Every once in a while, I need to shake things up a bit. You see, in many areas of my life, I’m a victim of habit. I eat the same thing for breakfast every morning, go to bed the same time every night and often find myself stuck in a rut with the same workout routine.
That’s one of the reasons I value my walking buddies. Together, we break our routines by scheduling our “walk and talk” dates at a variety of fabulous walking spots around San Diego County.
Last week, my friend, Jo Dee Jacob suggested we walk around Lake Murray in La Mesa. Excellent choice!
As San Diego Girl Scouts CEO, I can tell you firsthand…Jo Dee walks the talk!! She’s all about health, fitness and wellbeing for girls…and it shows.
Once I adjusted to Jo Dee’s perky pace, we gabbed our way around the lake…and back. (You can’t actually walk the entire lake perimeter, so we used the dead end at the tail of the trail to log some extra miles!)
The path around the lake is flat and wide, so it’s not only great for walkers and runners, but for dogs and strollers, too! We passed through picturesque Lake Murray Park along the way. Despite the drought, ducks were swimming and bright, yellow mustard weed was blooming everywhere. (not great news for those with allergies!)
Once we reached the dam, touching the fence to be “official,” we turned around and power-walked back the way we came. Surrounded by nature’s beauty, time passed quickly as we logged 6.4 miles and talked a ton.
Lake Murray is actually a reservoir, located within the boundaries of Mission Trails Regional Park. It’s centrally located between the city of San Diego and the neighboring communities of La Mesa and Santee. The lake is open for shore fishing and private boats. Small boat and kayak rentals are also available.
But the lake is most popular with cyclists, joggers, walkers and rollerbladers…anyone looking for a beautiful, safe spot to get a little exercise…for body and spirit.
FYI: The Lake Murray path can be accessed from I-8. Exit on Lake Murray Boulevard North. Turn left on Kiowa Drive.
After thinking about running a marathon for years, I finally pulled the trigger at age 45. It was 1998…the first running of the “Rock ‘n Roll Marathon. Nervously waiting for the starting gun in the nine-minute mile section, I went over my race strategy and prayed for the best.
Concentrating on the two major pieces of advice I’d received from the experts, I took it out slowly and drank plenty of water. I was told lots of water was key to finishing the 26.2-mile run without bonking.
For years, the mantra has been drummed into endurance-sports competitors: hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Swig water every chance you get—whether you’re thirsty or not.
Maybe not! Mounting research supports very different advice. Athletes are more likely to suffer severe harm by drinking too much water during competition than by drinking too little! In extreme cases, people have died after drinking too much liquid during a race.
New studies suggest that 3% dehydration levels during competition—which experts once warned against—don’t hurt performance and might actually help it. More and more, experts advocate a simple rule: During a race, drink when you’re thirsty.
In his book Waterlogged, Tim Noakes, sports medicine physician and professor at South Africa’s University of Cape Town, says the body’s instincts are an athlete’s best friend.
“If you drink to thirst, you maximize your performance,” he says. Noakes blames the sports-drink industry for encouraging athletes to drink more than they need.
Ultramarathoner Dean Karnzes says he drinks gallons of water in events like the 135-mile run across sizzling Death Valley. In last year's New York Marathon, however, temperatures were in the mid 40’s. He says he drank only once: a half cup of water at the 15-mile mark.
There’s a wonderful water aerobics class at the pool where I swim. I’ve observed class members frequently stopping to chug from their water bottles. We’ve been so inculcated with the message that we have to hydrate, even in a 45-minute gentle exercise class, people force themselves to drink.
I know. We’ve all heard the stories of dehydrated athletes needing intravenous fluids after a long race. That’s why the notion that more water is better than less still persists.
But after feeling sick and bloated following my second marathon, I have to wonder—should I have backed off on the water and Gatorade? One woman I know felt ill at the 18-mile mark of her marathon and later became delirious. She was hospitalized and diagnosed with hypoantremia. Her excessive fluid intake caused dangerously low sodium levels in her blood.
This, of course, isn’t the final word on water. But, until I hear more, listening to my body is probably the best bet.
(If you’re training for the “Rock ‘n Roll” in June? Good for you…and best of luck!)
