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The Race Report: The little runner that could…

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

1:58:42

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


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

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

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

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

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

ONWARD

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Funtanilla Forty: Part 4

Posted in 40 mile run, motivation, photos, road, shoes with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 10, 2010 by afuntanilla

At approx Mile 22 mark, me and the fellow runners & 2 support cars, pulled into a gas station. I wanted to change my socks/shoes and refuel. A man in a large pickup truck pulled up to us and said, “Can I ask what this is all about.” I guess we were causing quite a scene. LOL

I got up and headed down the road. By this time, it was nearing mid-day and it was HOT. Temperatures were between 85-90 degrees and I was in the full sun. There is virtually no shade in San Leandro. Those temps were unusual, for sure, but you get what you get and move on. I needed a hat so I took off my Funtanilla Forty Orange bandana that Sharon made and put on an oversized cap from Sandra. (this was not my first choice, but i couldn’t be picky. left my own Brooks cap in the hotel)

 

Oversized Dodger Blue Cap (UGH!)

 

 

Scott, Neva, Kera & Me on walk break

 

 

Back to Work

 

I was also getting into high traffic areas and had to stop at a lot of traffic lights…that’s never fun but it was part of the course. After the marathon mark of 26 miles, it started to get tougher. I had not run past that distance in about 2 years and my legs were feeling it. And Feet! Scott was still running with me and offering lots of positive encouragement. “Angie, you are looking good. you’re looking strong”, he would say. I have no idea if he was telling me the truth, but it sounded good and I believed him. I can’t say enough about how thankful I am that Scott ran with me. (in total about 26 miles) He was solid! He was a great companion. We have only known each other thru the blogging world and met each other once before at a race. It was easy to run with him…no pressure to talk or anything…just be and run. He is a gem! Everyone loved him and his cute self.

We were coming up to a Taco Bell so I used it as an opportunity to make a pit stop to the bathroom. When I came out and went outside, I saw more friends to greet me; Denise and Jason! On the eve of their 2nd wedding anniversary, they were out there to cheer me on! Denise even ran with me for a bit which was a wonderful surprise. She has some disc problems with her neck that prevents her from hard impact activities, so I was so delighted to see her out there and she felt good!! Me & my friend of about 21 years out running in the streets of San Leandro. Sweet!

 

Denise & I

 

We ran through the mini “downtown” area of San Leandro and made a stop across from the Long’s Drug Store. I sat on the curb and i think at this point someone (can’t remember who, sorry) massaged my calves. A huge help. Grandma and I used to go to that Long’s Drug store all the time and I always enjoyed it. I loved walking slowly along the aisles and just looking at all the stuff…the greeting cards, all the medicine stuff, random things like slippers or clock radios or little fans. I remember when we would walk in during the holidays and they had all their holiday decorations out…for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Grandma always seemed to buy a tin of those Butter Cookies, Andes Thin Mint Chocolates and Mon Cheri Chocolates. It’s a rarity that I eat any of those items anymore (mostly because I don’t wanna buy a WHOLE PACK or CONTAINER just for me) but they always make me think of grandma and the holidays. Ok. Get back to running.

There isn’t a whole to report on the next 10 or so miles. Some of it was back through some areas I had already been and other than that, not to noteworthy. Except to say, that it continued to be hot and Jason was a gem in getting me a bunch of ice cubes packed into a t-shirt for me to wear around my neck. That was a huge help. He also switched places with Denise and ran a bit with Scott and I. I really felt he was taking care of me and I appreciated it so much. THANK YOU, JASON!

These miles that were uneventful were mentally kinda taxing. They made me a little grumpy although I was also feeling the pain so those 2 feelings kinda mixed in with each other. We had to wait at a lot of lights/traffic and it just wasn’t nice scenery. But, again…i chose the route for particular reasons and I just had to keep on.

I got a great boost around mile 32. I am running along on this road full of nothing and I see these red car parked ahead all by itself and I see someone waving. I hear their voice. I cannot tell who it is yet…closer, closer, I see it is my old high school friend, Miki! WOW. CRAZY. UNBELIEVABLE. She gave me a big smile and hug and it was such an enormous boost. She had to get back in her car and would join us later that evening for the birthday party. How great was that, right!!!

