All Peaches and Running for Christmas 🎄

@Savannah Rapids Running Trail

Took a few weeks to catch my breath and tie up some end-of-the-year loose ends. Lo and behold I ended up in Georgia, though in the weeks leading up I wouldn’t have know that would be the case. It’s not an absolute surprise of course, as I generally go home for the holidays only this year I really wasn’t sure if that family tradition would stand. It did. I’m here. And I’m glad that after much wrestling, I finally settled on what feels like the right choice. Dammed if you, dammed if you don’t really, so amidst the frantic worry of health and safety I’m in full compliance with all Covid protocols since traveling here last Monday. Fast forward to today, 2 days post Christmas already, when I took off on a run to the tune of beautiful sunshine and Fall in full bloom despite the official start of winter a few days ago.

 

Fall in Georgia brings to mind acorns, more acorns, spanish moss, lots of colors, the best running temps, and peaches of course – well it should, except I have yet to see any on my runs. Peach cobbler, on the other hand, runs aplenty in the georgian diet for those interested. No matter the lack of peaches, I’m in seventh heaven running in these parts especially on the trails and along the less traveled paths. It always takes me back to when I first came here some thirteen years ago. A bit of a star-gazer back then, still am, I was more wont to run and dream. I mean running makes everything better right. Every dream is more possible, goals seem more probable, thoughts become crystalized and even plans take flight with these steps. Running amidst the pine cones and spanish moss sure birthed a lot of possibilities that had a lot of potential. In fact, it’s where my first idea to run the New York City marathon germinated. Now, four of those and sixteen others later, I have to say running in these parts even today, sure does feel a bit magical still.

 

Running through my old neighborhood, and a few new ones, makes me appreciative of the differences in topography -gentle slopes makes for easy running – and boy do I appreciate sidewalks a whole lot more. I also enjoy the quiet and scenery a lot while running, it’s really a treat for the eyes, and so I’m able to fully appreciate the running experience here while being thankful for what I have in New York. I am tickled to run around my old stomping grounds and love stopping for photos of the most picturesque and memorable scenes I’m able to capture on my phone. I’m having so much fun visiting old running haunts and finding new ones and hope to add a few more miles to my 2020 mileage before I leave on Friday.

 

Additionally, I’ve visited the gym a few times already and while they’re not following strict Covid guidelines with masks etc it appears it’s an individual decision to go and then to take the necessary precautions, which I am, so that works for me. I’m happy to be running, and working out in the gym, and visiting my family, and seeing my friends safely. That I even have the opportunity for all this is an amazing blessing and I’m super thankful.

 

I think it’s important, given all the angst we have with how things have progressed over the past nine months, to finish off this year with purpose and passion and nothing quite does that for me like running does. In these final days of 2020, I will focus on the wonderful things I enjoy and the good things about my life and about our world. It is no secret that running and my faith in God continues to keep me. I pray it keeps you too.

New Life in Trying Times. Not the Gyms!

Post at-home workout

As if this year hasn’t been tough enough on everyone and incredibly hard on small business, gyms are more than likely to see another shutdown before year’s end. I can’t even! Literally, I can’t even process the impact this is having on the fitness community. When I think of the blood, sweat, and tears that have made many a fitness enterprise and the community they serve, it breaks my heart to see their efforts reduced to what we face today. Covid-19 has hit the fitness community as many others where it hurts the most. It has forced many into insolation, abandonment, evacuation, migration, and that’s only the physical effects. God help us, we still have to struggle with the affects of any and all of those decisions. I’m not one for lamenting or crying over spilt milk but man this is a doozy of a year. I’m ready to fly away somewhere, anywhere, where there’s just ordinary people living ordinary lives in a natural setting somewhere. I’m not even fussy, only let me have the ocean nearby please.

🧡VACCINES🧡

Before the calm must come the storm so while we might be in for a tough few weeks heading into the new year, there’s a silver lining out there with the vaccines that are due out next month on a limited basis. Who would have ever thought that word would elicit excitement much less two orange hearts! How times have changed. I know some are wary, and for sure many have their own opinions about it, but I encourage you to do your research in order to be armed with the best information to empower your choices. While you do so the facts remain that we need to mask up and follow proper social distancing and hand washing protocols to remain safe and to provide that same benefit to others. All things considered, and there remains a lot to be considered, that’s not such a bad deal after all. We are blessed to be here.

