sports

Two Weeks’ Worth

I was going to write about the fall I took a couple weeks ago. But somehow, I kept putting off. The words wouldn’t come out. It was officially the worst trail run I’ve ever had. I will tell you about it as I catch up on my runs of the last two weeks.

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A trail in Tilden Park

That Sunday, I was supposed to run 22 miles, my second longest run before my first 50k. I have one more long run of 26 miles three weeks before my 50k. I went out to the Headlands early and started running at 7:00am. It was a beautiful morning, nice and cool.

At Mile Seven, I took the Coastal Trail to Tennessee Valley Road. I had never taken this part of the Coastal Trail before. I didn’t realize just how steep it was. I traded carefully, taking my time going down, mostly stepping sideways, all the way down. I was so proud of myself making it all the way down safely that I stopped thinking about watching my footing when it happened.

I didn’t see that little rock jutting out on the trail. THUMP! Down I went! Head first! Into the dirt! The first seconds laying in the dirt, I assessed the damage. Nose broken, nope, any missing, loose teeth, all good, bleeding chin, gotta deal with that, forehead hurts. I lifted myself from the dirt, arms in pain, knees scratched up and was immediately thankful nothing was twisted or broken. At least I was close to the big Tennessee valley Trail. And I had a full bottle of plain water. I was sore and it hurt to walk, but I could walk, because I had a long ways to go to the bus stop. If there had been coverage there, I would have just ordered Lyft, but no signal. So, it was a long six miles.

Walking that far turned out to be a good thing. I started out furious that I fell. Furious that I couldn’t finish my run. Furious that I couldn’t afford a car. Furious that not one single person asked if I was ok. Mad at the world, I was.

By the time I got to the Golden Gate stop, I was tired and not quite as upset as I was. I had a lot of time to think. Falls happen, right? Everyone falls, not just me. And I’m ok. So, I’ll go with that.

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Scratched up legs!

I still needed to get miles in, so this past week, I had two back to back runs, totaling 18 miles. I hope it’s good enough. Saturday, I enjoyed a trail run in Tilden Park in the East Bay. It was warm, which I like, and the trails were hard, but a lot of fun. This is a top-notch park that fills many acres which hundreds of miles of trails. I’m never bored running there. Even without a car, it’s easy to get to as well on public transportation.

On Sunday, I stuck to a road run, going from Downtown to Golden Gate Park, via the Presidio. It was the perfect length. I’d never ran two long runs in a row and I have to saw that it wasn’t easy. My legs and hips were both tired. It was fun though!

In between, I got some good runs around the city, and am enjoying our lovely warm, late summer weather.

Sometimes running is really hard and it hurts. Sometimes, it’s wonderful and glorious and everything I want it to be. My scratches and bruises from my fall are near gone, but just like the old saying, I am stronger and more determined to reach my goals.

Keep Moving Forward!

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THREE DOCUMENTARY REVIEWS

Solstice

So, I’m recovered from my race Saturday and putting together my training for my 50k in October. To get in the spirit, I’ve been watching running documentaries, ultra running ones. I thought I’d write about three of them specifically.

I’m a fool for a great ultra running documentary. I’ve seen all the ones on Berkley and the ones about the ultra race in the Himalayas. I’ve watched (I think), every one of the Western States docs, and I include one here in my reviews. So, here’s my thoughts about a few of the different ones you can find on Amazon Prime.

BOUNDLESS

The first is a TV show from Canada called Boundless. It’s a few years old, premiering in 2013, so I hope certain things have changed. I am only going by what I saw in the show. The show is about two Canadian adventure junkies who try some of the most difficult races in the world. They come off as arrogant, egotistical, snobbish and not anything like any trail runner I’ve ever met. In fact, they are the opposite. Simon Donato is so keyed in on winning, that he refuses to help a fellow running who ran out of water on an ultra race in Mongolia. Dude, you freakin help out each other. The other host, Paul Trebilcock (Turbo), seems a bit more likable, although his ego also gets in the way. In fact, the best episodes are when they completely underestimate the race and it bites them in their butts. Check out the SUP Hawaii race. The best episode ever!! And you would think they’d learn from these constant setbacks to stop being such arrogant jerks, but they never do.

Boundless lasted three seasons. In Season 3 they add two more athletes. The only reason I can think of is because the show needed more likability? I’m not sure if the two new hosts add anything, they don’t have much personality.

There are good reasons to watch, if you can tolerate the hosts’ obnoxious behaviors. The scenery is magnificent. The races are terrific. Although I winced at Donato’s claim that The Copper Canyon Ultra is the “Holy Grain” of ultra races. Yeah, I think Barkley has that title.

