Archive for the travel Category

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.

20131127-201808.jpg

light and dark

Posted in motivation, photos, quotes, random, road, running, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 13, 2013 by afuntanilla

Have missed writing for a bit, and instead of giving a total recap, will just give some highlights.

Last week, i was able to check off an item on my bucket list; i went to the US OPEN Tennis Tournament in NY. Going to see one of the Grand Slam Tennis events in person has been a desire of mine since I seriously began following tennis in the late 80’s. i finally made it happen and am thrilled that I did!

Here are just a couple of pics from midtown and central park

Image

Image

Image

While I was severely disappointed not to see Roger Federer play because he had lost on the day prior to my travel, I did get to see Victoria Azarenka, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Stan Wawvrinka, and the Bryan brothers (play doubles) The Murray/Wawvrinka was the best match I saw. It had everything I wanted to see; drama, great intense tennis and an underdog winning. AND, the energy of the crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium was thrilling. It was a gorgeous late afternoon match, the sun was beating down on us with not too much heat, and we watched awesome tennis. Perfect. Ashe stadium was the only stadium I watched matches so i don’t know what the others feel like, but Ashe was great. My seats were not very close, but in general, just to be there was pretty special.

Image

I was only in NY for 3 days and only ran once for about 3 miles. Went for a wonderful walk in central park for about 1.5 hours with 2 pals. Did a ton of walking just in general. Of course, NY!!!

Came home on Friday and was beat!

(Sept 2) Monday: 6 miles outside – 9:23 pace; 1 mile walk

(Sept 5) Thursday: 30 minute run – NYC

(Sept 7) Saturday: 4 miles outside – 9:07 pace

(Sept 8) Sunday: 16 miles outside – 10:14 pace

This last Sunday run was clearly the highlight. Longest I have run all year. And the best I have felt on all my long runs as of late. As mentioned in previous posts, I have felt sluggish, very heavy physically (+emotionally) and have just felt very weighed down! I’ve definitely turned a corner and the first thing that happened as I turned my Garmin switch to “stop” after Sunday’s 16 miler was a huge smile came upon my face. So happy with my effort. Grateful to feel my running VIBE again. If you are a runner, I think you GET what I mean. AHHHHH

Went for another “ice bath” in the Pacific Ocean afterwards!! AMEN! Felt so freaking great!!

Image

I cannot express enough how much “lighter” I felt while running, especially over the weekend. I attribute this to the following:

1) taking care of myself emotionally and getting thru my stuff

2) travel – having fun – complete change of pace

The hard stuff in our lives, the difficult times, we need it — for balance. Sure, it never feels good, all that hard stuff; but we gotta have the patience and the care for ourselves to get through it. It can be grueling. But…then….you get to the other side. There is light after darkness.

Thankful.

“Endurance is just not the ability to ability to bear a hard thing, but to turn it into glory” – William Barclay

Ramping up…

Posted in photos, races, running, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 5, 2013 by afuntanilla

Been slowly ramping up the running as I prepare for my 9th Marathon, the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco on October 20th! This will be my 3rd time running this race and I believe they have altered the course a bit, but I don’t think the new route has been released yet.

I’m excited to run the race and continue to try to improve on my marathon finish time.

428654_545853705453090_2128426409_a

Ran 27 miles for the week:

5 miles Tues. Treadmill + strength training

5 miles Thurs. Treadmill  + strength training

5 miles Sat. – bay trail in san rafael – first time running there…pretty cool. great views of the bay!

IMG_0225

(Richmond-San Rafael Bridge)

12 miles Sun. – Petaluma — a few hills the first 6 miles, then flat. Longest run since my Half Marathon at the beginning of June.

IMG_0229

(still lovin’ my Nike FlyKnits…now I just want a 3rd Pair! eek!!!)

Been focused on eating better specifically for recovery purposes. Specifically trying to make sure I take in enough protein, and IRON especially, since lack of IRON seems to be a culprit with me when I boost up the mileage.

Been steadily using my R8 Recovery Tool I mentioned a while ago. Love that thing!! Self-Massage for LEGS.

In other news, I am finally fulfilling on my bucket list and that is to go to watch the US OPEN TENNIS Tournament in NY in SEPT! I’m super excited. I’m have tickets for a couple of night sessions — all quarterfinal matches and I hope to see Roger Federer play! I’ve always wanted to go to a major and watch him play, so I hope this is the one. If he happens to get knocked out earlier than the quarterfinals, I will be bummed, but I know whomever I get to see play will be playing great tennis. I can’t wait to go to the venue and be in the energy of that place!! Every year, I have watched from my TV set and keep saying, “I want to go.”

