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Main Phone: (727) 475-1187
Personal Best Features Two New Mexico Athletes
This year, we decided to feature one male and one female athlete from our host state to add more “local flavor” to our Personal Best athlete profiles as we all prepare for The Games in Albuquerque. We asked New Mexico Senior Olympics to nominate the athletes, and they did not disappoint! Ralph Paytiamo and Bonnie Coleman are past recipients of New Mexico Senior Olympics annual “Courage Award,” which is similar to our Personal Best theme. Enjoy reading our conversations with these two inspiring senior athletes.
“I walk for my tribe – I walk for the youth”- Ralph Paytiamo left his Acoma Pueblo to see the world with the Navy. Despite being born to the medicine man and medicine woman of his tribe, Ralph struggled with alcoholism until he finally entered rehab while still in the service. Returning home clean and sober, he dedicated himself to teaching youth and making himself the best example of fitness and health by walking a straight path.
“Quiet Courage” – Bonnie Coleman was honored with the New Mexico Senior Olympics 2018 Courage Award, and you’ll know why when you hear her story about persevering through her battle with multiple sclerosis to stay in the game.
Reminder: 2019 Registration Deadline is Tues., April 2
We are excited to report that registrations for The Games in Albuquerque have been coming in at the fastest pace in many years. The city is energized, volunteer signups are surging, and the hosts plan to put their culture on full display for visiting athletes and guests.
You don’t want to miss this one! Please remember that the final registration deadline is Tuesday, April 2nd. 2019 Registration Page
- National Games Links Page – Almost everything you need to know about The Games in Albuquerque can be found through links conveniently collected on this page.
- Travel and Lodging Page – Our user-friendly online booking process managed by National Transportation Systems (NTS) will guide you to lodging at the best guaranteed rates. There are also links to dorm rooms at University of New Mexico and for RV park information. Book now for best choices!
Sneak Peek at 2019 Medal Design
As we did in 2017, we want to share the design for our medals for this year. As you can see in the Gold Medal artwork, the red and green chiles and the overall shape of a hot air balloon makes it uniquely represent Albuquerque and New Mexico. What we are holding back to show you is the special design for 4th to 8th place ribbons which also pay tribute to New Mexico. Hey, we have to leave something for a surprise! Good luck as you compete to earn one of these awards!
2019 Venue Spotlight: Running 5K and 10K Road Races
Two outstanding venues in Albuquerque will please athletes in the 2019 road race competitions:
- Balloon Fiesta Park 5K – The Launch Field at Balloon Fiesta Park is home to numerous runs, sporting events, flying events and festivals. The 47-acre Launch Field has space for over 20 game fields, plenty of room to stage the 5K road race without touching city streets.
- Paseo del Bosque Trail 10K – Albuquerque’s premiere multi-use trail goes from the north to the south edges of the metro area through the Rio Grande River’s cottonwood bosque (forest). It is 16 miles of paved multi-use uninterrupted by roadways. The National Hispanic Cultural Center will be the 10K staging area with ample parking.
Singing Praises: “Feels Like Home”
Last month, we shared a music video of “O Fair New Mexico,” the Official State Song, to get you into the mood to visit The Land of Enchantment. Here is another excellent music video by the Albuquerque-based band Richmond that was used to promote the state in recent years. Enjoy!
“Feels Like Home (New Mexico True)”
Social Media: #Hashtags Gain in Popularity – So What are They?
Hashtags are now all over social media. Using the # sign turns any #word or #streamofwords into a searchable link. This allows all posts using the same hashtag to be automatically collected, and if you search for the hashtag (or simply click on it) in your social application you will see a stream of other posts using that same tag.
The practice began on Twitter, but they are now used regularly on Instagram and increasingly on Facebook. Hashtags can be a lot of fun for users and joins you into a larger conversation. They can also promote ideas, help brands connect with consumers and drive themes and campaigns.
NSGA wants everyone to join in the fun with a special hashtag for this year’s National Senior Games that challenges the stereotypes of aging. What is the hashtag? We’re glad you asked, but you’ll have to wait until next month’s newsletter to find out what it is! Stay tuned!
