Skimming Deep

Searching, traveling, talking, reflecting, and exploring. Read along with me as I continue on my journey through life.

Tag: running

Willpower Won Today!

I ran my first race today.  A 10K in Crissy Field in San Francisco called Run 10 Feed 10.

race bib

It was a cool, foggy morning in the city.  The route was a loop through Crissy Field that gave us views of Golden Gate bridge shrouded in fog.  There were probably a few hundred runners in this race sponsored by Women’s Health.

My main goal for this race was to finish and to keep running the whole way.  And I accomplished those goals!  There were times when I just wanted to walk, especially as I saw other runners doing the same.  But I quelled the voices in my head that were saying, things like,

  • Just take a quick break.  You can always start up running again.  
  • Feel that cramp in your abdomen?  It hurts, doesn’t it?  Walk it off!
  • Aren’t your legs tired?  Take it easy!

I just kept thinking of how much I wanted to be able to tell people that I ran the whole race, all 6.2 miles, without stopping.  And just that thought kept me going.  The thought of how proud I would be with what I had accomplished.  But those “can’t” voices in my head sure kept trying to slow me down.

I’m just amazed at how far I’ve come in 8 months of running.  From a place where I could barely do intervals of one minute running, one minute walking for a total of a half hour.  Now to a place where I ran a full 6.2 miles.

It’s all about willpower, which I’ve talked about before.  I know my body can do the run.  It’s not impossible physically.  But it’s all about the mind.  About those voices that say, “I can’t.”  And it’s amazing how loud those voices can be when the going gets tough: running long distance, difficult yoga poses, life challenges.

I don’t know if I’m ready for a half or full marathon yet in my life.  This 10K really pushed me beyond my comfort zone.  I still have the goal of doing a triathlon someday, so maybe that’s the next thing I need to start training for.

I like the challenge that these past 8 months of running have presented to me.  I had to get into a groove from never having one before.  I had to get out of bed and battle all the voices encouraging me to sleep and “just run tomorrow.”  I overcame a sprained ankle.  I made the decision to enter a 10K race before I had even run a 5K.  I started a job and had to figure out a new running schedule.  All of these potential roadblocks were overcome by my will and desire to keep going and reaching my goal.  It’s given me learnings that I can apply to my life as I encounter challenges that really count.

Living in a New City

I haven't lived in a new city since 1999. What happened in 1999?

  • Amadou Diallo was shot and killed by 4 NYPD officers who fired off 41 shots, thinking Diallo was reaching for a gun when all it was was a wallet.
  • The Columbine High School massacre was perpetrated by two white teenagers, killing 12 students and 1 teacher.
  • Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace was released in theaters.
  • Napster, that amazing music downloading site, was launched.
  • Cell phones were just starting to become more common. In fact, I didn't have one yet– not for another few months after I moved to Boston.
  • Y2K!!!!

Living in a new city requires all sorts of adjustments. The big adjustments are obvious– new (or rediscovered) friends and social circles, new home, new job, new time zone.

The little adjustments are the interesting things. Where to shop for groceries. Where to do your laundry (if not in your home). What are the shortcuts to get to different places. Where do you get a good pizza delivery when you don't feel like cooking? Or good Chinese take out? When is traffic especially bad on the highways where you should just stay off the roads or take alternate routes? Where's Costco? Where's the cheapest gas station?

I've been happily discovering little treasures in the month and a half that I've been in Berkeley/ East Bay.

There's a nice clean laundromat down the street from where I live where I can do big loads of laundry and get free wi-fi! I did a few huge loads of linens and things when I first moved. Quite efficient.

I've been looking for somewhere to compost my food scraps because our landlord doesn't have a green waste bin. It gives me such pain to throw away the food scraps because I know they'll just take up space in a landfill. It's the same kind of pain I get when I see people throw away or recycle paper that has printing on one side. Come on, people, you can save that paper to use as scrap! Use both sides before sending it off to be recycled! Anyone who has ever worked with me or been my friend knows I'm quite fanatical about scrap paper use.

So I found a community garden about a mile from where I live that has chickens which love food scraps! I'm hoping to give them my scraps every week. I'm also hoping to volunteer there regularly to get more experience with gardening and maybe get some free produce! It's called Spiral Gardens. I hope to share more on the goings-on there soon.

I've mentioned before the wonders of Berkeley Bowl and Monterey Market, where I get all my produce and groceries. It's nice to have amazing markets close by so I don't have to stock my refrigerator so full. I don't think I could ever tire of having such a resource at my fingertips!

I'm still trying to find my good eats around town, not only the special-occasion restaurants but a few reliable go-tos that I can depend on when I'm just wanting a good meal.

I've kept up with my running, after letting my ankle heal. It's a fun way to explore a 2-ish mile radius around where I live. I'm now working my way back up to the 5K and then hope to continue up to 10K! I think I'll be back up to 5K in another few weeks. I just never thought I would be running like this– and enjoying it, too.

