san francisco

SF Hot Chocolate 15k 2018

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

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At first light, before the race

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

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Waiting for the start

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

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

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Ocean Beach on a winter’s morning

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

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

Keep Moving Forward!

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NYE 24-HOUR RACE

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Have some carbs and protein!!! 

New Year’s Eve is usually a non-event for me. In fact, I am typically asleep by 10 as I love running early New Year’s Day morning. It helps avoiding the drunken chaos and hassles of what’s known as Amateur Night. The world is so quiet and still on the first morning of the year; it has become a personal favorite. But for 2018, I switched it up and volunteered at a great annual race in San Francisco.

The Coastal Trail Runs 24 Race is a blast! It takes place at Chrissy Field and starts on New Year’s Eve at 9 in the morning. You can run 24 hours, 12 hours or 6 hours on a loop of a little over 1 mile. The aid station where I was working is positioned at the beginning and end of the loop next to the parking lot.

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The start/finish line as well as Aid Station

The night was calm and mild. It remained about 50 degrees all night with very little wind. This was perfect running weather!

The Aid Station area had two tables covered with yummy snacks for the runners including: potato chips, peanut butter filled pretzels, Shot Bloks, Clif bars, peanut M&Ms, Goldfish, as well as piping hot lentil soup (that was very tasty!). We served them up soup, hot chocolate, coffee and whatever else they needed. Later on, pizza was brought and at midnight, champagne and Martinelli’s was handed out.

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Bubbly!!! 

Back behind the aid tents, there was a small city of individual tents for the runners to crash out in. I couldn’t think of a better way to experience this race, if I was a runner, than to camp out.

Music pumped out throughout the race, it was a fun set of classic rock and recent pop.

The runners were so inspirational! It was great fun to cheer them on, boost them and help them reach their goals. Runner great Dean Karnazas ran the 24-hour race and every time he stopped at the aid station, he took time out to talk to us volunteers and thank us. He even wolfed down a piece of cold pizza on one of his trips before he sped away, logging more miles.

I worked for about seven hours, but the time flew by. I promised myself that I would run the 12-hour race next year, because this was something very cool and I didn’t want to miss it. A bit after 12:30am, I walked up towards the MUNI Owl line. Getting home was a pain in the butt, all the more reason to camp out next year.

2018 will be mostly about smaller races. Sure, I’ll do a couple big ones, but it will be the smaller races and trail races that will occupy most of my racing miles. The people are truly the best and I feel blessed to be a part of it. I am even more inspired for make 2018 my best running year yet! May all your runs be amazing!

Keep Moving Forward!

DON’T SKIP THE GYM

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Picture perfect day in San Francisco!

For those who haven’t been reading me for a while, 2017 has been a difficult year. I had been suffering from IT band pain since the 2016 San Francisco Marathon and it finally got so bad in late February I could barely stand it. I took two months off running, but that didn’t help at all. The only thing that came out of it was weight gain.

Ug…..

I came back with the determination to run AND fix this! So, I did my homework and I found out that it most likely was weak hips. I didn’t go back to the doctor. With my high deductible and the fact that I had previously spent $200 for nothing (!!), the doctor didn’t help solve this at all, I decided to fix it myself.

I dedicated myself to a strenuous schedule of running and going to the gym. I weight train three days a week. I do core exercises every time I’m at the gym and then I trade off different training depending on the day. Mondays – shoulders, Wednesdays – legs, Fridays – arms. I do a series of exercises chosen to make me stronger, with sets and reps increasing very gradually.

I do not use light weights either. I choose weights that I can lift comfortably, but are still hard. Depending on the day and the exercise, I can choose between barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, cables and a few weight machines.

I will go into specific exercises in the future. But my point is runners shouldn’t think that running is enough. I can’t count the times I’ve heard runners say how much they hate the gym or lifting or exercising (besides running). Yeah, it’s different and you do have to be inside, but I love it, and I wasn’t a fan when I started. You don’t have to do it as much as I do, but do some. And if you choose to do some form of lifting, don’t think that the little 5 pound weights are going to do anything. They won’t. Push yourself, just like you do when running. Get the most for your time spent.

