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!