Archive for the races Category

Races, Data…

Posted in motivation, photos, races, road, running, shoes with tags , , , , , on April 16, 2014 by afuntanilla

I ran another short race this past Sunday. A very short 5 miler in the town where I live. I love traveling for races, but it was actually nice to have zero stress about anything related to logistics…nice to run something local for fun and the money all went to one of the local high school’s track programs.

It was an interesting choice for me in that I really didn’t like the course. It is almost entirely run on a narrow path around a marsh and then a park. The marsh part of the path is fine, with packed dirt, but the park part is all on loose gravel. This might just be my LEAST favorite type of surface to run on…I just don’t feel like I get an traction with each step. It’s a peaceful, beautiful path…and nice to walk, but for me, the running on it is just not idea.

However, I sucked it up and signed up…for fun and to test my “speed.”

It was a nice, cool morning. Good enough for shorts and my long sleeve Under Armour technical shirt. I was also pretty happy to be sportin my new ON-RUNNING kicks! These are super cool shoes, my 2nd pair by the company. I will write more on them later. A good gathering of the local peeps and at 8:30am, off we went on our Sunday Test.

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I thought I would do no better than 45 minutes, actually. 9:00 pace. I was excited and ready to see what was possible. I had no water, no music. nothing. felt so free. Except for the fact that I really needed some water and the 1st place to get it was not until 3 mile mark. I am just one of those people who need water at least 1x/mile, especially if I am pushing it, which I was. We went though parking lots, over to the marsh and then onto the loose rock path. 1st mile was 8:27 but it didn’t feel that fast so I wasn’t too worried about the pace, but i also didn’t want to have a severe drop off come mile 4. Mile 2 was a bit slower, about 8:45 pace. I would have liked to have had my heart rate info, but something is not working with it. I even bought a new battery and it still is not synching with my Suunto watch…so no HR info for now. Anyways, by now I was really looking for the water stops and it wasn’t until another mile. I grabbed some and walked a few steps. Mile 3 was about 9:15. Got more water around mile 4 so that slowed me a bit too, 9:12. I guess this last mile I just took off because the data show mile 5 at 8:10 pace. Wow. Didn’t really know that til looking at my watch stats. Pretty cool. I can tell you I was not smiling as I ran that last mile, especially the last 1/2 mile. I was pushing hard and even as I crossed the finish line, no smiles. Painful.

THEN, the smiles came! WOOT WOOT! Very happy with this result and even came in 4th place in my age group.

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So, I think it’s important to give some data on the race stats to give some perspective to the result. Of course, I’m happy. but i also realize the TOTAL number of runners at a race like this is NOT HUGE.  Then again, 4th is 4th. 🙂

Here’s the breakdown:

Age Group: F 40-44.  40 runners.  4th place

All Females: 259 total / me  27th place

All Runners: 394 total / me  101st place

I also want to share the stat breakdown from the Portland 15k race I did a month ago.

Age Group: F 40-44  681 runners. 163rd place

All Females: 4518 total; me  1126th

All Runners: 8826 total; me  3507th

 

Before I started running marathons in 2000, I was faster at the shorter distances. Of course, I was also younger. 🙂

Regardless, I know I have more gears I can tap into to get faster. So….what’s next???

Of Late

Posted in races, road, running, trail with tags , , on April 11, 2014 by afuntanilla

The spring weather here in NorCal has been interesting these past 2 weeks. First we had quite a bit of rain where the temps were cool-ish, then this past week, the temps have been all in the 70’s….with a day or 2 touching 80 degrees. I mention this because I do think my body has some reaction to even just this type of change. I tried running last Saturday after 2-3 days off and felt horrible. After 1.6 miles, I just walked. Sunday ran 5, but still didn’t feel quite right. How did I feel? Tired! Lethargic, achy, sore. What surprised me was the degree to which I felt this way considering the level of exercise I had been doing which was not too much. Continued to feel a bit strange the next few days. Did some other short runs this week and am now feeling much better. Weird. Anyone else have really noticeable physical reactions to weather? Maybe I am just getting old, LOL….which is also something that has been on my mind. Age and our bodies and physical performance and all that!

I’m signed up to race a 5 miler this Sunday in the town I actually live in. Can you believe it? Actually doing a race where I live? 🙂
I’m not crazy at the course, but I volunteered for the race 2 years ago and enjoyed the atmosphere. Also, the proceeds go to a local high school and their athletic dept so I like to support that of course!

After this race, I believe I will start getting back on the trails. I’m thinking of racing Double Dipsea. Not signed up just yet, but thinking about it! In June, I think.

Go get outside and do your thing!

Day 3 in Portland; The Main Event

Posted in motivation, photos, races, road, running, travel with tags , , , , , on March 21, 2014 by afuntanilla

My 3rd and final day in Portland was the day of The Main Event; The Adidas Shamrock 15k Race.
My morning began at 5:30am. Made hotel coffee, and ate my customary Clif Bar and banana. I sat and looked outside my hotel window and the still darkened sky, the streets so delicate in their Sunday morning quiet….those same streets would soon be lit up and come upon by 35,000 runners participating in either 5k, 8k, or 15k mile distances. This gray, overcast morning would soon be adorned with bodies of all shapes, sizes, ages, and color wearing their traditional Green race shirts!
Time to get on with the party.

