running

47 Hills – Sutro Heights Hill 45

I started my run on a clear, breezy morning. I hadn’t realized that it was the same morning as the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon, a short, yet punishing tri that starts on Alcatraz with a swim to the Marina Green, then an 18-mile cycling course, finishing with an 8-mile run that returns at Marina Green. And throughout both the bike and running courses, there are hills, lots of hills.

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The original Sutro Mansion

What this meant for me, was that a lot of the area I was planning on running was going to either be cut off or a bit more difficult to get to, so I rerouted my run and enjoyed watching a bit of the tri along the way.

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The view from the top

Adolph Heinrich Joseph Sutro was born in Germany in 1830 but served as mayor of San Francisco from 1895 until 1897. He made his fortune in the Comstock Lode in Nevada and built not only a huge mansion at the top of a hill overlooking Ocean Beach, but also the well-loved Sutro Baths. The remains of the baths still exist and can be explored on foot.

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Sutro Heights grounds

Sutro Heights checks in at 200 feet. It watches over the Pacific Ocean quietly and if you happen to drive past, enjoying the ocean view, you’d probably miss its tranquil setting. Adolph’s gigantic mansion is long gone, but the site remains and it is worth a visit. The hill is one of my favorites; you can run in a circle and then continue down to the beach, or go across the street to the Land’s End path. There’s plenty to see and it’s usually pretty quiet. The backside of the hill also has a fun and very sandy way to get down if you want something a little more adventurous.

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I decided on the sandy back route to avoid the cyclists and ended my run watching some of the race at the end of Golden Gate Park. This hill is one of my favorites in the city. I hope you can enjoy it sometime too!

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Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon

Note: All the hill elevations and listings were taken from another website http://www.47hills.com and used for a personal challenge so bear that in mind if there are any discrepancies.

Keep Moving Forward!

47 Hills Part 2 – #46 Mint Hill

The Bay Area is known for being bone dry from mid-May until Mid-October. So today, when it rained, just a little, we were a little surprised. It wasn’t cold, just the usual low 60s, the same it would be if it was foggy and windy, but rain!!

Mint Hill is 150 feet. It is where the US Mint – San Francisco is located, hence the name. This is the second Mint in SF, the first is at 5th Street near Mission. It is open to the public and presents many exhibits throughout the year. The working mint at Mint Hill is closed as produces coins. For more information on the Mint, you can check out the government’s website: www.usmint.gov

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Mint Hill and the active US Mint Building

Since the hill isn’t very big, it only takes about a block’s uphill walking to get to the top, it is at the bottom of the list of SF hills. But the best part about Mint Hill is the neighborhood. If you walk up Buchanan Street from Market Street, check out Hermann, Webster and Waller Streets. It’s a lovely neighborhood for walking, running or just to look at pretty houses. The streets aren’t clogged with cars either. It’s a nice neighborhood.

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Victorian treasure in the neighborhood

Now that I’ve found it, this won’t be my last run here.

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Waller Street Steps

As I work up the list, the hills will get bigger! Keep an eye out for Hill #45 and check out my first post on the SF Hills, Hill #47 – Rincon Hill.

Keep moving forward!

47 HILLS – THE 47th HILL

I’ve lacked inspiration and motivation lately. In the past, just running and looking forward to races was enough, but after my last injury it seems to not be any longer. Maybe it’s because I’m not doing as many races now or it could be something else, but I decided to look for a unique and fun challenge; one that I could also share on my blog. And I found it!

San Francisco is a city of hills. There are tons of them here. There are 47 known ones, according to this website I discovered: www.47hills.com

So after scoping all these hills, I’m going to run up every one of them. This will take at least 47 weeks, maybe sooner if I get through them at a quicker pace. But it’s not about speed. It’s about enjoying the hills, the scenery if there is any, and looking up any history that goes along with it.

Disclaimer:  All my information about each hill’s height, etc, comes from the aforementioned website. So, if an error is made, take it up with them.

This is merely for fun, not for any historical significance or discoveries.

So, without further waiting, I give you:

#47: Rincon Hill

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map of the Rincon Hill area

At a mere 100 feet, Rincon is barely worth mentioning height-wise, but it’s pretty important in the history of San Francisco. Rincon means inside corner in Spanish and before the 1906 earthquake, it was a very important neighborhood. In the 1805s, rich settlers built their homes here. The views were unparalleled. But with the quick development of the city, many hills with flattened, larger buildings were built and the views disappeared. The mansions were sold, torn down and the rich settled elsewhere.

