The Race: North Face 50k Endurance Challenge

Posted in motivation, photos, quotes, races, running, trail with tags , , , , on December 11, 2014 by afuntanilla

“We write to live twice” – Anais Nin

 

My day began at the pre-light hour of 4 am. I started the coffee grinder, put on water to boil for oatmeal; waking up to the day and the challenge before me. FINALLY. I felt like I was waiting for this day to arrive for soooo long. It was finally here. No more waiting.

I packed my Salomon pack with Hammer Gels, Tailwind, & water. I put my “after” clothes and flip flops in my gear check bag, dressed & headed to Larkspur. An empty, quiet drive south on Hwy 101 to the Larkspur Ferry parking lot. The shuttle took a yellow school bus full of 50k runners to the start line in the Marin Headlands. The bus was fairly quiet, everyone pretty much sitting alone with their gear next to them on their seat. Everyone in their own mental space…mulling around pre-race thoughts…(I wonder what that mental playlist would sound like if we could have a listen…)
As we wind our way over near the start, I look to my right and see a most amazing & beautiful sight; I see the big, glowing moon shining above, high above any low lying fog…and I also see an awe-inspiring row of lights in the darkness over yonder. What was it…it was the 50 Mile Runners making their way down the long descent on Rodeo Valley trail at approx mile 4-5. Them, in the hills, headlamps paving their way, against the backdrop of the moon and the blissfully quiet morning in west marin. It was really breathtaking. I wish I had a photo of that moment. Well, I guess I do, in my head! I’m glad to have it. Wow.

Arrived at the start location and handled logistics; gear bag check, bathroom break, etc…there was about 45 minutes til our start time. Glad it wasn’t cold or rainy!!

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Coming into this day, it was hard to gauge how I would perform. I had done very little running in 3 weeks prior, and yet, I felt like my body, especially my legs, were still NOT fresh. This brought about some anxiety and concern. To be honest, the last few times I ran, in Tahoe and then the Thanksgiving day race, at certain points along those runs, I remember just feeling tired of running. Not tired from the particular task at hand, but a more general tired in the bigger sense. I knew I needed a break so that’s why I did so little in the last 3 weeks. The question was how would it effect me? How was my mental state? Would I physically crash at mile 20? Would I just simply not want to run anymore at mile 10? How would the day unfold? Nevertheless, standing there at the start line, I was excited!

The countdown was over and we were off. We began in waves and I was in the last one. Mile 0-2 is flat, downhill, flat-slight uphill. Mile 2-4 is gradually long uphill (Bobcat Trail) & 4-6 (Rodeo Valley) is all downhill, then flat. As you can tell; up, down, up, down…this first part was the same loop the 50 milers did to begin their race and was not part of our original course. The course was modified in the last day due to heavy rains all week. After passing the 2nd aid station, we started the long climb up Miwok. I and basically everyone around me were power hiking this part, same as I did in training. Pretty steep section. Wide fire road trail. Mud not an issue(it would be later)
No one passed me on this climb which is always something I’m happy to see!

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Photo: Climbing Miwok
At the top of the climb, we turned left onto Old Springs and a nice lengthy, fun descent into Tennessee Valley and the next aid station. I did a super quick bathroom break and kept going…I was mindful the entire day of not wasting time anywhere if I could help it. This was about mile 8 and I was feeling good. Legs still kinds tight but overall feeling good. After a quick flattish section, we are back onto another big climb up Coastal Trail. Again, we are all power hiking. No one is running up this climb!

