Welcome to RE-Active!

Welcome to the active lifestyle blog of Ralph and Elizabeth (i.e. RE-active). We are active people who make every effort to incorporate fitness into our busy daily lives. Our goal with this blog is to share our fitness activities and healthy lifestyle, both at home and when we travel. We hope our stories will inspire you to stay active, live healthy and explore new places.

Spinning Our Wheels to Help Feed Seniors

By Elizabeth —

When Ralph and I have an opportunity to participate in a run or bike ride that is also a fund-raiser for a favorite charity, we are delighted. And when good friends also join in, it makes it even better.

That was the case this past weekend. Our  local Meals on Wheels chapter in Alameda County hosted Wheels for Meals Ride, an annual bike ride fund-raiser through the Livermore vineyards. We’ve done it two years now. It’s a win-win-win: a beautiful bike ride with friends to raise money for this vital meal service for local, homebound seniors.

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My favorite riding partner

Meals on Wheels is particularly close to my heart. During the last few years that my late grandmother was able to live independently, she relied on her local Meals on Wheels program for nutritious meals. It was such a huge relief to know that my beloved grandma was regularly receiving nourishing food from a friendly visitor. I believe she was able to stay in her apartment longer because of this great service.

She was in North Dakota and I was in California, so there was little I could do to help provide meals for her when she was no longer cooking for herself. This was in the early 90s, well before the world wide web and myriad online resources and mobile apps that now make it so much easier to provide long-distance help to an elderly family member. I will always be grateful for the vital assistance provided by Meals on Wheels.

My grandma is always in my heart so she was with me this glorious Saturday for a fun ride! We rode 35-miles with friends and were happy to see many bike-riding friends also out supporting this fund-raiser. There were three ride options: 15 miles, 35 miles and 70 miles. Afterward, the ride sponsors hosted a delicious barbecue for all of the riders.

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Riding with friends makes long rides fun!

This year, Ralph set up a fund-raising page for Team ClubSport when he signed up and we sent out the link to our friends who ride. (It’s still live if you’d like to contribute!) At the end of the day, our team raised $1,455 and the Wheels for Meals ride raised nearly $106,000 for our local chapter.  It is heartwarming and gratifying to know countless seniors in the Bay Area will continue to receive a hot meal and a friendly visitor!

Running Chicago

By Ralph —

There are a lot of ways to celebrate your birthday, and running a marathon probably isn’t at the top of most people’s list. But it is mine! And getting to run in the 40th annual Chicago Marathon was such a gift. The event staff did an amazing job of keeping everything safe and organized.  The spectator support throughout the course was amazing. It was great to see so many enthusiastic people out supporting their loved ones and everyone else.

This race was particularly special to me because Elizabeth and both of our kids were there to share the weekend and the whole race experience. In fact, the three of them ran in the 5K race the day before the marathon. What great memories I have of the three days we had together in Chicago!

Elizabeth and the kids are very experienced race spectators and they take supporting me during a race to the next level. In Chicago, they managed to log 11 miles themselves on race day tracking me around the course. Through some very careful strategizing (and tracking on Find My Friends, Strava and the race app), they saw me at miles 1, 3, 13, 17 and 25. Each time I saw them I got a little energy boost and pep in my step.

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Post-race birthday celebration at Ema in Chicago
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Excited to see my family at mile 3.
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Very excited to spot my family along the race course.

My philosophy is any time you get across the finish line in a race it’s a success. As I was running through the dog miles of 15-20 I was reflecting on how fortunate I am to have the physical capability and opportunity to do these races.  That being said, I did not make my time goal and that’s a little disappointing, but I am not letting that take away from the overall experience and the joy of the day.  I am blessed to have such a wonderful and supportive family. I acknowledge not everyone has that and I am grateful.

My time? 4:03:38. I came in 11,943 out of 43,000 finishers.

Here is the great thing about the situation: it’s on to the next event.  This weekend, I am doing the Meals on Wheels Charity Bike Ride and in November, I’ll run the Las Vegas Rock n Roll Half Marathon. I’m doing the Rock n Roll Half as a fundraiser for Augie’s Quest and the fight against ALS. 

Quick Healthy Dinner Bowl

By Ralph

Trying to make a healthy dinner with some degree of variety can be challenging.  I whipped up this recipe for a bowl the other night; it was quick, easy and nutritious. Bowls are super easy to pull off because you can easily vary the ingredients and come up with something new.  For this one, I used three primary ingredients:

  • Protein: Chicken – one breast per person cubed and sautéed in Mongolian barbecue sauce
  • Carbohydrate: Quinoa
  • Vegetable: Sweet potatoes – cubed and lightly pan fried in olive oil

After I cooked the three ingredients, I layered the quinoa, sweet potatoes, and chicken in a bowl and topped it with some of the sauce from the chicken to moisten the quinoa.  These three items are easily interchangeable for an infinite amount of variations. Next time I make a healthy bowl, I am going to do shrimp, rice, snap peas and a little gluten-free soy sauce.

