Golden Gate Park

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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SAN FRANCISCO HOT CHOCOLATE 15K, 1-10-16

HC 2016

I’m late with my race report. It’s been a busy week. I’ve been studying as much as I can AND running AND going to the gym AND getting to bed at a decent time AND eating right. So, it’s late.

On my way home from the race expo, which is in the suburb of South San Francisco and not easy to get to without a car, I had decided this would be my last Hot Chocolate race. The jacket this year was just OK, not nearly as nice as last year and the expo itself was disappointing. There were so many people who seemed more excited about free samples than getting in shape that it seemed more like one of those “fun runs” than a race.

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Pre-race in Golden Gate Park

I have nothing against “fun runs”. I think it’s great people want to get out and walk. It’s better than sitting on the couch. But I’m a running. I’m trying to better myself with each race I do. It’s fun, sure, but it’s also a chance for me to PR or go farther than I ever have. Races to me are serious affairs. I enjoy myself, but I am also competitive. Mostly with myself, true, but I want to always do better than I have previously if I can.

The Hot Chocolate expos are usually quite sparse. They have very few vendors and the ones that give away samples are usually over crowded. In fact, at the Lara Bar booth, I nearly got pushed out of the way by a few people. This one guy tried to push me to get ahead of me in line and I stopped him. How rude can people get!

The next morning, I got to the race too early, as usual. I tend to do that at races. So I hung out at the merch tent, huddled with others, trying to stay warm, until they kicked us out. I met some really nice runners, including a couple of marathon runners and I felt more a part of this race.

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Race Goodies and Buster

What made me feel sort of separated to begin with was this year the race directors tried something new. If a runner wanted to be in a starting corral other than just the general, mass one, they needed to show proof of an average pace per mile in a race faster than 12:30 minutes. Since that was my time in my part races (or a little slower), I couldn’t, so I got stuck in a corral with walkers and woggers (runners/walkers). The corral said “No Walkers”, but I don’t think many walkers pay attention to that, to be honest.

Let me just say that I think it’s great people want to be active and go do something, as I’ve said, and I hold nothing against walkers, but it creates problems for runners when these walkers are placed in the same corral or above runners because they we have to run around them, wasting valuable energy.

Hot Chocolate 2016

Love the medal

When the race started, I realized I was running at a faster pace than I had planned. But it felt good! So I kept up this faster pace for the rest of the race. I PR’d my last time by 6 minutes! I love the course. It starts in Golden Gate Park near Stowe Lake, winds through the park to Ocean Beach, going south on the Great Highway to Sloat and back up, through the park, uphill, ending on JFK near the deYoung Museum. It’s pretty level, except for the very gradual up and down hills that if you forget about, will get you.

I’ve decided that I will do the race again next year. With this faster time, I can get into a better corral. And maybe I can PR again.

Cheers!

FIRST RUN OF 2016

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Buster in Golden Gate Park

It was one of the coldest tuns of my life, but this morning’s run was also the first one of the new year. So many possibilities for this Leap Year, so much ahead!

I bundled up in a long sleeved running shirt, Under Armor running tights, hat and gloves, but still felt cold to the bone. Instead of staying up until midnight on New Year’s Eve, I went to bed early and was up just before 5 am. I don’t drink and I’m not much of a fan of celebrating the new year anyway. It’s much more fun for me to be up and out early, even in the cold, to get a run in.

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Icy puddle

There were only a few other early runners and walkers out as the sun peeked sleepily through the trees. It was the perfect morning to be a live, running, enjoying my run, I even enjoyed the cold while I ran.

I have big goals for this year. I reached most of the goals I set for myself last year, only a couple fell short. I got to New York City to see my beloved Rangers and visited the greatest city in the US, I ran my first marathon in 28 years; those were two huge goals I accomplished in 2015.

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It’s cold, do I look cold?? 

For 2016, I have a few things I want to complete.

  • Lose 20 pounds and stay healthy
  • Run 3 marathons
  • Pass my CPT exam and move forward with my career
  • Save money

Those are my goals. I know I can move closer towards them.

Cheers!

PS: If you’re wondering what or who the little feline guy is at the top of the page, that’s Buster. He’s my running mascot. I found him on a run, took a picture, shared it on Facebook and then my friends wanted to see more pictures of him. So, you’ll see more pictures of him. If you have Instagram, he has his own account: @busterrunstheworld and you can follow me at: @Martha_Runs_SF

RAIN, FINALLY!

