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Posts tagged ‘Bay Area’

Why We Run

At our recent Bay Area Title 9k, Why Not! Girl interviewed women to find out why they run and what motivates them. From elite runners to walkers, from spunky run angels to serious baby jogger mamas, every participant at every T9k has their own reason for getting out there and moving. What moves you?

Kicking Butt at Crossfit and Loving Every Minute

Photo credit: Thomas Campitelli

I started Crossfit exactly one month before my 29th birthday in August 2010. I was living in North Lake Tahoe and had been hearing about Crossfit from a number of friends, including one friend who was able to finally quit smoking and who totally transformed himself all in a couple of months. His results were inspiring, and I had also heard you got to jump around on things, swing on other things, and get upside down. I was so in! Those first couple of days I wasn't sure I'd be able to make that five minute stroll home because I was so frickin' sore.

I’ve always been active in a variety of different types of exercise, including cycling, triathlons (I can barely swim and I hate to run) Tae Bo, P90X, and more, but none were able to garner my short attention span for long. Crossfit has complemented my A.D.D. perfectly because there are literally hundreds of skills, movements, and lifts not just to learn but also to get the technique right. There's little time for boredom with Crossfit and I always have a list of things I want to accomplish; some of it is improving technique, some of it is doing a skill for the first time, and somewhere on that list is to run more, too. Basically, there is ALWAYS something that I will pretty much suck at doing, so there is always something to improve and whatever it is, I will hammer it until I get it, get better at it, and then own it. That first month I started, it was double unders, clearing the jump rope twice in one jump. I couldn't do those things to save my life, but after every workout I'd go out into the parking lot and keep trying. This process included thousands of failed attempts, and so, so many painful leg lashings. The first time getting consecutive double unders was like a rite of passage (you know, because people call it a cult). High fives abound! Soon instead of 4 or 7 DUs it was 34 and when I broke 50 I pretty much threw a party. That, in the CF world, means proudly writing my name up on the board, “Michelle M: Double Unders: 52”. Oh the glory! The support from everyone has always been and continues to be incredible and never ceases to amaze me. Only four months after I started CF, I moved to Oakland. I missed the trainers, I missed the friendships, and I didn't think there was any gym that would be able fill those shoes. And then I found Crossfit Oakland. I was surprised to find the same high quality trainers and high quality people with whom to surround myself and I remember on my first visit I watched (from afar) the two strongest women in the gym back squatting, thinking, “damn, they are strong” and subsequently, “I could never do that.” Fast forward to now, and I am proud to call them my friends and I am back squatting not only with them, but also at almost the same level! In March 2011, with much hesitation, I signed up for my first Crossfit competition, The Crossfit Open. At one point, I went through a bout of “my muscles are getting too big” thoughts but that lasted about a minute. I decided I loved seeing and testing what my body was capable of doing, what my muscles allowed me to do much more than anything else. Individuals from different gyms submitted their scores online and then can see the rankings at the end of each week. By doing these competitions I learned, or remembered, rather, that I can be crazy competitive, and that I pee A LOT before any competition. While I absolutely believe that this is all about improving the person I was yesterday, to find someone else who's at a similar skill level as me can offer some unique opportunities to challenge myself and push past what I previously thought I could not do. It's just another element that makes going to the gym fun. I'm competitive, I want to beat the girl next to me. Always. But when she beats me, I turn around and don't hesitate to congratulate her, because she pushed me, and that was the goal. Since that first Open, I've competed in a couple other competitions, with a couple more on the horizon. The last one was the Nor Cal Regionals team competition. Regionals were a great experience for me. They did a great job of exposing my weaknesses (pull-ups, for the love of God, pull-ups!), but I found I can do well under pressure and I got a PR along the way (140# snatch). It was a 3 day roller coaster of highs, lows, and wtf’s...I love to hate that anxious panic attack in the minutes leading up to the 3-2-1 GO! The best moment is that split second after “GO!”, right when all that nervous energy gets transformed into kinetic energy; which I'm pretty sure is, like, a law of physics or something.

Crossfit has transformed me in ways I couldn’t imagine. For starters, I'm no longer afraid to walk over to the “men's side” of the gym. It's also not unusual if I'm picking up a heavier weight than the dude doing his bicep curls, and start doing some dumbbell thrusters if I need a quick workout. That in itself has been a mini transformation for me. And recently I tried rock climbing for the first time outdoors in Kings Canyon National Forest. I had the opportunity to do a multi-pitch climb and was shocked that my arms weren't shaking – at least not from lack of strength. Being able to trust and use my legs and pull my body up with my arms was an amazing application of the functional fitness I train for inside the gym. In short, I’ve found what works for me. Any gym where the clientele applauds a 31 year old woman walking on her hands down the length of the gym is my kind of gym. Literally, no weird looks, just an actual round of applause for a little handstand walking. How cool is that? I just want to play, challenge myself, and stay healthy in the process and I get to do that every day. If you or someone you know has an inspiring story to share about achieving goals, overcoming obstacles or stepping outside the comfort zone, send them our way. That's how we found Michelle! Any and all ideas are read by a real T9er and will be responded to: (Our greatest thanks to Thomas Camptelli for the fab photo!)  