I walked the short 3/4 mile from hotel to starting line and it was a tad chilly. I wore nothing to keep me warm as I figured as soon as I began running, I would be fine. This was true, however the 30 minute wait until the starting line popped open was chilly. Thankfully, the gathering crowd of excited runners and the beauty of the morning along the Willamette River distracted me from being cold. These are the moments that are so fun and if you have ever done a road race or any race, you know what I mean….I love just taking it all in, absorbing the moment, and watching the congregating of a bunch of strangers on a street to go run their hearts out. Absolutely love it.
I looked across the river to the east side and smiled at the grayish-bluish sky emerging from the darkness. There is nothing quite like the beauty of a morning, is there?? I think that is why I am an early riser…I hate missing it!

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The combination of the walk to starting line and some time warming up along the rivers pathway, I felt loose and ready to go. I was actually gonna RACE, not just go for a run! My goal was to have a finish sometime between 1:26-1:28 which would be an average pace of 9:15-9:28 per mile. Obviously, I was hoping to be closer to the 1:26 finish. I thought my chance was good if all went well, so we were about to see!
The first mile is headed south and flat, going in the opposite direction of downtown where race began. After mile 1, you make a left turn and head back towards downtown and it’s basically straight & flat for the next 2-3 miles. The crowds were sparse in the beginning but there were some festive folks out…a few fellas playing the bagpipes and another band I think. On the north side of downtown, the small climb started as we ran next to Portland State University and then up more to pass Oregon Health & Science laboratory and Marquam Park. These were miles 3.5-6 approximately and they were a steady incline along wide windy roads. Beautiful and serene atop the higher areas. I was doing well on time. My first 2 miles were actually less than 9 minutes each and I made a conscious decision to slow down or else I might have nothing left in the later miles. The total ascent was only 550-600 feet, but I could feel it as I have run nothing but flat in preparation. I did some repeat hill sessions, but nothing major. Anyways, I was feeling good as I was watching my time and passing the mile markers. I was taking a gel every 2 miles and this was perfect. I was pushing throughout, but as the descent started to occur I really took off and pushed harder. I had lost some time on the climb and I wanted to make sure to beat my goal since I was now so close !!
Heart pounding, legs aching….absolute total focus. I was single-minded and out of my crazy mind and nothing else mattered except my strides, one after the other….keep going you are doing good, you are gonna make it, you are gonna make it…. (hey, nice legs 🙂 

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Breathe. Push. Keep going! I was aware of everything and nothing. Such a cool, amazing feeling.
Running the last mile, it was a straightaway and I could see the finish line. I never let up…push, push, push Ang…

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Finish time 1:25:46
Average pace per mile: 9:13

Very freaking happy with this. It shows my training has paid off. Everything came together on this particular morning. I was happy and delighted and proud of my efforts!

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Another cool thing in addition to the race shirts I received was this unique race “medal”…a bottle opener! i love it. IMG_0850

I happily walked back to hotel and spent the rest of my morning/afternoon back in the Pearl District. Enjoyed a delicious breakfast at Cafe Isabel and then roamed around with my travel pack before heading to the airport and home. IMG_0849

A fun and full weekend in this Pacific Northwest city I have been wanting to visit! Thank you, Portland!!

What’s next…….

me & the rain

Posted in motivation, photos, races, road, running with tags , , , , , , on February 10, 2014 by afuntanilla

Me & the rain…we got a special relationship. Much more love than hate. Much much more. In face, no hate at all! I cannot recall exactly when I first fell in love here but I can tell you this love affair has been long. When I first got seriously into running in the late 90’s, I didn’t belong to a gym and therefore didn’t even have the option to run on the treadmill on rainy days. I put on a cap and a rain jacket and off I went. I remember the very 1st HALF-MARATHON I ran in SF in 1999 was partially run in rain….I couldn’t have been more delighted. The freshness, the challenge, the beauty of it all still sticks with me today, 15 years later. I ran MANY times in rain while living in Atlanta. How could one not with all the random yet not so random Thunderstorms coming down all around you. Not little droplets, no “light” rain there….heavy duty, gigantic raindrops thru the often thunderous crackling of lightening across the southern skies. Delicious, formidable drops that i could not keep myself away from….so many spring & summer days…the wetness would fall on my body and just wash over me — the warm waters felt like a soft sponge on my bare skin. There is NOTHING like running in the rain in the southern heat & humidity! The vast lushness all around that becomes even more so after mother nature gives an impressive spill. I remember days of running along Ponce de Leon, a main corridor in Atlanta, and being able to see off in the distance the falling drops in the sky and the awesome backdrop of the deep green that lined the famous street. I remember steps along the Silver Comet Trail when the wetness would create more space than usual…the walkers, cyclists and others would stay away on rainy days. Just me and the path that became my trusted, stable friend. And our other friend, the rain. Many miles I have run through such magnificent conditions.

And then running in the cold rains! I recall possibly my toughest race ever in terms of weather conditions; the Half Marathon in Chicago in May 2011. Damn that was tough. Rain and serious wind on a course that was out and back along Lake Michigan. 25-30 mile winds! It was ridiculous. It wasn’t fun, it was really freakin’ cold and it was so mentally challenging, but I still relished the experience. I still wonder how I made it through that one… it was one of those experiences where you tell yourself, “if i can run though this, i can run through anything!”

Following my jaunt today, I just stayed outside of my house for a bit. I removed my cap and glasses and just hung out on the corner….marveling at the elements and blissed out after my run. I forgot myself and just started to spin and twirl around a few times, head back, letting whatever wanted to come, come. My smile was huge!

I think there is definitely a spiritual element I find through running and even more so, in the rain. I feel more connected to myself, my truth, and a spirit that goes far beyond little ole me and my world. The quiet, abandoned  streets beckon me to come on out…the life that i feel pulsing through me on such days like during today’s 6 miles in steady rain is incalculable in its reward and how it fills my soul.

