marathon

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

DON’T QUIT

The 2016 Rio Olympics finished yesterday with a boom! I loved the Closing Ceremonies, especially the handing out of medals for the Men’s Marathons. I got up at 5:00am just to watch the Men’s Marathon and rooted for all the runners. It was a great race! When it comes to many of the events, I wasn’t USA biased, I just loved watching great athletes performing their craft in ways I could only dream about.

I have enjoyed many of them, including Usain Bolt’s dominance on the track, Tori Bowie’s vivacious spark also on the track, the Brazilian Men’s Beach Volleyball team’s march to Gold Medal and Gwen Jorgensen never say die spirit in the Women’s Triathlon. I even loved watching the weight lifting, handball games and equestrian competitions.

The greatness of these athletes has inspired me and pushed me to do the small accomplishments I set for myself. What is the greatest thing about every competitor and every Olympic event is the will to succeed. They all have a fire burning deep inside that tells them “don’t quit.”

Don’t Quit.

I have been saying these two seemingly small words to myself over and over again these past few days. These words only have eight letters, but they are two of the biggest words in the English language. These words are what lies between us and our goals. Many times in my life I have given up, quit, lost faith in myself and my dreams. But not this time. It may be harder, more painful and take me longer than I ever thought, but I will succeed!

Let’s not forget the Paralympics are coming up in September. That is where some of the most inspirational among us are.

We have it in ourselves to go after what we want…..we need to hone into what exactly that is, figure out a plan to get it and then execute that plan. Let’s do this. And don’t quit.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

Finding Grace Through the Long Run

Opposites, they happen in running, especially during long runs. One week can be sheer disaster; they can be all pain, horrific to get through and then the next can be everything you want it to be: smooth, relatively pain free, even FUN.

Today, as opposed to last week (When Runs Go Bad), was incredible. I ran 16 miles and except for a couple tight spots, it felt good the whole time. I spent extra time at the gym on my core and rolling. Endless rolling. I’ve been nervous about this run for days. I was so nervous about it that it was hard to get to sleep last night.

I woke up early this morning, had a good breakfast, coffee of course, as I can’t live without it, and went out into the morning. I chose a route that didn’t have many hills and I had to pick one away from my normal spots because the Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon happening today.

About Mile 2 I got nervous; my knee started getting twangs of pain, but it went away after a couple moments and I sighed, relieved. It wasn’t until after Mile 8 on a long, straight stretch of 3rd Street that I had to roll my leg out. I thoughtfully brought my hand roller with me. It was a life saver!

Dancers on the pier

Dancers on the Pier

I only used once more a few miles later, but the rest of the run everything felt great. I kept my pace nice and slow, but not super slow, at least for me. It was a nice pace and one that if I could keep up with in the full marathon, I would be very happy with. I’m so pleased with my run and grateful to be able to run. There was a feeling early in this run that I would be OK, though. After my knee scare, I knew that if I could keep my pace slow, the rest of the way would be fine.

And the weather was quite warm, which I think it will be in late July at the time of the race. I’m a happy runner tonight. Next week, I go for 18 miles. Let’s have another week of good runs!

Cheers!

PLANS CHANGE

The last few weeks I had been ramping up my mileage in preparation for my upcoming marathon. I was also getting in plenty of strength training, doing lots of rolling and stretching.

But I have found that I am mortal after all. My IT band on my right leg, the bane of my existence,  started bothering me during my last two long runs. After today’s long run, I decided to switch from a full marathon to a half.

This saddened me, but I knew it had to be done. I know that at this time, with the nagging aching of my IT band after eight miles or so, I couldn’t finish 26 miles. I can handle 13. It might not be the best half I’ve ever run, but I’ll do it. I’m already registered to run the full San Francisco Marathon, held in July, so I’ll start training for that at a much slower increasing pace with plenty of time.

It’s only been three months since the California International Marathon, much too soon. I know that now. I guess I thought I could handle it. Now I know.

After a few hours, I’m looking at it in a more positive light. I will work harder, be a better runner, get as fit and trim as I can. And I will write all about it.

Cheers!

 

VALENTINE’S DAY RUN

I’m not a big Valentine’s Day fan. I’ve been single a long time and even when I was in past relationships, I saw no need for anyone or any date on the calendar to tell me this was the time to be nice to my significant other. After all, we should our loved ones how much we love them all the time. But, many people love it, so I hope they have had a great time today.

With that said, I had a long run scheduled for today, so I woke up at 4:30 this morning and headed out at 7:00am.

I’ve been pushing myself hard lately. My gym workouts are hard, and leave me knowing I’m doing everything I can to get in great shape. But I think I’ve been perhaps asking too much of my body, especially my legs.

After Mile 9 on my run, my right IT band started acting up. Thank goodness I brought my little roller along with me, so I was able to roll it a little during a short break. I did plan to go father than I would up running, but I had to cut it short because my legs ran out of steam. I did 15 miles, but I pushed those miles.

Before my marathon last December, I wold have been a little panicked about not getting my intended miles out, but it’s OK, I still have time and I will do this.

And, it was meant to be because my run ended exactly IN FRONT of the Trader Joe’s at Fisherman’s Wharf. How’s THAT for distance timing?? I picked up what I needed for some meal planning for the first part of the week and went on home for a nice warm shower and rest. All after a good foam roll session, of course.

Cheers!

SNAGS AND SETBACKS

I’ve been reading this book “The Untethered Soul”, by Michael A Singer about reclaiming your life and true Inner Growth. It’s an interesting read, one that can help me quite a bit, as I tend to worry a lot about things out of my control. I’ll write a complete review of it in here when I finish it.

Stress is the big killer. Combine stress with unhappiness and it can lead to many things, none of them good. And it has been getting to me lately. I simply must find a way to let go the stress I’m experiencing these days.

It is a work in progress. I’m including meditation in my evening routine, as well as getting back into eating healthy and striving to reach my fitness goals. This will take three things: 1) time, 2) patience and 3) money. And I need to do a better job at all three.

But it’s OK. I will do them all. My first goal is to not be so hard on myself. The greatest damage we can do is to be our harshest critic. So, I’m going to smile back at myself in the mirror more and carry on!

I ran six miles last night through Downtown and along the Bay. It was wonderful! The weather was mild, absolutely no wind and I felt so free. Tonight, I hit the gym, ready to work out my trouble spots: Core, Glutes, Shoulders, Arms.

And tomorrow as Scarlett said, is another day.

Cheers!

 

PS: I’ve revamped my blog/website. It’s now much simpler to reach and it will have a lot more content, including exercise instruction, recipes and reviews. Let’s just say that it will be a great place to check back often!