Marathon 1; Chicago 2000

Posted in motivation, travel with tags , , , , on August 20, 2016 by afuntanilla

In 2000, I had a couple of half-marathons under my belt. 1 in San Francisco and 1 in Tybee Island, GA which is just outside of Savannah. And so, naturally, once i was done with those races, i started thinking “what’s next?”

Well, the natural progression was to think of the marathon. But, I was nervous, scared. I didn’t know if I could do it. Could I do it? How could I do it? How could I possibly run 26.2 miles? Man, that is far!

Well, I was sitting in my Atlanta apartment one day that Spring and I came across and AD for the Chicago Marathon in Runners World Magazine. And the AD said, “ there will be days you don’t know if you can run a marathon. there will be a lifetime knowing you can.” Well, I fell right there; hook, line and sinker. I signed up with the goal being that months later in October, I would arrive in Chicago fit and prepared to explore the city, 26.2 miles of it. But first, there was work to do.

I began following a novice marathon training plan. A 16 week plan that told me a lot of things like how many days to run and how many miles, but there’s a lot which is omitted from the plan; namely, what it actually takes to complete the training; which is discipline, dedication, committment. heart and guts. there’s nothing in the plan about how to overcome the fatigue of all these training days and the self-doubt that will invariably creep in. No, those things are yours and yours alone to figure out. And THAT, is part of what the marathon teaches you..it’s an exploration into the limits of the self. During the days and weeks of training, the questions that emerge beg and demand of you honest answers; how will i fit in this 14 mile run? how will i keep a 9 min pace for 26 miles? how can i possibly run another day when i am so freaking exhausted? How am i going to fit in 4-5 days of training while working 50 hour weeks? And thru this particular vehicle of the training program, you realize you cannot lie or cheat or skirt around something. The truth will always be staring at your…whether you were great today or whether you fell short. Whether you exceeded expectations or missed {the training is a gateway to truth }

I trained thru the heat and humidity of summertime in Atlanta; conditions were daunting and unrelenting. it didn’t matter what time of day I went out; whether it was 11pm or 5am, the stifling conditions still persisted. I had to find a way to get thru it. That’s the dedication, that’s the committment. Race day arrived and there i was on the shores of Lake Michigan along with about 20k other runners. We listened to the Star-Spangled Banner and then we were off, each to pursue our own personal journey. Those first few miles took us through downtown Chicago amid the booming buildings and stunning architecture. The spectators were 3 and 4 people deep, all cheering us on. Miles further and we explored the Gay neighborhood, the Italian area and the Russian hood…each with it’s own blend of music, aromas, colors and cheers. Mile 20 comes and now I am entering unknown territory as I never went past 20 miles in the training. My feet are aching, feel like they are burning and all I can think is “I have 6 more miles to go” I had to keep moving. Sometimes a shuffle, sometimes a walk…but movement. I pass mile 23 and I’m starting to move slightly quicker. 1/2 mile to go and I can see the finish line area… people in the stands on the left and right. i am now picking up my pace and in full stride, I am screaming, yelling, so beside myself as I cross under the finish line banner of my 1st marathon. An incredible race & atmosphere for my 1st marathon.

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The Ad…

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1/2 way…

Muir Woods

Posted in motivation, photos, running, travel with tags , , , , , , , on June 10, 2016 by afuntanilla

Where I can just be, where I can dream. Where I notice and I relish.

Where I find challenge.

Where I embrace delight, joy, play.

Where the familiar astonishes…every. single.time.

Where I go to lose myself and then do a 360 to once again, find myself; more whole. Holy. On hallowed ground.

Where my senses are resuscitated and my spirit rejuvenated.

Where the aromas intoxicate and my heart reverberates.

Where I am mesmerized, and laser-focused.

Where my lungs gasp for air and my quads reach and reach over the creek and through the woods dashing and dancing over rocks and roots that beg mightily for my crisp attention.

My haven. My Heaven. My gentle, constant companion.

