Thursday, December 27, 2012

Behind the holidays

It's not always easy to get out the door.  The holidays and flood of work over the last 6 weeks has made it very challenging to get out for runs.  I didn't for about 3 weeks.  Last week I managed a few, but this week is slack again.   This time I can't blame work.  Granted there's always plenty to do, but it's not that.  It's frustrating because I have a big deal race on the calendar.  One that was very difficult to get into.  No guarantee to get in next year if I wanted to skip this year.  I am behind in training and I know how hard it was even when I was on top of training! 


If you just give yourself a chance and get out the door, your mind and body will surprise you most of the time.

Jenny Barringer Simpson, middle distance runner and steeplechaser

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


After running a few marathons I can explain to people why I run. It calms me. I can't imagine not having it in my life. It helps me to sort through things. It's like stepping outside myself and getting a better perspective of who I am.

Gail Kislevitz, First Marathons: Personal Encounters with the 26.2-Mile Monster

Thursday, December 13, 2012


If we wait for the moment when everything, absolutely everything, is ready, we shall never begin.

Ivan Turgenev, Russian novelist and playwright

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


I hate running on the roads.  My dog Lola hates it.  We were both miserable today with cars whizzing by us... but we did it.  For the first time in almost three weeks I got out that door with my running clothes on.  I didn't have time to get to the trail.  But the fear of getting into the Way Too Cool 50k got me out the door. 


Hills. We love them. We hate them. They make us strong. They make us weak. Today I chose to embrace hills.

Hal Higdon, author and contributing editor for Runner's World

Monday, December 10, 2012

Uh Oh... Ultra

Today's quote is quite timely...

It's utterly amazing what the mind and spirit can cajole from the body. - Kristin Armstrong 

 A few weeks ago I entered the lottery for the Way Too Cool 50k.  After achieving my 26.2 goal and feeling pretty high and confident my sights were set ahead.  2013 would be about the 50k, the entry "ultra" distance.  Not too much further in actual distance, but leaps and bounds in bragging rights.  The one 50k that really appealed to me was the WTC but it is reported to be very difficult to get in.

So I put my name in the lottery.  Odds are I won't get in on the first try.  Then work got really busy and I stopped running for what seems an eternity.  Turns out it's only been two weeks.  But I should also confess that I have eaten like a Mid-Western American* gone bad.... There was no regulating what or how much.  Interestingly, after feeling so good recently, I really noticed how horrible my new (old) routine was making me feel.  In the back of my mind I planned on becoming much more conscious about my health in the new year.  Just let the holidays go by.

So today I get an email.  "Congratulations!  You have been selected for the 2013 Way Too Cool 50K!".


 Holy crap!  I never thought I'd actually get in.  Now I'm behind in training, I've gained body fat.

But.  There is a voice in there that says "Good.  This is what you need to get back on track."  Just do it.  Use this fear.

And this is where today's quote is apropo....

A part of my mind tells me there is no way.  But I know better now.  It will be difficult.  I will have to work hard and I will have to be dedicated and focused.  That's what a little fear is good for.    It is possible.  I think I have realistic expectations; to finish within the time limit.  I'll be in the company of some big names in the Ultra world.  There are 941 runners.  It's very exciting.

What I am bummed about is that my friend, Torie, did not get in.  She is doing really well in her training and I feel guilty that I got in and she did not.  She is on the wait list (number 85 our of 396).  Entrants will undoubtedly drop out, so there is a chance she'll get in.  If not, I think she plans on volunteering.  I hope she gets in!

Another note of interest; my landlord is in this race.  She won it last year (with the fastest female time ever). 

My head is spinning.  But I am so excited!

* Use of the term "mid- western american" is not meant to offend anyone... it's based purely on the stereotypical American diet... If you have a better analogy, please share :)


It's utterly amazing what the mind and spirit can cajole from the body.

Kristin Armstrong

Sunday, October 28, 2012


Recovery after my first 26.2 was a new experience for me.  I realize now that's not surprising because the effort and achievement were bigger than ever before.  But during the last two weeks it all felt unfamiliar and a bit unsettling.  It's been two weeks since the race and two weeks since I have gone out for a run.  Today was my first run since.  Hard to believe.  I gave myself the first week off without guilt.  But the second week, I wanted to get out, I thought I felt physically ready to get out... but each morning my psyche would collapse like a two year old "No".  Part of my wanted to force it, but you know how well forcing a two year old works... so I decided that my body must need the recovery time.

I did a little research and found that it is actually okay... and normal, to take this much time off after a big race.  Especially at my physical fitness level (I said something about being out of shape to a friend recently and they basically told me that since I had just run a full marathon that I needed to stop saying that.  Point taken).  But the truth is I have a long way to go to get to the fitness level that I want to achieve and maintain.

