Archive for san francisco

Race Eve

Posted in motivation, photos, races, running with tags , , , , on October 14, 2012 by afuntanilla

On this day prior to Race Day, I wanted to jot down a few thoughts.

For one, I can’t wait to run. I feel like I’ve been a little cooped up because of tapering an all. It’s been a long time since I’ve run a full marathon…last one was March 2010 in Los Angeles. As noted in this blog in recent weeks, I am not going for any sort of personal best. The time I had to train just didn’t suit this type of goal. I’m just gonna run and do my best. I want to soak it in and enjoy the experience as much as possible. And yes, in a sick sort of way, the pain is enjoyable. I hope to be able to tolerate the pain long enough to finish. The pain will be there, that will be no surprise! Every marathon is different and I expect to have a new experience this time around. I ran this race in 2009 and really enjoyed it. I’m excited to actually be in a race atmosphere again…a Marathon atmosphere…it’s different. If you have been there, you know what I’m talking about. Every person out there has their own goal, their own dreams, their own struggles with their body, nutrition, etc…and we keep going…we keep going because we give ourselves no other choice. We must keep moving to follow our dreams, our goals. We must get thru the huge discomfort and pain that will inevitably find it’s way into the body. We must be strong in our heads to slay the dragon that wants us slay us! Everyone has their own plan, their own strategy and their own “tricks of the trade” that will get them to the finish line. I will have my own plan but I will most definitely be guided by this sentence … the shirt I got from my very 1st Marathon in Chicago, 2000.

Run Strong, Runners and may you feel light on your feet.

Pressing on…

Posted in photos, road, running with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 24, 2012 by afuntanilla

After last Sunday’s 16 miler, I received a massage about 1.5 hours after running. I have no idea what the optimal time is as when one should receive massage post run, but it sure felt good. I’m glad to have found a very wonderful massage therapist here in Petaluma. I felt like this helped me recover a bit better than usual.

Tuesday I went to the gym and decided to do some “speedwork”. I ran 4×400 and then 2×800 all at 8:00/min pace. Felt good and felt pushed. Legs still a bit tired from that 16 miler. Wednesday ran about 3.5 on the streets and then Thursday back at the gym for 5 good miles. Admittedly, my nutrition was not too good this week. Sometimes, like this, I just become lazy about making good dinners and eating enough. I really don’t have the luxury of doing this, especially when I am training so hard…so I need to get my act together this week. (i still wish I had a personal chef, a la Ellen!)

I wake up about 5:45am every work day. And most days this week, it was super duper hard to get my butt out of bed. I just felt super tired in the morning and soooo wished to sleep in. I actually could sleep in and go to work a bit later, but I don’t elect to do this because i would then be stuck in traffic. So.

Friday night I caught a movie in San Rafael. Arbitrage with Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon. I love watching Gere and the movie was ok. Felt like I hadn’t been to a movie at nite in like forever! Made my way into San Francisco and had a late night soup and snack at The Waterfront Restaurant right along the pier along the Embarcadero. Enjoyed one of the best Cosmopolitans I’ve ever had and some yummy roasted heirloom tomato soup. I sat at the bar and could see SF Bay outside. Such a view. Such a sight. Never gets old. I walked outside and caught this picture.

Image

That’s a dock and then the Bay Bridge beyond. It was such a nice night. Not cold or windy. Awesome.

Made my way to pick up Sharon from SFO on a late flight. Happy she got home safe and sound from her journey to France.

Saturday — didn’t do much. Slept in some (THANK GOD) and then meandered down to Corte Madera for some attempts at shopping for clothing. Found nothing at my usual places of J. Crew and Banana Republic. I did, however, get something new at The Apple Store. (no, not the new iPhone 5 although I might in the near future…) It was crazy busy inside as you can imagine. I found an employee and said, “ok. So. I LOVE Apple. But, here is my one complaint…when i am running and i use my iPOD NANO, I can’t skip to the next song because it it touch screen and I have to pull it out and look at screen, etc..i wish it had the features of the big iPOD or the Shuffle so I can just touch the FF button”. Apple guy says, “Well, do you have the earbuds with the remote on them?” “Um…no…I had no idea.” “yes, you can use the remote to skip songs, volume, etc…” Me: “Oh my god, you just solved my 1 little complaint. Now I love Apple even more.”

