Canyon Meadow Trail Half Marathon

Canyon Meadow….. such a nice name. It conjures peaceful green fields of wildflowers lilting gently in the spring breeze. It belies the hard race of the same name. Coastal Trail Runs put on this race yesterday, June 16th in the gorgeous Oakland hills and I took part in the half marathon distance. What a hard and fun course it was!

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Beautiful views were to be had throughout the race

My friend picked me up at 6:00am and we rode to the East Bay with hardly any traffic on the road. If only travel was this easy all the time! The start and end was in the Chabot Science Center’s parking lot, right in the Oakland Hills next to Roberts Recreational Area. I’ve lived in the Bay Area all my life and have never been in this part of the East Bay. It just goes to show how much there is to do here. It was a slightly chilly morning that blossomed into a warm day. The morning clouds evaporated, leaving bright sunshine.

The day included a 5K, a Half Marathon, a 30K, a Marathon and a 50K. 400 people signed up in all, which is considered a large crowd for trail racing. There are hundreds of trails here, some easy and some very difficult. This course included all kinds. As you can see by the picture of the half’s terrain, the first part was mostly downhill, then flat, then mostly uphill. That one steep uphill….it was a KILLER!!! About a half mile straight up, that tested all of our lungs, legs and hearts.

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Beast of a hill around Mile 8!!

I am not a fast runner, at all and on the trails, I slow even more, so I brought up the rear. I wasn’t the last of the half runners, but I was in the back for sure. And I don’t mind. I took a few pictures and helped out a gal who brought water and sugary foods instead of electrolyte mix and salty snacks. She was suffering from bad leg cramps due to loss of salt. I gave her most of my Skratch mix and walked with her a little bit. I offered to walk with her to the next aide station, but she told me she would be ok. She finished about 20 minutes after I did. I hugged and congratulated her, very happy she finished strong!

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The start line

When it’s warm out, it’s a much better idea to drink electrolyte mix and eat things like potato chips, salted potatoes, pretzels, mustard, dill pickle juice, etc than chews, Gu or anything sweet. Your body is losing tons of salt, so if you don’t replace it, your body will tell you and it’s no fun.

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These trails cannot be beat!

The course was superbly beautiful, one of the best trails I’ve ever run on. It was challenging and ever changing. It was mostly well-marked, there was only a couple times when I questioned which way to go, but I didn’t get lost, so that’s a plus!

My friend and I finished about a minute apart and enjoyed a great lunch in Berkeley after the race. I’m very proud of my effort, even though I hadn’t really trained for this one, all of my training going for the 6-hour endurance race I did a couple weeks ago. I’d like to do this one again, but this time, get some real work in beforehand.

Enjoy your running, enjoy the outdoors! Keep Moving Forward

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San Francisco One Day Endurance Run

It’s taken me a whole week to write this; I’ve been busy, so finally I’m writing about my race last weekend. I ran Pacific Coast Trail Runs San Francisco One Day’s endurance race. They offered three different times: 24 hours, 12 hours, 6 hours. Never having done one of these before, I did the 6 hours. It was tough, but a lot of fun!

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What a view for a run!

The 24-hour race started June 1st at 6:00pm. Mine began on the next day. June 2nd turned out to be one of the warmer days this season. I don’t mind warm weather at all, but it also means running strategies change.

I started my run at 6:00am and finished at noon. The race provided most of the food and liquids I needed, except I did take my Skratch with me, as I like it better than most other electrolyte mixes. I did take a liking to the Gu mixes they had though.

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The start, the end, the all for the run

The course is a 1.05 loop around the Lagoon at Crissy Field. It was a small group of runners, around 80 people combined, which made it a lot of fun. After the first five loops, each runner could change direction, so that meant that each of passed each other on every loop. I loved that! There were lots of waves, high fives, smiles and encouragement. Half the course was on hard-packed dirt while the other half was on a walking trail.

As the day wore on, the paved trail did get a little crowded with tourists, as it always does. But, other than that, for being only a mile loop, it was fun; I was never bored of it.

Developing a strategy for my race kept me running for most of five hours. I stopped at the aide station for refreshments on nearly every loop, taking in Gu electrolytes, or a piece of fruit, cookie and once, a piece of bacon, which was the best piece of bacon I ever tasted! With all the salt lost, it was needed!

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Pretty cool swag!

