Wednesday, November 2, 2011


I've learned that I associate running with my best self. When I go through a dry spell, not training, it indicates that the rest of my life is a little messy or worn down. Running strips away something like what Virginia Woolf called "the cotton wool of everyday life" so that there is nothing between my intimate insides and the air and light and landscape unfurling under my sneaker treads. It's release through motion.

Amanda Gladin-Kramer, Runner's World reader

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


There is something magical about running; after a certain distance, it transcends the body. Then a bit further, it transcends the mind. A bit further yet, and what you have before you, laid bare, is the soul.

Kristin Armstrong, Mile Markers blog at Runner's

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A long(er) rest...

It's been a little over two weeks since the Bizz Johnson race. I was very sore. I had no problem taking the week off. But then one week turned into two... and started creeping into three! Yesterday I went for a short run around Lake Merritt. It felt good to be out there again. I missed my runs. But it scares me how easily I can fall out of this routine. It also seems that I am an 'all or nothing' type of person. Without the running routine, I didn't take my supplements or give much thought to healthy eating. It's easy to get down on myself for all of this... but I try to remember that I just need to take that first step back into it...


Running has opened up so many adventures for me, not just in the trails I run or new routes, but also in the friendships I've made and the confidence it has given me.
Meleah Shank, runner and spinning instructor

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Bizz Johnson - Express Half 2011

Again... too much time has passed without entries... sigh... This weekend I did the Bizz Johnson Express Half Marathon (my third half marathon), a race that I have been looking forward to for at least a year! I discovered it last year when I stumbled upon Michael McCollough's photos on the Coastal Trail Runs site...

Thankfully I decided not to do the Full and to stick with the Half. Let's just say the altitude kicked my butt!!

I started out feeling good, not as out of breath as I expected. I kept a steady, comfortable pace going, and with the slight downhill grade was feeling confidant. Soon, I pushed just a little to get by a few run-walkers and a group of chatty women. And with only 185 runners total, spent much of the time all by myself, quite fine with me. The scenery is just breathtaking and I kept reminding myself to 'be here now'... The weather, which had been a concern, was stunning. Just perfect in fact. Cool, crisp air with a warm sun. Clear, clear, clear. And I had layered correctly.

I think it was somewhere around mile 8 that I started to feel the uh-oh... my legs HURT... and the voice of negativity was LOUD... 'just walk' 'why do you even do this?' etc... it was hard to combat... other than the fact that I was resolved to enjoying the Bizz itself, no matter what. My training had been derailed and even though I was able to do my last long (12m) run two weeks earlier, there was only one short run since. That surely was not helping. Every time I would start to walk I would literally say - yes, out loud - 'don't walk, it will only hurt more!'... and I would begin again... but each time, as expected, the pain increased... I know not to do this, but I couldn't help it... then somewhere in mile 13 I succumbed ... I walked... for a good three quarters of the mile... I was not happy about it but I had to... I felt like both legs would cramp solid... this walking pace was enough for all those chatty women and run walkers to pass me... Not happy. But I just couldn't, the pain was too intense. I even took Ibuprofen around mile 11 (in the hopes it would help for the finish pain)...
My boyfriend came with me on the trip and even though I wasn't sure he'd be at the finish line - he was :), I knew I needed to pick up the pace - pain or not - and get across that finish line. So I began the hobble... at which point, my calf muscle actually cramped into a knot!! 'Keep going!'... hobble hobble hobble... And there it was, the finish. 2:58:03. But hey, I finished within the 3 hour time limit. And, I finished!
There were only a handful of people that came in after me. In fact, I was 174th out of 185 and 24/25 in my age group. It's a little embarrassing. I want to be better. But I try to remind myself, I will get better. Endurance running is still pretty new in my life. I enjoy the running and these races... and most of all, the experiences that these runs and races are giving me. The places I visit, the trails I discover, the internal journey, the people I meet... I really love it. So I guess that gives me the answer to that negative voice ...

Within minutes of finishing I met a woman that was going to be doing the Full Marathon the next day... my pain had eased into discomfort and already my thoughts were 'maybe I could do the Full next year'....

Click Here to View More Photos

Monday, August 15, 2011


As you begin to take action toward the fulfillment of your goals and dreams, you must realize that not every action will be perfect. Not every action will produce the desired result. Not every action will work. Making mistakes, getting it almost right, and experimenting to see what happens are all part of the process of eventually getting it right. Jack Caufield

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

What's Next?

One of the reasons that I signed up for the San Francisco Half Marathon is that I am tossing around the idea of doing a Full Marathon... and the one that speaks to me is the Bizz Johnson (put on by Coastal Trail Runs)... I look at the photos and I just want to be there!

