Running, Jogging, Walking, and Cycling – Variety Workouts

So we’re stuck – of sorts – and we’re bored – no question – well, Summer’s approaching – what does that even mean nowadays – and is it even possible to stay true to my fitness intentions now? Some of us are fumbling with the questions and juggling the options while trying not to run out of steam both mentally and physically. There’s good news. Exercise is made for such a time as this. It is possible to jerry up things a bit to get you some focus, me-time, and address the pressing look good – feel good factor. As always, I’m sharing based on personal experience and what I may have come across that appears interesting and reasonably safe.

Running

Discover Runs – Google Maps can actually take you places. Who knew. You can look for interesting landmarks in your area via Google maps and plan a weekly workout run to a preselected spot and back. I’ve recently come to know a few undiscovered lakes, parks, and sites of interest in my area of Queens, NY that I have never visited before now. Thanks Google!

Tempo Runs – Choose a short distance to run at a steady upbeat pace, 3-5 miles is a good place to start. This run can be done in your neighborhood, a nearby park or on a running path.

Early Morning / Sunrise / Sunset Runs – Warmer weather is here and it’s perfect for either time of the day. Run with your phone to capture these awesome moments that will ignite your heart and social media feed. Running with nature is as good a hashtag as any and better than most.

Long Runs – In times past, I would save my long run for the weekend. These days weekends are everyday and it’s easy to pick a day after deciding on a destination with noteworthy views. A bridge route always offers some good views and the opportunity to run into new territory or, as in the case here in New York City, another borough. Hey to know your city or town.

Jogging and Walking

Nature Walks – I love going to the larger parks in the area and walking or jogging the trails. Pay attention to the trail colors, which determines the level of difficulty and keeps you from walking in circles. Though, that’ll work too.

Hills, Stairs, and Track Workouts – These are really good options for those of us looking to up our fitness level through conditioning, repetition, and consistency. Power walking or jogging in any or a combination of these locales two to three times a week for 30-40 mins each time is a good workout any day. Pretty soon you’ll be running and you won’t even know it.

Hiking – One of my favorite things about the good weather is the opportunity for hiking. These days there are limits to that – the nearest park with trails – for those of us limited to public transportation. Butt for others, who can drive out to a starting point, there’s nothing like climbing a mountain with the reward of some incredible vistas for your effort. Hiking in the mountains along well known/ travelled paths are just about the best way to get your walking and exercise in. Here in New York, we have the amazing Catskills Mountains which is a treasure trove for newbies and veteran hikers alike.

Walk-Jog Intervals – This is a good anaerobic workout for those wanting to work on skill or getting into running. Choose a distance of say 1-2 miles and alternate between jogging and walking. For example; jog 2 minutes, quick walk 2 minutes. Repeat.

Cycling

Cycling is still somewhat new to me and while it was in the plan from the get-go, I didn’t really jump on – pun intended – until this pandemic forced us into isolation. Thank God for knowing, before I did, what I needed because it has turned out to be a blessing. For the most part, I’ve been going on long-ish discovery rides of my neighborhood and its environs while learning the rules of engagement on the roads. I’ve discovered some new areas and found that I can take my bike hiking – of sorts – where I ride to the park and then walk the trails, bike in tow. Turns out that is a great way to get a workout in too!

Do your due diligence folks and vary your workouts. Chances are very good that they can be fun and learning experiences. Quite so!

 

Queen of Running In Quarentine

Looking back to January this year, I have to say I wouldn’t have predicted this even if you had paid me to come up with the most bizarre outcomes for the year. These days, even though I’ve been living in this twilight zone, of sorts, for about seven weeks now. Pinch me! By now I’ve been home six weeks, every day, all day – save for the times I go running or riding, which by the way has saved my life, and no matter the distance, is all home by now surely. They say, staying home saves lives; Is it just me or is that the irony of all ironies? Because in all honesty, had I not been able to run (away), well let’s just say I’m super thankful that I can.

Irises in Bloom

Back to January’s intentions and my decision to do away with goal setting and focus on doing things with intent. LOL. Right! Look how that turned out. This isn’t to say setting intentions aren’t beneficial, only that we could be armed with the very best intentions but there’s no accounting for unforseen circumstances. No matter that we’re set about the path with all the right tools and are in full kick-ass mode. Today it’s Covid-19, but really it could be anything outside of our control and then it’s so long intentions, for then anyway. At the end of the day we have next to no control over external factors, which can affect the outcome of our intentions. So what am I saying? Is it pointless to go about making plans and setting intentions with so much unknown and outside of our control? Absolutely not. When has the future ever been certain? And who on earth can predict outcomes with absolute certainty anyway? We can only do that which we can do, with the right perspective, accepting our God-given, not human-set, limits. And leave the rest to the One Who holds all our tomorrows in His super capable hands. May the odds be ever in our favor.


So, in true roll-with-the-punches, or more likely do-or-die, form; I’ve rebounded with a plethora of fitness endeavors that’s second to my regular fitness schedule only due to the missing gym component. The truth is I’m extremely self-motivated in the area of health and exercise and that’s been to my advantage. Thank goodness too, for I have a hard time thinking how I would manage without the ability to escape into whatever form exercise takes on any given day. Francis Lewis Blvd @Sunset
For the record, I’ve found that running away – both literally and otherwise – is by far the most beneficial, though not always the most enjoyable, method of exercise these days. To my credit, I’ve thrown some variety in there with the the type, distance, and course, while divving up the days to mitigate against routine and boredom. So far, so very good. The important lesson in this season of “solitary confinement”, and I’m learning this as well, is that being open, adaptive, and flexible are valuable assets.