🧡GYMS🧡

On another note, and I’m all over the place with all that’s going on, I’ve been so perturbed about the gyms because I’m an avid gym goer, or at least I was up to March of this year, and I’ve been chomping at the bit to get back in there safely. I’ve also had my reservations about wearing a mask and working out. I’m sure that’s not on anyone’s list of ten things to do, but I really have to just get over it already. Some people have bigger issues and here I am stressing over masking up to exercise. Some people have no sense of priorities! I should be so grateful that I even have that choice and, the truth is I really am so enough with my whining. Of more import is another issue I’ve been grappling with, where shall I go? With all the restrictions in place and the changes to gym schedules and basic programming, I’m suddenly at a loss as to what to do. In fact, I’m not even sure if crossfit is an option right now. But I figure it’s more important to get back in at some level and figure out the rest after. These are different and challenging times, it’s certainly expected that I’d be a bit confused. That said, I’m in the process of working out a location that’s easily accessible and a bit versatile. No surprise that the pickings are rather few. We’ll just have to see how that goes.

🧡NEW YORK🧡

In the past 10 years, I’ve never been away from the gym for more than a week, two max when it was for a vacation. Y’all, it’s been eight months! The human spirit is resilient as heck and we often don’t give ourselves enough credit for bouncing back from incredible setbacks and difficult and trying situations. This year has certainly been all that and it remains to be seen how things progress here on. I remain hopeful though. New Yorkers are a tough bunch and while each city and state, and certainly every country, has had its own unique challenges to face in this pandemic, New York City has kicked some serious Covid ass. I’m praying that when the dust settles, amidst all the loss and grief of those we lost, we fill find that most of us are still standing, running, working, eating and drinking, gyming—my own word, busy living life and fighting for every part of this big apple we call home.

26.2 miles of New York City: unofficially marathon #20

E66 Run Group

Bet 2020 didn’t think I had it left in me! After all the crazy dished out this year, the opportunity to run a marathon this Fall was a blessing, a clap-back, and a slight risk all at once. All things considered and with the recommended guidelines in place, we chalked up any reservations we had and got all excited to run. And run we did. Last Saturday we, my pre-covid run group, and still my run group, took a jaunt through manhattan on our own New York City marathon distance, some of us anyway, the others chickened out and did a half. LOL. I’m kidding. No chickens. We had decided a few weeks ago that some people just weren’t prepared for 26.2 miles just yet – many not having run much this year at all. And so a couple of us opted to push ahead and tackle the distance. In fact, I had only gotten to 18 miles in training and was willing to swing it for the remaining distance. I usually tell people who ask to listen to your body and go with your training, a bit of advice that, more often than not, works pretty well. This time I heeded my own advice and was the poster child for listening to one’s body. Early on, I had decided that if I could do 18 miles mildly uncomfortable, then I could finish a marathon distance. I went in knowing that while it mightn’t end pretty, it would be doable.

November is known for its versatile weather in NYC. I have a number of past nyc marathon experiences to hail from when it comes to the unpredictability of the weather during this month. Fom wet, cold, windy days to hot, humid, and even perfect conditions, I’m almost certain that we’ve had a snowy one in there too; there’s just no accounting for what a typical marathon day in November in this city could look like. In 10 years I’ve seen them all. So while we were hoping for good running weather, we didn’t really hang out hopes on it. When we got 45°- 50°F we were thrilled. Sunshiny, partly cloudy, and with some early wind was a bargin really. Two of us started out just after 8:15 am Saturday morning and ran from the East Side of mid-Manhattan over to the west side highway and down along the waterfront to Battery Park for a looped distance of 13 miles whereupon we met up with 8 others to run the latter half of our marathon and their half marathon. We were supposed to have met up with another runner in our earlier half who we eventually saw in the latter half of the run, he having run the full distance also, albeit via a slightly different route.

It is worth mentioning that for all the nyc marathons I’ve run, this is the first time it didn’t feel like such a chore, though to be honest the Fifth Ave leg of the run felt just as difficult as previous times, and this is without the crowds. What! Why! I don’t know. For sure it has always been the most difficult part of the marathon and this time proved no different. It was long, tedious, uphill-ish, and having to use the cobble sidewalks, which I avoided at all cost, did not make it any easier. I lagged the entire way until we got to the park as I had taken a wrong turn in Harlem and fell behind. There was just no way I was catching up and I opted not to kill myself trying. It was such a beautiful day for running, it was no surprise to see endless runners among others out in Central Park enjoying the sunshine. We did one lower loop then the hills were too much to take and so a couple of us headed out the park to do the final 2.5 miles on Park Avenue. By that time, I was ready to finish, muscles were tight and sore and I was getting cold. We finished up at our run group location at Lululemon on the Upper East Side in a record 3:32 time minus a bathroom break in the earlys and 2 water stops. Not bad at all to the tune of a masked-covered runner’s reunion with snacks and socks instead of medals. LOL.