Suffice it to say, I bought the earbuds. I also asked another employee if there was a way to sync my iTunes from my iBOOK G4 (older version laptop) onto my big MAC. Yes, was his reply and he showed me how. So…today, I synched all my songs. I have been wondering how to do this for about 2 years. I guess the lesson of today is “ASK QUESTIONS, ASK FOR HELP”. My level of happiness went up so much today because I got these 2 lingering things resolved. WHY DID I WAIT SO LONG??? I don’t know why, but it is probably related or in the same part of my brain that has me only BUY ONE THING AT A TIME (see last weeks post if you are confused)

Speaking of which…you will be happy to know I stocked up on gels & gatorade this past week. So, Sunday morning. Woke up and didn’t feel good. Felt a sore throat coming on last night and it emerged this morning. Wanted to try for 18 today and as I woke at 6am, i knew it wasn’t going to happen. I took some Emergen-C and went back to bed. Felt like crap. Woke up again and thought it was about 10am. I turned on my phone to see it was 2:00pm. HOLY COW. I knew i needed to sleep! Woke up and made coffee and big bowl of Oatmeal with raspberries, blueberries, almonds, & walnuts. YUM. Started to feel better. Actually, my body was feeling ok. Just my throat and my head were a little suspect. A few hours passed and I felt like I could give running a try. My body felt awake and I felt like I wanted to run. Got all my stuff together and hit the road. As soon as I took my first few strides, i knew i would be ok for a while. The miles were passing and I was feeling ok. I was taking some Powerbar Gels and watered down Gatorade. Ran much of the same route on the east side that i have been running these past 2 weeks. I wasn’t sure if I had made the smartest decision by running today, but I felt like I had to try and it felt great to be out there. A beautiful fall day…about 5pm…the roads were getting quieter, the sun was descending, and the moon rising. I saw it all. Beauty. I called it in at 10 miles, which was better than I thought I could do. It wasn’t 18, but it was 10 and what i could do today. Rushed over to the club to soak in the hot tub for 15 minutes. Ahhh…heaven.

This week, my goal is to take better care of myself with nutrition. Given that the race is in 3 weeks, I now have no more time to try to do 18 miles and have good recovery time. So, my longest run pre-marathon will be the 16 I ran last week. I have no idea what this will mean going forward for the race. I’m trying to stay “loose and relaxed” mentally about it since I knew I didn’t have enough time to get all the proper training in…but…still…

I think race day will be tough and hard. And a damn worthy challenge. As it should be.

ONWARD…

P.S. It’s my birthday this week. Think I need a new pair of running shoes… 🙂

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

Week 2 Run Report

Posted in road, travel with tags , , , , , , , on January 20, 2012 by afuntanilla

Only ran 3 days during the 2nd week of the year. Had a lot going on and plus Week 1 was a pretty good start in terms of volume. Best runs was on Sunday. Ran outside on one of my normal routes and didn’t have to much of a plan regarding pace, but I wanted to do 5-6 miles. I was feeling ok but really couldn’t judge my pace because my freaking GARMIN 110 has completely died and I am wearing my regular NIKE watch with doesn’t have GPS.
Let me take a moment to gripe about GARMIN for a minute. My first GARMIN watch was the 205 which I wore for quite sometime without much problem except that it did take a while to find the GPS signal much of the time. It died about a year ago and I felt like I got good “mileage” out of it. I bought my first 110 about 18 months ago and within a few months, it was giving me problems. Luckily, Garmin replaced it, without requiring a receipt. However, they replaced it with a different color. The gave me the one with a PINK stripe on it, as opposed to the all BLACK one which is the one I bought. PINK! ICK! But, oh well right…was glad I got it back and it worked fine for about a year. Then, the HR monitor stopped working. OK. I just let it go and moved on. Then, the whole damn thing just DIED. BLANK. Nothing there! Should have been fully charged. BLANK.
Suffice it to say, I am done with GARMIN. To pay their prices for a product that lasted a year is just not worth it. Until I get super anal about having my pace at my disposable every second of every run, I will be fine to just run with my sturdy NIKE watch…which I’ve had for about 6 years and no problems, by the way. I map the distance in my car afterwards or on mapmyrun.com — same thing i did before having a GPS watch. Ok. enough about that!