Well. I tell you now; I am going!! Woot Woot!!

IMG_0228

tumblr_ludtikzPLg1r30meqo3_1280

 Oh, Peachtree…

Posted in motivation, photos, races, running, travel with tags , , , , , on July 7, 2013 by afuntanilla
IMG_0192
I have not found a way to successfully “race” the Peachtree 10k Road Race. I lived in Atlanta for 13 years and ran the race 4 times as a resident. I’ve now completed my 3rd time running the event as a non-resident. It was not “easier” as a resident who had the time to acclimate. My finish times were a bit better while residing in the languishing heat and sultry humidity, but the running the race itself has always been for me an experience of knowingly putting my body under duress. Because even though I haven’t felt like I was actually “racing” like I can in other 10k races, I have always gone out there trying to do my best and go as fast as possible on the given sweaty and patriotic 4th of July morning.
It had been a rain of frequent rain before Peachtree and the forecast for race time was 100% rain forecasted. I welcomed the forecast as I LOVE to run in the wet stuff in Atlanta. I love the feel of the large, heavy drops plopping on my skin in the hot summers. While a resident, I was caught in more than a few rainstorms on my training runs and I got soaked and SOAKED in the experience on all of them. It always felt a bit magical to me….running along a quiet Atlanta street, so many trees near and far, the green leaves glistening in the distance and the rain pouring down in front of me. AHHHHHH…..no where near a nuisance, but a gentle companion (except those FEW exceptions when there may have been hacking thunderstorms)
So, yes, I would not have minded the rain. Unfortunately, the rain did not grace herself for us; nor did the heat. The humidity did show up, though, in full force. Temperature on race morning was about 72 degrees, 95% humidity. Ouch.
Welcome to Atlanta!
IMG_0191
 PRE-RACE
IMG_0193
I walked the short distance from the hotel to the starting line. Along the way, the Elite Women had begun. They were the 1st group to start. A large group of us who were walking to our respective start areas all stopped, dead in our tracks, to watch these phenomenal women athletes. The small group of women ran swiftly by us, looking like a pack of gazelles….their strides so graceful, smooth, and fast! After they passed by us, we all kinda turned to each other and smiled that “wow” smile when you witness something great! Pretty cool!
Onward toward my starting wave, Wave C, start time to be 7:41 a.m. Well, as group A began, group B and C moved up, but my area of Group C somehow got lumped in with group B, so my start time moved up 5 minutes and as such, my Garmin was not ready when I started. I had been waiting for it to calculate my position for GPS purposes, but by start time, it was still “thinking”, which was frustrating. So, I began.
Mile 1 – from Lenox Mall and through Buckhead. Flat. Just feeling my way into it. PACE Unknown
Mile 2- by now, my gps was working so I began my watch at this time. This mile is flat to downhill. At 2.8 miles, my client, who is 88, had been along the route to cheer me on. How cool is that??! I was delighted to see him. I gave him a big hug and he said, ” go get ’em, kid!” PACE 8:44
Mile 3 – the gradual then steep climb up to Piedmont Hospital and then flat for about 1/4 mile. PACE 9:07
Mile 4 – really started to feel sluggish here. thinking i probably needed more to eat than just the 1 Powerbar for breakfast. Not sure what I was thinking. Legs didn’t feel too bad, just feeling like I needed some energy. PACE 9:46
Mile 5 – always a deceptively difficult mile. looong gradual uphill mile. more sluggish. they had water stations at every mile marker and i took a few sips at each one….slowing down a little bit more at each station. PACE 10:22 (ouch)
Mile 6 – flat, short super small incline, and then downhill across the finish line. PACE 9:17
Finish Time: 58:56
Happy to have completed another Peachtree, but a bit disappointed I did not have a better finish time. While running, I actually thought it was a little faster. I just went through my computer to see what my best result was here and I CANNOT BELIEVE IT, but my best finish time at Peachtree WAS in FACT when I was a NON-RESIDENT!! I ran the race in 2003 with a finish time of 54:09
Well…what does that tell ya??!
NOTHING! Just gotta laugh.
POST – RACE
IMG_0202
Thanks to my buddy in Sharon, in Atlanta, for hanging with me and cheering me on!
IMG_0203

short & long term

Posted in motivation, photos, races, road, running, shoes, trail, travel with tags , , , , , , , , on May 25, 2013 by afuntanilla

T-9 Random drawing process for NIKE Women’s SF Marathon (race date 10/20/13)

T-22 San Francisco Half Marathon (6/16/13)

T-40 Peachtree Road Race 10k (7/4/13)

T-42 Registration opens for Kepler Challenge 60k race (race date 12/7/13 New Zealand)

IMG_0083

CAN’T WAIT

RUN HAPPY

Whirlwind Calm

Posted in quotes, random, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 15, 2013 by afuntanilla

Last Sunday, I traveled to NY for long week of work. My days began early and ended late and there was a lot of sitting involved. A tough recipe for this active body to deal with, but…that’s the way it goes….

