training

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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Hard Weeks, Easy Weeks

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My 50k is October 6th. Leading up to the day of the race, I have two more long training runs alternating with easier weekend runs. A week ago I ran 17 miles in the Headlands. It was a hard, dirty, very hilly run, but I did it.

The hard, long kind of runs are my very favorites, but they take everything out of me. I’m not yet at the point when I can do them week after week, so I take an easy weekend in between. Yesterday, I ran a much shorter trail run with my friend Trish. But just because it was shorter doesn’t mean it was easy! We went to the Peninsular, running in the San Mateo County Park, Huddart Park.

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It’s absolutely stunning there! The scraggly old oaks mix with the redwood trees, the scent of pines and deep woods permeates throughout the parking lot and campsites we passed.  And it’s easy to get there from San Francisco. Located just off the 280 Freeway, the park lies above the quaint town of Woodside. There are a dozen trails within the park. Some of them are short and easy while some lead to other areas farther into the mountains if you’re looking for a really long, epic run.

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Some elevation! 

We ran on single track trails for most of it, then headed up a particularly nasty incline on a fire road before deciding not the push ourselves to the max. Heading back down the way we came up the trail, I knew it was the right choice. This week isn’t about maximum distance and hard runs, it’s about getting a good run in and healing for my hard run next weekend. And even with this “easier” run, we still managed to get over 1400 ft elevation gain.

Huddart Park did not disappoint. We will run there again and I don’t think it will be too long from now either.

Next weekend, back to the high mileage and fun!! That’s what I said, F-U-N!!!

Keep Moving Forward!

 

THREE DOCUMENTARY REVIEWS

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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!

 

Why Am I Doing This Again??

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The beautiful Mt Tamalpais trails!

There are times during a training run when I ask myself “why am I doing this to myself?” It’s painful beyond belief. It can be disheartening and exhausting, lonely and maddening all at once. And I don’t have the answers. All I know is that I want to push myself. I want to go farther than I ever have before. Maybe it’s my ego that drives me to things I probably shouldn’t, or maybe a sense of adventure. It could be insanity, I’m not sure what it is, but here I am, less than two weeks away from what is the hardest race of my life, The Ridge, 37K.

It won’t be the longest race of my life, but it will be the most difficult. 23 miles, 5400 feet elevation gain, I’m frightened. And after my long run this past Sunday, I don’t feel any better. In fact, I feel a little worse about the whole affair. If it were a little farther off, I might defer it, but I don’t want to lose my entry fee.

So, I go forward, fear and all.

This past Sunday I ran a 17-mile trail run that didn’t go as planned. Many things went wrong. I don’t own a car and I wanted to get up to the Mt Tamalpais area where part of my race will be, so I had to take two different bus systems to get there. I didn’t get started running until 9:00am, so much later than I wanted to, so it was getting warm by then. It took two hours of bus rides and waiting for buses. I was impatient to get going.

The first part of the run was great. There were technical trails filled with roots and rocks, so I had to pay attention to every step and take it slow. But I missed the trail I wanted to take and wound up going down another trail. I didn’t think it would matter because according to the map, I could easily switch over to a trail in the next valley. Unfortunately, that trail was inaccessible. I had to double back up a mile and a half a steep trail without much shade.

I thought about quitting and just taking the Dipsea Trail back to San Rafael, but somehow, I kept going, finding the trail I originally wanted and going down that for a few miles. But, by that time, if I had kept going, it would be far more miles than I wanted to go, so I would up climbing through the fence of the closed trail, crossing a creek on slippery thin logs, I did NOT slip (!!) and getting stung by stinging nettles. It was worth it! Better than doing too many miles.

I finished this training run down the endless steps of Dipsea, waiting for the Golden Gate Transit bus #17. The southward route back home took three hours.

I’ve questioned my sanity these last couple of days. Why am I doing this? I don’t have an answer. If I finish this race, I’ll let you know then.

Keep Moving Forward!

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I think I brought home more dirt than I left! 

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!