Why do I run? Well, isn’t this enough of an answer?

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What? I’ve been running…

Posted in motivation, photos, races, road, running with tags , , , , on February 1, 2014 by afuntanilla

Hey, long time no write! What’s up?

Well. I am proud to say that I did indeed take some time off of running after the Kepler race like I said I would. I ended up taking about a month off of absolutely no running! I knew I could do it, as I could physically and mentally feel like I needed a break. During that time, I didn’t miss it. In place of specifically running, I did walked, hiked, biked, did some weight training and I’ve totally gotten into doing push-ups! I think I started when I was still in New Zealand. I have been practicing almost daily. I have been doing 2-3 sets of 10 regular push-ups and I totally feel my strength gain. It’s pretty darn cool, I’ll tell ya! My goal is to get up to 5 sets of 10. I’m not sure I really need to do more than that, do I? It’s fun, different, and like I said, I love that I can see/feel my results. Some days, I tack on tricep dips and I will always work in some core work. Honestly, that is my LEAST favorite exercise of all: core work, and of course, it’s the area I would like to see improvement, but am not 100% motivated here. So, I do some, slack off, do some, etc…
When I wasn’t running, for the first few weeks, I also didn’t look at/read anything running related. No blogs, no articles, no magazines….I just took a full break and it was all good.
Since, January 1, I got back on the horse and ran pretty steady all week. I’ve been studying some different training plans, etc to get ideas on how I can improve my speed. One of the things I know that has held me back with improving my speed is that I have not incorporated enough variation in my training. I run at the same speed too much and don’t incorporate enough hills, intervals, etc. This is not NEW news to me, but I am now making a concerted effort to tackle this. Why? Because I wanna be faster. Just for me. For my own self fulfullment.
I have not yet picked any races to do in 2014, I have just been kinda focusing on the variations, mixing it up, seeing what works for me, etc…
I had tried to get in to the Nike Women’s Half-Marathon in DC in the spring, but was not selected via lottery. Bummed. That would have been a fun trip!

It’s interesting with the varied workouts I have been doing….I found that I have gone from running every run too slow to now almost running them all too fast. I wear a heart rate monitor for all runs now so I can see this clearly in my heart rate, pace, etc. So, it’s a process.

One of the resources I am using is this book I’ve had for quite some time; run-faster

There’s A LOT of detailed information in this book and I’m sifting my way through it.

Total miles for January = Approx 68 miles
Mix of hill repeats, progression runs, easy runs, speed work

Looking forward to February and getting faster!

Cheers!

Post race musings

Posted in photos, quotes, races, running, shoes, trail, travel with tags , , , , , , , on December 12, 2013 by afuntanilla

The race was 5 days ago and as I’ve been recovering and traveling along, I’ve had some post race thoughts I wanted to put down and share.
To not finish: it SUCKS! No other word for it. Period.
Having to tell people, even strangers, who ask how you did: SUCKS!

The morning after the race, there was a post-race breakfast that I attended and met a few people and swapped stories of our experience. I knew I would say, “I didn’t finish”, and I knew that I would have to have a strong stomach as I did so….
I’m sure no one cares, but I care, and it just isn’t the most pleasant thing to report to people. But, it definitely comes with the “territory” of running and doing these kinds of things. It is part of the running experience. Every race can’t be smooth, easy, predictable. Gosh, how boring would that be!! I understand, it’s the opposite side. The opposite of setting a personal best at a time or a distance. It’s the opposite of finishing and finishing strong, which I have had many such experiences.
2 days after the race, as I made the drive from Te ‘Anu back to Queenstown, I was stuck with the thought that ‘I should have finished’. During the 2 hour drive, I really let it bother me. 5 days later, I am more at peace. I did all I could on that particular day.

In evaluating what could have helped me or what I could have done differently, I have some thoughts;
Nutrition; I really need to get a better handle on this. By nutrition, I mean race day nutrition. If I plan on doing events that take me over 5/6 hours, I cannot rely on energy gels alone. I need more solid food and I need to train with different things and see what works best.
Training; I’ve already mentioned some of this in earlier posts, but for this particular race, I needed to run longer with more elevation. I needed to have incorporated more tough back to back days on weekends. Plain and simple.
Why didn’t I train more? Honestly, I just wasn’t motivated enough. And my body was tired. Some people who know me on a daily basis know I’ve been talking about fatigue for awhile now and how I need to give my body a good break from running. I was tired going into the marathon in October and I was tired going into Kepler.

I don’t regret either experience, just being honest with how I was feeling. That is why even though it sucked to not finish Kepler, I was not surprised.

Sometimes my enthusiasm to participate in events really takes over and I cannot contain myself. I see something or hear about a race and I wanna do it. And then I see another one and I want to do that too. I realize I can’t do everything AND have the kind of experience I want. My body can only take so much.

I am looking for answers to questions that are important for me to have answered; how can I recover better? What are the best things for me to do? Is it nutrition related? Is it training related? Is it rest/recovery related?

I believe it is a combo of all those things and it means something different for me than it does for the next person. And the next person. We all have different bodies with unique requirements and capabilities. My goal is what it always is, to get the most I can from myself.
And to know what’s possible, my body needs resting time. I made an agreement with myself that after Kepler I would not run for 30 days. And more, if I feel like it. Just take a break. Heal. Rest. Repeat.

