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Posts Tagged ‘Golden Gate Bridge’

bilbl_superOn Sunday, June 14th my sister, 3 friends, and I got up super early and drove up to San Francisco’s Presidio area to participate in the inaugural Mermaid Series Tour de San Francisco bike ride.  I was so excited to take part in this ride because I’ve participated in Mermaid Series events a few times in the past, and appreciated how organized and fun they are. Plus, I love riding my bike, and who better to do it with than my sister and my 3 BFFs?  Not to mention, I’ve never ridden my bike across the Golden Gate Bridge, so that would be exciting, too.

We’d signed up for the 7-mile ride, choosing the more conservative mileage since this was our first attempt.  I kept thinking we should’ve signed up for the 13-miler, but once I saw the hills involved in that leg of the ride, I’m so glad we stuck with the shorter distance.

Since it was 6:30am when we left my house, the ride up to the City was smooth and easy.  Hardly any other crazies on the road at that time of the morning on a Sunday.  We even found a primo parking area, which made the start of the race really nice.

Of course we had to stop and take some pre-race photos to capture the moment.

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Geared up and ready to ride!

Geared up and ready to ride!

It was a foggy morning, which is usual at Crissy Field in the morning, but it was the perfect temperature for the bike ride.  As we made our approach to the Golden Gate Bridge, we all took photos to capture the beauty all around us.

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As we turned that corner, we realized what they meant by a “medium-sized hill.”  I guess the Mermaid Series is all about the art of understatement, because the hill was quite steep.  I rode it almost all the way to the top, but eventually had to get off my bike and walk.  One of my goals for next year’s ride (because my friends and I all plan on doing this ride again next year) is to make it up the hill all the way without getting off to walk.

Once we hit a really scenic area right before we’d get on the Bridge, we all stopped to take photos again.

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I love this pic of my sister and me and our

I love this pic of my sister and me and our “dueling” bikes.

Now it was time to get on the Bridge and ride. The wind was blowing, the fog was rolling, the cars were speeding by, and other bikers kept saying, “on your left,” but despite these obstacles, I was truly awed at the fact that I was riding my bike on this magnificent bridge.  There really is nothing else like it anywhere.

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The journey toward Sausalito was tough – my legs were pumping and we were fighting the elements, including that brutal wind, which offered a ton of resistance.  There was also a very steady incline the entire time.  All of this didn’t phase me, though, because if I have one thing going for me with these big thighs it’s that they’re strong and powerful.

We made it to the Sausalito side and found another opportunity to take a water break and snap a few more photos.

My sis and I, happy that we made it across.

My sis and I

When one of your friends is 6 feet tall and you're only 5'3

When one of your friends is 6 feet tall and you’re only 5’3″, taking a selfie is tough business.

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Luckily, we found two nice sisters who were willing to take a proper group photo for us. I love this photo so much, and have made it my cover photo on FB.

Inspired that we’d made it halfway across the Bridge, we knew heading back to the end would be much easier. Not only was the wind on our side this way, but we also had a steady decline on the way back, too.  I had my bike on the highest gear and my had on the break almost the entire way back.  The only harrowing part was the cross traffic of bikers, and the “expert” riders who were also trying to pass in a very narrow space.  Since this wasn’t a race, but just a ride, I’m not sure what the need was to pass with so little room.  Not to mention that most of these people weren’t even taking part in the ride.  I guess people like speed.  I’m not one to talk – I’m highly competitive and prefer going as fast as possible, most of the time.

I got away from most of the “traffic” so that I could take a few more action shots and a quick video.

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The entire time I was riding to the finish line, I just kept thinking about how happy I was to share this experience with these awesome ladies.  And about how far I’d come – at my heaviest weight I might have been able to make the 7-miles, but I know I would’ve been so much slower and very sore for days afterward.  And I would have been ultra concerned with how my big butt looked on that cruiser.  I can honestly say this thought didn’t even cross my mind once during the ride.  I know I still have a big booty, but I’m proud of it, and all of my curves.  Doing these kinds of events always solidifies for me how much I’ve accomplished in my weight loss and fitness goals.

Once we hit the finish line, which we crossed as a 5-pack, we triumphed over our achievement.  You can’t miss those huge smiles on our faces at a job well done.