My work, in general, is dominated by males and by nature, is a very “aggressive” or “masculine” occupation. What do i mean by this: the occupation is very outward, high energy, with much focus on goals, accomplishments, etc…It’s nature is Outward. It’s the Yang (yin/yang) I enjoy my work and am pretty damn passionate about it. If you hear me talk about it, you will probably get that about me….at any time, it can be complicated, every changing, dynamic, challenging, maddening, enthralling, and very gratifying. It is not simple, easy, comfortable or boring. Thank Goodness!

My whole week was spent planning, strategizing, evaluating, reviewing, etc…all about the future and creating what I want and creating a plan to execute. And I loved it. It was mentally tiring and physically draining, but it was full of valuable nuggets for me to implement. It was a week long cram session.

Friday, I flew home to SF from NY and if you travel that route, you know it is a looong flight. Around 6 hours. + the travel to the airport in the morning and the travel home from SFO. Add on another 8.5 hours of sitting. ARRGGHHHH!!!!!! After a week of lots of sitting and little time for exercise. ARRRGGHHHH…..My body was dying for movement.

So, I arrive home about 9pm on Friday night and by 9am on Saturday morning, I was at a DAY LONG MEDITATION RETREAT CENTER. This was already planned into my schedule and when I realized it was the day after my trip to NY, it’s not like I was too excited for it since it involved more sitting!!

However….as the Gods would have it, it ended up being timed PERFECTLY. As I arrived at the beautiful center and settled in for our 1st of many meditations, I was quite thankful for this day and this opportunity. And I was enormously struck by the complete and utter contrast to the environment I just left….

This day was going to be 8 hours of SILENT MEDITATION. Surrounded in an environment that was gorgeous, restorative and nurturing. This was the feminine, the YIN, the INNER.

I was struck by these 2 opposite places and events and how I involve myself in both. I am passionate about my work and I am passionate about caring for my soul, my spirit. The 2 are not dis-connected. I weave them together. I can hold both.

“Sit. Feast on your life” – Derek Walcott

trail tales

Posted in motivation, road, running, trail, travel with tags , , , , , , , on March 1, 2013 by afuntanilla

ah…here I am again! So awesome. It’s a clear blue sky kind of Sunday, with temperatures maybe somewhere in mid 40’s. Feels cold, but also good. Good in the awakening kind of way…Good in the “it’s a good day to run” kind of day. 

There’s a small crowd gathering here in one of the open spaces of San Pedro Valley Park in Pacifica. I look around and start taking notice; trail runners. trail race. Such a different vibe here than a road race. Less people. Feels a lot more casual. I’ve always loved this vibe and happy to experience it again. In line for the bathroom, I listen to the chatter of those around me…talking about the cold, the course…all I know is it looked about 3 miles or so uphill and then about the same back down. Let’s get to it. 

Our 10k race began 10 minutes after the 50km, marathon and half marathon. I was a little bummed i had not entered the half distance, but felt the 10k was more appropriate for today. It would have about 1200 feet of elevation and that quite manageable. The small lot of us began our journey….a gradual then steeper ascents up and up and turn and turn on multliple single track switchbacks. my heart was beating. a great thing. no music on my ears today…just the sound of my own breathing (which got heavier and louder as the steps ensued) and the sounds of my fellow runners ahead and behind me. Most of the trail was in the open, not shaded. A gorgeous day. One short downhill and then up and up again. we finally reached the top and I looked and saw the Pacific Ocean over yonder. A beauty. Keep going. Finally on the descent; time to fly. My small body quickly making it’s way down and down more switchbacks. Not very rooted, pretty smooth trail. Gaining speed and hoping to pick up ground on anyone who might be in front of me. but, i see no one. they must be flying too. I’m going fast. I like this…this semi out of control feeling…but I feel good. i feel confident in my steps and stride. I am not holding back. Keep going. Finally, we are in the last mile and I pass not 1, but 2 women and 1 fella passes me. He was really flyin’! I rushed passed the ladies and then found myself going full steam into a section that was basically a eucalyptus grove. towering trees. wonderful. peaceful. i kept plugging along and all of a sudden with about .5 miles to go, i hear footsteps behind me and kept a panic surge. i don’t want anyone to pass me. legs were really feeling it now after the 3 miles of flying downhill….ahhhh…keep going…..

i did. i stayed ahead.

i finished my first race of 2013. Came in 2nd in my age group women 40-49. pretty cool.