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I’m trying to power hike as fast as a can. I’ve gotten better at this, but still room for improvement. This was something I intentionally worked on in training; using my arms more, taking smaller steps, moving swiftly. On this section, I talked to a fella from SoCal and it was fun to talk with him and share experiences.
After the top of Coastal, we made the steep, short, technical descent into Pirates Cove. Here’s where the mud started to come into play. This trail is narrow, rocky and the mud was very slick and everyone was using caution going down. I’m pretty good at navigating my way down and so I was moving a little bit better than some and it felt good to pass a few people. I knew as soon as I made that descent that my injury would flare up and it did! Every time in this part of the course, that area of my knee gets totally wacked. Pretty painful for a few minutes and then in subsides. We are now on a short flat section, but no one is running, there is simply to much damn mud and it’s super slippery. Crazy!! Made the next short zig zag climb up to Coyote Ridge and down into Muir Beach/Aid Station. This is where we started to see the 1st of the 50 Miler elite men coming the opposite direction. They were flying! Man, their strides were awesome! So many faces I recognized .. Sage Canady (eventual winner), Dakota Jones, Dylan Bowan & my 2 buddies from San Francisco Running Company, Jorge Maravilla & Brett Rivers. Everyone looked good and were moving well. Seeing these  gave me a mental boost for sure. I gave them all a word of cheer!
Quickly we were onto Heather Cut-Off, the super narrow section with a ton of ascending switchbacks. This is where it was muddiest and even dangerous at times. Dangerous because the 50 milers and now the front pack of the 50k group were coming down as we were going up…again, on a super narrow, muddy, slippery trail. It was very crowded and pretty mentally demanding. As people were coming down, I was anxious people were gonna fall and create a domino effect crash of bodies. Thankfully, that did not happen. The boost I got earlier was fading as we climbed this part…it was just not very fun. It was a slog fest. Finally, got to the top and made the still somewhat uphill jaunt over to the top of Cardiac. I could feel myself losing steam. I wasn’t sure what the issue was. I was taking a gel very 30 minutes, water and  tailwind too. Legs were very crampy, tight, heavy at this point. Mile18. Grabbed a few orange slices, handful of potato chips and I departed Cardiac Aid station. We basically turned around and went back the same way we came…down Heather Cut-off and over to Muir Beach. Once I made the turn around at 18, I really started a slow decline in performance that would last the rest of the way. I got slower and slower the last 13 miles. People passed me who I had passed earlier and I wasn’t happy about it, but what could I do…my body was not wanting to go any faster. However, the really cool part about this whole section of about 8 miles is there was an overwhelming amount of camaraderie. Whether you were a 50k or 50 mile runner, going up or going down…someone was always giving you a cheer. It was really awesome. I’ve never participated in a race where I felt so much togetherness. That kept me going. Good vibes.

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Grabbed a few more snacks at Muir beach aid station and headed up the ultra challenging Coyote Ridge. I believe is is the longest ascent in the race. I did it many times in training; it never got easier. And it certainly didn’t disappoint today. Still, quite difficult after 24 miles under my legs! It was a slow climb, although I actually did pass about 2-3 people. I was psyched to get to the top, if only for a minute because as we started the steep descent onto Fox trail, I was in some serious discomfort. In training, this was an area I went down pretty fast. Not the story today; it was a slow, gingerly walk down and it was so frustrating. Something was going on with my right leg that made the steepness of the descent very painful. I had no choice. A few guys were struggling as well. Some of them were walking backwards down the hill.

Let me pause here to say that the course was so beautiful….like all my training pictures showed. The weather at this time was cool, some sun, but mostly gray. It doesn’t really matter what the weather is out there…it’s always visually stunning.

Ok. One more bathroom pit stop at the Tennessee Valley at station, orange wedges and chips and moving ahead to the Marincello Ascent and onto Alta trail. We are almost home now. About 3 miles left. My toes were screaming at this point and I badly needed to stop and empty out the rocks that had accumulated in my shoes, but I could just not do it. I didn’t want to stop moving. All I was focused on was keep moving, keep moving, keep moving.
Moving slower, but still moving.

We are finally onto the final descent, more pain, ouch, ouch, ouch….
Back to flat and a short uphill towards the finish line. I can hear the announcer, I can hear the roars….and finally, I can see the finish shoot…lots of people cheering…very loud. I’m inching towards the finish line. I’m smiling big and bigger and my eyes get weary. I’m done. I did it.
Man, I am so happy! And Muddy!  🙂

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8:01:56 – what a day. what an adventure!

Part II: How I Dedicated My Race to a Stranger

Posted in motivation, photos, running, trail with tags , , , , , , , on December 9, 2014 by afuntanilla

With intention, I carried him on my back. At 4:30am, I wrote his name down. Aware of significance and of sorrow; aware of my anger and my ambition, just hours away. This stranger who was broken, bleeding, left dead in the great city by the Bay. How does this happen? Why does this happen? I will never understand the motivation of others to intentionally hurt, damage, kill another human being. I will never understand the motivation to willingly take a life.

