in time to catch the special weekend MUNI bus that goes into the Headlands.

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View of Rodeo Beach from above

I ran a little over 6 miles and loved it all. It was a spectacular day in an enjoyable weekend. It is times like this that make me love running even more, if that’s possible. There’s no downside to running, at least none that I can think of at the moment.

Keep Moving Forward!

STOP BEING WEAK

There are a couple things in running that irritate me. One is walk/run types who stop ahead of me without notice and the other is irrational, hysterical fear of running outside (normally from females) by oneself.

It used to be in history that women never did anything by themselves. We were considered The Weaker Sex. We were good for staying home, taking care of the children, and cleaning the house. When women gained independence and free choice, it didn’t come without costs, of course in many areas. But I’m just talking about running here.

Crime in the United States is decreasing. We are safer than ever as a country. More women are running and more and more are running by themselves. This would have been unheard of in the 1960s even. But there are still many women who live in fear of being by themselves because they are glued to the nonstop storyline of how horrible it is for women.

I blame the media partially for this. They show the rare kipnapping, the attacks and recent violent crimes nightly on repeat. They do not tell you that crime numbers are declining. And even worse, are the dozens of dramatic television shows focusing on the violent abuse against women. Shows like Criminal Minds only help to magnify the myth of strangers out to prey on females. Viewers who still take their nightly news as truth believe everything fed to them. Their world looks like a monstrous, scary place. Stop watching this stuff if necessary, especially before bed. Watch some lightheated comedy instead.

Sometimes, it is the woman’s partner that exacerbates the situation. A husband tells his wife he doesn’t think it’s safe where she wants to run and unhappily, she doesn’t go running. There’s a lot at work here and definitely something that has to be talked out within the couple. All I’m going to say here is I’m very happy I’m single.

Running is about happiness to me and being fearful is the opposite. Running is also about confronting our fears and sometimes, we have to stare our fears in the face and tell them to Go The Fuck Away.

Now, I’m not saying to go run and not think. Bad things do happen, but if you run smart, you can run alone and enjoy it! Just be a smart solo runner. Here are some tips:

  • Know your surroundings. If possible walk or drive around the area you wish to run if you’ve never visited it before.
  • Wear visible clothing. Black may be cool, but bright colors are better.
  • Turn your music down so you can hear everything around you. But it’s good to have your phone with you
  • Don’t stop to give directions or chat with strangers. Pretend you didn’t hear them and keep running. As a city girl, this is something I do daily, but I don’t think country folk understand; it’s OK not to talk to everyone.
  • Run in the street if it’s quiet and unnerving
  • If it’s dark, always, always wear a headlamp, or some sort of light to see your way and that allows others to see you
  • Run opposite of traffic
  • If someone starts to bother you, scream obscenities at them, as loud as you can, attract attention
  • Bring a loud whistle
  • If you insist on carrying pepper spray, mace, etc, learn how to use it prior to need. Just having it won’t help if you do not have the instincts to use it in the seconds necessary.

We are Runners, not delicate flowers. Stop fearing the world. Be strong. Be fierce. And have fun.

Keep Moving Forward!

59 and On….

I’m sitting here, watching a food show on Netflix, thinking about running. I’m sore from my upper body workout at the Y yesterday, as well as my trail run Friday on my 59th birthday. Today’s run is going to be a short one, my trail run was long and tough, but I still don’t want to go. And I just ate, so I have to wait a couple hours more.

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My view of SF from the Headlands

Of course, I could have gone when I first got up, but I was super sore. I really gave it to those dumbbells. It was a great workout. I can start to see the results in my shoulders and arms. Instead, I had coffee, chilled and waited and waited and ate.

And like that, I almost talked myself into not going out at all.

I will go run. Or not.

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Looking across at the road and trail ahead 

Friday’s trail run was in the Marin Headlands, my backyard. I took my birthday off work as usual and headed up there, looking forward to really pushing myself. I wasn’t disappointed. It was a cold, clear day. Because it was a weekday, the area was pretty quiet, just a few tourists on the roads, but hardly any on the trails. I ran 7.5 miles, mostly uphill and downhill. I will do that route again. And I want to improve the next time I do it.

It’s not an easy route. I started at the North Tower Golden Gate parking lot after getting off the Golden Gate Transit bus. Then, instead of going on the SCA Trail up the hill, I stayed on the trail that runs along Conzelman Rd. It’s not a bad elevation increase. It’s steady but gradual, making it possible to continue running nearly up the whole way. I stopped to take some pictures, however, because the view can’t be matched.