 

mm_6_profile

awesome day. can’t wait to do it again. 

Shoes worn: Brooks Pure Flow. worked great on these soft packed dirt trails.

Running for Coffee and Fun

Posted in motivation, photos, random, road, running, shoes, trail, travel with tags , , , , , , , , on February 11, 2013 by afuntanilla

Yesterday I made a spontaneous trip down to Santa Cruz. It’s about a 2.5 hour drive from where I live. I just wanted to get out of town and go somewhere fun. I needed to get away but I didn’t know how much until I actually arrived. I arrived, checked into hotel, changed into my running clothes and hit the road for a quick 3 mile jaunt to explore and kinda get my bearings. It was a beautiful late afternoon, just a hint of cool temperatures. I ran through the cute, packed in downtown, saw the coffee shop i wanted to visit (VERVE COFFEE) and just made a loop back to hotel. Felt great to move my body. I’m SLOWLY getting back into running….and being ok with that…

I felt myself excited and awakened by the new sights all around me. My senses were awakened. On alert. I wanted to take it all in. I love how a new place has this effect. I had been to Santa Cruz many times in the past….but i’m talking about 25 years ago….

After run, made my way back downtown to visit Verve and find dinner. If you don’t know, I’m a big coffee fan and love finding new good coffee and coffee shops. Verve did not disappoint! I went to 1 of their 3 Santa Cruz locations. Its located downtown on the main street, Pacific. The shop was spacious, tall ceilings and a large area for the baristas to do their thing! A decent sized crowd were sitting and doing THEIR thing. I ordered a Cappuccino and passed on the yummy looking Chocolate Chip Cookie. While my drink was bring crafted, I nosed around in the shop…looking at their beans, mugs, apparel (yes!) and other logo items. I knew i would spend more than a few bucks in this place! I picked up my splendid cappuccino and took a seat at the bar area that allowed me to watch the baristas. Love that! The VIBE in this place was a huge plus. Young, cute,  friendly staff. All of them. Welcoming!  Image

I also ended up chatting w/ a gal who works there and she gave me a recommendation for dinner. I asked for “someplace casual with a TV to watch sports”. She directed me to SurfRider Cafe about 1/2 mile away. It was pretty packed but I got a seat at the bar immediately. Ordered a house-made Veggie burger w/ sweet potato fries and an ale called Dragon’s Breath. All very good! And again, loved the vibe in THIS place. Young, casual crowd. Very good and pleasant service. I think the VIBE i am speaking about is just very much Santa Cruz. Always been a very casual, independent, liberal place. Love that!

Saturday morning got up and went back to Verve for morning coffee. using my iPad, i found one of their other locations about 2 miles away and figured that would be a fun out and back route. So, off i went. There’s a river that runs thru town, The San Lorenzo River, and the route carried me on a path next to the river. Mostly flat, with just a little bit of incline. Gorgeous day outside. I could see the Boardwalk Rides off in the distance. And the Pacific Ocean. AHHHHH — Soon enough the short 3.6 mile run was over and again, i felt like i couldn’t run much more. for now!!

Got breakfast, walked around a bit, got cleaned up and headed to the Boardwalk. I went straight to the arcade and played my old favorite video games; Ms Pac Man & Centipede. Fun! I could’ve played longer, but had only a short time to get a few rides in and head back home. I chose 2 rides; Double Shot – which is just a straight ride up 125 ft. Super fast up and super fast down. a few times. I was facing the ocean and of course, great views. I was screaming and laughing the entire time. Other ride was the classic Giant Dipper roller coaster. More laughing the entire time. I love rides…i love the feeling of being locked in but totally out of control. SOOOO FUN. I really needed it.

This morning (Sunday) I drove just a short distance over to Mill Valley to hit some trails I had yet visited. These were right off of Tennessee Valley Road. I really had no idea where I was going, but i thought it would be easy to get back to the starting point, and it was. I ran, hiked up and came to some amazing views of the bay! Picture does not justice. Image

The trail up was mostly single track with hard packed dirt. I could’ve worn regular road shoes but I had my adidas trail shoes on. Came to some fire roads also. A hefty climb, especially given my current level of fitness..but i sure loved being out there!

