half marathon

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!

Canyon Meadow Race

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.

Canyon Meadow 3

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!

Canyon Meadow 2

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.

Canyon Meadow 5

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

Advertisements

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.

20180211_090113

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.

20180311_102346

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!

FB_IMG_1522160097035

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!

 

 

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:

20180311_084328 20180311_102346

 

 

 

 

 

 

20180311_102406

 

 

 

LET THE LONG RUNS BEGIN!

Much has happened since my past post. I do apologize for not writing anything lately, but things have been busy. Good Busy. I finally feel my life is moving forwards…..

For the longest time, my life felt as if I was stuck in quicksand. Bills were piling up, new emergencies, new fires to put out, my weight loss was at a standstill, or even worse, moving the wrong direction and boom! The “Holidays” just mucked things up more, especially after I got one of the worst colds ever.

But I kept going and the pendulum, as it eventually does, swung in a positive direction.

20180218_082714

The path on Lincoln Blvd in the Presidio

I ran 10 miles this morning. The route I chose was tough, but I have a half marathon at the end of March that’s pretty tough. I started at Land’s End and ran through the trail on the backside of the Presidio down through Crissy Field, past the Marina Green, eventually ending at the Ferry Building on the Embarcadero.

The route has lots of uphills and stairs and it was cold and windy. I took a few small detours and ran through some of the World War II batteries that are scattered throughout the coastline. The only little pain I had was around Mile 6 when my right hip felt a bit sore. I stopped, did some squats and leg swings and it felt good the rest of the run. I feared that it was going to start acting up, but I fought through a little fatigue around Mile 8 and the last two miles were energizing. I could have run longer had I wanted.

20180218_083400

This view is only possible if you take a detour from the regular trail and go through the WWII batteries

My birthday is next Friday and I took the day off work. I plan to run in the Marin Headlands, which will be another tough run.

I’m happy, it’s been a good day.

Keep Moving Forward!

 

WELCOME FALL AND GEAR REVIEW

If you ask me when the best time to visit San Francisco is, I would say early October. The weather is warm and there’s less chance of high layered fog and wind. The city always gets late summer here and I wait anxiously for it.

img_20161012_062102

Sun Setting Earlier Over the Bay Bridge

In my older years I’ve grown to not like the cold much. In fact, I plan to move to a warmer climate in a few years. Until I can afford to do this, I’ll enjoy these warmer days we have right now…..

This past weekend, I run a couple great runs in the warmer weather. I’m soaking in the sun as much as I can, as the nights are getting darker faster and soon I won’t have that wonderful Golden Gate Park trail to run Friday evenings any more.

img_20161008_202745

View of Aquatic Park & the Bay

I also invested in some new running gear. I bring many items with me on my runs. I don’t own a car, so it’s essential I have everything with me when I go out. Must haves for me on a run are: phone, keys, glasses, water, mascots Buster and Alfredo.

I have an Ultimate Direction hydration vest I really like. I’ve owned it for two years and it’s the best pack I’ve ever owned. But it is bulky and sometimes I’d rather not wear a big vest.

Just recently I purchased an Ultimate Direction Access 10 Plus waist pack. I’ve used it for a week now and really like it for the most part. What I appreciate about it is it doesn’t move around, it stays where I want it to stay. The small water bottle is perfect for short runs under 10 miles, which is just when I want to wear it. It has two pockets which is better than the usual one pocket styles I’ve seen. There is another waist pack with a larger bottle, (the Access 20 Plus), but I’m not sure if the pockets are larger.

20161013_210352

Access 10 Plus

The minuses, there’s only one negative about it is that the pockets are small. The first, to hold my phone doesn’t hold my phone if I have headphones plugged in, and I don’t have a giant phone. I have a Galaxy S6 Edge, so it’s not huge, but I have to keep it unzipped a little if I want to listen to music. The second pocket is barely big enough for my glasses and keys. I’m afraid I’ll break my glasses because they have to squish in there sometimes if I need to add fuel for the road.

Ultimate Direction makes great big waist packs, but that’s too much for a shorter run. If they made this one with one of the pockets even a half inch longer, that would make all the difference.

As a company, I highly recommend U.D.’s products. Their customer service and gear are top of the line. The pricing is good and delivery is fast. Just make that pocket a teeny bit bigger and I will recommend the Access 10 Plus 100%. 😉

Cheers!

SF GIANTS HALF MARATHON

This year, the San Francisco Giants Race was held on 9/11 and I really love the shirt design. I also love the Brandon Crawford bobblehead! I was very close to time I ran it last year, which was a little over 2 minutes faster. Unlike last year, I felt zero IT band pain and my run itself was good.

20160909_182103

Crawford Bobblehead, shirt, bib, and my running companions 🙂 

Let me start in at the beginning. The race does have a great packet pickup. I LOVE picking it up in AT&T Park. It’s really cool to be able to go inside an empty park, plus they have a lot of vendors, race reps and plenty of samples.