The Salvation Army’s annual Women of Dedication Luncheon turns 50 in April…and I’d like to personally invite you to the party!
Co-Chair, Connie Conard and I promise you’ll have a great time while supporting the many vital programs of the Salvation Army in our community.
It would be a joy to have you join us Tuesday, April 7 at the beautiful Hilton Bayfront Resort for a festive, fun-filled and inspirational event called “50 and Fabulous!” as we honor the 2015 class of 15 truly fabulous women who consistently dedicate their time, talent and resources to help people in need.
We’ll also take a trip down memory lane as we celebrate the hundreds of fabulous Women of Dedication who have been making a difference in our community for 50 years.
Back in 1965, The Salvation Army became the first San Diego non-profit organization to publically honor extraordinary local women…shining a light on their selfless service to others. Women of Dedication (WOD) is now the largest fundraiser of the year for The Salvation Army.
Please consider joining us April 7. You can start early (10:30 am) and shop till you drop at our 15 amazing boutiques. If you feel lucky, buy some tickets for our fabulous Opportunity Drawing packages (one of which contains an exciting “LA Experience…” including tickets to the finals of “American Idol” in Los Angeles!) Then enjoy a lovely lunch and entertainment by San Diego’s masterful Master Chorale!
ABC 10’s Kimberly Hunt has graciously agreed to emcee the event and her personable, sportscaster husband, Billy Ray Smith will don his auctioneer hat…encouraging you to bid on tickets to “Dancing With The Stars,” the “Bill Walton Experience” and a fabulous fur!
Money raised will go to support the new Women’s Emergency Shelter at the SA’s Door of Hope.
It has been such a blessing to work closely with the dedicated soldiers of The Salvation Army this past year and meet some of the amazing men and women who have experienced changed lives through the Army’s many effective programs.
Their slogan is “Doing the Most Good,” and I’ve seen firsthand how the SA does the “most good” with every dollar they receive.
And what a treat to be part of a vibrant committee of hard working, caring, dedicated, Godly and fun-loving women.
Join us, if you can…and bring a friend. You’ll have a great time while doing the most good.
A week’s stay at the Golden Door had been on my “bucket list” since moving to San Diego in the early ‘80’s. But I couldn’t justify the cost…so assumed I’d probably never experience the uber-luxury spa nestled in the hills of Escondido.
One day, several years ago - and quite out of the blue - I got a call from the program director at the Golden Door! She wanted to know if I’d consider being a guest speaker sometime. Consider it done!!
After excitedly accepting her unexpected invitation, I was informed there would be no speaker fee. My “payment,” she said, would be a stay at the Golden Door the week I was scheduled to speak.
For a moment, this speaker was speechless!
Regaining my composure, we chose a week and three months later, I found myself in a kind of heaven on earth—spending my days getting massages and facials - taking vigorous mountain hikes and restorative yoga classes - eating delicious farm-to-table cuisine - sleeping like a baby in my cozy casita.
And yes, I also gave three presentations that week… to some of the most fascinating women I’d ever met. I still remember every detail.
Now under new ownership, the Golden Door is undergoing somewhat of a makeover…both physical and philosophical. But don’t worry! The spa treatments, fitness classes, and healthy cuisine remain in place at the world-famous spa.
Peace, tranquility and refreshment for the soul are still a mainstay. Golden Door founder, Deborah Szekely, set the standard for spas worldwide - creating the perfect venue for guests to achieve health, wellbeing and refreshment for the soul.
But times are changing and the Golden Door remains cutting edge. “In addition to refreshing the body and spirit,” says Golden Door General Manager, Kathy Van Ness, “wouldn’t it be nice to get your brain refreshed?!”
I talked with Kathy on a recent visit to the “Door” as a guest for their first Friday night speakers’ series featuring world-renowned artist and photographer, Don Barber.
“We’re all bombarded with data about exercise, hormones and the latest diet,” Kathy explained. “How about sharing some intellectual conversation?”
So, after filling our bodies with a culinary feast of tender Dover sole and roasted vegetables on a bed of seasoned brown rice and quinoa, we filled our minds with a compelling presentation and breathtaking photos by Don Barber. An informative interview was followed by a lively Q & A session with Barber.
