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!