Queens Run
Neighborhood Street

In fact, this running-away technique/exercise method has been going so well that I’ve oft been hit with a sense of “I live here! Who knew!” To be clear, running has always been a way to clear my mind and focus outside myself, more so now where the emphasis is freedom from the confines of this self-imposed prison, which my home have now become. Of course, it’s only a prison because I have to be there, and I’m sure it won’t always be that way but for now there it is. And so running in my neighborhood and in surrounding Queens, New York is apparently a learning experience I don’t mind at all.

St Pascal Baylon Church



Neighborhood Street


I’ve run down neighborhood streets, up main streets, across bridges and county lines, on boulevards, near parkways, in parks and wooded areas, to the airport, by churches, around playgrounds, before sunrise, into sunsets, to the grocery store, the pharmacy, to and from home and everywhere in between. It’s been interesting, satisfying, informing, tiring, purposeful, useful, and mostly pretty, which is really the best part for me after the finish line satisfaction I get each time I’m through. My best runs are those with the loveliest views even if they’re on a mountain top or in a canyon. For me, the view is always worth the run. It really is the simplest things that bring the most joy.

Queens Moonlight

Life’s Where you are & What you eat 👄🍴🥢

Vegging out @Home
Vegging out @ home

In previous posts we’ve established that exercise and running 🏃‍♀️ are not just good ways to embrace this season of imposed isolation but that they’re really beneficial to our overall health. But what in the world of Covid-19 have we been eating! Science doesn’t have to tell us that locked inside with nothing to do but binge; whether on a Netflix series🎞️, reading 📖, cleaning, or even exercising, it’s all happening in close range of food🍝. Unless the Pantry’s empty, we’re eating. Since there’s no running away, pun intended, we’ve got to figure out how to eat smart so that when we get to the other side of this we don’t end up worse off than where we started. In fact, there’s hope that we could come out of this with a more balanced and healthier approach to life beginning with our diet and the right perspective. ➡️

Recall at the beginning of this year how I talked about setting intentions as oppose to goals. It’s a tad foggy right now, since it seems like such a long time ago, but it is also possible to eat with intention. Ding💡. And it may be easier than it sounds, given anything coupled with intention sounds like it actually requires additional effort. Intentional eating is just like any other intention really, it simply requires one to act with forethought🤔. That would mean deciding in advance what you hope to achieve – let’s say maintaining a healthy weight and remaining fit and active during Quarentine – and then setting about the wheels🎡 of everyday eating etc to fall in line and help you do it. Easy right? Truth is, it’s really not too difficult. Of course it all depends on what your intentions are. But I’m willing to bet that most of us want to be alert, energized, focused, stress free, and forward looking and thinking. The stats say that when we exercise, we eat better and sleep better, and this in turn helps us look better and feel better. When we have a general sense of well-being; we communicate better, work better and live better. Post-Quarentine goals anyone?

If the above is true, and the science says it is, then eating motivation gets a 10 on any scale of 1-10. So here’s what I do to help with my healthy, fit, and active intention when it comes to food and eating during these difficult times. 1. I stock up on healthy foods to include lots of whole grains🌾, veggies🥦🥬🥕, organic meat🥩, poultry🍗, and diary🥛. 2. I choose fresh or frozen over canned and packaged. 3. I pick organic fruits in place of packaged chips, and store bought cookies🍪, cakes🍰, and ice cream🍦. 4. I purchase Yogurt, sorbet, and ingredients for homemade smoothies and juices. 4. I prefer Homemade 🍞 and cakes tailored to my health needs (gluten free is a healthy option I like). 5. My must-have ingredients include: Olive oil, a butter substitute like Country Crock, my one trusted seasoning spice – Mrs Dash, homemade blended green seasoning. 6. I limit store-bought sauces and choose organic ketchup, mayo, and bar-b-q sauce when necessary. 7. I buy organic as much as possible, which is costly but I weigh my options. It means sometimes giving up something I don’t need to put toward this option. 8. For me, nuts🥜 and dark chocolate🍫 are always healthier options than their counterparts. 8. I cook for 2 days at a time to stretch my meals and maximize my efforts. 9. Oatmeal and fruit🍌🍓 is my go-to breakfast, it’s cheap, filling, and healthy. 10. I’m learning that having a well thought-out daily schedule🗓️ will mitigate against being at odds with time on my hands to be bored as boredom can lead to eating/snacking🍿. Also, I limit eating at night🌌 before bed 🛏️ and when necessary eat foods that are easily digested and low in sugar and fat content.

The truth is there is no hard and fast rules when it comes to eating well and I’d be lying if I said I am always good about following my own advice but I have found that I am my best when I try to stay within the parameters of a healthy diet. All of the suggestions I have outlined above are habits that I practice daily and I will say, more often than not, I follow through. What I have found easy is to surround myself with healthy choices, which are a bit limited these days I admit, but in so doing, I have little option for anything else. This is a great way to adhere to any intentions of staying fit and healthy this year.

The question then is not if we can do this but how badly we want to see our intentions come to pass.✊

Sources: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/weight-management/keep-active-eat-healthy-feel-great#eat https://www.eatthis.com/diet-butters/

Why Running & Why now?

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Source: New York Times

I always loved running… it was something you could do by yourself, and under your own power. You could go in any direction, fast or slow as you wanted, fighting the wind if you felt like it, seeking out new sights just on the strength of your feet and the courage of your lungs. – Jesse Owen

I’m currently sitting in the sunshine writing this and it strikes me how crazy it is that it took a stay-at-home order for many of us to finally get what has been staring us in the face all along; It really is the little things. Little things like sunshine, and sunsets, and birds chirping, and cherry blossoms, and spring time, and family time, and quiet time, and prayer time, and good health, friendships, date night, girl time, basic amenities, and yes even our jobs, are really blessings that all too often go unnoticed and underappreciated because of our too-busy-getting-ahead lives.

