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Friday, Feb 22 2013 12:02 AM

Fit and Fresh: Challenge yourself in spring with hill climbs, trails, exercises

By Sally Baker and Katie Kirschenmann

Rio Bravo 10-miler, 5K and 2K

Baker: Come out to this great race on April 13 to support Court Appointed Special Advocates of Kern County, and run among one of the most beautiful sceneries in Kern County. Take Highway 178 toward the mouth of the canyon to the Rio Bravo Ranch -- 15701 Highway 178 -- park amongst the orange orchards, and enjoy the wildflowers and orange blossoms. Beautiful!

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Bakersfield will host plenty of runs and walks during March.

Crispy pesto kale chips

Pushup with rotating side plank 10 times.

Pushup with rotating side plank 10 times.

Pushup with rotating side plank 10 times.

The hills northeast of Bakersfield make beautiful running venues in the spring.

The challenging 10-miler will take you through a creek crossing, around orchards and up some hills. Funds raised will be used to raise awareness of child abuse in Kern County, and to promote increased community advocacy for abused and neglected children. For more information: kerncasa.org or bakersfieldtrackclub.com.

Bucks for Blades 5K

Baker: This fundraiser for East High School will take place at 8 a.m. April 20, and has been moved to a new location, at California Living Museum. Come enjoy this great location along the Kern River, and support a good cause. Registration is available now on active.com ($20 if registered by April 15).

Memories on ice

Baker: How about taking the family out for some fun exercise at San Joaquin Community Hospital Ice Center of Bakersfield. Family nights are Tuesday evenings, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. For $5 per person, including skates, you can have a blast, create some memories and use some muscles you haven't used in a while. For more information: www.bakersfieldicesports.us.

Exercise of the month

Pushup with rotating side plank 10 times.

Assume push-up position; lower chest to floor, focusing on a strong core, keeping body in alignment from shoulder to heel; push back up, and rotate to right, lifting right arm high (advanced version: lift top leg and hold briefly); rotate back to pushup position, do a pushup, then rotate to left. Repeat 10 times, focusing on a core control and correct alignment.

Challenge yourself with hills, trails

Kirschenmann: Getting into shape, or back into shape, is no easy task. Inevitably we all hit a plateau. In my opinion, the best way to get off the workout plateau is to run up a hill.

By changing the scenery in your fitness journey, you will find a renewed push forward. Adding the outdoors into your workout regime offers a change in pace both mentally and physically.

We in Bakersfield are blessed with beautiful nearby trails that are especially nice in the spring. Nothing could be better than running in vibrant green hills, bright blue skies and spring breezes. The landscape is so lovely this time of year that one could almost forget the white-hot burning legs and lungs produced by hill running. Almost. Running hills is fun, challenging and burns a ton of calories.

Sally and I frequent Hart Park to run the "pistol range" trails. This area boasts a maze of trails and hills that are great for beginning and expert runners. These trails are my favorite despite how unkind they are to me. If the pistol range trail is too much of a trek, the bluffs at Panorama Park are nearly as challenging. Several loops will take you up and down the bluffs with varying difficulty. One loop, known as the "killa hilla," is a tough one. If you are starting out on the bluffs, find a loop you are comfortable with, and challenge yourself by repeating it. Once you have conquered your favorite loop, move on to more challenging courses, like the "switchbacks" or the infamous "killa hilla."

Getting back to my pre-babies ability has been a most humbling experience. Hills that I used to be able to trot right up are now seemingly ginormous monoliths. It has been especially important to me to have a mentor and the support of my friend Sally to remind me that nothing happens overnight. If you are like me and getting back into shape, or just beginning your fitness journey, it important to banish the naysayers, and surround yourself with positive mentors and friends.

Be kind to yourself and don't set unreasonable expectations. More often than not we are our own worst enemies, and sabotage ourselves without even realizing it. If you have to walk up that hill while other people are whizzing past you, it's OK. You're out there doing it. Stay with it, don't give up and don't get discouraged. Stick with it, and results will come.

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