All the runners were so impressive, especially the 24 hour ones! Tents were set up for runners and crews to get some shut-eye if they wanted to during the race.

And the wonderful folks at Pacific Coast Trail Runs, from Greg the Race Director to the staff to the volunteers, worked so hard and were A-MAZ-ING! The shirt and medal rock! And the medal is wood, it’s one of my favorites!

After I was done, I immediately wanted to sign up for another. There is the New Year’s Eve one that I will sign up for the 12-hour distance and maybe, just maybe, I’ll do the 24 hour time next year.

Keep Moving Forward!

Bay to Breakers 2018

It’s been a long time since I ran those 12 kilometers across San Francisco. Since the 1990s, although I can’t give you the exact year. It’s all a bit blurry. Back then, I ran it every year. It was A LOT smaller then. In the 80s when I started running, there were about 20,000 runners, most did run, there were few walkers, and we ran to Ocean Beach and partied our butts off at the Polo Fields. The beer trucks offered unlimited free beer for all, as well as food samples. We’d be passed out by noon. It was quite the party!

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Waiting for the beginning

Then it got too big. I remember the last time doing it, over 80,000 participated. That was when the walkers and non-runners started joining in. There were too many problems with drunks and the race had to change.

So, the race directors put a stop to a few things. There used to be floats, those were banned. The floats at the end of the race were gone (which were really fun and a huge part of the festivities), and they did their best to get rid of all visible alcohol, or as much as possible. The also cut the race back to 40,000 participants, most of whom are still walkers, or so it seemed today.

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Hayes St Hill (stock photo)

I have no problem with walkers, although today I really wished they had been honest about their pace and started in the Walkers Corral, but I got over it after running around a few thousand of them. At the beginning of the race, the walkers were blocking every area. They were all walking six, seven in a row on the left and right, everywhere. It was insane. But I realized that if I didn’t change my grumpiness about it, it would spoil the day for me, so I just took it in stride and kept running.

I decided to run it for nostalgia’s sake. I’m NOT a nostalgic person usually. I rarely look backwards as I’m too busy looking foward. I’m not the type of person who sighs, wistfully looking at how life used to be. That’s how you get old. And I refuse to get old. Nope, you stay young by constantly moving forwards, working towards a future, attainable, albeit challenging goal.

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This is what I ran for today! 

I had a good race today. For the first time, they offered an additional 3k along with a cool second medal, so I went for it. And it was my favorite part of the race, as most people doing this section were runners. I took everything in stride, laughed at the great costumes, ran away from the naked people (there were a few), and met some really nice people.

Even with one pit stop, my time was good. It was a productive day and I’m happy I did it. I won’t be doing it again, as it’s really a part of my past, but it holds a special place in my heart. San Francisco wouldn’t be right without the Bay to Breakers. It’s an amazing moving block party that can also be called a race. You should try it just once, but do it with an open mind and a great sense of humor. Costumes are optional but never a bad idea!

Keep Moving Forward!

 

 

Life’s Hurdles

One of the very worst nightmares a renter in San Francisco has is of losing their apartment. Even with rent control, we still fear for our lives that someday, we won’t have our coveted living space. San Francisco is a tiny area, surrounded on three sides by water. I won’t get into the politics or history, except to say that because things are what they are, apartment prices are some of the highest in the US, studios renting for around $2500 to $3,000 a month.

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View of SF from the Coastal Trail

There are so many new people moving into the city from all across the globe every year, most being employed in the tech industry, that anyone who isn’t making tons of money, is soon priced out of the housing market.

It hit close to me a couple weeks ago when I found out my landlord is selling the building. My stomach sunk an I felt like getting sick. It was very stressful for a while there, but things have gotten better. I have since learned that being old, I not only have rent control, but I also have protected status, which will help immensely. And I do not think that the new landlord, if he does indeed buy the building, will be able to tear down the building or get rid of us without paying us A LOT first.

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One of my favorite trails, 2 miles of blissful downhill!

OK, so that’s the stress I’ve been dealing with these days. Thank goodness I have running. It doesn’t make everything wonderful, but it gives me a respite for a little while and takes the edge off, and it’s a lot healthier than shots of whiskey.

I have a few races coming up later this month and June, so it’s important to keep up with my training and I have my first 50k in October, so increasing my mileage is vital. I haven’t been very good about my eating, so I’ve gained a few pounds. Losing those will be added, as I get more focused on training.