I set out on a journey of 50 kilometers through challenging, breathtaking terrain of west Marin county. It was an official race, but the greater race was within. Having battled my own doubts, demons and minor injuries of late, I began with a will to finish, a will made doubly stronger by the presence of Mr. Lam’s spirit. I did not want to let him, nor myself, down. I wanted to fight…fight for both of us. I wanted to fight for him, he who could not possibly lift his body as three men ambushed and attacked him on the golden streets of San Francisco.

Ascending was hard. And visually stunning. I spoke out loud to Mr. Lam;

“hey, Mr. Lam, have you ever been here before? Have you ever seen this place? Well, you have now! Amazing, right? Ok…we gotta keep pushing. “
And then again later when it became more difficult;

“Hey, Mr. Lam, how ya doing? I’m doing ok. I’m fightin’ for ya buddy. I got your back.”

And then again, even later, when my legs were cramped and my movement slowed and slowed;

hey, mr. lam how ya doing! I’m struggling but I’m fightin’. I’m fightin’ for ya. I’m fighting for those bastards who attacked you to be caught. I’m fighting for you! I got your back. Let’s do this!”

After 8 hours and 1 minute, I crossed the finish line. My face smiling, on the verge of tears.

You are not forgotten, sir. You are not forgotten.
May your spirit be resting in a better place.

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Why I dedicated my 50k race to Mr. Tai Lam: Part I

Posted in motivation, photos, races, random, running with tags , , , , , on December 8, 2014 by afuntanilla

I try not to pay attention to the world news too much except the economic, financial news (because I need to for my job) When I do happen to read the paper, I read the sports section and sometimes the comics and do the crossword. I never watch news on TV and I don’t listen to news radio stations. I get a sense of what is happening via my Twitter feed. That’s one of the best things about Twitter…YOU customize it. You decide what you want to see. Awesome.

Anyway, last Wednesday, I actually read some of the regular news in the SF Chronicle. The first story that caught my eye was a heartwarming story of a family in need of assistance that got it thru the papers’ “season of giving” program. Of course, I like reading these kind of stories.

The next story I read stopped me dead in my tracks and really hit me in my core. A homeless, crippled man who was trying to sleep in the downtown financial district in San Francisco, was beaten to death. I read on and then found a subsequent follow up story online. Age 67, about 100 pounds in weight. Asian. Crippled. Homeless. Sleeping in a little cove he found and not bothering a soul. Apparently, 3 males, wandered by, saw him, and kicked him to death. Repeated kicking and kicking. There is video footage. They would stop when a car drove by. Then, kick again.

The police have said it was one of the worst attacks they have ever seen.
This happened in San Francisco’s financial district. A place where there is a staggering amount of wealth, in a city that has a ridiculous amount of wealth.

What did this man, the victim, Tai Lam, do? Nothing. Well…wait, he was HOMELESS! He was part of a homeless community that the greater community, for the most part, would like to forget….and they do, except when someone perhaps asks for money. Then they cringe and walk away. Or stare blankly ahead. I am not immune. I have ignored “them” too….sometimes it can feel like a scam or maybe we just gave $20 bucks to someone last week….I get it.

But, there is a bigger issue here and part of what stirred me up. In the wake of people protesting in many cities across the nation on police brutality & use of excessive force, who is rallying for this little old man? Who is coming to his aid to DEMAND the criminals be brought to justice? Who is speaking and rallying on his behalf? Who would rise to give significance to this horrific death and his now absence?

No one. There are no rallies in SF for Tai Lam. Because he, like so many of the downtrodden are truly forgotten by us! Our community. ALL OF US. It’s disturbing that people are overbidding on real estate property by hundreds of thousands of dollars, in cash, and we have people like Mr. Lam, living on the street and subject to this kind of aberration. It’s disturbing that a city with an enormous amount of resources somehow can’t or won’t give more to those who are most in need. And yet, money is just part of the issue. It’s the attitude that many take toward the needy, the homeless, those who are without….the simple lack of caring. Maybe if we cared more about these folks, if we demanded more action from our governments, if WE took more individual action. Giving money is wonderful & needed, but more involvement is necessary.

Every single homeless person has a story. Most of them probably have some kind of mental illness or drug problem. Mr. Lam was in neither category. Even if he was, so what?

