physical fitness

CHINATOWN YMCA NEW YEARS 5K

I rarely participate in 5K runs. I’m not a sprinter, races are too expensive and 5ks get too congested with walkers and those who don’t take the run seriously. It can be frustrating. But, I do this one every year, as it benefits the Chinatown YMCA that I love.

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Waiting for the Start

This is the Year of the Dog and in perfect fashion, there was a Red Dog and White Dog dancing at the starting line while firecrackers popped. Firecrackers scare off demons, so they’re set every Chinese New Year. The dogs made their way, dancing through the crowd. I love it! So bright and colorful! The kids especially liked watching them.

And that’s what this run is all about, the families, the kids, all the people the Y does good things for throughout the year. It was cold out, but once the race started, I hardly felt it.

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Dancing Dogs!

I had a good race. I maintained a 10:56 minute per mile average and out of 83 50 to 59-year old women, I was 23rd. The top woman in my age group finished with a 7:11 minute per mile average! We have so many fast runners in San Francisco that I’m guaranteed to never place no matter how old I am!

Post-race was celebrated with water, banana and orange slices. The sun was out and it was a little warmer than at the start. I walked home feeling pretty good about my time. And I would make myself a nice breakfast, I earned it!

Now to focus on my upcoming half marathon, and farther on in the year, my 50k. This is going to be a lot harder!

Keep Moving Forward!

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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!

Goodbye 2017

I was sick for a long time it seemed. I had a nasty cold for at least two weeks. Usually I can avoid getting sick, but this one knocked me hard. I even tried to go for a run, but that had the opposite effect and hurt me more.

So, what was supposed to be an awesome stay-at-home vacation to run, study for my PT Cert renewal exam turned into more of a recovery time. But I’m feeling better now and ready to end this year.

2017 didn’t turn out to be the year I had planned. But I did survive. And I learned. The biggest lesson I learned is that the road to following one’s dream is longer and filled with more rocks than I ever imagined. But I’m still on it.

So, I’m ready to start 2018 with a rested, renewed energy I haven’t had in a long long time!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

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

 

 

 

2017 SF Turkey Trail Trot

This was my 5th year and still one of my favorite races. The weather was perfect and I had a lot of fun. My race itself was not one of my better ones, but I didn’t care, it was a good time! The race is 5 miles through the various trails of Golden Gate Park. There’s also a 3 mile walk and 3 kids races for various age groups. Plus, there’s a ton of prizes for the winners and a HUGE raffle at the end. In fact, this was the first year I didn’t win anything in the raffle. Proceeds benefit the track teams for Lowell and Washington High Schools.

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Sunrise before the race

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Washington High School band

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the kids racing across the Polo Field!

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Turtles chillin on Spreckles Lake

I am very thankful this Thanksgiving Day Weekend for being healthy. I am thankful for, no matter how slow, being able to run. I can and will get faster! I have decided to really make it a top priority to attain maximal health and fitness, no matter what in 2018, so I’ll get a head start in the weeks before the new year. Sure, I overate and have a couple extra pounds, but now it’s time to get serious and dive headlong into fitness!

Keep Moving Forward!

Martha

 

 

Just For Fun

For two months I didn’t run. I attempted to heal or cure or whatever, my IT band issues, but it instead of going away completely, it remains. It is better than it was, this is true, but I had hoped that by stretching and resting it for eight weeks, it would feel better running again.

Nope. It still gets a little sore. Granted, I am going a little slower and shorter distances. I’m taking it easy.

The time off wasn’t in vain, however. I consider it to be a useful time of reflection and it did help me put things into a much healthier perspective.

I do believe I was trying too hard to be better. Self-improvement is a good thing, but when we push ourselves physically too hard, too soon, we’re asking for injuries. I wanted (OK, still want to) to be fast. I’ve had a great desire to be a better running, run faster than I did. And in actuality, I am 30 seconds faster right now than I was a year and a half ago.

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The beginning of the trail in Golden Gate Park

But where I live there are just not many slow runners. Or so it seems. Most people here in San Francisco are speed demons. Someone told me they were slow at 10 minute miles. I would have killed to run that fast at one time! I can do that pace really pushing myself, sprinting, but comfortably? No way.

I’d love to start a group of slow runners and I still may. But I’m no longer going to push myself to injury to fit in to any of the established running groups. Some of them say “all paces”, but how fun is it to be the only one slower than everyone else at every run? Unless you are that one person, you don’t know what that’s like. It’s stressful and not all that enjoyable.

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So green!!!

I ran twice this week. My first run was a simple run from home down to the Bay along Market Street and the Embarcadero. My IT band was sore the first mile, but felt better as I ran. This is progress. I told myself.

