Month: November 2015

THANKSGIVING TURKEY TRAIL TROT

Thanksgiving Morning 11-16-15.jpg

Early morning in Golden Gate Park

Every year on Thanksgiving, there is a small race in Golden gate Park. This little race raises money for the track department for Lowell High School, so it’s the highlight for many in the San Francisco west side community.

But what happened this year had all of us completely stunned. The race directly Steve, sent us an email the day before letting us know that the UHaul van, holding all of the t-shirt and many of the goodies to hand out after the race, including water and food, was stolen, right from in front of his house!

This was terrible, shocking now. It was taken from a good neighborhood and anyone who knows anything about San Francisco, knows that every neighborhood is expensive. It’s not like there’s a cheap area here any longer.

So, Steve and many race participants scrambled to gather as many replacement items as they could, so we had what we needed for the race, except for the shirts. Which is sad. They’re not performance shirts, they’re white, cotton, but still worn with pride by racers knowing their race fees went towards a good cause.

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Prize Table

When I got to the race, I checked in with people and saw that for the first time, a news station van was there. If it took a theft for the news to cover a race that’s been happening for years, so be it. People were in great spirits waiting for all the races to begin. There were first the kids runs. There were a few different age groups and the kids run with the Turkey, who leads them across the width of the Polo Fields. Then they’re each giving a small stocking filled with candy. Fortunately, those weren’t taken.

After the children’s races, the 5K walk and the 5-mile run began. They start at the same time, but then the 5K turns off and finishes which the 5-miler goes a bit farther. I love this race because it’s mostly on trails throughout the western section of Golden Gate Park.

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My friend Steve and Me 

This year, many runners weren’t used to the trails, it appeared and some tripped and fell. Also, there were a couple loose dogs one runner had. I asked him to please leash his dogs because I nearly tripped on the smaller one who kept running in between us.

Next year the race will come back stronger than ever. I can’t help but wonder why moving companies don’t have GPS on their UHaul trailers though…

I did PR and cut 2 minutes from my previous best time. It was a good race and a great morning.

Cheers!

 

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LONG RUN ADVENTURE

Long runs are my adventures. Preparing for them is like packing for vacations. It takes so long….first, I have to remember to eat right the day before, make sure I get the right amount of carbs and not go overboard on the protein, skip the red meat and spicy foods, prepare my electrolyte mix and first and foremost (!!) have clean running clothes. Gack! How many times have I wanted to run and not had anything clean??!?

The morning of the run I’m up at least two hours before I leave to give me enough time to eat and have coffee. Ah, the elixir of the gods! Blessed coffee! I always hear of people who don’t need coffee, well, I couldn’t, no I would NOT get out of bed if I didn’t have an awaiting cup of hot, delicious coffee. It is my one vice, as I don’t partake in alcohol. And I’m particular in my coffee beans. So I enjoy as good of a coffee as I my budget allows me.

Once I’m on the road, I head out of my quiet neighborhood, yes even Downtown San Francisco is quiet early on a Sunday morning, what direction I go depends entirely on my mood. Sunday’s run took me to Sausalito, across the Golden Gate Bridge.

The morning weather was cool; perfect for a run. My body felt great; everything was clicking. I ran down Union Street that would be jammed with brunch goers in a couple hours. But now only a few dog owners and scattered runners are out. I turn into the familiar gates of the Presidio.

The Presidio of San Francisco used to be an Army base for over a hundred years. Now, it’s part of a national recreation area and it’s magnificent. It has hundreds of miles of trails for bikes, hikers and runners. Maybe the park is a little too built up, too many hotels, restaurants and businesses, but it’s still quite nice, especially in the early morning.

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View running up to the Golden Gate Bridge

And early morning is the only time to run across the Golden Gate Bridge. Unfortunately, I arrived there after eight, and there were already packs of tourists. Somehow, some folks think that being a tourist means not having to think. I yelled at a tourist with a selfie who blocked the entire pathway and nearly decapitated me as I ran past. Those things are dangerous! Haha!

I’ve said it plenty of times and I’ll say it a few more….running on the Golden Gate Bridge is overrated. There are far too many tourists crowding it and it’s always windy and cold. Do it once, maybe twice, but if you must do it, continue running to get way past it into Marin County. The bridge stressed me out, but after I got off it and run downhill on Conzelman Rd towards Fort Baker any stress that still existed melted away. The views of the bridge from below, of SF Bay and the vista beyond and of Horseshoe Bay in front of me were stunning. It was worth the trouble of running on the bridge. Had I just run the two miles on the bridge, turned around and run two miles back and continued my run in San Francisco over the same, familiar courses I had done a hundred times, I don’t think I would have had the same satisfaction that this new discovery gave me. This was special.

The last time I had explored Fort Baker was during a hike I had taken about a year and a half ago. I spent most of the day hiking around south Marin County. I had a great day, as I remember, so this was just another terrific memory of the area.

Under the Bridge

Under the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin

Now I faced a long, incline out of Horseshoe Bay. It wasn’t too steep, but it seemed endless. That hill took me a while. And just as it ended, I was in Sausalito and nearing the end of my run. I ran the last mile along the water and enjoyed some nice views.

Angel Island

Angel Island from the ferry

I took the Golden Gate Ferry back to SF and with coffee in hand, sat back, taking in the views. It’s been a great morning.