And that my friends was a wrap to my 20th marathon distance, the only unofficial one and the one I enjoyed the most. Technically, I shouldn’t still be getting lost and running off course – veteran of the course that I am – and so maybe I missed my chance of having a better 5th Ave experience because of that, but I guess I’ll never know now. Regardless, I’m chuffed that we were able to get together and respond in a positive way to all that 2020 dished out. Running and friends to the rescue of a year headed for the history books as one of the most difficult and mentally challenging years yet. By God’s grace we are still here and we even have a couple of runs planned through December. We will get through this one run at a time.

Marathon Season 2020

It happens every year around this time, New Yorkers fall into marathon mode. This year, notwithstanding Covid-19 and all the challenges it presents, we’re moving ahead full steam to take back what has been stolen, or at the very least what we’ve been cheated out of. And damn it it feels good! With all the virtual racing going on in lieu of typical road races, I’ve been feeling pretty isolated and so I decided to get everyone together for a kick-Covid-ass 26.2 run.

Truth is with everything and everyone on shutdown since March, folks are not ready for a full marathon distance. I don’t know that I am, but I’m all for giving it a try and among the old running crew there might be a few others crazy enough to have a go at it. I’m betting on it anyway. It’s hard to believe that we’re heading for November and what would have been the NYC marathon in just over a week! Except of course there’s no actual race this year..though the virtual race is set spanning a week or so and anyone anywhere in the world can sign up and participate via Strava. You can run the 26.2 distance wherever you are: get folks to support and run with you, have your own cheer squad, post pics, and tag race organizers doing it all your way and at your pace and convenience. Cool huh! I suppose that’s one way of keeping the spirit of the race alive.

We’ve planned our own version right here in NYC on November 14. A few, or dozen, of us plan on doing at least half of the 26.2 miles making use of the latter part of the nyc marathon course starting in Manhattan on the east side and running through Harlem, down Fifth Ave to finish up the final 3 miles in Central Park and end at the official nyc marathon finish line on Tavern on the Green. I, on the other hand, with at least one other – so far, plan on starting out earlier that morning to complete the first half (13.1 miles) before meeting up with the others to run the remaining distance. We’ll start out with the lower loop of Central Park and head out on Central Park West to run over to the West Side Highway where we’ll run a few miles heading downtown and do a loop to run back to meet with the other runners. Sounds easy enough but really I have no idea how I’ll feel that day. I haven’t run a marathon distance since last November and my longest run thus far has been 15 miles. I’m hoping to up that a bit this weekend but even so it’s still limited training in so far as long runs are concerned. Still, I like to think it’s like riding a bike, the body absolutely knows how to do it, it’s just getting it to remember and cooperate.

When this year started out, I had few running intentions really, just to do a spring triathlon and run the Chicago marathon. Because of Covid, neither panned out but it’s been years that I’ve been running a marathon almost every Fall and at the very least once for the year, even with the way things have gone in 2020, and because things have gone the way they have, I feel it’s even more necessary to show some fighting spirit and not allow the year to end on a note of defeat with many despairing and bemoaning the times. I refuse to sit down and take what life throws at me. I can run at least; thank God for good health and the ability to do so. And so that will be my response to this mess of a year. Speaking intentionally, the intention is to finish within 4 hours. While 3 & 1/2 hours would be great, I have low expectations given the training aspect as well as the biggest unknown factor, our infamous November weather, which can be anywhere on the weather map. Daunting prospects anyone?

Actually, I feel fine about the entire adventure. Yes, that’s what it is. We’re heading out on a dare-to-run-adventure that says more about us than anything else. I have to prove, to no one but myself, that I am fully capable of finishing what I start. And finish I intend to. I have a couple long runs left in me before the day and we’re about to find out just how a New Yorker does running pandemic or no pandemic. Stay tuned to find out how it goes!

Fall Running Favorites in the Big Apple 🍎☀️📸🍂🍁🦋🐿️🦆🕊️🦢🐦🏃🏽‍♀️🗽

Bow Bridge
@ Engineer’s Gate

It is a New York truism that Central Park is at its most gorgeous in Autumn. While Spring definitely has it’s charm, Summer is all get out beautiful, and winter can be a postcard perfect wonderland, Fall is by far my favorite in the park. I can’t put my finger on a singular thing but maybe it’s a combination: the riot of colors, the abundant foliage, the breathtaking views, the almost-there foot traffic, the near-perfect running temps, and the musical cacophony of the park’s residents. Autumn is everywhere in Central Park and for the above reasons, so am I.