My runs have been pretty good. I Yesterday, I went for a nice trail run in the Marin Headlands. Even after taking a wrong trail and having to climb up a very steep hillside, past thick groves of poison oak, I enjoyed myself. Few things feel as good as pushing myself as hard as I can on the trails. I came home, tired and hungry, but satisfied.

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Wildflowers

I choose to not allow worry and stress dominate my life. Bad things happen, as do the positive. It is all part of a balanced existence. But it will not affect my health. If I fall, I get back up, again and again and again.

Keep Moving Forward!

ALL TRAIL WEEKEND

This past weekend, I spent part of each day on trails and it was magnificent.

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Part of my favorite trail in GGP

Right after work Friday, I zipped home, changed and headed out to Golden Gate Park.  The weather was great, sunny, but a bit breezy, so perfect for a trail run. I only get to run the trails in Golden Gate Park half the year. When it’s too dark after work, the park isn’t safe, so I run elsewhere, but when the sun is out, it’s near magical. I dashed through 3.5 miles worth along the north side of the park, from Stanyan Street to Ocean Beach. Afterwards, I watched the wind surfers having fun in those cold waves before heading home.

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Ocean Beach is always active!

Saturday night, I volunteered at a Pacific Coast Trail Runs Night Sweats, featuring a marathon, 15k and an 8k. All distances started and ended at night, meaning the runners had to navigate through steep inclines, declines and single tracks in darkness. It’s a challenging and fun course. My friend Michael and I manned an aide station at a turnaround point near the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge.

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Before the Night Sweats races

It was really chilly out when the sun set below the hills, so we huddled in Michael’s SUV watching the prepped tables, waiting for the runners. There were only a few marathoners, so they showed up one by one, with 5 to 10 minutes between each other.

The wait wasn’t boring, though, because the area hosts a number of different wild animals. At first, a racoon came to see what kind of food we had. I chased it away. Then a half-dozen foxes scampered though the area.  You have to figure there’s plenty of rodents to keep them healthy with all the goodies the tourists leave behind in the disposal bins. Then an hour or so after the foxes, the coyotes prowled around, curious over us. There were two of these. One was pretty big and he walked onto the parking lot as if he owned it.

Little flashes of headlights alerted us to upcoming runners on the trail above. They had to run down to us, where they’d get the nutrition they needed and head back up. Ours was the last aide station and then the runners had 6 more miles of trail left to the finish. It’s not an easy course in the day, let alone at night and several runners had fallen, but all seemed to be ok.

We stayed at the station until the sweepers came through, at about 1:30am and then headed back to San Francisco. I got to sleep around 3:00am.

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There are hundreds of trails in the Headlands

Waking up at 10:00am Sunday, I felt rested and ready for the day. It was going to be nice too. I waffled between just getting a run in the city or going back to the Headlands like I had planned. After all, it was late and I wasn’t sure if I could get ready in time to catch the bus. I went for it and got breakfast, coffee and changed, all in time to catch the special weekend MUNI bus that goes into the Headlands.

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View of Rodeo Beach from above

I ran a little over 6 miles and loved it all. It was a spectacular day in an enjoyable weekend. It is times like this that make me love running even more, if that’s possible. There’s no downside to running, at least none that I can think of at the moment.

Keep Moving Forward!

BE GOOD TO YOU

One of the great errs in our modern world is that everything is taken at the personal level. We get upset so easily and allow our emotions to take over our lives. This is easy to see in running when we’ve had a bad day and don’t feel like going for our run. Instead, we punish ourselves by eating or drinking too much. Or maybe we don’t think we’re very good and keep seeing faster runners zip by us.

The greatest mistake we can make is believing the negativity about ourselves. It doesn’t matter who tries to tear us down; strangers, work, family or even yourself. You have to learn to turn it off. The only difference if it’s coming from you is you have to teach yourself that you are worthy of great things.

Maybe no one told you that you deserve big and wonderful things. Running gives you the chance to prove them all wrong. But first, you have to believe it yourself. You have to tell yourself that you are worth all the good things life extolls.

If you don’t believe it, no one will. So even you don’t think it’s true, it is time to start being positive about yourself. Tell yourself when you rise in the morning, how much you matter in the world. And remind yourself how much you matter before you sleep.

If no one else has told you today, I will tell you: YOU MATTER

Now, go run and be good to yourself!

Keep Moving Forward!

