Archive for goals

Sunday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thankful for the part of the route that offered shade!

XLV

George Sheehan

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

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

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

-George Sheehan

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What’s possible?

XLV

Can I

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

Can I do it?

Do I have enough time?

Is my body capable?

Am I capable?

Can I do it?

XLV

A 13.1 Point of View

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

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

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

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

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

Overall: 1518 out of 3984

Women: 591 out of 2118

Females Age 40-49: 99 out of 381

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

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

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

Onward!

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.

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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!  🙂

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accountability

Posted in motivation, random with tags , , , , , on May 22, 2014 by afuntanilla

Accountability. Where do we learn this? How do we stay focused on this? Naturally, it is a learned behavior, pretty early on in life and then practiced throughout one’s lifetime. Often times, we have someone or someones to be accountable to….our parents/guardians, teachers, friends, loves, spouses, bosses, clients, kids, etc…

I believe the person we have to be accountable to the most is our own Self. Yes, with a capital S. Why not? If you are not accountable, what are you? If you don’t hold yourself in high regard, what are you? If you are not able to be there for yourself and hold your own, what are you? We are all more capable than we can imagine. I look around the world and see people accept and live with such mediocrity, such complacency….and all I want to do is get as far away from these things as possible. My life has never and will never be about either of those things…of settling for the mediocrity of anything. And, I am the one truly accountable for this. No one else. Even if I had tons of family or kids…it would still be me. No one else lives in my shoes, thinks what I think, has to go thru my day to day things. We are all on our own. Essentially. People fill in and can be and are complimentary, but no one else is gonna do it for us. We must do it. You want something? Go get it. No one will just hand it to you. Work for it. Earn it. Enjoy the “hunt”. Of course there will be times when we all wish it was easier. I am not immune from this. But if it was easy, chances are you wouldn’t want it. These words are not for everyone. Some people are just not very internally motivated or ambitious or driven or whatever. No judgement. We are all different. But if you are someone who is aiming, who is reaching, who is going for IT….Keep Going…Keep doing your thing. Get up every day and make a little bit of progress. It’s not about hitting a grand slam every day….it’s single after single after single. You will have success, whatever that means to you, but it must be earned. Enjoy the challenge. Let it feed you. Let it lift you up. You want something? Make a stand. Show up. Be accountable. To YOU.

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!