for the joy

Posted in motivation, running, trail with tags , , , , on September 25, 2015 by afuntanilla

for the past few weeks, the running has been a time and place of pure joy. exhilaration. I lace up. I go roam with intention, with curiosity, with abandon, with determination, with freedom.

I enter into a place that is just for me, but makes me better for my life, for others.

I zone out, but zoom in.

Every sense feels on high alert. The smells on the trails permeate and refresh me after hours inside a boxy office. The beauty of all the enormous trees…so generous in their gift of shade, solace, inspiration…of respite from a world of pavement, buildings, stores, stuff…

my eyes awakened and renewed by seeing a blue bird whizzing by and the deer who startled me today. there she was just SITTING there at a switchback junction as if she was saying, “oh, hello.”

I, who has a habit of looking down, have to remind myself to look up…look up and what do i see…i see the Pacific Ocean out beyond…on this very warm late September day…i see the serene looking blue waters and want to keep running to her…i want to dive into her calmness, her consistency, her vastness.

My eyes so attune to this trail; my familiarity with it still growing, even after all these years, all these miles. My friend, my companion…

The roots, jagged rocks, smooth sections, dry, cracked hardened areas, the stairs…the never ending stairs and the ones that are slipped in here and there just to keep you honest, on balance. Talk about having to be and stay present. This is it. The place where attention is demanded, not just merely suggested. Stay present or you might miss the amazing beauty that falls upon you.

My ears activated by my own breathing, the rapid increase of expiration as I try to go faster up and up and up. Aroused by the simple stillness and quiet of a path with, at least for now, had no other runners.

As thankful as I am for a body that allows me to experience this movement, i am equally grateful to have all my senses in working order so that I may live and appreciate ALL OF THIS. Grateful for a heart that beats…

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listening

Posted in photos, quotes, road, running, trail with tags , , , , on September 4, 2015 by afuntanilla

Listening to one’s body. I don’t know if there is a more powerful thing we can do for ourselves. Everything lives in our bodies and it can tell us all we need to know about the state of our being. The thing is that we don’t often listen…we don’t often slow down enough to listen. We have so many gut, instinctual feelings; so many “sense of something” feelings and often times, we just let those “senses” just whiz on by. It takes practice to listen, to stop….to be willing to listen.

For the past 8 months or so, I’ve become better at listening to my body and those senses that come about in my quiet time. The slowing down has allowed me to have more clarity about many things in running, and life in general. It’s allowed me to really notice what feels good, what doesn’t, and so on…it may seem simplistic, but it’s not. I guess you could say, i’ve become more discerning in many areas of my life and i do consider this a good thing.

2 weeks ago I ran a short trail run and i wrote about it in my previous post. It was only 3-4 miles, but it was enormous in what it revealed. I recall feeling a little bit tired pre-run but as i wrote earlier, i truly felt this burning desire to simply be on the trail and in nature. I ended up having a fantastic time out there, experiencing my body free, unencumbered, loose and happy. I ran up, down and around the trails and sucked in the early evening, late summer air. I rounded a few higher bends and saw the golden hills below and off into the distance. They seem magical, inviting and pure. They are untouched innocence and they remind me of my small place in this world and they remind me of peace. They offer beauty and hope.

As I descend the final section which is less than 1 mile, i am at my most free…my stride lengthens, my smile widens and arms move swiftly. My chest expands as I run straight ahead, over hidden roots, dry dirt and crunchy leaves; around corners that make my body lean and feel childlike & giddy. I notice everything and nothing. I take it all in and let it go. What a lesson..i need it every.damn.day…..to let in and then let go. repeat. repeat.

When i finish the run, i am at a small hillside overlooking the town where i call home. A soft breeze blows and all seems quiet and peaceful out yonder on those small city streets. Everything seems ok. Right.

So….THAT is the kind of run that fills me up from head to toe and way beyond. As I was on a planned 20 mile training run this past Saturday (all on the road), my thoughts were very negative. “my legs are tired, heavy. i’m tired. i can’t even imagine running 10 right now, how am i going to do 20. Ok…just start, one foot in front of the other….” 2 miles later. “this sucks, i’m not having any fun. i don’t want to be running on all these streets right now. its so slooooow. ok, just walk for a bit and see how you feel…” .5 miles later, I started again and then stopped. I. was. done. I walked about 4 miles back to my car. I had lots of time to reflect in those 4 miles. As I reflected on my planned attempt at 45 miles, I realize I was not having any fun running on the road and the  run was supposed to be a celebration of my life…my 45 years of life…soon to come. My long runs lately all on the road have not been fun. they have been slow, irritating due to many traffic stops and uninspiring. That’s not the experience I want to have. I had originally planned the 45 to do on road because i thought it would be easier than trails and also i didn’t have enough time to train on trails. Also thought it would be easier for any potential help i would get in terms of crewing/support. So.

