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!

 

….AND I’M INJURED

I didn’t expect to be injured. Who does? The setback I suffered from hasn’t gotten better. Weeks ago, I felt a small but irritating pain, sort of a nagging cramp in my right quad muscle. For a long time, I thought it was just tight muscles, so I worked at making the muscles, as well as my core stronger, but it never got any better. I then took a couple weeks off running to rest it, icing and heating and propping it up as much as I could, hoping it would heal.

After walking some this past weekend, I was still in pain.

One of the most difficult things for runners to admit is to succumb to injury. Being injured means races get cancelled, training schedules go out the window and our favorite activity stops. Completely. I have been looking forward to the Chinese New Year’s Race this Sunday, sponsored by the Chinatown YMCA as their biggest fundraising event of the year. I like doing the 10K. It’s a great course, going a double loop through Chinatown, Northbeach and along the Embarcadero, but I had to reduce my race to the 5K. I can always walk it if it starts hurting.

Not being able to run creates all sorts of negative side effects. I’ve started putting on a few pounds, especially over this past weekend. It was kind of a shock how fast I gained. I’ve since started being careful about my eating, but until I get back into running, the weight won’t be coming off very soon. And my mood….I’m working real hard on being optimistic.

Next week is my birthday and my stepmom is visiting me for the week. I’m taking a few vacation days, so we’ll have a great time. But, I’m still bummed out I can’t go run on a few of these days.

Tomorrow I will go to the gym for the first time in over a week and I’ll work mostly upper body and core, and try out the treadmill just to see how my leg feels. Wish my luck.

Keep Moving!

SET BACKS HAPPEN

Most of us runners will have unfortunate circumstances in our lives. Some of us will have injuries or difficult life events, illnesses, happenstances that are above our control. I have had a few of these. I was unable to run for a few years, which was most distressing, so I sympathize completely with my fellow runners going through tough times. If I could hug you all right now I would.

Other than a great big setback with illness, I have been fairly lucky and have had few injuries up until about a year and a half ago when I started battling IT band issues. I had the issue controlled by going to the gym three times a week and strengthening my core, glutes and quads and everything was just fine until this week, when I started feeling a tightness in my right quad. It’s been bad enough to not run and a little painful when I walk. I’m not stressed out over it, I think once it gets better and I get myself back to the gym, things should be fine, but I really hate not running.

I know why I probably have this pain too and it’s all my own fault. I got lazy about going to the gym. The weather has been bad and I got tired of going out in the wind and the rain and the….blah blah blah….so, now I have this pain.

Well……I have a race in a couple weeks, so hopefully it will feel better soon and in the meantime I’ll keep reminding myself that I go to the gym and strength train in bad weather just like I go run in bad weather. It doesn’t matter!

These past few weeks have not been easy ones. I’ve been questioning many things. My goals seem to be taking much longer than I thought they would. But, I’m still on the road going forward. No giving up here!

I’ll let you know how my leg feels soon. Until then, have great runs for me!

Cheers!

DO WHAT YOU FEAR

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SF Runs

Think of something that you are afraid to do. I don’t mean something that’s super scary, such as bungie jumping or hang gliding, but something more every day, like speaking in public, or eating solo in a restaurant. Now, go do it. That’s what experts say we’re supposed to do: face our fears.

And that’s what I did this week. I ran in a group.

Mind you, this isn’t the first time I’ve participated in a group run, or even the first time I joined in this group run. But, by letting go of my past misgivings, I had a great time.

Usually in group runs, I’m one of the last to finish. I’m not a fast runner in a city where nearly EVERYONE runs fast. Even slow runners will tell me “I’m really slow” and WOOSH!!! They’re off at a 9-minute mile pace. My normal pace hovers in between 11:00 and 11:30 minutes per mile, which is actually 30 seconds faster than last year. I am hoping to decrease that time even more this year, but until then I will consistently be a slow runner in the Bay Area.

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Not a bad time!

Let me say that my fears and anxiety were all self-induced. The running group SF Runs, is nothing but terrific. They are truly good people, with a great leader, Leonard Adler, whose passion for running knows no boundaries. The free group runs are welcoming and warm, even if the weather is cold out, there are always friendly faces smiling at newcomers.

After my first time with the group, it was okay enough. But I was so far behind everyone that I felt everyone had to wait and wait for me at the end. Leonard ran the whole three miles with me. I wished and wished I could run faster and keep up with them. I wondered if I was up to this whole group run thing. I know I shouldn’t have been so doubtful, but it didn’t help my self-esteem much.

I left that first run wanting to do more, but not wanting to be so slow, so OLD so SLOW…..

But I did. I gathered my fears, threw them out, swallowed my pride and joined in this Tuesday. I kept up with a small group for most of the three miles and I was just a little slower that last mile. I ran nearly a mile faster than my normal pace.

I conquered my fear!

I can’t do anything about being older, but I can certainly change my attitude, cease my fears and enjoy how I am lucky to have wonderful people in a city where good people are getting harder to find.

Have great runs this week, conquer your fears!

Cheers!