The half marathon and 10k started at the same time this morning: 7:00am, with the 5k starting later after 10:00am. Perhaps this was one of the problems. I spent the first 3 miles, jockeying constantly through walkers doing the shorter race. How great it was to finally breathe and space out once they had turned around! I would like to see them start at a later time so those of us trying to actually better our times and not just out for a stroll could get past the walkers.

20160911_055553

Beautiful 9/11 Tribute

One of my biggest peeves since I’ve bene doing this race is the same one I have for every race EXCEPT the Hot Chocolate Race….not enough porto-bathrooms! Come on! There are thousands of runners, can you get a few more? The Hot Chocolate folks are the only ones who seem to do this right, they have plenty! And, can you believe someone tried to cut in front of me in the line. Yeah, didn’t happen! I had been waiting for 20 minutes and wasn’t about to let anyone cut in front of me. Had they had a small child and ask nicely, I probably would have, but just trying to hog in without waiting, NO!

20160911_100603

Best Seat in the Park, for a few minutes

Another thing Hot Chocolate does is divide the runners and walkers up into more corrals. The first few specifically say NO WALKERS. I do apologize because I’m sure they’re wonderful people, if they are walking in a line blocking everyone’s way, it’s a huge pain. Every race should have signs posted: “Walkers Stay To The Right.” It really is up to the race directors to provide guidance to participants, especially because many of the Giants fans there may not have done other races and don’t know how things are usually done. Race direction is getting very lackadaisical anyway.

20160911_100204

I’ll just sit here a little while longer…

And maybe I’m alone in this, but those runner/walker types can be annoying, especially if they don’t bother looking behind them when they stop running, or if they think they can keep walking in the left with all the runners. No, you too, stay to the right.

The last thing that made me a little cranky was at the nutrition stop, I heard they were going to have Clif Shot Bloks, which I love. When I got there, they were giving out sample size Clif Bars, I’m not going to eat that during a run! Fortunately, I normally bring my own fuel so I don’t have to worry about it, but don’t BS me, Folks!

Other than those irks, I felt good, my legs felt good and there were some nice food giveaways after the race. It was also excellent to sit in the loge seats afterwards. I’ve never been in those before, and probably never will again!

Now for a couple days’ rest and back to tackling my next goals. I’ll let you know soon what I’m up to!

Cheers!

 

SETTING GOALS

Inspiration and drive are sometimes in short supply. After this year’s San Francisco Marathon, I didn’t have much of either. It was much, much more difficult than I ever thought it would be; the training for it alone gave me burnout and took all the fun out of running.

So, as I was running last night in preparation for the Giants Race half Marathon race this Sunday, I had to think of ways to get the excitement back into running. After this race, I’m not signed up for anything. It’s not because I don’t want to race, it’s really lack of funds. I need to buy new running shoes this month, so spending more money on an upcoming race won’t happen for at least another paycheck or two.

During the last few weeks of marathon training, I realized that for the first time in a very long while, I had very little motivation. I still ran, but I barely stuck to my way of eating, which resulted in weight gain. I had promised myself that I was going to lose weight this year and here I was, not accomplishing what I wanted. In 2015, I had set out a goal to run 3 marathons this year and that seemed like a galaxy away. Obviously, that was asking too much of myself. But I also started wondering if marathons were for me at all….

I can’t accept that.

So, I took a few days off of thinking about my future in running and just lived my life. I admit that I didn’t workout as much as I should have, I didn’t go to the gym as regularly for a week, but it was the space I needed for a new perspective.

And it was during my run yesterday when I started thinking about my last marathon. I don’t want that memory to be my only memory of this race. I want to create better memories. There’s only one way to do that, to run it again next year, but this time, plan better, do better.

I have a full year it’s time to think about how I’ll do it. The California International Marathon, even though the same distance was nowhere near as difficult or taxing on me. It could be that my IT bands weren’t stressed out as much at the time of my race or maybe I was more prepared, or maybe this race is just harder on them because of those blasted hills. But none of that matters. What matters is if I am serious about doing it a second time, I need to make this time count!

So, I will keep you informed about my ongoing training. Up until next July, there are some shorter races I plan to do, including my half this Sunday. I’m looking forward to it, no stress at all.

Cheers!

Running Just for Fun

When I was training for my marathon, the stress of trying to get in my long runs and scheduled weekly running miles took their toll.

20160814_100535

Seen on my run: A wedding party frisbee game 

I took an entire week off running to help my IT band feel better. Because of it, I was forced to re-focus, reset my running brain and attitude towards running.

Knowing that the marathon was done and I do not have another planned, at least for the few months ahead, was a relief.

I do have a race, the Giants Step Half Marathon in September, but there’s no stress, it’s a fairly flat out and back and halfs are a pretty comfortable distance for me. I would like to PR this time around, but more on that in a later post.

20160814_092148

Lots of wild life in SF

The result of no stress and relatively shorter runs? Enjoyment, better times and greater satisfaction. This morning’s long run, a 6-miler is the perfect example. I’m gradually increasing my distance for my half. Today’s run was smooth, painfree and I spent a lot of it with a grin. I have rarely done that in the last months.