How I Got (Really) Fit in my Fifties and Beyond

By Mary Rawles I’m 65 and I’m an athlete. No, I don’t do anything amazing like running ultra marathons. I’m just gym-rat fit. It feels good, and I look good, too. It wasn't always that way.  You see, I was born pre-Title Nine. I grew up smoking with friends rather than working out with them.  In my 30’s I quit smoking and began working out. I ran, lifted weights, etc. Eventually, I even did a mini-triathlon, but I was erratic, either fit and slim, or out of shape and gaining weight, too busy with life. Working full-time, raising kids and driving them to their sports, I was so worried about their achievements; I didn't make time for myself. In middle age, I gained weight going from 115 when I was 40 to 145 when I was 50. That was the beginning of yo-yo dieting. I tried every weight loss program available, losing 25 pounds then gaining 30, losing 30 then gaining 35. By age 57 I topped out at 174 pounds! I’m barely over 5 feet tall. Depressed and embarrassed, I felt isolated. I was desperate. I wanted to change, but where to start? I had belonged to gyms on and off, but by now I wasn't about to show my body at a gym or even walking on the streets in my neighborhood. As my weight went up, my physical health deteriorated.  I’ve kept a weight diary and entries from around that time contained these complaints: racing heart, stiffness, difficulty bending down, high cholesterol, and nagging, constant knee problems. At one point my doctor advised I had severe arthritis in my knees, which surgery couldn’t fix, and to limit my activities. Luckily, another wise doctor suggested I begin exercising, biking to strengthen my quadriceps to take pressure off my knees and to lose weight. I decided to follow her advice.  My road to fitness followed two phases.   Phase One: Weight Loss and Exercise Routine Knowing that this time I wanted to lose weight gradually rather than quickly, in 2005 I made a three-year plan that turned into a lifestyle plan I continue to follow to this day. I decided I would never diet again, I would commit to eating healthy most of the time, and to never deprive myself when I really wanted to eat something. I forced myself to read articles and books about healthy food like Omnivore’s Dilemma, and Food Rules by Michael Pollen. To my amazement, I gradually became one of those people who consistently makes choices to eat fresh, wholesome foods because I like them, they’re good for my body, and they’re good for the environment, too. Regarding fitness, I knew I had a long road back. Committing to exercise, no matter the duration or type at least 5 days a week, I made it the most important thing I did each day. I began walking, at first listening to motivational tapes just to keep my discouraged voice silenced. I joined an obscure gym where I wouldn’t know anyone! Miraculously a young yoga teacher-in-training established her first yoga class at the elementary school where I worked.  Pushing tables and chairs aside, we practiced in the kindergarten room! We were a small group and I couldn’t let her down by not showing up (and paying). Gradually, I was able to cross my legs a little, bend my legs to do child’s pose. I developed arm strength doing downward dogs and plank. After three years of yoga and the gym and eating well my weight gradually began dropping. I took spin classes and even got a hybrid bike I could ride around town. By age 61 my weight was down to 134.  This is where the story stops for many women my age, exercising regularly and feeling pretty pleased to be in relative good shape and at a decent weight.   Phase Two: Core Strength In 2008 my husband I joined the local Marin Jewish Community Center (JCC). He talked me into a Pilates mat class. I hated it. When they did all those “stupid” side leg raises, I indignantly left the class because it was too hard. But I went back. I continued to do spin. I began to do Pilates three times a week. It changed my life. Developing an extremely strong core changed everything.  My form on the bike changed, using core strength to pull with my legs, not just push with my feet. Unexpectedly, I was able to do all kinds of physical activities I never imagined at my age. I ventured into body toning and boot camp kinds of classes. To my amazement, I could do lunges, squats, push-ups, and could easily handle the ab-work in any class.  My body changed. My waist, my lats, my arms, my stomach became toned! My weight has changed, too, as I continue to make healthy choices. My weight is in the low 120’s. At the JCC there is a group of people who consistently show up and I made them my role models, doing double classes on occasion to ramp it up. I began to feel so much fitter and healthier, physical pains and limitations disappeared. Now, I change things up when I get bored or think I’m ready to push myself to the next level. Recently, I've started swimming with a masters group at the JCC. It’s not easy to learn the butterfly and breast stroke at my age. It’s killing me! As I felt about yoga, Pilates, spin, and body toning classes at first, I don’t think I can do it. It feels too hard, but I know from experience that I can do it. Just when I want to quit, thinking it’s too much, it’s not good for me to be so tired, that’s then when I need to stay with it, give it a month or two and, sure enough, I reach a new level of fitness I never dreamed possible. I’m 65 and I’m an athlete. - Mary Rawles If you or someone you know has an inspiring story to share about achieving goals, overcoming obstacles or stepping outside the comfort zone, send them our way. This blog is intended to be a resource of inspiration and motivation for our fans, a place where we can share your story and hopefully inspire its readers. Any and all ideas are read by a real T9er and will be responded to:

