Archive for dreams

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

The Kepler Mountain Challenge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More pics some from the top and then thru forest.

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

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The “why New Zealand”…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My goal: to have fun and to finish.

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

Cheers!

Running around…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Race Report: The little runner that could…

Posted in races, road, running with tags , , , , , , , , on August 3, 2012 by afuntanilla

So. Where to begin? Well, I guess I’ll start on RACE DAY EVE. Sharon and I drove into SF and went over to the RACE EXPO at SF Design Center. Lots of people buzzing with excitement and such. Love it. Great atmosphere. I picked up this awesome jacket. We picked up my race # and walked around a bit. The expo was overflowing with a variety of people…short, tall, overweight, underweight, different ethnicities, etc…RUNNING DOESN’T DISCRIMINATE!
I saw BART YASSO, running legend, who was setting up his table. I walked over and introduced myself and Sharon and I chatted with him a bit. What a cool guy! I was bummed to miss his “Shake-out” run he did earlier that morning with twitter peeps, etc..

Soon enough, we made our way back home and enjoyed a nice, mellow evening. And Ate pasta, of course.

Race Day: woke at 5:45 and started to get going. I elected to just drive down from Petaluma because a) the hotel we wanted was sold out 2) my start time was at 8:23am

I was a little anxious and nervous in the morning. I think it was just because I literally woke up, got dressed and got in the car. So different from my usual pre-race routine. But, seeing that we had about a 45 min drive, this is what I needed to do. We came to Golden Gate Bridge and saw the Full Marathon Runners and 1st Half Marathon Runners who had began at 5:30am. The fog was in full force and it was covering much of the bridge. A very cool morning. I was getting excited just seeing the other runners. We made our way to Golden Gate Park and the start location of the 2nd Half Marathon runners. I had about 45 minutes to wait around.


A few visits to the port-a-potty helped the time go by fast, but I was pretty anxious to get going. It had been September 2011 since I had run a ROAD RACE!! A very long time for me! Sharon took off to go meet me at about the 7 mile mark and I did a little warm up to get loose. Next up: The Start.

The start was near the back end of GG park and the route took us down one side and up the other side of the park along with a loop around Stow Lake. The weather was perfect. Very cool temperature in mid 50’s and some mist even greeted us as we ran among the beauty of the park. This area is a combination of flat roads and then some very small inclines. Flanked by towering Eucalyptus trees, I was in heaven!

We exited the park right at 6 miles and had a long straightaway on Haight Street. I was happy to see more spectators here and it finally started to feel more like a race. I love running in the park, but i was also glad to get more energy from the people of San Fran. I knew I was close to seeing some friends as I approached the 6.5 mile mark. There was a little downhill and I saw the three of them, Alec, Kimmy and Emily there on the corner of Haight/Broderick!! I ran over to them, smiling and feeling good. I gave them “High 5’s” and a kiss to Alec and kept rolling along. Such a great surge they gave me!! Thank you!!

I had a little more downhill as I rolled down to lower Haight and then would see Sharon around 7.5 miles. I turned the corner from Haight onto Buchanan and spotted her there with her camera. Another big surge of energy!! Yeah!!

I kept looking at my watch for my mile splits. I knew I had to have an average pace of 9:09/per mile if I wanted to meet my 2 hour goal. So far so good. I was running pretty evenly but I also noticed it started to get a little harder around mile 8-9. I had already taken 2 GU ENERGY Gels and had 1 more left on my person. Miles 8-9 carried us thru the Mission District with its variety of culture and color which was also a boost of energy. Weather remained the same, except no mist, just very cool and overcast. Perfect. We had a rude hill right before crossing over into Potrero Hill area. I just kept plugging along. By mile 10 my legs, quads were starting to really tighten up and i was feeling the effects of keeping up my pace. I started to get concerned I would not be able to carry the pace til the finish. I just told myself, “give everything and if you miss it, you miss it…then at least try for a PR..under 2:01:43.” My mindset and mental focus was very strong. I was completely focused and as such, i would say that my enjoyment level while running was not very high. I was starting to feel quite a bit of pain…but i also knew that’s what it would take for me to reach my goal. It would not be easy or PAIN-FREE. It was gonna hurt and IT WAS HURTING.
Stay focused. Stay focused.
At mile 11, we were at Mission Bay, which is about 1 mile south of AT&T park. I could see the bay and smell the finish line 2 miles away. I looked at my watch and saw i was still on a good pace and making good time, but I COULD NOT let up. I had to keep pushing. (I did, however, stop at every water stop to take a few sips and when I sucked down my gels with water) I was not allowing myself to celebrate prematurely. I had to cross the finish line BEFORE 2 hour mark. Mile 12 – right at McCovey Cove and AT&T Park. We ran along the back side with the park on our left and bay on the right. Then, onto Embarcadero and a straight, flat road to the finish line up ahead. Legs were tightening, but I had to ignore everything and keep pumping my arms. I tried to pick up my pace even a little bit. I crossed the finish line, my feet stepped on the electronic timing mat.

1:58:42

I DID IT. I almost started crying. I saw Sharon immediately on the left hand side and we just were smiling at each other and I kept saying “I did it. I did it. I can’t believe it”
She was thrilled for me. I was so happy to see her there and share the experience together. She knew how important it was to me and she had 100% faith in me I would do it. Today. She probably had more confidence in me than I did. THANK YOU, SHARON.


