YMCA

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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RUNNING IN MY 50s

Tomorrow is my birthday, which got me to thinking about what running is like now that I’m a little older and supposedly, wiser…

I’ll be 57 Tuesday and running these days is more enjoyable than it ever has been. When I get into a groove, I appreciate it more than ever. I ran 16 miles early yesterday morning and during a long stretch of two or three miles halfway through, I was able to relax, just run along, listen to my music and look at the calm and blue Pacific Ocean. That was nice.

But it’s also much, much more high maintenance. It wasn’t until just last year when I discovered I had to do strength training at least twice a week to keep from getting intense IT band and knee pains. I keep my hips and core strong, I work those area hard at the YMCA. I’ve learned to really enjoy those workouts, nearly as much as my runs. It’s a nice change for my non-running days.

I also find I have great balance and can move very swiftly in every day movements, much more so than non-runners in their 50s. If I have to run for a bus, just out of the way of a thoughtless cyclist or pick up a dropped pen quickly, no problem! All those squats and hill repeats have really helped.

My weight is an issue. I’m not too much overweight, maybe 15-20 pounds more than I should be, but it’s dreadfully difficult to lose weight now. Of course, with all this running, it’s very hard to lose weight because I’m always hungry. I tried to explain that to a non-runner at work and she couldn’t understand the concept. it’s just something I have to deal with and perhaps accept that I’ll never be a very thin runner.

I spend A LOT of time on my own running or working out. I’ve always been a loner-type person so I’m rather used to it, but it’s even more so now. Many people hate being so much alone, and there are times, I will admit that I’d love some company doing non-running things, but when I run I like to run alone. I’ve never been a big group runner. I’ve done group runs and I will do them, they can be fun, but not as much fun as running alone.

So what will my 57th year bring? I hope many, many more miles and lots more squats, crunches and endless pairs of running shoes.

Cheers!

 

Cross Train for Better Running

One of the many reasons why triathlons have become so popular is that it forces the athletes to cross train. We runners can be very narrow-minded when it comes to training and that can really hurt us in the long run. It did me. Switching it up has helped me with my ongoing IT band problems.

This week was crazy busy. I had a running session with a client, kickboxing, yoga, gym visits and managed to get in a couple runs of my own.

This was my first experience with kickboxing and I love it! It was quite the workout too. It worked all the muscles in my body, including many of the leg and core muscles I needed to get stronger and the instructor made it really fun. It was outside along the bay with beautiful weather. I’ll take pictures next time. It was a small group, three students with the one instructor. The course focused on how to kick and punch and then how to do them in sequence. There were also warm-up exercises and cool down ones. In between we had a group of round robin ones that were really fun. As soon as I got home, I signed up for next week’s session. I can’t wait.

After work last night, I ran a couple miles of hills. I’m up of practice and struggled. It was hard and I remembered back when running up Hyde Street wasn’t so difficult. It will take some time for my lungs and legs not to scream at me to stop.

This morning, I woke up early and went to the YMCA. I focused on upper body weight work and leg weight work, doing a bit of stretching but saving most of that for my yoga session later.

On my way to yoga, I stopped for coffee and could feel my muscles tightening from this week’s workouts. I do enjoy that feeling! My yoga session was one-on-one with the instructor. I really liked that because we worked on the group of muscles that I need to get stronger. The Yogi gave me many good poses, altering some of them due to my lack of flexibility. We practiced in Golden Gate Park near the Conservatory of Flowers. It was warm and sunny out, feeling more like summer than winter.  Like my kickboxing class, as soon as was able to, I signed up for next weekend’s class. This is so good for me!

Tomorrow is the Vint group run, which is always fun!

Cheers!

A Complete Week

It was a good week’s work. It may not seem like a big deal, but getting one week’s worth of workouts done in a pretty big deal for me right now.

With the exception of some expected soreness, I feel good. My knee is doing great. I took it smart, didn’t push myself too hard, but I did push myself.

Monday I hit the YMCA after work, getting in a good session of floor work that included Yoga moves, back stretches, squats, planks, and the like, as well as leg presses and a complete set of all the arm lifts and reps I do now.

Tuesday – 2 miles.

Wednesday, no workout, but I did walk 5 miles throughout the day.

Thursday – ran 2 miles.

Friday – rest day.

Saturday – Another day at the gym – strength and core training.

Sunday – 3 mile run.

I’m taking it slow to get back into it the right way. I want my entire body to be good, as I want to continue my running life well on in the future. It feels great.

Tomorrow night, pre-season hockey starts and the Rangers have their first game, so it’s a rest night. I’ll workout the rest of the week, however and let you know how it goes.

Cheers!

A Change of Goals

We’re always being told we can do whatever we want, we’re constantly being shown great motivational pictures telling us not to give up on our dreams. And I do believe that nearly any goal is possible if we work hard enough, no one ever bothers reading us the fine print in these bold statements.

There is always a cost. To reach one goal, we may have to give up another, or many others.

This became too apparent for me a few weeks ago when I realized that I wouldn’t be able to purchase the racing bike I so wanted this year. That’s not exactly true. I could buy it, if I gave up going to Giants games, forget about my New York vacation (AND seeing my NY Rangers) next year, and completely abandon having decent coffee in my life. But I’m not willing to do that. 

So, my goals for the next year have changed. I still want to pursue triathlons; they hold an appeal to me that nothing else does. But I live in the most expensive city in the US and I don’t make enough to save for a racing bike. It’s a depressing fact and I’ve been battling with it for a while…..

To keep me from being completely down, however, I’ve revised my goals and challenges. I’ve decided to run a full marathon. I ran one over 20 years ago, so it will be like running one for the first time. I’m nervous, scared and not sure, but I can run, I can afford the gear and it’s something I know. 

I’ll still keep my YMCA gym membership. I’ll still swim and spin; I love them too much to stop and eventually I will get my racing bike, just now in the near future. 

 

Chinese New Year Run

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(Chinatown pre-race this am)

It’s the Year of the Horse in the Chinese calendar, so why not start the year with a run? Be it a cold, windy and rainy run. I hadn’t been running as much as I knew I should have. In fact, last night, I made myself a promise to start eating right and sticking to my workout schedule better starting TODAY.

This 10K is a fun course. It goes through sleepy Chinatown before anyone is up and moving about. It then crosses Broadway and moves through Northbeach to the Embarcadero down to FIDI and back to Chinatown via California St. The 5K ends there, the 10K repeats.

My feet were soaking, my thighs were achy, my lungs burning, but I kept going and finished.

It is the Year of the Wooden Horse: It will be a fast-moving year with high energy, conflicts,  progress, consumerism, invention….everything about 2014 is about movement. I’m not sure how much faith I put into any of it, but it coincides with my current training plans which are simply: decrease the outer noise, focus on what I need to do for myself and help others who ask.

I want to thank the SF Police Dept for doing a superb job on traffic control, all the volunteers and the Chinatown YMCA. Without any of these fine people, this race would have never happened.