So, the Sunday run…I felt good first couple of miles which are the ones with the most hilly portions. I knew after about 2.5 miles that my pace had accelerated, but couldn’t tell how much. I was feeling good and happy and it was a gorgeous day and good running temperatures. As I approached the 40 minute mark, I knew from past runs approximately where I was in terms of mileage and I figured my pace was pretty good. I came to a short downhill section and sped up and then finished with a about another half-mile of a rolling section. That last section, I just turned it on a found a deeper gear. Lungs were stretching, thighs were burning, heart was pounding. End result = 5.2 miles @ 8:41 pace. BEST PACE IN A WHILE. HAPPY RUNNER!

2012 Week 2 – approx 13 miles

**Big things happening. Last day at my current employer/job is tomorrow, FRIDAY! Next Monday, I plan to leave Atlanta and make my way back home to San Francisco in my sporty BMW. Hope I don’t hit any snow. Everyone keep their phones handy for a 911 call from me! 🙂

Catapult

Posted in photos with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 1, 2012 by afuntanilla

CATAPULT; to thrust, move suddenly or quickly

I first came to Atlanta in 1999, July. Moved here from San Francisco, which always surprises people. WHY would you move from San Francisco to Atlanta? It’s not an easy thing to explain, but I will try….see if you can follow along. 🙂

I had been to Atlanta twice before moving and had spent time here and LOVED it. The landscape is unlike anything out west. A bounty of trees, so damn lush and gorgeous. Maybe like a drop dead gorgeous woman so that when you see her, you just stop and stare. Soak her in. That is the Atlanta landscape. (not so much in winter, but you get the picture)

Atlanta is enough Southern so that one does feel it, in a good way. The slower pace, the true Southern Ways. You know..people of all ages addressing one as “ma’am” and “sir”. I find it endearing. People are kind here…and yes, many Southern Charmers. And contrary to popular misconceptions, Atlanta is VERY metropolitan. Very. Even more so now than when i moved here in 1999.

So…that is a little of what DREW me to this Southern City. Looking back, I also believe I needed to leave the Bay Area, which is more accurate to say. I didn’t leave San Francisco. I left the Bay Area. I left the Bay Area that had had so many very difficult memories for me. Very difficult and very painful. If you know my story, you understand. One might say I was “running” away from them, but I don’t see it that way. I really view it as something I needed to do for me. I needed to leave the nest. Surprisingly, it was pretty easy to leave. I was excited for an entire new place, new opportunities and to see what I could do on my own. I am a firm and loud believer in wandering. I think more people should do it. You can discover a lot about yourself while wandering. I, was wandering…

Almost 13 years have now passed. Wow. In many ways, I feel like I really “grew up” here in Atlanta. Became an adult. Been very focused on my career and have enjoyed that process. My running has also truly accelerated here. I did my first BIG RACE in January 1999 (before moving) in San Francisco; The Home Depot Half-Marathon. My finish time was 2:01:43 — a record i am still trying to break! After that race, I was hooked and proceeded to run and run while living in Atlanta. Luckily for me, my living situation/income etc has allowed me to travel for many races. 13 years later. Still very much hooked on the running.

One of the biggest issues of my life has been a constant nagging feeling of feeling like i belong anywhere. I think maybe we all have one or two or three or…nagging issues, don’t we?? Well, this is mine. It’s been huge. It is constant and can be a real freakin’ downer. DOWNER!

Well…I realize that I have a part in perpetuating this feeling. Some of it is real and true and some of it is stuff I create. There are people who know me, who really know me. Who really love me. And I have chosen to be far away from them. Well, that will certainly help me feel like i don’t belong and not connected. Duh!