Artists, composers, authors…even Hollywood actress, Jamie Lee Curtis…all presenters for the Golden Door’s Friday night speaker series. What I wouldn’t give to fill my mind with the wisdom of author, Gail Sheehy. Famous for her knowledge of the stages of life, Sheehy has also been a guest speaker.
Kathy put it this way, “If you could go to dinner with Rembrandt, wouldn’t you want to ask him a question?”
And wouldn’t that be a lot more interesting than another lecture on menopause? I’m just saying…..
On the trip of a lifetime three years ago, Tom and I joined several friends on a 10-day, unforgettable visit to the Holy Land.
Our tour of Israel was a thrill! Among the highlights, a time of prayer at the Wailing Wall, a challenging hike up the desert fortress, Masada and, like the early followers of Jesus, an emotional baptism in the Jordan River.
From the river, we traveled to the sea…the Dead Sea…for a nice swim. Actually you can’t really swim in the hyper-salinated sea. The water is so super-salty, all you can do is float. So you just lie back and enjoy bobbing around…relaxing in a warm, soothing, natural mineral bath. The sensation was so lovely, I didn’t want to leave!
Guess what? The other day, I got to re-live that marvelous experience…not in Israel, but in San Marcos! In a cozy, little nook behind Grand Avenue I entered “A Quiet Place” (AQuietPlaceFloatationSpa.com) and a time of relaxation and peace in its state-of-the-art floatation spa.
Spa owner Richard Fraccalvieri greeted me with a warm cup of Tranquility Tea, seated me in the comfy waiting area and prepared me for what to expect. Floatation therapy, he said, is a “luxurious escape from the constant stress of life’s daily pressures and a natural way to heal the body and mind.” He said the concept is, indeed, similar to the mineral salt bath I experienced at the Dead Sea.
Nearly 1,000 pounds of Epsom salt is dissolved into the spa tub of skin temperature water to create this effect. After showering off lotions and hair products, I stepped into the large, egg-shaped pod and lowered myself into the warm bath. (I wore a Speedo, but you can float in the buff, if you prefer!)
My mind drifted back to my Dead Sea experience…as I floated effortlessly on my back. While you may want the pod opened slightly, I chose to close it completely, so my “float” would be lightproof and soundproof. The gentle roll of the water freed me of gravity, noise and other distractions.
For some, the experience is like deep meditation as body and mind achieve calmness…entering into a theta brain wave state and a profound state of relaxation. I found myself praying and thinking about things peaceful and lovely.
While some doctors and athletes use floatation therapy for neurological, circulatory, respiratory and digestive issues, others claim a decrease in chronic pain, depression and anxiety. But all who use the therapy regularly agree it feels great!
If, like me, you enjoy being surrounded by water…you will love the hour-long float. But even if you’re not a water person, give it a try. You don’t even have to get your face wet…and you can’t sink if you try!
Besides, Grandma always said a warm Epsom salt bath would do me good. Right again, Gram!
30 years ago, Tom and I were married in a traditional church service followed by a rather raucous reception. (I was the one in the long, white dress dancing wildly to The Pointer Sisters’ “I’m So Excited) in the courtyard of the Hotel Del Coronado.
The next day we boarded a plane for West Virginia where Tom’s mom hosted a reception for us in my new husband’s hometown of Charleston. From there, we headed for a little town called White Sulfur Springs to spend our honeymoon. (I know! My feelings exactly-- at the time!) It was Tom’s idea and he assured me I would fall in love with a world-famous resort nestled behind the tiny town.
He was right.
30 years later, we made the trek back to West Virginia and the gorgeous Greenbrier Resort where Tom and I began our lives together…and fell in love all over again.
Young and not very worldly back in 1984, I had no idea the Greenbrier is not only a luxurious, award-winning resort; it’s also a National Historic landmark! The building alone is magnificent… classic architecture, old world interior design, exquisite chandeliers, perfectly sculpted landscape (a maze of mums celebrating fall!) and service so superb and friendly, it puts Disneyland to shame!