Jackie Onassis Reservoir
Jackie Onassis Reservoir Running Path

Last week I took off on an impromptu run – the best kind – and can I just say.. wow. Mind you, I’ve made this park my running home, and I’ve been living in NYC for about 10 years now, so I’m not some starry eyed newbie. Still, it never gets old and gets me every time. Self confessed New Yorker that I am with a penchant for running all over this charming and gritty city, I am biased to Central Park. It is the epitome of an oasis in the desert and have served myself, thousands of New Yorkers, and millions of visitors over the years bringing respite, sanctuary, seclusion, nature, adventure, beauty, art, culture, and a host of other things that are quintessential New York to the world. I am just so stoked to have this as part of my New York life experience but more importantly as the catalyst for my running in this city. The park is where I started my 19-marathon running streak, that seems like ages ago now, and God’s willing there are a few more runs yet to explore here.

Running along the east side heading to 72nd Street
Along Cat Hill & heading to 72 St Transverse

Reminiscing aside, I must have been buoyed by that particular gorgeous Autumn day with its sights and sounds because I gleefully flew aka ran the 6-mile outer loop of the park, flitting in and out at various picturesque points to snap a quick shot or two of every which thing. It was a photo run, if there is such a thing, totally unorthodox in nature – pun intended – encompassing random yet popular, trivial yet wowing, basic yet catchy views. If Central Park was a person, it’s stealing shots of a person unbeknownst but really with that person knowing full well that people do it all the time. My run was littered with sudden stops, quickened pace, selfie poses, backtracking, off path jaunts, all the while happening in the early afternoon. I never run around midday unless it’s late Fall or winter as it’s the sunniest and least cold then and so it was the perfect running day. I wasn’t alone in this thinking as there were people everywhere. Seems there are many others that share my love for the park. It’s also the year of Covid-19, though you would never know it from inside this slice of heaven. In fact, you would be forgiven for forgetting, the only thing contagious there being the jovial and benevolent spirit of park goers. So for just about 2 hours, I ditched the mask, though I maintained social distance, and turned off the panic, noise, grit, and confusion of the outside world to just bask in the explosion of nature in the best place in my world right there and then.

Just about TCS Nyc Marathon Finish Line
Unnamed Rustic Bridge @ Southwest Reservoir

Pictures sometimes can’t really do justice to the reality but oftentimes it’s the best reminder we have and captures a moment in time that we’ll never get back. No matter how many times I’ve seen these, I never get tired of the views. Central Park is really my favorite place to be.

The Mall, William Shakespeare, & a Horse drawn Carriage

Strength for the Day 🏋🏽‍♀️

Wow what a crazy bunch of weeks the past month has been! I’ve had a death in my family – no relation to Covid- had to sit an exam in the same week, facilitate online activities and projects for the kids I tutor and my volunteer group, and still find time for running, cycling, and strength exercise. I need a vacation! Yup. Somewhere idyllic that involves a lot of nature, beaches, hiking, waterfalls, incredible sunsets, and sunrises to run for and that is non-covid threatening. If anyone knows of a place on earth like this that I could safely travel to, please help out a fellow runner. I’ll pay all that I have, which may not be a lot but c’mon it’s all I have – cause then I’ll probably never come back. In the interim, I really need to get into a sustainable routine that’s not so crazy and I should be fine. I think.

Since time waits on no man, and there’s no woman exception, we’re going full steam ahead into October and the full effect of Fall season. We’re talking Halloween🎃, which I don’t really care for and then Thanksgiving🦃, which is going to be very interesting this year, and the holiday Sales💰, which I might care more about if I had money to spend but really it’s not even on my radar right now. What is on there is that we are slowly and differently running again! I mean no big fall marathons, such as we’ve gotten accustomed to – ♥️NYC marathon and Chicago Marathons♥️ – but there are smaller races happening and the novel option to run said bigger races as virtual experiences this year. This is good news for runners like myself. It’s been all sorts of terrible for the racing world, and everyone really, since March and it’s good to know that we’re taking some running steps if not strides yet. I am thankful and strong!

Good news is also spreading in our fitness community. While things are different and not ideal, gyms are open and those that have been climbing the walls of their apartments in this city have the opportunity to hop in and out for a bit of a different scene that involves a lot of new guidelines but allows them to workout in the company of others once more – of sorts anyway. School too, has resumed, of sorts, and some people are back to work, again of sorts, but these days I’ll take all the “of sorts” as oppose to not-at-all. Among the important and relevant news is that I’m finished with my PT certification! It’s been some 10 weeks that I’ve been inundated with nothing but the biomechanics of the human movement system and I swear if it had not been for the the Good Lord and running, my mind would be toast. I made it and none too soon as cooler running temps are here. I have a lot of energy, good and bad, to burn as I get my feet moving and the blood pumping once more. Marathon season, whether there is a live one or not, is here and I’m about to run one just because I can. Well I hope I can anyway; while it’s been a minute with that sort of distance, I’m not worried about it. My lungs and feet are strong!