VACATION GRINDING

June has been a month of extremes. There were amazing peaks and deep valleys. So much of a roller coaster, I’m relieved that tomorrow is July, to be honest and that I’m on vacation until July 9th. I need a break!

The 6-hour endurance run One Day on June 22nd was a big highlight! I loved it. It took everything out of me and was as hard as any race I’ve ever did, but I truly enjoyed it. Rarely have I loved an event as much as that one! I can’t wait to do the 12-hour even New Year’s Eve!!

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Amazing views from the Barracks to the Bluffs Trail

As much as I loved that one, I was crushed when I didn’t get the part-time personal trainer position I wanted at a YMCA here in SF. I had two interviews, so I know I was one of the finalists, but in the end, I wasn’t right for the job. I know there is a reason and that there is something better around the corner, but it is still difficult to continue to look and look and be positive. I’ve spent so long looking for one that It’s difficult to keep my chin up. But I will.

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Sunset on the Pacific

And tomorrow is July. That is the shining light. And I’m on vacation. That light keeps getting brighter. Because I don’t have much money, I’m having fun at home. How do I have fun? Running of course! I have vowed to make every one of my runs a trail run! I can do this being on vacation by going to various places during the day. I started this last night by running from Baker Beach up the Barracks to the Bluffs trail. I then turned around and went down the trail along Lincoln Ave.

I had gone this same way last Sunday on my long run up to the Headlands but I felt stronger last night taking the steep hills and steps on this trail. It’s only two miles, but it’s a really tough two miles. I decided to run this every Friday until my race. It will be good practice for my 37k.

So, here’s to working hard and having fun running through my vacation!

Keep Moving Forward!

Canyon Meadow Trail Half Marathon

Canyon Meadow….. such a nice name. It conjures peaceful green fields of wildflowers lilting gently in the spring breeze. It belies the hard race of the same name. Coastal Trail Runs put on this race yesterday, June 16th in the gorgeous Oakland hills and I took part in the half marathon distance. What a hard and fun course it was!

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Beautiful views were to be had throughout the race

My friend picked me up at 6:00am and we rode to the East Bay with hardly any traffic on the road. If only travel was this easy all the time! The start and end was in the Chabot Science Center’s parking lot, right in the Oakland Hills next to Roberts Recreational Area. I’ve lived in the Bay Area all my life and have never been in this part of the East Bay. It just goes to show how much there is to do here. It was a slightly chilly morning that blossomed into a warm day. The morning clouds evaporated, leaving bright sunshine.

The day included a 5K, a Half Marathon, a 30K, a Marathon and a 50K. 400 people signed up in all, which is considered a large crowd for trail racing. There are hundreds of trails here, some easy and some very difficult. This course included all kinds. As you can see by the picture of the half’s terrain, the first part was mostly downhill, then flat, then mostly uphill. That one steep uphill….it was a KILLER!!! About a half mile straight up, that tested all of our lungs, legs and hearts.

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Beast of a hill around Mile 8!!

I am not a fast runner, at all and on the trails, I slow even more, so I brought up the rear. I wasn’t the last of the half runners, but I was in the back for sure. And I don’t mind. I took a few pictures and helped out a gal who brought water and sugary foods instead of electrolyte mix and salty snacks. She was suffering from bad leg cramps due to loss of salt. I gave her most of my Skratch mix and walked with her a little bit. I offered to walk with her to the next aide station, but she told me she would be ok. She finished about 20 minutes after I did. I hugged and congratulated her, very happy she finished strong!

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The start line

When it’s warm out, it’s a much better idea to drink electrolyte mix and eat things like potato chips, salted potatoes, pretzels, mustard, dill pickle juice, etc than chews, Gu or anything sweet. Your body is losing tons of salt, so if you don’t replace it, your body will tell you and it’s no fun.

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These trails cannot be beat!

The course was superbly beautiful, one of the best trails I’ve ever run on. It was challenging and ever changing. It was mostly well-marked, there was only a couple times when I questioned which way to go, but I didn’t get lost, so that’s a plus!

