Golden Gate Park

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!

 

 

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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!

SF Hot Chocolate 15k 2018

I had my race report all written up Sunday night and then my home phone line went out. It won’t get fixed until Friday so I’m re-writing my blog post to get it out a little sooner.

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At first light, before the race

The Hot Chocolate races have been in San Francisco for five years. I have run them every year, as it’s one of my favorite races. There are many reasons why I love it so much, but here are just a few. For a big race, it’s extremely well organized. There are always more than enough porto-potties. I’ve never had to wait long to use one, either and that is a major bonus! It’s very affordable considering all the swag participants receive. Each runner gets a great jacket, medal and lots of chocolate. The early bird price right now for next year for the 15k is $59. Not a bad deal!

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Waiting for the start

And the course itself is superb. The starting line is just outside the Japanese Teagarden in Golden Gate Park, then is winds up past Stowe Lake, then down through the park to Ocean Beach, down south one end and back up through the park to just left of the De Young Museum.

Last year with all the rainstorms, Ocean Beach was completely flooded, so they shortened the race to a 10k, cutting out the beach portion completely. This year, it was chilly, but completely dry. In fact, the weather was perfect, no wind at all!!! If you know San Francisco beaches, then you’ll know how rare it is that there was zero wind! It was a glorious morning for a race!

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Ocean Beach on a winter’s morning

Due to having a very nasty cold over the holidays, I was sorely undertrained. But I hoped if I just ran slow, I’d do OK. I started out in a faster corral as my time last year was pretty good. That was nice. For most of the race, I maintained a good pace. I drank nothing but water for most of the course, although I did gulp some Nuun at one stop. I wish I hadn’t, because it was effervescent and it upset my stomach. I ran slowly to get rid of that icky feeling, which did finally go away. The only part of the race that gave me any problems was the last mile or so. Due to my lack of training, my hip started getting sore and I had to take a couple walking breaks and that slowed down my time.

But I still consider it a good race. I ran nearly 9.5 miles undertrained with very little discomfort. I kept up a good time (for me). It’s another successful Hot Chocolate 15k to add to the books!

Keep Moving Forward!

I’m on Twitter! Connect with me at: @50fabfitness

2017 SF Turkey Trail Trot

This was my 5th year and still one of my favorite races. The weather was perfect and I had a lot of fun. My race itself was not one of my better ones, but I didn’t care, it was a good time! The race is 5 miles through the various trails of Golden Gate Park. There’s also a 3 mile walk and 3 kids races for various age groups. Plus, there’s a ton of prizes for the winners and a HUGE raffle at the end. In fact, this was the first year I didn’t win anything in the raffle. Proceeds benefit the track teams for Lowell and Washington High Schools.

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Sunrise before the race

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Washington High School band

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the kids racing across the Polo Field!

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Turtles chillin on Spreckles Lake

I am very thankful this Thanksgiving Day Weekend for being healthy. I am thankful for, no matter how slow, being able to run. I can and will get faster! I have decided to really make it a top priority to attain maximal health and fitness, no matter what in 2018, so I’ll get a head start in the weeks before the new year. Sure, I overate and have a couple extra pounds, but now it’s time to get serious and dive headlong into fitness!

Keep Moving Forward!

Martha

 

 

Running the 47 – #38 Washington Heights

It’s been a while since I’ve written or even ran on the hills of San Francisco. You thought I forgot about them, didn’t you? Well, no, I did not. I did have to take some time away from it, though, so rethink what I wanted to do because the whole naming them Part 1, 2 etc wasn’t working so well.

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View of Downtown

It’s back now and I hope to bring you at least one hill per week, or close to that. I can’t promise I’ll have one every week, but it will be more often than it has been. And they will be called “Running the 47”. A much better name, don’t you think?

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Looking up on Anza

This week, I went west to the Outer Richmond. Washington Heights encircles the blocks of Geary Blvd, 28th Ave, Cabrillo St and 34th Ave. From the top at Washington High School during the times it is clear such as this morning (and that is never a given), the views are really nice.

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Looking north towards the Marin Headlands

At 260 feet high, the hills are elevating. I had to walk up one block of Anza it was quite steep, but the rest was very runable. The area is quite and residential. The birds were chirping and just a couple blocks from Golden Gate Park, it’s a lovely area.

My run continued down through the park and I finished back at home. It’s been a good day! Cheers!

Keep moving forward!

 

47 Hills – Sutro Heights Hill 45

I started my run on a clear, breezy morning. I hadn’t realized that it was the same morning as the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon, a short, yet punishing tri that starts on Alcatraz with a swim to the Marina Green, then an 18-mile cycling course, finishing with an 8-mile run that returns at Marina Green. And throughout both the bike and running courses, there are hills, lots of hills.

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The original Sutro Mansion

What this meant for me, was that a lot of the area I was planning on running was going to either be cut off or a bit more difficult to get to, so I rerouted my run and enjoyed watching a bit of the tri along the way.