When I put my all at the gym, as I do my running, I don’t have any pain. My legs, hips, glutes, etc are happy. And a happy body is a working body.

My 8-mile run this morning was wonderful. It made me very grateful for the blessings that I have.

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The view goes on forever….

Keep moving forward!

Martha

 

 

 

2017 SF Turkey Trail Trot

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

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Sunrise before the race

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Washington High School band

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the kids racing across the Polo Field!

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Turtles chillin on Spreckles Lake

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

Keep Moving Forward!

Martha

 

 

Running the 47 – #38 Washington Heights

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

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View of Downtown

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

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Looking up on Anza

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

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Looking north towards the Marin Headlands

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

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

Keep moving forward!

 

ALOHA 10K

To say that the past few weeks have been trying would be an understatement. One by one, things have happened in my life and they set my goals back. But that doesn’t mean that my goals are gone.

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Daybreak

No freakin way.

Sometimes things take a little longer than expected, I am impatient, after all. I seldom plan for unseen surprise events, like sickness or emergency bills or very, very, very bad days. But life goes on as does the desires to reach my dreams.

Last week I suffered through an eye infection. My left eye was swollen and hurt and I couldn’t see too well. I stayed home from work and got it checked out. Luckily it wasn’t too terrible and eventually got better. But between being sick and lethargic, my fitness had dropped. I am now working at getting back to where I was and then go far beyond.

I made a pledge with myself to not use my credit cards and I have kept it for nearly two months now. This means, though, that I won’t be signed up for a lot of races or buying the cool gear I want. Electrolyte mixes and energy food will be made at home and the future races I do sign up for will be the ones that really matter.

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Cute Medal!

Sunday was my first Aloha race and I’m very glad I did it. Both the 5k and the 10k course was the same, with the 10k course, being a double loop. It started in front of Sports Basement in the Presidio near Chrissy Field and ended on the field itself.

Weather has been very warm lately, which is typical for Northern California in late September. Hot days and cool nights are lovely. I arrived at the Presidio before the break of dawn and enjoyed a beautiful sunrise. Participants started arriving. Many were dressed in Hawaiian grass skirts and Hawaiian shirts. There were dog entries in the 5k, so plenty of pups were on hand as well as kids. It was a very festive, fun atmosphere.

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Can’t beat this view!!

Both the 5k and 10k started promptly at 8:00am. I reside towards the Back of the Pack, so there I was for the whole race. I didn’t PR or have my worst time and I didn’t finish DFL (Dead F**king Last). I maintained a decent pace and enjoyed the course. How could I not with such beautiful surroundings?

The race is so well coordinated and the volunteers were top notch. I will do this one again!

Keep Moving Forward!

47 Hills Part 9 – Irish Hill

Irish Hill is or WAS the 39th tallest hill in San Francisco. At 250 feet, it doesn’t seem very tall, but at one point it was and then it disappeared, seemingly overnight.

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Here is what used to be Irish Hill (RIP)

Sitting in the Dogpatch area of San Francisco, this area has a long history. In the 1800s, it was an industrial neighborhood, and the city made quick work of leveling many of the hills. So, Irish Hill had to go to make space for some sort of factory. It sits at Illinois Avenue and 18th Street, just east of 3rd Street. Union Iron Works had a big mill around there and also within the vicinity were several shack-type hotels for the workers.

Even though the hill had disappeared the area was known as Irish Hill for a long time. The area was poor and filled with mud. The city never bothered to build wooden sidewalks there and it was known for the blue-colored mud permeating everything. Gangs ran everything, from the saloons to collecting hotel rent and that led to The Blue Mud Wars in the 1880s in which rival gangs fought bitterly for control of the area.

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The shipping yards across from Irish Hill

Now, the only battles are amongst rival real estate agents. Outrageously-priced condos are up everywhere, including where Irish Hill once stood. There is no trace of the where the hill once was and anyone who remembers it is probably long gone.

