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>To fully explain my weekend, I need to go back to last Thursday. I taught my Super Ball class in the morning. I have a pretty loyal following at that class, so I try to keep it interesting, challenging and different. With that in mind, I taught the class a new exercise on Thursday, a plyometric squat jump. Now, remember, my class demographic is 50-70 year old women, with an occasional husband dragged in attending. So, we did that exercise a lot slower that the young man doing the demo in the above link. We also, because this was a ‘ball’ class, threw a medicine ball over our head as we jumped, then caught it before our next squat.

My description may sound a little crazy, but this is actually a great exercise that works the entire lower body, quads, glutes, calves, plus uses the core to stabilize the movement and includes plyometrics, which improves power and response time in sports such as golf, tennis, and running. My class was enthusiastic, they all gave the exercise a try. I instructed that the jumping was optional, as was throwing the ball overhead, but most of the participants chose to give it their best shot.

Jump to Friday. When I woke up early on Friday morning, my calves were a little sore. Worse when I first woke up,. they felt better after I showered and got ready for work. I taught my “Interval Walk” class with no problems, but as the day went on, my calves became noticeably sore, especially when I stood up after sitting for any period of time.

Saturday morning was the first day of the Desert Triathlon. In previous years, this event was held on one day, but it has grown too large for the Lake Cahuilla venue, so they split up the race. Saturday was the Sprint Triathlon and the Duathlon, Sunday was the International Triathlon. Alan, who has been announcing races for Klein Clark Sports for many years, was the announcer for the entire event. Over the years, I have been the volunteer coordinator, parking coordinator, or simply a volunteer. This year, I had no assignments, but I planned to be there, help where needed and just enjoy watching the athletes, many of them friends, compete.

I had been invited to sign up for the duathlon. It is the perfect event for me, because, unlike the triathlon there is no swimming involved. Instead, it starts with a run, in this case one mile, followed by a bike ride (14 miles for this event) and finishes with a run (three miles here). I could do this!

Except, on this particular Saturday, I could not. In fact, I could hardly walk. When I woke up, my calves were so stiff and sore, I almost had to crawl to the bathroom when I got out of bed. After a few painful movements, I could walk upright, but I was still in considerable pain. I do know the difference between injury and other types of pain, so I knew that what I felt was not an injury, just DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). Whatever it was, I hobbled around throughout the day, happy that I was not competing, barely able to walk. Silly, because I knew exactly which exercise had caused my problem, but that didn’t make it hurt any less.

Instead, I offered to volunteer, and was given the job of ‘body marker.’ This is an important and enviable volunteer position because one is responsible for writing the race number and age of each highly trained, lean, buff, etc, athlete in permanent marker on their almost naked body. Fun stuff. Actually, since the sprint triathlon was a perfect race for first timers, the body shapes varied as much as the bicycles. And since body marking involves writing on the arms, thighs, and calves of each athlete, I felt like I performed about a hundred deep squats by the time I was done. Not to mention the kneeling on the asphalt…

Meanwhile, my husband was giving it his all. He really is a great announcer, giving it a personal touch that most race announcers don’t bother with. He is enthusiastic, energetic, and he really makes the finishers feel welcome and accomplished. He has the mic for more than five hours (that’s just the first day), and he sounds just as strong at 11:00 as he did at 7:00. (The video below is actually towards the end of day two, after another five hours on the mic.)

I’d hoped to ride my bike on Saturday afternoon after the event, but between the sore calves and our early wake-up, I instead chose to take a long nap. And I still could hardly walk.

Sunday morning we woke up at 3:00 knowing that we were going to do it all over again. I still could hardly get out of bed due to the pain in my calves. Once we were out at Lake Cahuilla and Alan started work, though, I decided to skip the body marking and give running a try. Amazingly, running was much less painful than walking. I was able to run seven miles, doing a couple loops around the lake (the first time I’d ever run the race course after working out there for about 10 years!)

Pretty view of the start from across the lake.

Hard to see, but the first wave of swimmers are passing by.

I’ve been working this race for about 10 years and this was the first time I realized that there were additional campgrounds with stalls and (today anyway) horses!

When I finished my run, I headed over to the finish line to offer cheers for the athletes, to take pictures, and, of course, to chat with friends.

Alan working it.
The run portion of the International race is six miles. Since the loop around the lake is three miles, racers must pass the finish line and continue on for another loop.  Above is my friend, Lori, a great athlete, heading out for her second loop.

