Archive for endurance

Muir Woods

Posted in motivation, photos, running, travel with tags , , , , , , , on June 10, 2016 by afuntanilla

Where I can just be, where I can dream. Where I notice and I relish.

Where I find challenge.

Where I embrace delight, joy, play.

Where the familiar astonishes…every. single.time.

Where I go to lose myself and then do a 360 to once again, find myself; more whole. Holy. On hallowed ground.

Where my senses are resuscitated and my spirit rejuvenated.

Where the aromas intoxicate and my heart reverberates.

Where I am mesmerized, and laser-focused.

Where my lungs gasp for air and my quads reach and reach over the creek and through the woods dashing and dancing over rocks and roots that beg mightily for my crisp attention.

My haven. My Heaven. My gentle, constant companion.

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Dirt & Water

Posted in photos, running, trail with tags , , , , , , , on May 28, 2016 by afuntanilla

There are sections of The Dipsea I don’t love. Not because they might be challenging but because there are sections that are fully exposed to sun, no trees and the trail is basically hard-ass packed dirt/rock. Because of the severe drought we’ve had for quite some time, certain sections are this way and simply not fun to run on….and then there are all the many sections I truly love…the hidden sections with soft ground…soft from the fallen pine needles, dirt, daily moisture from the ocean. Hidden from the world by the towering Coastal Redwoods and Douglas Firs…they are a haven and a respite from an often challenging & confusing world.

There are many, many ways to enter the trail, but I have been preferring to start at Stinson and head East, since that will be direction on race day. As I accumulate the miles, my hope is I’m getting stronger and creating muscle memory…and it’s nice to see from my Strava data that I am actually improving. YAY! I love this app. If you are a competitive person, especially with your own self, this is pretty awesome. The challenge is always against myself…how much can i improve, how much better can i be…this day and this day and this day…I relish and am thankful for the opportunity.

As I have been starting on the Stinson side and then ending there, I usually take a walk over to the beach afterwards and soak in the moment. On my after-work days, I’m catching the scene 1-2 hours before sunset. It’s usually quiet and very peaceful. The other day, i just had an urge to go dip in the water. At the end of my run, i quickly grabbed a few items from the car: beach blanket, towel, recovery energy drink and headed to the ocean. I went full in and loved it. Wasn’t even that cold. I just felt like i needed it….one of those days…just wanted to feel the shock of cold and the force of water on my being.

Tomorrow is not guaranteed. May you live as you want and may you be at peace. IMG_0192

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Muir Woods

Posted in running, trail with tags , , , , , , on May 9, 2016 by afuntanilla

My slice of heaven. Not belonging to me but a place I am fortunate to visit as often as I wish. Thankful for the logistical proximity of this stunning place with its ridiculous amount of microclimates, luxurious forest, refreshing aromas, and climbs that will stall you in your shoes.

The run today began on the Stinson side and up Dipsea. An unusual late start, nearing noon, I expected to encounter many hikers, especially also being Mom’s day. Legs feeling anything but fresh, but away i went as I simply could not stay away from this enchanting area that lures me in. Mile 1 – the familiar, wide, mostly crushed & loose rock section that opens up with ocean view about half way in….a mixture of white & gray clouds and just a tad of sunshine at the start. Mile 2 begins with a brief descent and then the steep ascent on the main heart of the Dipsea. This section is no joke. 2nd time in about 3 weeks I have “run” it..er…panted my way up the steep ass trail/steps…yowza. 14% incline over .9 mile. As I huffed and puffed & willed my way forward, I had this internal dialogue with myself…”i want to keep doing this section…especially this section until it gets easy…not easier, EASY”  Hence, I trust I will be going out there for a long time. The stunning beauty of the canopy of trees, the faint sounds of trickling water in the nearby creek and the feeling of being cradled in goodness makes the difficulty so much more manageable.

