distance running

MILE AFTER MILE…

I finally bought new running shoes, with finances as difficult as they are right now, it takes a couple months to plan out strategically but fortunately, I won’t be training for a marathon for a few months, so these new Brooks Ghost 9s should last a little longer.

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Golden Gate Park trail 

I’ve also set some new and different goals for myself. For a few months anyway, I’ll be focused on get leaner and faster rather than just running longer distances. With the exception of this weekend when I ate a box of Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Jojos (I know, I know, but they’re delicious!), I have been good about my eating and I’ll get back on track tomorrow.

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GGP trail

It isn’t going well finding work in fitness, so I’ve changed that goal. I don’t know if I’m going to find a paid part-time job in fitness, so I’m going to look for more volunteer work to get more experience until I can afford to get my certificate in Senior fitness. That cert will help me get a job in the area of fitness I desire. I can’t afford to work for minimum wage fulltime at a gym in town, but if I can get the experience and knowledge, maybe I can a position at a senior center.

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Sunset!

I’ve had good runs over the last week, including a terrific trail run Friday night. I was lucky enough to see one of the most beautiful sunsets! Yes, times are not easy right now, but at least I can still enjoy the scenery of my city!

Cheers!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

FREEDOM

This was my low mileage Sunday in between two long run Sundays, so I figured to switch it up and get a nice trail run in today. I went up to the Marin Headlands, amidst wind, fog and cold July weather.

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Foggy Downhill

When I got off the Golden Gate Transit bus at the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge, I almost turned around and walked over the bridge back to San Francisco. The Headlands looked so cold and foggy, especially at the top, I wondered if it was worth even trying to get a run in.

San Francisco weather in the summer is so schizophrenic it’s hard to tell if it’s going to be warm or cold from day to day. This is especially true the nearer to the Pacific Ocean one gets. Inland, it’s mostly hot all summer long. But up where I was going it was blustery cold. The Headlands are part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, a national open space land that is indeed glorious and has acres and acres to explore. One can hike, bike, run, horseback ride or just drive to various spots and enjoy the views. It’s such a large area that it includes areas in San Francisco as well as the large part just north of SF I was at today.

One good thing about not-so-great weather; it certainly kept the crowds down. I didn’t see a whole lot of others out there on my run.

This was one of the most difficult runs I can remember. I charted out a circular route to take me back to the start, which I figured would be about 10 miles, and at 10.5 miles, I got it just about right. I just forgot how steep some of those hills are! Let’s just say that for about four of those 10.5 miles I wasn’t running at all, but hiking up VERY steep hills, huffing and puffing all the while.

During trail runs I never listen to music. I much prefer the sounds of the hills, the singing birds, the rustling of bunnies scattering into the brush, the hum of the wind through the trees and the laughing of crows. It feels like I am not alone and keeps me company. It also makes me think.

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View of the SF Bay

Today, I thought about Freedom. I thought about how running makes me feel. Running sometimes makes me feel strong, sometimes tired, other times absolutely exhausted, but how it really makes me feel is FREE. I choose to run, I run because I have chosen to work at running. Sure, maybe I can’t at this moment run up every one of those steep hills, but I can train, I can get stronger, get faster, get leaner, that is my choice. That is my FREEDOM.

Our forefathers wanted their freedom from a tyrannical government. They gave up nearly everything to get it. Because one’s own choice in one’s life decisions is that important. I thank and honor them this 4th as I always do. I probably will never know if I have the same courage or strength that they did, but finishing tough runs like today make me feel a teeny bit stronger.

Have a great Fourth of July!

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!

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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!

When Runs Go bad

Sometimes, our runs, especially our long runs don’t go as planned. And sometimes they have to be stopped very short of our desired mileage. It’s happened to every one of us for different reasons. It happened to me this past Sunday and I’m still disappointed over it.

I was scheduled to run 16 miles, in preparation for my marathon in late July, but after the first mile, I could tell my right IT Band was going to give me issues. So, I took it slow and for a while, everything was great. But then, after mile 6, my leg started acting up and I knew I didn’t have far to go. I ran a few more miles and gave up. It wasn’t worth trying to get the mileage I wanted to, for a couple of reasons. I build some safety nets into my training. If there are a couple long runs with glitches, I can switch things around and get away with running a shorter length once or twice. I’ve learned from past mistakes that I can never have an all or nothing training plan. Life happens and sometimes the runs aren’t what we want them to be.

And as I walked to the bus stop, I knew why I couldn’t go the full planned mileage. “Such a rookie mistake,” I grumbled to myself, shaking my head.

I had not spent enough time stretching and strengthening my IT bands that week. I love working out at the gym. I especially enjoy working with weights and even planks, squats and lunges! Yes, I love all of those. But the repetitive stretches and band work I do to keep my IT bands and knees happy is not exciting at all. I do them to run, that’s it.

But instead of hating them, I have to look at them a little differently. To improve my running, I should view them as a means to an end, much like brushing one’s teeth. Is it exciting? Nope. But by doing all the stretches, the band work and the rolling, I can continue doing the one thing I love more than nearly anything else in my life!

It is THAT important.

As I continue to add mileage, leading up to my next marathon, it won’t get easier. It will be harder and harder, so I need to roll even more, push myself at the gym more and prepare for this old bod to push back more. It’s worth it, right? RIGHT?

I think it is.

Cheers!

FIXED ON GOALS

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The Presidio

Ever since I’ve gotten older, I realize I have the attention span about the same length of the life of a sand flea. I get bored easily. Oh Shiny! I can be drawn to fun, new things without much effort.

But I’ve composed a short list of goals I would like to…I WILL accomplish in the next three to five years, so my focus must be on them.

So, when a great sale on running clothes comes up, or I see something extra delicious at Trader Joe’s, with extra calories to match, the temptation is so great to give in. This gets worse if I’ve had a bad day at work, or if I’m feeling especially venerable. I decided if I have a catchphrase to remind myself, or to smack myself, maybe it will make it less likely to spend or eat too much. Or miss the gym, or be mean, or…

Sometimes the pressure is so great that’s when I’m at my weakest point. And it is then that I really MUST have the strength to ask: How is this helping me? How is reacting emotionally going to help me reach my goal?

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View from Inspiration Point, the Presidio

I had a weak moment earlier this week. It’s a lot harder for me in my fifties to bounce back from eating badly or missing a workout. Unlike just ten years ago, the weight gained doesn’t just fall away. It takes twice as long. But bounce back I did, with two great runs and I’m off to the gym early today, the Saturday of Memorial Weekend.

This isn’t to say that there are no fun things worthwhile spending money on. Last weekend I went to two concerts and saw some great live music. I don’t regret it at all and I know there will be more. Once in a while, I’ll feel like going out to eat, or buying a new outfit as well. But these things can be worked into my budget, not done at the risk of losing sight of my dreams.

Going off my way of eating or budget isn’t the end of the world, but it is a detour and could cause a delay in getting to where I truly want to go. I have to decide if it’s really something worthwhile, which some things are, or if it’s just an emotional trigger. It never hurts to ask myself this before making a choice.

I finished the week with a great 4-mile trail run through the Presidio last night after work. There are so many trails through this corner of San Francisco I love not even knowing where I’ll go and just letting it happen. The weather was perfect and it was an excellent way to start celebrating the long weekend.

Cheers!

The Spire 5-27-16

The Spire, the Presidio