My suggestion is if you feel the strain and stress of running marathons, you don’t always have to sign up for them. Take a few months off and run halfs, 10ks, 5ks or even don’t race at all. I will continue to do races, but with costs going up and up, I’ll be extra picky about which ones. And that’s perfectly fine. Remember, no stress.

Cheers!

 

 

2016 San Francisco Marathon

Yesterday, I finished the 2016 San Francisco Marathon. This was the first time I completed the entire course and it was the most difficult race I’ve ever run. All week, I was stressed out over my IT band. Would it bother me? Would it keep me from finishing?

SF Marathon

Pre-race

Let me start from the beginning….the race start time was 5:30am, but because I’m a slow runner, my corral start time was 6:22am. I woke up at 2:45am, groggy, blurry-eyed; it took me a while to have my sense about me. I’m really glad I woke early though. I had gone to bed at nine Saturday night, so I got plenty of rest. I had everything ready to go, but of course, I had to check everything two and three times, to make sure I didn’t forget anything.

I’ve never understood those non-elite runners who don’t carry anything with them when they run. I have to take so many things with me that I at least have to take a running belt with me.

After waiting and waiting for the MUNI Bus #38 that never showed up when it was supposed to, I walked to the starting line. It’s only about a mile and a half away, so it was actually a nice warm up and probably helped get me ready.

There weren’t enough porto-bathrooms, so I spent a long time waiting for one.

Marathon stop

Water stop at Chrissy Field

As I started running, I felt good. In fact, the whole first half went very well. I would have done great if I had just signed up for a half. It was after 15 miles when my right IT band and hamstring started giving me problems. I had to stop and walk a few times. I was very happy I brought my hand roller and used that a couple times. I also made two visits to Medical tables and iced the area. That helped a lot!

But as I got nearer to the end of the race, I wound up walking for about two miles. I couldn’t help it. The pain on my side was bad and there was NO WAY I was going to stop, but I just couldn’t run the entire way to the finish.

marathon GGB.jpg

Packed race on the Golden Gate Bridge

I managed to push myself to run the last half mile and I was even smiling finishing. My time was awful, but I don’t care. I finished and that’s good enough for me.

There were others who finished after me, but not many. By the time I ended the race, most of the cool goodies were gone and the sponsors were folding up their tables. I treated myself to a scoop of Nutella-Banana ice cream from Shoot the Moon in Embarcardero Center. It was delicious!

Since I’m not doing full marathons for a while, I probably won’t do this full course again, at least not for another year anyway. I may do the second half again, but I really don’t want to run on the Golden Gate Bridge anymore. Listen to me: RUNNING ON THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE IS OVERRATED. I hear people have this on their bucket list all the time. There are far, far better places to run than that bridge around here, trust me.

First, if the weather was like it was yesterday, it’s freezing, windy, wet and VERY cold. Second, there are metal grates in the street to keep the cars slowed down but are hellish for runners. It’s very easy to slip, trip or fall. I saw it happen. It wasn’t pretty. Third and worst of all, there were two lanes, the right going north and the left coming back south. Since I was towards the back of the pack, there were more runners in the South lane and they kept jumping into our lane to get ahead of the runners in their own lane. Because I had to deal with walkers and run/walkers, I tried to stay to the left of them, those lane hoppers were nearly running into me. It was like a video game! It was making me a little cranky. I was very happy to be off the bridge.

I do have a question for race directors. Why are aid/water/food stations always set up at the bottom of hills? The last place I want to take in nourishment is before I tackle a tough hill. I have never understood this. Since I wear a hydration vest I was able to pass up most of these until towards the end, when, unfortunately, many of these were folding up, just my luck.

I do want to give a big THANK YOU to the volunteers and workers. All the station workers, the police officers and the bikers who helped out with traffic and just making us runners smile, even when it hurt to smile. I love all of you!

The Expo the day before was nice. I was able to meet Lupe from one of the Facebook running groups I belong to and my friend Steve, so that was cool.

And, even though it was so difficult to finish, I DID finish. I made it and got my medal. I also had time to think about my future training goals and I will let you know once I get these more cemented.

Cheers!

Medal

My medal with Buster, my running mascot

This Is It!

Sunday is my next race – the San Francisco Marathon. I dare say it’s been really difficult getting there, perhaps even more difficult than the California International Marathon last December. My right IT band has been troubling me and lingering doubts over whether I could even finish have plagued me.

This past week I’ve been taking it easy. I’ve gotten a couple small runs in with lots of stretching and rolling. My leg has felt good and I am mentally in a good place going into race weekend.

The military have a saying “Embrace the suck.” So I’ll be doing that if it gets real bad Sunday, for I do NOT plan on giving up…I WILL finish this race.

But my goals have changed, for the next year anyway. I no longer think I should try to keep going longer. I think after Sunday, I’ll stick to half marathons and shorter and lose about 15-20 pounds, to be in prime shape. I want to run faster before I go farther. If I can kick this IT band thing, then I can run marathons much more efficiently and relatively pain free. RELATIVELY.

So, I’ve been quiet in here, at times frustrated, and trying to stay positive, which isn’t always easy. But it is always necessary. I will write all about my race with lots of pictures after it happens!

Cheers!