Life Lessons in a Years Worth of Roller Derby

Our Creative Project-Managing whiz Danielle, stepped out of, WAY out of, her comfort zone and  joined a women's roller derby league a year ago. Below she shares with us some life lessons and with wisdom like this Danielle, it sounds like you're on the right track. :) Keep it up! You rock!

Photo Credit: Russellreno Limprecht

A year ago, I decided to join Reckless Rollers, the rec team for the Bay Area Derby Girls Roller Derby league. What started out as something fun to try has turned into one of the best experiences of my life. I have bonded with a family of women who have taught me so much and to whom I have a fierce loyalty to like no other group I have ever encountered. I love my derby sisters like family, and I have learned and continue to learn from them on a daily basis. The support system that the B.A.D. girls foster is unlike anything I have ever experienced, and I am forever grateful. While it hasn't been an easy road, and my learning curve is a long one, it has been an amazing road to travel. So, on my year anniversary, I thought I would list some things that I have learned in the past most awesome year with the B.A.D. girls. I hope this list makes someone who reads it go out and try something that they think they would never do, which brings me to my first point: 1. If you want to try something new, just try it. Don't hem and haw and come up with a million excuses not to. If it doesn't work out, so what, but you will never know what you are missing if you let your mind talk you out of doing it. 2. Don't let your age be a barrier. I definitely thought about the fact that I would probably be one of the oldest people in Rec, and I am. This isn’t an excuse to not be active - age isn't a reason to give up on fun. 3. You don't always know what you think you know. I thought I knew how to skate when I signed up for rec. What I realized almost immediately is that I know how to move in a circle on a rink with wheels on my feet. This does not mean you are ready for roller derby. At all. 4. Admit your weaknesses. It's the only way you will start to work on overcoming them. 5. Overcoming the aforementioned weaknesses doesn't happen overnight. In some instances, it doesn't even happen over the course of a year - I know this from experience. 6. Don't focus on what you can't do so much. I still do this, and I take for granted what I can do now that I wasn't able to a year ago. T-stops took me a month to get down last July, now I can't even imagine how I DIDN'T know how to do them, but instead of patting myself on the back when I finally am able to do something that I have worked on, I tend to piss myself off about the next thing that I can't do. Turn and toe stops became my next fixation, and now that I am actually able to skate and turn 180 degrees while moving (although still not at top speeds), I am starting to fixate on my next obstacle. Give yourself time to enjoy the accomplishment of learning something new. 7. Don't compare yourself to others. There is always going to be someone better than you. That doesn't mean you won't get it, it just means you didn't get it yet. 8. Overthinking is your enemy. 9. I still cry from frustration as a grown woman. At one point or another, derby frustration will probably make you cry. Do it, get a tissue, and move on. 10. Don't get dragged into the drama and don't create it. There are a ton of different personalities at derby, and tension runs high. You will probably get pissed at someone. Actually, you WILL get pissed at someone. Use that anger in a positive way and focus it. Don't dwell. Get over it. In the end, we are all there to support each other when the day is over. 11. Sometimes you have crappy practices. Take them for what they are worth and move on. Crappy days make you realize where you need to focus. If every day was a good day, we'd all be on the travel team. 12. It's ok to screw up. Even in front of a warehouse full of bad asses. Everyone falls - it's derby. You are on wheels and people are trying to knock you over. You are going to fall. The list of what I have learned goes way beyond what I have listed here, but these are the things that really stick out. I am so happy that I jumped into this opportunity, and I wouldn’t trade any of my bruises, tears, or sore quads for the world.

