San Francisco Giants

SF GIANTS HALF MARATHON

This year, the San Francisco Giants Race was held on 9/11 and I really love the shirt design. I also love the Brandon Crawford bobblehead! I was very close to time I ran it last year, which was a little over 2 minutes faster. Unlike last year, I felt zero IT band pain and my run itself was good.

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Crawford Bobblehead, shirt, bib, and my running companions 🙂 

Let me start in at the beginning. The race does have a great packet pickup. I LOVE picking it up in AT&T Park. It’s really cool to be able to go inside an empty park, plus they have a lot of vendors, race reps and plenty of samples.

The half marathon and 10k started at the same time this morning: 7:00am, with the 5k starting later after 10:00am. Perhaps this was one of the problems. I spent the first 3 miles, jockeying constantly through walkers doing the shorter race. How great it was to finally breathe and space out once they had turned around! I would like to see them start at a later time so those of us trying to actually better our times and not just out for a stroll could get past the walkers.

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Beautiful 9/11 Tribute

One of my biggest peeves since I’ve bene doing this race is the same one I have for every race EXCEPT the Hot Chocolate Race….not enough porto-bathrooms! Come on! There are thousands of runners, can you get a few more? The Hot Chocolate folks are the only ones who seem to do this right, they have plenty! And, can you believe someone tried to cut in front of me in the line. Yeah, didn’t happen! I had been waiting for 20 minutes and wasn’t about to let anyone cut in front of me. Had they had a small child and ask nicely, I probably would have, but just trying to hog in without waiting, NO!

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Best Seat in the Park, for a few minutes

Another thing Hot Chocolate does is divide the runners and walkers up into more corrals. The first few specifically say NO WALKERS. I do apologize because I’m sure they’re wonderful people, if they are walking in a line blocking everyone’s way, it’s a huge pain. Every race should have signs posted: “Walkers Stay To The Right.” It really is up to the race directors to provide guidance to participants, especially because many of the Giants fans there may not have done other races and don’t know how things are usually done. Race direction is getting very lackadaisical anyway.

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I’ll just sit here a little while longer…

And maybe I’m alone in this, but those runner/walker types can be annoying, especially if they don’t bother looking behind them when they stop running, or if they think they can keep walking in the left with all the runners. No, you too, stay to the right.

The last thing that made me a little cranky was at the nutrition stop, I heard they were going to have Clif Shot Bloks, which I love. When I got there, they were giving out sample size Clif Bars, I’m not going to eat that during a run! Fortunately, I normally bring my own fuel so I don’t have to worry about it, but don’t BS me, Folks!

Other than those irks, I felt good, my legs felt good and there were some nice food giveaways after the race. It was also excellent to sit in the loge seats afterwards. I’ve never been in those before, and probably never will again!

Now for a couple days’ rest and back to tackling my next goals. I’ll let you know soon what I’m up to!

Cheers!

 

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SETTING GOALS

Inspiration and drive are sometimes in short supply. After this year’s San Francisco Marathon, I didn’t have much of either. It was much, much more difficult than I ever thought it would be; the training for it alone gave me burnout and took all the fun out of running.

So, as I was running last night in preparation for the Giants Race half Marathon race this Sunday, I had to think of ways to get the excitement back into running. After this race, I’m not signed up for anything. It’s not because I don’t want to race, it’s really lack of funds. I need to buy new running shoes this month, so spending more money on an upcoming race won’t happen for at least another paycheck or two.

During the last few weeks of marathon training, I realized that for the first time in a very long while, I had very little motivation. I still ran, but I barely stuck to my way of eating, which resulted in weight gain. I had promised myself that I was going to lose weight this year and here I was, not accomplishing what I wanted. In 2015, I had set out a goal to run 3 marathons this year and that seemed like a galaxy away. Obviously, that was asking too much of myself. But I also started wondering if marathons were for me at all….

I can’t accept that.

So, I took a few days off of thinking about my future in running and just lived my life. I admit that I didn’t workout as much as I should have, I didn’t go to the gym as regularly for a week, but it was the space I needed for a new perspective.

And it was during my run yesterday when I started thinking about my last marathon. I don’t want that memory to be my only memory of this race. I want to create better memories. There’s only one way to do that, to run it again next year, but this time, plan better, do better.

I have a full year it’s time to think about how I’ll do it. The California International Marathon, even though the same distance was nowhere near as difficult or taxing on me. It could be that my IT bands weren’t stressed out as much at the time of my race or maybe I was more prepared, or maybe this race is just harder on them because of those blasted hills. But none of that matters. What matters is if I am serious about doing it a second time, I need to make this time count!

So, I will keep you informed about my ongoing training. Up until next July, there are some shorter races I plan to do, including my half this Sunday. I’m looking forward to it, no stress at all.

Cheers!

Emotional Halloween

When I was a kid, Halloween was my favorite holiday. As I grew only and went to college, I still loved it, because my friends and I threw amazing parties; they were the best around and were talked about throughout the year.