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Dirt & Water

Posted in photos, running, trail with tags , , , , , , , on May 28, 2016 by afuntanilla

There are sections of The Dipsea I don’t love. Not because they might be challenging but because there are sections that are fully exposed to sun, no trees and the trail is basically hard-ass packed dirt/rock. Because of the severe drought we’ve had for quite some time, certain sections are this way and simply not fun to run on….and then there are all the many sections I truly love…the hidden sections with soft ground…soft from the fallen pine needles, dirt, daily moisture from the ocean. Hidden from the world by the towering Coastal Redwoods and Douglas Firs…they are a haven and a respite from an often challenging & confusing world.

There are many, many ways to enter the trail, but I have been preferring to start at Stinson and head East, since that will be direction on race day. As I accumulate the miles, my hope is I’m getting stronger and creating muscle memory…and it’s nice to see from my Strava data that I am actually improving. YAY! I love this app. If you are a competitive person, especially with your own self, this is pretty awesome. The challenge is always against myself…how much can i improve, how much better can i be…this day and this day and this day…I relish and am thankful for the opportunity.

As I have been starting on the Stinson side and then ending there, I usually take a walk over to the beach afterwards and soak in the moment. On my after-work days, I’m catching the scene 1-2 hours before sunset. It’s usually quiet and very peaceful. The other day, i just had an urge to go dip in the water. At the end of my run, i quickly grabbed a few items from the car: beach blanket, towel, recovery energy drink and headed to the ocean. I went full in and loved it. Wasn’t even that cold. I just felt like i needed it….one of those days…just wanted to feel the shock of cold and the force of water on my being.

Tomorrow is not guaranteed. May you live as you want and may you be at peace. IMG_0192

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Muir Woods

Posted in running, trail with tags , , , , , , on May 9, 2016 by afuntanilla

My slice of heaven. Not belonging to me but a place I am fortunate to visit as often as I wish. Thankful for the logistical proximity of this stunning place with its ridiculous amount of microclimates, luxurious forest, refreshing aromas, and climbs that will stall you in your shoes.

The run today began on the Stinson side and up Dipsea. An unusual late start, nearing noon, I expected to encounter many hikers, especially also being Mom’s day. Legs feeling anything but fresh, but away i went as I simply could not stay away from this enchanting area that lures me in. Mile 1 – the familiar, wide, mostly crushed & loose rock section that opens up with ocean view about half way in….a mixture of white & gray clouds and just a tad of sunshine at the start. Mile 2 begins with a brief descent and then the steep ascent on the main heart of the Dipsea. This section is no joke. 2nd time in about 3 weeks I have “run” it..er…panted my way up the steep ass trail/steps…yowza. 14% incline over .9 mile. As I huffed and puffed & willed my way forward, I had this internal dialogue with myself…”i want to keep doing this section…especially this section until it gets easy…not easier, EASY”  Hence, I trust I will be going out there for a long time. The stunning beauty of the canopy of trees, the faint sounds of trickling water in the nearby creek and the feeling of being cradled in goodness makes the difficulty so much more manageable.

I wonder if mindfulness attracts trail runners or trail runners become more mindful. There is no way to be on these trails and NOT be mindful. My mind is full of nothing of my life…my awareness is completely wrapped up in the next step…over the roots, over the fallen redwood truck, up the stairs, up more stairs, descending over huge roots of trees whose age I cannot even imagine. The history. The stability. The consistency & durability of this beauty…unfathomable. I’m cognizant of the my steps and how I must be careful of these slippery descents as we did get just a bit of rain past 2 days…coming into Mile 4, I am finally done ascending and onto Matt Davis Trail where I know i can really run a bit. Narrow, twisty trail that will allow me to feel like I have a stride once again. Here is where I noticed a lingering fog that added a chill. My hands got cold and I loved the coolness on my cheek. A surge came over me at one point and its that kind of surge where I just want to scream because I am so happy and fulfilled in that moment…I want to scream it out to the world. Instead, I smile and feel it all in my chest and let it keep fueling me. Somewhere around Mile 5 or just after is the long descent back to Stinson Beach. Utter fun. Some danger due to the wetness that left some areas very slippery but all in all, a time to let loose, to let go and fly down…I could not hold back, could not go slower, I kept pushing, sometimes effortlessly, down this narrow trail. I had another internal dialogue happening; “why should i not try my best, why should i not go as fast as i can…why save the legs? what if this is the last time i get to do this?” Because we don’t know, do we…we never know…and so it was…today, in Muir Woods.

