Archive for trails

March

Posted in motivation, photos, running, shoes, trail with tags , , , , , , on March 31, 2014 by afuntanilla

As March 2014 comes to a close, just a few brief comments. Longest run was the Portland 15k race mid month. Continually working on my speed and absolutely love seeing the improvement. In addition, I have wanted and needed to get in some trail runs and I got 2 short runs done both last Sunday and yesterday on trails near home. Yesterday’s run was just one of those perfect running weather days….it had rained during the night and still drizzly as I had morning coffee & Clif Bar. By the time I got to the trail though, the rain had ceased and we were left with a gray sky.  The air was cool and everything was quiet, clean. I did not take my music with me so I could purposefully just listen to the surroundings….listen to the quiet! As I crested the first section, I looked around at the amazing beauty …all the hills in the distance glowing and glistening after the drops from the sky….all green, rolling hills beneath the gray skies. Was gorgeous.

This was only my 2nd time back on the trails since New Zealand last December. A most welcome change from the city pavement. Going serves 2 purposes; to get in some hill work and get off pavement. The trails were a bit soft from the rain and I had fun trotting thru various puddles. As I was coming around a bend on the opposite side of the park, I looked ahead and saw about 6 Cows in a line, RUNNING. The Cows, they were RUNNING. I have NEVER seen this before and I’ve seen a lot of cows! Honestly, I didn’t even know they could move that fast. It was quite beautiful. They were in a line moving south to north and they reminded me of horses as they trot along…it was startling, funny, and gorgeous. COWS.

The best part of the route I do at this park, Helen Putnam, is the last .85 miles. It’s down-slopping, weaving right and left and straight, etc… and I can really pick up my pace and unleash my stride. That’s the best feeling…a mixture of feeling most alive, most free, most abandoned in the moment. Truly awesome.

Happy Running!

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The Kepler Mountain Challenge

Posted in motivation, photos, races, running, trail with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 8, 2013 by afuntanilla

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Race morning began with my iPhone alarm buzzing at 4am. Splashing cold water on my face, waking up, and smiling….the day is finally here! I made some instant hotel coffee that is not half bad and eat my customary chocolate chip ClifBar and banana. I sat in bed, eating, drinking, quietly waking up to the day and feeling positive. I dress in shorts and my long sleeved “RUNATL” shirt. I put all my “required gear in my Salomon race pack; 1 long sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves, rain jacket, long wool pants, & rain jacket. These are all “compulsory gear” and we would have to undergo a gear check along the route to ensure compliance. The gear is required due to the nature of the changing conditions of the course, especially as we get to the top of the mountain. With the water in my pack, the clothing and all my GU Energy gels and Hammer Nutrition gels, my pack was beyond full.
I drove to the start of the race, about 3 miles from hotel. The streets were quiet and dark and the day was clear. No rain, but some last night and more expected later today.
Arriving at the start, I make one last bathroom stop and head to start line. As with other trail races, the number of runners are much less and the start line a lot more relaxed and low key. After a 10 second countdown, me and 449 others were off on our adventure of the Kepler Challenge; some with goals of winning, some with goals of beating a previous time, some running for their 10th time, some running the 1st time, some just wanting to finish.
That was me; I just want to finish. Have fun and finish. Enjoy the journey.

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The first 3 miles are the soft trail, surrounded by green on both sides, more trees than I can even say. Off to my right past the trees, I could heart the edge of lake Te’Anu softly bumping up against the shore. Those first few miles were very crowded, but still able to have a nice easy stride. The soft steps of all us runners in close proximity to one another is such a nice sound.
We approached out first aide station and shortly after, the long, long ascent began. I think we climbed for about 10 miles and it was unbelievable. It was difficult and with an alarming amount of jaw dropping beauty all around. The first climbing miles were still in the thick green “forest”, switchbacks, stairs, bridges, etc…as we approached higher elevation, green gave way to open expanse. No one around me was running, everyone walking, climbing, etc. I would like to know if the front runners were running this part of the course….
Soon, we arrive at what I think may be the top of the climbing…the views are just ridiculously beautiful. I don’t have the words to describe it. Mountains, and mountain, and some lakes in between….all around. It was like out of a movie….
We arrive at checkpoint/aide station #2 and this is where we have a gear check. The volunteers make sure you have what’s required and we are off again. I grab 1/2 banana, refill my water and am off. I had met and chatted with a nice woman from Australia and we were changing places here and there. She was mostly ahead of me, but at times we were together and chatting. I noticed how fast she was climbing and was like, “how???”
We continue on….climbing…we turn a corner and I think, oh, there’s the top….um….no, wrong again. Keep climbing. At some point through all this, it is getting cold. We area up at 4500-5000 feet and it is also a bit windy. I put on my jacket, gloves and cap. I’m eating my gels, but i am not keeping track of how often and that was not a smart idea. I should have been keeping track. I knew I had a lot, but didn’t know exactly how many, so I didn’t know if I was eating too many of too few for the length of the race. Why didn’t I plan this better??
My mood is good, I am thoroughly enjoying the views and the experience and I am climbing more and more. Finally, we arrive at the top and their is a photographer there who takes our picture and says, “welcome to the top”. I smile, happy! I’m also thinking how did this guy get up here? He was literally stationed on a super small area, all bundled up, taking our photos. Maybe the helicopter dropped him off.