Throughout my years in Atlanta, I have been unhappy on a deeper, spiritual level. For whatever reason, I have not been able to create the kind of relationships or community that helps sustain me on the inside and I think we all need that as part of our life. I read back to journals from 3, 5 years ago and read where I question why i am still living in Atlanta. Obviously, living here for as long as I have, there have been reasons for me to stay. I have been fulfilled here it some ways, but ultimately, for me, it has been like a spiritual desert. Over these 13 years, I have traveled back to the Bay Area to visit friends and more and more, those visits have provided me with a shot of the best juice i could possibly give myself. And it hasn’t just been my friends…it’s been the place…the San Francisco Bay Area…the water, the culture, the diversity, the abundance of so many good things….I kept going back to visit to get INJECTIONS of all this good stuff. Each time I have been back, over the last 5 years especially, I appreciate the place more and more. There is truly no place like it. I’ve been around the country a few times, so i feel i can legitimacy say those words! Back in October/November, I was having one of the worst times of my life and where did I seek comfort and nourishment…back in the Bay Area with my friends, who are my family. This past year, 2011, I traveled to the Bay Area 4 times. I finally got the message.

Things in my work environment have changed and it’s definitely time for me to leave a situation. It definitely has had good points, but I think when one becomes quiet enough, the message is there in the quiet, inner space. My message has been to leave a situation that no longer suits me. A relationship at work that is no longer serving me. Sometimes, we just have to move on and that’s what it is for me. Time to move on.

So. Yes. I am going home. Finally going home. I’m excited and a bit nervous, but mostly excited. I’ve been thinking about this for a loooong time and finally have gotten the courage to take the leap. As mentioned, 2011 was a tough year. However, it was a spontaneous meeting by the water with a friend with a red rooster in my hand that helped catapult this decision. At that moment, my year changed and ultimately, the direction of my life.

With a deep breath, I look forward to 2012 and all of its challenges and opportunities and adventures. I hope you’ll follow me along the way.

Onward…

p.s. so much more to say, but will save for a later time

Half-Reflections..

Posted in 40 mile run, motivation, races, road with tags , , , , on September 12, 2010 by afuntanilla

This morning, while having my usual pre-run coffee, clif bar & water, i was reading through some old training journals. I came across this one from January 31, 1999. It was after I completed my 1st Half-Marathon (13.1 Miles) while still living in SF.

“Well, I did it. I really did it. A 1/2 Marathon. I’ve completed something very big – quite an accomplishment and I’m going to let myself have it. I need more room to write than what is provided here. It rained last night so i thought it’d rain in the race, but it didn’t. It was a little misty at the start. I almost can’t believe that I did it. It seemed like such a big feat and now it’s over. Kinda a bummer. I’m so proud of myself – proud for many reasons – because i committed myself to something & I stayed with it – because I never let myself quit – because I made a goal and smashed it – because I stayed committed to a program and essentially, myself. The course was pretty & fast – a lot through Golden Gate Park and along Great Highway. It was neat/refreshing to see the big waves as I ran. Some of the wind was incredibly fierce. It was just awesome though..I can’t believe how much the powergel helped. It wasn’t actually until mile 12 when I felt real tired – but now I know – I know I can run a full marathon & I will.

One of the best things about journals of any kind is to be able to look back and see where you were at a particular time in life. I hope this post inspires you to set a goal and tackle it, whether that be to walk a mile, run a 5k, finish a project, tell someone you love them, ask for a raise, take a dance class…whatever YOUR THING is…I hope you GO FOR IT!

let’s break it down

Posted in races, road, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 27, 2009 by afuntanilla

Alright, lemme break it down for you. First, let me mention that I trained the least for this marathon compared to all other 5 run before. What that basically means is that I logged less miles over the specific training cycle. Normally, I get in at least one 18 miler and one 20 miler before tapering. This time, my long run was 16.25 and I felt that this alone could really hurt my race outcome.

Heading into the final 2 weeks of the race I was run down, traveling, and basically feeling like I wasn’t even sure I would finish the darn race. So, I really did not know what to expect from my body. Mentally, I was feeling so much better than a month or so ago so i was super thrilled with that part, but physically I wasn’t sure what to expect.