It’s the little things my friends. Gratefulness is my new mantra. That I can run, exercise, commit to a program, have the resources I need, pass am exam, celebrate my dad’s long years and that I have life, enjoy physical health and a sound mind – they are in fact not at all little but they’re definitely the things I’ve taken for granted in the past. Covid-19 has forever changed that, and me, and a lot of us I’d wager, but it’s for the better and that can only be a good thing. Each day I awake, more aware, more focused, more blessed to be here, no matter the inconveniences and despite the tragedies and loss. My story isn’t over and neither is yours; we have been given strength for today, and for tomorrow, and for the next day, and the next if God wills it. Now let me dig deep for the strength I need for 26.2 in this very unconventional Marathon season. And, BTW, yes you can! We are strong and getting only stronger in this season together.

Comment below if you’re up for it! #letsrun🏃🏼‍♀️🏃🏽‍♀️🏃🏾

August and my Thoughts Have Run Away

It’s been a minute (meaning awhile – don’t ask me why we speak all wrong sided – not my generation 🤭) since I’ve got on here! Truthfully, I’ve had good intentions and even started writing about all the good stuff I was doing and the projects I was getting done (not really) but then yesterday happened and I hadn’t finished yet and so the relevant kinda went away with August. And you know what they say about good intentions – it’s a hellish road – that of course would be closer to the truth, mostly anyway. It’s been pretty much I driving me crazy with too much studying and myself trying to keep us sane by running and biking around. If it doesn’t confuse or concern you that I’m having a split personality complex right there then read on.

Let me be clear, I’m not advocating cessa

Let me be clear, I’m not advocating an end to learning when you’ve hit a certain age, say “40” 😉 , but I am saying it seems like there’s so more work to be done and way less time to do it in. Whatever happened to long days with endless hours and grace periods and just plain grace? Apparently, a thing of the past in our new Covid-19 world, characterized by social distancing, work-from-home solutions, and real life Covid-related issues. I’m not sure I like this America. But who’s talking likes when survival is at stake. This year is about survival I’m told so I’m not allowed to indulge in sentimental platitudes that doesn’t serve the overarching agenda of staying safe and alive. What about sane then? That’s tied up in there, ain’t it? (Again, don’t ask me how that got in the dictionary, the urban one – not my generation) And yep, sane is game they say, so yes we can talk about that. Of course that brings me full circle to running.

I might have mentioned, sometime in the distant pre-Covid past, that running is my saving grace. Aha grace! There it is. Right here like me all along. So yeah running, it’s gotten me out of some bored, tedious, brain-racking, walls-closing-in situations in the past few months. Days when I didn’t know if I could read one more word, or participate in another zoom work session, or stand my own company for another minute – running reached in and rescued me. It’s been mostly late evenings and night runs in the past few weeks but in more recent days we’ve been on a few morning and afternoon runs as well. And might I just say how thankful I am for slightly cooler temps. Though I’m still sweating bullets most times, at least it’s not with blazing sunshine and that’s rather the cherry on top of the tempo, ladder workout, longish, Sprint, and discovery runs I’ve been varying as part of my running repertoire these days.

As we transition into September, I want to encourage you to stay committed to good health, and like the seasons that change, and with the literal advance of Autumn, we too can experience newness and growth and even a harvest. As like the good book says, let us not grow weary of doing good; of taking care of ourselves, of pursuing growth and development, of remaining committed to our intentions, and of finding ways to be a blessing, for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. And that, friends, is my two cents farewell to August, hot summer runs, and hopefully Covid days!

Not gone too soon at all.

July Thoughts and Things: summer nights, heat waves, running, at-home fitness, black lives, birthdays, beach time, and spiritual & educational growth.

My mind’s running a marathon these days and Chicago’s not. Yep, they finally cancelled the marathon, along with NYC’s..darn Covid.. yet it’s all I can do to catch a breath myself and turn it off when it’s bedtime. No matter where you are, I  imagine it’s the same for most of us. How on earth..in these crazy times..does one keep it all together? In previous posts, I’ve talked about running everywhere, at-home fitness, varied workouts, and caring for our beloved minds. In this post, I’ll share how all of that is coming together – kinda – in the reality of my life, Covid-19, and summer- time in New York City.