 

MIKI!

 

Another big boost came about 2 miles later when Scott and I saw my best friend, Holly! She had swapped her car with someone and had her bicycle and was gonna be with us for a while. So happy to see her and have her join us. We were about 6 miles away from the Marina and the finish line. It wasn’t too long ago that Holly couldn’t even exercise at all. She had a serious back injury that was very painful and caused her to be extremely limited in her exercise. She couldn’t ride a bike, no tennis — nothing really except walking. She couldn’t even really sustain more than one hour car rides. Now, she is kayaking, riding her bike, etc..and I was so proud of her and happy she is able to be active again.

 

Denise, me & Holly

 

Once Holly joined me, Scott departed and went back with Kera in support car. He had run about miles with me and said his knee was starting to bother him. I would have thought he was a serious slacker, but 2-3 weeks prior, he had just run 93 miles across Idaho! So, i let him off the hook and told him it was ok to go rest. HAHAHA!

(read about his adventures at http://www.ikeeprunning.blogspot.com or click SCOTT on my links to the right of page) He is an awesome runner and a great fella!

Now, I’m about 3-4 miles from the end and what am i thinking? Well, I’m looking at my watch and seeing the hours keep adding up and thinking, “wow, i’ve been out here a long time.” You know, there comes a point where your thoughts are not really coherent and you are just functioning..just keep going…just keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep pumping your arms…repeat.” oh, and keep drinking. what else do you need? another gel? keep going. I never thought, “i can’t finish”. Never even crossed my mind. Oh yeah, i few miles back, Kera had the Rocky Theme song playing on her Droid phone so gave it to me to listen to which was very cool. In case you don’t know, that IS my favorite song!

Finally, I’m on a straightaway into the Marina and I know I have about 2 miles left. I tell Holly, “I wanna do this part alone. I will meet you all at the finish line.” Off I went to run the final part which is into the Marina and onto the “fitness trail” portion which looks like a little island in itself. It’s a small loop on paved trail with dirt patches all around and the bay is right there with ya! I was running and looking across to San Francisco. I felt the soft breeze cool my face. I heard the sounds of the water gently lapping against the rocks. I heard children’s voices playing in the distance. I remembered all those times I came to this same spot as a teenager…coming there to find some quiet and some calm in my crazy life. I would run or walk around the loop and just think. I can’t remember what I thought, but I remember how I felt; i felt like i could breathe. Something about the openness of the area gave me perspective and some kind of hope that things would be ok. I think we all need that kind of place, no matter how old you are or where you are in your life. I hope you, dear reader, have that kind of place for you.

 

view of sf

 

 

my friends waiting for me!

 

I had been run/walking these last 10 miles and I had about 1 mile to go to the finish. I wanted to run all the way in…all the way in to my friends, my awesome supporters. As I exited the trail and ran along the main road, I could see some of them up ahead with cameras. I was smiling and digging in. I turned left into the hotel parking lot and saw some of them up ahead holding a banner for me…like a finish line banner. I ran until I touched the banner. I was smiling. BIG.

 

Happy. So Happy.

 

 

Funtanilla Forty: Part 2

Posted in 40 mile run, motivation, photos, shoes, travel with tags , , , , , , , , on October 1, 2010 by afuntanilla

This will be a multi-part recap. So, grab your cup of coffee or whatever it is you enjoy drinking and get comfortable. I hope you enjoy reading as I recap my adventure of the Funtanilla Forty.

I feel compelled to begin by sharing about my feelings the week prior to the run. I was in last stages of tapering, which in itself is enough to drive me nuts. I go from lots and lots of running for months and recovery to hardly any at all.  It’s so important to do this to ensure fresher legs on the “race day”, but man, it truly is mentally challenging. Those thoughts creep in every day, “have I done enough? am i ready? do i need to get in another extra run?”

In addition to those crazy thoughts, i felt physically sick. or like i was gonna get sick. I realize I usually go through this same pattern before the big races. The last 7-10 days pre-event, I begin to feel extremely tired, kinda achy & super stressed. I realize, I bring most of it upon myself, but I believe there is something else happening too. I think with not only the physical tapering, but the “mental tapering” too that the body is thrown into shock.  It’s so focused and put through so many physical & mental demands for months and then there is a gradual decrease…but to me and my body, this is a shock to my system. So, i think how i feel in that final week is a culmination and combination of all of this and then the other life stresses that come into play.  Needless to say, I got myself on the plane and headed west.