So far, then, so good.


Filling the Days

I’m in a holding pattern and have been for the last week or so.  Another week or so to go before I take the plunge!

My holding pattern consists of hanging out at my parents’ house in Arizona and finding interesting things to occupy my time.  I’m not really bored.  I’m definitely taking life slow, and so far it’s been nice and relaxing.  Like a vacation after the whirlwind of the last eight months.  My travel is over.  I’m eating homecooked meals again.  And I’m enjoying the beautiful late spring weather in rural Arizona.  Life is good. view in AZ

So some of the interesting things I’ve been doing to occupy my time are…

Reading more!  I re-discovered the joys of borrowing e-books from the library.  It was something I got into a few years ago, but then I didn’t have time to read for awhile.  But I’m back!  (For those of you who don’t know, you can use Overdrive Media Console, an app to download ebooks that you borrow.  Check it out!)  And what an amazing thing– to borrow a book on my iPad for two to three weeks, read it, and then return it.  All without the exchange of paper or money and without actually having to go to a library!  I am as much a book purist as the next person (I mean, I had more boxes of books than I did clothes when I packed up all my stuff!), but having access to e-books is such a convenience.

I’ve been reading a hodge podge of books (back to my love of lists!):

  • Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum, which I found is totally different from the movie.  And maybe it’s just me, but I had some difficulty understanding all the action-lingo.  But it was a fun, fast read.
  • Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen, this was in real-book form.  I’ve read it once or twice already, but I just love Jane Austen.  This is one of her shorter books, and on this 2nd (or 3rd?) read, I was able to pick up more of her witticisms that I hadn’t last time.  I realize I’m a fast reader, like I’m a fast eater, and by slowing down deliberately, I pick up more.  This one is quite witty.
  • All Roads Lead to Austen by Amy Elizabeth Smith. I somehow came across this one when I was doing a search of e-books on my Overdrive site.  It’s OK so far, a bit wordy and she’s not the best writer, but I’m entertained.  And it’s another way to read Jane Austen without actually reading her books because I can’t get enough!

I’ve also been watching re-runs of The West Wing, starting with the first season.  Aaron Sorkin’s “walk and talk” and fast-talk techniques can get a bit tiresome and annoying if you watch too many episodes in a row, so I’ve been limiting myself to one, maybe two, episodes every day or so.  And I’m just reminded what a great ensemble cast this was.  Each character adds something important and interesting, whether lovable or not.  I was always a huge fan of C.J. Cregg, Allison, Janney.  She was smart, sexy, and tough and could hold her own in a crew of mostly arrogant, know-it-all men.  And I’m always a sucker for team-oriented movies, where the crew/ fellowship/ group/ team matters more than any one main character.  This was such a great series; it was sad to see its demise and end.

I’ve just been sitting in the back yard, listening to the birds, watching the sunsets and moonrises, admiring the unique southwestern landscape, feeling the winds and sun of Arizona.  The spring in Arizona is a well-kept secret, it seems.  I never knew that there were flowers in bloom and that the temperature was so bearable (unless you’re in Phoenix where it’s about 10 degrees hotter than where my parents live).  Blue skies, cool in the shade… It’s nice.

I was continuing with my C25K training until a few days ago when I sprained my ankle pretty badly.  I was so sad because it was my last day of the training before I could actually do a free 5K run.  So I’m resting it, massaging it, walking on it, and hoping to get back to running again.  ankle

I’ve been spending time with family.  Hanging out with my niece and nephew a bit, seeing them growing like weeds.  It’s ridiculous that every time I see them they’re another inch taller, a bit skinnier, more verbal.  Helping my mom teach my dad to cook.  That’s been interesting.  It’s all in preparation for if/when my mom passes first; they both wanted to make sure he knows how to feed himself.  So my mom’s been teaching him Korean dishes, which are pretty complicated.  But I helped out a bit here and there, too.

I’ll be in Berkeley a little more than a week from today.  Anxious, nervous, and excited for what is in store!  And in the meantime, I’ll keep filling the days.

Removing Barriers

As I am still in a state of transition, I have been coming across mini-projects to overcome places in my life that I have often found to be abhorrent, impossible, undesirable…  just that I dislike or even “hate.”  But truthfully, there is very little in this world that I hate (people, places, things, etc.).  Hate is such a strong feeling.

Here are some of the things I’ve been tackling with the mindset that I don’t want barriers to get in my way to doing anything:

  • RUNNING.  Ironically, I was on the track team in high school.  More as a way to keep in shape in the spring than for any love of running or track and field activities.  I ran sprints and threw discus and did the lophotong jump.  Whenever we had to do long distance running, a few laps around the track or around the school, I just about died.  I hated it.  I hated the feeling of being out of breath, of the pains in my side and lungs, of pushing myself beyond my comfort zone.  Throughout my years in college and after, I’ve taken on running here and there, both indoors and outdoors, knowing that I didn’t really enjoy it; but it was a good, cheap way to stay in shape.  In Boston, I started running a bit when I lived in the city, near the Charles River, but over the years, I stopped and had no regrets.