STOP BEING WEAK

There are a couple things in running that irritate me. One is walk/run types who stop ahead of me without notice and the other is irrational, hysterical fear of running outside (normally from females) by oneself.

It used to be in history that women never did anything by themselves. We were considered The Weaker Sex. We were good for staying home, taking care of the children, and cleaning the house. When women gained independence and free choice, it didn’t come without costs, of course in many areas. But I’m just talking about running here.

Crime in the United States is decreasing. We are safer than ever as a country. More women are running and more and more are running by themselves. This would have been unheard of in the 1960s even. But there are still many women who live in fear of being by themselves because they are glued to the nonstop storyline of how horrible it is for women.

I blame the media partially for this. They show the rare kipnapping, the attacks and recent violent crimes nightly on repeat. They do not tell you that crime numbers are declining. And even worse, are the dozens of dramatic television shows focusing on the violent abuse against women. Shows like Criminal Minds only help to magnify the myth of strangers out to prey on females. Viewers who still take their nightly news as truth believe everything fed to them. Their world looks like a monstrous, scary place. Stop watching this stuff if necessary, especially before bed. Watch some lightheated comedy instead.

Sometimes, it is the woman’s partner that exacerbates the situation. A husband tells his wife he doesn’t think it’s safe where she wants to run and unhappily, she doesn’t go running. There’s a lot at work here and definitely something that has to be talked out within the couple. All I’m going to say here is I’m very happy I’m single.

Running is about happiness to me and being fearful is the opposite. Running is also about confronting our fears and sometimes, we have to stare our fears in the face and tell them to Go The Fuck Away.

Now, I’m not saying to go run and not think. Bad things do happen, but if you run smart, you can run alone and enjoy it! Just be a smart solo runner. Here are some tips:

  • Know your surroundings. If possible walk or drive around the area you wish to run if you’ve never visited it before.
  • Wear visible clothing. Black may be cool, but bright colors are better.
  • Turn your music down so you can hear everything around you. But it’s good to have your phone with you
  • Don’t stop to give directions or chat with strangers. Pretend you didn’t hear them and keep running. As a city girl, this is something I do daily, but I don’t think country folk understand; it’s OK not to talk to everyone.
  • Run in the street if it’s quiet and unnerving
  • If it’s dark, always, always wear a headlamp, or some sort of light to see your way and that allows others to see you
  • Run opposite of traffic
  • If someone starts to bother you, scream obscenities at them, as loud as you can, attract attention
  • Bring a loud whistle
  • If you insist on carrying pepper spray, mace, etc, learn how to use it prior to need. Just having it won’t help if you do not have the instincts to use it in the seconds necessary.

We are Runners, not delicate flowers. Stop fearing the world. Be strong. Be fierce. And have fun.

Keep Moving Forward!

SALOMON SF HALF MARATHON

My legs felt OK just until the last bit of stairs. I was looking forward to getting done with that 10th flight, getting to flat ground finally and all of a sudden, my right quad muscles cramped up on me. I stopped, rubbed the area and drank the last bit of Skratch I had in my bottle. I knew right then and there that drinking water at Baker Beach instead of electrolytes was a mistake.

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View of the GGB from the race (taken on a different day, it was clear during the race)

The day started out under cloudy, dark skies. I took MUNI to Crissy Field a bit too early, but I’m always too nervous to rest much on the morning of a race. It even sprinkled a little, but that was short-lived. The skies cleared up by race time, thanks to a chilly breeze.

Coastal Trail Runs race started out at the east end of the Crissy Field parking lot. There was a 5K, 10K and Half Marathon. The half that I ran covered two loops around the lagoon, then headed up underneath the Golden Gate Bridge, following the path along Lincoln Blvd to Baker Beach, then up through the Seacliff neighborhood, through Land’s End, ending at the Sutro Baths and then heading back to Crissy Fields the same way it came. It’s a difficult course, filled with steep hills and a dozen staircases. But it is a fun course and one I’m very familiar with, so I didn’t mind all those hills and stairs, most of them, anyway.

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The Sutro Baths

It was a small race; only 200 ran the half. I realized I prefer these smaller ones to the big, gigantic races I was used to. The runners are friendlier and I felt more a part of things. In fact, since it was an out and back style race, both the lead runners and those of us in the back were cheering each other on, as well as everyone mid-pack. It was a great feeling.

I walked up the steep hills and stairs and as I expected, was in the back of the race. But that’s fine, I’m not fast at all and as long as I do my best, I’m good with it.