I have not run, but I’ve been walking a lot and sometimes with elevation. Soon, that will change. My vacation will come to an end and I will be back home and in a work routine. I plan to NOT run, but I do plan to stay active by getting in some cycling, swimming and just plain old workouts at the gym. I can very much feel how I need both the mental and physical rest.

There are running related goals I very much want to achieve. And I’m coming to understand more and more how it’s about smart planning just as much as dedication and commitment.

I will continue to strive to be the best me…to keep pulling out the best me that I can find!

Onward and upward!

RACE GEAR

Shoes: Brooks Cascadia trail shoes. This is my 1st pair of brooks trail shoes and they worked out fine. They are not too heavy, with a good bit of cushioning. They feel a bit wide and roomy, so they actually feel a bit loose on me. I compare this feel to some old ASICS trail shoes I have and still wear. They feel much more narrow. I also had quite a bit of small pebbles in my shoes during the race and I don’t ow if it’s because they do fit a bit loose on me or what…but, overall, no complaints.

Socks: Injinji toe socks. I love these socks. Been wearing them now for all my long runs and have had no blisters.

Pack: Salomon Skin S-Lab race pack. I love this pack! The only other pack I have had is an older Nathan pack with water bladder and just a few pockets. This Solomon pack has MANY pockets, both zipped and some unzipped. It has 2 clasps in the front so you can tie across your chest which gives a very compact/form fitting feel. It doesn’t restrict or interfere with arm movements either. One of the best parts might be that the bite valve from the water bladder can fit snuggle across your chest and really all you need to do for a sip of water is barley move the tube to your mouth. Very seamless and convenient. They thought of everything!

Shorts: black North Face running shorts. I love these too, they fit well and are simple. 1 small pocket in the rear if you need it for gel, or key. I didn’t need it for this race since I had my pack but I use the pocket at other times.

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The Kepler Mountain Challenge

Posted in motivation, photos, races, running, trail with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 8, 2013 by afuntanilla

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Race morning began with my iPhone alarm buzzing at 4am. Splashing cold water on my face, waking up, and smiling….the day is finally here! I made some instant hotel coffee that is not half bad and eat my customary chocolate chip ClifBar and banana. I sat in bed, eating, drinking, quietly waking up to the day and feeling positive. I dress in shorts and my long sleeved “RUNATL” shirt. I put all my “required gear in my Salomon race pack; 1 long sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves, rain jacket, long wool pants, & rain jacket. These are all “compulsory gear” and we would have to undergo a gear check along the route to ensure compliance. The gear is required due to the nature of the changing conditions of the course, especially as we get to the top of the mountain. With the water in my pack, the clothing and all my GU Energy gels and Hammer Nutrition gels, my pack was beyond full.
I drove to the start of the race, about 3 miles from hotel. The streets were quiet and dark and the day was clear. No rain, but some last night and more expected later today.
Arriving at the start, I make one last bathroom stop and head to start line. As with other trail races, the number of runners are much less and the start line a lot more relaxed and low key. After a 10 second countdown, me and 449 others were off on our adventure of the Kepler Challenge; some with goals of winning, some with goals of beating a previous time, some running for their 10th time, some running the 1st time, some just wanting to finish.
That was me; I just want to finish. Have fun and finish. Enjoy the journey.

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The first 3 miles are the soft trail, surrounded by green on both sides, more trees than I can even say. Off to my right past the trees, I could heart the edge of lake Te’Anu softly bumping up against the shore. Those first few miles were very crowded, but still able to have a nice easy stride. The soft steps of all us runners in close proximity to one another is such a nice sound.
We approached out first aide station and shortly after, the long, long ascent began. I think we climbed for about 10 miles and it was unbelievable. It was difficult and with an alarming amount of jaw dropping beauty all around. The first climbing miles were still in the thick green “forest”, switchbacks, stairs, bridges, etc…as we approached higher elevation, green gave way to open expanse. No one around me was running, everyone walking, climbing, etc. I would like to know if the front runners were running this part of the course….
Soon, we arrive at what I think may be the top of the climbing…the views are just ridiculously beautiful. I don’t have the words to describe it. Mountains, and mountain, and some lakes in between….all around. It was like out of a movie….
We arrive at checkpoint/aide station #2 and this is where we have a gear check. The volunteers make sure you have what’s required and we are off again. I grab 1/2 banana, refill my water and am off. I had met and chatted with a nice woman from Australia and we were changing places here and there. She was mostly ahead of me, but at times we were together and chatting. I noticed how fast she was climbing and was like, “how???”
We continue on….climbing…we turn a corner and I think, oh, there’s the top….um….no, wrong again. Keep climbing. At some point through all this, it is getting cold. We area up at 4500-5000 feet and it is also a bit windy. I put on my jacket, gloves and cap. I’m eating my gels, but i am not keeping track of how often and that was not a smart idea. I should have been keeping track. I knew I had a lot, but didn’t know exactly how many, so I didn’t know if I was eating too many of too few for the length of the race. Why didn’t I plan this better??
My mood is good, I am thoroughly enjoying the views and the experience and I am climbing more and more. Finally, we arrive at the top and their is a photographer there who takes our picture and says, “welcome to the top”. I smile, happy! I’m also thinking how did this guy get up here? He was literally stationed on a super small area, all bundled up, taking our photos. Maybe the helicopter dropped him off.