As I just kinda stood there for a few moments afterwards, I think I was in a little fog. A happy fog. So deeply proud from the inside of me…the little runner that could.

I learned that sometimes you have to wait a long time to beat a goal. And I learned a lot in the process while I made training errors and pushed my body last year to more than it could handle. I learned that it’s not just about training harder, but truly TRAINING SMARTER. I think that made all the difference. I got faster because I did what I needed to do: incorporated intervals, tempo runs and specific strength training into my workouts. This was a huge help. I want to thank NIKE for setting me up on a program that I definitely benefited from following. I didn’t follow it to a T, but I followed it a lot and had to modify it some to fit more of my current physical capabilities.

It was perfect that this race happened while the Olympics are underway. So much inspiration out there. If you have read my blog, you might have read I had dreams as a child of being an Olympic Runner. Today, I was my own hero, my own Gold Medalist. (In fact, the person who put the finisher medal around my neck was a serviceman from the Coast Guard. Pretty cool.)
I ran for me. For the me I am and the me I want to be. The better me. The more complete me. Every part of the journey is important. The defeats and the victories. I was glad for the latter today and to finally get the 2 hour monkey off my back.

Thank you to all my friends who support me in my running. Thank you for all of you who read and comment, verbally or in person or never. Thank you.

May you be your own hero and rise to meet and beat your own goals, dreams and wishes, whatever they may be.

ONWARD

wow!

Posted in 40 mile run, motivation, photos with tags , , , , , , on July 3, 2010 by afuntanilla

I’ve been reaching out to a few companies and telling them about my run. I have not asked for any monetary donations for myself or the charity I am raising money for, but products to help with the training. I figured if anyone responded at all, I would be grateful & surprised. I’m blown away at the response of even a few…

Nathan Sports was gracious enough to allow me to pick a pack from their website. Here’s what I chose:

This is called their “Trail Mix” pack.  I love the mesh pocket on the front to hold my key(s) & GU Gels. As you can see, this belt has 2 flasks, perfect for runs of about 8-12 miles. If I have access to more H2O along the routes, I can replenish, but if not, I have to wear something else to carry more H2O.  If you want to check their website out to see more of their products, go to http://www.nathansports.com

The other company who has responded is GU ENERGY.  My contact there sent me an email saying he would send me a care package. Here’s what arrived:

In the care package was 2 big containers of their recovery drinks, a HUGE bag filled with a variety of flavors of GU GELS, and a box full of GU CHOMPS (bite sized energy gels). I almost fell over in shock when I opened the box. Seriously. I am excited to try their recovery drink as it is not one I have tried before. All of these products are going to help as I train for this 40 mile run. To see more of GU products, go to http://www.guenergy.com

It means so much to me that these companies have responded – especially since they are not HUGE companies with big budgets, etc..

Also, some donations are starting to flow in for the MY STUFF BAGS FOUNDATION. I’m delighted & thrilled to try to raise money for the foundation, the kids…please help if you have the means to do so. See CHARITY PAGE at right side of page for more info.

Thanks to all who read, support, & cheer me on. It means more to me than I can ever possibly express.

Follow your dreams. Make a difference.

Let’s get it Started!

Posted in 40 mile run, motivation, travel with tags , , , , , , , on May 27, 2010 by afuntanilla

As I thought about my upcoming 40th birthday, of course i thought of how to celebrate. First of all, 40 is and has been a significant number because when i think of 40, i think that’s how old my mom was when she died. So, here I am…just 4 months away from being that same age. To me, that is just crazy. Wild. Weird.

She died on a late Sunday morning while we were driving home from a fishing trip. A peaceful Sunday along Hwy 580 near Castro Valley turned deathly silent after the crash, boom, and bang of the multi-car pile-up.

I got pretty well banged up in the accident. After 6 weeks in the hospital & another month or so in a full body cast, I literally learned how to walk again. I’ll never forget those first moments of taking steps on my own. Man, what a THRILL!! There I was in grandma’s living room, wearing my blue & bright pink pajamas, gingerly putting one foot in front of the other. I was walking again and I felt free.

I’m a runner. I have to tell the story above because I continue to feel much gratitude that I can run. I listen to folks all the time of all sizes, shapes, & ages tell me how they wish they could run, but cannot because of knee problems, back problems, etc… So, it is never lost on me how lucky I am. Every day.

So…what the hell does all this have to do with turning 40 and a birthday…?  Well, after many thoughts and ideas about how, when, and where I would celebrate,  I made a decision. I have decided to go back to where it all kinda began for me; San Leandro, CA. Even though I was born in San Francisco, most of my childhood memories are from days spent in San Leandro. To commemorate my 40th year, I have decided to run 40 miles starting in San Leandro at the address of where I grew up and go from there. I recently mentioned my idea to a friend and her response was: “wouldn’t you want to do something more fun?” – I think my response was: “well, i want to do something meaningful and this is meaningful.” And I actually think it will be fun….fun because my hope is that many of my friends will come out and support me at some point during the day, fun because it will be like some big trip down memory lane — and although some of those memories are difficult, they contributed to who i am and for that, i give thanks.

This will be a run of celebration. A celebration and reflection of 40 years and pay tribute to those people and places who have been with me along the way.

There will be many people to thank that day, including mom, for without her, September 25, 1970, would not have been possible.

I hope you will follow me as I train and plan for the celebration. Cheers!!!