As I had suspected, since my desire to get out there on the trail never left, one day I just woke up ready to go.  That was today.  It was a beautiful, crisp, clear Fall day.  The trail dirt was packed down pretty hard from some recent rains (no mud, luckily).  It felt good to be back out there.  I tackled some hills that I normally walk and I didn't really feel a decline in overall fitness.  I did feel a little awkward in the beginning but all the parts came together pretty quick and it all felt good.  My dog was super happy to get back out there and had the zoomies, which always makes me smile.  She really enjoys being out there.

So now that the spell has been broken and I'm back out there I can't help think of my new goals.  For one, my 50k goal is getting pushed to later in the year.  I definitely want to run a 50k in 2013, but when I wrote out the training schedule (to make it to the American Canyon 50k is Feb or the Way Too Cool 50k in March) it just didn't seem realistic.  These last two months of the year are the busiest for my work, trying to fit in 20+ mile runs every other week during a busy professional season as well as the holidays... something would suffer.  I definitely want to do the WTC50k but think 2014 may be a better goal, that way I can work on raising my fitness level during 2013.  My goal in 2013 is to participate in some trail half marathons as well as another full marathon or two, and do my first 50k.

Training for my first full was all about covering the distance.  I didn't pressure myself on speed or hills.  I'd like to get more aggressive on the hills.  Most of the trail races that I am interested in doing have quite a lot of elevation change.  I need to be able to tackle them.  The irony is that the hill I despised so much in the GHM is now going to become a tool to help me get better.

There was definitely a post-goal void of 'now what' that I went through.  So much focus goes into this one event.  Then it's over.  I struggled with this strange feeling that I was experiencing and then somehow came across a blog entry that I really related to (by Brad Felds  Okay, so it's not just me.

Good.  Now I can move forward.  I'm really excited about my running in 2013. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Jitters, Rookie Mistakes and Triumph... The Golden Hills Marathon

The Short Version

Jitters: Homemade Mac+Cheese, Spinach Pie, Brownies, Hummus and Pasta... What do these things have in common?  I made them all the day before my first marathon!  I spent the day in the kitchen.  It gave me something to focus on.

Rookie Mistakes: Forgot to start my Runkeeper app (that keeps track of splits and elevation, etc), went out too fast in the first half... Classic.

Triumph:  I finished!  I finished 50 minutes ahead of expected!  And, the best part, I was NOT last!!

The Long Version

I don't know what possessed me to want to do a full... trail... marathon.  It was just two years ago that I was nearly offended by my friend's invitation to run a half marathon.  But I did it.  And then I did five more (three this year).  Early this year I came upon the Golden Hills Marathon and it called me.  I had to.  Running friends actually tried to talk me out of it because it was 'too hard' and they didn't want to see me injure myself.  When I found out there was no official cutoff time (due to the fact that the 50 milers take even longer) I decided to go for it.

The training went well.  The tapering played with my mind.  Nerves the day before had me cooking up a storm.  But come race morning I felt good.  The previous days had clouds and some rain but waking up in the dark early morning, I saw stars.  It would be a gorgeous day.  I could have been dropped off at the start of the race but decided to take the shuttle bus from the finish so that I could spend more time with the other runners.  Since I'm not actually competitive in the races it really is more about the experience.  I ended up sitting next to a woman that was volunteering, her job would be to 'sweep' the course.  She was very nice but I hoped not to see her again once the race started as it would mean time was up.  The best pre-race quote "I'm looking forward to another medal to put on my Wall of Self Loathing".

Off we went... the first four miles are up... up... and up... In training I had hiked the first four but knew that the first mile was actually runnable, so that's what I did.  As the wave of runners took off I was left by myself.  Feeling I must be last, until a curve in the course revealed plenty of people still way behind me.  That's a relief.   I only took two photos the whole day (in order to conserve battery).  It was the first one that I realized that I had forgotten to turn on the running app.

The view of SF from near the top of the first 4 mile climb.

I have never been in a race with aid stations and was blown away by how attentive the volunteers were.  Obviously runners themselves.  On each approach I'd hear "What do you need?"... "water?", "electrolytes?"... Almost before having time to answer they would take the bottles out of my hand, refill and hand back, all ready to go!...  the table had a smorgasborg of sugar and salty treats... "Do you need sugar or salt?"... At one aid station words were simply not forming... but the woman understood: one bottle filled with water, one with electrolytes.  I thanked them all, but I sure wish there was a way to express full gratitude.  It has inspired me to want to volunteer.