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Reached the top, now for the descent….
Oh my….ouch, ouch on the quads….wow. A bit more technical at first, with lots of small rocks to navigate. My shoes were continuously filled with small pebbles, an annoyance, and had to stop a few times to empty them when a bigger rock got inside.
I had a few bathroom pee breaks on the trail. 1 at a checkpoint, and 2 in the woods. I didn’t want to stop but…
The descent was very long and more painful than the ascending. The ascending is just plain difficult; this amount of descending all in succession was difficult AND painful. The trails in Marin that I had been running on were good training ground, I just didn’t do them enough for longer periods of time per training session.
More descending and at a point where it was switchbacks on steroids. For those who might not know, switchbacks on trails are like a zig zag over and over again. And again. Some amazing trees along the way. I was literally in a forest. Took this photo which didn’t quite show it, but the trees were almost like a Spanish moss. Lots of ferns and beech trees and who knows what else! I was about 6 hours in and I was feeling it. I was tired. Hungry. I felt like I needed some salt. Whatever electrolyte levels were in my Energy gels wasn’t cutting it. I was finally on flat ground and running. Walking. Repeat. They had a few other things to eat at aide stations but I didn’t want to eat anything I had not been familiar with and potential suffer stomach issues. I continued on for more spectacular miles. Looking right, left, and above and just seeing beauty like never before. True paradise! Wow! I actually fell a couple of times; once while turning on a switchback. I just slipped and scrapped the left side of my lower leg. No problems, just scrapping and a little blood. It was actually kinda fun. Later, I slipped on a some wet rocks. Slid completely onto my backside and

Mmy right palm was all that got a small pang. I was lucky. There were many tricky and dangerous places on the track….slippery areas and lots of rocks and rooted areas where you could easily slip and fall. I had to constantly look down to avoid a fall. It was a long day of meditative running. I had my earbuds with me in case I wanted to listen to music, but I never did. I just wanted to be be out there and soak it all in. The last 5 miles before I got to the next checkpoint, Montara Hut, were painfully slow. Walking a lot and running, um…shuffling a little. Ugh. It sucked. But, I just was running out of strength and energy. After 7 hours, my Suunto Ambit2 watch had lost all of its battery life and from that point on, I didn’t know how far I was. I had my phone so I knew the time, but not mileage. I was thinking what should I do when I get to Montara Hut? Should I pull myself or keep going? Well, I didn’t take too long to decide. By the time I arrived at the station, I checked in and then said to the 2 ladies there, “I don’t think I can go on, I think this is it for me.” They looked at with such care and sweetly said, “well, that’s ok. You’ve come so far already. But, if you want, just sit, eat and think about what you want to do.”
I sat down, had some water and one of the ladies came over and brought me some food to choose from, saying, “can I get you anything else?” She was so nice!!
One of the women volunteers who was keeping track of the runners at this stage came over and asked if this was the end for me and I said yes. That was it. My Kepler Race was over. I went to the bathroom, put my long rain pants on and then sat and waited for the boat to take me and another fella across to the start line. I sat in the sun and felt ok with my decision. If I continued on, I would have had to walk the remaining 9 miles and there was ZERO desire in me to do that in the condition I was already in.
As I write this, I feel a bit teary, but I knew not finishing was a possibility due to my level if training and fitness and the proximity this race had been to my October marathon. I knew it was a push. I knew it was a gamble. So, I am without surprise, and yet still with disappointment of not crossing the finish line. I wanted that for me. No fanfare, no one here traveling with me, I don’t even think you get a medal….but I wanted to cross, just as I do every race. But, on this day, I didn’t want to walk those last 9 miles and finish that way. I did not strain over my decision as I feel I also made a smart decision for my body.
Today, of course, I am sore; legs, especially my quads, feet and back are all feeling it. I earned every bit of soreness and remain proud of my efforts. I looked at it as an adventure, and it was. With all it’s astounding, made for gasping beauty, it really was quite and adventure.

Total time: note sure as my watched had stopped, but approx 8 hours, so min
Distance: 27.6 miles
Ascent: 5,252 feet **most ever so far
Descent: 4,377 feet **most ever so far

This was the most challenging and difficult race I have attempted. It surpasses the 40 miler, the 50k trail run Tennessee and the 34.4 miles I ran as part of the JFK 50.

I want to give a MASSIVE shout out to all the Kepler volunteers. They were amazing and so giving!!
Thank you to my friends and loved ones who have cheered me on!! I felt you with me in spirit!!

If you are a runner, put this race on your bucket list. If you are alive and breathing, put this place on your list to walk, hike, etc…

More pics some from the top and then thru forest.

A footnote on that last pic of me at my finish: I was trying to give a sad face for not finishing and it doesn’t look like I just ran what I did, doesn’t look as though I ran 26 hard ass miles. I assure you I did! 🙂
I could also not be to bummed in the moment as the ladies who helped me were so amazing and sweet!

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The “why New Zealand”…

Posted in races, running, trail, travel with tags , , , , , , , on December 3, 2013 by afuntanilla

(Written earlier on the plane from SFO to NZ. Currently at destination and IN heaven!)

New Zealand had never been on my radar, my bucket list or anything of the sort. Back in the early 1990’s, a friend a mine went by herself, to explore and vacation and I remember thinking, “wow, that is so awesome…here she is going all that way by herself.” I admired her for taking it upon herself to just go. She returned and told me of her adventures and the beauty of the country and that was the last I had heard of the country for a long while. Over the years, I have only met a few people who had been there and they, too, had good things to say.

So, I have this book titled, ‘Extreme Running’. I bought it a few years ago after I became interested in participating in ultramarathons. The book is basically filled with pictures, information, and inspiration to go run in some amazing places…all distances over the marathon. Back in the early part of this year, I was thinking I wanted to give a go again at the 50 mile distance. My one attempt back in 2007 at the JFK 50 miler ended in somewhat disappointing fashion as I had to exit the course at mile 34.4 because I had missed a time cut off. It was bittersweet as that (34.4 miles) was the farthest I had ever run, but definitely disappointed I was not able to finish the race due to the race rules regarding time.