Let me be clear, this summer is no walk in the park or walk on the beach, or even anything like an easy run. In fact, I’d have to liken it, if I can make use of a physical anology, to an intermediate hike of marathon distance with increased elevation. So despite the things that I have going on, and of course I’ve managed to find things to keep me from dying from isolation, it is by no means easy and requires deliberate daily steps, one foot in front of the other, to see the results desired. What are those results? Well, some are: keeping a sound mind, staying fit, cultivating a healthy lifestyle, and growth and development. Man, that sure sounds different from those intentions I had at the cusp of the New Year. Sad joke, but I guess the new year went with intention (mine).

July came with all the sunshine, heat, and yes, thunderstorms – with a jump into the hurricane season, that’s meant we’ve been sitting in  90°F+ for the past week or is it weeks, hard to keep track with everything else going on. America celebrated July 4th – independence day – the likes of which this generation had never seen before. I mean we had fireworks in our neighborhoods unlike anything, in terms of its aggressiveness and duration, it went on for weeks at all hours of the day and night, which initiated unprecedented complaints and reports and made national news that got the powers-that-be attention and eventually tempered the insanity. Could it be, like many were insisting, that it was an outlet for a people tired of Quarentine? Meanwhile, Black Lives Matter protests continued, though it has simmered down now, and in a final twist to highlight the issues of African Americans and the social unrest bubbling, John Lewis, a main figure in Congress and representative of the struggle for equality and justice for African Americans, died a few days ago. This is amidst the continued restrictions in American society aka social distancing, wearing masks in public, outside dining, many small businesses going belly up, and others, like gyms and health clubs, remaining closed.

The reality sometimes presents a bleak-ish picture but eternal optimism is something I subscribe to and so I’ve continued my workouts to varying degrees to accommodate the heat that’s been, let’s just say, WOW. I’ve always preferred summer over winter, now I’m realizing it has been more about the freedom, travel & adventure, and vacation aspect, which is really more suited for summertime than this crazy humidity. Worse yet is that even night runs are becoming overwhelmed by the heat. No siree, that is not good. When I work out at home, I’m usually operating on heat overload and try to take it outside when I can, even at night – late night. Night runs, always are one of my favorite things about summer, is turning into a bit of a fiasco these days. I’m finding myself out and about at 9/10pm just barely keeping from combusting. This year, I have the opportunity to cycle at night too, and I’ve started going out to the beach in the evening time. Who am I kidding? It’s not just because I would totally wilt away in the daytime, even thought I would, but it’s also been therapeutic and helps me get a much-needed break from the monotony of routine, the news cycle, and the four walls of my apartment. Praise the Good Lord for beaches that are within my proximity!

In the midst of the surreal-ness of what is now my life, and probably that of many others,  I celebrated a birthday. How surreal (insert roll my eyes)! July, the month of birthdays: America, mine, my brothers, my roommate. Seems I couldn’t get away from it even if I tried, and try I did, I took myself off to the beach and even did a run while there. An escape it was. Beautiful, exhilarating, a welcome change of scenery, from the waves to the sunset and moonlight, that’s right, I stayed until nighttime. It was absolutely wonderful. Props to my friends and family, who, though we were apart this year, managed to be a tremendous blessing through the gifts they sent my way. I was gratified with all the love and dare I say it saved the event from being  an abject disaster. God is truly looking out for me. I’m now able to include some new “tricks” (equipment) into my workouts – variety my friends – and I started my personal training certification! Totally cool, totally online, and totally overwhelming. I’m still trying to navigate my way and figure it all out so my excitement is tempered with caution.

I’m convinced though that this season, while full of uncertainty and numerous stresses, is one of growth and personal development. I’m learning and growing in my relationship with God, the most important area of my life, and thank God too, He’s had to hear me pray about that for years. And true to form, nothing good comes easy, but it’s a daily walk that I’m needing right now to help me balance everything that’s happening. I remain very grateful. And there’s now the opportunity to delve into an area I have a genuine interest in and heart for. I’m happy to learn more about the world of fitness and now have some idea that I can make this more than my lifestyle by working in the field I love with the most rewarding benefit of helping others realize their health goals. Cool huh? Don’t I know it. Except, I have to get through this (focusing in this unlikely season) to get to the other side to that goal. Truth is, God is always in the details, always has been, always will be.

Healthy in Mind as in Body 🧠💪📝🤯👩🏽‍⚕️🧰📜✍🏼☎️💑🍎



At the rate this pandemic is going I figure it’s a good idea to address the issue of our mental well-being. In this season especially, but not singularly, it’s not enough to keep fit physically, more and more we’re coming to understand that caring for the mind is just as important. We know that physical exercise can help our mental state; we’ve talked about its positive impact through the release of those feel-good endorphins and its ability to put us in a better frame of mind etc. But juxtaposed to this is the inability to engage fully in any exercise activity without the capacity of a sound mind. If we’re anxious and/or feeling any anyone of its “cousins” like fear, depression, stress etc., it’s next to impossible to actively engage ourselves in any type of activity to promote our well being.