We turn our backs to the homeless because we don’t want to see….we don’t want to see the potential ugly side of life and what our life could be….but you know what, that is exactly the point. The homeless guy…it is you. The homeless woman, it is you. We are all 1 or 2 or 3 steps away from our lives changing drastically in a heartbeat. Who is going to be there for you? Count your blessings if you already thought of someone who would take you in, love you, care for you.

And don’t ever forget there are thousands out there who are just not as damn lucky as we all are, in this moment.

The story of Mr. Lam’s beating shook me up and moved me to take the one immediate action I could think of: to dedicate my 50k North Face Endurance Race to this man.

And so I did. 920x920

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November Closing

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

The long month of November comes to a close. Most of the heavy mileage was Nov 1-15, as since then it has been taper mode. Race day is next Saturday. Even though this has been taper time, I’ve been doing very little running since 11/15 for a few reasons…a) my nagging left hamstring, upper calf issue/injury b) just giving my body more of a rest as I sensed it has really needed it. c) mental break needed
It’s also been a time these past 2 weeks to try to get myself mentally in the right frame of mind to tackle 50k instead of 50 miles. I have to say, this has been challenging. Coming to the conclusion that this distance was the better choice, at this time, burst my excited-running bubble!! Some people might be relieved, but I….am disappointed. And, quite honestly, I just have to let it go now. Let go of being disappointed. I need to let go and embrace what I feel my body is capable of at this time. I have to let go and focus on what I believe is achievable rather than be bummed about what is out of reach right now.

I did get in some good mileage + elevation in my final weeks of pushing hard Nov 1-15.

All of these miles were on the race course. And about 90% of all my training runs have been on the course, which is exactly what I wanted. So, there will be no course surprises come Saturday.

A couple of people have asked me recently if I am excited for the race. Quite honestly, I am not that excited at the moment. But, as I wrote above…I know why and I need to let go. I fully believe that as the week progresses, I will be. I will pick up my race stuff at The North Face, I will go & listen to a talk with Rory Bosio & be around fellow participants….I believe my excitement level will be high by end of week!

November Total Miles: 107.5

Total TRAIL miles: 100 (7.5 road miles)

Total Elevation: 35,648

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Turkey Trotting

Posted in motivation, photos, races, running, trail with tags , , , , , , on November 29, 2014 by afuntanilla

Opted to run the local “Turkey Trot” run in town on Thanksgiving. I ran this for the 1st time 2 years ago. It’s totally informal; no registration fees, no t-shirts…just a bunch of people gathering at a local park and going for either a 4 or 6 mile walk or run. In lieu of fees, we were to bring food items for donation to a local food bank. It was great to see more people out versus 2 years ago and to see lots of food donated!!

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In addition to the holiday spirit, I wanted to do this run because it’s basically a loop I have been doing sporadically through my training. 1 mile of gradual uphill pavement into Helen Putnam Park, continue with 1 more mile of gradual-steep uphill thru the park, next 2 miles are varied up/down on wide then narrow trails; mile 4-5 is narrow flat, curvy trail and 6 is all downhill to the finish. I started with the first group (staggered start) and am happy to report there were probably only a few people in the 6 mile group that passed me. It was nice to see this as it reflects on my progress and its validating. I didn’t push hard as its too close to my race, so that’s also comforting to know. About 1500 ft total elevation.

Today, 2 days post-thanksgiving, I ran that same 6 mile loop. Slower, more deliberate, easy…it was a light drizzle at the start, not cold at all. As I my feet went further and further, the rain came down a little bit harder, but nothing dramatic. Lots of puddles along the trail and some splashes on my shoes. The early morning fog still lingered off in the distance. I wished I didn’t wear glasses on runs like this…would love to just feel the water all over my face….I love it all; the wetness, the cool Refreshing air, the eerily beautiful quiet. Ahhh….all the things I would miss if i couldn’t be OUTSIDE. Quite Thankful, indeed! So many things…my health, being able to be outside, to have all my senses working….may we not take anything for granted!

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Altitude & Attitude

Posted in photos, running, trail, travel with tags , , , , on November 29, 2014 by afuntanilla

Man, it’s not easy to run at altitude, but it sure is pretty looking and pretty damn awesome!

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I was up in South Lake Tahoe last weekend and went for a short 5 miler on Saturday. I was in heaven.