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Yet here we are, not of our own violation obviously, finding ourselves in unfamiliar territory – with time on our hands. And it’s not just time we have; some of us have families, and God help us, kids at home, and wait it gets worse, to navigate online schooling and even homeschool. Others may be be able to work from home, which can go either way and could be good or not-so-much, depending on the home situation. Even if you’re alone, without dependents or family drama, being alone could be the issue. Whichever way you figure it, there’s some type of stress involved – whether it’s emotional, financial, mental, and/or physical, we’re all feeling something that is, more than likely, not super positive these days. We need help! An outlet, an escape, a break – whatever you want to call it as long it’s a positive way to channel the negative energy that’s certain to arise from this new “normal.” Lucky for you, I know just the thing, and whilst it’s nothing new, it’s one of those things that many of us, myself included, have been taking for granted all along. 

Running, my friends, is the most underrated and one of the most underused form of exercise there is. While there are more people exercising today than ever before, folks are more apt to find a gym of which there a wide variety with dozens of specialties. The basic gym with regular equipment is almost a thing of the past with many incorporating various types of classes and programs to cater for a diverse membership in the hopes of staving off the competition. And believe me the competition presents a real threat with its modern ideas, tech savvy equipment, and tailored-to-you approach. With all of this vying for one’s attention, it is not difficult to see why the unmotivated, reluctant, or unaware would-be runner may be more apt to stick with the masses and do what is popular and perceivably “easier.”

To be clear, I think that most people of the aforementioned persuasion are either misinformed or misunderstand the nature of running and its benefits to them and thus unwittingly place themselves at the mercy of these corporate gym giants in the hopes of perhaps finding all the answers to their exercise, and sometimes health, needs in one place. Gyms, in my opinion, are a great resource that can provide additional support and even cross training to the runner and is not, nor should it be, a replacement for what is a natural, cheap, and relatively easy form of exercise. Given the situation we’re dealing with these days, I want to suggest that now may be a good time to think about exploring some ways to harness your exercise possibilities and potential outside of the gym. In my last post, I explored several exercises we can indulge in at home and included running in the list as I described exercises and workouts I utilize on a typical day. Here I want to talk a little about some of the science and benefits behind Running as a means to getting you to appreciate its simplicity and practicality.

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Making the case for running is pretty easy with the list of positives far outweighing its  critics who often point to the stress factor on the knees as a drawback to running. The argument can be made that while knee pain can quickly sideline a runner, It’s often a sign of overtraining or a need to improve one’s form or flexibility. (Business Insider)     On a very basic level, running is appealing to most runners because it’s relatively cheap, can be easily adapted to suit your ability, and can be done almost anywhere and at a time convenient to you. You can do it for fun, for competition, for fitness for companionship, and for weight loss. 

Studies have shown that running can help prevent obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, some cancers, and a host of other unpleasant conditions. What’s more, scientists have shown that running also vastly improves the quality of your emotional and mental life. It even helps you live longer. (Harvard Health) In the Journal of American College of Cardiology researchers find that even five to 10 minutes a day of low-intensity running is enough to extend life by several years, compared with not running at all.       researchers find that even five to 10 minutes a day of low-intensity running is enough to extend life by several years, compared with not running at all.

Running can significantly improve physical and mental health by improving your mind and fight age-related cognitive decline.
• As a form of aerobic exercise, running can reduce stress, improve heart health, help alleviate symptoms of depression, help you sleep better, improve your mood and ability to focus.
• Running is a great calorie burner and is one of the main forms of reducing and maintaining a healthy weight coupled with a healthy diet.

Here are some recommendations for newbie runners under current conditions: 1. Get checked out by your doctor to get the go ahead before starting. You may be able to do a call in or video call with your doctor to get suggestions and recommendations. If not, see #4 and I encourage you to read some literature on starting out and listen to your body for signs on how to proceed. 2. Visit a running store and get fitted for a good pair of running shoes. There is an option to call and discuss with shoe specialist at some stores like Jack Rabbit/ The Running Company during this time. 3. Consider joining a run club for accountability and support when the current conditions improve. 4. Start slowly, consider jogging the first few times and slowly increase pace and distance. 5. Always run in areas where you have a clear view of others and are within range to be safe. 6. Keep social distancing guidelines by running at non-peak times like mid mornings and afternoons. 7. Warm up before your run to avoid injury. See my last post for warm up exercises and cool down when you’re done. 8. Lastly, don’t forget to hydrate. Run with fluid if you plan on going out for a bit or hydrate before and after a short run.

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Source: Pinterest

Sources: Harvard Health Publishing/ Harvard Medical School, Business Insider, Runner’s World, Better Health Channel

Exercise Your Way to a Strong Mind & Body “Alice”.

I woke up yesterday to April 1. What in the world! How dare time keep moving on as if my life hasn’t been turned upside-down and reality isn’t now likened to a scene from Alice in Wonderland; except then, who am I? Shrinking Alice, the Rabbit, the Mad Hatter, the Queen of Hearts? And where the heck am I? Where is the comfort of my life – my everyday routine of busy days and never-long-enough-weekends, my complaining and grandstanding of never enough time to do..well..anything. Ironic, though it is, time is all we have these days amidst the craziness of a virus hellbent on upsetting our routine and leaving disquiet and unsettling changes in its wake. But one thing is becoming quite clear, whomsoever we choose to be may very well determine who we are when this is all over.

Under normal circumstances and in the routine of our everyday, it’s oftentimes a challenge to juggle the many interests and day-to-day activities we engage in to maximize the best use of our time and resources. These days may be the “new normal” but they are anything but normal. Time, one of our most valuable resources on any given day, is in endless supply these days. However, this has in no way diminished its value; In fact, I want to stress on the importance of seeing time, in these “not normal” days, as an opportunity to invest in ourselves with the benefits/returns to be derived in the not-too-distant future. Let’s dive into how.