My friend and I finished about a minute apart and enjoyed a great lunch in Berkeley after the race. I’m very proud of my effort, even though I hadn’t really trained for this one, all of my training going for the 6-hour endurance race I did a couple weeks ago. I’d like to do this one again, but this time, get some real work in beforehand.

Enjoy your running, enjoy the outdoors! Keep Moving Forward

STOP BEING WEAK

There are a couple things in running that irritate me. One is walk/run types who stop ahead of me without notice and the other is irrational, hysterical fear of running outside (normally from females) by oneself.

It used to be in history that women never did anything by themselves. We were considered The Weaker Sex. We were good for staying home, taking care of the children, and cleaning the house. When women gained independence and free choice, it didn’t come without costs, of course in many areas. But I’m just talking about running here.

Crime in the United States is decreasing. We are safer than ever as a country. More women are running and more and more are running by themselves. This would have been unheard of in the 1960s even. But there are still many women who live in fear of being by themselves because they are glued to the nonstop storyline of how horrible it is for women.

I blame the media partially for this. They show the rare kipnapping, the attacks and recent violent crimes nightly on repeat. They do not tell you that crime numbers are declining. And even worse, are the dozens of dramatic television shows focusing on the violent abuse against women. Shows like Criminal Minds only help to magnify the myth of strangers out to prey on females. Viewers who still take their nightly news as truth believe everything fed to them. Their world looks like a monstrous, scary place. Stop watching this stuff if necessary, especially before bed. Watch some lightheated comedy instead.

Sometimes, it is the woman’s partner that exacerbates the situation. A husband tells his wife he doesn’t think it’s safe where she wants to run and unhappily, she doesn’t go running. There’s a lot at work here and definitely something that has to be talked out within the couple. All I’m going to say here is I’m very happy I’m single.

Running is about happiness to me and being fearful is the opposite. Running is also about confronting our fears and sometimes, we have to stare our fears in the face and tell them to Go The Fuck Away.

Now, I’m not saying to go run and not think. Bad things do happen, but if you run smart, you can run alone and enjoy it! Just be a smart solo runner. Here are some tips:

  • Know your surroundings. If possible walk or drive around the area you wish to run if you’ve never visited it before.
  • Wear visible clothing. Black may be cool, but bright colors are better.
  • Turn your music down so you can hear everything around you. But it’s good to have your phone with you
  • Don’t stop to give directions or chat with strangers. Pretend you didn’t hear them and keep running. As a city girl, this is something I do daily, but I don’t think country folk understand; it’s OK not to talk to everyone.
  • Run in the street if it’s quiet and unnerving
  • If it’s dark, always, always wear a headlamp, or some sort of light to see your way and that allows others to see you
  • Run opposite of traffic
  • If someone starts to bother you, scream obscenities at them, as loud as you can, attract attention
  • Bring a loud whistle
  • If you insist on carrying pepper spray, mace, etc, learn how to use it prior to need. Just having it won’t help if you do not have the instincts to use it in the seconds necessary.

We are Runners, not delicate flowers. Stop fearing the world. Be strong. Be fierce. And have fun.

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!

 

DO IT NOW!!!

I lay in bed last night, knowing that if I was going to actually get my cards in a row, I had to do it now, not a few days from now, but this week. Or at the very least, start doing things right.

It was pouring rain last night and I didn’t feel like walking to the gym. It’s abut a mile and a half walk and I usually love the walk through downtown San Francisco, but through the windy, cold pouring rain, I wasn’t up for it. And for the rest of the night and even today, I felt guilty for it. It was one workout, just one, that I missed.

The simple truth is, if I don’t put 10% effort into getting into prime shape and losing weight, I won’t lose it. I can’t go half-assed about this. I’m in my 50s and weight loss doesn’t happen without complete commitment. And I’m ready to commit to it.

I passed my Personal Trainers renewal Sunday. I had studied weeks for it. I was so happy, that I allowed myself too much celebration I think.

But it is time to put the effort into my training. And also, into this blog. So, my friends, the time is NOW. Don’t put anything off, don’t wait until it is too late!

Keep Moving Forward!