Physical Funness for the Motion Starved

Fit more fun into your fitness while exploring the outdoors.


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Ultra insanity

Did you hear about the woman who attempted to swim 103 miles from Cuba to Florida this week? Her name is Diana Nyada, she’s 61. The swim was expected to take about 60 hours but she was pulled from the water after 29. It’s too bad she didn’t reach her goal but they said, “Her will was stronger than her body.” Can you imagine? Regardless, you must respect the massive effort and acknowledge her success, short of her goal or not.

Last weekend Penny and I went for a trail run in The Marin Headlands. As we trundled off I noticed that there was an organized race going on. When we crested the summit of our first climb I spied a fellow staggering toward me. It was his race number that gave away the fact that he was participating in the event. Normally I would never bother someone during a race but this chap looked like he could use some love so I asked him how far he was racing. He said “100 miles.” After gasping I asked, how far along are you? “Mile 98”  (although he was wrong, I knew the finish was at least 5 miles away. I kept my mouth shut though). Thank God he was almost done, he looked like he was about to fall on his face. Poor thing!

A few seconds later a couple more 100-mile racers trotted toward us. They were behind the other fellow, but seemed like they were having a better time of it. At that point Penny said something to me that I can’t completely remember but it was to the effect of “don’t you feel insignificant?” She was referring to the fact that they were “running” 100 miles and the most we’ve ever managed is 13, plus a few yards. For a second I kind of did feel small.  I had only panted my way through 3 miles of a 6-mile run and those folks had been running since 7:30 am Saturday morning (it was now 9am Sunday morning, they’d been running for over 25 hours sans sleep, and had at least an hour still to go).

It only took me a split second to snap out of feeling insignificant, I thought to myself: NO, I don’t feel lesser than those folks, those people are nuts! Why would you run for that long? Or, why would you face shark-invested water and insane current like Diana Nayda did for days? I’d be so bored doing the same thing for that long that I could never invest in the physical part. I did feel bad for not understanding.

My solace came as I realized that most likely not one of those 100 mile racers or The Swimmer Lady would think that racing a bike in a pack of 60 at high-speed around tight corners or riding as fast you can up the side of a mountain is at all sane. They have their way and I have mine. That’s what makes the world go around and it seems to work pretty well in most respects.

With that I say: A very impressive job to all of you Ultra Endurance Athletes, I admire your patience and drive. To those of us who dance to a different beat, let us also celebrate our efforts. We’re all different and one of us is not better than the other, just different.

Cheers…

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Do U have what it takes 2B a Warrior?


Last month my friend Dawn participated in her first Warrior Dash. What’s a Warrior Dash? According to their website it’s a, mud-crawling, fire-leaping, extreme run from hell. It’s a fierce running series held on the most challenging and rugged terrain across the globe. Warriors conquer extreme obstacles, push their limits and then celebrate (with beer and “gargantuan” roasted turkey legs). Sounds like hella fun if you ask me! Dawn thought so too, which is why she and her friend Tiffany donned their old running shoes (you did wear old shoes right Dawn?) and bucked up for what sounds like a death deifying challenge.

Rather than foolishly attempting to explain Dawns’ race I ask you watch the short video above. It’s taken via a GoPro video camera that her husband Mark Brent strapped to her chest. Thanks to Mark (and Dawn) you get to experience the whole event at high speed. It looks really fun!

In the end Dawn had a great time. She says, “It was a little scary leaping over roaring fire, but EMT’s were close by, just incase…” She adds “The most challenging part was trying to untie our mud-caked shoe laces afterwards, all in all, what better way to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon – got a great workout, caught up with an old friend, and got to share it with you all!  Oh, and the bonus – free body mud!”

Watch Dawns’ video! After that, you might actually consider signing up for an event like this yourself. They’re held all over the country. There’s one scheduled for the Bay Area in late October, which I’ll be participating in (can’t let Dawn have all the fun!). Let me know if you want to join the fun, we’ll be training for this event in all my classes starting next week!

P.s. Thanks for sharing your experience with us Dawn! You’re an inspiration! Wish you were here…

P.s.s. If you live in Seattle, check Dawn out. She’s at The Exercise Space. I can vouch for her, she has great taste in friends.


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Get outa the road!

I am George... go around me

This is George, George gets tired sometimes and when he does, he stops in his tracks and lays down. It’s pretty funny, but that’s because George is a dog with an impressive attitude.

It’s a little different for the rest of us, we’re expected to be a bit more mindful and to stay out of the way of things that might run us over or need to get past us. I bring this up because living in the middle of a tourist, and outdoor-life mecca I often risk my life (become annoyed) trying to get from one place to another either on my bike, running or walking.

We’ve all experienced it, folks walking or riding along in front of us only to stop dead in their tracks when they simply feel the urge. Never mind that you were right behind them.  My grandmother once fell down an escalator because some dork stepped off the moving contraption at the top but then just stood there. Granny had no place to go but down. After that Granny never got on an escalator again.