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I cannot say enough about what a great time we had on this ride.  It was scenic, challenging, and so much fun.  If you have the chance to do a Mermaid Series race, ride, or swim, I highly recommend it.  My sister, friends, and I all said we’re looking forward to making this an annual adventure. Can’t wait!

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Today FaveCousin and I walked in the SF Mermaid 5K.  A stark contrast from my first Mermaid 5K, which I participated in back in March 2009 with my sister.  If you have a few minutes, go and read that post.  If you don’t have a few, I’ll recap it:

It was March 2009. I weighed 275 pounds or so (over 60 pounds more than I do now, but 40 pounds less than my all-time highest weight).  I had signed up for Team in Training, planning to walk a half marathon, but had been having difficulty with numbness in my right foot which moved up my leg all the way to my hip.  It was awful, debilitating, and extremely frustrating.  But my friend Harj decided that she wanted all of her friends to celebrate her birthday by participating in the Mermaid Run.  So I asked my sister if she’d do it with me.  From the start of the race, everyone passed us – the runners, the power walkers, the walkers, the women with strollers – everyone.  I mean, we were dead last.  And it got to me because I wanted to push harder, go farther, move faster.  But I couldn’t.  I had shin splints, cramps in my calves, and the numbness in my feet/legs.  I broke down hysterically crying shortly after we’d begun, and my sister had to talk me down.  One of the things I realized that day was that I’d have to forgo the TNT training and the 1/2 marathon, because I physically just couldn’t do it.  It was one of my low points in this journey.

The photo on the left was taken in March 2009.  The one of the right was taken today.  I can see a HUGE change in my face.

The photo on the left was taken in March 2009. The one of the right was taken today. I can see a HUGE change in my face.

Cut to today – FaveCousin and I had to walk about a mile from the parking lot to the start of the race and we did so in less than 12 minutes!  We got to the starting line and enjoyed the “girl power” music – Beyonce, Katy Perry (Even though I really dislike her music, I have to admit that “Roar” is a rallying song), etc.  I was excited for so many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that today I was wearing that women’s cut shirt that I would’ve never fit in back in 2009.

2013-11-10 07.23.332013-11-10 07.33.30 At 7:35am, the race started, and while plenty of people passed us, we were far from the last ones walking.  In fact, we were solidly in the middle of the pack.  This fact alone made me incredibly happy and awestruck at just how far I’ve come.

It's hard to see because of the lighting, but I just had to take a photo of all the walkers behind us.  We weren't the last ones!!

It’s hard to see because of the lighting, but I just had to take a photo of all the walkers behind us. We weren’t the last ones!! There are more walkers for a good half mile behind this group, too.

While we walked, I felt good.  I wasn’t exerting myself, and I knew that eventually I should either push myself to start competing in 10Ks or I should start run/walking.  (More on the running in a future post – let’s just say that next year I’m going to do my best to run most of the 5K). But for today, I decided to just continue walking at my 3.8mph pace, and enjoy the lovely scenery and the great company. Today there were no tears.  Today I was all smiles as I realized that this 5K was going to be an entirely different experience from the last Mermaid 5K.

2013-11-10 07.49.29 2013-11-10 07.40.14 2013-11-10 08.05.44 2013-11-10 08.03.48San Francisco really is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and that Golden Gate Bridge is one of the jewels.  The weather was brisk and chilly, but sunny while we were racing.  Oddly enough, the fog rolled in later in the morning, but while we walked we were blessed with the sunshine. (Although you can see just what the foggy, ocean air does to my hair – can we say ‘fro?!).

All told, we finished the 5K in 56 minutes, which is a darn good pace for walking.  I hit over 10,000 steps by 9am.  I’m so proud of all that I have accomplished and the dramatic difference between this race and the one back in 2009.  I’m a completely different person now, with abilities that match my determination.  I couldn’t be more thrilled with my progress!! Today was definitely one of the high points in my journey!

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Photo credit: Pinterest search: San Francisco fog

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I’ve been wanting to write this post since Sunday, when I completed the 5K, but I wanted to wait for the photos that Ish snapped that day, because I knew she was going to have some amazing ones.