Exercise is what I do and in the most challenging of times I run to what I know for comfort and a sense of wellness. If I can catch my breath, work up a sweat, release some feel good endorphins, and stimulate my senses, then the world is still on its axis and there’s hope yet. This is not unique to me, there are a lot of literature on the effects of exercise on our physical and mental well-being and there are many people who benefit from adopting a healthy exercise routine. So allow me to share with you a variety of simple exercises you can use as a template to inspire your endorphins rush as our world goes through this crisis alone but together.

Running, Jogging, Walking – a relatively easy, cheap, and safe way to enjoy the outdoors alone. Spring is the ideal season, minus the wet days, to enjoy the chirping birds, budding leaves, and flowers in bloom in neighborhoods and parks. Nature is awakening and so will your senses. Just be mindful of doing so in daylight and keep your social distance. New to this form of exercise? Start slowly and with shorter distances that you can build upon as time goes on. For example; start with a goal of a 1 mile walk, which you can increase to a jog, then to a run, or feel free to utilize a combination of any two or even all three. Remember, it’s your body and your journey. Listen to it, and take pride in your daily accomplishments.

Cycling – another great calorie burner and a great way to get your exercise outside of the four walls of your home and to enjoy the outdoors when the weather is great. This is of course for those who have bikes. It’s become my newest crave and I like to think I’m a Cyclist-in-the-making. It’s so much faster on the bike than on foot too!

Yoga and Stretching – Stretching should ideally be performed before and after your workout, whether its an at-home workout, or before or after a run or jog. Stretching keeps the muscles flexible, strong, and healthy, and we need that flexibility to maintain a range of motion in the joints (Harvard Health). Pre workout, it serves to warm up the muscles so as to prepare for it’s use and works to keep you free from injury. After that run or workout, post workout stretching benefits are much the same and helps with releasing muscle tension.

Yoga can be different things for different people. For me, it is an excellent way to get my stretches in and practice my breath or breathing. This is really important, not only for me as a runner, but for all of us as per the usual stresses of life and especially now under present quarantine conditions. Practicing deep breathing can bring you calm, energize you, and reduce health problems. The best thing about stretching and yoga is that you can follow a guided video at home or on a mat in the quiet area of the park/ outside (my favorite) and use this as a meditative form of relaxation. There are many videos online, I especially enjoy Alo Yoga from which you can choose, short or longer, sessions particular to your taste.

Ab Workouts – Ideally targeted to that area of the body that makes us crazy with envy when we see a person boasting a six-pack. I mean, yes please! Of course much of that has to do with our diet but some is attributed to exercise and a minute amount to age. Again, thank God that we can do these alone, at home, in the park, or in the backyard. There are tons of YouTube videos and many exercises we can do on our own as well. You can make a list of your favorite, most challenging, or an ideal combination and set up a schedule to workout. If inside, it’s best to clear a spot in your living room for those days when you’re stuck in and designate it as your workout area. Stack up your mat and any workout additions in that area and allow it to work as a reminder of your intention. Some common and simple core exercises include: sit ups, crunches, Russian twists, planks, on the back leg raises, V-ups, and leg sissors.

Dancing – a fun way to release stress, burn calories, and enjoy yourself. You can do this alone with just a dance playlist in the privacy of your own home or join an online class. Virtual dance classes present a fun opportunity to let your hair down and shake “it” off.

Photo Credz @Pinterest.com

Swimming – A great cardio workout, which sadly many of us will be unable to utilize during this time with all the restrictions in place. But it’s a definite plus for those with access at home where you can work on drills and laps to develop technique and build endurance. It’s something I had planned on taking up this year for my triathlon training, now we’ll just have to wait and see. The intention is still there. Hope springs eternal.

Gymnastics movements – I’m limited here by the fact that I have no bars at home. But hey, I have a wall; so while I can’t do pull ups, toes-to-bars, knee or elbow raises, I can manage some wall walks, practice my handstands and handstand push-ups, which helps with shoulder strength and mobility. Since this is a movement that requires demonstration, and YouTube is a treasure trove when it comes to learning a new skill, check out a beginner video to help you get started.

Cardio Exercises – outside of running and cycling there are many other easily accessible exercises we can do to get our heart rates up and release those endorphins. 1. Jump Rope/ Skipping is a favorite of mine and doesn’t require much technique unless you want to graduate to a more advanced skill level like Double Unders. In the CrossFit world we use the term Single Unders for when the rope passes under your feet once and Double Unders for when it passes twice in one jump. 2. Burpees can be done easily by dropping to the floor facedown and using one’s hand in a push up motion to jump straight up as you feet leaves the floor and your hands meet overhead. This is repeated as many times as you decide. It’s an exercise we love to hate for it’s constant movement and high intensity. 3. Jumping Squats are almost self explanatory except remember that squats need to be below hip level to maintain proper form. 4. Jumping Jacks, high knees and butt kicks on the spot are also self explanatory. 5. Sprinting is short distance running at high speed with short recovery efforts after each Sprint (100 meters is my favorite). 6. Lunges: walking, jumping, and reverse are great glute exercises and a great addition to any cardio workout. Begin with feet hip width apart and step forward with the preferred leg and lower your body until the front knee is over your shoe while your back knee bends until it touches the floor in a straight L while you balance on the back toes. Stand and alternate legs and repeat. You can include a jump or do them in the reverse with a step back and knees back approach instead of forward. 7. HIT workouts are high intensity exercises that combine short bursts of different exercises like mountain climbers, push ups, squats, and burpees. They are great sweat-it-out workouts with constant and rapid movement.

The ideal workout would consist of a combination of warm up exercises, strength, and cardio. And could look like any variation of my daily workout these days: stretches, running/ sprints/ cycling/ jump rope; some combination of strength – these days I make use of books, backpacks, resistance bands, and other safe household items to add some weight and challenge – and could include weighted sit-ups, weighted squats/overhead squats, hip thrusters, deadlifts, plank rows, man makers, and some ab exercises. Some days I switch it up to emphasize yoga and core workout or sometimes, like today, I have a cardio day: 1500-2000 jump rope – a combination of Single and Double Unders and a 10 minute Ab workout. Go me!