I’ve abandoned the idea of 45 on my 45th birthday. not because I don’t think i can do it, but because i don’t want to do it in the conditions i originally had planned. And, I am now not trained for trails so i can’t just switch the terrain with a few weeks left. I’m listening to my body and letting it go. I’m listening to me and letting it go. If this was 3 years ago, my mindset would have been…”no, you gotta do it…you gotta push through…” and i’m proud to say i don’t feel that way right now. I feel like I am doing myself a good service by listening and paying attention and being willing to see there is another way. I will plan another way to celebrate my life and of course, it doesn’t just have to be on my birthday….i truly believe we need to celebrate our lives on a daily basis as much as possible…in whatever way feels right and good for each one of us. We are all different and celebration looks different for everyone. The main thing for me, right now, is to act with intention and with what feels right.

On the flip side, I ran the same trail route 2 days ago and it was kinda a mini-disaster. I’ve been so stressed due to work that I could not even find solace in the run. That was unfortunate and then totally ok. Stress takes a HUGE toll on our bodies…way more than I think any of us realize. I was tired, but went to run anyway as I thought the movement and air would do me good. Well, I was just a mess. I stopped several times to walk and felt like i was just gonna breakdown in tears a few times….because i was just holding so much in. all the worry and stress and other stuff was just about to blow and it needed an outlet. When I finished and came to my ending spot, I let go. i just sat on the bench and cried. For all the stress i’ve been holding, for all the parts of me i want to be better that i’m struggling with, for the people in my life who are struggling, for the joy that i can find in one single second that can transform everything….for so much, for my own humanity…and this was the GIFT of this “run”. The gift of giving myself some time and space to just be. To let it be and then let go.

running is an entry into another world, a pathway to experiences that cannot always be articulated. whether you call them peak experiences or mystical events, runners continue to seek them. – George Sheehan

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This past week

Posted in motivation, photos, road, running, shoes, trail with tags , , on August 24, 2015 by afuntanilla

A step back week and found myself on 2 short trail runs mid week. 1 was on a trail i may incorporate into the big run. not sure just yet. part of it was new to me and lovely. was there about 5-6pm and the light and shadows and weather were all perfect. smells so good out there. i can’t quite name the smell…a mix of fragrant trees…need to investigate this! the part that was familiar to me was the part i have run many times in the past. I used to live closer to this trail years ago when i was began my love of running and ran here frequently. So, the delicious smell is even more welcoming. Went about 5.5 miles.

IMG_0381      Old, trusty ASIC Trail shoes!IMG_0386

Next day, went to trails near home. Was super tired/sore but I just had to go – you know that feeling, right??! As my legs and arms moved in unison and i felt the crunch, crunch under my feet, my level of happiness increased. Wasn’t tired anymore. Was another gorgeous early evening with few other beings in sight. The views, the gently swaying of the super dry grass/weeds, the hanging branches causing even my short body to duck a bit…all lovely and comforting. The last .75 of this one trail i like to do at the end is my favorite. It is mostly downhill with some twisty turns. I just absolutely love this part…i’m sure i’ve mentioned it before…i just feel like i can fly…my stride opens and there’s an awesome flow and freedom and i just wanna laugh or yell the whole way….it feels so much like the most natural self i can be. i’m not quite sure i can put it into words. I love when i am present enough to feel such a thrill. It happens often, but not all the time. the feeling is absolutely unmistakable and there is no replacement. this is part of the why. AND, the feeling lingered long after i was off that trail….

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Saturday: elected to do the longer run since i was gonna be out late in the evening. Ran more of the possible course and was a tough go even though it was only 13. Legs just felt heavy. Not surprised. Need a few rest days and a massage. Noticed during this route and last weekend I had to stop a lot for traffic which is not ideal, but necessary if i want to do this mostly on road. Need to start earlier. May also look for some alternate routes.