The steady light rain and cool air felt so needed & refreshing on my face. I could sense my innards smiling. The gray skies followed me along the High Meadow Trail and through the woods. Not another human was around. Just me & the mighty, lengthy pines, rocks of various shapes & sizes, and the occasional rushing sound of water flowing in the nearby Cold Creek. I heard nothing and everything. I was on high alert, but then also in a kind of trance. Nature does that to us, doesn’t it? Feeling so singularly focused & present in the moment, but also kinda in lala land….because we are…there is no judgement, no expectations, no deadlines, nothing but the pure and simple ecstatic beauty of just what is…

The trail I was on was going to connect with Tahoe Rim Trail, which I had wanted to see, but I didn’t quite get there….That will definitely be for another day. Today was the first time I have ever run on Tahoe Trails and I can say this; I will be back! Stunning! And I only saw 5 miles today.
The next day, I went for just a 2 mile hike on a completely different trail. It, too, was stunning. After about 1/4 mile of easy walking, trail gets difficult as you are climbing, climbing, and then that you don’t even know where it is because there are huge rocks, boulders everywhere….where is the path?? As you look up and to the east, you are gifted with amazing views of Emerald Bay and then Lake Tahoe a bit further. To the north & west are gorgeous views of the Sierras, some had a bit of snow, but not much just yet. (Phone battery died so no pics of this trail)

As I looked around, I was just in awe and again, so Thankful for my body, my health, and for living where I can see such beauty. I wanna keep finding more places. I wanna keep going….

GET OUTSIDE!

Modifying Goals

Posted in photos, races, running, shoes, trail with tags , , , , , , on November 24, 2014 by afuntanilla

50 miles. I entered a 50 mile trail race. I’ve been training for a 50 mile trail race. Well, as I completed these last 2 weeks/weekends of training, I’ve come to the gut-checking decision that I’m going to transfer my registration to the 50K distance instead. There has been a ping pong match going on inside my head about this for about the last month. As each week increased, the speed of the the little white ball as it crossed the net in my brain became faster and faster and I’m sure I have suffered some kind of delirium in the process.

50 miles. The distance I want to run and finish. The distance that has eluded me. The distance I don’t just want to finish, but finish “strong”, upright, smiling, exhausted, thrilled and spent. I’ve come to the reality-check conclusion that if I try to do the 50 miles on Dec 6th, I will not have this kind of experience. I believe I will suffer greatly in the last 15-20 miles, spend most of it shuffling along, exhausted, unable to lift my legs to run any sort of uphill, and generally, NOT have any fun. Let me say that I certainly don’t seek these races out to have fun….FUN, is sort of what incidentally happens…but it doesn’t happen when the goal is too far out of reach and suffering takes over the entire picture. I’ve been in that place before.

In addition to accumulating a lot of weekly mileage, my longest runs back to back have been:

NOV 1-2
15 miles
10 miles
Total elevation gain/loss = 9,498

NOV 8-9
9.15 miles
17.2 miles
Total elevation gain/loss = 9,231

And then last Saturday:

NOV 15
18.2 miles
Total elevation gain/loss = 7,420

I think I can finish the 50 miles, but the experience will not be one I am after. If you would have asked me in July if I would take that experience of finishing, shuffling along, walking a lot in the later miles, I probably would have said “YES”, but my mind has shifted; my goal, I guess, has shifted. And, a lot of this has to do with being out on that course. I feel like I can offer these kind of pre-race assessments because I have spent hours out there on the stunning and heartbreaking trails. I know what they are asking of me. And now, I believe I know what I can try to answer.

Prior to 2 weeks ago, I kept thinking I don’t want to transfer to the 50k because I have already done that distance. And that’s still true. But, what I realized after these past 2 challenging weekends of training is that this 50k is a heck of a lot harder than the one I competed back in 2008! Hey, that was 6 years ago…that means I am 6 years older and I’m going for it again! How’s that for a rationalization plug!! Haha!

Seriously, here are the stats to support the difference on the level of difficulty. The Stumpjump 50k in Chattanooga has total elevation of 4,442. Well, as you can see, I have been already doing more than that in training. And believe me, my body is feeling it! The North Face 50k will have around 7,ooo elevation.