I’ve started running again since I’ve been staying in Arizona where the weather is amenable to outdoors-running until it gets scorchingly hot.  I’ve been inspired by some friends who’ve been running marathons and long-distance for fun.  I’ve also been inspired by reading Haruki Murakami’s What I Talk about When I Talk about Running— a great read whether you’re a runner or not.  And I’ve also been inspired to do some of this “overcoming barriers” work for myself.  My solo-travels was about that to some extent.  Getting my scuba-diving license was about that, too.  Renting a moped in Pulau Pangkor without an international license and put-putting around that hilly island was about that, too.  Overcoming fears, taking down walls, getting over things I’ve disliked or resisted.

Because I am totally undisciplined when it comes to running (strange because I can be so disciplined about other things in my life), I decided to take on the “couch to 5K” regimen to start.  I’d heard good things about it from various sources.  I also looked at the regimen, and it seemed manageable.  I’m now on week four!  And so far, so good.

It’s amazing the voices that come up in my head when running.  At first, all seems good, and then as it starts to get challenging (I get winded; my legs feel strained; my lungs feel pressured), the voices telling me to take a break, to stop, to give up are so loud.  It takes all my willpower to quell those voices and keep going.  The work really begins when I want to stop (see my post about the practice of yoga and willpower— so relevant).

For now, I’m just trying to take each run for it is, another step.  Trying not to think too far ahead or think about the past and my dislike of running.  It’s definitely easier when the weather is nice as it has been in Arizona!

  • MAKING BREAD.  I brought back some sourdough starter from New Zealand from one of the families I stayed with, almost making a loaf of bread every week.  I’ve always had an inexplicable fear of making bread.  I think photo(1)it’s a “I’m not worthy” type of complex.  I was afraid of yeast and sourdough was another level beyond me.  I’m not sure what the fear was based on– fear of killing the little bacteria, fear of doing something wrong and failing, I guess.

Once I revived the starter and got to making the bread, I’ve tried various recipes and methods.  I’ve had to negotiate the dryness and elevation of Arizona and where my parents live (about 3500 ft above sea level).  And I’ve been using different types of flour– wheat, spelt, rye, white, multigrain.  And I’m finally getting the hang of it, after a bunch of loaves.  The key is having enough honey to add sweetness to the bread.  Also, kneading it enough to make sure everything is incorporated.

I haven’t eaten store bought bread in several months, and I’m loving it!  All that goes into the bread is the starter, flour, water, salt, some oil (I’ve been using olive oil or flaxseed oil), and some salt.  I even experimented with a loaf by adding fresh rosemary.  Yum!  There’s nothing like freshly baked bread.  This is a denser type of bread than the usual yeast breads, but I’m loving the whole process!

Doing even these two seemingly simple things– running and making bread– has taught me so much about how much we blow our barriers and challenges out of proportion.  They become monsters in our head, made up of irrational fears and dread.  And when we take the steps to break down those walls, the shadows and darkness are dissipated to reveal a beauty before unseen.

There are more things I am afraid of, that I dread or dislike; but for now, I’ll go with these two activities.  Nourishing my body in these two ways, building my willpower and my stamina.

#18: Boy and Balloons

This is my godson. What a cutie. He was so enthralled with these balloons.


I rode in a 16-mile bikeathon today.  Haven’t ridden that long since two years ago when I rode in the same bikeathon.  My body is protesting.  And at the same time, I’m feeling motivated (and have been for some time now) to potentially train for and enter a triathlon in the future.

I love to swim.  I love to bike.  I hate to run, but I know it would be good for me.  I think I will need to add this to my list of aspirations.  I’ve been reading, hearing about, seeing people train for and run marathons, and the idea of that has NO attraction for me whatsoever.  However, the idea of having some kind of physical activity-related goal IS attractive to me.  And since I love swimming and biking, that’s a start for the triathlon.  I’ve always admired athletes who do the Iron Man.  I would never do that, but I like the idea of doing one of these “sprint triathlons” where you run a handful of miles, bike about 15-20 miles, and swim some distance.  I would need to train for all three, but in the process, it would hopefully get me on a running kick which I have never been able to get on.

I’ve been reading Haruki Murakami’s What I Talk about When I Talk about Running, which is really wonderful.  He writes about running long distance (marathons and ultramarathons) and how he trains for them.  He compares the mentality and physical aspects of training for marathons and compares them with writing novels and to living life.  It inspires me to want to run (not marathons, but at least to be able to do a few miles– I can barely run a lap around a track.)

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