At some point around mile five I found myself in a little pack of runners.  They were holding a very comfortable pace and I found it pushed me exactly where I needed to be pushed.  There were about seven of us, compact.  So much so that the 50 milers coming the opposite direction each made comments about the choo-choo train we seemed to form.  Eventually the pack separated up a big long hill.  But we continued to ping pong by each other on various parts of the course, some of us were faster going down, some faster going up.  I ended up hooking onto two of the women for quite a few miles from Sibley through Huckleberry into the Skyline aid station.  Again, they held a comfortable pace but pushed me in all the places I need to be pushed, the spots that I hiked in training but knew I needed to tackle in the race.  Not a word between us the whole time.  Until we got to the aid station and I told them how great it was to run with them.  After downing an orange wedge, a banana slice, boiled potatoes rolled in salt I grabbed a handful of potato chips and exited the aid station.

At mile ten my calf muscle started threatening to cramp.  Each time I flexed it (uh,  yah, every step) it flirted with cramping.  I couldn't believe it!!  My guess is that this was due to pushing my pace and running more of the ups than I had in training.  I was being very conscious of drinking my fluids and consuming gels on a regular basis.  So leaving the aid station I hiked the fairly flat West Ridge trail in order to give my calf a break.  My plan had been to start pushing once I reached the French Trail but this was looking iffy at this point.  At some point I heard "there you are!" and it was the ladies!  They caught up with me and I assumed we'd have our little pack again... but French came and I bombed down the hill.  I lost them.  Figured they'd catch me on the ups (they were stronger on the ups)... but they didn't.  I never saw them again in the race.  I ended up catching the leader of the original choo-choo pack and stuck with her for awhile.  But the calf was NOT happy... and now I was having a stitch, full diaphram... from the meal I ate at the aid station!  It was hard to run and it was hard to breathe!!  The french trail is one of my favorites on the course and I was completely miserable.  If I was struggling this hard at the mid-section how the hell was I going to finish?!  My mind was already composing the text to family of my defeat.  But I kept going.  And somehow took the lead over the the engine lady of the choo-choo.  Everything I'd read about ultra running taught me that so many runners go through incredible lows... if you keep going eventually you feel better.  We'll see about that.  I carry salt tabs on long runs but have never used them.  This would be the time.  A brief exchange with another female runner sealed the deal, she was taking them.  I popped one.  Another 20 minutes later.  I don't know if I felt any better.  It was the next aid station that I mumbled through.

The hill after mile 18 is... well how shall I say this... a long, hard mother******.  I hated this hill when I trained on it with fresh morning legs.  I hated this hill every time climbed it in the long training runs.  I hate this hill.  But one must keep moving forward.  The goal was to not stop, no breaks.  So up I went at the pace of a banana slug, one foot in front of the other... being passed by the 50 milers also hiking...  "Good Job"... I heard and said this thousands of times throughout the day.  Apparently it's the 'hello' of the ultra trail world.  Pretty awesome, it is such a supportive community.  Didn't matter if you were crawling, if you were still out on the trail, you were doing a "good job".  One 50 miler that passed me added "just think, we do this for fun!".  Eventually, I got to the top.  I had done it.  And guess what, by the time I got to the top of that gruesome hill my stitch was gone... and my leg cramp was now just tight, it was no longer spasming and threatening to take me to the ground.  So off we went...

The view from the top of the long hard M*F*.  Off in the distance, that's the finish.

By the BORT meadow aid station at mile 20 I was downright giddy.  I felt great!  How could this be?... Only a 10k left... and now we were entering the most runnable stretch of the entire course.  "Do what you can" became my mantra of the day.  I ran (something just above a walking pace) what I could, just keep it moving.  At this point I was realizing that my average pace was 15 minute miles.  This would put me at a finish well above my projected time.  But could I maintain it?  "Do what you can".  So I did.  One foot in front of the other.

The lake was in sight.  Still being passed by 50 milers.  And the choo-choo woman!  She (and her husband) were so steady, it was impressive.  As they passed me he said "you can't let us take over now" my response "I... can't ... help ... it..."... and off they went, but I kept them in my sights.  The last mile and a half must have been the longest mile and a half of the course.  My clock said I had 25 minutes to beat a 7 hour finish... I wasn't sure I could make it.  With about a mile to go I see my friend Holly running towards me!!  Wow!  That was a lift... my friend, my trail buddy, my running inspiration came to run it in with me!  She said I looked great and strong... I saw a crowd... got a tingly shot of adrenaline, picked up the pace...  I heard my name... the finish line had come!! 

It was an emotional moment for me.  I did it.  And I far exceeded my expectations and goal.  My family and friends were there to witness it.

It was an awesome adventure!!