Rainy GGP

Rain in GGP

California has had a drought for a few years. But this is an El Nino season and time for the rain the earth so thirstily desires. I wanted to get a few miles trail running in after work and I knew that if I didn’t hurry the rain and sunset would catch up with me. The closest place to get to a trail was Golden Gate Park, so I made it just in time.

I got out there as the raindrops started. On a chilly, rainy Friday night, I had the park almost to myself. Golden Gate Park is larger in acreage than Central park in New York City, but in winter in a city made up of so many newb transplants who desire nice weather, you won’t find many who are hearty enough for anything like a rainy evening in the park.

Trail running is a good challenge for me. Even the mild and relatively easy trails in the park are enough to slow me down and take my time, especially around the tall eucalyptus trees. When the rains and winds come around, they lose not only their leaves but their branches and those get hard to notice as the shadows of nightfall get broader and darker. I nearly got tripped up over a couple of them. And, then there are their acorns, those are so easy to slip on when they get wet! Yikes!

As the darkness started overtaking the light, I knew I was getting closer to the end of my run. It’s pretty familiar running grounds for me; I’ve run in the park many times on these trails but the rain started to get a little heavier through the tree branches and I knew it was only going to get colder and wetter.

By the time I got home on the bus, it was pouring and so cold! I was one happy runner! There is NOTHING like finishing a great run, no matter the weather. Non-runners can never understand the true joy we running fanatics have after running in gnarly weather. It’ll be our private joke. *Wink Wink*

Cheers!

THANKSGIVING TURKEY TRAIL TROT

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Early morning in Golden Gate Park

Every year on Thanksgiving, there is a small race in Golden gate Park. This little race raises money for the track department for Lowell High School, so it’s the highlight for many in the San Francisco west side community.

But what happened this year had all of us completely stunned. The race directly Steve, sent us an email the day before letting us know that the UHaul van, holding all of the t-shirt and many of the goodies to hand out after the race, including water and food, was stolen, right from in front of his house!

This was terrible, shocking now. It was taken from a good neighborhood and anyone who knows anything about San Francisco, knows that every neighborhood is expensive. It’s not like there’s a cheap area here any longer.

So, Steve and many race participants scrambled to gather as many replacement items as they could, so we had what we needed for the race, except for the shirts. Which is sad. They’re not performance shirts, they’re white, cotton, but still worn with pride by racers knowing their race fees went towards a good cause.

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Prize Table

When I got to the race, I checked in with people and saw that for the first time, a news station van was there. If it took a theft for the news to cover a race that’s been happening for years, so be it. People were in great spirits waiting for all the races to begin. There were first the kids runs. There were a few different age groups and the kids run with the Turkey, who leads them across the width of the Polo Fields. Then they’re each giving a small stocking filled with candy. Fortunately, those weren’t taken.

After the children’s races, the 5K walk and the 5-mile run began. They start at the same time, but then the 5K turns off and finishes which the 5-miler goes a bit farther. I love this race because it’s mostly on trails throughout the western section of Golden Gate Park.

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My friend Steve and Me 

This year, many runners weren’t used to the trails, it appeared and some tripped and fell. Also, there were a couple loose dogs one runner had. I asked him to please leash his dogs because I nearly tripped on the smaller one who kept running in between us.

Next year the race will come back stronger than ever. I can’t help but wonder why moving companies don’t have GPS on their UHaul trailers though…

I did PR and cut 2 minutes from my previous best time. It was a good race and a great morning.

Cheers!

 

Full Days and a Good Run

My days are nearly completely filled now. Sometimes it takes all my strength and will power to stick to the plan and do what I need to do.

I’m commuting to Oakland now that the office has moved. And it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, but it really is. It takes extra time and energy and being away from the center of a big city during the day is disappointing. But it is life at the moment, so I’m accepting it for now.

Much of my extra time has been spent studying for my NASM personal trainer’s exam. I’ve taken the practice exam a couple times and did well, so I’ll take the final this weekend. Then I’ll be ready to take the CPT exam in July. I need to pass both of those. And I will.