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The view from the top

Adolph Heinrich Joseph Sutro was born in Germany in 1830 but served as mayor of San Francisco from 1895 until 1897. He made his fortune in the Comstock Lode in Nevada and built not only a huge mansion at the top of a hill overlooking Ocean Beach, but also the well-loved Sutro Baths. The remains of the baths still exist and can be explored on foot.

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Sutro Heights grounds

Sutro Heights checks in at 200 feet. It watches over the Pacific Ocean quietly and if you happen to drive past, enjoying the ocean view, you’d probably miss its tranquil setting. Adolph’s gigantic mansion is long gone, but the site remains and it is worth a visit. The hill is one of my favorites; you can run in a circle and then continue down to the beach, or go across the street to the Land’s End path. There’s plenty to see and it’s usually pretty quiet. The backside of the hill also has a fun and very sandy way to get down if you want something a little more adventurous.

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I decided on the sandy back route to avoid the cyclists and ended my run watching some of the race at the end of Golden Gate Park. This hill is one of my favorites in the city. I hope you can enjoy it sometime too!

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Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon

Note: All the hill elevations and listings were taken from another website http://www.47hills.com and used for a personal challenge so bear that in mind if there are any discrepancies.

Keep Moving Forward!

Chocolate in the Rain

This is the fourth year the RAM Hot Chocolate race series has been in San Francisco. I’ve always enjoyed this race series. Every year it’s run with professionalism and grace, something that doesn’t always happen with these big races. But this one has always done a great job.

Some things are beyond anyone’s control .Like weather. All week long I’ve been checking the forecast for today and it said nothing but pouring rain with winds. And that’s exactly was it was most of the morning, with the hardest rain coming down just as I left the house around 6:30am.

It was a miserable morning to prepare for a race! I wouldn’t have blamed anyone for deciding to have their medal shipped to them and doing the distance on their own. But, that’s just not me, so I braved the wind and rain and took MUNI off to Golden Gate Park.

The ONLY saving grace was that is wasn’t cold. The temperatures hovered around 59 degrees so I was VERY happy it wasn’t freezing when I was soggy wet!

The 15k course was shortened to a 9k course, due to the Great Highway along the Pacific Ocean becoming part of the ocean. That happens due to high tides and winds. Sand doesn’t like to stay in place and during winter, the highway does close occasionally. I didn’t mind at all running a shorter distance, my feet were soaked before the race already. I chose to wear my race running jacket for the race, which turned out to be a really good decision. I was a little warm, but inside my jacket, I wasn’t soaked and that was a good feeling.

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The rain is coming down while we wait for the start….

My time wasn’t bad; I placed in the top half of the women in my age group and even though I would have run faster had it not been as rainy and slick, I’m still pleased with how I did.

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Here I am, trying to stay dry!!! 

Had the RAM organization not been so organized and great at communicating the course changes and weather conditions, this could have been a disaster, but as it turned out, things went through smoothly. They did a great job.

Now I need to get serious about losing this weight. I’ve been slacking and not really focusing on it as I should. That ends and my focus will be on losing 20 pounds and being a faster runner.

Cheers!

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The medal and chocolate (!!) make it worthwhile! 

 

 

FIT, FIERCE & FRUGAL – HAPPY NEW YEAR!

I fell asleep at 10:30 last night. New Year’s Eve isn’t my deal. I don’t drink and the thought of being around a club or bar filled with people partaking doesn’t appeal to me. Maybe if there was a band in town that I’d like to see I’d go out, but it seems like the best time to cuddle up under the covers, get some rest and wake up early on New Year’s Day.

What I DO love is running early New Year’s Day. Even though it’s really cold out, I love it!

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Conservatory of Flowers

So, I forced myself into the cold, dark morning street air. All was quiet as I walked to the bus stop. Surprisingly, there were quite a few people on the MUNI 5, making their way or to work or to wherever they were going.

I started my run on the Panhandle, trying to stretch out the distance on the park as much as I could, for I knew that Ocean Beach would be colder and windier. Very few people were out. There were a couple other runners, dog walkers and cyclists, but really, Golden Gate Park was near empty. And that’s exactly why I went out early. The weather was, in spite of being cold, beautiful. There was hardly a breeze until I got to the beach.

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Empty park streets

I noticed the clues of the high surf on the beach. Small pools of water remained close to the sidewalk, far away from the ocean. I don’t think I’d ever seen the surf that high before, so when the weather warning says “Dangerous High Surf”, it’s probably a good idea to pay attention.

I finished out my run on the Great Highway. By then, there were a few runners and walkers out and I had finally gotten warm. I’ll be running the Hot Chocolate 15K next week right here and it was worth nothing how the weather was this morning.