these days

Posted in random, road, running, trail with tags , , , on November 17, 2015 by afuntanilla

Sometimes, I’m on the trail. I’m surrounded by rocks, dirt, branches, fallen leaves, dusty trails. Ferns, Eucalyptus, Redwoods. My breathing labors as I climb the steepness, as I ascend over the fallen tree trunk, up the built in staircases. My eyes widen with joy and awe as I come to an opening and can see the Blue of the Pacific. She is mighty & fierce and calm and I need all of her attributes as I continue on these trails that push my limits and make me question my capabilities. They humble me. They challenge me. Their crookedness reminding me of my own and how the imperfect is so beautifully perfect…how it need not be straightened. They remind me of how small and insignificant I am….and then show me how big and valuable I am. I am not either or. I am both.

Sometimes, I am on the road. The steady, flat, straightforward path allows for a different kind of focus; a bit more lazily as one foot is placed in front of another. The energy of a quiet Sunday fills my lungs as does the cool November air. That late fall breeze gives a welcoming chill as it crosses my face, my chest. My eyes water, just a bit, from the force of nature, from the utter exuberance of the moment. I want to feel it all, embrace it all.

Drink up!

Getting away….

Posted in motivation, photos, random, running, shoes, trail, travel with tags , , , , , , , on October 9, 2015 by afuntanilla

My desire to go to Boulder was born out of hearing numerous times over the years how cool of a city it is. Recently, it became more desirable as i follow some people on social media who live there and their photos of the mountains have been utterly ridiculous and i became hooked! Bought a ticket, packed a bag & went to see for myself! I needed a break from everyday life as I know it, and I yearned to be in some open spaces, but not remote.

What did I want to do while I was there? Hike, scramble on some mountains, run, find cool spots for coffee, food. That’s about it. Mostly, I wanted to be active and explore and I’m happy to say, mission accomplished!

The weather was cool the entire trip and mostly overcast with the most random drizzle falling. But mostly, just gray skies. The sun shone itself only 1 day during the trip. If there was any bummer, this was it.

For my 1st day after arriving and making the drive from Denver to Boulder, I found an easy trail to hike/walk/run. It was the South Mesa Trail on the south side of town. I saw only a few other folks out there and enjoyed the quiet. From the start, just lots of dry grass and shrubbery, and as I climbed in elevation, lots and lots of medium sized pine trees. The trail went from wide, loose gravel to narrow and very, very rocky. Lots of offshoot trails from the main one, but I stuck to just the one as I didn’t want to get lost on my 1st day. I took my time and walked/hiked the way out and pretty much ran the route back to the trailhead. On the way, I noticed this beautiful field of dry grass that was a very cool grapefruit color. The lovely quiet and the softest breeze swept thru the grapefruit leaves…

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Was about 1,000ft elevation change total. 5 miles.

Next day, I found the path to what the call is Golden Arch. This is in Chautauqua Park (also home to the Flatirons). It was a Friday and the trailhead was super busy and i could see lots of people on the trail. Came to learn it was parent’s weekend at Univ of Colorado so lots of people out and about.

With gray skies surrounding me, I headed up to find the Golden Arch. As I climbed higher and higher, I did notice the effects of the altitude, but nothing that felt limiting. Trail begins with a significant view of the mountains ahead and after the 1st mile, trail narrows and becomes more tree hidden and less populated. And more rocky. And then very rocky. Did I say rocky? It’s a full on climb up; maneuvering the changing trail conditions, making sure you’re on the right trail and watching your steps very carefully. FUN. & INVIGORATING. As much as I was breathing hard, I was smiling a bunch, too. With the overcast and grayness, it didn’t make for very “picturesque” photos, but the scenery still looked magnificent thru my eyes.

