san francisco

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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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!

59 and On….

I’m sitting here, watching a food show on Netflix, thinking about running. I’m sore from my upper body workout at the Y yesterday, as well as my trail run Friday on my 59th birthday. Today’s run is going to be a short one, my trail run was long and tough, but I still don’t want to go. And I just ate, so I have to wait a couple hours more.

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My view of SF from the Headlands

Of course, I could have gone when I first got up, but I was super sore. I really gave it to those dumbbells. It was a great workout. I can start to see the results in my shoulders and arms. Instead, I had coffee, chilled and waited and waited and ate.

And like that, I almost talked myself into not going out at all.

I will go run. Or not.

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Looking across at the road and trail ahead 

Friday’s trail run was in the Marin Headlands, my backyard. I took my birthday off work as usual and headed up there, looking forward to really pushing myself. I wasn’t disappointed. It was a cold, clear day. Because it was a weekday, the area was pretty quiet, just a few tourists on the roads, but hardly any on the trails. I ran 7.5 miles, mostly uphill and downhill. I will do that route again. And I want to improve the next time I do it.

It’s not an easy route. I started at the North Tower Golden Gate parking lot after getting off the Golden Gate Transit bus. Then, instead of going on the SCA Trail up the hill, I stayed on the trail that runs along Conzelman Rd. It’s not a bad elevation increase. It’s steady but gradual, making it possible to continue running nearly up the whole way. I stopped to take some pictures, however, because the view can’t be matched.

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The Rodeo Valley opens up

I cut into the Rodeo Valley up near the top and then after running through its length, made my intensely difficult walk up the Rodeo Valley Trail. It wasn’t possible for me to run this part, it’s just too steep. I did manage to keep a steady and faster pace than in previous runs, which felt pretty good. After my climb, I circled back on the SCA and ran back down to the parking lot. I walked over the bridge and caught a MUNI bus home. It was the perfect birthday.

I push myself hard, at work and at play. I’m much more dedicated than I was when I was younger. I did many things at a younger age I shouldn’t have, so I think deep down I feel I have some time to make up. But, I’m also not as young as I once was and I have to remember that. Once in a while, I need down time. So, that’s what today is.

Tomorrow, on Monday, I’ll be up at 4am and off to the gym at 5am to get the week started right. Where will you be?

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!

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!