Posts

Showing posts from 2021

It’s Time for San Diego to Grow Up

Image
The current mayor of San Diego campaigned on a pledge to treat the place like a metropolis rather than a network of sprawling suburbs . You think San Francisco, Chicago, Boston and New York, and you immediately think compact blocks with mixed-use buildings, high-rise apartments and stately rowhouses, corner convenience stores, great ethnic restaurants and excellent public transportation.   San Diego has those things too, except the great public transit.    I was reminded of how much San Diego has grown during a recent early morning walk from Little Italy to Seaport Village via The Embarcadero . And again, a week later when we visited  our old suburb with family in town.    I can remember some of my first runs along the Embarcadero, dodging more homeless people than tourists, even during Comic-Con . The Gaslamp Quarter was still the nightspot it is now, but you took greater risks walking beyond its boundaries in the dark.    Cortez Hill, East Village, and Little Italy (pictured above

The Staying Power of Running Friendships

Image
  The adage “Once a runner, always a runner” may eventually prove untrue. But I’ve learned that friendships built around running endure if they are meant to. I think to my current circle of close friends and 90% of them began with us running together. I’m including one that began with a hike, not a run, but it’s the same foundation built from conquering distance, counting steps and breathy-but-not-breezy conversations.   Walking works too, but for me, my personal identity remains tied to running. It’s probably why I’ll commit to walking for the rest of my life, and within weeks pick up the pace despite knowing the higher risk of injury and arthritic wobbles. It’s not a healthy relationship, I admit.    I wasn’t always a social runner. In fact, one of the reasons I took up that form of exercise in my teens was to escape into myself. In my 20s, it was to escape crying babies and a crabby husband. And in my 30s and 40s, it turned competitive. You think when you pass another runner that th

Catch and Release: My Return to Rowing

Image
I picked Labor Day to return to the gym because I knew everyone else preferred to do anything else but work out. There were a lot more signs on the door beyond the one I remembered warning to keep it closed. Now everyone entering was ordered to wear a mask and Department of Defense-approved athletic attire. A posted schedule showed the three times a day the facility closed for cleaning.    The check-in system was the same as it had been when I last used it March 2020. But the faces behind the desk were all new. I showed my ID and asked where the rowing machines were now located. Their previous location had been converted into an F45 studio – a gym within a gym and  the first on a military installation . The women’s locker room looked the same except for all the signs now prohibiting selfies, not just dying hair in the sinks.    When I first started attending  this gym  20 years ago, there was a lone rowing machine wedged between two pieces of Nautilus equipment. It later moved to the m

Farewell, Summer Fridays

Image
  Even if you still work from home, or don’t work at all, you know summer Fridays are special. That’s because no one appears to work all that hard on summer Fridays. There’s a natural relaxation on the eve of everyone’s weekend that pushes big deadlines and really important meetings down the calendar. Freeway traffic is better Friday mornings; worse come Friday afternoons.   June’s a little tricky, despite ushering in summer. Some people take time off for vacations, but the bulk of us reserve rooms and plane seats for July or August. That slows things down all around. We just returned from a road trip, if you can call it that, to central Oregon. With me behind the wheel on the first leg, we made excellent time to our daughter’s new townhome in Marin County. I have not lost my preference for northern California, though I have stopped planning an eventual move there.    The rest of the trip was driving through wildfires and competing for chain restaurant seats with far worthier firefight

Couldn’t Get Much Higher

Image
  My large, heavy luggage proved the perfect metaphor for the baggage I brought to our girls’ getaway in Colorado. It was my first real vacation in years and I realized the toll of the pandemic shortly after we arrived.   I came to Colorado with a lingering cough that worsened through the days, or at least it seemed that way. I annoyed my friends and strangers alike. No one is allowed to cough in public anymore, let alone uncontrollably. An upcoming medical appointment will confirm which C it might be.   In the meantime, let’s share only the highlights with that old Joe Walsh song in the background.   Our home base was the town of Frisco —cute, well-manicured, condense and full of outdoor fun. At almost 9,100 feet elevation, it took my breath away. I had symptoms of altitude sickness, but they were mild. So, I ignored all of the advice I’d gathered prior—like drinking lots of water and staying away from alcohol and other dehydrating liquids.  I ate well. I slept poorly. I forced a chan

One and Done: Prepping for Hard Climbs Ahead

Image
I really thought by now I’d be pumped. Muscles primed. Limbs limber. Lungs ready for lower oxygen levels. Mental fitness at its peak. Alas, I have none of those things going for me. With 10 days until I board a Southwest plane for Denver, I have exactly one hike under my belt, and that was done yesterday because I had a rare Saturday morning off and decided to work out instead of sleep in. I chose Iron Mountain in Poway because it’s (a) only a 30-minute drive from my house, (b) always crowded on weekends so I’d never be alone and (c) still my favorite local trail . It was steep enough that I’d give the lungs and legs a good workout, yet gentle enough that I wouldn’t break bones if I fell. I needed to test my long-neglected gear (daypack, water bladder and spout, poles, shoes, socks, shorts, etc.) Happy to report everything worked as intended, though first thing I did upon getting home was tighten a pole screw that plagued me the entire time. So why haven’t I stuck with training promise