Finding Oneself in Leading Others

This post was created by Amy, a Marketing Coordinator for Title 9 and enthusiast for all the things Title 9 stands for - including most important of all, it's customers. If you have an idea for a post or would like to connect with Title 9 shoot her an email. Already our 3rd Annual Bay Area Title 9K is coming up next month which makes me realize that its truly incredible how things pan out. Two months ago I had no idea that I would be lucky enough to start working with the Title 9K team, and on top of that, meet the people that I have. One gal in particular, Miss Irma, has blown me out of the water. In my attempt to market the race in any way I could I found a local running club in San Jose and reached out to their director in hopes of something, anything. Little did I know on the receiving end was an energetic, kind, and motivated mother passionate about running with others. I'll stop now and leave you with Irma's rendition of the birth and development of not only the Mom's Run This Town San Jose chapter, but Miss Irma herself. Cheers my dear, here's to you.
Every person experiences life changing events (LCEs) in their life – both positive and negative.  As a social worker and runner, I firmly believe in the power of exercise to undo the negative effects of LCEs.  I started running after I got married not only because I needed to lose weight, but to do something that was just for me, amidst the togetherness of a committed relationship.  I continued to run through the pre-mature deaths of my twins, Lucas and Larissa, and then after the births of my daughters, Sophia and Samantha.  As a mom, running took on new meaning. I wanted my kids to know that “being healthy” doesn’t just happen – you work hard for it, like everything in life that’s worth working for. I thought I would be done with any significant LCEs until my kids went off to college.  Wrong!! Last year, my husband got a job in the heart of Silicon Valley, San Jose, CA.  The stress of moving across the country and being away from all our family and friends took a toll on me – I gained 15 lbs and had the hardest time adjusting to our new life here.  So, I started running again after the holidays. The problem:  running alone is not my forte and the runs for the local running groups didn’t fit with my schedule.  If I were to run first thing in the morning or after work hours, I would have to bring sleepy and/or hungry kids in the jogging stroller. And who wants that at their 7 AM run or 6 PM run?  Not me – and they’re my kids! What was a running mom to do?  Enter Moms RUN this Town (MRTT) – a FREE nation-wide running club for moms, by moms.  The name intrigued me because I believe moms (and women in general) run the world and if we had the opportunities to do it on a larger scale, the world would be a much better place.  Since there was no chapter in San Jose, I contacted the founder and found myself as the new chapter leader of Moms RUN this Town-San Jose! At first, I recruited moms who I became friends with through my kids. Mid-morning, we would run with our jogging strollers, then let the kids out to play and have lunch.  Exercise time for mom and the kids get a play date - a match made in heaven! My first consistent running partner was Ellen, mom of 2, who hadn’t run for over 5 years.  Yet, after only 2 months, we completed a 5K in less than 35 minutes – a PR for both of us!    After that race, MRTT took on a whole new meaning for me.  I made up some fliers and put them out at local running stores, coffee shops, supermarkets.  Then, I got really bold and started handing them out to women I saw running or walking with a stroller or with kids. I became part of a larger group of like-minded, strong moms who did RUN their corner of the world. Junella, has young four kids, works part-time, and gets up at 5 AM to run since she is training for a marathon and a 5K obstacle run in October.  Patricia, who has grown kids, has run/walked a half marathon every month since June of this year.  Melanie is mom to a 4-legged "kid" and is training to run her first marathon this October.  Truc-Co last ran in college (over 10 years ago, but she’ll tell you it was only 5 years ago!), yet since joining MRTT, she has been running 3-4x/week while pushing her 2 year old in a jogging stroller!  She has signed up for the Title 9K (her 1st race), a half marathon and a 5k obstacle race.  She has also perfected the art of opening snacks and juice boxes and picking up various toys that have been tossed out of the jogging stroller all while maintaining a 9-10 min/mile pace. In the 3 months since our group started, we’ve grown to include 30 women with varying running backgrounds (1st time run/walkers to experienced racers) and in various stages of motherhood (1st time moms with new borns to older moms with grown kids).  We’ve created a community of running moms who inspire and support each other. Every time I log on to our Facebook page and read their posts and comments, I am humbled by their strength, dedication and kindness. We each know what it takes to make the time to run when you’re a mom. For me, MRTT was what I needed to get back on track to the healthier life I wanted to have.  It was not just the physical act of running that helped to mitigate the negative effects of my LCE.  It was the social, mental and emotional connections made through running (and specifically from running with other moms) that contributed to my life adjustment and satisfaction. When I found out about the Title 9K race series, I thought it would be a great first race for our newer-to-running moms but also for our seasoned-running-moms.  The fact that it was for women only and accommodated strollers was a bonus! Most of us have only run with strollers and most races don’t allow them.  Also, having it be all women gives it more of that community, “we’re all in this together, no matter what your pace may be” feeling.  Lastly, since 9K is not usual race length, we’re all sure to PR!! MRTT, Title Nine and the Title 9K Race Series all have the ideal of women as powerful and influential at their core.  We matter – to our families, our communities, our countries and the world.  Our lives are full of LCEs that can threaten to stop us, but the rhythm of running keeps moving us forward one step at a time.
If you're interested in joining Mom's Run This Town San Jose you can find their information here. Live in another part of the country? Find your local chapter here, or become an Irma and start your very own!