The winner, from Portland, Oregon, wasn’t fazed by temperatures approaching the 80s by race finish. Actually, the first three men to finish were all from Oregon.

Miley (above), Barry and his son (below) were part of a relay team on Sunday. Miley also competed in the duathlon the day before, in which she finished second.

My friend, Dottie, after the race. She was so fast on the run that I just caught a picture of her back after she ran by 🙂
Sergio (who I work with, he’s in charge of grounds maintenance at the Springs Country Club) and Kathy, my newest facebook friend (center and right) and Sergio’s son, Sergio.
Amy, who is so cute you wouldn’t expect her to be as fast as she is. She completed her first Ironman last year in Arizona in an amazing time of 11:26! With her is Kevin.
Here’s Lori again with her daughter, who, like her parents is a great swimmer. She was part of the relay team with the fastest time in Sunday’s event!
See? Just so cute!

Since I knew that my weekend would be full, with not much time for my own athletic endeavors (I just lucked out to get my Sunday run in), I took Monday off work with plans to hit the roads for a long bike ride, my first since the Tour de Palm Springs and Alan’s crash. Alas, it was not to be:

The weather gods have not been my friends lately. With the wind blowing at about 20-25 mph and gusts up to 50, I chose instead to sit around in my PJs, drink coffee, read the paper, play on my Ipad. Not a bad substitute.
And just to finish off what I started with this post, on Tuesday, when I finally saw my Super Ball students, when my calves were almost back to normal, I asked the class, guiltily, how they’d felt after class and if they’d experienced the same pain that I had. They looked at me blankly. Apparently, my class of 60 & 70 somethings is in a lot better shape than I am. They had no pain. At all. Guess I’ll have to try harder next time.
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>Whenever someone writes about the feeling of joy in running, they might use terms like ‘run like the wind,’ or when they’re talking about running fast, they may say ‘run like a thoroughbred.’  I’ve decided that my new running goal will be to run like a dog.

I know what I’m talking about. I run with two of my dogs a couple days a week. They never say “no, I’m tired, I didn’t get enough sleep,” or “no, my back (hip, head, foot) aches, or “no, it’s too cold (or hot),” or “no, I just don’t feel like running today.” They never say no. Of course, they’re dogs and they can’t talk, but you know what I mean.

Dog are enthusiastic about running. When my Dalmatian, Penny, sees me put on my running shoes she gets excited. Both she and Sassy follow me closely as I get ready to run (to make sure I don’t sneak out without them). They both smile when they run. Their ears flop. Their tails wag.

Dogs have endless energy. I’m sure if it was extremely hot, or if I ran very long distances, my dogs would get tired, but for what I’m currently running they can just go and go and go. Back when I was training for marathons, I had a dog who I’d regularly take on 10-12 mile runs, once 17 miles (that was an accident, but she was fine, in fact she loved it). These days, my dogs and I run up to five or six miles (but Penny always wants to got farther).

Dogs are fast. Faster than me anyway, and I’m the only one keeping track. Actually, that’s the only problem that I have when I run with my dogs. They want to run faster than I can.

Dogs take extreme pleasure and satisfaction from the simple act of running. They don’t worry about how fast or slow, how long or short, whether they can beat that shepherd from down the street. They just want to run.

Sassy is extremely happy with her running accomplishments.

Penny always has a smile like this after her run.

I want to run like a dog. See my tail wag.

Last weekend I ran both Saturday and Sunday, something I don’t usually do. But, it was cold and rainy, which was enough in my current mindset to keep me from riding my bike. On Saturday, I ran four miles with Penny and Sassy, including a loop of the trails south of our house. They love, love, love to run up there (as do I), but we seldom do because we are usually running in the dark. So it was a treat.

It was very cold on Saturday as we ran across a ridge that cuts through that trails area. The rain was light but the wind was chilling. Altogether a perfect day for running.  Ask my dogs.

On Sunday, it wasn’t raining but still very cold. As much as I love running with my dogs, I do sometimes need to run without them. I did take them out for a mile, but then headed out alone to run another six. I went up into the trails area again. I noticed something I’d missed the day before in the rain. The wildflowers are starting to bloom! It will be beautiful in a couple weeks when the whole area should be covered in color, but I did snap a few shots:

Not much Verbena yet. I had to look hard and get low to get this shot.

So my new mantra is “what would my dogs do?” The answer is simple. They would run.