Like exercise is to the body so is peace to the mind. And because these are highly-stressful times, we need to pay as much attention to caring for our minds as our bodies. Mental health professionals, and many others, will agree that, present circumstances notwithstanding, the issue of mental health is one that has been getting increasing attention in recent years. There are many reasons for this but some have pointed to the advance in technology – the rise of social media – and the subsequent decline in real substantial relationships and meaningful, face-to-face communication as a delineating factor in the increase of psychological and mental issues that many face. While there are many contributory factors, I chose this one to make the case that if this is indeed so, then this season could be especially difficult for some of us. The fact is we have the makings of a perfect storm with the economic and social fallout from Covid-19. People, the world over and in these United States, are dealing with a conglomeration of issues from grief of the loss of family members, to sickness themselves, to unemployment, to restrictions to their freedom, to isolation in some instances, and then not enough space in others as a result of being in quarentine. It’s enough to make anyone lose their will along with their mind. And with all the losses already, that’s the one thing we can’t afford to lose.

I can’t promise that I have any profound knowledge when it comes to mental health and I’ll be the first to point anyone with any real and lasting issue/concern to a mental health professional: therapist, counsellor, or doctor for a consult and appropriate treatment. But I think it’s important to be aware that there is a need for us to be proactive in our own mental care to preempt a downward slide into what could turn into a concern that may require treatment. With that in mind, I’ve dug around and gotten some ideas on how we can take care of the invaluable real estate that is our minds in these trying times.

Things to do:

  • Create a Care Plan for Your mind – this is a more general and long-term-type plan but can include some short-term ideas you can then transfer to a daily schedule. These activities will differ from person to person but will generally consists of  aspects of fun, meditation or prayer, music, art, and/or creative ideas, life-long learning activities, and rest and relaxation.
  • Create a daily schedule – that includes some of the above so as remain focused and on task. This will leave less time for idle hands and minds. You might include a task or project you devised to empower or help yourself or someone else.               Examples are: Reorganize and clean out your closets and bag stuff for donations, safely volunteer at a soup kitchen or pantry, and plant a kitchen garden. 
  • Journal or Write – journal your thoughts, your prayers, your intentions, or whatever you’re feeling. Often, writing things out can help with processing difficult issues and allows room fora  honest and sometimes more objective assessment, which can help you to determine next steps. Writing also provides clarity and can help in either keeping you on course or provide a proactive approach to indicate when you’re running off course.
  • Stay connected – human connections via family or friends, or a mentor, pastor, group members and leaders are important to keep you grounded and to help you feel you’re not alone even with all the social distancing and quarentine guidelines. It is also important to know that there’s someone there to reach out to if you need to talk or need help of some kind.
  • Begin a New Course of Study/ Skill – Now is a good time to pick up a new course of study, a language, or a skill if you’re one with a lot of time on your hands. Choose something that can be beneficial to you and can add value to your field or career choice, or if you just for personal development. For example, graphic design might be feasible if you’re creative-minded and have some technical knowledge.

I encourage you to go easy on yourself. These are trying times to say the least so it’s ok to be patient and kind to yourself. Encourage yourself, challenge yourself, be good to yourself, but more importantly love yourself. If at anytime you feel you’re can’t process it all, reach out to someone. Get help. Contrary to popular opinion, reaching out for help is not a sign of weakness but takes enormous strength, wisdom, and humility. Stay strong-minded friends.

source: lifekdesigns.com

A Mid-day Ride to Central Park

On the Queensboro bridge

Last Thursday I got the wild idea to ride to Central Park from my home in Queens. Now many of you know that I run everywhere, so no big surprise if I had planned on running there, sure it might’ve been a bit of an endeavor with the impromptu nature of my decision, but not impossible. However riding to Central Park is on a whole other level given that I have never ridden in the city before and that I have only started cycling about 3 months ago, a shirt while after the pandemic started. Add to that the run-in I had with a car about a month after – scars still visible – and you’ll perhaps understand my delayed incredulity that I actually never second guessed myself when, in a moment of desperation to get out of Quarentine and see the city I missed fiercely, I opted to hop on my bike and go the way a newbie cyclist had never gone before.