As a bonus play for this dinner, I whipped up Trader Joe’s gluten-free brownie mix I and got it into the oven before I started on anything else so it would have time to cook and cool for dessert. When Elizabeth got home from work, dinner and dessert were ready!

Count Down to Chicago Marathon

By Ralph

With just six days to go until the Chicago Marathon, the countdown to race day has started.  I completed my longest training run two weeks ago — a 20 miler.  That’s a milestone that always feels good to hit.

I’ve backed off on the miles the last two weekends. I’ve done two 10-mile runs and have crossed trained with several long bike rides. We did a fun family run in Santa Monica last week, that included a set of stairs.

Santa Monica 9.17Overall, I feel ready. I had a high hamstring strain on my left side for  three weeks that was bothersome, but not enough to miss workouts.  I backed off my pace to help it heal, which is a small sacrifice to keep training. In the past, I’ve sometimes overdone it trying to do too much to heal it. I’ve learned through experience that I just need to be patient and dial it back a bit. That strategy definitely paid off this year.

I’m really looking forward to this year’s race in my “big city marathon” tour. It turns out both kids will be going on the trip, which is super fun. I’m excited that I’ll be able to share my birthday and the race with them and Elizabeth.

A few other pre-race logistical items we took care of included double checking all our travel arrangements, downloading the official race app, and reviewing the course map and elevation.

These last two weeks, I have focused on my diet and hydration as well as rest and recovery while keeping myself sharp. The trick is doing that while not losing fitness. I’m looking forward to getting to the starting line with a bunch of other enthusiastic runners. We’ll see how the day goes!

Exercising with friends is in my DNA

By Elizabeth

I have been exercising consistently my entire adult life. I like the way it makes me feel, it helps me maintain my weight and it keeps me strong. But the real secret to staying engaged all these years has been figuring out how to make exercise fun. For me, that means turning it into a social activity, too.

And a recent DNA test proved that need is actually coded in my genes! Among the findings compiled in my personalized Vitagene Vitality Guide was this: I have “low interest” in exercise routines — it actually said that! The report suggested exercising outdoors, with friends or in competition as ways to spark my interest in physical activity. Check, check and check!

 

I am absolutely blessed with a core group of girlfriends who also enjoy running, biking and lifting weights. Over the years, we have kept each other honest by setting up early morning runs and bike rides, and signing up for weight-lifting classes together. Not showing up is not an option!

It’s not just physical activity that brings us together. We genuinely like each other and have fostered a deep level of trust. We all abide by the absolute rule that our confidential conversations during our workouts stay in “the vault!”

We share our joys, our heartaches, and all the ups and downs that are a natural part of life. When I was going through a tough time at work, my running partners got an earful — and a faster-than-usual pace as I picked it up while recounting my workplace issues. We know when to just listen and when to offer advice.

I was sidelined the first half of this year recovering from a broken ankle, and I really missed my run therapy! Seeing my friends was a real motivator to rehabbing that ankle and getting back out there.

So while the social strategy may not appeal to everyone, it’s my secret to exercise consistency. And I have a 30-year track record that shows it really does work for me!

 

 

 

 

Taking the ‘Big City Marathon’ Tour

By Ralph

I like having a major race on the calendar at least once a year. It keeps me interested in getting better and it gives me a major challenge for the year.  This year, that race is the Chicago Marathon on October 8th. Just so happens that is also my birthday, so I will be having a huge party this year — 12,000 people have already RSVP’d.  So nice of all of them to meet me in Chicago to celebrate!

This is my third big city marathon in the last three years. Two years ago, I ran the New York City Marathon and last year I did the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington DC. I like to have a training theme for my races. Right now it’s Big City Marathons. Before that it was Ironman triathlon. That lasted eight years and I completed five full Ironman triathlons during that time frame.

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A million spectators for the NY marathon and I spotted Elizabeth on the course!

Elizabeth and I are enjoying the Big City Marathon Tour — a theme we made up– because it also gives us a chance to explore a new city, or enjoy a city we have already been to, beyond just the race.

After I finished the Marine Corps Marathon, I got cleaned up, we went out for a great celebratory lunch, and we had a memorable time leisurely strolling around DC looking at the monuments and taking in the sites.  It’s a day I will never forget.  What made the day even more special was the fact that our son Davis was able to join us for the weekend and participate in all the activities.

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Elizabeth and Davis were at the finish line at the Marine Corps Marathon.

I am very thankful that I have such a supportive family who joins me on these journeys.

Here is what I look for when selecting a race:
1. The reputation of the race – is it an iconic race that is well respected with a great history?
2. Is it a city Elizabeth and I will enjoy going to beside the race? What other activities can we plan while we are there?  In New York, for example, we went to a Broadway show two nights before the race.
3. What are the logistics around the race? How close is the venue to an airport?  Are there plenty of hotels close to the start or finish? How spectator friendly is the race?

My challenge for you is to look around at the fall racing schedule and see what appeals to you. Close or far, long or short, that’s up to you. But I do think you will find it motivating to have a fall event on the calendar. I am not sure what I am going to do in 2018 yet, that is yet to be determined. Half the fun is trying to figure that out.