My favorite maneuver is the dude that blows past you on his bike or on foot only to slow down once ahead because he just used all his energy to pass. Now you’re forced to get around him. Even better are the hordes of people (not always tourists!) perched on bikes that like to stop in packs blocking the road or even in an intersection. WTF is that?  Get out of the road dummies! Oh… and getting a flat tire on your bike is no excuse to block the path. Find a safe place and move out-of-the-way of anything and everyone that may be headed toward you!

Consider this a friendly reminder. Be smart, be responsible and respect thy fellow public. Okay?


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Rubber Feet?

Caveman running

I’ve been asked quite a few times lately what I think of those FiveFinger shoes, aka Barefoot runners, Skeletoes, etc. You know what they are…those shoes that look like Rubber Feet.* Remember toe socks? Like those, but made outa rubber.

The thinking behind Rubber Feet is that modern-day running shoes provide too much support and cushion, therefore changing the biomechanics of running, causing injury. They use the example of how children run before they walk, and that they seem to launch at full speed everywhere sans shoes. They also claim that cavemen used to run for miles and miles just fine sans fancy shoes. Apparently donning Rubber Feet is like being barefoot, but with a thin barrier between you and the earth. Call it, Paleolithic-old-school and the answer to pain-free running.

Here’s what I think (brace yourself). First of all… sure, kids run like crazy for a few yards in the grass or inside the house, not down the road for 10k, or up some single track covered with rock. The caveman point is especially fun as I’ve never seen a caveman that didn’t appear to have walked all hunched over looking like he was in unbearable pain. My guess is, his feet his back and everything else hurt because he spent all day running on rock! Not only that, but cavemen only lived for about 20 years. I bet if they had to run around for another 30 years sans shoes they’d have figured out how to stitch up some nice fat pads for their trashed tootsies.

Basically, I don’t buy the Rubber Feet hype. In my mind it doesn’t add up, they look incredibly stupid, they make an annoying slapping sound as they trot along, more seriously, I’ve never once seen a person wearing them that didn’t look like they were in severe pain. During my last half marathon (on the trail) my Asics Trail Runners and me started just behind a young man wearing a pair of Rubber Feet. When the whistle blew the man took off running, a mile and a half up the road I passed him as he limped along delicately navigating each small pebble in the trail. I never saw him again, guessing he didn’t finish.

If your feet hurt when you run then you need to learn how to run properly. If you don’t support proper running form and mechanics, your shoe choice will not change anything. Learn proper running form and then play around with footwear if you like. My suggestions, hire a running coach, attend a clinic or take a class. Don’t just jump on the Rubber Feet bandwagon.

Now…I realize that I’m not being completely fair, as I have not personally tried to run in Rubber Feet. I am only sharing my educated opinion. With that, if you wish to prove me wrong and or convince me that running in Rubber Feet is a good thing, I invite you to send me a pair and I will happily try them, and revise my post accordingly. I take a size 9.

P.s. If you want to run barefoot, go to the beach and run in the sand. That’s something I approve of whole-heartedly. Stand tall, pick your knees up and have fun!

* The term Rubber Feet is a Kelleyism used to refer to “shoes” that look like fat rubber feet, make annoying slapping sounds when they hit the ground, look stupid and don’t make sense, in her mind.


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Hey there Mr. Bus, we kicked your butt and your friends’ butt too!

Where you been bus? Get a flat?

6:10 pm Wednesday, July 20th 2011. I arrived at the corner of Fillmore and Bay to find a group of 5 or 6 people stretching their legs. Yikes…I thought…it’s starting!

As I chitchatted with the first-comers, and suggested they warm up their legs, others showed up. Every time I turned around there were more people. My head was spinning as I tried to go over the “rules,” route and basic game plan. In my mind there was a lot to do. The initial plan was to get everyone to participate in a warm up sequence but alas all we did was swing our arms around.

As we warmed up (swung our arms around) I sent Mo over to make friends with the bus driver. Armed with a goodwill offering of a box of cherries (why cherries? Because they’re healthy and were on sale) Mo bravely went over to politely let our victim know what was about to transpire. I figured if he knew what we were up to, he might make an effort to travel at a respectable pace and play along.

After the cherries were delivered it took the bus about 10 minutes before it slugged over to the starting line at the corner of Bay and Fillmore. According to the official MUNI schedule the bus was scheduled to depart that out location at 6:32, it was 6:40 when it pulled up to the line (no surprise there). As the bus arrived it lined up at the light, loaded a few passengers and when the light turned green, bus and runners were off.

The pace down Fillmore to Chestnut was reasonable; the runners kept perfect stride with the bus all the way to the light at Chestnut. At the light everyone including the bus (obviously) stopped. When the light turned Green the runners went, immediately leaving the bus behind. That was the last any of us saw of the bus until the finish line, 1.5 miles up the road. Not only did the runners drop the bus they were racing in the first block, they caught up to, and passed the coach that had taken off some 5 plus minutes previous to the one we were racing.