Sometime during the race, I realized that I hadn’t run a race as long as a half in over a year and a half. I prayed that my right leg behaved through the race, and, except for the cramp on the stairs, it did! In fact, I was hardly sore at all the next day. All those hours at the gym went to good use.

After my leg routine to normal from the cramp, I still had one mile more to run, so I pulled myself together and ran as much as I could that last distance.  I was quite happy to finish!

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They produce this race again in September and I want to do it once more and improve my time. I know I can do better, but at least I know that I can still run this far and more! I will be ready.

 

Keep Moving Forward!

 

 

Running Sock Review

I rarely review products. But one thing is for sure about my reviews: I will never write a review for anything I did NOT personally try myself.

Running socks are some of the most important gear for runners, especially as the mileage increases. Having the wrong socks can lead to blisters which can be not only painful but can stop a run or even a race. For short runs, five or less miles, it isn’t that important. I can get away lesser brands, but for any runs six miles or more, I must have one of two brands.

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Best socks ever!!!

The two sock brands I favor are: Feetures and Injinji. They are top of the line.

I’ve been a faithful Feetures wearer for years and just tried Injinji for the first time during my eight-mile run this morning. They’re not that easy to get on, and they feel weird at first, but once I walked around a little bit, they felt amazing! I never even thought about my feet until around mile 6 I remembered that I hadn’t thought about my feet!

I highly recommend Injinjis for your next long run! Also Feetures are great socks as well.

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Overcast but nice view

I got my last long run before my half marathon next Saturday finished this morning. Just a couple short runs and gym workouts this week and I’ll be as ready as ever!

Keep Moving Forward!

An Unfortunate Trend

I have a bone to pick with Runner’s World. OK, I have a few to pick with them recently, but I’ll only bring up one. I thought about this on my long run yesterday while preparing for my half coming up in a couple weeks.

The Javalina Jundred is a well-known ultra race in Arizona each year. It’s very popular and unfortunately, due to Runner’s World’s April, 2018 article “What Happens When You Really Show Up”, it’s about to get even more popular. The piece focuses on two female runners who have never run longer than a half marathon, and who can afford to hire a professional running coach to help them. In the end, they DNF. The moral of the RW story, they’re still winners.

How so, Runner’s World? I get the whole trying something new because they’re tired of their lives. I get it that they’re taking a giant leap, going for it, being brave. But they could also do that parachuting out of a plane. Sticking with that comparison, would they still be considered winners if their parachutes on that jump didn’t open? That would be a DNF.

The problem is that the two subjects of the story had never run longer than 13 miles and were going out for a 100k race, more than seven times longer. Those distances are worlds apart and they can’t be learned through a coach or a few months of practice runs. And much of the real learning doesn’t come from the physical act of running. There is so much mentally and emotionally going on in a super long race that these two know nothing about and no one can tell you about, so it’s much easier to give up. They would have had a taste of it had even one of them run a marathon previously. They didn’t know how their bodies would react, they didn’t know how their minds would react, they didn’t know if they were emotionally capable of finishing.

Jumping from shorter races to the longest of ultra races was unheard of a few years ago. Now, I see it more and more. Sometimes they work out great. Some people are born to run long mileage and they shine. Others are not so lucky and the steps they skip wind up hurting them. It happens mostly in novice runners. Newish runners, those who have only been running a year or two, will run a half, or not, and think that they can come back in four or five months and churn out a 50k or even an 100k. And then, bam, a week later, they’re injured. Maybe it’s my age and that I’ve been around running a long time, but I see no reason to rush into ultras; it’s the most difficult for a reason. And the only thing I can think of is it’s fashionable to do so. It’s hip and trendy to run ultras now, and that’s the sad truth that will leave many inexperienced runners injured.

I’m a linear thinker, so I would never, ever think of doing a 100k if I hadn’t done even a marathon before. OK, I could see maybe running a 50k. It’s not that much farther than a marathon. But even five or six more miles can seem like 100 if you’re exhausted from a distance you couldn’t dream of previously. Get used to longer races FIRST. Then get used to trail races and THEN go for the distance. Unless you want to do a one-off and don’t mind being injured for months or getting a DNF and still consider yourself a winner. Then, do what you want and nevermind what I say.

For the rest of us, Keep Moving Forward!

Some of my pictures from my run yesterday:

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