Thursday, July 30, 2015

Run or Die

If you scroll through the Facebook postings from the local chapter of my running group, you may see the following:

"Anyone want to meet up tomorrow morning?  I need at least 9 miles."
"Who's running this weekend?  I need 15, 11 min pace."

These posts always give me a little chuckle.  In this country we tend to get a little to loose with the work need.  "I need this new outfit."  "I need the new Garmin GPS watch."  Do we ever stop to think about what the word need really means?

In real life, most of the people I know are fortunate enough to have food, shelter, and clothing on their back (plus a few extras).  I am so grateful to God for all of it.  Do I really need to run?

I was sitting in front of our hotel with my husband during our recent vacation.  It was early in the morning and I saw about ten people all coming in from their early morning runs.  They were jovial, glistening with sweat, and ready to take on the day (I imagine).  We boarded the bus for our excursion and came to a pause at a stop light.  I saw a couple jogging on the path that runs alongside the main road here in Cancun.  An interesting feeling started to bubble up inside of me:  jealousy!  I was jealous!  I wanted to run and sweat and feel my heart pumping and my feet on the road.  Me, me me!!!  "I NEED to RUN!!!"  It wasn't I should run, could run, will feel guilty if I don't run.  It was the feeling that I must, must, must run!

I always say that I'm retiring from running.  I say that I will bike or swim or find some way to exercise that doesn't wear out my bunions or my knees.  In the end, it always comes back to me and my running shoes hitting the pavement, mile after mile, fast or slow, running or walking.  I need to run! (After I get home and all of the tequila is out of my system of course. :0))

What fitness activity is a must for you?  What do you need???  I can't wait to hear!


Monday, July 20, 2015

Ten Tunes Tuesday (Dance, Dance)

"Let us read and let us dance - two amusements that will never do any harm to the world." -- Voltaire

When life hands you lemons, slice those babies up and make a margarita! Life has a weird way of working out sometimes. Last week was a good week, but a stressful week. I got some of my workouts in while I was away, but I'm still in a funk - I just can't seem to find my groove, and it's just adding to my stress level. What gives?

When I was in college, I had a habit of dancing in my bedroom whenever my mind would be uneasy. I would pick out some good tunes, turn up the music, and just sing and dance until I couldn't feel my legs. If that didn't work, I'd pack up my CDs and go for a long drive to the foothills of the Sandias... getting out to hike for a bit until I could breathe again. I lost this habit when I moved to the gulf coast, and I'm not sure why.  For whatever reason, I found myself dancing again suddenly when The Weekend's song, "Can't Feel My Face" came on my radio while I was cleaning house this weekend. I'm not sure what spurred it - I just let my music play as I danced and cleaned my little heart out. It reminded me of how helpful this habit was in college, so I figured I would employ this stress relieving tactic for the rest of this week too. As an added bonus, my little 30 minute dance session apparently burned 485 calories, so it doubles as a workout too! Score! 

Here are some of the jams I danced to this weekend:
  1. The Weekend - "Can't Feel My Face"
  2. Natalie La Rose - "Somebody"
  3. Nicki Minaj - "The Night Is Still Young"
  4. Skrillex & Diplo -"Where Are Ü Now"
  5. Silentó - "Watch Me"
  6. Tove Lo - "Habits"
  7. Zedd - "I Want You To Know"
  8. Pitbull - "Fun"
  9. Sage the Gemini - "Good Thing"
  10. Prince Royce - "Back It Up"
I'm hoping I can get a better handle on my stress this week. It's hurting my sleep, and that's never good. What tactics do you employ to relieve stress? Do you like to dance like nobody's watching too? I hope your week is filled with more calm than mine! Until we meet again, my friends....



Sunday, July 19, 2015

Goodbye Cardio!

"If you always do what you've always done, then you'll always get what you've always gotten."

-Tony Robbins

So, most of my friends know that I have been running for almost 20 years.  It's something that I started with my oldest best friend for no reason at all.  There wasn't a whole lot going on in Santa Fe at the time and we were always guaranteed to place because there weren't that many 13 and 14 year old entrants.  Fast forward to today.  I still love to run.  It's mostly because of the endorphins and the stress relief.  Most recently it's because I just enjoy the companionship of my MRTT running buddies.  Also, you can do it anywhere and any time with minimal equipment and preparation.  

