Getting Ready for the Bay to Breakers

I would not normally write about places I haven't seen or things I have yet to experience.   But I was inspired to write, and motivated to achieve my next goal by Tennyson’s poem “Ulysses.”

I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
Life to the lees: all times I have enjoyed
Greatly, have suffered greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone …
---  ---  ---  ---

Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

After a very difficult year,  I’m even more intent on my next journey – to run the Paris marathon, the Bay to Breakers and the walk of St. James in Galicia, Spain.  It may be overly ambitious to run the Paris marathon in April this year.  But  I’ve been spending my time and energy preparing for the Bay to Breakers which will be held on May 15, 2011.
The Bay to Breakers is a 12 kilometer (7.46 mile) race held annually in San Francisco, California.   The name ‘Bay to Breakers’ reflects  the traditional course which starts from the Northeast end of the downtown area (the Bay side) to the west end of the city, the ocean side (the Breakers).  The Bay to Breakers does not sound like a serious marathon because it’s participated by bare assess, costumed-runners and fun-loving characters.  But it’s one of the largest and oldest foot races in the world that features world-class athletes.   In fact, the Bay to Breakers will celebrate its 100th this year.

Please follow the link for additional information about the race.

I titled this blog ‘getting ready...’ instead of ‘training’ because I wanted to focus not only on the physical aspect, but on the mental and spiritual aspects of my next journey.   

Mental Preparation:  Still recovering from 2 major surgeries, my physical activity has been limited to a few hundred steps a day.  Just to get me through the day takes a lot more than good old determination.  So I let my mind lead the way.  And I try to achieve this by reading a lot of motivational books and poems.

Spiritual Preparation: I meditate every night to prepare myself spiritually.   I’m open to all kinds of religious beliefs because I believe that all kinds of religions expound on the same essential truth - the individual relationship with nature, with other people and with God.   But in the end I always go back to the same spiritual background I’m most familiar with.  For Catholics, for example, praying the rosary is a form of meditation.  I also incorporate breathing exercises that I learned from practicing yoga (yoga stems from other religious belief, i.e. Hinduism) into my meditation.  Example of breathing exercise:

Turn off lights and light a candle.  Sit still in a chair listening to soft music.  As you listen, gently let your attention flow out of your ears as you exhale.  Repeat for a minute.  Do the same thing through your eyes, through the nostrils and the mouth, letting your attention go outward on the breath, slowly and gently.  Now allow your attention to sink into your chest and feel where your heart center is (and this is where I let God in) and breathes out through it, letting your attention go with the breaths. Continue gently for another minute and sit quietly, aware of your body.

Physical Preparation:
  1. Nutrition is a critical part of my physical preparation more than ever.  I had to eat lots of proteins and antioxidants to repair the damaged tissues.  So I started having all the nutrients I could get as early as breakfast.
My typical breakfast consists of:
  • Whole-wheat baguette or French bread paired with Gruyere (Hard Cheese) – source of carbohydrates and protein & Vitamin K2.   (I substitute French bread with boiled sweet potato or plantain banana)
  • Oatmeal with fresh blueberries and low fat milk – source of fiber and antioxidant
  • Eggs and yogurt – source of Good protein  
  • Fresh orange
Here’s the essential nutrition for runners.

Sources of Complex Carbohydrates to provide glycogen (fuel for runners).  
Wheat bread, bananas, yams, potatoes, pasta, cereal, brown rice, corn, apples, carrots, root vegetables

Sources of good protein to repair muscle tissues:
Beef, chicken, fish, eggs, green peas, beans, eggs, cheese, yogurt, tofu, soy products, peanut butter and nuts

Sources of Vitamins that will give you adequate supplies of the minerals your body needs.
(Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, mustard greens, lettuce), bell peppers, cauliflower, asparagus, broccoli, and a multitude of vegetables and fruits.   If you’re not getting enough fresh fruits and vegetables, take multivitamins daily as a supplement.  

2. The 2nd important part of physical preparation is a good pair of running/walking shoes.
            The first thing I needed was a new pair of running/walking shoes. So I had to go to a specialty store (Lady Foot Locker) and benefited from the advice of the sales clerk. I found my new pair of shoes to be very comfortable.  

Since I’m starting slow and taking it one day at a time, I feel comfortable walking in my old jogging suit.  As the event draw to a close, I will check into some running gears that should make me look good, feel good and make me feel like a runner.  
Hopefully I could get into a formal marathon ‘training’ schedule by mid-March.



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