Official time:  6:51:49 for my first marathon.
(I was 128 out of 151 finishers and the last finisher was at 10h25m!)

P.S.  The engine lady and her husband finished 40 seconds ahead of me.  And I found the two ladies that I dropped at the French Trail... They both hugged me immediately and it struck me how fast this bond forms on the trail.  We only had a few words between one another, we don't know each others names... but we had huge smiles and hugged after the finish.

Thursday, October 11, 2012


9. What’s your favorite book? OR What’s the last book you read and liked?
The last book I read that I really enjoyed was What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami. I love to run because there’s a moment when you cross a threshold of pain and it begins to feel relaxing where you’re not just running, but you’re kind of entering this new way of thinking about yourself and your body.

Julie - Potter and Jewelry maker, Object & Totem

Friday, October 5, 2012

Golden Hills Marathon - The Countdown

That's right... it's T-minus 7 days!!  I am both nervous and excited.  When people ask me if I'm "ready" I don't even know how to answer... "as ready as I'm gonna get" that's for sure... I did my last long run today.. 10 easy miles that covered the end of the course... I wanted to have a memory of running this part.  It is the most runnable part of the entire race but by the time I get to it (mile 20) I am so worn out, beaten up and in so much pain that walking is difficult.  I will take the next week super easy, let those muscles recover!  My "plan" on race day is to push it as hard as I can... Since I have covered the course, I know that no matter what, I will be in pain... so I might as well accept it and go faster.  Considering that I was not muscle sore after any of my long runs I figure it means I can push myself much harder.  The fatigue and inflammation will probably be the same no matter what (that's my guess anyway).  I am estimated to finish in 7h17m.  When I covered the course and took it slow I did 7h40m.  I think that 7:17 is realistic and I'm secretly hoping to be as close to (or dare I say under) 7hours... we'll see... 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Training - Golden Hills Marathon

Today on my trail run I was mulling over the question why do I enter races... I'm super slow, back of the back-of-the-pack.  I can be hard on myself for going too easy on myself... part of me wants to get faster and to run farther... but another part of me is just happy to be out on the trails... and happy that, even if I'm not fast, at least I'm out there... What I enjoy about the races is
a) the goal - Life gets busy and sometimes it's easy to put off a run or keep it short.  When I have a goal in sight it gives me the feeling that I must get out there...
b) the camaraderie - It makes me feel part of a group, part of something bigger than just my own delight.  The others are fitter, faster, more fashionable... but we all are doing something we love to do, and it's the same thing.  I like that.
c) the experience - It's a great excuse to discover a new place or trail...  or destination!
d) bragging rights - It makes me feel like I can claim it.  In training I covered the full Golden Hills Marathon course... but I can't claim a full 26.2 marathon until race day is over.

I don't know why I feel like I need to justify it in the first place.  LOL.

Tapering always plays with the mind!  I fear I may have peaked too early.  So I changed my strategy to try to run more hills and get my mental game up, to not do long, long runs.  My body was definitely feeling a little ragged after peaking... but now I fear that I won't be up for the distance.  Sigh.  This is what happens.  But at least I'm aware of it... and I know I will try my hardest out there.


The human body is capable of amazing physical deeds. If we could just free ourselves from our perceived limitations and tap into our internal fire, the possibilities are endless.

Dean Karnazes

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The last long run... before GHM

My last long run was good.  I was still tired from last week.  And had some lower back issues that concerned me (from an ab workout on thursday, lesson; never do new stuff the day before a long run).   Anyway, early on I decided to not push my time and just cover the mileage, that's enough.  So that's what I did.  As I did my mental checklist of 'how am I feeling' I realized that I hurt less than I did for some of my half marathons - and this was around mile 20!... Towards the end I walked a whole bunch of very runnable terrain, knowing that on race day I would push it, but not today.   I arrived at the Marina building in 7h40m!!!  This was awesome news!  Doing what I considered to be talking it easy my time was 7:40... I originally thought it would take me 8-9 hours.  The race calculations have me at 7:17, which I think is very accurate... and, of course, on race day I would like to beat it... my goal will be 7:00 but I will be happy with anything faster than 7:40. 

There was construction at the Marina which was a bummer because it was not relaxing at all. I arrived around 2:40. I bought a water and walked up to the road and wondered who would be picking me up, my mom or my boyfriend...   My phone had died (of course) so when I asked a passerby the time and it was 3:10 I figured it must me Marcelo... I assumed my mom would be early or on time... I went to the kiosk and asked about a payphone... LOL ... he let me use their phone.

Today, again, I feel fine!  Woke up a little stiff (the kind where it feels so good to be comfy in bed!) but not sore... I attribute it to the fact that I am doing so much hiking.   And although the hills are tough, the course uses the different muscle groups, like intervals...  I'm definitely tired, and will run out of steam early today... but I feel good.  Not trashed. 