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Finally reached the Golden Arch peak at just under 7000ft elevation (from sea level). All in all, the hike was only 3.6 miles but with 1,679ft elevation change! Worth every step.

Getting up to the arch

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After arrival, I sat atop of the boulders and marveled at the beauty & stillness surrounding me. My breathing slowed and it was as though a hush fell upon the few of us there at the time…a collective knowing of sacredness and appreciation when you see it. We were essentially bowing down to nature, were we not?

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I took a break from hiking the next day and just tripped around Boulder and surrounding areas. I actually did not stay in Boulder, but in a smaller town just south, called Louisville (the S is pronounced!) A combo town of suburbia and quaint, artsy, cozy downtown area. Of course, I found the perfect place for coffee! Super small place in Louisville that’s only been open 6 months called Precision Pours. Cozy, simplistic, minimalistic…just what i like! Oh, and good coffee and a super cool owner, Brice!

A pourover of Brazil. Yummy

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Did a short 3 mile run later in the day and could feel the effects of both altitude & the previous 2 days of hiking.

Next day was the one and only day i saw the sun. Wanted to hit the Flatirons so that’s exactly what I did. The trail beginning is the same as it is to get to the Golden Arch. After the 1st mile, the Flatiron trails are in a different direction. A lot of the same type of terrain as it was to get to golden arch…it felt longer, but was actually shorter distance. Still, a decent amount of climbing for the distance. 1,394 ft over 2.7 miles. Got into a nice rhythm of following this one fella and letting him lead the way cuz some points are so full of rocks that you cannot gauge what is actually the trail. The best part was literally climbing/scrambling up some big boulders to get up and over particular areas. I noticed as I moving higher and higher that I was smiling outside and inside…how happy i was, how invigorated i felt and how i just kept wanting to keep going up and up. A fun, cool feeling!

From the Flatirons…

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It’s amazing how focused one has to be on trails like this where it is so thoroughly rocky. It’s true meditation…a total zone….beautiful. I was focused on getting to the top, but at the same time mindful of each step, the sound of my breathing, the amazing beauty surrounding me. The senses sharpened! Aware of my legs/quads….the muscles working in tandem with the rest of my body to propel me up, forward; aware of my heart rate climbing…climbing…sensing the sweat gathering on my brow and back. Life happening…there on the flatirons. Finally arriving at the top, empty water bottle in hand and plopping myself down on a rock and just looking out….noticing everything and hearing nothing…the quiet. Ahhhhh….

Last day: coffee and writing & Precision Pours, haircut by an awesome gal and went for a flat, fast 3miler thru downtown Louisville. Zoom to airport.

I try to make it a point to start my day with a gratitude list of about 5 things/people. Health is always #1 on my list. For me, it’s so important to be healthy….i want to nourish my body, treat it well…so i can continue to do things like this…I am aware of so many who have serious physical limitations and complications and i’m just so thankful to be in a position of good health. I don’t ever want to take it for granted.

I needed this trip. To get away from my usual surroundings, to be away from work and my office, while at the same time remaining thankful i have a job and a lot of flexibility with my work. I needed some different space, some elevation change, some different perspective. Appreciative of the opportunity and for meeting some neat people.

May your journey be filled with light, joy, fun, and challenge. Go get it!

P.S. I wore my Hoka Stinson ATR’s on the hikes. Perfect.

repetitive…

Posted in motivation, photos, running, trail with tags , , , , , on September 29, 2015 by afuntanilla

It is thru repetition that we get better. However, the repetition must be accompanied by awareness, more deliberate effort, laser focus. This is how we improve, in anything.

Of course, this is also in addition to a desire and the belief that you can be better. At ANYTHING. At LIFE.

Why not?

At the halfway mark on Sunday’s concerted and fun effort! Happy to have hot some personal bests of sections of the trail today. Happy Runner.

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