As my desire reared its head to again try that distance, I was flipping through the book, and came across the Kepler Challenge 60k in New Zealand. After reading the incredible description of the race, surrounded by amazing beauty, and looking at my calendar, I decided I would attempt to get into the race and hope for the best. 60k is obviously not 50 miles, (60k is 37.2 miles) but I thought, “well….it IS New Zealand and it would be a chance to travel someplace super cool and you have been wanting to take a big trip for a while, so why not…..?” Also, I could not find a 50 miler that was enticing enough in a) location b) enough time to train, etc…

So, all I had to do next was wait for the online entry to open in July.

July came and oddly enough, I was waiting for something else at that time; to find out if I got chosen in the lottery system for the Nike Women’s Marathon in SF in October. So, as I am waiting for that result, I am online at the appropriate time to register for Kepler. Aware that the chance of me getting a slot is not great because the number of runners allowed is small, around 450, and the race is very popular. So, it was a total chance. In my mind I’m thinking I could get into BOTH these races; the marathon in October and then a 60k trail race about 7 weeks later. YIKES. But then again, I might not get into either! DAMN…..

After hitting the submit button for Kepler, I got an email saying that all entries had been filled and I would be put on the wait list. Damn. Ok…..
A day later, I received another email saying I was allowed in because I would be coming as an international runner! YAY…..YIPPEEE….I WAS GOING TO NEW ZEALAND. I was going on an adventure!!!

And with that, I proceeded to look into the necessary planning. It had been about 20 years since I last traveled outside the United States, (except for Montreal, Canada in 2004).

Within a week, I received notification I had gotten into the Nike marathon. Oh shit. I got into BOTH. I mean, yippee, right?!!!??!!!
(Me thinking to myself….angie, what are you getting yourself into???)

How do I prepare for a road marathon and then a longer trail race with over 4000ft of elevation gain, while traveling clear across the world? How do I do that?
Well, my plan was to train for the marathon as I have in the past and mix in a weekly trail run. Then, after the marathon, get some serious trail runs done, and hopefully the mix and the timing will all work out.

About half way through the marathon training, I questioned my plans…doing 2 big races so closely together on the calendar. Was it smart? Was it a bad idea? Was it too much? Was I over zealous? What were my options; don’t do the marathon. Just focus on Kepler. Ok. Maybe…..no, I want to do both, I want to try to do both. Well, over zealous or not, I stuck with it. The marathon didn’t go as I would have liked… and that is due to a variety of things. I rested for 2 weeks and then started getting some trail runs under my feet on the weekends. Running almost exclusively in Marin on the Dipsea Trail and the Tennessee Valley Trails, I worked hard, had fun, and thoroughly enjoyed all the amazing views, colors, smells, etc….I literally huffed and puffed up the many steep climbs and felt like a free little kid as I flew down the descents! That feeling right there, of going so fast on the downhill sections, that sensation of wild abandonment, that sense of play, that sense of joy…..that is my WHY. I hadn’t realized how much I needed to get off the pavement.

I really needed a least 2 more weeks of running on trails, getting in 1-2 more long runs in on the terrain. But, the calendar moves along and we have to move with, right!

I have no idea what will happen on race day, Dec 7th. I have no idea how the travel will affect me. I will have 3.5 days after I land to adjust to the time, etc…
I would have liked at least 2 more weeks of trail training, I would have liked to feel physically stronger and less fatigue in my legs, etc….but I am where I am and all I can say is, I will show up and do my best and give everything I have. I don’t so much look at this as a race, but as an adventure. For those who don’t know, trail running/racing is a completely different experience than road racing. I mean, there were 30,000 women running the half and full marathon in SF! There will be 450 for KEPLER! It’s more laid back, less fanfare, and more communal. I hope to meet some cool peeps and enjoy the ride. I expect to be out there for a long time.

My goal: to have fun and to finish.

Oh, and then…..I will travel around and have myself a vacation!!!

Cheers!

Running around…

Posted in motivation, quotes, races, road, running, trail, travel with tags , , , , , , on November 28, 2013 by afuntanilla

