trail running

GOOD FOR THE SOUL RUNS

headlands-sunrise

Sunrise over the Bay

The first part of the year I spent a lot of time increasing mileage. And it wasn’t always enjoyable either. While I increased my mileage, I had to deal with IT band pain and a constant weight battle.

It’s funny, after my disappointing San Francisco Marathon finish, I felt as if a great weight had lifted. I had put so much pressure on myself to do well (I wanted to do BETTER than at CIM (Calif International), that the closer the race got, the more I knew I would be luck to merely finish. After it was all over, I went back and readjusted my training to try something new for the second half of 2016.

This weekend I prepared to go running in the Marin Headlands. I don’t get up there as often as I would like or as I should. It’s so close to San Francisco, yet it feels as if I’m hundreds of miles away. It’s accessible by bus which makes it the perfect place for me to go. No need to spend tons of money on a rental car or wait for someone to go with me (like that happens).

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One of the many uphill parts of the trail

Friday night I bought myself an early Christmas present. I picked up an Osprey hydration pack. It was on sale and I was going to buy one anyway. Sunday was the perfect time to try it out. I’ll get to the review later.

I woke up at 4am and caught the 7:17am Golden Gate Transit bus. It’s a beautiful ride across the Golden Gate Bridge. I reminded myself that the last time I was there in the Headlands, it was foggy, windy and bitterly cold. This time it was a beautiful day. Breezy but not cold, warming in the sun, but not hot. I couldn’t ask for better running conditions.

The first part of the run is always very hard. It’s one mile straight up the side of the mountain, nearly 1,000 feet gain in elevation. Highway 101 gets smaller as the noise disappears once I reach the top. I decided to go to the right, on the SCA Trail. Then it’s level for a very short time, but mostly uphills and downhills, lots of both. The way I took eventually got me to Rodeo Beach the long way around the mountain with much to see and plenty of energy to use.

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Headlands Panorama

When I’m out on the trail, I love the sound of my feet hitting the dirt. I love the sound of the wind wrestling through the brush and the songs of the birds. I love the rhythm that sets in once I find a good pace and it is then when I’m able to relax my mind and exorcise all those toxins I’ve been carrying with me. What negativity I might have had when I got up that morning are gone by the time I finish this strenuous but very worthwhile run and I am tired and happy.

THIS, this very day (!!!) is why I run!!! Find your trail, exorcise your toxins!

Cheers!

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Marin Headlands

Marin Headlands 4-3-16

The best view!

Trail running is near the top of my Running Loves List. I don’t get to go out as much as I would like, without a car it takes a bit more planning and a lot more time. But I managed to get a wonderful day of trail runs in this past Sunday.

As the calendar moves into spring, there is something always going on in San Francisco. That means traffic isn’t going to be easy. The San Francisco Rock & Roll Half Marathon happened on Sunday morning, so there were lots of street closures. I’ve ran that race before and I’m not sure if I’ll do it again. The first four miles are nearly all uphill; it’s one of the most punishing halfs I’ve ever run, so thinking about a second go-through has me wondering if I want to put myself through it again.

It’s not that easy getting to the Marin Headlands on a Sunday via bus. The earliest one doesn’t leave SF until 8am, and the one I wanted, not until 9:30am, so at least I didn’t have to cut my sleep short. The line doesn’t run often either, so when it does it’s usually packed with hikers, nature lovers and out of town visitors. And, the MUNI #76 Marin Headlands line that goes all the way to Roade Beach only runs on Sundays, so it’s not there is a choice of which day to go.

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The Headlands hills are steep but pay off!

As we departed for north of SF, the bus got stuck waiting for runners to pass on Larkin Street. It was towards the tail end of the race and knowing how demanding this race is, I felt for their tired faces.

It wasn’t the warmest day. In fact, later on it became completely overcast and a little windy. But as I took to the trail off Cozelman Rd, the sun was peeking out and helped warm me going up that steep first mile.

Those first two miles are harsh!!! Straight up, up, UP!!!! I ran as much as I could, walking lots, finding myself out of breath even. It’s hard to believe that I can still get out of breath so fast over a silly hill!

But once at the top, few things are as spectacular as that view!

When trail running, it’s the one time it’s guaranteed I won’t be listening to music. The natural sounds around me are so stunning and loud! The birds never stopped singing the entire time I was out there. I forgot how much I love natural sounds. They’ve become so distant to me since living in the city and I miss them terribly.

Marin Headlands Flowers 4-3-16

Wild Flowers!

It took me longer to maneuver through the trails than I thought. Many of them had become a little overgrown with the recent rains. There was lots of poison oak and I do mean TONS of it. I had to be careful moving through it because new branches stuck out everywhere, looking for places to grow and I am highly susceptible to it.

I made it to Rodeo Beach about 1.5 miles short of my goal, but the #76 was due any moment. I decided to catch it back across the Golden Gate Bridge and finish up my distance in the Presidio where I could easily take another bus back home.

I won’t make it such a long time between runs here again, even with the hassle of getting there and back, it’s well worth it.

And even if it means spending a little money, I vow to go on some good trail runs a little farther away from home this year. It really is a blast and worth the money spent.

Cheers!

MARIN HEADLANDS

Vew of SF 12-29-15

View of San Francisco from the top of the trail

I stepped off the bus into the chilly morning air at the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge. It was early enough that few tourists had weaved their way across the Visitors Map to this farthest end. I thanked myself for taking these three days in between Christmas and New Year’s off; it was the perfect time to decompress and get some nice weekday runs in while the was sun up.

The first mile of the Coastal Trail in the Marin Headlands is nearly straight up, so I spent a lot of it running when I could and hiking up as quickly as I could. My time was abysmal, but I’m not used to trail running, especially uphill, so I’ll give myself a pass.

I passed a few people, but not too many. I put my Yurbuds away as I got higher and farther away from the constant hum of 101. Now the music I was enjoying were the sounds of birds, the breeze and my shoes stepping on the dirt and gravel.

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Looking west towards the Pacific Ocean

The trail wasn’t easy; the rains had done a superb job of loosening the small rocks and creating tiny riverlets within the path. I passed a woman who nearly lost her footing going down a steep part of the trail. When the way got extra steep I took my time, even I was running downhill, it was far too easy to lose my footing.

Away from the trees near the start of the path the sun shone warm and it felt great to be on top of the hill. I’ve always loved this area. As I ran, I vowed to visit here at least a couple times a month, even for short runs like today. I need to get to know these trails better.

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A dolphin

I ran around 5 miles in total on trails, which was enough for today. The next time I’ll run more. I walked back to San Francisco via the Golden Gate and looked over at the water, and got to see sea lions swimming without a care in the world. That was a familiar sight, but then I spotted the pod of dolphins! That was a first for me. In all my years I’ve never seen dolphins in the Bay. There must have been a school of fish in the area because there were hundreds of sea gulls around them. It brought a smile to my face that I still have. What a wonderful world. My picture of a dolphin isn’t the greatest, but I only had my phone and it’s all I could get.

I’ll write my goals for 2016 in my next post!

Cheers!

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!