happiness

Why Am I Doing This Again??

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The beautiful Mt Tamalpais trails!

There are times during a training run when I ask myself “why am I doing this to myself?” It’s painful beyond belief. It can be disheartening and exhausting, lonely and maddening all at once. And I don’t have the answers. All I know is that I want to push myself. I want to go farther than I ever have before. Maybe it’s my ego that drives me to things I probably shouldn’t, or maybe a sense of adventure. It could be insanity, I’m not sure what it is, but here I am, less than two weeks away from what is the hardest race of my life, The Ridge, 37K.

It won’t be the longest race of my life, but it will be the most difficult. 23 miles, 5400 feet elevation gain, I’m frightened. And after my long run this past Sunday, I don’t feel any better. In fact, I feel a little worse about the whole affair. If it were a little farther off, I might defer it, but I don’t want to lose my entry fee.

So, I go forward, fear and all.

This past Sunday I ran a 17-mile trail run that didn’t go as planned. Many things went wrong. I don’t own a car and I wanted to get up to the Mt Tamalpais area where part of my race will be, so I had to take two different bus systems to get there. I didn’t get started running until 9:00am, so much later than I wanted to, so it was getting warm by then. It took two hours of bus rides and waiting for buses. I was impatient to get going.

The first part of the run was great. There were technical trails filled with roots and rocks, so I had to pay attention to every step and take it slow. But I missed the trail I wanted to take and wound up going down another trail. I didn’t think it would matter because according to the map, I could easily switch over to a trail in the next valley. Unfortunately, that trail was inaccessible. I had to double back up a mile and a half a steep trail without much shade.

I thought about quitting and just taking the Dipsea Trail back to San Rafael, but somehow, I kept going, finding the trail I originally wanted and going down that for a few miles. But, by that time, if I had kept going, it would be far more miles than I wanted to go, so I would up climbing through the fence of the closed trail, crossing a creek on slippery thin logs, I did NOT slip (!!) and getting stung by stinging nettles. It was worth it! Better than doing too many miles.

I finished this training run down the endless steps of Dipsea, waiting for the Golden Gate Transit bus #17. The southward route back home took three hours.

I’ve questioned my sanity these last couple of days. Why am I doing this? I don’t have an answer. If I finish this race, I’ll let you know then.

Keep Moving Forward!

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I think I brought home more dirt than I left! 

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SELF-FULFILLING PROPHESIES

I’m gearing up for The Ridge 37k Trail Race in a little less than three weeks. I ran a 14-mile trail run this past Sunday and I’ll get in an 18 or 19-mile trail run this Sunday. I feel good, I wasn’t too sore afterwards and I got some strength training (lifting) in last night at the gym.

It was another quiet morning in the Marin Headlands Sunday. The weather was cold, windy and foggy, again. I know I should be happy it wasn’t hot like the rest of the country, but I really dislike being cold. The good part about cooler weather is there are less people and the animals come out.

So, the coyote in the below pictures was just standing in the path as I came up to him, relaxed as can be. He was chill. It was as if he was would say “Sup, Dude?”

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I clapped my hands and shouted for him to get away. He sauntered off a few feet, stretched and proceeded to clean himself, without a care in the world. I smiled, took a few pictures; unlike the mountain lion I saw a couple weeks ago, he wasn’t in any hurry to run away; and kept running. That was cool and I loved the rest of my run as well.

As I run these long, relatively quiet runs in the hills, I think of a lot of things. This time I thought about how some people don’t seem to understand how what they think determines who they will act.

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Self-fulfilling prophesies are very real. If I don’t believe I can accomplish a goal, it probably won’t happen, at least not in the way I wish it would. I have a much greater chance of finishing a goal successfully if I positively reinforce myself from beginning to end. Many beginning runners, especially if they start running later in life, don’t have much self-confidence. Perhaps they are overweight, very shy, afraid of looking foolish, afraid they will fail, afraid they won’t fail. There are a lot of reasons we talk down to ourselves, none of them will help us.

Running is a long term, lifelong venture. It takes months to learn and years to become good. Sometimes new runners don’t understand how much work it takes and become discouraged, it happens. But if they stick with it and maintain a positive attitude and an open mind, all the while learning how to be a better runner, they can also find out how magnificent a sport it is.

But this will never happen if the runner thinks starting out that they’ll always be slow, that they’ll always be a terrible runner, blah blah blah blah…..

None of us know what the future will bring. None of us know what our running will be like. Don’t limit your future by closing the doors and windows of your mind. Open them all up! Enjoy the journey, enjoy running!

Keep Moving Forward!

Taking Personal Inventory

One very important tool in my life I learned in Alcoholics Anonymous is the 10th Step of the 12 Steps.

10) Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admit it.

Nothing will derail my life faster than pride and the anger that follows my disappointment in the way I have acted. Nothing will make me feel worse than the realization I have not followed my way of eating or not done a workout properly and wound up hurt the next day or spent too much money on something I shouldn’t have and so that I have nothing left in my checking account for the rest of the week until payday.

All of these scenarios came into play for me over the last couple of days. They were all because I messed up in one way or another. I blame no one but myself. But, I’m not going to hang my head in shame. I know I made mistakes and I know how to correct them and I know how not to do them again in the future. The grownup thing to do would, of course, not repeat these mistakes. So, time to be a grown up, Martha! Time to rise up and act somewhere around your age!