My feet, my legs, my entire body has run in many places. I’ve gone running just for fun or training in many cities across America and have also raced in numerous locations.
My feet have touched the ground in Seattle, Washington and toured their downtown areas, found a local Peets and ran by the beautiful campus of University of Washington. My legs have propelled me along the shores of Lake Michigan and through the amazing, diverse streets of Chicago as I caught the marathon fever and ran my first and second marathon in that there city. I can still remember now, very clearly, those last 6 miles of my 1st marathon in 2000. My feet ached like hell, my body overly spent and somehow I found the strength to continue. There were literally thousands of runners all around me. We ran past the Chicago White Sox ballpark and I gathered as much energy as I could as we ran parallel to the Lake. I have never forgotten the scene of that last mile as the streets, and then stands, were jam packed of spectators/cheerleaders; those crazy, supportive people who come out in droves to cheers us runners on to the finish line. It was thunderous, colorful; a scene and a feeling I hope I never forget.
As I traversed the United States by car several times, I have had the pleasure of running in the 7000 feet elevation city of Flagstaff, Arizona (one of my favorite small cities), the absolute and utterly flat lands of Lubbock, Texas, through an old, quaint mining town of Bisbee, Arizona, along the fringes of the beaches in both Myrtle and Virginia Beach (South Carolina/Virginia); I’ve run though the downtown areas of Cleveland, OH before heading to the wild and booming Browns stadium filled with thousands of my best friends for four hours. I’ve run a few marathons in my birthplace of San Francisco, California and did an epic 40 mile run on my 40th birthday in the city where I was raised, San Leandro, California.
And HEAT, yes, I’ve been in the heat. For about 13 years, I trained and raced in and around Atlanta, Georgia. I ran mile after training mile on the gorgeous, peaceful, paved Silver Comet Trail, the hilly, windy trails of Sweetwater Park, circles of paths in and around Stone Mountain Park, and through more neighborhoods than I can list. The stifling heat and humidity of the south will always remain a heavy KNOWN in my body, a sixth sense perhaps, but I will also never forget running through the snow storm that blanketed and shut down Atlanta for a few days a few years ago. THAT was fun.
Birmingham, Alabama grabbed me more than once as it puts on a terrific half marathon every February. The sleepy, slow city with nothing else to do comes alive in the dead of winter and has an awesome race in typically chilly temperatures.
And I have done what perhaps many of you have as your number 1 bucket list item; I have run the “Rocky Steps” in Philadelphia. As I finished a short run though the city, I ended it by going up those few steps and of course, raised my arms in victory as I got to the top. Myself and many others were all so proud of ourselves. I think every person should do this at least once in their life. I’m not sure you have TRULY lived until you have run the “Rocky Steps.”
More heat and humidity dragged me down in the cities of Orlando and Panama City Beach, Florida. Not much else to say there.
I sucked some wind in Denver, Colorado but luckily found a Peets Coffee along the way. I’ve gotten my fill of education as I ran through the campuses of University of Texas (Austin, TX), Clemson (Clemson, SC) Harvard (Boston, MA), University of Nebraska (Lincoln, NE), Vanderbilt (Nashville, TN) and the mighty orange of The University of Tennessee (Knoxville, TN) I’ve suffered through boring routes comprised of office parks in New Jersey and Connecticut and come alive on tortuous runs and races in Marin County, California. I paid tribute to history as I ran past the many memorials in DC and then gasped at the beauty of the George Washington River. I have raced on The Las Vegas strip and took refuge in its farther removed Red Rock Trails. I’ve found breathtaking beauty on the Appalachian Trails of Maryland before being pulled from the JFK 50 mile race because of a time cut-off.
And many more roads and trails in between and all over.

My legs, my feet, my body have given me more than I could ever ask for and I am enormously thankful I am able to do my thing. I do my best to treat it well; to feed it properly and adequately, to allow it to rest, to play and dance and move in non-running ways. I try to do my best to appreciate what my body CAN do instead of focusing on what it cannot yet do or may never do…but I often fail in my efforts of appreciation. I can be demanding. I can be greedy. I want more. From me. And so, I try to be mindful of appreciation, of realistic expectations, of balance….

I am now “on vacation” until Dec 16th. This is absolutely foreign to me as I have never taken this much time off of work. I have never taken any sort of trip anywhere that didn’t involve a race or some fun running. And I have ZERO regrets about this. I don’t think I am suited to go lay on a beach, beautiful as they may be. I am meant to roam, to explore, to go sniffing around while I’ve got my kicks on….

And now, I am taking myself on another adventure to do what I have long dreamed of; running an ultramarathon outside of the United States. I will travel to New Zealand to take part in the Kepler Challenge on DEC 7th. The race is 60k (37.2 miles) all on trails in the southern area of the South Island of NZ! I’m beyond thrilled to be going on this adventure.

More later on the why New Zealand and my hopes and expectations for the race and the trip itself.

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Nike Women’s Marathon Race Report: Going way beyond comfort levels….

Posted in photos, quotes, races, road, running, shoes with tags , , , , , on October 23, 2013 by afuntanilla

Well. What a race. The marathon deserves and demands much respect. if you do not train properly (i.e. enough), it will be a painful experience. Gonna be painful anyway, but not training enough will put your further into the hurt box. Such was my experience today at the Nike Women’s Marathon; my 3rd go at this particular race and my 9th marathon overall.

The start area is tremendous. 30,000 women packed into San Francisco’s Union Square to begin the journey at 6:30am. The thunderous crowd of females (and a few males) lined the narrow streets and waited for the countdown; 10, 9, 8…

A few strides in and I knew. I knew it was going to be a tough day for me. My legs just felt heavy. Tired. My quads. Not a good sign.

The start is a bit staggered but even so, it is very congested and for the first 3 miles, it is very packed. Runners moving tightly together, trying to find some space..It felt a bit surreal for me those first 1-3 miles. Felt like I was floating…couldn’t really get a good grasp of my feet. Strange. After we weaved our way through the financial district, we hit the Embarcadero and it was still quite dark out. Great running weather; about 50 degrees and foggy. The first 6 miles are almost all flat — just 2 very very short hills. Can you believe I had forgotten my earbuds so i was without my own music. very disappointed about this…could have really used it in the later miles…

Between running this race 2 times in the past, the SF marathon 2x and the SF 1/2 marathon 2 times, and all the training I’ve done, I knew this course well. I knew where the hilly parts were and what to expect, etc…but, today, it didn’t matter. Miles 6-11 are the most hilly…some steep climbs up through the Presidio area, Sea Cliff and then a long steep downhill past the Cliff House and into Golden Gate Park. The first 13 miles are “tougher” than the 2nd 13 from a standpoint of course difficulty, but of course the back half of the race is tougher because well….it’s 13 more miles!! Unfortunately, I started to feel physically bad around mile 9. Even after the long downhill around mile 10 didn’t help. In fact, my quads were feeling it there…very tender. So, basically from that point on until around mile 17, I found myself having a raging battle in my head!!! (THAT is a long time to have a battle in your head let me tell you!!)