We started early in the morning, because the race started at 8am in San Francisco, but at all the races I’ve been to, it’s good to get there about half an hour ahead of time.  And since AM, Ish, and FavCousin were doing the 5K with me, that meant quite a bit of car coordination to get to the Bridge by 7:30.  So, I set the alarm for 4:45am, and wouldnt’ you know that I couldn’t sleep the night before, so I only got about 3 hours of sleep.  Still, I was ready and raring to go when AM got to my house around 6:10, then we headed to Ish’s house (which was farther north) by 6:30, and after a quick stop at Starbucks for some much-needed caffeine, we were on our way to the City to pick up FavCousin.

As we headed toward the Bridge, we debated about which side we should go to.  You see, the MovFitness website said the race would start on the Sausalito side, but the Active.com website said it would be the SF side.  We went with the SF side because Active.com is a much more reliable organization, plus the fact that MovFitness didn’t even have the date of this race on their website up to a week before.  (This should’ve been a sign of things to come).

We got to the SF side, and we didn’t see very many people at all.  Now all of the 5Ks I’ve ever taken part in have always had 1000s of people waiting to participate.  There were literally 10 people, and no sign of anyone from MovFitness.  We got out of the car and everyone looked fairly confused.  A few of the others said they had gone to the Sausalito side of the Bridge and that no one from MovFitness was there, either.  There was no signage on either side, which was also very strange.

Since we had all been really looking forward to the 5K on the Golden Gate Bridge, (not to mention the fact that we were all up at the butt crack of dawn), we decided to go on the “walk” anyway.  FavCousin was the only one who had ever walked across the Bridge, but that makes sense, since she grew up and still lives in SF.  AM, Ish, and I had all traveled over the Bridge by car many times, but none of us had ever walked or ridden our bikes across it.  The three of us were all really excited to be up there walking on one of the most iconic architectural structures in the country.

Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t quite cooperating with us.  It was foggy, windy, and very cold.  But in some ways, that kind of weather is so much better to walk a 5K in, because you don’t get overheated.  The only thing we were missing was the amazing views of the SF coastline that you can see from the top of the Bridge.  But, we can always do this again when the weather is better.

As far as the walk itself, I had the same trouble with my feet that I’ve had in the past.  The numbness started in my left foot, this time, which was different; it usually starts with the right side.  The one difference this time is that the numbness did stay at my feet, and didn’t travel up my leg to my hip, as it had in the past.  The other big difference was that Ish was walking at my pace, so it was fine for us to go slow and take our time.  FavCousin and AM were walking ahead of us, and I felt fine with the fact that we were about 10 minutes behind them.  They had each other to talk to, and I didn’t feel like I was keeping anyone behind.

When we arrived at the halfway point, on the Sausalito side, there were a couple of people from MovFitness, and they were passing water out of the trunk of a car.  The trunk of a car?  Seriously?  I was so pissed that I told one of the guys, “what sort of bullshit organization are you running? Why didn’t you have signs up to avoid confusion, especially because your site had different information than what was on Active.com.” To which he replied, “the information was different?”  Great, glad to know that their representatives are “in the know.”  I determined then and there that I was going to write a scathing email to the “organization” to let them know exactly what I thought of them.  (Which I did, the result of which was that the “CEO” said that he would refund my money.  Because in the email one of the things I said (out of the many things I reamed them for) was the fact that I wasn’t at all confident that the money I spent on the race was actually going to underprivileged kids’ dance classes).

Once we had all given them a piece of their mind, we finished the 5K.  After we were done, I felt tired, a bit sore, and very accomplished.  I was glad that I had done it.  I had a great time with FavCousin, Ish, and AM, and we all said that we’d love to do it again.  A bit later, and hopefully when the sun is out and the vistas will be more visable, but definitely something to do again.  I’d actually love to ride my bike across it, so I htink that’s the next thing I’m going to do.

Even though I appreciated the sense of accomplishment I felt at the completion of the 5K, I was very frustrated by the fact that I am still getting numbness in my feet.  As I said in a previous post, I am not sure if I’ll continue to participate in endurance walks.  At this point, my feet still go numb, and it is the worst feeling.  I already signed up for a 5K at the end of September, and I’d like to try to do it, because it supports breast cancer, but I’m not going to push myself.  I want to continue to workout as I have been, combining biking, swimming, personal training, and some walking.  If I’ve lost a decent amount of weight by the end of September, then I’ll re-evaluate the situation and determine whether or not I think I can participate.  In either case, I’ve already paid the money, so my contribution has been made.

Here are some cool pictures that Ish took during the 5K.  There are some really artistic photos in this group, so I hope you enjoy them.

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