Surrounded by the majesty of the Allegheny Mountains, the Greenbrier Resort covers ten thousand acres, has 710 rooms, suites and estate houses, ten lobbies, designer boutiques, a world-renowned mineral spa, fine dining, championship golf (on three perfectly manicured courses!). And oh, did I mention more than 55 activities??!!
More than 200 years old, the Greenbrier manages to combine the graciousness and class of the past with all the creature comforts of today. What a treat to enjoy breakfast in our elegant room with big, brightly-colored, turn-of-the century floral patterns and a cute, little bathroom with throwback fixtures…while wrapped in fluffy, white spa robes.
In the late 1700s, guests came to White Sulfur Springs to “take the waters” to restore their health. Today, the Greenbrier is still a place to relax, refresh and recharge.
We spent two nights at our anniversary getaway…just enough time to reflect and reminisce about our last 30 years together…at the place where it all began.
The Greenbrier in White Sulfur Springs, West Virginia. Sometimes magic happens where you least expect it!
For more information and history on the Greenbrier, please visit greenbrier.com.
We were 23 when my best pal, Julie, and I boarded an airplane in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and flew to Seattle. We’d decided to visit a mutual college friend from our days at the University of Northern Iowa. Neither of us had ever flown on a commercial jet. It was the farthest had ever been away from home.
That trip was a big deal for two, young corn-fed, Iowa gals. And we had a ball. One of the highlights of our adventure was a ferry ride from Seattle to Victoria. We bought sweaters, sipped tea at the Empress Hotel and three hours later, hopped aboard the ferry and headed back to Washington. My one and only Canadian experience…until now!
Tom and I recently returned from a terrific 10-day tour of Western Canada with a wonderful travel company called Holiday Vacations. What a treat to have the time to really experience the people and the beauty of our neighbor to the north!
We started out just as Julie and I did with a trip to Seattle and ferry ride to Victoria. But this time, we got to spend two days touring the capitol of British Columbia and two glorious nights as guests of the elegant Empress Hotel. (We opted out of re-enacting the tea experience. High tea? $67 per person. Gulp!) However, we did enjoy a very reasonably priced cup of Canada’s own Tim Horton coffee!!
Then we explored the British-inspired city… viewing historic sites, including the Parliament Building on the lovely Inner Harbor. Beautiful flowerbeds and gardens reflected the area’s passion for gardening.
Speaking of gardens, the next day we visited the world famous Butchart Gardens. OMGosh! I’d been told it would be gorgeous, but what my travel mates and I experienced was simply stunning. As we walked from one eye-popping garden to the next, Tom had to keep reminding me to close my mouth. The vibrant colors and dazzling displays kept my mouth agape for hours!
Our tour of Vancouver the next day was fascinating. Surrounded by water and mild weather, Canada’s third largest city reminded us a lot of San Diego. And while Vancouver doesn’t have anything like our Balboa Park, we did take an afternoon to stroll spectacular Stanley Park, a 1,000 acre wilderness and recreation retreat. Truly, a local gem.
Our next adventure took us aboard the famous Rocky Mountaineer. We spent two peaceful days riding the rails, taking in breathtaking panoramas of the Canadian Rockies.
Next stop? Banff…and a lovely lunch overlooking famous Lake Louise. For decades, Lake Tahoe has been my favorite lake…but Lake Louise is now a close second! The glacial blue waters of the lake give it a surreal jewel tone look. Depending on the color of the sky and the angle of the sun, the lake among the mountains sparkled in brilliant hues from sapphire to emerald to aquamarine. Simply stunning.
Our coolest (and I mean that literally!) experience was a trip along the Ice Fields Parkway to the awesome Columbia Ice Field. There we boarded an enormous vehicle called the Glacial Explorer…a bus-like vehicle sitting atop huge balloon tires that literally drove us onto the Athabasca Glacier. Carefully, we stepped off slipping and sliding on the gigantic block of ice cascading down from the peaks of the magnificent Rocky Mountains.
Back to Banff and lunch at the historic and (truly) grand Banff Springs Hotel…with a view of shimmering Lake Louise. So much beauty, it was hard to take it all in.