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The foot of Rincon Hill on Harrison near 3rd St

Once again it’s home to wealthy transplants, buying highrise condos among the weaving freeways. I love running in this area on weekends. Clogged with traffic during the week, it’s calm and quiet on weekend mornings. The construction is growing so fast I see something new every time I pass by.

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The top of Rincon Hill is on the property of an expensive highrise condo

The hill isn’t hard to tackle either walking or running from either side and it’s a nice addition for any distance.

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Historic plaque

Keep moving forward!

PEACE OF MIND

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My view of the ocean from my run

I was listening to some country song during my run this morning, I don’t remember which one and it really doesn’t matter, but the song said that he found peace in a glass, or something similar. As I ran around the Marina Green, enjoying the beautiful sunshine, I thought how wrong the songwriter was.

And it brought me back many, many years…. more people than you think suffer from alcoholism. Believe this. It was my life for a long time.

Never once did I ever find peace in a glass.

For the better part of the remainder of my run, I mulled over this. Peace, drinking myself into oblivion? Yeah, right. Try the opposite. I drank because I hated myself. I drank because I hated my life, how on earth would getting smashed make anything peaceful?

We all have problems we’re dealing with in our lives. But there are better and healthier ways of dealing with them than with destroying ourselves.

For me, running is my outlet. When I couldn’t run because of my injury, it was really frustrating. Our lives are not easy and we cannot get by just working, eating and sleeping and expect to be happy. There has to be more.

Having a healthy hobby won’t cure all of our problems, but it gives us at least a short break away from them. And it gives us something else. It gives us a look a little distance away from them. Once I’m out on the road far from my apartment and my not-so-great neighborhood, what was bothering doesn’t seem so immediate or troublesome.

And if running doesn’t do it for you, then maybe a nice walk or hike will, or a bike ride, or lifting or yoga. The whole point is to give yourself a gift of a healthy hour or even a 30-minute vacation away from all the negativity dragging you down. That is what I call Peace of Mind.

Keep Moving!

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!!!

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!

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!

DISAPPOINTMENT

Sunday mornings are usually my favorite time of the week. I set my alarm early; sometimes as early as 4:00am, go to bed extra early on Saturday night while my neighbors are heading out to have fun and wake up in the darkness looking forward to that week’s long run.

Everything changes with an injury. My IT band problems are keeping my from running for at least a month if not longer.

Sunday, I woke up late. I didn’t set the alarm as there was no morning run. In fact, my leg ached a bit, so I woke, did my morning stretches and figured out what else to do besides my long run. Unfortunately, I didn’t choose the smart and sensible thing. I ate a large breakfast and watched Netflix.

I’m not used to being side-lined. I’m not used to not having my favorite activity to plan. What to do, what to do…..the responsible person would get their fast spreading butt to the gym to get a decent workout in. At least I could clock in some stretching and cardio, but not this Sunday. I couldn’t get myself out of a funk.

This sorry state has lingered longer than I would like, but learning to cope with delay and disappointment is part of life, so I’m working my way through it. Sometimes, getting through a rough spot means just putting one foot in front of the other, so I will do that….

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!

YMCA CHINESE NEW YEAR RUN and a little more….

Despite a sore quad muscle, I ran the Chinatown YMCA’s annual 5K Chinese New Year’s Eve run. My leg felt good until the last mile, but by then, I had kept up a decent pace and was determined to keep running. I had told myself that if it hurt too much, I would walk, but I didn’t have to walk any part of the race. Because it hurt, however, I knew that I wouldn’t be running again for at least a couple more weeks.

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Grant St before the start of the race

My birthday is this week. My stepmom, Eleanor, lives in North Florida and is one of the few family members I have left. She planned to make the trip to see me this year instead of me flying out there as I usually do. I’ve been looking forward to it a while, so I took the week off. The race was a nice start to my vacation. Monday was President’s Day, so it was great turning a long weekend even longer as well.

And then, Monday morning as I was having breakfast, I suddenly felt a hard object in my mouth. One of my back molars had chipped! This was not unexpected. My dentist had told me that because it had had a very large filling years ago, it was bound to break and in turn will probably need a root canal and crown. Ouch! As happens in life, the timing sometimes sucks.

So, this morning, I spent the day at the dentist. This afternoon, I met up with Eleanor, which cheered me up. The good news is I haven’t felt any pain since. The bad news is that even with dental insurance, I’ll still have to pay the majority of the costs.

But, I’m not going to let it get me down. Tomorrow is my birthday and Eleanor and I are going to have a great day!

Keep Moving!