Here is some of what it was like in my head: maybe you should not finish. maybe you need to stop. maybe you just need to call this a training run and let it go. then i have to explain to friends what happened. i don’t want to do that. i don’t want to disappoint them. disappoint myself. but, what do you have to prove? you have already run 8 marathons! you are already in pain…think of how much more pain you will be if you keep going? you have a long way to go still, Angie. this is driving me crazy. this is not fun. there is no way I will reach my goal of 4:20ish. my time will be bad. who cares? check your ego! let go!! i guess this is what happens when you don’t put in as many training miles as you should. ugh. crap. i don’t know what to do. i have to decide soon. just focus on one mile at a time.

So several times, i thought i would pull myself from the course and thereby receive a DNF…Did Not Finish for this race. There were several opportunities to do so at very attractive points on the course; Mile 13 and between miles 16-17 for example. Once I was past mile 17, I knew if I did in fact pull myself, I would have a long and unpleasant walk back to the finish line and where the shuttle was located to take us back to the start. For a few miles probably between 9-12, my mind was fixated on “should i stop”. There was a lot of badgering going on inside my head…the pros, the cons, the very realistic reasons why it would be ok. I suppose during those miles I was trying to come to peace with that possible decision. I guess I never found that peace. I stopped somewhere along the great highway between miles 17-18. I looked around and then started running again. A few minutes later, I stopped again. This time, I looked back and glanced at the runners behind me and who were now passing me in these few seconds. All I could think was; “how can I possibly NOT finish?”

And, so..i kept moving.

With full knowledge, I not only embraced the pain, I literally DOVE right in it and said, ‘Ok…I get it…it’s your time to take over…but, know this…you will not break me.’

It’s an interesting thing…to knowingly dive into something you know will be challenging and very painful….especially when you know you have the choice. No one was forcing me to keep running. I could have stopped at any time. I’ve already run the marathon 8 times. What did it matter on this day that I finish? I hadn’t trained enough and I was clearly paying the price for not giving the marathon the absolute full respect it demands and deserves. Hands down. Really, what did it matter….I had nothing to prove to anyone. Did I? I guess the answer just came down to the fact that I truly owed it to the race, to the event itself, to finish. And, I owed it to me…for the amount of training i HAD put in. And I felt I owed it to the many other women out there…who were struggling in their own right…who were on the own journey…i owed it to them, my comrades on this day, to finish.

I felt more mentally and physically challenged than I have experienced in a while. And because of this, to finish, felt like a win. I had to dig deeper and stay focused more than I have ever had to before (or that I can remember) Miles 21-26 were super tough. I started to have some GI issues around miles 21-23….i was so sick of eating Hammer Gels and GU’s…i had also taken in 1/2 banana, 1 orange slice, 3 individual Clif Shot Blocks and a few sips of NUUN Electrolyte Mix. All of this was making my stomach not feel too good. Also, I did something I almost never do in a race; i stopped to urinate in a port-a-potty, not once, but twice! Arrrgghh! I truly hate having to stop for things while running. Usually, just a few short stops thru some of the water areas and I am good to go. But, today, was a whole different story and I just had to accept the circumstances and keep moving forward.

As I finish writing this 2 days post race, I feel this race experience perhaps taught me more than any other. It really feels quite profound. This was my overall 2nd worst finish time. And yet, It could very well be the marathon I am most proud of. Isn’t that something??!!

I definitely wouldn’t say I had fun out there…well, maybe I do enjoy the pain in some weird way…But, if you asked me after any marathon if i had fun, i would probably say no. It’s not a FUN event. I relish the experience. I enjoy the challenge. I bask in trying to find out just what I am capable of on any given day with the set of circumstances laid before me. That’s the “juice” for me. That’s what its always been about for me. Running…has been and is such an amazing teacher and the marathon is the event where there is a mirror all around you and you learn. You learn your strengths, weaknesses, etc…you see where you want to quit. And where you won’t. Where as ok as it could be, the fact of the matter is, you just must keep going. Some days, that is the only choice.

I thought I might cry a bit when I crossed the finish line, but I didn’t. That happened hours later when i came home and laid on my bed. I cried. For what it took. For what it gave. For me. going full circle.

Finish Time: 4 hours, 40 minutes, 27 seconds. — 2nd worst finish time. well….

What I ate: 6 gels, (Hammer Gel and GU Energy); 1/2 banana, 1 orange wedge, sips of Nuun Electrolyte.

Shoes worn: Nike Flynit (my orange pair) 🙂

Shorts: North Face (flight series) love these!

Shirt: Nike Dri-Fit Short Sleeve

Socks: Injinji toe socks…the best! no blisters ever.

Hat: San Francisco Running Co (orange hat)

Oh…yeah…this is the marathon that does NOT give you a medal….instead you get a little Tiffany Blue Box with a necklace after you cross the finish line. Each year it is different. In honor of the races 10th Anniversary, this was the necklace this year:

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On the back, it has inscribed: Nike Women’s 2013 Marathon San Francisco.

Some stats I pulled from the Race Results:

most women ran the HALF – MARATHON; 26,402

Full marathon runners: 4,364

That stat alone makes me feel a little more bad ass.  🙂

In my age group W 40-44, I came in 168 out of  433.

Thanks for reading and to those of you who know me and cheer me on in my crazy endeavors…Thank you.