Archive for marin

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!  🙂



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!




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

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

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

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

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

Just a few numbers:

Sept: total elevation: 19,169

Oct: elevation so far: 22,501

Prepare. Prepare. Prepare.

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

IMG_1540 IMG_1542 IMG_1602 IMG_1533 IMG_1510

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

IMG_1539 IMG_1544


Catching Up

Posted in bike, photos, road, running, trail, travel with tags , , , , , , on August 16, 2014 by afuntanilla

These past few weeks: Another awesome bike ride with Jason. Went out on an mid week early morning. Weather was cool, foggy. I added arm warmers to my body but other than that, stayed with just shorts and bike jersey.


(Jason in fog)

We did our same 25.5 mile loop and I felt good. The route was the same but the scenery changed due to the foggy conditions. A different kind of beautiful. So peaceful out there…I love it!! Awesome way to start my work day.

The next 2 weeks I traveled to Kansas City, MO & then Atlanta, GA. Obviously, both not easy places to run in during the summer months. I also have learned that for me to try to run the day after a long travel day is absolutely useless. I ran the day after I arrived in KC after long day of getting there. Run was painful. I also ran the day after I arrived back in CA after super long day of travel. That was doubly painful. I think I have learned my lesson. I can do the run of course, I just don’t find it enjoyable after such long travel days….but I feel like I just have to exercise because of all the sitting, etc…hello….conundrum! Anyways, in between those instances, I ran 3 days (4 miles each) steadily in Atlanta and was glad to get those morning runs in before work. Did a lot of driving while there, so moving my body beforehand was perfect! Humidity/heat was not as bad as expected for this time of year. Bonus! I ran on the same path each day….a flat path with a gazillion trees hovering around. Ahhhh….THIS I miss very much!! The plethora of soooo many trees! Beautiful, luscious, invigorating, and yes, thank you for the shade! The last day of running there was eventful in that I tripped and fell AND then narrowly avoided a snake. I’m sure the snake was harmless, but a snake is still a snake. Also, no scars or nothing from the fall. A tiny bruise, if that. Darn it.
Much of the path is laden with wood planks because the area is basically akin to a swamp. Every morning, it was deliciously quiet out there with just my footsteps and the soothing & familiar sounds of the cicadas.





(playing w/ the shadows)




After a full travel day back home from ATL, I desperately wanted to move my body the next morning. I knew I would be sluggish, but I just HAD to move. You know that feeling, right?? Also, after the flat path in GA, I was hungering for the dusty trails of Marin. I opted for the Dipsea steps and trail. Ahhh….the steps I crossed with happy, gentle, tired feet…the steps that took my breath away….over to the windy trail with scores of scattered fallen Eucalyptus leaves under my stride. Down and then back up the steep, dusty, rocky, section….my legs happily aching…running over to a section I had yet never been…the sunrise trail that goes .7 mile out and then the same return. An easy runnable section with fantastic views (even with the cool foggy morning). Taking some deep breaths and smiling, happy to be home again…happy to move my legs, grateful for everything.
Back down the Dipsea steps after a slow 5 miles. Just what I needed.


Part of the Dipsea Trail



Part of Sunrise Trail

running updates

Posted in photos, races, road, running, trail with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 6, 2013 by afuntanilla

Well, I have been running. Yes, I have. Been on the trusty treadmill at the club, the track at the local high school, the many busy and rural streets of Petaluma, the streets of San Francisco, the trails of Helen Putnam Park in Petaluma, and lastly, the mighty trails of Tennessee Valley in Marin County. Whew!

I’ve taken some waist deep ice baths in the Pacific Ocean after some long runs of the actual Nike Women’s Race course. I’ve basically ran the 2nd half of the marathon at least 3 times now so i’m getting pretty familiar with the moderate grades, the flats, etc…not that I really need to do this since I have run the course before. However, i’ve been running down in SF just to simply change scenery from outside my door and the streets here that become kinda boring to run on after awhile. Plus, going into the city allows me to take those mini ice-baths that have been a godsend after a couple of hours pounding pavement.

IMG_0317 IMG_0320

The cold water has felt so good (after the initial shock) And it’s just been amazingly pleasant out there. I’ve done this now 3x and each time, there has been no wind and very fair air temperatures. Lots of people out playing, surfing, walking, running on the beach. I just sort of pace back and forth in the water and let my mind chill and enjoy the awesome scenery.

During this training period, as usual, i’ve had my questions arise of “why am i doing this, why am i running another marathon, why don’t i take a break…” Obviously, there are days when it is just hard. Miles after miles. I get up around 5am during the week for work and at 6am basically every weekend to run. And, there are days when I think, man, i just want to sleep in. Chill. For a few weeks, I had some very minor aches and pains that were just weird. First, I had this right upper arm pain. The pain was in the area of my upper bicep, right where your arm meets shoulder. Serious pain. I knew it had been from me not using correct technique while doing some “cross fit” like exercises. I had a lot of massage work done on it and abandoned most cross training exercises.  But, the pain sucked, no kidding!