As  you might have read though in the earlier post, when I woke up on race day, I KNEW I was ready and I knew I would have a good day. Here are the mile breakdowns:

Mile 1: 8:45

Mile 2: 9:43

Mile 3: 9:41

Mile 4: 10:03

Mile 5: 9:31

Mile 6: 10:23

Mile 7: 11:00

Mile 8: 9:23

Mile 9: 10:29

Mile 10: 10:26

Mile 11: 9:47

Mile 12: 10:04

Mile 13: 11:17

Mile 14: 9:46

Mile 15: 9:58

Mile 16: 10:00

Mile 17: 9:40

Mile 18: 10:32

Mile 19: 10:21

Mile 20: 10:05

Mile 21: 10:13

Mile 22: 9:54

Mile 23: 10:22

Mile 24: 10:10

Mile 25: 10:17

Mile 26 + .2 = 12:44

OK. Here is where it gets tricky on my “official” time. I was wearing my Garmin, which is where I got my mile splits from, however, i noticed my mile markers on Garmin did not match up with race mile markers. Usually not a big deal because often it is pretty close. But, it was not close this time. When I completed the race, my watch read: 26.61 miles, 4:28:01. So that is .4 more than official race of 26.2. When i looked at my watch for 26.2, I was at 4:24. My RACE CHIP time was 4:28:10. Hmmm…what to do? Well, considering my Garmin has been off before, but never by that far of distance, i’m gonna split the difference and say I finished in 4:26. How does that sound? Fair?

In my age group Female 35-39, there were 742 runners. I was #171 out of 742. Not bad.

I’m cool with it! Like I said, a few days before the race i wasn’t even sure i would be able to finish. Comparing this time of 4:26 to my best of 4:19 is interesting. I trained less and didn’t fare too much worse. I wonder what i could have done had I got more miles in….lots of info to consider going forward. I did notice that for rest of day and next day, I felt the best I had ever felt after a marathon. I wasn’t nearly as sore or as fatigued. And I almost want to whisper this, but it kinda “felt easy”. Maybe it’s because I was “home” and feeling so awesome and loved. Maybe it was because it wasn’t in the damn heat and humidity of the south. Maybe it was all the Peets coffee. Maybe it was the Pacific Ocean breeze. Maybe it was “Rocky” on the iPod. Or maybe…it was just one of those days.

Thanks for reading. Thanks for cheering. Thanks for the support. Means more than I can say!!

Cheers!

Race Reflections – Part III

Posted in photos, road, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 24, 2009 by afuntanilla

I was lined up right in front of the St Francis Hotel on Powell Street. Looking up at the windows, i saw a few folks peeking outside their windows to us crazy folk down below. Boy, if you stayed there and DIDN’T know a marathon was gonna start right in front of your hotel, you were in for a shock!

At 7:10am, I was finally beginning my 6th marathon. Damn, it felt like this training period has gone on forever and I cannot express how relieved I was to FINALLY GET ON WITH IT!

Even though I was wearing my iPod, I didn’t turn it on for about 3 miles. I wanted to hear all the natural sounds around me; the fellow runners chatting, laughing, the footsteps beside me…

The course started in Union Square and did a zag zag pattern onto Montgomery St. (my old work place street) and over to the Embarcadero. This street(for those who don’t know) is just beside that Bay, so running along it you have great Bay views and Bay Bridge views. A cool, clear, SF morning. Nothing better! All flat so far.

Passed Pier 39/Fisherman’s Wharf and then the first “hill” (SMALL) as we went up and over to Fort Mason (bigger hill) and over to Chrissy Field. We were at about mile 6; lots of support there along the Marina Green! THX PEOPLE!!

Flat along Marina/Chrissy Field and then a nice steep hill up towards the Golden Gate Bridge. (did not go on bridge like regular SF marathon) This next part was probably my favorite. Basically these next 2-3 miles were small hills on the outskirts of The Presidio; wonderful Eucalyptus trees scented the now somewhat foggy area. Felt very refreshing. Pine trees and pine needles lines some of the damp roads. Very quiet and calm except for the often times heavy breathing of fellow runners. I gotta say that this course has a few hills, but NOTHING like I have trained on in Atlanta! These were EASY. (yes, I am thankful the course was not thru the MIDDLE of SF!!) Coming out of that area, we had a nice, steep descent that lead to the famous CLIFF HOUSE — gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean as we approached the GREAT HIGHWAY.