March Athlete of the Month
Competing from Z to A
What makes for a competitor? There are many possible answers to that, but for cyclist Zoltan Zsohar, it might just have started with his name.
“I was last kid in line in a lot of situations,” he explains. “When I started college they assigned seats in alphabetical order. Because the classes were overbooked at first, I ended up standing in the back of the class. So, when I became a junior and they stopped doing that, I would get to class 20 minutes early to grab the front row seat in the center.”
Zoltan, better known as “Z” to friends and family, is not the very last name on the National Senior Games athlete list (that honor belonged to Julian Zuniga of Oklahoma in 2017) but his competitive spirit and work ethic has landed him at or near the top of the list with 54 Senior Games cycling medals, six coming from National Senior Games since his first in 2009. He was also named a Humana Game Changer in 2017 for his dedication to motivating adults to stay active and live a healthy lifestyle.
His unusual name Zsohar is Hungarian. His parents escaped Hungary at the end of World War II and came to America in 1950, settling in Waxahachie, Texas. “Z”, who was born in Austria, remembers the drive to Dallas for the entire family to be sworn in as U.S. citizens six years later.
An engineering career and raising family left him overweight and out of shape in midlife. He learned good eating habits, took a YMCA membership and then started running, losing 50 pounds in the process. “I had to make a lifestyle change, and I still do the same things today that got me into shape,” he says with a Texas drawl.
When he completed his first marathon, “Z” set his sights on running the Boston Marathon, which he achieved in 1989 and twice more in 1995 and 1996. “It was absolutely amazing to run in a world class event with the most elite runners in the world, and to witness the spectators lined up all the way along 26.2 miles,” he recalls.
That was his tenth and last marathon before arthritis in his knee caused a transition to cycling, which he has enjoyed since he was a kid. “Plus, I always hated running in the Texas summers when it’s so hot,” he admits. “It’s a joy to ride outdoors and enjoy the scenery with a breeze and burn calories at the same time.”
The Games in Albuquerque will be his first road races and time trials in New Mexico, and “Z” has done his homework. “I noticed there’s a hill involved in the road races there,” he says. “I just went to the Texas Hill Country riding over 260 miles and doing climbs that were 12 and 14 percent inclines. It was a training camp for me.”
Asked what motivates him, “Z” says it’s more about his health than anything, “But I can’t deny I love the competition. When I’m out riding around White Rock Lake in Dallas it’s not unusual to pass somebody up, and they think ‘I don’t want that old guy passing me’ so they pass me back up. Pretty soon we’re racing and having a good time at it. I’ve met a lot of good people that way.”
We want to hear more great stories! To submit yours, or to nominate a fellow athlete who inspires you, Please Click Here.
Senior Health and Wellness
Power Walk as a Training Tool? Absolutely!
Regular readers know you can still enter the 2019 National Senior Games presented by Humana through the newly-added Power Walk competitions. You can compete in the 1500-meter and/or a 5K distance race because Power Walk is an open event this year, meaning no qualifying is required.
Power walking is good for everyone, and athletes of other sports should consider incorporating it into their current fitness programs. Walking, and specifically power walking, is one of the best overall health and fitness activities you can practice. Walking is easy to do and only requires a walking-friendly location and a good pair of walking or running shoes. It is a perfect way to reach the recommended minimum weekly requirement of 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 10,000 steps per day. The activity is especially beneficial in developing cardio vascular fitness, maintaining bone health and lower body muscular endurance.
Senior athletes can use power walking to optimize their current training program. You can integrate the principles of recovery and cross training into your preparation by using power walking as an alternative training activity the day following a high intensity workout.
Power walking emphasizes an upright walking posture, a long, fluid walking stride, and efficient arm swing while planting with the heel and keeping one foot on the ground at all times. Competition rules and other information can be found from the United States Power Walking Association.
Finally, NSGA staffer Del Moon has taken up the sport and is writing a blog about becoming a senior athlete and learning to power walk. Click here for “Moon Walking: Confessions of an Accidental Senior Athlete.”
– Andrew Walker MPH, NSGA Director of Health & Wellness
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