Finally, it was time to bid farewell to the beauty of Canada and its warm, welcoming people…back to the US as honorary Canucks, eh?! Can’t wait to go back!
It was the experience of a lifetime as I went “home” to Iowa this summer and joined more than 15,000 cyclists for the 42nd annual RAGBRAI…my first RAGBRAI.
RAGRAI is the somewhat awkward acronym for the Register’s (Des Moines) Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa…the oldest, largest and longest recreational touring bicycle ride in the world.
Speaking of awkward, as a lifelong competitive swimmer, I quickly learned swimming and cycling aren’t even loosely related. But my lack of skill in the saddle didn’t really matter, because I wasn’t riding for me. I was riding to remember--my amazing Dad and legendary Iowa bicyclist--who went home to be with the Lord last year.
My step Mom, brother, three nephews and two grandchildren comprised “Team LeBeau,” a small but mighty family contingent hell-bent on pedaling across the Hawkeye State to honor an amazing husband, father, grandfather and 41-consecutive-year participant of the iconic biking event.
For those not familiar, RAGBRAI is an annual, seven-day, bike-riding party that begins in a selected community along Iowa’s western border and ends in a town along the state’s eastern border. This year’s route took us from the northwest city of Rock Valley—through 418 miles of lush northern Iowa farmland—to Guttenberg, a charming river town on the Mississippi.
It all began in 1973 when two Des Moines Register newspaper feature reporters decided to take a bicycle ride across Iowa, writing about their experiences. Of 300 riders starting the ride, 114 (including my Dad) completed the trek.
Dad was officially honored on Day 6 of this year’s ride…a 67-mile leg that started in Waverly (home of Wartburg College!) and ended in American flag-draped Independence, Iowa. The course was a blur of color that day…with more than 1,500 pairs of mismatched striped socks warn by riders honoring Dad. His signature attire, the vintage stockings were on sale through the RAGBRAI website…and completely sold out.
As my brother, Carter, and I rode together, we reminisced about the guy who made us clean our rooms and encouraged us in all our endeavors. I believe his impact on the cycling community rivals that of Lance Armstrong (who, by the way, rode RAGBRAI with his entourage. I was just too far behind to actually see him!) A great cyclist, Dad never cared about the race. He just wanted to encourage all levels of cyclists to get involved by socializing and having fun.
So from Rock Valley to Okoboji and Emmetsburg…through Forest City and Mason City…we made our way through northern Iowa’s beautiful countryside…celebrating Dad’s life and legacy with hills, heat, headwinds and a sense of purpose… all the way to the northeastern Iowa border town of Guttenberg. As the magnificent view of the Mississippi River appeared in the distance, my stepmom, Kaye, summed it up. “I feel like he’s still with me and encouraging me along the way.”
Me too, Kaye. Me too.
The dog days of summer are here. That means millions of Americans are on vacation… taking time away from their daily routines and hectic schedules to relax and enjoy life.
At least that’s the idea.
I don’t know about you, but vacations wear me out! Planning and preparing for a trip can be overwhelming. Travelling is fun, but can also be exhausting. When I get home, it can take days to “catch up.”
Hardly seems worth it!
Well, let me tell you about the summer getaway that has completely changed my “bah humbug” attitude about vacations.
I just spent three magical days in a vacation paradise. No, it wasn’t the south of France, Fiji or any other exotic travel destination halfway around the world. My three days of perfect rest and relaxation happened close to home on beautiful Santa Catalina Island.
Nine “gal-pals” from San Diego and Los Angeles converged Friday morning on the Long Beach ferry terminal and boarded the Catalina Express for the start of a girl’s weekend like no other… a getaway fit for a king! And I mean that literally!
We stayed at the historic Inn on Mt. Ada… a magnificent mansion (owned by the Wrigley family) that has played host to royalty, dignitaries and celebrities since the 1920’s. Fortunately, now anyone can reserve a room at the iconic Inn.
And oh! What a treat!
Once inside, I didn’t know where to look first! The Inn is perched high atop a hill overlooking the town and harbor of Avalon, Catalina Island’s only city. From it’s many windows, the Inn commands eye-popping views of the canyon, hills, town, ocean and harbor.
