san francisco

Down – Temporarily

So, I’ve been sick. Due to the horrendous smoke engulfing most of Northern California up until Thanksgiving, I developed a sinus infection. It knocked me out for a week. I rarely get sick and I even more rarely get secondary infections, and this one was a monster.

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Smoke everywhere

Right at the time when my training should have been revving up, I was reduced to a coughing pile of tissues, or so it felt as if that’s what I was.

I did run the San Francisco Turkey Trot, as I do every year. It was probably the slowest time ever, but I was glad I did it. I love this race and I’ll do it again next year. In fact, it will be my first year in a new age group (60!!!), so I might just train for it.

I’m feeling better now, and even though I’m far from being ready for my January 5th 12-hour endurance race, I’ll run Sunday and return to my training. I know that even if I don’t have the stamina to run for as much of the 12 hours as I’d like, I can always walk part of the time. The important part is to keep moving.

 

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Lowell High School Marching Band at the SF Turkey Trot

I have renewed energy and drive to not only make 2019 a great year, but to end this very disappointing, and yes, sucky 2018 year!

In my next blog, I’ll post my wrap-up of 2018 and my thoughts of the year ahead!

 

Keep Moving Forward!

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Two Weeks’ Worth

I was going to write about the fall I took a couple weeks ago. But somehow, I kept putting off. The words wouldn’t come out. It was officially the worst trail run I’ve ever had. I will tell you about it as I catch up on my runs of the last two weeks.

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A trail in Tilden Park

That Sunday, I was supposed to run 22 miles, my second longest run before my first 50k. I have one more long run of 26 miles three weeks before my 50k. I went out to the Headlands early and started running at 7:00am. It was a beautiful morning, nice and cool.

At Mile Seven, I took the Coastal Trail to Tennessee Valley Road. I had never taken this part of the Coastal Trail before. I didn’t realize just how steep it was. I traded carefully, taking my time going down, mostly stepping sideways, all the way down. I was so proud of myself making it all the way down safely that I stopped thinking about watching my footing when it happened.

I didn’t see that little rock jutting out on the trail. THUMP! Down I went! Head first! Into the dirt! The first seconds laying in the dirt, I assessed the damage. Nose broken, nope, any missing, loose teeth, all good, bleeding chin, gotta deal with that, forehead hurts. I lifted myself from the dirt, arms in pain, knees scratched up and was immediately thankful nothing was twisted or broken. At least I was close to the big Tennessee valley Trail. And I had a full bottle of plain water. I was sore and it hurt to walk, but I could walk, because I had a long ways to go to the bus stop. If there had been coverage there, I would have just ordered Lyft, but no signal. So, it was a long six miles.

Walking that far turned out to be a good thing. I started out furious that I fell. Furious that I couldn’t finish my run. Furious that I couldn’t afford a car. Furious that not one single person asked if I was ok. Mad at the world, I was.

By the time I got to the Golden Gate stop, I was tired and not quite as upset as I was. I had a lot of time to think. Falls happen, right? Everyone falls, not just me. And I’m ok. So, I’ll go with that.

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Scratched up legs!

I still needed to get miles in, so this past week, I had two back to back runs, totaling 18 miles. I hope it’s good enough. Saturday, I enjoyed a trail run in Tilden Park in the East Bay. It was warm, which I like, and the trails were hard, but a lot of fun. This is a top-notch park that fills many acres which hundreds of miles of trails. I’m never bored running there. Even without a car, it’s easy to get to as well on public transportation.

On Sunday, I stuck to a road run, going from Downtown to Golden Gate Park, via the Presidio. It was the perfect length. I’d never ran two long runs in a row and I have to saw that it wasn’t easy. My legs and hips were both tired. It was fun though!

In between, I got some good runs around the city, and am enjoying our lovely warm, late summer weather.

Sometimes running is really hard and it hurts. Sometimes, it’s wonderful and glorious and everything I want it to be. My scratches and bruises from my fall are near gone, but just like the old saying, I am stronger and more determined to reach my goals.

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!

San Francisco One Day Endurance Run

It’s taken me a whole week to write this; I’ve been busy, so finally I’m writing about my race last weekend. I ran Pacific Coast Trail Runs San Francisco One Day’s endurance race. They offered three different times: 24 hours, 12 hours, 6 hours. Never having done one of these before, I did the 6 hours. It was tough, but a lot of fun!