There are days when I feel certain and days of doubt. This week had both.

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XLV

Sunday

Posted in motivation, photos, quotes, road, running with tags , , , , , on August 17, 2015 by afuntanilla

Boldness is a positive characteristic of the spirit. Courage respects action; fortitude respects passion. We require resolution  not to yield to the first difficulties that offer.

{these are some definitions found in this awesome book i have borrowed from a friend. It’s from 1924 and titled: Lincoln Library of Essential Information. Filled with lots of fascinating info!!

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16 miles today. Started at 8:30am which was still too late. It’s been very hot here this weekend. 95-100 degrees. Ran on part of the course i think i will eventually run. Was good to be on a different route, and yet old familiar streets and lots of memories from my 20’s…

Got this nasty blister around mile 6.5. I think due to swelling of my feet due to heat. Not fun or comfortable. Legs actually felt pretty good throughout and all else was ok. However, the heat did get me and i ran the 2nd half slower than 1st.

…figuring it all out….can it happen. can i do it. can i make it…..

Awesome to be out on the quiet Sunday streets. I really love this part of it. The Sunday Long Run through the streets. I can hear myself breathe, think, not think, notice so many things….and then, nothing…

Thankful for the part of the route that offered shade!

XLV

George Sheehan

Posted in motivation, photos, quotes, road, running, shoes with tags , on August 10, 2015 by afuntanilla

In this pursuit of excellence we runners do something that upsets some observers: We reset goals. Runners are never satisfied; we are always in process.

We already possess all we need; It is effort that brings us to greatness and the fusion of what we are with what we can be.

-George Sheehan

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What’s possible?

XLV

Can I

Posted in motivation with tags , , , on August 7, 2015 by afuntanilla

Can I do it?

Do I have enough time?

Is my body capable?

Am I capable?

Can I do it?

XLV

A 13.1 Point of View

Posted in photos, races, shoes with tags , , , , on August 4, 2015 by afuntanilla

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I ran another half-marathon. July 26th, 2015 in San Francisco. The were a few other races at the event. One could opt to run the Full Marathon, the 1st half-marathon, the 2nd half-marathon, a double marathon or a 5k. I ran the Full in 2005, the 1st half in 2012, and the 2nd half in 2013, where I finally set a PR at the distance, 1:58:42. About 6 weeks prior to race, I had visions of breaking that PR, but as the date inched closer and the speedwork waned….i had to accept that I wasn’t going for a PR. As the hours came close to start time, I figured I could do 2:05. So. Off I went.

The 2nd half starts in Golden Gate Park. It was a cool, 55 degrees kind of morning. A bit of fog still lingering from the nearby Pacific. The 1st five miles are in and around the park…felt like a nice stroll with a bunch of people. I was very aware of pace and making sure i didn’t go too fast too early. After leaving the park, course goes through Haight-Ashbury, lower Haight, crosses market street to the Mission district. I was feeling ok. Not great. I was aware that I was pushing the entire way and keeping on pace. My exertion level felt high and my quads were getting tighter and tighter. Otherwise, i felt ok. [my longest run during this training was only 8 miles, so maybe that had an effect. 🙂 ]

I just kept focused. period. I knew the course so i knew if there were any potential uncomfortable places coming up and there weren’t. This half is actually almost all flat. Super slight hills in the park and 1-2 more on course, but they are really nothing. The first half is much more hilly, FYI. So, I knew i would hit my goal time if i just stayed focused….After the mission, we zig zag through Potrero Hill, Dogwatch and then very close to the bay in the Mission Bay neighborhood. Run right by the SF Giants Ballpark (A T & T Park) and a straightaway along the Embarcadero to the Ferry Building. As we approached A T & T Park, that’s when i felt i hit a wall. It was just past mile 12. Legs were shot. I stopped to walk a min. I couldn’t believe how i just couldn’t really lift my legs. Kinda funny now, actually. Anyway…i kept chugging along and finished 2:05:51.

I was fine with this as my expectations were inline. Some stats:

Overall: 1518 out of 3984

Women: 591 out of 2118

Females Age 40-49: 99 out of 381

So….I have to say that once again I’m very grateful to be healthy and able to run. I try not to take anything, especially my health, for granted. AND…as I crossed the finish line, I noticed that i was very kind of ho-hum…not really excited or anything. Happy to be done because it was a push for me at that pace right now, but otherwise…just not too excited. So, I just noticed this feeling and kinda explored what it is about…and you know what….it’s because it was such a short race!