I was super excited, anxious and overwhelmed. What began as an idea I wrote out on a piece of scratch paper became one of the biggest occassions of my life. What began as an idea of a very solo & quiet journey transformed into an epic adventure where so many people from all over were involved in one way or another.

The Plan

The first real planned event of the weekend was a dinner with about 10 friends at a restaurant near our hotel in San Leandro. We had to dine in Oakland simply because there are so few legitimate dining places in San Leandro. I’m not kidding.

On the way to dinner

So, a bunch of us met up at Francesco’s, about 5 miles away from our hotel, The San Leandro Marina Inn. The group included, 1 friend I met via the blogging world (SCOTT) , 5 friends I met through twitter world(JULIE, LYNN, KERA, SANDRA, SHARON & LYNN), 1 old high school friend(KRISTINE), and 2 old friends from my days living in SF(ALEC & HOLLY). What a great group! I felt so blessed to be there. I think I had a smile from ear to ear on my face the entire time. I tried to eat, but I just couldn’t. I probably ate 1/4, at most, of my pasta. I was so happy being with all my friends and I was in disbelief that they were all there to support me.

After helping Scott with a ride back to his hotel in nearby Hayward, I got back to my room, crawled into bed went to sleep. I knew I would wake up early and use that time to eat and get all my gear and food together for the long day ahead.

Saturday:

4:30am wake up call. Seriously? Yes. On my birthday, by choice, woke up at 4:30am to go run 40 miles. Seriously? Yes.

Actually, I had no trouble getting up. I quickly made the hotel room coffee which was not too bad. Far from Peets, but hey, you gotta take what you are offered, right?! (Also, there are NO PEETS coffee places in SAN LEANDRO)

So, me and a cup of Superior Brand coffee it was…along with my customary Clif Bar, water, and a banana.

I had some pre-race jitters, which was really cool because this wasn’t a race by any means. The excitment running through my veins was pretty damn neat. I was about to go to yet another “starting line.”

After getting dressed and getting all my stuff together for support car, I headed downstairs to the lobby. To my delightful surprise, there were 3 of my friends waiting for me to give me a hug and cheer me on; Neva, Holly, & Alec. And then there was the additional group of 3 who were to travel with me via support car; Kera, Scott and Sharon. All but Neva came to the starting line with me; the starting line being the old house I grew up in as a kid; 465 W. Broadmoor Blvd, San Leandro. That was the residence I lived in with my mom; a still very dumpy looking duplex at the edge of the San Leandro/Oakland border. One thing is different from 28 years ago, there were black bars on the windows. As I stood there in the darkness, surrounded by my friends, we spoke softly. I smiled as I looked around at what used to my driveway..the spot where my sister and I would lie on the cement after running through sprinklers or just getting wet with the hose on a hot afternoon. We would lie down in the driveway, on the cement and let the sun dry our little bodies. I can still feel the warmth of the sun on my cheek, my hair. When we finally lifted our heads, we would find our cheeks marked with the little ingrained gravel of the ground.

I turned around and looked into the street. I saw a memory of me, my 2 brothers and my uncle all out there in the middle of the street playing football. My uncle would be the QB and he would diagram plays on his palm for us. Nerf football or hard football, it didn’t matter. I could catch both and hang with the boys.

I took one last look around at my 5 friends who were all smiling at me. Each of them gave me a hug and then I turned and headed south into Mile 1. Aproximate start time was 6:15am, Pacific Standard Time.

I felt free and light at the beginning. No more heavy legs, no more tired legs.

I carried nothing with me except a little piece of paper with route/map abbreviations so I would know where to go. No water (had support car), no iPod (intentional). Temps were cool. Maybe 70 degrees. I started off wearng my long-sleeve technical tee shirt from LA Marathon, but I knew I would change tops as the day progressed. I wore my K-Swiss K-Ona shoes, aslo knowing that later i would change pairs. These shoes are good for about 20 miles and then my feet start to hurt and need more support, so I would later change into the K-Swiss Tubes.

