Month: December 2015

MARIN HEADLANDS

Vew of SF 12-29-15

View of San Francisco from the top of the trail

I stepped off the bus into the chilly morning air at the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge. It was early enough that few tourists had weaved their way across the Visitors Map to this farthest end. I thanked myself for taking these three days in between Christmas and New Year’s off; it was the perfect time to decompress and get some nice weekday runs in while the was sun up.

The first mile of the Coastal Trail in the Marin Headlands is nearly straight up, so I spent a lot of it running when I could and hiking up as quickly as I could. My time was abysmal, but I’m not used to trail running, especially uphill, so I’ll give myself a pass.

I passed a few people, but not too many. I put my Yurbuds away as I got higher and farther away from the constant hum of 101. Now the music I was enjoying were the sounds of birds, the breeze and my shoes stepping on the dirt and gravel.

Marin headlands 12-29-15

Looking west towards the Pacific Ocean

The trail wasn’t easy; the rains had done a superb job of loosening the small rocks and creating tiny riverlets within the path. I passed a woman who nearly lost her footing going down a steep part of the trail. When the way got extra steep I took my time, even I was running downhill, it was far too easy to lose my footing.

Away from the trees near the start of the path the sun shone warm and it felt great to be on top of the hill. I’ve always loved this area. As I ran, I vowed to visit here at least a couple times a month, even for short runs like today. I need to get to know these trails better.

Dolphin 12-29-15

A dolphin

I ran around 5 miles in total on trails, which was enough for today. The next time I’ll run more. I walked back to San Francisco via the Golden Gate and looked over at the water, and got to see sea lions swimming without a care in the world. That was a familiar sight, but then I spotted the pod of dolphins! That was a first for me. In all my years I’ve never seen dolphins in the Bay. There must have been a school of fish in the area because there were hundreds of sea gulls around them. It brought a smile to my face that I still have. What a wonderful world. My picture of a dolphin isn’t the greatest, but I only had my phone and it’s all I could get.

I’ll write my goals for 2016 in my next post!

Cheers!

RAIN, FINALLY!

Rainy GGP

Rain in GGP

California has had a drought for a few years. But this is an El Nino season and time for the rain the earth so thirstily desires. I wanted to get a few miles trail running in after work and I knew that if I didn’t hurry the rain and sunset would catch up with me. The closest place to get to a trail was Golden Gate Park, so I made it just in time.

I got out there as the raindrops started. On a chilly, rainy Friday night, I had the park almost to myself. Golden Gate Park is larger in acreage than Central park in New York City, but in winter in a city made up of so many newb transplants who desire nice weather, you won’t find many who are hearty enough for anything like a rainy evening in the park.

Trail running is a good challenge for me. Even the mild and relatively easy trails in the park are enough to slow me down and take my time, especially around the tall eucalyptus trees. When the rains and winds come around, they lose not only their leaves but their branches and those get hard to notice as the shadows of nightfall get broader and darker. I nearly got tripped up over a couple of them. And, then there are their acorns, those are so easy to slip on when they get wet! Yikes!

As the darkness started overtaking the light, I knew I was getting closer to the end of my run. It’s pretty familiar running grounds for me; I’ve run in the park many times on these trails but the rain started to get a little heavier through the tree branches and I knew it was only going to get colder and wetter.

By the time I got home on the bus, it was pouring and so cold! I was one happy runner! There is NOTHING like finishing a great run, no matter the weather. Non-runners can never understand the true joy we running fanatics have after running in gnarly weather. It’ll be our private joke. *Wink Wink*

Cheers!

CIM 2015

CIM 12-6-15 a

On a chilly Friday morning, I took Amtrak up to Sacramento to run my first marathon in 28 years. I was nervous beyond belief and excited! It was finally time; I just hoped that I’d be able to finish and that everything would go OK.

I stayed at the Embassy Suites right next to the Sacramento River and Old Sacramento. It’s a beautiful hotel with very large rooms. I’m not used to having a whole living space just to watch TV and eat when I travel! The view from my window couldn’t be better; I had a magnificent view of the Tower Bridge.

CIM Tower Bridge

View of Tower Bridge from my hotel room

It had been a few years since I walked through Old Town. If you have an interest in history and don’t mind more touristy areas, Old Sac is interesting. It’s done up like how the town was during the Gold Rush of the 1860s, with wooden plank sidewalks and old fashioned shops and people dressed in costume. There’s a terrific Railroad Museum as well. I found a decent pizza place and settled into my room for the night. It was a chilly night in the Valley; I was very happy I bundled up for cooler weather.

Saturday morning I woke up with a sore throat and I felt a bit tired. “Oh no!” I was getting a cold! I did NOT need this the day before my marathon. On my way to the race expo, I stopped off at a drug store and picked up some throat lozenges and cold medicine.

The CIM Expo was the best race expo I have ever attended. I was there over two hours scoping out everything. There were so many races represented and so many products! I got lots of samples and bought some Wright socks (my favs) for a great price. I meandered back to the hotel to rest for the afternoon and hope my cold didn’t get any worse.

CIM Buster

 

The alarm went off at 3am (!!!) Sunday. I was sleepy, but I felt OK. No sore throat, very little congestion and hardly any sickness. I was so relieved. But nothing was going to stop me from running today. I had too much invested in this race to stop now.

The buses to the starting line picked us up about a block from the hotel. It was cold out, but with the forecast calling for rain, it probably wasn’t as cool as it had been the past couple of days.

The marathon starts in the small resort town of Folsom, which sits at the man-made Folsom Lake. Folsom is a quaint community that is a lot more active in the summertime than in winter, but the Christmas lights and decorations made things much more festive in the early hours.

The race starts a couple hundred feet above sea level and gradually goes downhill into Sacramento right in front of the state Capital Building. There are some uphills, but they’re of the gentle, rolling type and never last long. It’s a very forgiving course, and one that’s known for producing very fast marathon times. I myself am not fast at all, but it was a great course to conquer for my first marathon in a very long time.

I’m going to guess it was because of my cold or maybe the cold meds, but I had to visit the porto-pottys three times for the first third of the race. I’ve never had any problems like that before! Thank goodness the race was well supplied and I never had to wait for long, so maybe at the very most I lost 5 to 10 minutes. (Sorry of that’s TMI!)

The rain started weakly at the start, but enough to dampen my feet and socks for the entire 26.2 miles. They felt fine though, the entire time. My Brooks Ghost 8s did fine work. I’m quite pleased with my shoes and socks (Asics).

I also wrote my Ultimate Direction hydration vest which always comes in handy in the longer races. I was surprised by how much water I drank though, my bottle was nearly through when it was over. And I ate Black Cherry Clif Shot Bloks, which I prefer over Gu.

I finished completely exhausted and sore, but victorious. I absolutely LOVE the medal and the shirt! I stuck around and cheered runners who finished after me and then waddled slowly back to the hotel that seemed a lot farther away than it did previously.

CIM 12-6-15

I took an Epson salt bath and rolled out my sore muscles. Then I ate a bacon cheeseburger. It was delicious! The bath really helped with the muscles, because the next day I was sore, but not overly so and by the second day I was nearly back to normal. And my cold was completely gone.

This was the best race I’ve ever done. I will do this one again sometime.

Cheers!