So…I am making progress with getting back to being as fit as i want to be. Here’s a snapshot of what i’ve done lately.

Feb 10: 6 mile trail run; Elevation gain 1,179 (highest elevation gain since last August!)

Feb 9: 3.6 mile road run

Feb 8: 3 mile road run

Feb 7: core workout @ home

Feb 5:  3 mile treadmill run

Feb 2: 4.25 mile trail run; Elevation gain 635 (makes me realize how this is really nothing compared to what i can do in muir woods)

Feb 1: 3 mile road run

So as you can see, February is off to a much better start than January. Thank God for HEALTH! I still have not picked any races. Basically, I’m just trying to get a base level of fitness back and go from there. I saw a lot of folks on the trails today and that also gave me a boost!

Also, these are the newest add to my collection:

IMG-20130131-00814

Brooks Pure Connect. These are one of the minimalist shoes. Not the least MINIMAL, but mid range minimal. So far, so good. I like the feel..like they hug your feet. Good traction even on the trail I used them for last weekend. Got ’em at a new specialty running store: San Francisco Running Company located in Mill Valley. If you are in the area, go pay them a visit. Good guys running the show!

2012 Recap

Posted in motivation, photos, races, road, running, shoes, trail, travel with tags , , , , , , on January 7, 2013 by afuntanilla

Time to look back on the year of 2o12. A year of much, much change. A move across the country, a new job, a new relationship. Major events in my life. Here’s how the running went down.

January – in the early part of the month, I prepared to make my cross country move from Atlanta back home to San Francisco. I had a new relationship and was brimming with excitement. I was also full of angst and upset over a job I voluntarily departed. Leaving Atlanta was a big decision as my years there were so rich and significant in so many ways. And yet, It was time to go. To move on. In more ways than one.

By January 23, I was on the road, headed west. Over the next 10 days, I drove some of my belongings across our great country and stopped in a few places to stretch my legs and breathe in the air. I was able to run some miles in Oxford, Mississippi; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Flagstaff, Arizona (2x); and Las Vegas, NV (treadmill). My favorite runs were in Flagstaff. The temperatures were cold and my breathing labored in the higher elevation town, but i still loved it. A great little town in Northern Arizona.

January Miles: 75

February – February 1, I touched down in the bay area. Specifically, Petaluma, CA, where I would make my new home. Surrounded by old friends and a new love, I was pretty darn happy. And, for the first time in many, many years, I was without employment. That lasted all of about 2 weeks until I landed a new one and a great one, at that!

My feet and legs went to explore the streets of my new town in ways that I had never done before. I ran all over Petaluma and found that it was mostly flat and to to get any kind of hills, I had to seek them out. This was in stark contrast to Atlanta where hills are everywhere and flatlands are hard to find. It was refreshing to run in a new place and find my way around and notice new things. I spent the last weekend of the month in Ashland, OR and was able to run there as well. A post-snow run day was pretty fun.

Februray Miles: 54

March – I had signed up for a trail race so i needed to get some proper training in for this upcoming event. The only place to run trails in Petaluma is Helen Putnam Park. A good park to run in with mostly single-track, but it is not that big of a space so to run long miles (+6), you will be going over some of the same trails more than once. I was getting settled in to my work environment and looking for a place to live.

March Miles: 71

April – in preparation mode for a 7 mile trail race in Muir Woods which was mid month. A fantastic race. Just love running in that area. After the race, I began using a training program NIKE had designed for me to help me break 2 hours in the half-marathon distance. I started incorporating intervals and very specific strength training exercises into my training. Also started fooling around with Tennis and found I really enjoy it. But, wow…patience, patience, patience is needed on the court.

April Miles: 35

May – A month of shorter, faster runs. Continually saw my pace in the 8:30-8:40 per mile mark and was happy with this. Traveled to NY for work for a week and was very tough to keep up the running due to very long work days. Not fun sitting all day and then being too wiped out to exercise, but I did a little. A bit more tennis and more interval training.

May Miles: 52

June – at the beginning of the month, I had flown back to Atlanta to visit clients and also gather the rest of my belongings. I had to drive a Penske Truck from Atlanta back to SF. My 2nd cross country trip in 6 months. Whew!!! It was definitely not as fun or as fast as driving my BMW!! I took a different route this go around and ran in Dallas, Texas; Amarillo, Texas, and Las Vegas, Nevada. I was so happy when I got home and had NO MORE DRIVING TO DO! I joined a great local gym and was feeling good about my fitness level.