ULTRA HIGH

A few years ago, a 137-mile race was established in the Himalayan mountains. The first year, only one runner finished. The second year, a couple more completed it. Ultra High (2014) is about the race’s third year. This is a well-done doc about the 60-hour race through the highest mountains on earth. And it’s exciting all the way through. We never know who finishes first, but we feel what they go through; the exhaustion, the disturbance of continually passing traffic on the dusty mountain roads, the constant desire to finish in spite of mountain sickness and sometimes, asthma.

The race has grown since the first year. Now there are fully coordinated support teams and doctors throughout. Every athlete is looked after as much as possible. But, they are still racing at the top of the world and it is incredibly dangerous.

This is a great doc and at 70 minutes, perfectly timed. Definitely worth watching!

SOLSTICE

Out of the three, this is easily my favorite. I really love this doc In fact, it’s my very favorite out of all the ones about Western States. Director Andy Hoffman did a superb job showing how a 100-mile rookie took on the challenge in her own way. She wasn’t a professional athlete and had her own physical limitations. But that’s why I liked it so much. Yes, I am inspired by the pros; they’re dedication to their sport is incredible. But I am even more inspired by people like myself who go out and do amazing things. This is one of those stories. If it doesn’t inspire you to go out and do something great, I’m not sure what will. This is a MUST WATCH!

 

SELF-FULFILLING PROPHESIES

I’m gearing up for The Ridge 37k Trail Race in a little less than three weeks. I ran a 14-mile trail run this past Sunday and I’ll get in an 18 or 19-mile trail run this Sunday. I feel good, I wasn’t too sore afterwards and I got some strength training (lifting) in last night at the gym.

It was another quiet morning in the Marin Headlands Sunday. The weather was cold, windy and foggy, again. I know I should be happy it wasn’t hot like the rest of the country, but I really dislike being cold. The good part about cooler weather is there are less people and the animals come out.

So, the coyote in the below pictures was just standing in the path as I came up to him, relaxed as can be. He was chill. It was as if he was would say “Sup, Dude?”

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I clapped my hands and shouted for him to get away. He sauntered off a few feet, stretched and proceeded to clean himself, without a care in the world. I smiled, took a few pictures; unlike the mountain lion I saw a couple weeks ago, he wasn’t in any hurry to run away; and kept running. That was cool and I loved the rest of my run as well.

As I run these long, relatively quiet runs in the hills, I think of a lot of things. This time I thought about how some people don’t seem to understand how what they think determines who they will act.

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Self-fulfilling prophesies are very real. If I don’t believe I can accomplish a goal, it probably won’t happen, at least not in the way I wish it would. I have a much greater chance of finishing a goal successfully if I positively reinforce myself from beginning to end. Many beginning runners, especially if they start running later in life, don’t have much self-confidence. Perhaps they are overweight, very shy, afraid of looking foolish, afraid they will fail, afraid they won’t fail. There are a lot of reasons we talk down to ourselves, none of them will help us.

Running is a long term, lifelong venture. It takes months to learn and years to become good. Sometimes new runners don’t understand how much work it takes and become discouraged, it happens. But if they stick with it and maintain a positive attitude and an open mind, all the while learning how to be a better runner, they can also find out how magnificent a sport it is.

But this will never happen if the runner thinks starting out that they’ll always be slow, that they’ll always be a terrible runner, blah blah blah blah…..

None of us know what the future will bring. None of us know what our running will be like. Don’t limit your future by closing the doors and windows of your mind. Open them all up! Enjoy the journey, enjoy running!

Keep Moving Forward!

Bay to Breakers 2018

It’s been a long time since I ran those 12 kilometers across San Francisco. Since the 1990s, although I can’t give you the exact year. It’s all a bit blurry. Back then, I ran it every year. It was A LOT smaller then. In the 80s when I started running, there were about 20,000 runners, most did run, there were few walkers, and we ran to Ocean Beach and partied our butts off at the Polo Fields. The beer trucks offered unlimited free beer for all, as well as food samples. We’d be passed out by noon. It was quite the party!

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Waiting for the beginning

Then it got too big. I remember the last time doing it, over 80,000 participated. That was when the walkers and non-runners started joining in. There were too many problems with drunks and the race had to change.

So, the race directors put a stop to a few things. There used to be floats, those were banned. The floats at the end of the race were gone (which were really fun and a huge part of the festivities), and they did their best to get rid of all visible alcohol, or as much as possible. The also cut the race back to 40,000 participants, most of whom are still walkers, or so it seemed today.

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Hayes St Hill (stock photo)

I have no problem with walkers, although today I really wished they had been honest about their pace and started in the Walkers Corral, but I got over it after running around a few thousand of them. At the beginning of the race, the walkers were blocking every area. They were all walking six, seven in a row on the left and right, everywhere. It was insane. But I realized that if I didn’t change my grumpiness about it, it would spoil the day for me, so I just took it in stride and kept running.