We have a choice, to wallow in our pity, sorrowful over the life we created, angry at the world, blaming everyone but the one person we should and refusing to correct those errors and move on, because wheres’s the fun in that? Forgiving ourselves would mean no more self pitying! And being stuck in a personal pity party just seems like the thing to do!

At least in the short run it does. But in the long run it isn’t. It’s painful and destructive. I’m done with that. Living, really loving and living life is about shedding that which has caused harm and moving towards the light, where things grow bright and strong.

Keep Moving Forwards!

 

UNTIL WE MEET ON THE TRAIL…

The running community lost a great one yesterday. Kelvin Reid is a well-known fixture in the trail and ultra running world. He logged thousands of miles, all while smiling and sharing his positive radiance. I never met him in person, though I consider him a friend through our Facebook correspondences and love of running. Everyone who knew him, or knew of him, are heartbroken today.

Kelvin suffered from ALS and even through the horrendous suffering, he maintained his trademarked sense of humor and optimism. Like always, his loving wife and running partner Jess was by his side. She is also a running warrior, strong through and through.

This article in Ultrarunner was just released today and I wanted to share it with you. May you always find the trails you so dearly loved, Ultra Cowboy, we miss you, Kelvin.

https://ultrarunning.com/featured/facing-lifes-battles/

 

Keep Moving Forward!

 

 

VACATION GRINDING

June has been a month of extremes. There were amazing peaks and deep valleys. So much of a roller coaster, I’m relieved that tomorrow is July, to be honest and that I’m on vacation until July 9th. I need a break!

The 6-hour endurance run One Day on June 22nd was a big highlight! I loved it. It took everything out of me and was as hard as any race I’ve ever did, but I truly enjoyed it. Rarely have I loved an event as much as that one! I can’t wait to do the 12-hour even New Year’s Eve!!

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Amazing views from the Barracks to the Bluffs Trail

As much as I loved that one, I was crushed when I didn’t get the part-time personal trainer position I wanted at a YMCA here in SF. I had two interviews, so I know I was one of the finalists, but in the end, I wasn’t right for the job. I know there is a reason and that there is something better around the corner, but it is still difficult to continue to look and look and be positive. I’ve spent so long looking for one that It’s difficult to keep my chin up. But I will.

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Sunset on the Pacific

And tomorrow is July. That is the shining light. And I’m on vacation. That light keeps getting brighter. Because I don’t have much money, I’m having fun at home. How do I have fun? Running of course! I have vowed to make every one of my runs a trail run! I can do this being on vacation by going to various places during the day. I started this last night by running from Baker Beach up the Barracks to the Bluffs trail. I then turned around and went down the trail along Lincoln Ave.

I had gone this same way last Sunday on my long run up to the Headlands but I felt stronger last night taking the steep hills and steps on this trail. It’s only two miles, but it’s a really tough two miles. I decided to run this every Friday until my race. It will be good practice for my 37k.

So, here’s to working hard and having fun running through my vacation!

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!

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!

59 and On….

I’m sitting here, watching a food show on Netflix, thinking about running. I’m sore from my upper body workout at the Y yesterday, as well as my trail run Friday on my 59th birthday. Today’s run is going to be a short one, my trail run was long and tough, but I still don’t want to go. And I just ate, so I have to wait a couple hours more.

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My view of SF from the Headlands

Of course, I could have gone when I first got up, but I was super sore. I really gave it to those dumbbells. It was a great workout. I can start to see the results in my shoulders and arms. Instead, I had coffee, chilled and waited and waited and ate.

And like that, I almost talked myself into not going out at all.

I will go run. Or not.

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Looking across at the road and trail ahead 

Friday’s trail run was in the Marin Headlands, my backyard. I took my birthday off work as usual and headed up there, looking forward to really pushing myself. I wasn’t disappointed. It was a cold, clear day. Because it was a weekday, the area was pretty quiet, just a few tourists on the roads, but hardly any on the trails. I ran 7.5 miles, mostly uphill and downhill. I will do that route again. And I want to improve the next time I do it.

It’s not an easy route. I started at the North Tower Golden Gate parking lot after getting off the Golden Gate Transit bus. Then, instead of going on the SCA Trail up the hill, I stayed on the trail that runs along Conzelman Rd. It’s not a bad elevation increase. It’s steady but gradual, making it possible to continue running nearly up the whole way. I stopped to take some pictures, however, because the view can’t be matched.

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The Rodeo Valley opens up

I cut into the Rodeo Valley up near the top and then after running through its length, made my intensely difficult walk up the Rodeo Valley Trail. It wasn’t possible for me to run this part, it’s just too steep. I did manage to keep a steady and faster pace than in previous runs, which felt pretty good. After my climb, I circled back on the SCA and ran back down to the parking lot. I walked over the bridge and caught a MUNI bus home. It was the perfect birthday.

I push myself hard, at work and at play. I’m much more dedicated than I was when I was younger. I did many things at a younger age I shouldn’t have, so I think deep down I feel I have some time to make up. But, I’m also not as young as I once was and I have to remember that. Once in a while, I need down time. So, that’s what today is.

Tomorrow, on Monday, I’ll be up at 4am and off to the gym at 5am to get the week started right. Where will you be?

Keep Moving Forward!