Queens Boulevard

That I’m in a position to retell the tale bodes well for newbies everywhere. Though I will say I think second-guessing is a killer. Do not indulge. I’ll even go so far as to say that upon deciding that you’re going to do something, realistically speaking, then just do it. There’s nothing more dangerous to success that doubt or lack of belief in oneself. And the fact is the longer you spend in the valley of indecision, the more unlikely a positive outcome seems. If, per chance, I needed the impetus to get going, then there it was. I was not going to be left wondering if I could have had I been courageous enough to.

Long Island City

In hindsight, it’s wild that I started out in the afternoon. I would never choose that time to run so it must have been the promise of overcast skies that made me so adventurous, that and the knowledge that only hotter days were ahead. I set out on a Google searched and pre-planned course hoping that it didn’t include any freeways and highways. While it didn’t appear so, I couldn’t be sure. I have many anxious moments when I think about riding on roads with big trucks and vans etc that show little care for cyclists that dare to venture onto what they perceive as their domain. Imagine my surprise to find that I had the use of bike lanes and paths the entire way! There has never been a happier cyclist, except for those in the Tour de France I’m sure. You would have to know New York City and Queens in particular to understand my elation. I was all kinds of ecstatic to be cycling down Queens Boulevard after going through Kew Gardens, the back area off of Flushing, through Forest Hills and unto the boulevard. I then made my way through Elmhurst, Woodside, Sunnyside, then into Long Island City, and over the Queensboro bridge (a bit of an upward climb that eventually went down all the way into the city) and finally spilled out unto 1st Avenue in Manhattan. It felt super amazing to be finally back after my almost 3-month hiatus. Here’s the thing, each time I return to Manhattan, after a holiday or break, there’s always this feeling of returning home. It’s the oddest yet familiar feel of the crowded and often-time dirty-bright streets that offers a weird welcoming feeling that’s really difficult to pen. One of those things that just is I guess.

The MET Museum

That said, this time around there were a lot of locals about on 1st Ave. For a New Yorker it’s pretty easy to point out the locals, they’re the ones on a mission and under no threat of getting run over due to idyllic strolling and gazing about. I was surprised at how easy it was to get around on a bike there, and I shouldn’t have been really given that I’ve seen lots of cyclists in the city before – often riding at breakneck speed through traffic. I always imagined that I could never be a part of that and I still do. I think the reason I was able to get away with it this time around was because of the reduction in traffic about. Not saying I’m glad for “Covid-19,” absolutely not. But less foot and vehicular traffic does make room for wonders otherwise impossible. As I moved over to 5th Ave, on the Upper East Side, it was easy to see the effects of a city denied its ability to shine. It also made me quite sad as I had never seen the city so quiet and lack luster before. Now I understand the governor’s comment about the pandemic bringing this city to its knees. How apt. I rode to the Metropolitan Museum and reminisced for a few before heading into the park for a brief sit-down in the fields off the boathouse (restaurant and lake) area and in view of the popular Cat Hill, a running favorite of my run group for hill repeats.

@Central Park

It’s not often I ride into the city, never before actually, so I had to lie on a rock, take some pics, and get on a call to give credence that this was really happening. I was not alone in my jubilation as there were many others about on picnics, exercising, walking or laying about. One might be tempted to think sunshine was missing because of the overcast nature of the skies but that didn’t stop the humidity and brief specks of sunlight that made me glad for the clouds. I eventually got up and made my way to the mall area, famous for being featured in a few movies. The Mall It’s another favorite interval running spot for my run group and an overall favorite of many park goers; that day so green and uncrowded. From there I meandered my way through the East Drive, where the NYC Marathon exits out the park onto its final leg on West 59th Street. There I stood at Grand Army Plaza with 5th Avenue off to my left and the famous Time Plaza Hotel to my right. Straight up ahead on 5th Ave was the opportunity for a shopping experience the likes of which you’ve only seen in the movies, only not that day, they were all closed, well almost all. From my precarious perch, camera in hand, I could see the Apple store open while practicing social distancing with people lined up outside. Apparently, iPhones are “essential”. Still, there was more traffic in these parts and I was getting nervous so my hands went to the handle bars and my eyes to the roads as I made my way back over to 1st Ave and onto the bridge once more for my return to Queens. I didn’t feel so nostalgic then, where there was a will, there will be a way.

East Drive

It’s funny how much faster the return route is. After taking forever to get to a location because of an unknown route, the return is always so much more seamless and quick. It seemed in no time at all I was back in my neighborhood. In actuality, it was about 2 hours and that was because I took a wrong turn somewhere as mass confusion abounds when it comes to me following the street rules. I finished up with a total ride time of 3 hours, 59 minutes. Not too bad for my first long ride in unfamiliar territory I think. Now I know I can do anything! Kidding. Sorta. 😜

The East River from the Bridge
Queensboro Bridge

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