However, I will expect to feel trashed after the race as I plan to push it.  I saw through (the app I use) that Torie (with Holly) hit some of the course... but very little (they still have time)... Torie is very fast and tough, but I am very pleased with my training approach of becoming familiar with the course, even if slowly... I feel I know exactly where to hang back and exactly where to push myself... and I plan on it.  Torie is in better shape, but will she go out too hard, or in the wrong spots, or will she rip through the whole thing (this is also her first 26.2)..... I wonder. 

I was telling M that even though I was already excited about the race (obviously) now I am super excited!  I feel I have the knowledge I wanted and need.  And I can't wait to see how it unfolds!...  I won't see the course again until race day... Now is the time to taper... my longest long run will probably be around 12 miles.  My fitness level has been built up as much as it will be... My body/muscles were/are definitely feeling tired/worn... so now is the time that the body will recover... and on race day I should be able to chomp up those hills again...

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

GHM - Progress Report

So... Here is a progress report on the GHM training;   I have been training on the GHM course and, as I was warned (!), it is very hard!!... At first I did out and back of each section (based on the printed out sections, a few got combined because they were shorter) and then I started to stitch the sections together and do them one way (getting picked up and driven back to my car).  Last Friday was 22.85 miles!!  From Lone Oak in Tilden all the way to the Grass Valley Staging area!   I won't pretend I run the whole thing, I hike most of the uphills, which is probably a good 50%... but I do move forward in whatever manner (run, job, hobble, crawl) I can... I fight with the mind demons that I am a hack and in way over my fitness level... and that I'll be dead last, etc, etc... but believe it or not there are at least 4 people predicted to be slower than me on the entrants list!  So maybe I won't be dead last!... I anticipate, if all goes well, that it will take 7 1/2 hours.  Next Friday I will add the last little bit to cover nearly the full distance and that will give me a better assessment of finish time.  I'm sure on race day I will push in some areas that I take it 'easy' in training.  But the plan... the main goal... is to FINISH.

Here's the craziest part; I wasn't sore the day after any of my long runs!  I'm guessing it's because I am allowing myself to go so slow.  But so what, I feel good!

Crazy, no?!

Monday, September 10, 2012



The beauty of running is its simplicity; the beauty of runners is that we all have a similar drive to improve.

Deena Kastor, U.S. Olympian

Monday, August 27, 2012


26.2 - It's official!

It's official!... I have signed up for my first FULL marathon!! That's right, all 26.2 miles!! And it's a trail race... trail = hills.... hills = HARD! I've been training on the course, which goes from Tilden to Lake Chabot and it is going to be one tough day. However, I am super excited!! If you're curious to check it out;

Friday, August 24, 2012



I love the fact that not many people can say 'Oh, I went out and ran 20 miles today.' I love how much dedication it takes and how much you learn a lot about yourself, your physical and mental limits. There's just something about it.
Shalane Flanagan, 2012 U.S. Olympic Marathoner

Wednesday, August 22, 2012



It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.

Sir Edmund Hillary, New Zealand mountaineer, explorer and philanthropist

Friday, August 17, 2012

Birthday Gratitude (or the runner's high)

Today is my 45th birthday, a mid-milestone, and I got to start my day in such a favorite way; I did a 13.45 mile trail run in Redwood Park - in training for the Golden Hills Marathon.  I have come to realize that endurance running is a moving meditation for me.  It's very interesting to see where the mind wanders.  Sometimes I bring it back into the present, staying very aware of my stride and body.  At other times I let it wander and meander like the trail over the terrain.  Sometimes my thoughts are positive and at other times quite negative and I've come to accept this process because running is purging, this negativity eventually leaves my mind like the sweat drips from my body.

Today I spent hours in gratitude.  It began at 7am with the sun peeking through the fog.  Good morning sunshine!

Then I dropped down into the redwood trees along the French trail of Redwood Park and felt like the little kid that went hiking with my dad.  Whenever I run - in these amazing places that I seek out - I am brought back to those memories of my childhood.  I don't know how often we actually went hiking and camping but it made a deep impression on me.  Whenever I see streams and ferns I remember my thrill at finding newts (and other critters, but newts were always a favorite)!  Crossing the water on fallen trees!  Oh the adventures and the awe!  I am grateful to my dad for that.  And for this reason he is always with me on these adventures.   In fact, he was with me the very first time I hiked in Redwood Park!  I had recently moved to Oakland and he was visiting from Hawaii... we were in search of some nature and found it. Little did I know, that would change my life as well.