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The Future is You is the theme of the 29th annual IHRSA Convention, which I attended last week. The International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association, with a membership of over 10,000, is the fitness industry’s only global trade association. With thousands in attendance from 77 countries, educational opportunities, a sensational line-up of speakers and a huge trade show, it is one of the largest conventions aimed at the fitness industry. It was held at the San Diego Convention Center this year, which made it all the more convenient for me to attend.

I drove down Wednesday morning, leaving early enough to make it to the first session that I wanted to attend. Even though I hit some traffic, I arrived and was parked by about 8:45. I hurried in to register and pick up my badge, then rushed over to “Strategic Planning for Department Managers and Club Managers,” led by Brent Darden, owner and general manager of Telos Fitness Center in Dallas, Texas.

The best speakers at these kind of events not only inform, they inspire, energize, and motivate, and Mr. Darden did all of that. His suggestions included financial and marketing plans, and, using his club as an example, offered real solutions and ideas to implement these plans.

It was now noon, and my next session was at 1:30. I decided to find a place for lunch. It can be a challenge for a vegetarian to find a healthy meal in a new area (not counting veggie burgers and pasta marinara). I have an app for my phone, which I downloaded from Happycow.net, an online, veggie eating guide, so I decided to try it out. I didn’t want to take my car out of parking, so I was looking for something within walking distance. The app shows vegetarian, vegan, and veg-friendly restaurants, using the GPS on the phone to give you directions. Users write reviews and rate the various restaurants.

I decided to try Pokez, a Mexican Restaurant, which the app stated “serves meat, vegan options available. Grungy cafe popular with youngsters.” I picked it because it was about .7 miles from the Convention Center, about 15 minutes at a brisk pace. The first thing I noticed when I walked in the door, were the tattooed, pierced, nonchalant waiters. The next thing I noticed was that I was definitely the oldest person in the restaurant. Oh well, once I checked the menu I was happy that I had picked Pokez. I ordered a vegan tofu, potato and mushroom burrito, and it was huge and delicious. I could only eat half and not wanting to waste my $6 investment, had the leftovers packed up to go.
The next session I attended was the Women’s Leadership Summit, a first time event for IHRSA. A panel of successful women discussed their accomplishments and their methods for overcoming the challenges women face in starting and running a successful fitness business. After a short break, I attended “Success Through Participation – Create a Dependable Non-Dues Revenue Stream,” led by Thomas Kulp, Executive Director of Universal Athletic Club.

By this time, it was 4:30 and I had one more session to attend. Chris Berman, ESPN Anchor, Host, and Commentator was speaking at 5:00 on the topic of teamwork. collaboration and versatility. Mr. Berman is an interesting and humorous speaker, and while I didn’t quite see the connection with the fitness industry, I enjoyed his presentation.
It was close to 7:00 when I finally checked in to my hotel. Following a long day, which started when I woke up at 4:00 am, I was exhausted, so I unpacked and decided not to attend the opening banquet. Instead, I finished up my lunchtime burrito, took off my shoes, and stretched out on the huge bed.

First up on Thursday morning is Keynote Speaker Malcolm Gladwell. Staff writer for the New Yorker, best selling author of The Tipping Point and Blink, Mr. Gladwell’s presentation was one of the highlights of the entire convention. He spoke about change and the people, the connectors, who spread the word of change. He says that even big changes can happen quickly and that you may need to reframe how you look at things. The fitness industry needs to reframe fitness, so that it is not seen as a necessary evil, but as a social, necessary, and even fun experience.

My next session, Making Group X Personal and Profitable, started out well, with a panel of industry leaders making some excellent general suggestions for increasing profitability of a group exercise program. It was a Supplier’s Seminar, though, sponsored by one of the trade show vendors, in this case Polar, USA. This meant that they had a product to sell, the Polar Cardio GX System. While I can see the need for clubs with a certain population, I didn’t feel that my country club fitness center (average age about 65) would benefit.