How to Stay Fit on Vacation

By Ralph

A very common struggle on vacation is maintaining some kind of a workout routine. You have worked hard all year to achieve a level of fitness, maybe even in preparation of that vacation, and you don’t want to lose that progress while you are away.  Here are some of my vacation workout tips.

I personally really enjoy working out on vacation because it allows me to break my normal routines and explore new places. I understand not everyone shares my enthusiasm for vacation workouts, but with the right frame of mind, you will come home feeling much better if you get a few workouts in.

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An early morning run in Santa Monica while visiting family for Christmas

I break vacation workout opportunities into two categories. You can decide for yourself what works best for you and the people you are vacationing with. The first is the “Get it Done” workout. This is about getting 3-4 workouts during a weeklong vacation done in the hotel fitness center. This is great in areas that may not be safe to explore or when you have to be as efficient with your time as humanly possible.

The second, and way more interesting is, “Build It In” workout.  The ideas are endless on this depending where you are vacationing. On a recent trip to New York, Elizabeth and I had a few active things on our list that had us out and about enjoying the city while burning calories in a fun way. I had my heart set on renting bikes and riding across the Brooklyn Bridge and Elizabeth wanted to walk the length of the High Line Trail. We did both of those things on the same day without public transit, starting from our hotel in Time Square. We had the best time, took tons of pictures, and got our workouts in at the same time.

 

But as with most things, preparation is key! Spending just a few minutes on the internet before your trip is the best way to take advantage of your workout time regardless of what you do. Knowing what equipment is available in the hotel fitness center will help you make the most of your time. Discovering in advance there is limited equipment and space available will allow you to bring a body weight routine with you, giving you a better chance of success.

I also look to see what athletic clubs and gyms are in the area and what their guest policies are.

 

I like to use websites like Strava and Map My Run to see posted runs from the area I’m visiting. These websites give me local knowledge on the best places to run, walk, hike or bike before I even get there.

With the right mindset and a little advance preparation, staying fit on vacation can be fun and add a lot of great memories to your vacation. Get there, explore, and have fun staying fit.

An 8-mile Adventure Run in San Diego

By Ralph
One of the things I love about my job is the opportunity it provides to meet with leaders in the fitness industry throughout the country. This month, I had the good fortune of meeting key members of Total Gym and working out with their master trainer on their latest equipment. What these type of business trips also give me is a great opportunity to explore new ground on what I call adventure runs.

The morning before my meeting, I planned a run tour of San Diego. I was staying at the Marriott in the Marina,  which is a great starting point for a run. Because I have been to San Diego many times, I knew about where I wanted to go, but the night before I went onto Google Maps and planned an 8-mile route.

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8-mile course

This route hits many of the major sights in San Diego, and with the emphasis on Balboa Park, I saw a few new places.  And that, by the way, is one of the main things I look for when I plan an exploration routes.

I started out running clockwise along the harbor. The energy is great in this area, with lots of runners and walkers out, and the USS Midway is always amazing to see.

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USS Midway

Once you hit the airport, Harbor Drive gets less interesting, so I made a right up Laurel St. This is the connector to the park and a really nice climb, about 1.1 miles and about a 250-foot climb. Laurel runs you right into Balboa Park and that’s when the fun really begins. I just let the sights take me wherever and I ran around exploring. Here are a few of the cool things I found.

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After the park, I headed south down 6th street toward Petco Park. This ballpark seems to be one of the few I have encountered that has pretty good pedestrian access all the time. I always get a kick out of running around ballparks. There are usually some cool statues, historical monuments and interesting architecture to see.

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Petco Park

 

6th street from Balboa Park to Petco is pretty much all downhill, giving you back the elevation gained on Laurel.

After my round there, I hit the Harbor Drive Pedestrian Bridge getting me safely over Harbor Blvd and right by the convention center.  From there it’s a straight shot back to the hotel. Or it could have been. A pretty good flight of steps at the Convention Center caught my attention. Naturally I was compelled to do a couple sets on the steps before finishing up my tour of San Diego.

 

The whole route was 8 miles and I had a great time.

Running through Las Vegas

By Ralph

I recently had to travel to Las Vegas for a work trip. It’s always tricky to keep the workout patterns intact while traveling, but with some planning and commitment it’s possible. 

When I get to a new city, I prepare for a morning run by first going on Google Maps and seeing what points of interest are within three miles of wherever I am staying.  I always look first for a bike path, major park, or trail system in the area.  That can take a lot of the guess work out of an unknown location. I also look to see if there are any major districts on the map. For example, a district I always enjoy in any city is the Arts District. There is one in Las Vegas just off the north end of the strip. There is always great graffiti art in those areas and usually some cool buildings to see. If you look up the city’s art district you will get the whole history of the area as well as the main points of interest.

I did that this time in Las Vegas because I can only run up and down the strip so many times.  For me, it’s important to try and see something new everyIMG_1456

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time I go to a city.  Here are a few of the pictures I took running around the “18b” or 18 Blocks Art District of Las Vegas. Just a sample of what you can see when you adventure outside in a new location.