Year later, though, Halloween doesn’t hold the same appeal as it used to. I do love the ancient Celtic idea of Samhain though. They believed that this night marked the New Year, and that the veil between the living and dead was the thinnest. They communicated with passed away loved ones and blessed the just harvested crops to hope they lasted through the long winter. This more serious idea of October 31st means more to me than drunken debauchery, considering I don’t drink and don’t like to be around crowds that do. I miss the Halloweens I used to enjoy, but I don’t miss the drinking or the hangovers…

Speaking of drinking and celebrating….the San Francisco Giants won the World Series this week. And what a series it was! I couldn’t have asked for a better set of games had I planned it myself. Talk about Torture!!! Somehow, they pulled through victoriously and today was the parade. So, I split my time at our work Halloween costume party (I was Ozzy Osbourne) and going to see part of the parade. I got to see Hunter Pence, Gregor Blanco, Joe Panik, and Jeremy Affeldt. It was fun. It was also raining, but that didn’t damper the spirits of the few million who came out to watch their heroes.

Last night I went out for a great 2.5 mile run. I really enjoyed it and everything felt great. But during the night, the IT Band of my right leg started feeling tight, and this morning it was a little painful. During the day, it downright hurt and was sometimes hard to walk. It was a little upsetting. I really don’t want another thing holding my running back, especially since I’ve been working so hard to do things right.

Since I’ve been home from work I’ve been rolling and stretching it. It does feel better. I won’t run tomorrow….I’ll roll it, stretch it and see how it feels. I’ll try an easy run Sunday and see how it goes. I can only do so much, the rest I’ll leave up to God….

THRIVING AT THE GIANTS RACE

After race crowd in AT&T

After race crowd in AT&T

When that lightbulb goes off in our heads, we don’t plan it; we have no idea where we will be or what we’ll be doing, it just happens. I’m sure when the great prophets in history received their revelations they didn’t happen in convenient or comfortable places, they happened in the most difficult times.

Mine happened today in a porto-potty. That’s right, as I was re-adjusting my running belt and making sure there was no toilet paper stuck to my shoes, I suddenly thought of something so profound, that it made things so clear to me for the first time in a very long time.

As I stepped out of that smelly and dank capsule and suddenly realized and KNEW that I no longer want to just “exist”. I’m tired of thinking how my life will be once I’m thin, or have more money, or have a better job or……..you fill in the blank.

It’s time to enjoy my life AT IT IS. Not “enjoy it as soon as I have this” or “enjoy it as soon as it’s the weekend” or “enjoy it if only this or that happened”. Even if there doesn’t seem to be anything positive, I will find something positive and if I can’t at all, then I will make changes until I can.

Sure, this is easy writing down (actually it isn’t and it wasn’t easy thinking about today), and it won’t be easy putting into practice. There are some changes I must make in my life RIGHT NOW. Not tomorrow, not in an hour from now, not next week, but right this very second I will change certain things.

One of the changes I must make RIGHT NOW is to stop putting myself down. Even small things like “I didn’t run fast” or “I don’t look good in that picture.” WHO CARES??? I need to that I can run or I should focus on the features of myself I do like. I must steer clear of being negative about others. I must stop trying to correct people. I’ve been working on this, but sometimes I get a stubborn streak and if someone annoys me, I feel the urge to want to show them up in some way. I don’t know why I do this, but I do. I will work on ending this, and if not ending this, than being more aware of when and why I do this. I know it annoys others and it isn’t doing anything to make me feel better either.

There are a few other things, but I’ll write about those in a day or two. This is a lot to work on right now.

There’s a song by Switchfoot that I really like called “Thrive”. I love listening to it when I run because it really gives me inspiration. Like the singer, I want to Thrive. I know it’s also used in ads by a certain hospital system, but it really says what I want to do. I want to do more than merely live.

Lou Seal is on the medal

Lou Seal is on the medal

THE GIANTS RACE

My 5K went well today. I had planned on running the Half Marathon but couldn’t do it because of my knee injury. The Giants race organizers were so helpful and kind switching me over to the 5K. At first I felt bad for not running the 13.1 race, but after getting into the mood of the pre-race and seeing all the excited and happy running Giants fans, it was hard to feel bad about anything.

It had been cold during the morning, but then the sun broke through and turned into a beautiful day. The 5K didn’t start until 10:50am and got there way too early. I went and grabbed a cup of Philz coffee and some water while I waited.

I ran a nice, slow easy pace. I hadn’t run for a month, so, my pacing wasn’t up to what it was previously. I also wanted to go slow to make sure my knee was feeling all right. It felt fine through the first two miles. Surprisingly in a good way, my knee felt fine through most of the race. It wasn’t until the start of the Mile 3 when I started feeling some pain and that didn’t last too long. When it started to hurt, I stopped running and walked for a couple minutes. In fact, the race was over before I thought it would be, making me feel pretty hopeful that I should be running regularly again soon.

Now I have to focus on two things to get back into running properly: 1) lose weight to take some pressure off my knees and 2) go to the YMCA three times a week to do weight training/ core work and stretch out my IT Bands.