So I decided to schedule a half right at the halfway point in training... and then make the decision depending on how I felt after the race. So that has been the big question on my mind the last week and a half. At first I was pretty pumped up, I know my time was slow, but I did it. I know I can't imagine going twice the distance, but one year ago I could not imagine going 13.1. I believe in the training programs. I think I could do it. I know I could try.

Then my boyfriend gave me his advise. Why not improve my strength and time over 13 miles before attempting 26.2 It sounded reasonable. I decided yes, that would be my plan. I made a training program. Then I felt sad. A little deflated. That would mean the Bizz Full would be 14 months away... such a long time. The last few days I have felt in a bit of a funk, and there has been some stressful life stuff happening and car troubles. I felt down, overwhelmed and out of control. I decided to go to my happy place... looking at the photos of the Bizz Johnson ... that's when it hit me I WANT TO DO THE FULL BIZZ JOHNSON THIS YEAR.... The idea made me high... happy... so I whipped out a training plan. I realize that this won't make the 'life stuff' go away or the car trouble cost me any less... but it makes me feel good. It's what I want. I want to try. I happened to read someone's blog report of the race and she was affected by the altitude.. she had to walk it.. but she had a great time!... and with a finish of 6hours 45minutes she was NOT the last person to cross. So this takes of the pressure. I can train my best. I can try.

So for now, this is the plan. Maybe it's not practical. Maybe it's premature.

But it is the plan.

Recap - San Francisco Half Marathon

Before too much time passes I think I should give a recap of this race...

One interesting thing to me was training for my second half marathon. I knew I could do it so I did not have that pressure to prove it hanging over me... or rather motivating me! It was different. I decided to toss the stopwatch and just go with it... A big difference was I did my long training runs with my dog, Lola. She certainly handled the distance well, but I felt it was only fair to keep the long runs at a slow pace. She came with me all the way up to 11 miles, then the runs were too long to keep us in the cool morning air. I enjoyed running with her, but since the long runs were on a paved rail to trail she had to be on leash (rather than off leash like on the trails). This meant I had to be more 'aware' of her... so all in all, it was nice to be able to go into the 'zone' on the longer runs.

I will also admit to doing only the minimum training - two short runs and one long run per week. Last time I also had a hiking day (five miles in the hills).

The result? I expected a slow time and was correct. I just barely made it under the 3 hour cutoff time! Yikes! My Big Sur Half time was 2:41 my SF Half time was 2:56 (I can't subtract the 10 minute porta-potty line... and it could not be avoided either!)...

I went into the SF Half knowing I could cover the distance (a 13 mile training run had me confident) and I knew I could handle hills (did that 10k in the Presidio and I train in hills), however, I knew the combination would be tough. I felt ready. Another advantage was that I expected the pain... this sounds silly but that first half really hurt, but I did it. So I knew I could push through the pain. Also, in my long training runs I learned that when I stopped - at all, for any length of time - pain soaked into my body and when I started running again it stayed with me. It accumulated. The more I stopped, the more it would hurt. Thinking back to the Big Sur I realize that the pain really did get worse each time I stopped to stretch. So in my long training runs I decided not to stop, at all (another reason to not bring the dog on leash) and I discovered that it worked - yes, I still felt inflamed and sensitive and 'in pain' but it was better than when I had stopped. Lesson learned. Good thing too, the last two miles of the SF were rolling hills but not so much on the down, they progressed up... it was tough and I heard many people comment on it. The hills affected most runners.

I love the pre-race buzz... everyone mingling, stretching, chatting. Around mile 4 I ran briefly with a man I would guess to be in his 60's - we passed someone with a sign that said "congratulations" and he commented it was a little too early for congratulations... I commented to him 'well, we did do all that training that got us here'... turns out he did not do his first marathon until he was in his 40's, he didn't race again for 17 years and in the last few years he's done 4 or 5 Full Marathons... now THAT is inspiring. The hills hurt, not gonna lie. But I felt good and I decided that I want to train to be a wee bit faster for future Halfs. It might be nice to be ahead of the run-walkers... no diss to them, it's just discouraging when I keep my steady (albeit slow) pace and keep ping ponging by the same folks.

As I approached mid mile 12 I think adrenaline started pumping... the pain seemed to disappear and without conscious effort my pace picked up slightly... 13 is coming... yes!... reserves kicked in from I don't know where and off I went... sprinting the last .1.. feels so good!... Crossed the line and broke down emotionally (which constricted my airway! thankfully I didn't have anyone at the finish line to meet and I calmed myself down... but man, it was emotional. I guess because I did it... again... it wasn't a one time, to prove it, event... it was good...