Most of the rest of the time when I’m not sleeping is spent running or going to the YMCA, or planning my runs or workouts. I have two half marathons this summer and a full marathon in December. I love running so much, more than anything else I do in my whole life. Nothing else brings me the joy of the feeling I get when I’m cruising on a great run.

Such as tonight. I ran 4 miles through Golden Gate Park. It was a lovely night. I took some side paths, dirt paths and main roads. I crissed-crossed and looped around. I had no course set before I left home, I just knew I wanted to run 4 miles. It was magnificent.

At the end of the run, Credence Clearwater Revival started playing “Run Through the Jungle” and I ran across a raccoon feasting on some breadcrumbs left out for the ducks at a small pond. It couldn’t have cared less if I was there. Being a Big City Raccoon, it was used to people and had no fear of us, there was dinner to eat!

Raccoon in GGP

My life right now is filled with pressure, stress; there are lots of problems and things to worry about. But I’m going to try my best to quiet down the worries. I know being hard on myself isn’t going to solve anything. But maybe a good run will help, if only for the moment….

Cheers!

Cross Train for Better Running

One of the many reasons why triathlons have become so popular is that it forces the athletes to cross train. We runners can be very narrow-minded when it comes to training and that can really hurt us in the long run. It did me. Switching it up has helped me with my ongoing IT band problems.

This week was crazy busy. I had a running session with a client, kickboxing, yoga, gym visits and managed to get in a couple runs of my own.

This was my first experience with kickboxing and I love it! It was quite the workout too. It worked all the muscles in my body, including many of the leg and core muscles I needed to get stronger and the instructor made it really fun. It was outside along the bay with beautiful weather. I’ll take pictures next time. It was a small group, three students with the one instructor. The course focused on how to kick and punch and then how to do them in sequence. There were also warm-up exercises and cool down ones. In between we had a group of round robin ones that were really fun. As soon as I got home, I signed up for next week’s session. I can’t wait.

After work last night, I ran a couple miles of hills. I’m up of practice and struggled. It was hard and I remembered back when running up Hyde Street wasn’t so difficult. It will take some time for my lungs and legs not to scream at me to stop.

This morning, I woke up early and went to the YMCA. I focused on upper body weight work and leg weight work, doing a bit of stretching but saving most of that for my yoga session later.

On my way to yoga, I stopped for coffee and could feel my muscles tightening from this week’s workouts. I do enjoy that feeling! My yoga session was one-on-one with the instructor. I really liked that because we worked on the group of muscles that I need to get stronger. The Yogi gave me many good poses, altering some of them due to my lack of flexibility. We practiced in Golden Gate Park near the Conservatory of Flowers. It was warm and sunny out, feeling more like summer than winter.  Like my kickboxing class, as soon as was able to, I signed up for next weekend’s class. This is so good for me!

Tomorrow is the Vint group run, which is always fun!

Cheers!

San Francisco Turkey Trail Trot 2014

The Turkey Delights the Kids

The Turkey Delights the Kids

This was the second time I ran the SF 5-mile Turkey Trail Trot. I was looking forward to it for a long time, as last year’s race was great fun. Everything benefits the Lowell High School track team, so the team volunteers, alumni show up and even the Lowell High marching band performs.

I PR’d by about 3 minutes although it would have been more had I not had to take a bathroom break along the course.

It was cold and clear yesterday morning. The race is limited to a small number of runners, but the place was packed by start time. Before the main event, there’s some kids races, which are really fun to watch. Equally are entertaining are the kids’ reactions to the Turkey, who walks around getting pictures with everyone, including Yours Truly.

The race itself is done on the trails and grass of Golden Gate Park. It starts at the Polo Fields and winds around the dirt paths of the park. And it is FAST! The fastest running clocked in at 28:18!!

But it being San Francisco, doesn’t mean the runners aren’t just great runners, they’re also into costumes. Lots of turkeys, pilgrims, Native Americans and foods of every sort, including pies, vegetables and yes BACON!

There were lots of goodies given away a the race as well, and the t-shirt is cool.

The only suggestion I could make to the race directors to make it even better is to not give away all the food goodies until after the race. Much of the food giveaways were given before the race even started to those of us who aren’t jackrabbits didn’t get anything when we crossed the finish line. Luckily, I avoided this with some of the stuff by foreseeing ahead and stowing some things in my bag. But I really shouldn’t have to do this. The goody samples should be for everyone once the race is done. But that’s the only complain I have and it’s a small one. Everything else is so well coordinated and organized. I’m very happy about this year’s race.