I wonder if mindfulness attracts trail runners or trail runners become more mindful. There is no way to be on these trails and NOT be mindful. My mind is full of nothing of my life…my awareness is completely wrapped up in the next step…over the roots, over the fallen redwood truck, up the stairs, up more stairs, descending over huge roots of trees whose age I cannot even imagine. The history. The stability. The consistency & durability of this beauty…unfathomable. I’m cognizant of the my steps and how I must be careful of these slippery descents as we did get just a bit of rain past 2 days…coming into Mile 4, I am finally done ascending and onto Matt Davis Trail where I know i can really run a bit. Narrow, twisty trail that will allow me to feel like I have a stride once again. Here is where I noticed a lingering fog that added a chill. My hands got cold and I loved the coolness on my cheek. A surge came over me at one point and its that kind of surge where I just want to scream because I am so happy and fulfilled in that moment…I want to scream it out to the world. Instead, I smile and feel it all in my chest and let it keep fueling me. Somewhere around Mile 5 or just after is the long descent back to Stinson Beach. Utter fun. Some danger due to the wetness that left some areas very slippery but all in all, a time to let loose, to let go and fly down…I could not hold back, could not go slower, I kept pushing, sometimes effortlessly, down this narrow trail. I had another internal dialogue happening; “why should i not try my best, why should i not go as fast as i can…why save the legs? what if this is the last time i get to do this?” Because we don’t know, do we…we never know…and so it was…today, in Muir Woods.

Getting away….

Posted in motivation, photos, random, running, shoes, trail, travel with tags , , , , , , , on October 9, 2015 by afuntanilla

My desire to go to Boulder was born out of hearing numerous times over the years how cool of a city it is. Recently, it became more desirable as i follow some people on social media who live there and their photos of the mountains have been utterly ridiculous and i became hooked! Bought a ticket, packed a bag & went to see for myself! I needed a break from everyday life as I know it, and I yearned to be in some open spaces, but not remote.

What did I want to do while I was there? Hike, scramble on some mountains, run, find cool spots for coffee, food. That’s about it. Mostly, I wanted to be active and explore and I’m happy to say, mission accomplished!

The weather was cool the entire trip and mostly overcast with the most random drizzle falling. But mostly, just gray skies. The sun shone itself only 1 day during the trip. If there was any bummer, this was it.

For my 1st day after arriving and making the drive from Denver to Boulder, I found an easy trail to hike/walk/run. It was the South Mesa Trail on the south side of town. I saw only a few other folks out there and enjoyed the quiet. From the start, just lots of dry grass and shrubbery, and as I climbed in elevation, lots and lots of medium sized pine trees. The trail went from wide, loose gravel to narrow and very, very rocky. Lots of offshoot trails from the main one, but I stuck to just the one as I didn’t want to get lost on my 1st day. I took my time and walked/hiked the way out and pretty much ran the route back to the trailhead. On the way, I noticed this beautiful field of dry grass that was a very cool grapefruit color. The lovely quiet and the softest breeze swept thru the grapefruit leaves…

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Was about 1,000ft elevation change total. 5 miles.

Next day, I found the path to what the call is Golden Arch. This is in Chautauqua Park (also home to the Flatirons). It was a Friday and the trailhead was super busy and i could see lots of people on the trail. Came to learn it was parent’s weekend at Univ of Colorado so lots of people out and about.

With gray skies surrounding me, I headed up to find the Golden Arch. As I climbed higher and higher, I did notice the effects of the altitude, but nothing that felt limiting. Trail begins with a significant view of the mountains ahead and after the 1st mile, trail narrows and becomes more tree hidden and less populated. And more rocky. And then very rocky. Did I say rocky? It’s a full on climb up; maneuvering the changing trail conditions, making sure you’re on the right trail and watching your steps very carefully. FUN. & INVIGORATING. As much as I was breathing hard, I was smiling a bunch, too. With the overcast and grayness, it didn’t make for very “picturesque” photos, but the scenery still looked magnificent thru my eyes.