But wait a second!  Why the hell do I look exactly the same?  Three miles, or 5 or ten and no change.  WTF?!?!  I've been forced to accept the fact that despite the many benefits of running, muscle sculpting and weight loss are not part of it (for me anyway).  What's the point in hitting that 13.1 if you can't bounce a quarter off your booty? (I haven't actually tried this...yet)

In light of this discovery, I recently joined a weight lifting/figure shaping competition.  It runs for 90 days and to my surprise includes minimal cardio.  I'm back to body weight exercises and good old fashioned heavy lifting.  I didn't expect to enjoy it, but it's not too bad.  Frankly, it's preferable to trying to get in miles with humidity in the 80 and up percentage range.  So farewell to our old friend cardio.  I am on to short runs and HIIT.  

Stay Tuned!


P.S.  This post is dedicated to my daughter Olivia who maintains that I look like Beyonce no matter what even thought she has no idea who that is.  

P.P.S.  If you are looking for a running group try

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Ten Tunes Tuesday (On the road again... also known as, Becky's never home anymore)

"The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco." -- unknown

Hello, friends! As you can probably already guess, yes... I am on the road once again! I'm back in the San Francisco Bay Area attending a leadership class for work. While I've missed my morning mile already once (more on those in a later blog post), I am happy to report that I kept up my evening strength training and cardio workout. I even managed to get a 3 mile walk in this evening! Woohoo!

I contemplated challenging myself to do a run this evening... I wanted to see if I had improved at all, and figured that the weather this evening was perfect for it. As soon as I laced up my sneakers, however, I decided to take it easy instead. I wanted to actually take my time and get to know my temporary neighborhood in San Ramon. My work commitments have been very stressful over the last 24 hours, so I really just wanted to take it slow, calm down, and relax a bit.

I've taken a number of these "chill out" walks in my adult life, and have found that having soothing accompaning music usually helps prevent me from speed walking and enjoying the feel of the earth under my feet. Tonight's music is just the sort of music I would normally have on my playlist for a walk like today... or any time I just want to slow down, calm down, and relax.
  1. John Mayer - "3X5"
  2. Al Green - "Take Your Time"
  3. Sade - "Mermaid"
  4. Ray LaMontagne - "Let It Be Me"
  5. Sam Smith - "Lay Me Down"
  6. Colbie Caillat - "Droplets"
  7. Smokey Robinson - "Tracks of My Tears"
  8. James Bay - "Let It Go"
  9. Justin Nozuka - "Sweet Lover"
  10. John Legend - "Show Me"
Exercising is great. It can make you feel powerful and strong, challenging you to become a better you. It's also a great tool for days like today... when you need to take a step back, relax, reflect, and frankly... just breathe. This music isn't likely to rev your engine, but I hope you find it (or the idea of it) helpful. While it's great that we try to push ourselves daily in our workout routines, it doesn't hurt to take a day off now and then to just regroup too. Remember... even a slow walk is still better than lounging on the couch too!

Anyway, I'm already up too late and have a long day ahead of me tomorrow. Hopefully I'll get my morning mile in before class! Wish me luck :)



Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Expect Success!!!

I recently wrote this on my mirror at home using an old eyeliner pencil.  I pretty much live my life in various states of stress and duress whether there is a reason or not.  During one of my more recent trips to the negative town I started wondering why I was thinking so negatively to begin with.  Why was I sitting around waiting for the next disappointment?  Why hadn't it occurred to me that a more positive outcome was possible and, frankly, more probable?

Today, I am choosing to be a glass half full kind of girl.  What I've realized is that all of the time that I spend around being annoyed, aggravated, frustrated, depressed, and bored could be better spent putting myself in a position to get the results that I'm looking for.
I forced them to exercise with me by promising them Sweet Frog!

Anyhow, I'm still not in any better shape than I was at the time of my last post (physically anyway). Nevertheless, I am going to continue to ignore my husband's mocking of my motivational mirror messages until I reach my goal.  Stay tuned for news of my upcoming fitness adventure.  If you are too curious, you can visit

Ten Tunes Tuesday (or... how freaking old are you, Becky?)