One thing I’m super thankful for during this time is technology and the ability to vary workouts and generate new and refurbished ideas into tailored workouts because of the tons of resources that are available online, and on YouTube particularly. Technology has given us the added advantage of doing these workouts alone, but together. Who’s not thankful we can “Zoom” in with our friends anywhere, or Skype, or FaceTime, or do a live video call to share our time and workout with others if we so choose. Because, I’ll be honest with you guys, I’m not digging this solitary confinement at all. Praise the Good Lord for technology and our tech gurus!

March Madnes, Spring Fever: life lessons in a new season


March means the new year is officially over – no more happy new year greetings. We’re marching into spring, whether we feel it or not, and making crazy plans to overcome the winter malaise that has shrouded us for the past two and a half months; hence my “march madness” concept. The actual concept has everything to do with American college basketball and nothing to do with my take. LOL. But let’s go with my spin for a second as I was heaven bent on sticking with it but for our new reality. You might say, that’s what March used to mean and you may be right. A normal year ago that could be what it meant. What we’re currently facing today is challenging that entire premise.

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Never, in a hundred years, would I have thought I’d be discussing or writing about a virus, on this platform. But our world climate has changed, and the reality has now taken on a somewhat sci-fi feel that has left me and everyone else grasping at the remnants of a world we use to know. A virus that was non-existent in these parts of the world just 10 weeks ago now seems to have the world in its grips and have left millions of Americans and people all over the world grappling with a “new normal”. What do you do when all you have known is suddenly taken from you? To whom do you turn and where do you go? If and when those questions have been answered you may then get a glimpse into the why of it all, but even that is not certain. The only certainty we’re dealing with these days is that life as we once knew it is over. That is the chilling truth. Chilling because while change is anathema to us humans when you add uncertainty and illpreparedness to that, what you have is the making of a perfect storm fanned by the waves of fear.

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People are dying, others are fearful, many are losing their jobs and livelihoods, some are in constant danger and exhausted (our healthcare workers that are on the frontline battling this virus), while there are others still who are tasked with the job of governing and administrating this global disaster. Let’s not forget the sick and vulnerable members of our society like children in foster care and our elderly. And those are only the ones I’ve listed. There are so many other members of society who are also being affected in a very real way by the Covid-19 virus. It’s almost certain that at the end of this no one will escape unscratched. We can only pray. The truth is since little is known about this strain of the coronavirus, its origin,  development, or mutating ability, and certainly there is no conclusive information on how it spreads, or even its most susepctible targets – information appears to be evolving quite rapidly – this leaves many of us in the least favorite and very discomforting position of having little answers and trusting in that which we cannot see. What!

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Humbling and scary as heck to suddenly find ourselves in a position of ignorance with no control over what’s unfolding before our eyes. What to do? Anyone? Since our very lives depend on the actions we take, I want to suggest that we cannot possibly take this lightly. Our next steps could mean anything from gaining hope, perspective, a new understanding, developing a new and/or healthier appreciation for life, faith, health, a new or different habit or may just mean changing our thought patterns and actions to align with a stark new reality. Whatever we do, and decide we must, it will mean embracing a new normal that will forever alter the way we live. My purpose is not to dwell on the fear factor and what may or may not happen or any other “scary” elements of the unknown, that would be an exercise in futility. I’d rather focus on working with what I have right now – the present – and allow the future to take care of itself. In fact, let me be clear, I prefer to let God take care of that for me.

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Since I’ve always been about good health, exercise, and overall well-being, I’m left with the overwhelming sense that these are essentially the things that I must fight for now. It all appears under attack at this time and I dare say it’s both a physical and spiritual battle. How can we respond? Well unarguably, we have more time on our hands these days than we’ve had in some time, with so many people here in the United States, and around the world, facing lockdowns and stay-at-home guidelines. Since we are a people who love to stay busy, it is actually a good thing that we now have to slow down and take the time to intentionally do things that matter for our well-being. There is no better time than now to spend quality time with each other within the family, to incorporate an exercise routine into your day, to focus on cultivating healthy eating, thought, and lifestyle practices, to develop a new hobby, business idea, and/or to build or develop a faith base and spiritual relationship with God. The physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and even financial benefits to be derived from spending time on each of these aspects of, or involving, you, is immeasurable and is worth every moment of your very valuable time. Since time is money, you can be sure you will see the return on your investment in the not-too-distant future.

💠💠💠

Mindful that some of us need to be motivated and encouraged in the area of exercise, in my next post I’ll look at some ideas on how we can take advantage of the time we have now to develop an exercise plan that will allow us a healthy avenue to channel our energy and avoid stress during these challenging times. Stay tuned!

My 2020 Running Bucket List

It’s true that I’ve scaled back running this year to attend to my knees but I’m not dead yet! I’m still all up in running news and on the look out for some sure ways to get the interested or curious reader or runner-to-be to lace up and hit the streets and trails. Who knows? You might even see me there! 

Destination Runs have always been a favorite of mine for combining two things I love doing: running and traveling. They present the best opportunities to discover new places, take a mini vacay, and feel super accomplished all at the same time. The following is a list of ten races/ runs that are giving me itchy feet this year. I may or may or may not have done a couple on there or a variation of sorts. Nonetheless, I’ve got my sights set on them all.

1. The Carlsbad 5000 – dubbed the world fastest 5K – there are individual races for Masters, Age Group runners, Party People, and Elites, the Carlsbad 5000 is a full day of road racing on the scenic, coastal streets of Carlsbad, California. I’ve always wanted to record an official 5K time so I’m in it for the record and bragging rights!