Tonight’s run was pure joy. Because of eight non-running weeks, I’m a little out of shape, so my trail running isn’t what it used to be. It will take some time to get back to where it was. Work was slow at the end of the week and the big boss was out, so we were let go after a half day. Who wouldn’t be in a good mood after that? I zipped home, changed clothes and took the bus to Golden Gate Park to run my favorite trail.

I know it well, even though I hadn’t run it since last November. It had been a while. But just starting my run I smiled and everything was okay. The weather was in the high 60s, a cool breeze whistled gently and the sun was bright. The trail was empty, except for a couple hiking. Even the disc golf course I passed was quiet.

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The Redwood Grove

We’ve had so much rain, the park was bright green and lush, with flowers popping up everywhere. My pace was slow, but not terrible. I found myself more out of breath than I would have liked, but that will improve. And my IT band? Not bad at all.

I’ll take it easy and see if combined with strength training it gets better. I have a huge deductible in my medical insurance and no money right now, so it’s not like I could see someone even if I wanted to and taking time off isn’t an option anymore. I’ll just enjoy that I can run, even a little and see what comes.

Keep moving forward!

INCLEMENT WEATHER AHEAD

Today I ran 6 miles in the pouring rain. It was not the most fun time running nor was it my best time. I wore my running rain jacket and strapped on my Osprey Hydration pack. It was a multipurpose trip because I had to pick up my race bib for the Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot and I had to buy my turkey. Because the turkey would be heavy, I needed to bring a sturdy shopping bag and my pack is the only running pack I have that I can stash the bag in. So much preparation!

I ran to Sports Basement in the Presidio to get my bib, one of my favorite places and then ran back to Safeway in the Marina, making up my run. Thankfully, the rain had stopped as I made my way home.

These are not easy days for many of us. For me, my medical insurance is skyrocketing next year. I don’t know how I’m going to make it. I can only put my faith in God and know that somehow things will work out. I pray every night for guidance.

On the positive side, I may have a running partner once a week. I was talking to a couple people at the YMCA and one very friendly woman was saying how she wished she had a running partner one night a week. I did explain that I’m not very fast but that didn’t matter to her.

One of the reasons why I don’t do group runs is that in San Francisco, the runners are very fast. Group runs usually consist of runners who can run 7:00 to 8:00 minute miles. The slow ones go 10:00 minutes per mile. I could never keep up with that, so I am usually always the slowest. I don’t want to be the slowest. I don’t mind once in a while, but always the slowest isn’t much fun and those who are faster can never understand that. They’re always very nice about it, but they don’t get it. So, for me, it’s better to run by myself; there’e much less stress and feelings of complete inadequacies.

So, we shall see if my running partner works out. And we’ll see if I can find that elusive personal trainer’s position I’ve been striving to find…..

I don’t want to end this on a negative note. I am very thankful for what I do have. I have a never-say-die attitude. I will not give up, I will not stop working towards what I want and neither should you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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

DON’T HATE RUNNING

In a fitness instructor group I belong to, someone posted an article stating why lifting is the new running for women over 40. Many of the trainers chimed in how they hated running and how they were so happy when they stopped running.

Well…. I of course, had to add my voice asking why does it have to be one or the other? Why can’t those of us who enjoy being fit like both? I love to run, obviously, but I also really enjoy my time spent at the gym. Maybe I’m not a “serious lifter” like some, but I do plenty of tough work with dumbbells, kettle bells and barbells.

Ever since I can remember there has been this invisible and sometimes not-so-invisible divide between lifters and runners. Fortunately, stereotypes have been shed and more people on either side are agreeing that each has its merits. So when I saw this today and the agreements of how running is supposedly bad, it brought me back to the bad old days when lifters routinely discounted running.

I also saw this divide while studying for my trainer’s cert. Somehow, running has gotten a bad rap by the gym crew a while back and it’s still there.

I am all for adding strength training into one’s regular workouts. It has helped with my weight, my endurance, my strength and my lack of injuries. Frankly, I can’t imagine I would be running at all had I not added in strength training. But I also suggest that lifters stop their prejudice against running. Some seem to have an all-out dislike of cardio all together. Maybe because it’s difficult when one starts. But, like anything worthwhile, it takes time to master.

I only hope one day we lifters and runners can join together and understand we are both on the same side.

I have been away from my writing. Many things have been going on and not all good but I won’t bore anyone with all the torrid details. Except to say that stress sucks and I’ve had plenty of that. I have stress so bad right now that I grit my teeth at night (even with a mouth guard) that I have constant jaw pain. I take Advil for it and am trying to find solutions like meditation and changing my profession to ease out of it. I know will find a way and as most everything in my life, I know it won’t be easy.

But I’m still running, still getting out there and doing it. I am now more determined than ever to lose the weight I need, get the part-time personal trainer’s position I want and run like the wind!

Cheers!