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The Rodeo Valley opens up

I cut into the Rodeo Valley up near the top and then after running through its length, made my intensely difficult walk up the Rodeo Valley Trail. It wasn’t possible for me to run this part, it’s just too steep. I did manage to keep a steady and faster pace than in previous runs, which felt pretty good. After my climb, I circled back on the SCA and ran back down to the parking lot. I walked over the bridge and caught a MUNI bus home. It was the perfect birthday.

I push myself hard, at work and at play. I’m much more dedicated than I was when I was younger. I did many things at a younger age I shouldn’t have, so I think deep down I feel I have some time to make up. But, I’m also not as young as I once was and I have to remember that. Once in a while, I need down time. So, that’s what today is.

Tomorrow, on Monday, I’ll be up at 4am and off to the gym at 5am to get the week started right. Where will you be?

Keep Moving Forward!

LET THE LONG RUNS BEGIN!

Much has happened since my past post. I do apologize for not writing anything lately, but things have been busy. Good Busy. I finally feel my life is moving forwards…..

For the longest time, my life felt as if I was stuck in quicksand. Bills were piling up, new emergencies, new fires to put out, my weight loss was at a standstill, or even worse, moving the wrong direction and boom! The “Holidays” just mucked things up more, especially after I got one of the worst colds ever.

But I kept going and the pendulum, as it eventually does, swung in a positive direction.

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The path on Lincoln Blvd in the Presidio

I ran 10 miles this morning. The route I chose was tough, but I have a half marathon at the end of March that’s pretty tough. I started at Land’s End and ran through the trail on the backside of the Presidio down through Crissy Field, past the Marina Green, eventually ending at the Ferry Building on the Embarcadero.

The route has lots of uphills and stairs and it was cold and windy. I took a few small detours and ran through some of the World War II batteries that are scattered throughout the coastline. The only little pain I had was around Mile 6 when my right hip felt a bit sore. I stopped, did some squats and leg swings and it felt good the rest of the run. I feared that it was going to start acting up, but I fought through a little fatigue around Mile 8 and the last two miles were energizing. I could have run longer had I wanted.

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This view is only possible if you take a detour from the regular trail and go through the WWII batteries

My birthday is next Friday and I took the day off work. I plan to run in the Marin Headlands, which will be another tough run.

I’m happy, it’s been a good day.

Keep Moving Forward!

 

DO IT NOW!!!

I lay in bed last night, knowing that if I was going to actually get my cards in a row, I had to do it now, not a few days from now, but this week. Or at the very least, start doing things right.

It was pouring rain last night and I didn’t feel like walking to the gym. It’s abut a mile and a half walk and I usually love the walk through downtown San Francisco, but through the windy, cold pouring rain, I wasn’t up for it. And for the rest of the night and even today, I felt guilty for it. It was one workout, just one, that I missed.

The simple truth is, if I don’t put 10% effort into getting into prime shape and losing weight, I won’t lose it. I can’t go half-assed about this. I’m in my 50s and weight loss doesn’t happen without complete commitment. And I’m ready to commit to it.

I passed my Personal Trainers renewal Sunday. I had studied weeks for it. I was so happy, that I allowed myself too much celebration I think.

But it is time to put the effort into my training. And also, into this blog. So, my friends, the time is NOW. Don’t put anything off, don’t wait until it is too late!

Keep Moving Forward!

DON’T SKIP THE GYM

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Picture perfect day in San Francisco!

For those who haven’t been reading me for a while, 2017 has been a difficult year. I had been suffering from IT band pain since the 2016 San Francisco Marathon and it finally got so bad in late February I could barely stand it. I took two months off running, but that didn’t help at all. The only thing that came out of it was weight gain.

Ug…..

I came back with the determination to run AND fix this! So, I did my homework and I found out that it most likely was weak hips. I didn’t go back to the doctor. With my high deductible and the fact that I had previously spent $200 for nothing (!!), the doctor didn’t help solve this at all, I decided to fix it myself.

I dedicated myself to a strenuous schedule of running and going to the gym. I weight train three days a week. I do core exercises every time I’m at the gym and then I trade off different training depending on the day. Mondays – shoulders, Wednesdays – legs, Fridays – arms. I do a series of exercises chosen to make me stronger, with sets and reps increasing very gradually.