Oh, how was i feeling? Feeling very solid at this point. Drinking water and had a gel and all was good. Next, we made our way into Golden Gate Park and I was getting excited to see Kim at mile 13! Right before that marker, the Half-Marathoners split off and did their own route and we did ours. Boy, there were a LOT of people running the HALF. Crowd definitely changed. Rolling into 13 Miler marker, I saw Kim from a distance there on the left hand side of street, wearing her North Face gray fleece and sunglasses. She brought me some peeled oranges! YAY! Needed them. Delighted to see her on her Birthday, I was the one in for a treat as she then ran about 1/4 mile with me….then called it quits! THANKS KIMMY FOR COMING!

Still in the park and made the turn to head DOWN the park (East Side). Mile 14 and there is my buddy, ALEC!! YAY! He took this pic, we hugged and I continued. So happy he was there!!

Mile 14

Mile 14

I was still feeling pretty good and I felt very focused and happy! Seeing friends definitely gave me a jolt! By the time we excited the park, we were at Mile 16. Now we were in for a stretch back on the Great Hwy (beside PACIFIC OCEAN) before heading over for a loop around Lake Merced. By Mile 17, I could see some of the water. Truly wonderful to see and be near the water again. I don’t need a fancy beach. Just give me water and some sand and a place to keep looking further and further and I am a happy girl. (please don’t ask why i live in a place where i am land locked!!) There was a SMALL breeze. Thank goodness because I know the route well and there can be some grueling winds out there!

Between 18-19 miles, right when I was beginning to hurt, we had a nice little climb over to the Lake. Then it was like another gradual uphill for about 1 mile. HMMM…perfect timing! My feet were hurting on their bottoms and my legs were getting heavy, but i wasn’t in too much pain. Again, I was really focused and i really tried to take in everything; the sights, the sounds; the aches as they came and stayed and came and went. I think I might have had a mental benefit from knowing the course since I have lived in SF in the past and spent much time running in the same areas. I basically knew what was coming. The loop around Lake Merced was kinda uneventful. The main memory was that at about mile 22, they were handing out Ghirardelli Chocolates. WTF? Not bananas or oranges or GELS, but CHOCOLATE! Sorry, I just cannot do that while running. Would have been a perfect place for any of those other things. Oh well….keep truckin’

Made our way back to the Great Hwy for the final 2.2 miles back to the finish line. At this point, my mind started to turn to thoughts like, “wow, I’ve been out here a long time. wow, another marathon. I did it. I’m gonna do it. is it really almost over?”

As I looked to my right, i could see those runners just making their trek towards the Lake. I was on miles 24-25 and they were on miles 17-18. Watching them, I had so much respect. Who knows when they would finish. But, it didn’t matter. They were out there! They were doing it. If the marathon requires anything above all us, it is GUTS. And those people have it. Anyone who gets on that starting line has it.

Now I was onto my last mile. i tried to pick up the pace as much as i could….legs were heavy and my back was getting tired. As I neared the finish line, I shut off the iPod again and just listened. The crowd grew thicker and thicker as I approached..all those spectators cheering on THEIR person for THEIR reason. I saw the finish line banner, ran a little faster, pumped my fists, and crossed the finish line. Because I am able. Because I can. Because the desire burns. Because….

Final Stats to follow

Race Reflections – Part II

Posted in photos, races, road, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 23, 2009 by afuntanilla

CIMG0208

Can you find my name?

Can you find my name?

Race day wake-up call at 5:30am. I promptly changed out of PJs and into some other clothes and went into the downstairs hotel lobby for some coffee. Good Coffee. Came back up to my room, opened the curtains and looked out at the stunning clear morning in San Francisco. All was dark still except for the flickering lights out in the streets and those i could see from the Bay Bridge. It seemed so serene and so romantic at the same time. (in fact, i would definitely describe SF as a romantic city).

I sipped my coffee and chowed down on my Clif bar. My body was awake and I knew i was ready. It’s funny how that is…the KNOWING. More often than not, even before I take the first steps of a race, I just know if it’s going to be a good day for me. I don’t get this feeling at any other time. Just on race day. And on Sunday between 5:30-6:00am, I knew.

