physical fitness

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!

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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!

SNAGS AND SETBACKS

I’ve been reading this book “The Untethered Soul”, by Michael A Singer about reclaiming your life and true Inner Growth. It’s an interesting read, one that can help me quite a bit, as I tend to worry a lot about things out of my control. I’ll write a complete review of it in here when I finish it.

Stress is the big killer. Combine stress with unhappiness and it can lead to many things, none of them good. And it has been getting to me lately. I simply must find a way to let go the stress I’m experiencing these days.

It is a work in progress. I’m including meditation in my evening routine, as well as getting back into eating healthy and striving to reach my fitness goals. This will take three things: 1) time, 2) patience and 3) money. And I need to do a better job at all three.

But it’s OK. I will do them all. My first goal is to not be so hard on myself. The greatest damage we can do is to be our harshest critic. So, I’m going to smile back at myself in the mirror more and carry on!

I ran six miles last night through Downtown and along the Bay. It was wonderful! The weather was mild, absolutely no wind and I felt so free. Tonight, I hit the gym, ready to work out my trouble spots: Core, Glutes, Shoulders, Arms.

And tomorrow as Scarlett said, is another day.

Cheers!

 

PS: I’ve revamped my blog/website. It’s now much simpler to reach and it will have a lot more content, including exercise instruction, recipes and reviews. Let’s just say that it will be a great place to check back often!

CATCHING UP…TRIBUTE TO MY DAD

Jacksonville Beach

Jacksonville Beach

My dad turned 93 this year. He has always been healthy. He was very active when he was younger; he loved mountain climbing, hiking and being outdoors in general. He also liked to eat right and I can’t ever remember a time when he was overweight. Whenever he gained a few pounds, he lost them right away.

Two weeks ago, he passed away peacefully in the Hospice room he had been staying in next door to his home in Northern Florida. He and my stepmom live in Jacksonville next to the Mayo Clinic, so he was always had the best care. Eleanor (my stepmom) had called me and warned me that his time was coming, so I prepared to fly out there at any time.

My dad when he was young

My dad when he was young

As soon as I heard, I booked a flight a couple days later and was there a few days. I was relieved I got to spend time with him when he was feeling better a couple years prior to this.

I was able to get a couple shorter runs in while I was there, but my marathon training has been shaken up a bit. Granted, it’s a good reason, and my head wasn’t in the right place to run for a little while, but I’m now trying to get back into it.

While in JAX, I got one decent 5-miler near the beach. It wasn’t as humid as a couple miles inland where Eleanor lives. I truly love the beach and am thinking about moving there in a couple years.

The flowers for my dad. He loved gardening, so it included vegetables

The flowers for my dad. He loved gardening, so it included vegetables

So, I said goodbye to my father and still think of him. He led a long and filled life. No regrets. He was a man’s man, but he loved the ladies too. He loved being in nature and exploring foreign countries. He taught me to love the outdoors, reading and the SF Giants.

Love you always Dad.

Cheers,

THE LONELINESS OF RUNNING

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Until this week, I worked part-time for a start-up company as a running coach. I helped beginning runners find the joy, passion and fun I have in running. I enjoyed it; it was one of the most satisfying jobs I’ve ever had. Because of some changes in the company and philosophical differences, I gave my notice and still feel sad about it.

San Francisco has changed a lot in the last couple of years. Much of the individual identity is gone, given over to the monotone looks of the tech workers and their industry in general.

The company I resigned from, (which I will not name), has decided to form its customer base around these tech professionals instead of the base of San Franciscans already here. This is a shame. San Francisco has always been a huge running city, with lots of races and running fanatics like me.

Unlike the herds of techsters who seem to not be able to go anywhere without going in threes or small packs, running is a solitary sport. Most San Franciscans understand this and thrive in running’s solitude. Sure, we can go for runs with our friends or form small running clubs, but at the heart of it, it is just ourselves, and most serious runners’ runs are done alone. The competition is between us and our inner demons, more so than any other sport, we have to learn to listen to certain inner voices and turn others off.

So, when I was told I needed to try to get my sessions filled with four clients, I knew it wasn’t for me. I understand the need to make money, but the clients were paying a lot each month and getting shuffled into a group class may not be what they wanted for their monthly fee.

Even though I like to occasionally go for a group run, it certainly isn’t the way I want to spend the great majority of my running hours. I look forward to my time alone on the road. When I can’t get the miles in, I hunger for that solitude. It’s my time to challenge myself, but also my time to allow my mind to wander, sometimes thinking of silly things like song lyrics or enjoying the beauty of a road or path I’m covering.

Not everyone wants to run long distances. Some would just like to run two or three miles and be done with their cardio for the day. Yet, there are those of us who crave the calming, punishing long miles. One I get into my groove, slow though it is, I enter a peace I have at no other time.

What an amazing sense of accomplishment it is every time I finish a long run. Beforehand, I pack as if I’m going away for the weekend, and I’m always happy I did. When I get back home, rolled out the tight knots in my muscles and take my shower, I feel tired and happy. Nothing else gives me the pleasure of a long, solo run. Nothing.

I know that I will find another position in fitness again. I’m working towards that goal and will give out more information with it’s available. But, until then, I’ll be out running by myself, adding up the miles, gearing up for my next half marathon.

Cheers!

Running

I Took The Plunge….

I turned 56 this past February. It was momentous only because I knew it was now or never that I make big changes in my life’s path. I haven’t been happy with the way my “career” – or whatever my day job is, has been going. I haven’t been happy with my work for a very long time and unlike how the many negative people around me feel, I can change the direction of my life, even at my age, and do something that makes me happy, that fulfills me.

Instead of working endlessly in an office where I do nothing that matters to anyone without getting any credit for anything, I want to work in physical fitness. I want to be a Personal Trainer. And I don’t just want to work in a gym somewhere. I would like to work with seniors and help them live better lives. I would really like to help seniors have healthier and happier lives by becoming more active, move more, and be show them how much better their lives can be.

But it’s a scary thing, this whole life change deal…. I’m very afraid. I’m in decent shape myself, I do need to lose a few pounds, so I don’t look like much of a trainer. There is a live group session next weekend and I know I’ll be the oldest one there and probably the only one who doesn’t look like an athlete. HAHA! I’ll just have to amaze them by showing that I’m in better shape than they think. (And I am.)

And when I get my Personal Trainers Certificate? What then? How do I get a job? I have no clue. I have sent an email to a volunteer organization in San Francisco to see if I can work with seniors once a week. That can help me get a foot in the door and maybe make some contacts.

I’m excited, nervous, scared and freaked out. But I guess that’s normal…. yoga today helped calm me down a bit. I’m going to need that, a lot in the upcoming weeks.

Cheers!

The box from NASM

The box from NASM