June Miles: 54

July – Early in the month was the heart of my 1/2 marathon training. I was feeling good about my pace, but wasn’t sure i had gotten in enough in enough long mileage. Prior to race day, my longest run was only 10 miles. But, otherwise, i was feeling good going into race day and knew I would have to push hard and trust myself. Race day was on July 29th and what a day it was. My previous best had been 2:01 and change. I achieved my new PR on July 29th at the SF Half Marathon with a finish time of 1:58:42. I was over the moon delighted. Can’t tell you what this meant to me. And to be back running in my hometown, with my love at the finish line…nothing better. A magical day!

dsc_0084

July Miles: 65

August – bought these superfly new Nike shoes. Nike Flyknit. Super light, awesome and fun to run in. tn-3

Fresh off the high from the race, I wanted to run another one. The NIKE SF WOMENS MARATHON was coming up in a few months, but already sold out. Luckily for me, I entered into a raffle for an entry and won. Decision made. I was going. OMG. I had about 8 weeks to prepare and was definitely nervous about the quick back to back. (although I realize some people run marathons every weekend, this was a lot for me, especially since I pushed my body so hard for the Half.) I got myself in gear and kept my expectations in check and went took to the roads.

August Miles: 70

September – full on training for full marathon mode! And, I celebrated my 42nd birthday!! Again, was feeling good overall, but did not get in super long runs. Longest run pre race day was 16 miles. However, I felt steady and solid and mentally ready to keep pushing. It helped that i scaled down my expectations. All I wanted was to toe the line and be there and have a decent finish. A PR was out of the question.

September Miles: 111

October – Race month. The big day was Oct 14th, again in San Francisco. Another fantastic race experience. I actually was feeling pretty strong until around mile 20. I was also on good pace until then so I know my long run of just 16 miles was what had hurt me. Had I been able to get in an 18 or 20 miler in during training, i think I would have had a better finish time. However, I was still fine with the 4:24 finish. My 8th marathon was done and I was super happy!

_DSC0144Later in the month, spent some time up the north coast in Sea Ranch and Gualala. Small, quaint little communities. A great quiet get-a-way! And, I even went swimming for the first time in ages!

Last but not least, The SAN FRANCISCO GAINTS won the WORLD SERIES. I had been at Game 7 of the NLCS and that is a time I will never forget. Bottom of the ninth inning, the game was already won, cold & rainy at the park, everyone soaked and just screaming at the top of our lungs. What a freakin’ blast!

October Miles: 66

November – I tried to take it easy during the month and really rest, but that didn’t happen. I “should” have taken maybe 2-3 full weeks off, but I didn’t. I had some days where I wasn’t truly enjoying myself, but i still didn’t rest. On the positive side, I had an awesome Thanksgiving holiday. One of the best I have had in many, many years. Surrounded by love, new and old friends. A happy day.

November Miles: 52

December – last month of 2012. not a whole lot to say. Some running, but not a lot and some of the runs were uninspiring. A few were great and those were back on the trails at Helen Putnam Park. Rainy, cold days and it felt great! Unfortunately, late in the month, I noticed my chest was hurting. Weird, i thought. Well, a week or so later, I developed some kind of flu or something and am still recovering from this about 10 days later. I think I am at the end of it, but there’s no way I can run. I tried that and got set back even worse. I will wait for some good signs from my body and not push it. Its tough as I am becoming excited and anxious about getting back out there and trying to reach new goals. But, I cannot afford to get re-sick, so slow and easy is the plan for right now.

December Miles: 48

As I recapped this year, i am surprised to find i only participated in 3 races. It seems like I trained for more than that! Looking back, I found real value in the NIKE TRAINING PROGRAM. I believe it helped me increase my overall fitness and I enjoyed the program. For that race, I really needed to focus more on speed and I did and it helped me reach my goal! Highlight of the year in my running world. I’m continually learning about quantity versus quality. It’s so important and I know I have more to learn. I would like to spend more time cross training with cycling, swimming, tennis and maybe even yoga. I have more and more thoughts swirling in my head, but that will be for later. I’ll end this now, grateful for the year. Grateful to be alive and with an abundance of love and goodness. Need to be sure to continue to let it all in and believe i deserve it. That’s the challenge.

Thanks for following along and wishing you all the best in 2013. Go Get After IT.