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What a view for a run!

The 24-hour race started June 1st at 6:00pm. Mine began on the next day. June 2nd turned out to be one of the warmer days this season. I don’t mind warm weather at all, but it also means running strategies change.

I started my run at 6:00am and finished at noon. The race provided most of the food and liquids I needed, except I did take my Skratch with me, as I like it better than most other electrolyte mixes. I did take a liking to the Gu mixes they had though.

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The start, the end, the all for the run

The course is a 1.05 loop around the Lagoon at Crissy Field. It was a small group of runners, around 80 people combined, which made it a lot of fun. After the first five loops, each runner could change direction, so that meant that each of passed each other on every loop. I loved that! There were lots of waves, high fives, smiles and encouragement. Half the course was on hard-packed dirt while the other half was on a walking trail.

As the day wore on, the paved trail did get a little crowded with tourists, as it always does. But, other than that, for being only a mile loop, it was fun; I was never bored of it.

Developing a strategy for my race kept me running for most of five hours. I stopped at the aide station for refreshments on nearly every loop, taking in Gu electrolytes, or a piece of fruit, cookie and once, a piece of bacon, which was the best piece of bacon I ever tasted! With all the salt lost, it was needed!

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Pretty cool swag!

All the runners were so impressive, especially the 24 hour ones! Tents were set up for runners and crews to get some shut-eye if they wanted to during the race.

And the wonderful folks at Pacific Coast Trail Runs, from Greg the Race Director to the staff to the volunteers, worked so hard and were A-MAZ-ING! The shirt and medal rock! And the medal is wood, it’s one of my favorites!

After I was done, I immediately wanted to sign up for another. There is the New Year’s Eve one that I will sign up for the 12-hour distance and maybe, just maybe, I’ll do the 24 hour time next year.

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!

 

 

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!

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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

 

 

Running Sock Review

I rarely review products. But one thing is for sure about my reviews: I will never write a review for anything I did NOT personally try myself.

Running socks are some of the most important gear for runners, especially as the mileage increases. Having the wrong socks can lead to blisters which can be not only painful but can stop a run or even a race. For short runs, five or less miles, it isn’t that important. I can get away lesser brands, but for any runs six miles or more, I must have one of two brands.

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Best socks ever!!!

The two sock brands I favor are: Feetures and Injinji. They are top of the line.

I’ve been a faithful Feetures wearer for years and just tried Injinji for the first time during my eight-mile run this morning. They’re not that easy to get on, and they feel weird at first, but once I walked around a little bit, they felt amazing! I never even thought about my feet until around mile 6 I remembered that I hadn’t thought about my feet!

I highly recommend Injinjis for your next long run! Also Feetures are great socks as well.

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Overcast but nice view

I got my last long run before my half marathon next Saturday finished this morning. Just a couple short runs and gym workouts this week and I’ll be as ready as ever!

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:

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CHINATOWN YMCA NEW YEARS 5K

I rarely participate in 5K runs. I’m not a sprinter, races are too expensive and 5ks get too congested with walkers and those who don’t take the run seriously. It can be frustrating. But, I do this one every year, as it benefits the Chinatown YMCA that I love.

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Waiting for the Start

This is the Year of the Dog and in perfect fashion, there was a Red Dog and White Dog dancing at the starting line while firecrackers popped. Firecrackers scare off demons, so they’re set every Chinese New Year. The dogs made their way, dancing through the crowd. I love it! So bright and colorful! The kids especially liked watching them.

And that’s what this run is all about, the families, the kids, all the people the Y does good things for throughout the year. It was cold out, but once the race started, I hardly felt it.

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Dancing Dogs!

I had a good race. I maintained a 10:56 minute per mile average and out of 83 50 to 59-year old women, I was 23rd. The top woman in my age group finished with a 7:11 minute per mile average! We have so many fast runners in San Francisco that I’m guaranteed to never place no matter how old I am!

Post-race was celebrated with water, banana and orange slices. The sun was out and it was a little warmer than at the start. I walked home feeling pretty good about my time. And I would make myself a nice breakfast, I earned it!

Now to focus on my upcoming half marathon, and farther on in the year, my 50k. This is going to be a lot harder!

Keep Moving Forward!