It was amazing watching everyone run up the hill! 4 blocks of hard climbing! Every single person (and lady Jane, our K9 Mascot) dug incredibly deep, they even beat me to the top and I was on a bike! Geez!

In the end everyone seemed to have a great time, thanks to generous donations we had some fine top finisher prizes as well as a couple honorable mentions, all going to very impressive competitors.

Special thanks go to Brock at The SFist for helping me get the word out, Team P for their photos, support and bell ringing. I’d like to thank racer Ross for documenting the event and sharing his video and photos, to Mo for being Mo and to my two other fav Ab’s (that’s code) you made this event happen!

Finally, a huge THANK YOU to everyone who came and raced, brought their friends and had a good chuckle. This is the way life should be, a little nutty, a little challenging, and a little hot and sweaty!

Until next time…

P.s. Thank you for playing Mr. Bus! See you again next month. You might want to work on your hill climbing between now and then… Just sayin’

P.s.s. Wanna see more pix and a video of this event? Check out our Facebook page!


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Allez! Allez… it’s Run With The Bus day!

The 22 Fillmore

Yippee! The very first Motion Starved Run With The Bus competition is here. In case you haven’t been following, we’re racing the 22 Fillmore Muni line from The Marina to Geary Street, here in San Francisco. The course is only 1.5 miles but includes a half-mile of climbing at about a 15% grade. “Ouch” is the word that best describes the climbing in this event.

At approximately 6:30 this evening runners will take on the janky electric bus. There will be spectators along the route as well as supporters on bikes to cheer us on. We have top finisher prizes and my pal Earl has built us a winners podium to insure top-notch photo ops. This is a pro operation folks, no messing around here!

With that, I’d like to take this opportunity to share a few hill running tips:

  • First of all, think “soft eyes, soft mouth, soft shoulders” when running/riding/doing yoga etc… A tense face/body is not an efficient use of valuable energy. Relax!
  • As you run, hold your arms so that your thumbs brush by, or just below your hip bones with each step. Most folks hold their arms too high.
  • Your arms should not cross your body. Think “cheek to cheek” (face cheek to butt cheek).
  • On a hill shorten your stride and pick up your knees pushing off with each step. Think, “push, push, push.”
  • Running uphill, lean into the angel of the hill. Thrust your elbows back hard as you run. Run with power and conquer!
  • Never, ever, look up the hill. Look straight in front of you about 50 feet. When you look up and see where you’re headed you panic. Don’t do that!
  • Breath! Holding your breath is dumb for all sorts of reasons that I’ll go into another day. Just remember to keep breathing.
  • Lastly, make friends with the hill. Most folks hate hills and panic when they see one. If you decide that the hill is your friend then you’ll have an easier time going up than the folks that are busy freaking out about it. Get me?

With that, we’re off. Good luck to all those participating in our Run With The Bus race tonight. I bid you a safe and speedy pursuit.

P.s. Official race report will be posted on Friday. Stay tuned…


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Sometimes you gotta just suck it up and dig deep.

I have a really nice house with a really nice yard, a really needy cat and lots of good friends, all of which are constantly calling for my attention. If it’s not one thing it’s another, the cat vomits, the lawn needs mowing, friends need calling. There’s always something to do. My point is, it’s hard to get out and do things that require more than just a little effort. Specifically things that take a significant amount of guts, or offer a challenge.

For example; last weekend Penny and I participated in a trail run/race that took us up 3,000 feet in the air within the first 3.5 miles. After that we still had to climb another 2,000 feet. Translation; up, up and up till you think you might puke, then down, around and up some more. Pen took second place in spite of the fact that she has a full-time job, two babies, a husband, a house and a very needy dog. Pen did so well because she dug deep and sucked it up. She knows no other way.

This weekend SarahSwitchblade participated in something we call The Double Dipsea. It’s another trail run/race. Translation; it dips from a mountain top to the sea and back up again, hence The Double Dip-sea. Switchie took first place in this torture fest. To my knowledge she didn’t puke, although my guess is she thought she might, more than once. Switchie too has a house, a bike racer husband whom she supports, pets, a job and all that.

When my Dad rode his bike across Iowa a couple of summers ago he didn’t wear socks with his Topsiders (not exactly “proper” cycling shoes). The ride was 7 days, and 500 miles filled with wind, rain, heat, pork chops and corn. Dad’s ankles bled the whole time. At one point I said “Dad! Your ankles are bleeding!!!!” Dad said, “What? No they aren’t!” Given that Dads ankles looked like hamburger, I then realized that he was sucking it up, doing what he need to in order to complete his challenge, so I shut up. Dad, has a very big job, a very, very big house, a wife, a not so needy dog, a cat and 3 grown, problematic children.

I know stepping outside of your comfort zone is hard. It’s hard every time you do it. It’s hard for me, for Pen, for Sarah for my Dad, for everyone. We’re all everyday people.

Remember, it’s not about “winning” something, it’s about making the effort, having the experience, or in my case, the story. Because in the end, it’s all about the stories!

(Am I right Pen? Switchie? Dad?)