On Your Left

Posted in 40 mile run, motivation, photos, road with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 1, 2010 by afuntanilla

Since I have invaded her shoe space, why not her running space and blog as well?

I came to Atlanta to rally with Angie in her 40 mile mission which we kicked of at the raffle party at Carpe Diem.

It was fantastic and she raised over $900 for the My Stuff Bags Foundation. I was awestruck by the amount of love and support surrounding Angie.  However, it wasn’t until today (her weekly big run day) that I realized what a feat this truly is.

By no means am I a runner.  I am very active, but I have no concept of what constitutes a mile.  I am the type to hop in the kayak, on my mountain bike, or skates and go until I feel like stopping or find something to explore.  I just go with no real goal in mind.  Not the case with Angie.

We arrived at the trail head and she said, I will run 10 miles.  I said, Cool!  Sounds fun to me.  Off we went and within a matter of seconds I was over it!  Run?  Me? NO WAY.  I am not a runner.  I watched her as she raced on towards her goal.  A bright orange and red blur running with confidence.

I suddenly felt like I had to move.  Something in me was not about to stop.  Here was this woman who has overcome so many odds running like nothing mattered but the goal ahead of her.  So I ran, or I tried my best anyway.

Every excuse in the book came flooding into my head.  Here are a few because it was really pretty pitiful! 1. I forgot my ipod. 2. That kid just passed me.  3.  My knee will hurt. 4. Who says I have to run? 5. How far is a mile anyway?

With no music, I was tuned into my surroundings.  I kept hearing ON YOUR LEFT.  Of course that got me singing…To the left, to the left…

Just as I thought I was going to fall over and die, I saw it.  It was the sign that made all the difference.  It said 2.6 miles.

Wow, I had gone that far!  Only problem now was that I had to get back to the beginning.  I turned around with even more excitement at the thought of being able to say how far I had gone.  Suddenly, I had A GOAL!  5.2 miles!  My first running goal.  There it was.  Humbled, in pain, tired, and overwhelmed with joy I made it.

It didn’t matter that I was being passed by kids or that I had no music.  I made my own.  I found my goal.  Angie told me to find my rhythm and I had.  It went something like on your left, on your left.

ME: 5.2 miles

Angie: 10 miles

Coming to Atlanta to run with a goal: worth every mile.

more reflection from Nike SF Marathon

Posted in races, road with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 8, 2009 by afuntanilla

Just some numbers I’ve looked at recently – running miles by months

June 2009 = 79

July 2009 = 104

August 2009 = 128

September 2009 = 122

October 2009 = 77 (including marathon)

I was looking back at some numbers last time I ran a marathon which was in March 2007. I ran the ING Atlanta Marathon that day. That was my 5th marathon and I suffered. I had my worse finish time of 4:53. YIKES. I looked back at what my mileage was the 3 months prior to race and this is what i found:

December 2006 = 99

January 2007 = 117

February 2007 = 121

What surprises me when i compare the 2 training periods (a loose comparison) the 3 month total prior to Nike race was 354. The 3 month total prior to ING was 337. So, not much difference in the totals.

I’m not trying to figure out why there was such a vast difference in finish times as I pretty much already know the answer to that question, but it is all pretty interesting. Some of the big differences were the time of year for training. ING was in March, so i trained in winter into early spring. Maybe I spent too much time on treadmill. I can’t remember. For NIKE, I trained all through summer/heat/humidity and then some fall weather conditions. And then race day conditions were completely different. ING race day ended up being an incredibly hot day(unusual for march). There was not enough water on course and it was quite hilly. NIKE race day was some good ole’ San Francisco weather; high 50’s to start and probably never got above 65. Very few hills. Perfect. I think my performance was aided by something else; sheer enthusiasm for being back home. There is no way to calculate that, but it made a difference! I needed that race. I needed that race experience. I had to get the bad taste out of my mouth from the poor showing at ING. Ya know?! I needed it like sometimes you need to kiss someone so that last person you kissed isn’t the last person you kissed. Know what I mean? So, again, Thank you San Francisco, my city bay the bay.

Back in my office, people were interested to hear how it went. I am lucky to have good and enthusiastic support among my work folks. Just the other day one of my colleagues asked, “so, when’s your next race?”

Well. What’s next?