I do not use light weights either. I choose weights that I can lift comfortably, but are still hard. Depending on the day and the exercise, I can choose between barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, cables and a few weight machines.

I will go into specific exercises in the future. But my point is runners shouldn’t think that running is enough. I can’t count the times I’ve heard runners say how much they hate the gym or lifting or exercising (besides running). Yeah, it’s different and you do have to be inside, but I love it, and I wasn’t a fan when I started. You don’t have to do it as much as I do, but do some. And if you choose to do some form of lifting, don’t think that the little 5 pound weights are going to do anything. They won’t. Push yourself, just like you do when running. Get the most for your time spent.

When I put my all at the gym, as I do my running, I don’t have any pain. My legs, hips, glutes, etc are happy. And a happy body is a working body.

My 8-mile run this morning was wonderful. It made me very grateful for the blessings that I have.

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The view goes on forever….

Keep moving forward!

Martha

 

 

 

Stop Putting Yourself Down!!!

I belong to a particular running group in Facebook specifically for slower runners. It’s a fun group, for the most part, but sometimes some of the posts sadden me.

Many people, through a harsh life’s history or intense medical problems or something else, suffer from a negative self-image. Because of the magical power of running, they a strength within themselves they never knew existed and believe in themselves again. Others continue to struggle, trying to cope with those inner voices while posting backhanded criticisms of themselves.

Some of the ones I see a lot:

“I’m really slow…”

“I’m not a real runner…”

“Everyone is faster than me…”

“I’m afraid of being the last runner…”

And there are so many more.

Self-esteem is not an easy thing to grow, nurture, if it was never given the chance to blossom. But we have to find a way. We must. I was a drunk for much of my adult life. I drank to escape the real world. If my life had been great, I wouldn’t have wanted to escape, would I?

When grew tired of hangovers, black outs, missing money, lost friends, etc, etc, I quit drinking and spent years telling myself I was an OK person. And I am. And you are too.

As they say in AA, “fake it til you make it.” Because one day, you will make it. One day, you’ll realize that you’re not such a horrible person and that you’re doing all right. It might take some time; it might not be perfect. And you’re going to mess up, we all do.

But one thing is certain: you’ll never make it if you keep telling yourself you suck. You need to stop that. NOW.

So stop putting yourself down. Keep running, keep working out, eat good food and…

Keep Moving Forward!!

ALOHA 10K

To say that the past few weeks have been trying would be an understatement. One by one, things have happened in my life and they set my goals back. But that doesn’t mean that my goals are gone.

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Daybreak

No freakin way.

Sometimes things take a little longer than expected, I am impatient, after all. I seldom plan for unseen surprise events, like sickness or emergency bills or very, very, very bad days. But life goes on as does the desires to reach my dreams.

Last week I suffered through an eye infection. My left eye was swollen and hurt and I couldn’t see too well. I stayed home from work and got it checked out. Luckily it wasn’t too terrible and eventually got better. But between being sick and lethargic, my fitness had dropped. I am now working at getting back to where I was and then go far beyond.

I made a pledge with myself to not use my credit cards and I have kept it for nearly two months now. This means, though, that I won’t be signed up for a lot of races or buying the cool gear I want. Electrolyte mixes and energy food will be made at home and the future races I do sign up for will be the ones that really matter.

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Cute Medal!

Sunday was my first Aloha race and I’m very glad I did it. Both the 5k and the 10k course was the same, with the 10k course, being a double loop. It started in front of Sports Basement in the Presidio near Chrissy Field and ended on the field itself.

Weather has been very warm lately, which is typical for Northern California in late September. Hot days and cool nights are lovely. I arrived at the Presidio before the break of dawn and enjoyed a beautiful sunrise. Participants started arriving. Many were dressed in Hawaiian grass skirts and Hawaiian shirts. There were dog entries in the 5k, so plenty of pups were on hand as well as kids. It was a very festive, fun atmosphere.

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Can’t beat this view!!

Both the 5k and 10k started promptly at 8:00am. I reside towards the Back of the Pack, so there I was for the whole race. I didn’t PR or have my worst time and I didn’t finish DFL (Dead F**king Last). I maintained a decent pace and enjoyed the course. How could I not with such beautiful surroundings?

The race is so well coordinated and the volunteers were top notch. I will do this one again!

Keep Moving Forward!