Lunchtime again. I learned one thing from my long walk the previous day. That was “wear comfortable shoes!” I knew that if I was going to explore San Diego’s vegetarian options by foot, I’d have to do some walking. Today I planned to visit “La Gran Tapa,” which according to Happy Cow was “an authentic Spanish restaurant that is conscious of vegetarian diet.” The review said that although the restaurant served meat, the menu was marked to denote vegetarian and vegan options.
Unfortunately, in the year or so since the last review, the restaurant apparently changed their menu, and there were no such designations. The only item, aside from a salad, marked “vegetarian” (optional) was the Paella Valenciana, which at $18 (on the lunch menu!), seemed a little high. The server, when I mentioned this, helpfully offered a half order, which I decided to order. It was delicious, and at $9, a reasonable price (and quantity) for lunch.
After lunch, I decided to hit the trade show for a bit. It really is amazing and takes a couple days to completely cover. The trade show utilizes all the halls of the convention center, and offers acres and acres of fitness equipment, fitness tools and toys, flooring options, locker room supplies, and more. All the big equipment suppliers are there and they bring all their “stuff.” They haul in treadmills, ellipticals, bikes, weight equipment and it is all the newest, shiniest and “hippest” available. They have instructors leading workouts, spinning classes, demonstrating a variety of equipment. At one booth, a young woman ran on a treadmill for about four hours. At another, instructors had volunteers hanging practically by their feet as they learned to use the TRX Suspension Training system. Power Plate vibration training, Jump Sport trampolines, Peak Pilates, Hydromassage, Ab Coaster, Barefoot Training, Positive Player multiplayer dancing, and many, many more, all demonstrating their products. Here is a link to several videos of the trade show.

I love this equipment!

Probably the weirdest exercise equipment that I saw at the trade show

That brings me to Thursday afternoon. When I continue, I will tell the inspirational story of Kristina Ripatti, former LAPD police officer, shot and paralyzed in June, 2006. Of all the speakers and sessions that I attended, Kristina (shown below with her husband, also LAPD), affected me the most. Stay tuned…

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>This week started my post-cross country, after-summer Fitness push. The combination of the time spent coaching and the summer heat always seems to result in lack of workout dedication from yours truly. Not that I’ve been a couch potato. By most people’s standards, I maintain a pretty active lifestyle. I ride my bike and run a couple days a week (each). I teach several times a week, including a couple weight training classes and a stretch class. So I haven’t been a slug.

But, I am the woman who rode her bike 6,000 miles in 2007 and managed more than 4,000 in 2008 in spite of being sidelined by a hysterectomy and recovery. I am also the woman who has run more than 35 marathons and ridden about 20 centuries. I am a personal trainer who spends her life teaching people the importance of strength training, and when in top shape I will spend three or four days a week in the gym lifting weights.

I haven’t been doing any of that lately. And I find myself feeling, well, sluggish.

So, I am re-dedicating myself to my fitness. I began by making a workout schedule that I can stick to. If I work too early to run or ride, I will go to the gym in the afternoon, hit the elliptical and the weights. Monday I did just that. Tuesday too. Today I took the dogs for a one mile run before my bike ride. I rode 30 miles this morning before work. I plan to run with our track club tonight. Tomorrow I get to take a day off (I’m tough, not crazy). I am also sore as all heck from my workouts the last two days, but I’ll survive. I have to work on Saturday, but I should be able to run a few miles beforehand. And hit the gym after. On Sunday I hope to ride my November century.

Of course the key is really next week. And the week after. Keeping it up. I know I will though. Being fit feels too damn good. I don’t ever want to lose that.

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>I am getting ready to go out tonight to celebrate my youngest son, David’s, birthday. He will be 28.

How can this be? I feel that I am barely beyond that age myself. While one one level, I am proud to be the mother of a fine, adult son, certainly happy that my kids are grown and out on their own, I am starting to see the advance of my children’s ages, even more than my own passing birthdays, as the beginning of “maturity.” I use such a politically correct term because I am not ready to face the alternative, “getting old.”

Yes, I know what people say. I look great. I’m healthy. I’m active and physically fit. I still an avid cyclist and runner. And it’s all true. I like myself. A lot. I’m happy with where I am in life, what I’ve accomplished and what I will continue to achieve. I have high goals, in my work, in my personal life, and in my sports life.

But. Time marches inexorably on. I wake up with aches. I get injured more often. I get tired more easily. I have crows feet. My skin care regimin consists of many more steps that it used to. After having my hysterectomy last year, I have gone through menopause, which adds another whole set of aging issues. I worry if I will ever be able to retire.

I don’t know the answer to these concerns. I have always been an optomist, a glass half full type, who always sees the bright side. I will continue to take all these signs of getting older as they come, fight them tooth and nail, but still accept that I am still the same person, only more “mature.” And I will continue to talk it out here.

Happy Birthday, David. You are a wonderful man, but you are still my baby.

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