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Finally reached the Golden Arch peak at just under 7000ft elevation (from sea level). All in all, the hike was only 3.6 miles but with 1,679ft elevation change! Worth every step.

Getting up to the arch

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After arrival, I sat atop of the boulders and marveled at the beauty & stillness surrounding me. My breathing slowed and it was as though a hush fell upon the few of us there at the time…a collective knowing of sacredness and appreciation when you see it. We were essentially bowing down to nature, were we not?

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I took a break from hiking the next day and just tripped around Boulder and surrounding areas. I actually did not stay in Boulder, but in a smaller town just south, called Louisville (the S is pronounced!) A combo town of suburbia and quaint, artsy, cozy downtown area. Of course, I found the perfect place for coffee! Super small place in Louisville that’s only been open 6 months called Precision Pours. Cozy, simplistic, minimalistic…just what i like! Oh, and good coffee and a super cool owner, Brice!

A pourover of Brazil. Yummy

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Did a short 3 mile run later in the day and could feel the effects of both altitude & the previous 2 days of hiking.

Next day was the one and only day i saw the sun. Wanted to hit the Flatirons so that’s exactly what I did. The trail beginning is the same as it is to get to the Golden Arch. After the 1st mile, the Flatiron trails are in a different direction. A lot of the same type of terrain as it was to get to golden arch…it felt longer, but was actually shorter distance. Still, a decent amount of climbing for the distance. 1,394 ft over 2.7 miles. Got into a nice rhythm of following this one fella and letting him lead the way cuz some points are so full of rocks that you cannot gauge what is actually the trail. The best part was literally climbing/scrambling up some big boulders to get up and over particular areas. I noticed as I moving higher and higher that I was smiling outside and inside…how happy i was, how invigorated i felt and how i just kept wanting to keep going up and up. A fun, cool feeling!

From the Flatirons…

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It’s amazing how focused one has to be on trails like this where it is so thoroughly rocky. It’s true meditation…a total zone….beautiful. I was focused on getting to the top, but at the same time mindful of each step, the sound of my breathing, the amazing beauty surrounding me. The senses sharpened! Aware of my legs/quads….the muscles working in tandem with the rest of my body to propel me up, forward; aware of my heart rate climbing…climbing…sensing the sweat gathering on my brow and back. Life happening…there on the flatirons. Finally arriving at the top, empty water bottle in hand and plopping myself down on a rock and just looking out….noticing everything and hearing nothing…the quiet. Ahhhhh….

Last day: coffee and writing & Precision Pours, haircut by an awesome gal and went for a flat, fast 3miler thru downtown Louisville. Zoom to airport.

I try to make it a point to start my day with a gratitude list of about 5 things/people. Health is always #1 on my list. For me, it’s so important to be healthy….i want to nourish my body, treat it well…so i can continue to do things like this…I am aware of so many who have serious physical limitations and complications and i’m just so thankful to be in a position of good health. I don’t ever want to take it for granted.

I needed this trip. To get away from my usual surroundings, to be away from work and my office, while at the same time remaining thankful i have a job and a lot of flexibility with my work. I needed some different space, some elevation change, some different perspective. Appreciative of the opportunity and for meeting some neat people.

May your journey be filled with light, joy, fun, and challenge. Go get it!

P.S. I wore my Hoka Stinson ATR’s on the hikes. Perfect.

repetitive…

Posted in motivation, photos, running, trail with tags , , , , , on September 29, 2015 by afuntanilla

It is thru repetition that we get better. However, the repetition must be accompanied by awareness, more deliberate effort, laser focus. This is how we improve, in anything.

Of course, this is also in addition to a desire and the belief that you can be better. At ANYTHING. At LIFE.

Why not?

At the halfway mark on Sunday’s concerted and fun effort! Happy to have hot some personal bests of sections of the trail today. Happy Runner.

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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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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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