I have been encompassed by this race for about 4 months…each month getting more and more in the thick of it; learning more, putting my body thru more demands and then dealing with what happens as a result. Right now, I am trying to take care of some kind of left hamstring issue. It’s bizarre. I think I feel the pain mostly after switching from going long uphill to them sharp descents, especially on technical terrain. That’s when it bothers/hurts me the most…and then I’m just super aware of it the rest of the time. It is painful and I’m caring for it by the R.I.C.E. Method + massage. I’m aware of it, noticing some pain, even when not running so….
I probably need to have it checked out. I can’t quite figure exactly which muscle is the culprit: semitendinosous, popliteal, ??
It doesn’t really hurt throughout the run, just when I make the transitions and then it subsides. Overall, obviously, not good and I’m sure I need to truly REST but I feel confident about taking care of this after Race day.

Anyway, as I’ve been knee deep in all this preparation, I’ve been learning a lot :

1) how much it takes to prepare for this distance and do it well. I thought I was preparing correctly, but in reality, I haven’t. I should have been doing longer miles in the week and longer on weekends. (It’s tough to say this because I have trained more for this race than any other race!!) but, that’s part of the reality check.

2) still learning and getting much better at how to fuel; what to eat, when, etc…this is a  HUGE piece that I think probably doesn’t get enough attention for ultra running. You can be physically & mentally fit, but if you don’t have the nutrition thing down, there will be problems. All the willpower and determination won’t make you go faster if you are nutritionally depleted!

3) learning that I probably could have benefited from training with others sometimes. Just haven’t put in the effort to make is happen.
4) I should have had a better base going in to this training. Could have done a lot more strength work to help me more on the uphills.

So. There you have it. It sort of sounds like this is already a post-race report. Of course it’s not, I’m just in taper mode now and I can reflect and assess what has happened so far. I won’t get any faster in the next 2+ weeks. I certainly cannot go back in time and add in more weeks to add more miles. I’ve done what I could do so far and I believe the 50k is the distance I am best prepared for…I know how hard the 17 miler was, how hard the 18 miler was. 30 is going to push me. It’s gonna hurt. It will pull everything out of me and I will give it everything I can.

Time to take care of my nagging hamstring, get some massage, do easy running, and be as prepared as possible.

Oh yeah, regarding shoes; I’ve picked up The Hoka Stinson ATR shoes. These are a lot more specific to trail running than the other Hoka’s I’ve been using; the Huaka’s. The Stinson have better grip, but are also heavier. 9.3 oz compared to 7.8 oz on Huaka. I can really feel the difference in the weight and don’t necessarily like it, but…they are doing the job on the trails. The Huaka’s were getting pretty beat up (i need to see how many mile i have on those) and I really noticed the bottoms losing tread and i was sliding a lot on some of the trails that are simply loose rock. I like both these shoes, but man, they are not cheap! The picture below is of the Stinson…now much more appropriately dirty!  🙂

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The trails of Marin will humble you…that’s for damn sure. But, that’s what they are supposed to do. I sure as hell didn’t sign up for easy!

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Moving up?

Posted in photos, running, trail with tags , , , , , , , on November 2, 2014 by afuntanilla

Well….what’s that saying…? ‘Be careful what you wish for’
Yeah…that…
Well, I DID GET IN TO THE NORTH FACE 5O MILER.

50 Miles. All trail. Somewhere between 9-10k feet of total elevation. All up, down. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Until you get to mile 50!

So. I finally got the word about 2 weeks ago and of course, am relieved & delighted to have a spot. And scared. And excited. And scared.

I completed another solid month of training in October.
Final numbers are:

Miles: approx 117
Elevation: 35,409

Most miles I have run in a single month all year and most elevation ever in a single month. (on top of what i have done the months prior) And you know what, it might not be enough. Of course, I’m still not done training. In terms of long runs, I have this weekend and then not sure if I will do my last push Nov 8-9th or Nov 15-16th.

I will see how it all goes and assess if it would be better to change to the 50k.
I hate to even write that, but that’s where I am. I’ve been preparing to the best of my ability and I am feeling like it’s still not enough. I become frustrated over how my body recovers of lack thereof from the long, demanding runs. I’m not careless with things….eating well and getting proper nutrients into my body. So much of it just seems to be strictly leg recovery. After my 15 miles today, aerobically, I felt like I could keep going, but my legs were pretty beat. A bit frustrating.

What does it mean when I say “it may not be enough”….i guess it means a few things.
-may not be enough to finish the 50 miler
-may not be enough to finish the 50 miler in a way I want…I.e. Not completely dead at the end.