There I was this morning on a 14 mile adventure and my mind began to wonder; how did I come to this place of endurance trail running?  This 'place' that brings me so much joy.  It was only recently that I began exploring distance.  There were a few events that took place that surely were meant to be; I joined Oakland Dog Hikers (just like it sounds it is a dog hiking group) on and on my first adventure with the group discovered a trail that was so amazing; the French trail (still a favorite).  I wanted to run it.  I did the next day and it became my longest run ever to date, a six mile run.   I couldn't believe it and I felt like 'a real runner'.  For that I feel gratitude for Michelle Heathman, organizer and hike leader of ODH.  By some strange coincidence, that same night my friend Holly said "you should run the Big Sur Half Marathon with us".  My initial response was no way but I did... and it changed my life.  For this I am grateful to my dear friend Holly. 

I'm assuming the endorphins kicked in as I continued on my path, feeling gratitude for an endless number of events and friends in my life.... For my family.... For my wonderful, kind and loving boyfriend.... For my pets.... For my forty-something body that struggles along these hills....  For a phone that enables me to take photos of the amazing places I discover so I can share them with others....  For the discovery of ultra-running, which makes a full marathon distance seem like small potatoes (and to this I again give credit to Holly because she gave me the Born to Run book then through internet searches I stumbled upon and the rest is addicted history).... Grateful for my photography career which combines my love of animals with my love of photography.  Two lifelong passions....

It goes on.  I am just in a place of gratitude today.  And it feels good because there are plenty of stressful elements in life... but today I even feel grateful for those bumps, the cycle of life and the lessons learned ...

Blame it on the endorphins but I'm just one grateful girl for life today!

Happy Birthday Trails!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Golden Hills Marathon Training...

The GHM... it's H.A.R.D..... I'm doing each section as a training run (out and back) and then will stitch them together for long runs in a few weeks...  The first section had what seemed to be an impossible hill until I did sections 2 and 3 on Friday (Tilden through Sibley/Huckleberry to Skyline) and OMG ... I guess it was made worse by the fact that I have to do the reverse direction as well (instead of just the direction of the race)... in fact, today turned into 80% hike and it still kicked my butt (it didn't help that I took a wrong turn and added a mile, and a tippy toe steep hill!).  I definitely have thoughts that "there's just NO WAY!" but due to the fact that there is no cutoff I am going to try... the training alone will whip me into shape...  and I'm having fun discovering new trails!

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Halfway Point

Every time I have crossed the finish line after running 13.1 miles I ask myself - as I am in pain, fatigued, cramping, out of breath, did I mention PAIN - if I really want this to be halfway.  I have not found a way to explain it.  Yes.  I want 26.2.  It's been tricky to find a race that I want to enter.  The marathon 'season' coincides with my professional busy season, so many conflicts.  Recently I came across the race that calls me.  I have a work conflict, but I found a way around it.  I really want to do this race.

It's the Golden Hills Marathon.  It takes place practically in my backyard, the East Bay Hills. It's put on by an ultra race organization, so the marathon is kind of tossed in there.  When I inquired about a cutoff time they said there really isn't one because the last 50 milers come in hours after that last marathoners.  I feel confidant that, without a cutoff time, I can at the very least finish.  I will undoubtedly have to walk the hills.  But I will finish.  I looked at previous times and it looks like the last finishers come in around 9 hours.  I'm hoping for somewhere between 7 and 8.

Early this year I read Born to Run.  When it ended I stumbled upon, and it has been the continuation... in fact, I'm finding it all quite exciting, inspiring and quite nearly addicting.  I consume information about ultra runners...

Through this information I have distilled endurance running down to four factors;
  1. Fitness
  2. Nutrition (ie; calories consumed during exercise)
  3. Hydration
  4. Mental Toughness
I can increase my fitness level through training just as I did to run my first half marathon.  It seems impossible at the moment, but keep putting one foot in front of the other - don't overtrain - and I'll get there.  I'm experimenting with what works for calories, trying to find things that do not make my intestines want to purge (if ya know what I mean!).  I carry water.   This may may be my biggest challenge; mental game.  I am learning ... and improving... but I have found my mind to make some very STRONG arguments.  Just walk.  Just stop.  Why do you do this anyway?! You're too out of shape.  ETC.... This is why I am very grateful that I get to train on all segments of the GHM course.  I will know what to expect.

Today I did Section One.. the first 4.3 miles of the course.  Oh my.  Can you say HILL?!... It nearly discouraged me until I remembered an article on a runners blog about her struggles with this very part of the course... granted, she was doing the 50 and so she was doing this hill after 26 miles... but nevermind that.  My fitness level says this was a hard frigging hill!  However, at the top I was rewarded with vistas that made my heart go pitter patter and filled me with a feeling of this is why I do this stuff... 