What’s next? Stat tuned. I’m scheming….

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P.S. Shoes: The New Balance 1400v3. Great shoes I bought in early July. It’s super lightweight, racing type shoe. Not much cushioning so i won’t wear it for longer distances, but was great today as it was for the Peachtree Race i did on 7/4/2015.

Onward!

Peachtree. Again. 

Posted in photos, races, road, running, shoes, travel with tags , , , , , , on July 9, 2015 by afuntanilla

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We gathered on the 4th day of July.  the day so historically significant, marking the United States independence. Freedom. Freedom. Freedom. I think of the many people who live in places where they are not so free….

We lined up. Some for the 37th time. Some for the 1st time. Or like myself, the 8th time. My 8th go at The Peachtree Road Race. The crowd so full, lively, ridiculously energetic on this early morning holiday. The famed start there at the corner of Peachtree and Lenox Ave…on your mark….

I felt happily light as I had no water bottle, no earphones, nothing with me or in my hands. The sky above was gray & a typical Atlanta thunderstorm was threatening. Bring on the rain, I said. If you know me, than you know I love running in the rain…especially a southern rain. Nothing. Like. It.

My goal was to run solid, have fun, soak it all in and push! All week my legs had been feeling heavy, but this morning, all was good. I had a feeling I would have a good day. Sometimes, I can just feel it as soon as I wake up whether I will run well or not….and this morning as I readied myself in the hotel room, I had a good feeling.

Off we went and the miles were passing by. I was keeping 9 minute mile pace, conscious to not go to fast as I didn’t want to lose steam later in the race as I have done so many times in the past. This course, this damn course…often times, it just gets me miles 4-5.5! I was determined not to let that happen. Well. The 3rd mile was even faster at 8:43. I didn’t want to go that fast, but that’s what happened…

As we started the initial climb up the major hill (Cardiac Hill), I was feeling strong and kept my pace strong throughout…up and over…and onto a flat stretch to mile 4 which starts the long, gradual ascent til about 5.8 miles. It doesn’t ever look difficult but often times in the past I have just really slowed down during this stretch….

Not today;  legs in great stride, pushing, feeling my breathing, my heartbeat beating….so happy to be alive and running as a harder rain fell on us all. Ahhhh….that was the moment, my moment…LOVE IT!

I turned the corner at Peachtree and 10th and headed fast on the last downhill stretch into the finish next to Piedmont Park.

Done, done, done. Another Peachtree in the books. One of the best races I’ve had here and happy with my finish of 56:08.

 

The shoes in the picture where new…bought just the day before and had no problems whatsoever. I was able to walk around in them a bit day before race, so all was good. They are NEW BALANCE 1400v3, a racing shoe. Good stability and enough cushioning for this day. Super light and fun to run in. Got ’em at The Big Peach Running (of course!) store in Decatur. Best running store ever! (multiple locations…i love the decatur store best)

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Happy to be healthy and out enjoying life on the roads….

What’s Next??

January ( a little late) 

Posted in Uncategorized on June 11, 2015 by afuntanilla

With January 2015 about to go in the history books, I thought I would update with my own slices of what has been happening….

January – feels like this has been a long month! I started the year off with some lingering issues from the North Face 50k race. I focused on taking it easy post race and just walked, stretched, used a stretch band thing to try to stretch my tight-ass hamstring. Just took everything pretty slow and easy and tried to recover. Slowly, I beckoned myself out the front door and onto the roads and felt my legs find their stride. And I do mean, literally, “find their stride”. My legs felt so out of whack for a few weeks post race that my stride felt quite awkward and off balance. I was trying to pay attention to the whole, “don’t overcompensate in one area because some other part isn’t working”. Still, my stride felt really off. I got a couple of massages and it helped. Slowly. Massage, stretch, rest. Repeat. Luckily, I wasn’t in any hurry and I felt fine with taking my time. I was just glad for any day I could be outside, even if I was walking.
I also started doing a bunch of exercises at home; core work, push-ups (which I have been doing diligently every other day for over a year!) tri-dips, etc…I’ve gotten a nice little cool routine going and I love it. I’ve been doing it every day or every other day. Many days, I look forward to it! It’s great to come home and just start the routine and leave a work day behind (sitting, being indoors) and be totally focused on something healthy!