2. The Poconos Sprint Triathlon – a bit of a newer race, the Pocono Triathlon Festival is nestled in the Pocono Mountains, Lake Wallenp aupack, North East Pennsylvania and plays host to a weekend of racing with crystal clear water,a challenging bike course, beautiful runs and fantastic post race activities. I’m super excited about considering this Tri as oppose to my initial idea of the one in St Petersburg, which is way to soon for my knees as well as way to far for my first time. I’m in it for the experience and bragging rights of course!


3. Ragnar Team Relay Trail Run – likened to summer camp for adults with trail running and race medals, this is similar to the road races except it’s on trails – sounds a bit more scary (the woods at night anyone?) – teams of 4-8 divvy up about 120 miles for a continuous day/night race to the finish. I’m open to any fun new area like New Hampshire or even Twin Cities, MN for this one but I prefer a summer experience. I’m in it for the adventure!

4. Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon – happening on November 14-15 this year in this run-the-strip-at-night series. It sounds super fun and while I’m not a big half marathon fan, I will totally make an exception for this one. I’m in in for the fun!

5. Empire State Building Run Up – 5/12 – the world’s first and most famous tower race—challenges runners from around the globe to race up its famed 86 flights—1,576 stairs. The fastest runners cover the 86 floors in about 10 minutes. Leaders in the sport of professional tower-running converge at the Empire State Building on May 12, 2020, in what some consider the ultimate test of endurance. I’ve entered the lottery but I’m leaning on the side of doing it for a really good cause – The Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF), official charity of the run-up. If I do decide, knee issues under consideration, I’ll be in it for the charitable cause and don’t mind the bragging rights!

6. Kaua’i Half/ Full Marathon – September 6, 2020 – this run has all the makings of a running vacay and is known as one of the most beautiful and scenic destination races in the world. I can’t even! Who doesn’t want to go Hawaii and run. I’m in it for the destination!

7. Spartan/Tough Mudder – Obstacle type races that are run throughout the year from February and are the rave these days. I’m not immune. I’ve had the Rugged Maniac experience and aside from the water bit, I need more. I’ve heard Spartan races are tougher but still crazy fun. As a semi first timer, I’m open but take me somewhere fun. From Montana to Florida I’m in and in it to earn [Spartan] badasses bragging rights!

8. Ultra/Endurance Race – Jay Peak Trail Running Festival – 53.1KM Ultra Labor Day Weekend, September 5-6. I’ve only ever done one ultra running event in the vicinity of 32 miles, and while it was tough, I didn’t train for it so I can’t really give a fair assessment. I’d love to see what time I can do with training though. For this one, I’m all about pushing limits. What limits!

9. San Francisco Marathon – July 26, 2020. Usually one of the few marathons around in the summer months and probably so because of its location. I did this race a few years ago. It was awesome; very scenic with a versatile course and the priceless Golden Gate bridge experience. For all the good, there were two major drawbacks: the hills, more so the descent, and a big loop around the half distance, which included a major incline. I’m in it for the views and a better time!


10. Trail Run – I’ve always wanted to take part in the North Face Endurance Challenge. Recently, I was disappointed to learn that they are discontinuing the series and pushing off with something new. No details are as yet available but I’m hoping it’ll still involve Bear Mountain State Park here in New York and various challenges along its trails, which used to be an early summer event in May each year. Fingers crossed they announce something soon!🤞

I know the list is a bit ambitious, but it’s right up my alley and if I only get to do a few on there this year, it’ll still be an awesome running year. Do you have any running dreams this year? Don’t give them up. Modify and adapt all you have to but never give up. Here’s to a great chance that I’ll see you out there on one of these amazing runs.✌️

New Year’s Intentions Not Goals

Ahh January! Breathe in a New Year with all the possibilities, energy, and good intentions. What will we do with it? In fact, what should we? How many times have a new year come and gone and so much of what we thought to do have remained..well, undone. What’s different about this year and how will we mark the onset of a new decade?

So I’ve been thinking maybe it’s time for a change. If we’ve been doing the same thing every year for the past decade with little to no positive results, then we should consider tweaking things a bit in order to get the result we seek. So if neither goals nor resolutions have been working over the years then you might want to think about setting an intention instead, the difference being that an intention is something you plan to do irrespective of the outcome while a goal is something you hope to achieve. Small word change yes? But some argue that it’s more mental, intentional, and logical and can result in successful outcomes. According to business blog Inc., by building on your intentions first, you set the path in your mind. Goals can be seen as a milestone or milestones along that path. For example, I might determine to do an Ironman this year and have a goal of finishing in say 10 hours (slightly ambitious for a newbie I think). I may or may not fall short but you know what, I intend to complete it anyway, time notwithstanding. See in this example, the goal seems stressful to me (10 hours!) but my intention, while challenging sure, is pretty exciting.

Setting intentions are simple and stress-free. You can determine to take a new step forward – beginning with your thoughts. After all, it’s right there that the very first seeds of intent are planted.

In fact, I’ve gotten a jump on this whole setting an intention thing and have been on it since last month when I set one practical and one spiritual intention. It’s important to me that I remain healthy, get healed, and grow spiritually and intellectually this year so I went ahead and set my intentions to ensure this, as much as I can anyway. With that in mind, I’m spending the first couple months of the year in PT for my knees and taking a step back from running. While I’m not giving it up entirely, I’m hoping one to two short runs per week will be acceptable and that modified movements at the gym, to keep the stress off my knees, will help the healing process along.

On the practical (physical and adventuresome) side, I intend to finish a Sprint Triathlon this year and while I’ve been thinking to do one in April, I’m debating, with my knees in recovery, if that’s too soon. I’ll make a final decision in about two weeks. I’ve also decided on just one marathon this year (unbelievable I know), which will bring me up to a total of twenty. And no, I’m not ruling out more running, I’m just putting healing first and allowing my body to lead the way. My Spiritual journey, on the other hand, is a process I’m fully engaged in and embracing as an opportunity to develop and overflow into the other areas of my life. I’ve also embraced the idea of learning a new skill to help with a business idea.