I see that I am assessing where I am, where I want to be, where I think I will be and what experience do I want and will be ready for?
As I was running today along the Tennessee Valley Trails; Rodeo Valley, Bobcat, Alta, Miwok, Old Springs & Marincello, I thought to myself: “I wish there was a 40 mile distance. 50 does seem a bit far, and 30 (~50k) seems too short….

Why I don’t want to run the 50k;
-because I already did this distance. In Chattanooga, Tennessee at the Rock Creek Stump Jump. 2007
-because the 50 Miler is a distance I have yet to conquer. Pretty simple.

Even with 2-3 more weeks of adding miles, I can honestly say this; I did not prepare this much for the New Zealand race last year. (DNF at mile ~27 of a 37.2 (60k) race because I was totally spent)

I did not train this much for the 1st 50 miler I attempted; The JFK 50 Miler. (Missed the time cut-off at mile 34.4)

So….this will be an interesting next few weeks to truly assess what I think I am capable of…..

Stay tuned.

“There is no hope unmingled with fear and no fear unmingled with hope” – Baruch Spinoza

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overdue

Posted in photos, running, shoes, trail with tags , , , , , , on October 21, 2014 by afuntanilla

Hello – i’m due for a catch-up. A big thing happened on Sept 1st. which is that I moved into a house. Same town, but a house, not an apartment, a whole house. All to myself. Big News in my world. This is the nicest and largest space I’ve ever lived in alone. So, happy. Very happy about this.

Also, I turned 44 years old. Wow. How did THAT happen. I like this number. I like the double 4’s. It looks good when I write it. It sounds good when I say it. You know how there are some numbers that might not sound good, like 42 or 39…i don’t like those. But, 44….i’m good with that and I’m hoping for a kick-ass kind of year.

Been steadily running. I’m actually training for a race where I’m not 100% sure I am a confirmed runner. It’s The North Face 50 Miler in December. When I went to sign up weeks ago, it was already full with a wait list. I reached out to a client of mine who works for North Face (corp) and through their internal lottery system, he let me know I was in and that i should be receiving word from the race team. Upon getting his email, I was ecstatic….this has been a race i have had on my list for a long time. It’s local and i have the course to train on….so…. I have not received any follow up from the race team and I’m just figuring I will at some point.  (I hope!!!) If I don’t hear anything in the next 2 weeks, I will contact my source again and see what’s up. Right now, i’m totally under the assumption I will have a spot on Dec 6th. Cross your fingers for me.

I’ve been training almost 100% on trails and nothing flat…I’ve been training many miles on the course itself. I have the opportunity to get familiar with it, so there is no excuse. I’m preparing, preparing, preparing and i’m really enjoying the miles, the terrain. As I have shifted to trails these past 2 months, I feel a kind of renaissance with my enjoyment level of running. So much of it has to do with the terrain…i’m on some gorgeous trails and i feel incredibly fortunate. The joy and challenge, the difficulty, the beauty, the relentlessness of the climbs…up and down, repeat….its all pulling me in. i find myself eager to get back out there after 1 day off…i want to immerse myself back in the exquisite surroundings. I want to find my limits.

Just a few numbers:

Sept: total elevation: 19,169

Oct: elevation so far: 22,501

Prepare. Prepare. Prepare.

Here are a few shots from the miles this past month or so.

IMG_1540 IMG_1542 IMG_1602 IMG_1533 IMG_1510

For shoes, i’m using HOKA HUAKA and also a (still) good old pair of Asics Trail shoes. Both are working well & getting pretty damn dirty!  🙂

IMG_1539 IMG_1544

IMG_1551

The After

Posted in running, trail with tags , , , , , on September 14, 2014 by afuntanilla

When your body is caked with dirt, mud, sweat from the undulating, unrelenting, beautiful terrain.

When your pulse finally settles down, normalizes to others; rest of life

Your eyes move over in a quiet gaze, noticing the world; the people, their movements

It all seems kind of dreamy, doesn’t it?

Looking down at your feet,

Shoes removed

Tan line of dirt wrap perfectly around the edge of where leg meets ankle

& the protruding ends of Tibia, Fibula.

Toe nails slightly bruised

A small blister showing signs of life

Otherwise,

Feet look regular,

As if out for a stroll

Only you know

What they have been through

Where they have traveled

What they got you through

How they helped you

Climb, conquer

The trail, today

Tomorrow, awaits