Fire Season Arrives in My Neighborhood

Image
Thank God the school bus was late.   I was standing on a busy corner, looking for the school bus to come down Black Mountain Road when I heard crackling and saw a plume of smoke rising out of a canyon about 100 yards away.   It took maybe 30 seconds for it to register, and when it did, I pulled out my phone and dialed 911 to report a brush fire. A small one at that point. I was connected to CalFIRE and told a crew was on its way.    Ten minutes later, with no sign of any first responders and the fire now growing, a woman walking up the street saw the smoke and called 911 again. She got the same response and so we both stood and took photos until the bus finally arrived. By the time I got our boy inside and texted my husband to come home from the gym, flames were flying up the hillside. Sirens could be heard…in the distance. A police car was coming down the road and I flagged it down, pointed to the fire. A couple of minutes later, ambulances, police cruisers, and news crews were finall

California Unmasked

Image
I was about 15 minutes into my morning run when I saw the lady with the golden retriever and waved. She waved back and agreed it was going to be a hot one today. About five minutes later I was climbing a big hill when a couple walking their black lab gave me the thumbs up. “You got this, girl,” the woman said, and smiled.   I felt a little naked without my neck gaiter, but I also realized with each friendly encounter that when people see your entire face, they are more apt to engage. Today’s the first day Californians can move about our state more freely, with vaccination rates high and COVID-19 cases very low now. Most restrictions over the past 16 months are now lifted, with exceptions.   You still need a mask at schools and hospitals, dentists and doctor’s offices. And you need to mask up when riding on public transportation, cabs, trains and planes. This is going to make it even stranger (and more dangerous) to travel, at least until Sept 13 when those masks can be removed too. Air

My Training Log Just Woke from a Deep Sleep

Image
  For many, many years (like, early 1990s to the late aughts) I kept track of my training on paper calendars. First, I used those pocket-sized calendars you could get for free with a Hallmark store purchase and later for $1 at a Dollar Tree. I was quite diligent about documenting my runs and cross-training, if only out of habit. Rarely did I consult the logs; I just enjoyed those few seconds of satisfaction recording my commitment.   Then I migrated to  a now-defunct social media platform for runners and triathletes . It was even easier to keep track of how much mileage I logged. But the social component had me veering off course. I’d make “friends” with high-mileage runners and suddenly feel less adequate. I commuted by bike to my job at the time, riding 10 miles each way with most of the return 10 all uphill. And still, I didn’t feel worthy because  Penelope was for amateurs  (even local police told me this!). Some people I followed appeared to do little but work out when they weren’

About That Coronado Beach

Image
A lot of the allure surrounding Coronado, an isthmus that likes to call itself an island, boils down to this: it’s flat, pretty and has plenty of shoreline. Gridded streets are lined with mid-century bungalows and large custom homes with deciduous trees and well-manicured gardens.  New homeownership  is out of reach for most of us (and probably residents who were fortunate enough to purchased property a half-century ago when the place didn’t have much going for it), but a heavy Navy presence adds a little diversity to the community. Coronado has two thriving restaurant/retail centers:  one offering sweeping views of the downtown San Diego skyline and a ferry ; the other, an  iconic hotel  and  ceramic cow .    Near the latter is a beach where they rake the sand daily, so everything looks just so. The result of that attention to detail has been Coronado Beach cracking the Top 10—sometimes even the No. 1 spot—on one of the most respected  annual U.S. best beaches lists. This time, Corona

The Angels Among Us

Image
It’s been an amazing, exhausting, gut-wrenching 10 days. It began on what would have been my parents’ 60 th  wedding anniversary, had they lived to celebrate it. My daughter texted early that morning to ask if I’d watch her 19-month-old while she went to the ER, possibly to give birth a few weeks earlier than her official due date. By the time I got there (ugh, pre-COVID traffic is back), symptoms had subsided and a quick trip to her OB/GYN confirmed she was fine.   About 30 hours later, I got a text that everyone was again at an ER and heading by ambulance to another  hospital that wasn’t under a cyberattack . My grandson had collided with a tailgate during a neighborhood block party and suffered a concussion. He was vomiting and lethargic and disoriented. I needed to take care of their dog, who’d been diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer two days prior. I privately noted that it was the anniversary of my beloved grandmother’s passing and therefore all would end well.    And it

Running The Richmond Marathon: A Retrospect

Image
  The other week I was doing some deep cleaning and came across this race photo. It resurrected lovely memories from one of my most unpleasant finishes. It also reminds me of how much has changed over the years--to both me and marathons.   Note the slant of the sun . This shot was taken in the last miles of the course, with the sun already inching toward the western horizon. The Richmond Marathon used to start at 12:30 p.m. on an October Sunday to allow locals time to go to church before downtown streets closed. This made weather a wildcard. It could be the cool fall day long-distance runners dream of, or it could swampy. I got both, with heat at the start but a cool breeze at the end.    Now almost every marathon starts early morning to accommodate bigger crowds .   Note the bib number . This race had less than 500 marathoners the first time I ran it. You could sign up race day, especially if you ended up not running that much more popular marathon two hours north in Washington, D.C.