The next few months are going to be very challenging.  But I am looking forward to it.  In fact, I'm nearly giddy.....

The SF Half

I felt somewhat prepared.  Especially compared to the two previous half marathons, which I barely trained and had considered dropping out of.  I slogged through them, felt awful.  Moved on.  Life settled (we found a place to live, right near my favorite trail!) and I began to run on a more regular basis.  I felt good.  My goals; 1) stay out of the porto-potty 2) meet or beat my time from last years race.

The group for this day would be two good friends and my cousin.  We met dark and early and made our way over to the city.  It didn't seem as crowded (18,000 down from last years 25,000) but we all dropped our bags and made our way to our wave starts... mine was the caboose.  As usual.  My friend H is a new mom and this was her first race.  She did not have time to train and was content to push it to mile 8.  In fact, H is the one that invited me to run my first half!  So now it was my turn to nudge her.

This was the first time that I have repeated a race.  There is definitely a psychological advantage knowing what to expect.  The first 5 miles are very enjoyable and easy.  The hill up to the GG bridge is the 'beginning'... the trek over the bridge is deceivingly difficult.  Since there is cross traffic, I saw H coming out of the turnaround of the bridge.   It was here that goal number one disappeared.  A porto-potty visit was essential.  I was bummed, but what can you do when nature calls?!  The alternative was not an option.

 After the bridge is the second toughest hill, and I actually allowed myself to walk the last bit of it.  It turns out my walk was faster than my 'run' though.  It was at the top of this hill that I finally caught up with H.  A beautiful stretch that overlooks the coastline.  We meandered down the hill together.  Little pep talking.  I felt strong.  I was surprised.  When the course started heading back up, H said to go ahead... since I felt I still had a little in the tank I decided I would.  I was shocked to be passing people.  Granted, they were walking, but I wasn't.  And I was passing them.  That felt awesome!  It was this part of the course that hit me hard mentally last year.  I didn't feel prepared for the relentless unending UP... it still felt long.  But I got to the finish line 7 minutes ahead of last year!  Goal 2, check!

H crossed the line not far behind me.  She did it.  She ran the whole thing.  Her longest run in training was 4 miles.  I just can't believe her mental toughness.  I don't have it.  I kept telling her how impressed I was.  Seriously, I could not have done it.  We made our way back on the shuttle and BART and met up with the rest of the gang for some post-race commraderie.  I really love that part.  So much fun to chill and chat, compare stories... and manage the pain (ie booze!)...

I was shocked that, although I was super tired, I was not sore!  I did take the rest of the week pretty easy.  Today I began training for the Golden Hills Marathon!  Yes, you heard correctly.  I don't know what has possessed me, but I am going to go for it.  This race calls me!  Today I did the first 4.3 miles (section one as I call it)... after the killer hill, I was rewarded with amazing vistas!  I feel good.  I don't know how I'm going to cover 26.2 but then again I didn't know how I would ever cover 13.1...

here we go!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Eve of the 6th

It's the day before The SF Half, my 6th half marathon in two years.  I reflect on both how far I've come and how much has yet to change. 

One thing that strikes me as a huge change is my confidence.  I am confident that I can do it.  I will finish.  I will be tired and it will hurt.  But I know now that I can do it.  I remember the buzz of nerves the day before my first race, not knowing.  Now I accept that I am slow and will come in just under the wire (even a little too close for comfort).  And I know it will be hard.  I've become quite familiar with all the voices in my head, and when they seem to make their hardest arguments... and that if I keep putting one foot in front of the other, they will eventually fade.

One thing that has not seemed to change much is my fitness level.  In fact, I think I was in better shape for my first race than I am today.  The not knowing certainly motivated me!  I am getting older, the metabolism is slowing.  In recent weeks I have made an effort to make smarter nutrition choices, but it was an effort a little to late (for this race, not for life). 

I am ready to enjoy the day.  The buzz.  The views.  Even the pain.  I will participate in this race with my cousin and two friends.  Two of which will finish hours ahead of me (thanks to an earlier wave start and their speedy pace) and another friend that has struggled with the challenges of balancing her love of running and being a new mom.  I commend her on her willingness to stand at that start and give it her best effort.  We will celebrate afterwards and compare stories.  It's bonding.  It's one of the reasons I love participating in the races.  And even though I get down on myself for being so slow and out of shape (compared with other runners) I have to recognize that crossing that finish line after 13.1 miles is an accomplishment.  And I am proud of that.

Now... off to the expo to pick up my bib... and get that buzz started!