"People of the world today
Are we looking for a better way of life?
We are a part of the rhythm nation." -- Janet Jackson

(That's super fashionable Becky at age 8 or 9 on the left; my niece's mother/my sister on the right)

My oldest niece has been staying with me for the last week or so. She's 15, and has stayed with me at some point nearly every summer since she was just 9 years old. I love her to pieces, and can't believe this mature, smart young lady is nearly an adult already! Why do I mention her visit? Because, like most teenagers, she has a tendency to make me feel old. I mean, REALLY old. When the BET Awards were on last week, she couldn't understand why I was so excited to see Smokey Robinson sing. Who the heck was Puff Daddy? And why should she care about Janet Jackson? O-M-G!!!

I quickly schooled her on all things Bad Boy Entertainment (seriously... she didn't even know Biggie?), and made her listen to six songs in a row from the honorable Janet... Miss Jackson if you're nasty. It simply never occurred to me that this 15 year old child had never been introduced to these musicians. She likes Michael Jackson - how could she not know he had a famous sister? It was then that I remembered what year she was born. This child was born in a completely different millennia than me - how could I expect her to know the music of my teenage years? Omg... I'm totally sounding like my mother... 

Anyway, this discussion of Janet Jackson, Bad Boy Entertainment, and the other hip hop and R&B music of my junior high and high school years (yes, I'm freaking old... I thought we established that?) led me to come up with a throwback playlist for this week's Ten Tunes list. So, let's go back... way back... back into time...
  1. Janet Jackson - "If"
  2. The Notorious B.I.G. - "Mo Money Mo Problems"
  3. Will Smith - "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It"
  4. DMX - "Ruff Ryders' Anthem"
  5. Beastie Boys - "Intergalactic"
  6. Salt-N-Pepa - "None of Your Business"
  7. Puff Daddy - "All About the Benjamins" (Rock Remix)
  8. OutKast - "Rosa Parks"
  9. Aaliyah - "Try Again"
  10. Jay-Z - "Can I Get A..."
There are so many other songs I wanted to include on this list. Maybe I'll do another throwback list sometime in the near future? Are there songs from 1993ish - 1998ish that you though I should have included? I'm quickly adding these to my gym playlist for July (although I have to admit Salt-N-Peppa, Janet Jackson, and OutKast are already there). We'll see you next Tuesday as I share more of my favorite gym tunes with you! Hope you have a fun, fit week! 



Monday, July 6, 2015

Don't Vacation With Me (Hiking in Muir Woods)

"The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience." -- Eleanor Roosevelt

My friend Emily and I have been on a mission lately to fulfill her California bucket-list before she heads back to Texas in August. She has been in California on a temporary assignment for the last 10 months, and has seen more of this beautiful state than people who have lived here their entire lives! While both of us have been to the San Francisco bay area before, we both agreed that a weekend up there would be a nice break from the heat. Not one to actually relax on vacation like a normal person, I made it my mission to make the weekend as active as possible, including a great deal of walking around and a trip to Muir Woods, which neither of us had ever visited before. 

Muir Woods is a National Monument dedicated to protect an old growth, coastal redwood forest. Once at risk for deforestation, it was saved by a Congressman (William Kent) and later dedicated to the United States for inclusion and dedication as a National Monument by President Theodore Roosevelt (uncle to First Lady Eleanor, quoted above). I've wanted to visit this park since a friend visited it in college, but it somehow never made it to my itinerary on previous trips to the bay.

There are several trails located within and near the National Monument. The majority of visitors stick to the main trails (Hillside, Cathedral Loop, and Ben Johnson), and we originally planned to do the same... until... I saw a path veering off the main trail called "Ocean View Trail," indicated above in yellow. It didn't appear to be terribly steep, and it looked like we could loop back down to the main trail. I had previously mentioned to Emily, however, that I definitely wanted to see the Cathedral Grove, so she smartly recommended we push ahead on the main trail to see that before we got too adventurous. 

The Cathedral Grove was beautiful! The trees are overpowering, and I can see why so many visit here in search of peace and personal reflection. Just past the Cathedral Grove, we came across another trailhead called the Fern Creek Trail, which appeared to loop back to the main trail via the Ocean View Trail. Success! We decided we had time to make a go of it, so off we went!

Initially, Fern Creek Trail looked much more reasonable than the Ocean View Trail we had encountered before. I mean, Ocean View Trail had a few stairs leading to it, but look how relatively flat this Fern Creek Trail is (above)!