Cheers!

LONELY IS THE NIGHT

I finally ran my longest marathon training run last Sunday. I finished a great 20-mile run and other than being just a bit sore, my whole body felt really good. After my near-disastrous 17 mile run a couple weeks back, this made me feel so much happier and better about my upcoming marathon.

With winter quickly approaching, daylight shrinks and the darkness grows. This means lots of miles spent in the dark. I always want to be a safe runner, so I don headlamp, reflective gear and am very aware of everything around me at all times.

Last night I ran up to the Presidio and took one of my favorite paths Lover’s Lane. It was especially dark and cold. Not a soul was around for most of my route through the Presidio until I got down to the structures near the Presidio YMCA where an SUV driver nearly hit me while I was crossing in the crosswalk.

Coyote Alert

Coyote Alert Post in Presidio and Buster

The stark, wispy cold of the path was a little spooky but it was mostly fun. To the right were the warming, comfy homes that once housed Army officers, now belonging to wealthier folks of San Francisco, while to the right were shadows of eucalyptus trees and dense shrubs. I always run a little slower during these very dark runs, mostly trying to be careful not to trip over cracks or misplaced branches or piles of leaves.

For the first couple of miles through the park, I didn’t see another runner. It was really cold; the mist made me shiver, I was pleased I wore a long sleeved shirt, but thought I’d better wear a cap next time out at night. I didn’t run see another runner until I hit the flats near Chrissey Field.

It truly is a solitary run, even when only at 6:30 at night, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. It beats dodging the throngs of slow walkers and cyclists who block the way during the weekend afternoons.

Cheers!

THE SWEET SPOT

Some runs start out hard; I forget my Garmin (I know, but it happens) and I have to go back and get it, I run the first mile too fast, forget to roll, run too close to eating, and then I know the rest of the run is going to be so, so hard. Sometimes, the run doesn’t turn out to be as bad as I imagine and I wind up pleasantly surprised. Other times it’s agony for miles.

But then there are those runs when everything feels RIGHT. All cylinders clicking perfectly. The weather is wonderful, drivers are mindful and yes, pedestrians are courteous. At some point on one of these runs I’ll feel good, really good, as if I could run 25 more miles just like I’m doing. I may smile, I may turn up my music a little more and maybe I’ll check out the scenery I’m passing a bit more carefully.

On my last run I felt this, it’s called a Runner’s High, and what a great feeling! Many times I get my “high” after I run and am filled with adrenaline, but that sheer joy of finding comfort spot during running is a bliss I truly appreciate and enjoy. I kept going on this run, moving past the point I had planned, because it felt so good. My body embraced the steps, this is True Freedom. If I had allowed myself, I could have probably gone a couple more miles out of happiness alone.

But then a cyclist nearly ran into me and jolted me back into reality. Even with all the happy thoughts, I still have to remember that it’s a dangerous world for us runners; need to constantly be on guard.

In between my runs I’ve been spending a lot of time at the YMCA. I’ve learned to enjoy core and weight work. It’s a different kind of appreciation and workout. It’s more tightly controlled and inside. And it’s around others, most of the time. But without all the strength training and stretching I do, I couldn’t run, so it’s necessary.

My longest run in decades is coming up this Sunday. I’ll go for 20 or 21 miles, which will be the only 20+ mile run I get in before my marathon in December. I wanted to do more, but because of all the happened with Dad, it didn’t happen. I hope it’s enough.

Tomorrow night is a 9-miler, so I’m looking forward to hitting that sweet spot once more.

Cheers!

MILES AND A SMILE

These days, my life can be categorized into running and non-running moments. And in those non-running times, I’m usually thinking about running. Sure, I have other things going on…work, studying for my personal trainer’s exam, but running really is at the heart of my life.

A trail from Sunday's run

A trail from Sunday’s run

Last Sunday I ran 17.2 miles. It was difficult, fun, painful and exhilarating all at once. I wanted to do 18, but I really couldn’t get any more mileage out of myself, so I was happy with how far I went. This is not to say I didn’t have moments (many of them!) when I had to talk myself in to keep running. Oh how I wanted to just stop and go home… but I knew that I must keep going.

Spending so much time focused on running has helped me learn a few things about myself. Even at my ripe old age I can still discover interesting things I didn’t know. Most things are fairly trivial but then sometimes I realize something earth shattering and I want to tell the world. Of course, no one else really cares, so I smile to myself and carry on.

Over these past months I’ve often wondered if I was still a good enough athlete to run a marathon. Sure, I could accomplish running a couple halfs, but those can be faked, I saw plenty of non-runners do that at the Giants Race in August. A marathon though, separates the real from the false, the honest from the liars. You can fake 26.2 miles, especially if you’re going to run most of them. And I had started to doubt whether I could do it again, after 28 years. The one time I ran a marathon, I wasn’t prepared, it was painful; it was one of the least enjoyable experiences in my life. I never want to repeat that again.

But with the logging of miles, the testing of different brands of socks, the shaving of legs, the tears of exhaustion comes a little confidence and a bit of understanding.

“Sure, I’m not there yet, but I know I will get there.”

I said that to myself last night when I ran a delightful 4.5 miles. I knew that somehow I would do it.

Smile and carry on.

Cheers!