I decided to run it for nostalgia’s sake. I’m NOT a nostalgic person usually. I rarely look backwards as I’m too busy looking foward. I’m not the type of person who sighs, wistfully looking at how life used to be. That’s how you get old. And I refuse to get old. Nope, you stay young by constantly moving forwards, working towards a future, attainable, albeit challenging goal.

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This is what I ran for today! 

I had a good race today. For the first time, they offered an additional 3k along with a cool second medal, so I went for it. And it was my favorite part of the race, as most people doing this section were runners. I took everything in stride, laughed at the great costumes, ran away from the naked people (there were a few), and met some really nice people.

Even with one pit stop, my time was good. It was a productive day and I’m happy I did it. I won’t be doing it again, as it’s really a part of my past, but it holds a special place in my heart. San Francisco wouldn’t be right without the Bay to Breakers. It’s an amazing moving block party that can also be called a race. You should try it just once, but do it with an open mind and a great sense of humor. Costumes are optional but never a bad idea!

Keep Moving Forward!

 

 

ALL TRAIL WEEKEND

This past weekend, I spent part of each day on trails and it was magnificent.

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Part of my favorite trail in GGP

Right after work Friday, I zipped home, changed and headed out to Golden Gate Park.  The weather was great, sunny, but a bit breezy, so perfect for a trail run. I only get to run the trails in Golden Gate Park half the year. When it’s too dark after work, the park isn’t safe, so I run elsewhere, but when the sun is out, it’s near magical. I dashed through 3.5 miles worth along the north side of the park, from Stanyan Street to Ocean Beach. Afterwards, I watched the wind surfers having fun in those cold waves before heading home.

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Ocean Beach is always active!

Saturday night, I volunteered at a Pacific Coast Trail Runs Night Sweats, featuring a marathon, 15k and an 8k. All distances started and ended at night, meaning the runners had to navigate through steep inclines, declines and single tracks in darkness. It’s a challenging and fun course. My friend Michael and I manned an aide station at a turnaround point near the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge.

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Before the Night Sweats races

It was really chilly out when the sun set below the hills, so we huddled in Michael’s SUV watching the prepped tables, waiting for the runners. There were only a few marathoners, so they showed up one by one, with 5 to 10 minutes between each other.

The wait wasn’t boring, though, because the area hosts a number of different wild animals. At first, a racoon came to see what kind of food we had. I chased it away. Then a half-dozen foxes scampered though the area.  You have to figure there’s plenty of rodents to keep them healthy with all the goodies the tourists leave behind in the disposal bins. Then an hour or so after the foxes, the coyotes prowled around, curious over us. There were two of these. One was pretty big and he walked onto the parking lot as if he owned it.

Little flashes of headlights alerted us to upcoming runners on the trail above. They had to run down to us, where they’d get the nutrition they needed and head back up. Ours was the last aide station and then the runners had 6 more miles of trail left to the finish. It’s not an easy course in the day, let alone at night and several runners had fallen, but all seemed to be ok.

We stayed at the station until the sweepers came through, at about 1:30am and then headed back to San Francisco. I got to sleep around 3:00am.

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There are hundreds of trails in the Headlands

Waking up at 10:00am Sunday, I felt rested and ready for the day. It was going to be nice too. I waffled between just getting a run in the city or going back to the Headlands like I had planned. After all, it was late and I wasn’t sure if I could get ready in time to catch the bus. I went for it and got breakfast, coffee and changed, all in time to catch the special weekend MUNI bus that goes into the Headlands.

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View of Rodeo Beach from above

I ran a little over 6 miles and loved it all. It was a spectacular day in an enjoyable weekend. It is times like this that make me love running even more, if that’s possible. There’s no downside to running, at least none that I can think of at the moment.

Keep Moving Forward!

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!

HERE & NOW

Buffy

A great tragedy struck recently. Netflix didn’t get a new contract with Fox entertainment so they are cancelling Fox shows effective April 1st. This includes my favorite television show of all time, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. No shows has been able to show the angst, pains and loves of growing up quite as well as Buffy. Combining searing drama with humor and a little horror, plus even a musical episode, Buffy has been my favorite since its inception.

And now it’s going away…..

Because of its impending disappearance, I’ve been watching as many of the 7 seasons as I can. One reason why I loved this show so much is that it took time to bring out life’s problems and dealt with them in a very well-written, entertaining way, sometimes with vampires, other times with the Apocalypse or even worse. Yes, worse!

So, there was one episode I watched last night, “Normal Again” in Season 6, that really hit home. It was one where the evil trio of the time, Warren, Andrew and Jonathan created a demon who stung Buffy and made her think that her whole life was just her imagination and that she was really confined in a mental hospital. The demon made her think that everything that was real was false and that she should stay in the created world because the false one (the one with her friends in Sunnydale) was part of her sickness.