The race was organized pretty well. It wasn’t the best organized race I’ve been to, but it certainly wasn’t the worst (I’m looking at you Mermaid). Race announcers/motivators, whatever they call them, should on the whole, do a better job in telling walkers to stay on the right and leave the left side of the course for runners. There were many spots on the course where it was quite narrow and with walkers going three in a row (why oh why do they do that???) it was hard motivating around them.

The starting corrals had the longest wait times in between starting. I think we waiting in #3 10 minutes to start after #2 did.

Strollers have long the bane of races. I’ve gotten used to single strollers, but double strollers? Come on, stay at the back of the race. I’m sorry if you’re a fast runner but your double wide stroller clogs up the course.

After the end of the race, there wasn’t any direction towards the food giveaways. I missed it entirely and have to beg an usher to let me back on the field, which he did. Thank you for that.

It was a great day to spend with my big Giants family. Now let’s sweep Detroit tonight!

Getting Back….

It’s not easy coming back from an injury or a forced time off. I was in Go Mode getting ready for The Giants Step, the San Francisco Giants baseball team annual Half Marathon/10K/5K. Training was going well, my runs were getting longer and I was feeling fine. 

But during a 6-miler, my right knee started hurting very badly about 3.5 miles in. I kept going and finished the run. but not without a lot of pain and walking rests. The next week I was in pain. I got a brace for my knee and took a second week off, hoping it would feel better. 

Unfortunately, after a trial 2-mile run, my knee still hurt. I went to the Orthopedic doctor after another two weeks. He said that my knees were OK and that they hurt because my IT Bands, thighs and core wasn’t strong enough. He gave me some strengthening work to do, as well as walked me to the physical therapy department of the hospital. They worked with me a little and gave me a set of exercises that should help make the areas stronger. The doctor also said I should be able to run again in 4 to 6 weeks, which is just about the date of the Giants Step Race. 

I felt quite relieved. I switched my race to the 5K. I can handle running/walking for 3.1 miles. 

So, I’ve been working at the YMCA, getting my upper body, core and thighs in order. My knee doesn’t hurt much now, which is good. I had a pretty good workout last night, so it was a tad sore this morning. The brace helps when it’s like that, but most of the time, i go without it. 

I’m also starting a Pilates class tomorrow night. I think that will help as well. 

It certainly feels better being active again! 

A TALE OF OPPOSITES

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(Martin St. Louis)

I watched two games last night on television, two different games in two different sports. Both important games in their sport yet each athlete I honed in on are so polar opposite I felt the need to share.

It’s NHL Playoff season. The series are long and brutal. Each series lasts seven games. The winner of each series moves up to the next stage until the reach the championship for the Stanley Cup, the granddaddy of all pro sports awards. Nothing beats it. Nothing.

My New York Rangers were 1 win, 3 losses against the Pittsburgh Penguins. One more loss and they’re out of it. So, they had to win last night. One of their new star players Martin St. Louis also had a personal tragedy. His mother, after a long, extended illness, passed away on Thursday the day before yesterday.

He flew home to Montreal immediately to be with his family and after a brief visit talking it over with them, decided to play Friday night, his father telling him that’s what his mother would have wanted him to do. He played with a courageous face and a brave heart. He put it all on the ice. He commented that she was with him the whole game and indeed she was, in his heart and in his soul.

Contrast that emotionally charged, beautifully touching picture with this: a bravado, cocky young Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team player, Yasiel Puig so full of himself he makes a big deal out of every hit he gets. In fact, he celebrates nearly every walk, every hit, every on base that comes his way. He throws a tantrum each time a pitcher dares throw a strike past him. And if he’s out, he nearly stomps up and down in protest. He flips his bat even when getting a single and saunters to first base, taking his time. He hit a home run last night and took extra time to brag about the moment towards my team (SF Giants’) pitcher Madison Bumgarner. This angered the more mature Bumgarner, as it would anyone, which if it had been an isolated incident wouldn’t attract any attention, but because Puig does this every time he’s at bat makes him the Justin Beiber of Major League Baseball. Puig’s behavior is tolerated by the Dodgers’ organization as Beiber’s disgraceful behavior is tolerated by the commercial music industry.

But what do these individuals have to do with a fitness and health blog, namely MY blog? Because like St. Louis and Puig, we all have the chance to act in life. We CHOOSE how to act in our lives. We’re never perfect. Humans make mistakes. Each and every moment we’re given the chance to make choices how we treat ourselves and other people. If we screw up, we can choose not make those same choices again.

When someone like Martin St. Louis, who knows his team is relying on him to him to help them win the team’s most important game of the year, even in his moment of pain and despair chooses to stand tall and put aside such heartbreak and be the stronger for it, he’s made a choice. When Puig acts like a spoiled princess because he can’t get his way and stomps his feet, treating others like crap, that’s the choice he made. But he makes that choice over and over and over again. He never learns that this is not the way to behave. Whether he has no one to teach him otherwise, or if he’s been told this is the way to act to get what he wants is unclear, but somewhere along the line, something went wrong.

So, we have a choice to make. Will we be our stronger selves today and make the right choices or do something else?

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(A tearful Puig?)