Marcelo, my boyfriend, met me back at the main festivities... again, I love the feeling of the groups... the 'buzz' may be different than pre-race but there is a camaraderie for sure! We found a lunch spot on an outside deck right across from the finish line and ate BURGERS while watching the full marathoners cross the finish... then we took the ferry across the Bay to Oakland, celebrated at a favorite Jack London Square watering hole (Heinhold's) and headed home.

I felt great.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Zombie Runner 10k

I signed up for this 10k because it covers what I consider to be the hardest part of the SF Half.. the hills in the Presidio... I wanted to know if I would be able to tackle them... What I didn't bargain for was the stunning and truly awesome views!! The Golden Gate Bridge and the Marin Headlands... breathtaking (and that had nothing to do with the hills!)... My pace was too slow for the SF Half, but I think I could ramp it up... in fact, I'm considering joining up with a pace group. This 10k was organized by Coastal Trail Runs and the vibe was so relaxed and fun! (Same group doing the Bizz Johnson, which I am totally excited for!).... and now, because of this little 10k, I am really excited about the SF Half...

Friday, April 8, 2011

Next..... The San Francisco Half....

Here's the link:

I'm nervous - of course - about this one... it takes itself very serious. Not sure I'll make the time restrictions. Will ramp up the training.... but hills in the second part will be very challenging...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


The seed of an idea grows into a goal, and from the goal sprouts a plan. The plan blossoms into training and finally matures as racing fitness.

Joe Henderson, The Complete Marathoner

Monday, April 4, 2011


This was a fitting quote for today:

At least 99 percent of running is just showing up, getting out there and putting one foot in front of the other. John Hanc, The Essential Runner


It's nearly 5 months later!! How did we get here!?... Before I go into my excuses, let me tell you about the race. It would not be fair otherwise.

Basically, it was amazing!!... I never felt nervous (other than a little wave of adrenaline when we missed our freeway exit, but that was solved by an illegal u-turn). I started the race with Holly but her pace was a wee bit too fast for me so I worked my way over to the side and slowed down. The light was so amazing at that time of the morning, the air was so perfect. I felt so emotional. I got choked up several times in the first few miles. It felt so surreal. I was starting on a journey of 13.1 miles! There were bands at many points along the way. There were people out there cheering us on... at 7am!... I felt so good. I ran my first mile faster than planned (a rookie mistake!) even though I tried to be conscious of it. I guess the adrenaline had me feeling too good. I tried to slow but still paced too fast. The race was an 'out and back' which meant that of my group, since I was the slowest, I would be able to see them as they were on their return. It was really amazing to see the elite runners... I think I was at mile 4 when they were returning. I nearly made myself dizzy and sick trying to look for my friends in the 6,000 faces coming the opposite way - but I saw all except one and cheered them. For the first 8 miles I think I felt like I was floating. It was so good. Then at mile 8, the turnaround, I realized that I would not see any more friends, that it was just me here on out. Around mile 9 it started getting hard. At mile 11 it got really hard. At mile 12 it was really, really hard and I wanted to walk so badly. I tried negotiating... remember the voices I talked about?!... Loud and clear: "you'll finish, you're here. who cares if you walk the last mile". The reply: "you can slow your pace, stop and stretch but you can NOT WALK. You did not run 12 miles in training to walk the last mile in the actual RACE". Period. Agony. I thought my legs would cramp up. Walking was actually more painful than running. I thought I had nothing left. Nothing. But then I hit mile 13... only .1 to go and I took off like a gazelle. I'm not joking. I have no idea where the reserves were, perhaps it was pure adrenaline. But I started sprinting. I passed several runners. I got emotional again. I soaked in the moment. The people cheering on the sidelines. The feeling of exhaustion combined with exhilaration. There it was, the finish line. I did it. I did it. I could barely breath and a woman with a camera puts me in front of an official backdrop for a photo. I managed a very shaky smile and a very cheesy thumbs up. The comes the snack tables. I hear Holly call my name, we hug and cry. Very emotional. We manage to find some other friends, head back to the rental spot and celebrate.

There. That was the race in a nutshell. It was amazing. Then life took off and I felt like a tidal wave came over me. I ran a few times after and it felt great. But work got busy, a part time job demanded full time efforts and time flew by. The weather was cold, wet and stormy. My muscles faded, body fat accumulated. It was depressing. I had a faded memory of how good I had felt when I was training. I wanted it back. I recently quit the 'part time' job. The sun came out (literally). And I got out all my running clothes again. I managed to run twice last week. Just short 2.5 mile runs. Miserable. But yesterday, I don't know what got into me, I signed up for two half marathons. The Bizz Johnson in October and the SF Half in July. I feel panic now. But it got me out running this morning. Took Lola and went around Lake Merritt. Not fun, but I did it.

And in the end, when I climbed back into my car, I was pleased to feel an old friend; fatigue.