I looked online a bit, read the newspaper a bit and finally it was time to put the shorts and shoes on and get out the door. I had my iPod, 2 gels, and those Luna things i mentioned in previous post. I was a little worried about not having more gels because i knew there wouldn’t be more on the course. It still baffles me how they didn’t have any. Oh well, i figured i would grab whatever there was while..as long as it wasn’t anything too different.

I made the quick walk over to Union Square and found the place to line up. Again, the place was ELECTRIC. TONS AND TONS OF WOMEN and a few men. Looking around, I saw smiling, excited, exuberant faces. I saw young, old, asian, white, black, latina, tall, short, thin, pudgy…women of all shapes, sizes, etc… AWESOME….all standing around just waiting for the clock to tick, for the opportunity to pass GO!

I stood there and while I ran, I kept thinking that everyone was out there for their own reason. While watching some of the fellow women near me, I saw their faces; some with pained expressions, others just simply focused and I felt so proud to be out there and in their company. I felt like i wanted to give everyone a HIGH-FIVE or a PAT ON THE BACK!

While participating in a race, especially a marathon, one is truly taking on something big. There’s not a whole lot of thought that goes into running a 5k, but when you sign up and commit yourself to the marathon training, you are definitely in for an amazing journey. That journey is long, grueling, demanding, and very solitary, no matter if you train with a group or not. At the end of the day, YOU have to put one foot in front of the other, YOU have to keep going when your legs start to cramp, YOU have to keep climbing that damn hill that seems like it has no end in sight. And so, yeah, I looked around and wondered about what some of those reasons were of those mighty women surrounding me and my own reason…

pre-race thoughts

Posted in travel with tags , , , , , , , on October 20, 2009 by afuntanilla

This is just the first part of the race experience. Saturday morning I went over to the Nike SF Womens Marathon Expo which took place in Union Square. This was about a 5 minute walk from my hotel. Perfect! The streets were already abuzz with a ton of people going all over the place. On a morning like like this one, where there the masses where out and about, it was hard to feel like we still are in a recession. I felt the same way in NYC.

I went into actual expo tent and got my bag, bib# and other stuff they toss in there. Unfortunately, there was no real good race “Schwag” stuff. I was REALLY surprised they didn’t have any gels except for some Luna Gels of some kind. Kinda like Clif Shot Bloks. I would spend some of the afternoon looking for gels which are extremely hard to find in downtown SF. Before I left expo i found out that if you wanted to take a shuttle from the finish back to the start location, the price was $10. WTF? I have NEVER paid for race transportation before. I thought THAT SUCKED. Nevertheless, I reluctantly handed over my $10 and got a sticker on my bid that was “proof” to be allowed on the shuttle. Oh well.

I crossed the street and went over to NIKETOWN! WOW. Absolute madness! 4 floors, at least, of excited and crazed women checking out all the race clothing, gear, etc.. I was truly bummed that I didn’t like any of the clothing. Everything had the same logo and print on it whether it was a shirt/sweatshirt/hoodie/cap etc..and this included a logo/print w/ FLOWERS on it. Now I have nothing against flowers, but in case you haven’t already figured, I’m not really a floral print kind of girl! I was disappointed because I wanted an article of clothing beyond the Race official tee. Oh well. Moving on. Needless to say, the atmosphere was truly ELECTRIC! It was a beautiful clear day and everyone was smiling, taking photos, and getting ready for their big adventure.

Outside of Niketown, on one of the walls of the building, there was something like a wrap/mural. It was actually part of the wall and it had the names of all the race participants. How freaking cool is that? People were looking for their names and taking subsequent photos. I found mine and have a pic to post later. I cannot post any pics from my camera until i get home and upload them. I thought this wall “mural” was fabulous! Nike does it again! That made up for me not too enthralled with the clothing part! 🙂

Believe it or not, I was still not feeling to well. I kept taking the Emergen-C, took a nap and later met up with 2 wonderful friends for dinner. We ate at a one of our favorite neighborhood joints(in Potrero Hill) called Aperto. A wonderful evening filled with lots of laughter. Isn’t it wonderful when you can re-connect with friends you haven’t see in ages and it’s like no time has passed?!

Stay Tuned. Race details tomorrow!