Monday, May 14, 2012



I run because it's so symbolic of life. You have to drive yourself to overcome the obstacles. You might feel that you can't. But then you find your inner strength, and realize you're capable of so much more than you thought.

Arthur Blank, Co-founder of The Home Depot

Friday, April 13, 2012

I got lucky on my 'long' run today, 7 miles along the Hayward Shoreline; not only did last night's {thunder and lightning} storm clear, it was incredibly beautiful! I LOVE clouds!!! Even though the tide was out, all the creeks that feed into the Bay were nearly overflowing! Lots of water coming down from those foothills today after last nights downpour...

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Quote - Born to Run

A friend, and running buddy, gave me the book Born to Run. Last night I was struck by a paragraph on page 69. It struck a chord with me after my recent experience in the Oakland Half (about the pain)... This particular section is about Ann Trason:

"My friends would tell me I'm not addicted to crack, I'm addicted to endorphins," Trason would say, and her comeback didn't much put their minds at ease: she liked to tell them that running huge miles in the mountains was "very romantic".

Gotcha. Grueling, grimy, muddy, bloody, lonely trail-running equals moonlight and champagne.

But yeah, Ann insisted, running was romantic; and no, of course her friends didn't get it because they'd never broken through. For them, running was a miserable two miles motivated solely by size 6 jeans: get on the scale, get depressed, get your headphones on, and get it over with. But you can't muscle through a five-hour run that way; you have to relax into it, like easing your body into a hot bath, until it no longer resists the shock and begins to enjoy it."

Friday, March 30, 2012

Garin Park

Today was my first real outing since the Oakland Half.... decided to scout (a mix of hiking and running) a trail in Garin park. The morning started as a bit of a fiasco, so I should have taken it as a sign... The first half mile was sloggy mud then it opened up into the rolling green hills that I love so much. Rounding the corner near the halfway point I come to a herd of cattle on the trail (I do NOT like cattle ever since a certain experience)... As I was watching them I saw what appeared to be a calf... no, too small... oh, a dog... no.. .oh. a Coyote!!... Just walking and mingling with the herd. Then he spots us (at a distance) and crosses the trail and just lays down... watching the herd and us... hmmmnn... best to turn around I think. But here comes a man on a horse, through the herd. He offers to escort me through the cattle and beyond the coyote... he tells me to keep walking and he chases the coyote further up the hill... whew... then I come across a couple of people with two golden retrievers... they tell me that there is a coyote den... they point out 'the rock', which is actually a cotyote, but looks like a rock from our distance. She is guarding her den, watching us. The man tells me a few stories about his dogs getting attacked by coyote... scary (but they are fine)... he has seen a bobcat, too... oh nature... I feel pretty vulnerable as I continue on by myself (with Lola, my Rottweiler)... we are nearing the home stretch of the trail and come across some fresh intestines... oh boy... feeling very vulnerable... We make it safely back to the car.

I think that loop will get a check mark. Done it. Although I do like Garin park and will probably explore some more trails... But I guess that is what scouting is all about... adventure..


Wild Turkeys

Cows on the trail. And, look close enough, a coyote!

fresh intestines anyone... ?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


I'm signed up for my next race; See Jane Run in Alameda on June 3rd... Chocolate & Champagne!

I'm doing this one because my cousin is also running it... she is way beyond me in fitness but it will be very fun to have this experience together. It's bonding. A couple other friends are signing up also. It will be fun.

With approximately nine weeks to go, I'm hoping I'll do some stronger training and get a good -perhaps, best - time since it is a super duper flat course...

Monday, March 26, 2012

Oakland Half Marathon

My training was not strong for this race... but I decided to do my best... slow and steady... and, thanks to the very flat course, ended up with my second best time (this was my 4th half marathon). No stopping, no walking. Lots of pain. Realized that somewhere around 9 miles I begin to question WHY I do this, and it is where pain begins to creep in, with resistance to that pain... And somewhere around 11/12 miles the acceptance of that pain (endorphins?!)... kicked it up a gear for that last .1 (thank you crowd/adrenaline/endorphins)... and now... I'm looking forward to my NEXT half marathon (and better training, maybe be in front of the run/walkers!)... See Jane Run in Alameda, June 3rd...

Packed in like cattle but grateful for a dry, but chilly, day (it had been forecast for a miserable rain)...

When I saw this woman in the distance I thought she may be a pacer and I wondered what pace we were keeping... turns out she held the "Party Pace"!... good enough for me...

The course took us by two of my previous living spaces in Jack London District.. this was the first!

This is the second... The Phoenix Lofts (actually lived in two different units here)...

I did it!...

My greeting committee! {heart}

My official finishing time... turns out, thanks to the flat course, it was my second best time...