So far, so great! Challenging but not stressful. 2020 is looking good and we’re feeling positive and purposeful; that’s a very important foot to step out on. Next steps are pretty straightforward, there is really only one strategy that will work to see those intentions through: daily reminders to myself and consistent effort turning the wheels of progress each day. Some days will require a lot more effort than others, but I believe that each day dedicated to following through on my plans and completing it will be exciting, challenging, and ultimately rewarding.

Here’s to an exciting, challenging, rewarding, [and some fun running too] 2020! 🥂🏃‍♀️✨

2019 Running Pains amidst CrossFit Gains

And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. – Hebrews 12:1

Photo: guvendemir / Getty Images

I’ve had a bit of a wild ride this year! For the first time in forever, earlier on this year, I intentionally didn’t set myself any goals per se, not in running or in any other area of my life. I had a couple runs that were forgone conclusions because of pre qualifying criteria I had met but in general I opted to be an open book, pen in hand, ending unplanned, as the song goes. From the beginning, I invited our Good Lord to write our story together and I have to believe I’ve been holding up my end of the bargain (though I’m almost certain He doesn’t do bargains..maybe agreements?) because I know He’s certainly been keeping to His. So it’s any wonder that I’ve been having an eventful year then! I mean, I did ask and all.

As it is I’ve run four major marathons this year, three of which are World Marathon Majors, and one other which was a bit of a destination run. My times were moderate with the there majors happening under 3 hours and 45 minutes and one being a Boston PR and qualifying time. The three major races were also all Chicago qualifiers and aided my decision to register for the Chicago Marathon 2020 – the only Marathon that is on the books for next year. Amidst all of this I indulged in a major hike of distance, elevation, and difficulty I had never done before and as a result of which I ended up with some knee complications that I’m still struggling with. Of course I think it’s a combination of the running and the arduous hike, in which there was some downhill running, which possibly made matters worse, and resulted in weeks of discomfort and pain especially with the the last two races I had in the last two months.

Anyone who knows me know that the chances of getting me to stop running is slim until or unless it is becoming unhealthy to the point of affecting other areas of my life. Unfortunately, such is the case: walking, climbing, sitting, squatting, and lunging has become very painful – even exercising and cross training presents a difficulty that I didn’t foresee . And so when my normal exercise routine is being turned on its head I have to pay attention. I’m forced to press pause and heed my body’s warnings and take off running and other extreme aggravating knee movements for the next 4-6 weeks. Way to end the year right! Even so, I’m ever so grateful for all that I’ve been able to accomplish this year – I even took part in my first in-house CrossFit competition – and look forward to stepping into the unknown and getting comfortable with the uncomfortable.

I already have some ideas for the duration of this year and have started PT exercises to repair my knees. My CrossFit workouts are going amazingly well and no wonder with so much focus on my upper body I’m becoming super sculpt LOL but more importantly, stronger and more skillful with my gymnastic movements. I’m also finding out alternative and challenging exercises to minimize the impact on my knees, which has propelled me to finally give attention to one thing I’ve been thinking and talking about for the past three years. The opportunity has presented itself and I’m super stoked to talk about this new year challenge in my next blog post. Stay tuned! Cliffhanger or no? 😉

Endless Runners, Perfect Weather, New Champions, Missing Cheers, and my Best Attempt @ the TCS New York City Marathon this year!

Ready, set, go…

Four times brings the charm. Who knew! Yep. Here I am once more, my fourth time, recapping the New York City Marathon. Thankfully, it’s my last! Back in 2014 when I had then decided that I would run this course until I was comfortable with the results, I never dreamed it would take four attempts. Well here we are five years later, and I’ve finally decided to call it quits and it’s hardly because I’ve finally run a “good” race. That in and of itself is arguable and only a small part of my decision to make this my last NYC marathon. What is closer to the truth is that I’m over fighting this race: the course, my body, and the change in weather, and the fact that over the years each time I stood in Staten Island toeing the startline, I have been somewhat incapacitated with everything from a sprain ankle to the flu. I’ve finally had enough and so I’m quitting while I’m ahead. It helps me feel better that I met my goal of finishing under 3 hours and 40 minutes though just barely. Many of my friends point out that this year I’ve had to deal with just a cold and cough so things are progressing..the cheek!..and point to this being my best time even so; therefore I couldn’t be serious. I am! For the foreseeable future, I will be leaving well enough alone and spreading my adventurous wings elsewhere. That being said, I have enjoyed the running challenge that this wonderfully diverse city has handed me. Many will agree that there is nothing straight forward or easy about the NYC Marathon. Fun tangential fact: many New Yorkers will also agree that there’s nothing straight forward or easy about living in NY either. LOL. In fact, of the eleven other courses I’ve run around the country, this course remains the most challenging outside of a Ragnar event I did in Cape Cod two years ago. The attraction for this race for many runners, I believe, is its location and famed one million strong spectators.

On to Marathon Village we go

This year was better than most as far as the weather was concerned. It began at 5:30 am with a 40 minute ride to the start in Staten Island via the midtown bus option, my preferred mode of transport now that I’ve had a go at the various options. We got off the busses to the usual flow of runners – hundreds of us – making our way to the security check point and through to marathon village. Windy and Staten Island is all the same with the water around us so you can appreciate that 7 am was no picnic but more like a refugee zone  with everyone staking out a bit of sunshine, covering – a rare sight- or a break from the wind behind a tarp, or under a blanket, or blankets, or covered up in just about any and everything warm you could legally bring into the area, right there in the middle of everything and everyone.

the masses cloak and dagger style

We were all layered up to our eyes and reaching out to the free buffet of coffee, tea, hot water, hot cocoa, and bagels courtesy the super amazing folks of Dunkin Donuts. No donuts though. I know! In any event we had lots to eat and hydrate us until start time, which in my case came soon enough as I was in the first wave and carded to start at 9:45 am.

they say it’s therapeutic

It helped some when I ran into some runners from my running group and we sorta hung out; got to pet the therapy dogs, visited the bathroom, took a couple pics, and then it was time to head to our assigned corrals. Apparently time flies when you’re hopping to keep the blood flowing.