As January rolled along, I found I was simply running short distances 3-5 miles and I decided to start working on my speed again. So, I’m gradually doing that…adding in sprints or hill repeats at the end of a run. Training on the hills for the past 6 months really took a toll on any sort of speed I had…but that’s the trade off….endurance for speed. So, I’m fine with being back on the road for a bit. I’ll probably mix in a trail run 1x a week, but probably not more than that right now.

I am targeting my 5k pace first and then I will probably move on to 10k pace.
I’m just kinda loosely following some training advice online. Nothing too serious. Unless I want to really be more serious. We’ll see. I’ve never been very fast, but if I can get back to 8 minute miles for 10k distance, I’d be happy with that pace!

I ran my first 5k today in years! Man, that sure goes by a lot faster than 50k. It was flat & fast. I finished 26:15 @ 8:21 pace per mile. Good place to start. A good barometer as I move forward.

What’s next?

post-race musings

Posted in motivation, photos, running, shoes, trail with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 19, 2014 by afuntanilla

Time to write about what worked, what didn’t, at the North Face 50k, and more importantly, why.

Training; part of this went well and part didn’t.

The positives: 90% of my training was on the exact course. This was a huge help in getting my body and mind prepared. There were no surprises (except the mud)
I got in some long days and long back-to-back days.

What could have been better:
I believe I would have benefited from running more with others on the course. This would have pushed me to increase my pace & probably increase my distance. (Not to mention the companionship on the trail)
Overall, I prefer to run alone, but 1x a week or something like that would have been beneficial.

Signing up for race EARLY! – as mentioned in earlier posts, I went to sign up for the race late and it was already sold out. So, I was all out of sorts for 2 weeks trying to see if I could get in. Then, I got in. Then, 3 weeks before race day, I decided to transfer from 50m to 50k. Although that ended up being a very good decision, the whole mess around not entering early, being undecided on distance…all of that was mentally challenging and stuff I could have done without.

Race day itself: I don’t think I could have done anything differently that would have resulted in a better finish (time wise). I felt pretty darn good for the first 15 miles and then I didn’t feel so good, incrementally. Maybe a salt tab would have helped with what I perceived as legs cramps, but I have never taken one before and I didn’t want to experiment right then and there. (Wouldn’t it be great if we could stick something in our mouth, like a thermometer, to tell us exactly what is wrong; like a red color means need salt, a yellow color means need protein, etc…I mean we have other instantaneous tests for pregnancy and for fevers, why can’t there be something like this? Hmmmm….)

I believe my injury to my left leg caused me limitations as the race progressed and then a different issue emerged on my right leg that I am still trying to figure out what it is…

But, all in all, my result is in line with how I trained. Perhaps could have been about 30 minutes faster if the mysterious new right leg issue didn’t occur.

GEAR; wore my Salomon pack. In hindsight, I could have done without this. Could have gotten by with a hand held and another something around my waist to carry some gels. There were plenty of aid stations to refill water, etc.

Shorts; north face, black. Love these shorts. Should buy more pairs.
Shoes; HOKA Stinson- good shoes for this muddy, wet, day. Heavier than the Huaka’s, but these have better traction.
Shirt; North Face Mountain technical shirt.

Nutrition: 2 hammer gels every hour, 1 package of tailwind, chips, orange slices at a few aid stations, water.

I carried water in my Salomon pack and then also a handheld in the pocket. I used the bottle for Tailwind (later miles)

Last but not least, what worked was COMRADERIE!

As mentioned in previous post, I have never done a race before where I experienced this level of COMRADERIE. It started pre-race. I randomly met someone who I follow and who follows me on Twitter. she recognized me from pictures and we had a fun brief exchange!
Next, while on the 1st climb up Bobcat, I look to my left and say “hey, I know you, I follow you on Twitter.” How freaking random is this??
More fun exchanges.
On the climb up Coastal, chatted with a fella from SoCal who would later see me at the finish & thank me for our chat and how much it helped him push through. Very cool especially cause I have no idea what I might have said that could have helped!
In line waiting for shuttle and then on shuttle, chatted with a local fella & totally swapped race stories and other life chatter. FUN!

What also worked? I had fun & smiled!!

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