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Ocean Beach – windy & cold

During my run, I thought of the year passed and the one ahead of me. I probably set my goals too high last year, as I didn’t reach half of them. I am running faster, I got my personal trainer’s certificate, I did finish the San Francisco Marathon and I finished running 1,000 miles, but I didn’t run all the races I wanted to, I haven’t found the job I’m looking for and I have yet to lose the weight I would like. So, there are things I need to work on this year.

And I will work my hardest to get them done. In essence, what I want to accomplish this year, can be said in three words: Fit, Fierce, Frugal

I need to keep running, keep sticking to healthy eating, stay on track at the gym. I must not be afraid by self-imposed fears of inferiority, instead I need to jump in and take chances and go for what I want. I also have to keep track of my finances. Things are going to be tight, moneywise in 2017. I will not have the choices to do many of the fun things I did in 2016, so I have to take stock in priorities and never lose track of the prize.

May you All have great 2017s, and may you run many miles and do great things!

Cheers!

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MILE AFTER MILE…

I finally bought new running shoes, with finances as difficult as they are right now, it takes a couple months to plan out strategically but fortunately, I won’t be training for a marathon for a few months, so these new Brooks Ghost 9s should last a little longer.

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Golden Gate Park trail 

I’ve also set some new and different goals for myself. For a few months anyway, I’ll be focused on get leaner and faster rather than just running longer distances. With the exception of this weekend when I ate a box of Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Jojos (I know, I know, but they’re delicious!), I have been good about my eating and I’ll get back on track tomorrow.

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GGP trail

It isn’t going well finding work in fitness, so I’ve changed that goal. I don’t know if I’m going to find a paid part-time job in fitness, so I’m going to look for more volunteer work to get more experience until I can afford to get my certificate in Senior fitness. That cert will help me get a job in the area of fitness I desire. I can’t afford to work for minimum wage fulltime at a gym in town, but if I can get the experience and knowledge, maybe I can a position at a senior center.

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Sunset!

I’ve had good runs over the last week, including a terrific trail run Friday night. I was lucky enough to see one of the most beautiful sunsets! Yes, times are not easy right now, but at least I can still enjoy the scenery of my city!

Cheers!

SAN FRANCISCO HOT CHOCOLATE 15K, 1-10-16

HC 2016

I’m late with my race report. It’s been a busy week. I’ve been studying as much as I can AND running AND going to the gym AND getting to bed at a decent time AND eating right. So, it’s late.

On my way home from the race expo, which is in the suburb of South San Francisco and not easy to get to without a car, I had decided this would be my last Hot Chocolate race. The jacket this year was just OK, not nearly as nice as last year and the expo itself was disappointing. There were so many people who seemed more excited about free samples than getting in shape that it seemed more like one of those “fun runs” than a race.

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Pre-race in Golden Gate Park

I have nothing against “fun runs”. I think it’s great people want to get out and walk. It’s better than sitting on the couch. But I’m a running. I’m trying to better myself with each race I do. It’s fun, sure, but it’s also a chance for me to PR or go farther than I ever have. Races to me are serious affairs. I enjoy myself, but I am also competitive. Mostly with myself, true, but I want to always do better than I have previously if I can.

The Hot Chocolate expos are usually quite sparse. They have very few vendors and the ones that give away samples are usually over crowded. In fact, at the Lara Bar booth, I nearly got pushed out of the way by a few people. This one guy tried to push me to get ahead of me in line and I stopped him. How rude can people get!

The next morning, I got to the race too early, as usual. I tend to do that at races. So I hung out at the merch tent, huddled with others, trying to stay warm, until they kicked us out. I met some really nice runners, including a couple of marathon runners and I felt more a part of this race.

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Race Goodies and Buster

What made me feel sort of separated to begin with was this year the race directors tried something new. If a runner wanted to be in a starting corral other than just the general, mass one, they needed to show proof of an average pace per mile in a race faster than 12:30 minutes. Since that was my time in my part races (or a little slower), I couldn’t, so I got stuck in a corral with walkers and woggers (runners/walkers). The corral said “No Walkers”, but I don’t think many walkers pay attention to that, to be honest.

Let me just say that I think it’s great people want to be active and go do something, as I’ve said, and I hold nothing against walkers, but it creates problems for runners when these walkers are placed in the same corral or above runners because they we have to run around them, wasting valuable energy.

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Love the medal

When the race started, I realized I was running at a faster pace than I had planned. But it felt good! So I kept up this faster pace for the rest of the race. I PR’d my last time by 6 minutes! I love the course. It starts in Golden Gate Park near Stowe Lake, winds through the park to Ocean Beach, going south on the Great Highway to Sloat and back up, through the park, uphill, ending on JFK near the deYoung Museum. It’s pretty level, except for the very gradual up and down hills that if you forget about, will get you.

I’ve decided that I will do the race again next year. With this faster time, I can get into a better corral. And maybe I can PR again.

Cheers!