Into the corrals we flowed and there were lines everywhere for the bathrooms, which I decided I definitely had to have a go at once more before the race started. But things were moving along nicely, though albeit too orderly – did I really have to stand in one line and wait my turn? I mean, come on! Cooling my heels in this cold? I had a race to run! Fine, so did everyone. And that’s how chill took on two very different meanings. Pretty soon it was our turn and we were moving and headed towards the Verrazano bridge and the start.

the bridge

It just never gets old on the top looking out: runners are divided into two groups when headed towards the bridge, some go under while others get the top – my preferred view – to ensure a smoother and safer start given the large number.

giving us the send off

On the bridge we can see the helicopters (NYPD and news) and cameras, the elite runners starting out, race officials and other VIP personnel. More importantly, we have an amazing view of the water as we run across the bridge to the tune of Frank Sinatra’s New York and into Brooklyn.

On the Verrazano Bridge

This year I stopped to snap a

on the Verrazano Bridge

few pics and strangely enough totally missed hearing Sinatra during my run across. I’m sure they started playing it eventually, Wave 1 was a big wave of runners after all.  Guess I’m just spoiled from the previous times.

selfie on the VB

Running through Brooklyn is always a huge hit. It is the most densely populated of all the boroughs in NYC and boy do they represent. Only this time I felt the crowds on Fourth Ave were a bit sparse here and there. Again, I’m just spoiled and feel confident that I’ve experienced a better showing at this race. Lafayette Ave is always a total scream show, it did not disappoint, miles 8-10 were amazing. Brooklyn remains my favorite part of the marathon course mainly because of the noisely cheering crowds and the fact that I’m usually still feeling great and running as strong as possible under whatever the prevailing circumstances are at the time. We entered the borough of Queens around mile 13 and I’m never looking forward to the advent of bridges on this rolling course much less to the mile-long Queensboro Bridge. The promise of a million spectators cheering for you on First Avenue in Manhattan is hard to beat though so that’s the head space I occupied while running those four miles in Queens. The crowds are never as large or as loud in this borough but they’re decent enough and hugely appreciated by all. Up till then, I’d been doing a good job of staying wide of the fuel stations so as not to get bogged down by runners in the rush to grab a drink. My strategy was to hit every other station and stick to the outer end. It worked to keep a steady momentum and to avoid any slip ups. Those volunteers though, were pulling double duty with their smiling, cheering, while serving us. Truly the best and the backbone of an event such as this.

Queensboro bridge is memorable because of its quiet – no spectators here – and the laboring breath of runners as we dig deep on its ascent. One miles feels more like two and I suppose everyone was glad when they finally began its descent to First Ave and the crowds, it has always been a welcome sight and sound to runners as we enter the borough of Manhattan. Only this time it wasn’t party as usual, the crowds appeared pushed back somewhat as you came off the bridge and the sea of spectators that are usually right there waiting weren’t. The question came up with some runners behind me, who appeared to be visitors, as they wondered aloud about the famed cheer crowd at this location. I offered that they should give it a minute and they would be sure to get that promised standing ovation, thinking that maybe the push back of the crowd meant that the cheers were imminent, except that never quite happened. For as I made my way under the bridge and onto first avenue while the crowds were there, for the most part anyway, they were not nearly as deafening as they’re so famous for. In fact, as my run slowly progressed up the avenue the crowds were downright thin in some areas and almost quiet in others. I thought about this for a few seconds then realized that that which I thought would be helpful at this point was not going to happen. I needed a distraction there and then, my feet were numb from my bad choice in shoes and my knees were beginning to hurt like hell. Support wasn’t coming on the waves of the crowd that day and so I did the only thing I could think of – I video-called my sister in Trinidad and allowed her chatter (which I couldn’t hear a lick of LOL) and excitement (no sense in not showing her what I was a part of) to push me up First Ave and all the way over the Willis Avenue Bridge and into the Bronx.

In the past when I had run through this area I had always been aware that Manhattan wasn’t far away; race day was no different. Six miles to go and I realized that it was pretty neat that I was actually going for another finish at this race that had plagued me in my inability to run it well and finish strong. At that point I started focusing on keeping a consistent pace and giving the fuel stations a wider berth. I also refused to look at my clock anymore from then, it was not helpful and I just couldn’t deal with another disappointment just then.

We were in Harlem and closing down on Fifth Avenue – my least favorite part of the race – mainly because it just wouldn’t quit and by then I was so ready to be done already. In hindsight, I have never really enjoyed this part of the race because of my get-to-the-finish-mindset. I’ve never taken the time to appreciate the hundreds of spectators lining the roadway screaming their hearts out with encouragement, maybe if I had been able to tap into that it would have inspired a more positive response at that point in the race. In any event, we eventually came to Engineer’s Gate entrance to Central Park and I’ll tell you right now, it felt amazing to be home. Yes, Central Park is my running home, so I was now on home turf and slowly closing in. With the help of the crowds and the familiarity of the course, I was able to pick up the pace a bit going down Cat Hill, and it lasted untill we turned off to head out to Central Park South. Then it was back to plodding away for the final mile, though I did try somewhat successfully, to focus on the spectators on this final leg and was ecstatic to find myself sooner that I expected back in the park with 800 meters to go. On the final run up, I was able to locate and touch the Trinidad and Tobago flag – as I have always done – and sprinted to the finish line to make it there in 3:39:41. Another one in the books and an apple for my efforts. While I’m not at all certain that was my best effort, it certainly was the best result I’ve had on this course. As to my best effort, I’m hardly itching to find out. 😜

I can still walk!

                          🍎🏅💐

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