As we went along, the trail eventually began to climb. Mind you, both Emily and I were not dressed for hiking. We had just left a champagne brunch cruise and a stroll along the bay near Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. We did not intend to go hiking. But... even with a bit of an incline, this didn't seem too bad... right? I mean, at least now we'd only have to take the stairs we encountered at the Ocean View trailhead going down... right?

The higher we climbed, the more evident that this was not a casual stroll in the woods. The climb grew steeper and steeper, and the trails became narrower and more interesting. Just past this bridge, we encountered a couple asking how much further to the end. The girl looked exhausted, and said she couldn't wait to go down. "So... many... stairs," she explained. I figured she was just talking about the ones we had passed at the other end...

Oh... these must be the stairs... This is not what I had planned on. Oh well... it looks like you just have to climb up them for this particularly steep part of the hike. No big deal. I'm sure that they'll end just around the corner...

NOPE! Ugh. How many freaking stairs are there? This was a terrible idea. I'm a terrible friend. I always get these crazy ideas when I am on vacation with my friends - why do my friends tolerate me? Why do I tolerate me? Ugh. Please let it end. Maybe we should just turn back. I don't think I can do this...

It was around this time that we encountered a family of four heading downhill. They had lost their father/husband, but didn't seem overly concerned with it. Everyone in this family seemed completely unfazed by this treacherous hike. WTH?? God, I'm out of shape. Maybe Emily won't make too much fun of me if I just give up now? I can blame my asthma, right? Ugh.

Roughly 250-260 stairs total... that's what other bloggers have said about this part of the hike. Who the heck makes a trail with 250-260 stairs on it? Would it have been that much worse to just hike the stupid slope? (... Probably) This is the face of a girl who is completely over it at this point. I totally didn't want to continue, but that ever-elusive ocean view would be worth it... right?

I have been wronged. The trail lies!!! The Ocean View Trail doesn't have an ocean view at all! See this? Just trees! Fellow hikers warned us that this was the case along the way, but I didn't want to believe it. Near the "peak" another couple told us that to see the ocean we would have to venture off this trail onto the Panoramic Loop. WHAT! I feel so deceived. I'm so sorry, Emily. 

It was around this time that we encountered another hiker that warned us the second leg of the trail was worse than the first. They told us to go back the way we came (don't horror movies start this way?!?!). Still... I found that hard to believe. We would be heading down... how hard could it be?

Well... I'm certainly glad we took the steeper route up. It may have been steep and narrow, but at least it wasn't an obstacle course. This is our trail. There were areas where it was even worse, with many of the trails covered with shallow roots and fallen trees. It was a little easier though, so I was grateful for that.

About an hour later, we finally made it back to the much flatter main trail. Night was quickly approaching - we timed it perfectly. Actually, we could have timed it a little better... our parking spot was locked when we arrived, with signs warning that both gates would be closed at 8pm (it was just after 8 when we arrived). Luckily, they left the back gate open. Whew!

Verdict? This is an absolutely beautiful hike! Emily pointed out that the trailhead signs warned that the Ocean View/Fern Creek/Lost Trail loop was "strenuous," but I must have missed it. Reading about it later, the National Park Service calls it "steep" and warns of protruding roots and uneven trails, but again... Becky never plans well enough to read such warnings. One day I will learn. All this being said, there are worse ways to burn a thousand plus calories. If you have 2.5-3 hours to kill, and don't mind hiking approximately 3 miles in very humid conditions, this is an excellent place to get your steps in! I would totally do it again. You can read about all of the Muir Woods trails here

My friends may never want to vacation with me again after reading these blog posts. This hiking habit is probably costing me a few traveling buddies. I'll never forget the look on my friend Dawn's face when I told her to pack tennis shoes for a spa vacation we were taking to Scottsdale, AZ (For hiking, of course! She was not amused...). Other friends often ask if we're actually going to vacation on vacation, or if this will be another "Becky" vacation (meaning that we'll walk until we have blisters on our feet). Let this serve as a public service announcement to all of you: If you thought I was bad before, I'm only getting worse as I start running and walking more as part of my fitness routine. If you want to vacation with me, bring along a comfy pair of shoes! Hahahaha! Well, I better hit the hay. I have a very busy week ahead.