It would have been easy for Buffy to stay in the safe place, in her imagination. To stay with her mother and father (who in her imagination had not divorced but were happy together). It would have been simple to live in a comatose state, her brain thinking that the pretend world was real.

But she couldn’t. She had an evil to fight and had to find a way to reality.

We also have to fight our way to reality. It’s very easy to dream of what our lives might be like. I find myself doing this a lot, especially when things aren’t going so well, like now. I think of what my life would be like living in an area where I could hear birds singing from my apartment, or hey, having green grass to walk on, instead of hopping over dog poop. I dream of having enough money to pay my bills rather than choose between paying a bill and buying fresh produce. It is a challenge.

But the more we daydream and pull ourselves away from what we need to do, what we MUST do, the more we pull ourselves away from the Here & Now.

We must focus on what is to be done, today, right now, this very moment. If we can complete today’s tasks, then our tomorrow will be brighter. This is a fact!

Keep Moving Forward!

PONDERINGS IN A CONGESTED FOG….

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So, I’ve had a cold for a few days. I don’t feel too bad any longer. I did make it to work today. It felt great to leave the house and be in contact with other people. I contemplated going for a run tonight, but decided against it, figuring I will go out tomorrow night instead. I’ll rest one more evening and be more than ready for an easy run Thursday night.

During my down time, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking (and eating unfortunately). I thought about starting another website to promote health and fitness for folks 50 and over, but then I reminded myself that even though that sounded like a great idea, one is enough for me and I can combine whatever I want to do within here.

Eventually, I will add more to this site. There will be more in 2017. I will add more recipes, more health info and a lot more content, especially for those of us who are no longer on the shy side of 40. I will be adding interviews with inspirational and professional people I think readers will enjoy. I’m excited about the improvements and additions I’ll be including and I really can’t wait for 2016 to end. I will write more about how the year was for me, but it’s not making an easy ending for me, I’ll say for now.

Until my Holiday post, I hope you don’t drink too much egg nog (there’s like a thousand calories in that stuff), keep working out, be kind to those around you, (we’re all stressed out) and take a little time out to appreciate what’s really important ( the material things aren’t it).

Cheers!

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View from the top of Kearny Steps

WELCOME FALL AND GEAR REVIEW

If you ask me when the best time to visit San Francisco is, I would say early October. The weather is warm and there’s less chance of high layered fog and wind. The city always gets late summer here and I wait anxiously for it.

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Sun Setting Earlier Over the Bay Bridge

In my older years I’ve grown to not like the cold much. In fact, I plan to move to a warmer climate in a few years. Until I can afford to do this, I’ll enjoy these warmer days we have right now…..

This past weekend, I run a couple great runs in the warmer weather. I’m soaking in the sun as much as I can, as the nights are getting darker faster and soon I won’t have that wonderful Golden Gate Park trail to run Friday evenings any more.

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View of Aquatic Park & the Bay

I also invested in some new running gear. I bring many items with me on my runs. I don’t own a car, so it’s essential I have everything with me when I go out. Must haves for me on a run are: phone, keys, glasses, water, mascots Buster and Alfredo.

I have an Ultimate Direction hydration vest I really like. I’ve owned it for two years and it’s the best pack I’ve ever owned. But it is bulky and sometimes I’d rather not wear a big vest.

Just recently I purchased an Ultimate Direction Access 10 Plus waist pack. I’ve used it for a week now and really like it for the most part. What I appreciate about it is it doesn’t move around, it stays where I want it to stay. The small water bottle is perfect for short runs under 10 miles, which is just when I want to wear it. It has two pockets which is better than the usual one pocket styles I’ve seen. There is another waist pack with a larger bottle, (the Access 20 Plus), but I’m not sure if the pockets are larger.

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Access 10 Plus

The minuses, there’s only one negative about it is that the pockets are small. The first, to hold my phone doesn’t hold my phone if I have headphones plugged in, and I don’t have a giant phone. I have a Galaxy S6 Edge, so it’s not huge, but I have to keep it unzipped a little if I want to listen to music. The second pocket is barely big enough for my glasses and keys. I’m afraid I’ll break my glasses because they have to squish in there sometimes if I need to add fuel for the road.

Ultimate Direction makes great big waist packs, but that’s too much for a shorter run. If they made this one with one of the pockets even a half inch longer, that would make all the difference.

As a company, I highly recommend U.D.’s products. Their customer service and gear are top of the line. The pricing is good and delivery is fast. Just make that pocket a teeny bit bigger and I will recommend the Access 10 Plus 100%. 😉

Cheers!

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!!!