We’d booked five of the six spectacular rooms at the Inn. The peace was palpable as we settled in to our beautiful, restful bedrooms. We later gathered downstairs to experience the charm of the historic Inn and the comfortable elegance of a bygone era.
For the next three days, we practiced relaxing. In the den, on the sun porch, buried in over-stuffed chairs in the living room, swaying in wicker rockers on the picturesque terrace wrapped around the home… our home, for the next three fabulous days.
From a homey pantry, we could indulge in fresh fruit, mixed nuts, soft drinks, beers, wines, ice cream sundaes (!!!) popcorn, coffee, teas and cocoa. A hearty breakfast, lovely lunch and appetizers served by a hostess in the evening are all included in the price of your room.
We were pampered with comfy robes, hair dryers, movies, games and music. We even had our own golf carts to cruise around Avalon. Free to come and go, we shopped, hiked, zip-lined and even took in a movie in the beautifully restored old Casino Theater.
Ocean breezes lulled us to sleep. We awoke to the aroma of fresh coffee and hot homemade muffins just outside our bedroom doors. That’s right. Breakfast in bed in the “Windsor Room.” Turns out, the cozy corner room with wraparound views has hosted many famous guests, including Presidents Calvin Coolidge and Warren Harding and yes, the Prince of Wales. In this case, it was only yours, truly and my dear friend, Janine!
But the Inn on Mt. Ada is more than fun, food and a place of peace. It is the perfect setting for lotsa laughs and fellowship with friends, old and new. No one wanted to break the spell by leaving our “island home,” but all good things must come to an end.
So, Sunday afternoon, we boarded the ferry, headed back to the mainland and back to reality - refreshed, rested, and ready-to-go!
Back from a vacation… in every sense of the word!
Every summer, my home state of Iowa hosts one of the premiere bicycling events in the country. July 20 marks the start of the 42nd annual RAGBRAI – an acronym for the (Des Moines) Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa. It’s the granddaddy of all cross-state bike rides, drawing cyclists from around the world. This year, for the first time, I plan to be among the 10,000 riders pedaling 450 miles across the Hawkeye state.
I’ve been training several months for the ride…slowly increasing my mileage and the all-important “fanny time” every cyclist needs to prepare for seven days in the saddle!
Completely out of my comfort zone, I’m grateful for advice and encouragement from my biking pals, good health to keep up with the training and the best place on earth to ride a bike.
It’s true! San Diego is the center of the universe when it comes to cycling. Cyclists who come here to train know it as Bike City, USA. And you don’t have to be a competitor to enjoy the benefits. There are 510 existing miles in San Diego’s bicycle network – an additional 595 additional miles are proposed by 2030.
While I’ve enjoyed (more like survived!) fabulous rides both in north and east counties – my favorite training rides have been along the beautiful Bayshore Bikeway. And apparently, I’m not alone. The 24-mile bicycle route is rated tops by San Diego County Bicycle Coalition and is a bicycling destination for thousands of riders every day.
I just love the 13 miles of bike paths that make up the car-free bikeway. It’s safe, well maintained and great for an intense workout or relaxing ride. The rest of the route consists of on-street sections designated as either bicycle lanes or bicycle routes.
Whether you’re training for RAGBRAI or just want a ride with a view, this is an iconic, must-do cycling tour of San Diego’s bay shore. Starting downtown, hitch a ride (your bike, too!) with “Flagships’ Coronado Ferry” or “Water Taxi” across the Bay. Then start your ride after docking at the Coronado Ferry Landing. The Bikeway makes its way through Coronado along the Silver Strand through Imperial Beach and Chula Vista and back into downtown San Diego.
The route is mostly flat, but definitely lengthy, so bring plenty of water and snacks. Most of the opportunities to stop and eat are at either end of the course. And while the ocean breezes keep you cool, they can also kick up in the afternoon, causing strong head and crosswinds. Just allow enough time and stay fueled and hydrated and you’ll have a blast while getting a great workout.
The Bayshore Bikeway is just one more reason San Diego is America’s Finest City. And from your bike, San Diego Bay never looked so good!