Then, for a couple of weeks (still slightly there, but going away) I’ve had this horrible pain in my left hip area…basically all the muscles conjoining there have been super tight and a mess. Mostly, I think it has originated in the glutes. Amazing how tight those muscles get. And, more massage to get them loose. Pretty damn painful, but necessary and it’s been working.

Thankfully, as these minor issues have gone, the running has been more enjoyable and as race day approaches, I am both excited and of course, a little nervous about how I’ll fare. I wish that i could say my time will be much faster at this marathon distance, but it won’t be. I expect to finish somewhere between 4:15-4:25. I think overall my body is tired and i do think i need a break from running, training for races at some point. I ‘m not sure I made the best choices this summer by signing up for this October marathon, but i did. I got caught up in excitement and here we are. Of course, I could have decided weeks ago not to do it, could have just rested some and then geared up for the December race in New Zealand, (more to come on this later) but…I didn’t. Just like I could have stopped running when i was around miles 3-4 of some of my long runs. I just didn’t. I think part of the thing is that right now, I am just training to truly “endure”, not for time….and that makes me continually feel like I am slow. But, I train this way because of the distances I will be racing. I think afterwards I will need a break and then maybe truly dedicate myself to speed and shorter distances to mix it up. Or maybe just take a break and then who knows….I’m just “writing out loud”.

Last weekend, I ran the longest distance I will run pre-marathon. It was only 17 miles. I’m ok with that as I have the experience of this race and the distance and frankly, just didn’t feel like doing any longer road training miles longer than that.

Today, I decided I would go for a group trail run. This is my second time with the group that gathers on Saturday mornings at San Francisco Running Company in Mill Valley. The group runs have gone on for a while now and honestly, one of the reasons I had not gone before was due to being intimidated. The guys who operate the shop are ultra runners, who have done multiple 100 mile races and fared very well. Anyways, I went for my first time at end of August to just sort of check it out. My fears were realized as I lost the group after the 1st mile. The trails are not ones I ever run on and they are tough if you are not familiar with the ascents/descents. So, that day, i basically ran alone for about 7.5 miles. The group did 13, i think. Gorgeous views all around. I left feeling proud that I actually went, because I need/want to do more group things (even if i was by myself after the start) and it was a learning experience…getting familiar with the trails and the level of fitness of the group. Ego checked. A great thing.

So, back to today. Today was my 2nd time going for the group run and again, i feared I would be pulling up the rear. Well, it happened again, even though I had a much better run. I was able to keep a couple of guys in sight for a few miles, then they were gone. I ran solo for about 10 miles…no harm…more amazing views!! Just stunning, really. The 1st picture below is taken from near the top of Tennessee Valley looking East towards the Marin, Sausalito, Tiburon. The 2nd photo is taken looking out at the Pacific Ocean. A gorgeous day, slight breeze, blue skies as you can see. Super freaking peaceful up there and all along the trails. I was equally humbled and inspired to be out there. I can only get better on the trails. And today, I put in 13 miles, about 2 hours, 50 min. with 2,205 ft of ascent and 2,228 descent. This is good training & experience for the December race. The other good thing is my legs don’t nearly feel as beat up as they do after long runs on the pavement.

IMG_0325 IMG_0324

Thanks for reading! Cheers!

Race Report; Muir Woods 7 Mile Trail Race

Posted in motivation, photos, races, running, trail with tags , , , , , , on April 18, 2012 by afuntanilla

What a thrill of a race! 7 miles up and down and thru the Muir Woods in Marin, Ca, about 20-30 minutes north of San Francisco!
My friend, Sharon, took on this terrific challenge with me. While I have run many races, both road and trail, this was only her 3rd race ever. EVER. Pretty damn impressive that she even considered this race, let alone, toed the line and finish! Massive kudos to her!

The race was to begin at Stinson Beach. The race didn’t start until 9am, which I appreciated a lot. I love sleeping in even just a little bit on Saturday since I am up at 6am every weekday for work. So, we got a little bit of breakfast, coffee and made our way on the very windy, beautiful road out to the race start. The race was put on by Envirosports which produces a lot of trail races in the Bay Area and the rest of California. I had done one of their races years ago in the Marin Headlands and remember the crowd and energy being so low key, fun, and just without a lot of the hoopla you find at the bigger, much more expensive road races. Don’t get me wrong, I like those too from time to time, but it is super nice and freshing to experience a race where it is very basic, but very fun! Dave, the race director, stood on a picnic table and shouted out the instructions for each distance; 7 miles, half marathon and marathon.
Dave: repeat after me; ” you are gonna go up. And up. And up some more.”
You get the picture right? Us 7 milers, then would take a right hand turn and go down, down, and down some more. OK.

