San Francisco

Living in San Francisco has it’s ups and downs.

I will insist on not moving my car all weekend just to save my precious spot. Yet, I love being in a place with public transit.

Sometimes it’s so cold I can barely think of leaving my apartment without a jacket. Yet…it never gets below freezing. And the temperature is perfect for running.

I miss out on a true season change every year. But I get some of the best “summer” weather in October.

I hate the rent pricing situation. I love rent control, though.

I can’t have a dog. But I do have a very active social/outdoorsy life.

I’m near the mountains, the ocean and the beach. I really have no complaints about it other than I wish I was closer.

I’m home. And yet…this is about as far from home as I ever thought I’d be.

Be Inspired

Last year, my new year’s resolution was simple: Be Inspired. I didn’t know where it would take me, but my goal was just to start paying attention to things that were inspiring, and follow them.

This led to a whole bunch of inspiring activities in 2012:

  • Met the very talented and inspirational Global Lives Project board members at Board Match
  • Joined an orchestra (this has been on my five-year plan for some time now–and I’m happy to be part of a group that continually inspires me to play better)
  • Traveled to a couple of interesting places (London and Seattle; travel always inspires!)
  • Completed my second half marathon — four years after the first (and rediscovered the inspiration that comes from running in a group of very motivated individuals)
  • Launched a social network (it’s inspiring when I get to work with some of the most creative minds at my job!)
  • Joined the board of Global Lives Project (and now I get to work with people who inspire me on a regular basis!)
  • Re-learned how to swim laps (and have a new goal to swim 1 mile in one day)

I don’t know what this means for 2013 New Year’s resolution(s), but I’m pretty confident it’s a good sign for things to come!

Alive

Sometimes, you need to do things to remind yourself you are alive. For me, that thing is climbing outdoors, or really, doing anything that involves stepping out of my comfort zone.

Outdoor climbing is not super safe. You will fall and scrape your knee at least once in your tenure as a climber. If you haven’t, then you probably haven’t taken the proper risks involved (or you are climbing below your skill set). It involves technique and thought, two things which are practically given to you on a fake-rock plate at the gym. It involves hanging out in a beautiful place. It involves a healthy dose of adrenaline.

Yesterday, it also involved a long, steep hike to the “underworld,” a cold climbing destination in Castle Rock. I’m so sore today! But I also feel happy to be able to do these things, and grateful for the reminder of what is possible.

This is Pi.

Pi in the Sky art installation over the bay area today.

Did you see this? Did you know it was happening? I happened to be walking back from lunch and looked up to see five planes in perfect synchronization creating this beautiful series of numbers. Immediately, my first thought was: “I’m sure this means something,” followed by: “Is this a geek’s proposal?” and then finally: “This is clearly an expensive ad.” None of the above! Turns out it is an art installation. Which makes me wonder…if this was a rorschach ink blot type of test, what does that say about me? What did you think it was?

Freezing my shoes

View of SF from a boat on the bay.

I’ve been horribly remiss about posting photos of new outfits lately. I feel a little shy asking random colleagues to take photos of me, and my fashion photographer (aka, the woman who introduced me to Raja), is out of town for work. I have been mostly wearing more stylish/flattering outfits, though, and finding it easier to do so. I even bought an accessory (a turquoise necklace). I will say the following about the long weekend, and my 21 Day Challenge:

  • I wore dry-clean-only pants on a sailboat (rocky waters = salty pants. lesson learned!).
  • I missed an opportunity to wear a new outfit on a day when I was only planning on swimming (as it turns out, I ended up spending way more time walking around in Berkeley than originally planned) — and I missed an opportunity to show off Raja’s talents. Le sigh!
  • I am getting better at advertising Raja’s services, but not better at judging who wants them. I went to a Labor Day party a friend of mine was hosting and her husband’s mother sounded really interested. As it turns out, she was just making small talk, because when I offered to give her Raja’s info, she poo-pooed it. Oh well!
  • I froze my shoes. Apparently, this is a tried-and-true method for breaking them in. You fill up two hole-free, fully sealable ziploc bags with water, and stick them in your shoes, making sure to cover the toe to the heel. Then, you stick the shoes in the freezer overnight. My shoes are not 100% broken in yet, but they’re definitely closer!
  • I won’t give up my Patagonia down jacket when standing outside for hours. Freezing in SF is just not worth it.

Buns of Steel

*Powered by Pixton. Images copyright 2012 Pixton.

When I was in middle and early high school, I was obsessed with reducing the size of my posterior. Everything I did for exercise involved bun reduction. If it was a squat, a lunge or a leg lift, it was for the singular purpose: to reduce the size of my rear end. My main method for bun reduction? Fitness tapes.

I had an old “Buns of Steel” VHS tape that still exists somewhere deep in the recesses of my parents’ basement. On that tape, the women have donned hot pink leotards and turquoise tights. Their bangs are sprayed vertically. The teacher in the tape is the male instructor who giggles frequently and tells his students that, by doing 100 leg lifts, they will undergo a bun transformation. I remember feeling motivated by this. I too wanted a bun transformation.

Now that I’m older, I’ve moved on from this childish obsession. I have a pear shape. It’s ok. It’s not really going to change unless I undergo an extreme diet and 100 leg lifts a day, and that’s just not something I want or need to do to be happy. That said, I still do squats. I actually thought about fitting in leg lifts into my weekly routine. But now I have a higher purpose: to protect myself from injury and to run better. It’s actually a pretty powerful motivator. I do feel stronger. And that’s a pretty amazing feeling.

Meaning and Purpose and Running

When I was in my twenties, I almost joined the Peace Corps. I was undergoing a “quarter-life crisis“* of the sort that must find meaning and purpose in life. The Peace Corps seemed like a natural fit for a young idealist like myself, and I was told it was probably the best way, as someone without existing development aid experience, to gain said experience abroad (working abroad was a secondary goal of mine, right next to meaning and purpose).

The interview for the Peace Corps is designed to weed you out if there is any doubt that you can’t handle the conditions of adapting to a different culture. During the interview, the interviewer asked me, “What do you do to deal with stress?”

I said, “Exercise.”

She said, “But what would you do if you couldn’t exercise?”

“But I have running shoes. And I can run anywhere.”

She said, “In some cultures, women can’t leave the house without a burka.”

“Then I will run with a burka.”

She said, “But what if you can’t leave the house?”

“Then I will do lunges and squats.”

That seemed to appease her, and she scribbled down a note in her pad. Perhaps she wanted me to say something like “meditate” or “write.” These are also things I have done in the past that can relieve stress, but they aren’t the first thing I think to do when I’m stressed.

I’m sick, still. I’m not running, and the mere act of not running or doing anything, really, is bugging me. I’m starting to feel a little stress, not from actual stress, more from not getting to go running. Yes, though I could stand in my room and do lunges and squats in my current condition, I can’t run, which is ultimately the only thing I really want to do right now.

*I doubt the quarter life crisis ever looks like the more well-known mid-life crisis where all you want, really, is a fancy sports car and/or a kite board to make you feel younger.

Getting Faster

Run Time: 47:59
Distance: 3.93 miles
Average: 12:13 /mile
Fastest Pace: 6:30 /mile
Ascent: 174 feet
Descent: 187 feet

Yesterday’s run was not a tempo run, but somehow I found a way to go much faster than normal. Though I don’t agree with the “fastest pace” listed above, I do think it’s entirely possible I was going, on average, 12:13/mile. Past experience tells me I should slow down, but it’s also nice to finish four miles in under 1 hour. Ah well. Tomorrow morning is a tempo run and we’ll see if 12:45 feels any different.