It’s always loads of fun for the entire family. Outside of the race, I especially love the raffle after the awards are given away. I won a DVD copy of the movie Elf, but I gave it to a guy who was more than happy to have it.

I can’t wait until next year!

Cheers!

PS: I need to congratulate my friend Steve Snyder for coming in third is his age division! Keep crushing it, Steve!

Beautiful Sunrise

Beautiful Sunrise

Sunday Mornings Are the BEST!

My life these days is fairly predictable. Whether it’s during the week or the weekend, things don’t change that much in my routine outside of work. I’m focused on running and training and healthy eating and all around healthy living and combined with saving money (or trying to) for my new York vacation next year, I don’t have enough funds to go out and do lots of extra things on the weekends anyway.

This morning the alarm went off at 6am. I had a 5-miler and I charted out a course through Golden Gate Park. Today was the very first morning of the season when it felt “chilly”. At 56 degrees, I know it’s not cold to many folks around the country, but for us in the Bay Area at this time of year, it’s cooler than we’re used to. From now until through February, the weather will get colder, reaching the coldest in December.

An Unkindness of Ravens

An Unkindness of Ravens

It was lovely running weather. The skies, even at the park, were a pure blue and at 9am, there were lots of runners, cyclists and others out enjoying the morning. My run felt really good. I started at the Panhandle and went up JFK Drive to Transverse, then cut through to Middle Dr and took a few dirt paths to MLK Dr out to Ocean Beach.

The wind ripped past me at the ocean’s edge. No surfers out today and very few people near the water. It was just too windy to enjoy.

I finished off my run with a blueberry bagel from Safeway and waited for the MUNI bus home.

Cheers!

Cold morning at the beach!

Cold morning at the beach!

THE HUNGER AND DESIRE TO WIN, OR AT LEAST NOT STOP

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(The path at the entrance to Golden Gate Park)

I watch a lot of professional sports. My favorites are baseball (Go Giants), hockey (Go Rangers) and football (Go Niners). This time of year, the NHL is in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the best teams are finding ways to win and move, while the weaker ones go home. Baseball is warming up with ball parks filling up as the calendar moves into summer and our thoughts turn towards shorts, BBQs and easy, lazy afternoons.

When I think of sports in relation to my running, I start thinking about what makes some teams, some athletes, or individuals keep going, even when everything is stacked against them.

This morning I ran six miles through Golden Gate Park to Ocean Beach and then down the Great Highway and back up to Judah Street. It was a good run; I didn’t stop that much, just a couple restroom breaks and then once for the traffic light and a couple more times to drink water or electrolytes. But my runs are getting longer, smoother and a little bit faster.

My biggest problem when I run is to keep running and not stop after a while. To be honest, I want to stop and walk because I get bored running after a while. It’s not a huge problem with six miles, but as I increase mileage, it gets more of a problem when I train for longer races. Like when I trained for my half marathon; running 10 or 12 miles was just dull.

Like the team who has a tough game with an intimidating opponent ahead of them, the mileage can be just as intimidating. Without the right attitude it can be a runner’s downfall. So, like the team who wants to win Sir Stanley’s Cup or the World Championship, to finish even a training run, we have to have a winning attitude. “We CAN run this distance!” We must keep telling ourselves. I was thinking of the comparison to the NHL teams who are hurt and tired and beat up playing in playoff games night after night, as they reach closer to the Stanley Cup Championships. They want nothing more but to end it all, but they have that desire, that longing, that hunger to WIN. And the one who wants it more will get it. So, we CAN run this!

Or course, proper planning and preparation have to go into it. I make sure and not increase my mileage too much, too soon. I’ll be running six miles for my long run two more Sundays. I don’t have another half marathon until September so I don’t mind taking it easier right now, getting my base stronger and maybe a little faster before I start tacking on the miles. And while I’m making my base distance faster, I’m also losing weight.

So, when the times get hard, when we’re tired and all we want to do is get home, take a shower, have our coffee and eat, when all we want to do is STOP we must keep moving….find a mantra that works for you. I choose one like “Keep your feet f**king moving” or “One more step” or “Almost there”. You get the picture. Anything like that will work and don’t stop.

WE CAN RUN THIS!!!