Dave singled out a couple who had come from Vermont to celebrate their anniversary and run the marathon. They also led us in “America the Beautiful” before we got started on our adventure. As we sang, I looked around and just took some deep breaths and took in the moment. So incredibly beautiful: a gorgeous clear day, the voices of strangers singing together, each with his/her own thoughts and reasons for being there, the faint sounds of the Pacific Ocean wave and birds in the background….ah…..LIFE….LIFE.

The start was literally AT sea level, on the beach.

The marathon runners began first, half marathoners 10 minutes later, and finally us 7 milers, 10 more minutes later. Needless to say, I was ready to jump out of my skin by the time we finally got going at around 930am. When you are excited to race, you wanna go! LIFE

Sharon and I wished each other good luck and off we went. Physically, I thought I was feeling pretty good. Last weeks 5.25 mile run on this course was tough but I felt like my legs were recovered. I felt rested and ready to go. I wasn’t sure I was actually gonna “race”, but I thought I would take it as it goes and see what happens. Beginning a race on SAND is interesting and not exactly something I would continue to do. We got out of the sand and onto the parking lot pavement and within about 1/4 mile, we were onto the Dipsea Trail heading UP. Both Sharon and I were so glad we had tested out the course last week. HUGE BENEFIT. We knew exactly what to expect on the way up. Within just a few minutes, my heart rate was high, as expected. I ran as much as I could during these early 3.5 miles of mostly all uphill. The first section was a mixture of hard packed dirt, narrow single track trail, mixed in with some wider open areas that was tightly packed small rocks. As we climbed and got into the open area, the vast Pacific Ocean was to our right. The next section was where we switched from the Dipsea Trail onto Steep Ravine trail. Um….the name of the trail is NOT a MISPRINT or MISTAKE. Extremely fitting name. A very steep quick downhill and then all uphill. Steep uphill. Un-runnable uphill. Crazy steep steps uphill. Throw in a LADDER uphill.

Toss in some lush trees, narrow footpaths, lovely small waterfalls, a couple of short bridges, and ducking under a few fallen down tree trunks and there you have it: the path up. I am pleased to say that more than a few people stepped aside for me to pass them on their left. I was breathing heavy, but they were REALLY breathing heavy. Imagine lifting your legs as high as you can to climb a step…that’s what some of it was like. FUN!! CRAZY!!

My mind was so incredibly focused. My thought process was, “push. keep pushing. keep trying to pass people. get as far ahead as you can because you don’t want anyone to pass you on the downhill section. push. keep pushing.”

So, obviously, I WAS in race mode! 🙂
Felt awesome.

I finally go to the “top”, 3.5 mile point. There was an aid station, and bathroom but I didn’t need either because I had water with me. I sucked down the only gel i had and made me way onto the Dipsea Trail again and headed DOWN. YEAH!!!!

What a freakin’ thrill. I really picked up my pace and was simply going for it. I passed more than a few more people and was pushing. It was me against me. Me against the clock. I was flying. I was in heaven. This part of the trail was heavily rooted in some parts with rocks jutting out and causing me to be more careful; other parts were more more smooth…and then of course, throw in some more Dipsea Stairs going DOWN…steep stairs, slippery stairs, going down. Going down fast!!
I came to a section where I was alone for quite a bit and I got a second wind and I just felt like I was an animal, in our truest and most basic elements. I felt so free. Surrounded by beauty. I started screaming and yelling….


In one of my last sections, I passed a young woman, probably 10-15 years younger than me) I passed on some stairs. Then, we came to one last very steep uphill section and she passed me. UGH! I wasn’t happy about this, but I had to let it go and keep moving as fast as I could. We were into the final stretch and moving downhill on some of the more open, wider trails. I got a 3rd wind and was moving fast, opening my stride and fucking going for it. Had to manuever around and pass small clusters of regular people hiking the trail…”keep pushing..keep pushing”
I was getting closer and closer to the young woman ahead…and bam, I caught her and flew past her and never looked back. I exited the trail and ran onto the pavement/road section that took me back to the beach. My legs were dying, but I had to keep going a few more yards, a few more yards. A few people were cheering me on as I came in and crossed the finish line!

I was thrilled. Such a fun race.

I feel darn good about my results.

Placed 29 out of 139 runners
Placed 6 in my age group. Women 40-45

It was a great event and I hope to do more EnviroSport Races. And Sharon…well, I think she is HOOKED on trail running! 🙂