I took my run through this area, one I am quite familiar with, as it is a really fun place to run, and took a few pictures of where I thought the hill would have been. The private security guard of the condo asked me what I was doing, and I told him about the history of the place. He was surprised. No one knows anything about the south part of San Francisco.

In fact, even just a few years ago, this part of the Dogpatch/Potrero was desolate. Except for The Ramp and The Mission Rock restaurants, this area didn’t have a lot to offer near the water. But this is one of the few parts of San Francisco available to grow outward. So there is no choice.

And it was a lovely morning. I feel grateful to see such a wonderful sunrise.

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Now THAT’S a sunrise!

During my run, my IT band bothered me more than I liked. I decided to incorporate more yoga into my daily routine to see if this helps. I’m going to try everything I can. Quitting running for two months didn’t help, so if I do stop running, it will have to be for a much longer time and I’m not ready to do that. So, yoga it is!

I will stay positive and hope this helps!

Cheers! Keep Moving Forward!

 

47 Hills – Part 8 Mount St. Joseph & More!

The 40th tallest hill took me a while to get around to running it. I wasn’t thrilled about it, to be honest, it’s not the most scenic spot in San Francisco. In fact, if you’ve spent any time in the city, you’ve been here. At 250 feet, it’s the same height as a few other hills but what makes it different is that a shopping mall stands on top of it.

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Even on a foggy day, the view is nice

Yes, there’s a Best Buy and Target on this one. The cross streets are Geary, Presidio and Masonic. It’s an extremely busy intersection. The views of Downtown are pretty nice, if you go to the top of the parking lot. Other than that, it’s not that special.

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On Geary at the base of Mount St Joseph

Because I wasn’t that thrilled with the 40th place, I’m including some pictures from my run this last Sunday at Mt Tamalpais. It was a wonderful 7 mile run from Mt Tam to Stinson Beach. I don’t get up there very often because the bus ride is long and expensive. But I’ll do it again when I can.

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Near the top of My Tamalpais

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Top part of the Matt Davis trail

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The top part of the trail is dry, yet the bottom part is so damp, like a rainforest

Life is good. Things are not perfect, but when is it? My running and workouts are the best part of my day and I can’t ask for more.

Keep Moving Forward!

 

 

 

47 HILLS – Part 7 – Precita Heights

AKA: POLISH HILL

On the website http://www.47Hills.com it was called Polish Hill, but it’s probably more well known as Precita Heights. It sits Southwest of Downtown, just on the outskirts of the Mission. I’m sure on a clear say with blue skies, the view of the San Francisco skyline is amazing. The morning I was there it was overcast, so it wasn’t great.

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The neighborhood is really terrific. Most of Precita and Bernal Heights are still very much old school San Francisco. It was refreshing to run through a part of the city that hasn’t changed much, since nearly everywhere else I go is disappearing at an alarming rate.

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Folsom St goes up to Bernal Heights

In a future post, I’ll write more about the taller Bernal Heights, so until then enjoy what’s left of the San Francisco we used to know.

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Precita Park

Keep moving forward!

 

 

47 HILLS – PART 6 ALAMO HEIGHTS

Everyone knows this hill, or part of it anyway. They know the row of Victorian houses, lovingly called the Painted Ladies, either from the hundreds of pictures taken over the years or from the 80s sitcom “Full House”, recently brought back by Netflix.

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Views of the Victorians and the SF skyline

Alamo Heights is also known by runners by being the highest point of the Bay to Breakers, the largest 12k race in the US, quite possibly the world, held each year the third Sunday in May. The Hayes Street Hill is a killer!

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Looking up into Alamo Square

The hill is the 42nd highest in San Francisco, 225 feet in height, it seems higher because of the steepness of Hayes, Grove and Fulton Streets. The hill rises abruptly and makes for a great workout either running or walking. I conquered it in a nice run after work and my quads screamed afterwards on my way back home.

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Very dog-friendly!

The park at the top is quite nice and includes a huge dog friendly area. Expect brisk winds, especially when the fog rolls in.

Coming up, another San Francisco hill!

Keep Moving Forward!