racing

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!

 

 

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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!

LET THE LONG RUNS BEGIN!

Much has happened since my past post. I do apologize for not writing anything lately, but things have been busy. Good Busy. I finally feel my life is moving forwards…..

For the longest time, my life felt as if I was stuck in quicksand. Bills were piling up, new emergencies, new fires to put out, my weight loss was at a standstill, or even worse, moving the wrong direction and boom! The “Holidays” just mucked things up more, especially after I got one of the worst colds ever.

But I kept going and the pendulum, as it eventually does, swung in a positive direction.

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The path on Lincoln Blvd in the Presidio

I ran 10 miles this morning. The route I chose was tough, but I have a half marathon at the end of March that’s pretty tough. I started at Land’s End and ran through the trail on the backside of the Presidio down through Crissy Field, past the Marina Green, eventually ending at the Ferry Building on the Embarcadero.

The route has lots of uphills and stairs and it was cold and windy. I took a few small detours and ran through some of the World War II batteries that are scattered throughout the coastline. The only little pain I had was around Mile 6 when my right hip felt a bit sore. I stopped, did some squats and leg swings and it felt good the rest of the run. I feared that it was going to start acting up, but I fought through a little fatigue around Mile 8 and the last two miles were energizing. I could have run longer had I wanted.

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This view is only possible if you take a detour from the regular trail and go through the WWII batteries

My birthday is next Friday and I took the day off work. I plan to run in the Marin Headlands, which will be another tough run.

I’m happy, it’s been a good day.

Keep Moving Forward!

 

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!

I’m on Twitter! Connect with me at: @50fabfitness

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!

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

 

 

Walnut Creek Trail Run

First I want to congratulate everyone who ran the NY Marathon today! What an amazing race it was and always is! Geoffrey Kamworor and Shalane Flanagan winning Men’s and Women’s respectively, were exciting to watch. I teared up watching Flanagan, knowing how many years she’s battled for a first place and imagining what it must be like for her. It teaches us once more, never give up! Never, ever, ever give up!

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Mt Diablo is far in the distance

This morning, I decided to try a new place out for a trail run. 2018 is going to be a year of trail running for me, so I got on BART and headed to Walnut Creek to run on some trails in the My Diablo foothills.

Unfortunately, I miscalculated how far the trails were from BART and I walked a bit farther to the trails than I thought. I also didn’t get to the trail I thought I had, and wound up backtracking a couple miles. The paths I were first at were nice, but they were paved and not great with my trail shoes. But walking miles on the concrete sidewalks wasn’t much fun in my Saucony Peregrines either. By the time I got to the desired trail, I was pretty worn out, so I cut my run short. My feet and legs were getting sore and heavy.

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One of the many trails 

I still enjoyed myself, but it’s too difficult getting out there via public transportation. There are much easier trails to get to in Marin County. That’s the problem with much of the Bay Area, it’s great if you have a car, but if not, it’s not accessible.

Lessons learned of course and I liked the shorter run I did have. It’s been a nice weekend.

Keep going 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!

YMCA CHINESE NEW YEAR RUN and a little more….

Despite a sore quad muscle, I ran the Chinatown YMCA’s annual 5K Chinese New Year’s Eve run. My leg felt good until the last mile, but by then, I had kept up a decent pace and was determined to keep running. I had told myself that if it hurt too much, I would walk, but I didn’t have to walk any part of the race. Because it hurt, however, I knew that I wouldn’t be running again for at least a couple more weeks.

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Grant St before the start of the race

My birthday is this week. My stepmom, Eleanor, lives in North Florida and is one of the few family members I have left. She planned to make the trip to see me this year instead of me flying out there as I usually do. I’ve been looking forward to it a while, so I took the week off. The race was a nice start to my vacation. Monday was President’s Day, so it was great turning a long weekend even longer as well.

And then, Monday morning as I was having breakfast, I suddenly felt a hard object in my mouth. One of my back molars had chipped! This was not unexpected. My dentist had told me that because it had had a very large filling years ago, it was bound to break and in turn will probably need a root canal and crown. Ouch! As happens in life, the timing sometimes sucks.

So, this morning, I spent the day at the dentist. This afternoon, I met up with Eleanor, which cheered me up. The good news is I haven’t felt any pain since. The bad news is that even with dental insurance, I’ll still have to pay the majority of the costs.

But, I’m not going to let it get me down. Tomorrow is my birthday and Eleanor and I are going to have a great day!

Keep Moving!