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Reached the top, now for the descent….
Oh my….ouch, ouch on the quads….wow. A bit more technical at first, with lots of small rocks to navigate. My shoes were continuously filled with small pebbles, an annoyance, and had to stop a few times to empty them when a bigger rock got inside.
I had a few bathroom pee breaks on the trail. 1 at a checkpoint, and 2 in the woods. I didn’t want to stop but…
The descent was very long and more painful than the ascending. The ascending is just plain difficult; this amount of descending all in succession was difficult AND painful. The trails in Marin that I had been running on were good training ground, I just didn’t do them enough for longer periods of time per training session.
More descending and at a point where it was switchbacks on steroids. For those who might not know, switchbacks on trails are like a zig zag over and over again. And again. Some amazing trees along the way. I was literally in a forest. Took this photo which didn’t quite show it, but the trees were almost like a Spanish moss. Lots of ferns and beech trees and who knows what else! I was about 6 hours in and I was feeling it. I was tired. Hungry. I felt like I needed some salt. Whatever electrolyte levels were in my Energy gels wasn’t cutting it. I was finally on flat ground and running. Walking. Repeat. They had a few other things to eat at aide stations but I didn’t want to eat anything I had not been familiar with and potential suffer stomach issues. I continued on for more spectacular miles. Looking right, left, and above and just seeing beauty like never before. True paradise! Wow! I actually fell a couple of times; once while turning on a switchback. I just slipped and scrapped the left side of my lower leg. No problems, just scrapping and a little blood. It was actually kinda fun. Later, I slipped on a some wet rocks. Slid completely onto my backside and

Mmy right palm was all that got a small pang. I was lucky. There were many tricky and dangerous places on the track….slippery areas and lots of rocks and rooted areas where you could easily slip and fall. I had to constantly look down to avoid a fall. It was a long day of meditative running. I had my earbuds with me in case I wanted to listen to music, but I never did. I just wanted to be be out there and soak it all in. The last 5 miles before I got to the next checkpoint, Montara Hut, were painfully slow. Walking a lot and running, um…shuffling a little. Ugh. It sucked. But, I just was running out of strength and energy. After 7 hours, my Suunto Ambit2 watch had lost all of its battery life and from that point on, I didn’t know how far I was. I had my phone so I knew the time, but not mileage. I was thinking what should I do when I get to Montara Hut? Should I pull myself or keep going? Well, I didn’t take too long to decide. By the time I arrived at the station, I checked in and then said to the 2 ladies there, “I don’t think I can go on, I think this is it for me.” They looked at with such care and sweetly said, “well, that’s ok. You’ve come so far already. But, if you want, just sit, eat and think about what you want to do.”
I sat down, had some water and one of the ladies came over and brought me some food to choose from, saying, “can I get you anything else?” She was so nice!!
One of the women volunteers who was keeping track of the runners at this stage came over and asked if this was the end for me and I said yes. That was it. My Kepler Race was over. I went to the bathroom, put my long rain pants on and then sat and waited for the boat to take me and another fella across to the start line. I sat in the sun and felt ok with my decision. If I continued on, I would have had to walk the remaining 9 miles and there was ZERO desire in me to do that in the condition I was already in.
As I write this, I feel a bit teary, but I knew not finishing was a possibility due to my level if training and fitness and the proximity this race had been to my October marathon. I knew it was a push. I knew it was a gamble. So, I am without surprise, and yet still with disappointment of not crossing the finish line. I wanted that for me. No fanfare, no one here traveling with me, I don’t even think you get a medal….but I wanted to cross, just as I do every race. But, on this day, I didn’t want to walk those last 9 miles and finish that way. I did not strain over my decision as I feel I also made a smart decision for my body.
Today, of course, I am sore; legs, especially my quads, feet and back are all feeling it. I earned every bit of soreness and remain proud of my efforts. I looked at it as an adventure, and it was. With all it’s astounding, made for gasping beauty, it really was quite and adventure.

Total time: note sure as my watched had stopped, but approx 8 hours, so min
Distance: 27.6 miles
Ascent: 5,252 feet **most ever so far
Descent: 4,377 feet **most ever so far

This was the most challenging and difficult race I have attempted. It surpasses the 40 miler, the 50k trail run Tennessee and the 34.4 miles I ran as part of the JFK 50.

I want to give a MASSIVE shout out to all the Kepler volunteers. They were amazing and so giving!!
Thank you to my friends and loved ones who have cheered me on!! I felt you with me in spirit!!

If you are a runner, put this race on your bucket list. If you are alive and breathing, put this place on your list to walk, hike, etc…

More pics some from the top and then thru forest.

A footnote on that last pic of me at my finish: I was trying to give a sad face for not finishing and it doesn’t look like I just ran what I did, doesn’t look as though I ran 26 hard ass miles. I assure you I did! 🙂
I could also not be to bummed in the moment as the ladies who helped me were so amazing and sweet!

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Running around…

Posted in motivation, quotes, races, road, running, trail, travel with tags , , , , , , on November 28, 2013 by afuntanilla

My feet, my legs, my entire body has run in many places. I’ve gone running just for fun or training in many cities across America and have also raced in numerous locations.
My feet have touched the ground in Seattle, Washington and toured their downtown areas, found a local Peets and ran by the beautiful campus of University of Washington. My legs have propelled me along the shores of Lake Michigan and through the amazing, diverse streets of Chicago as I caught the marathon fever and ran my first and second marathon in that there city. I can still remember now, very clearly, those last 6 miles of my 1st marathon in 2000. My feet ached like hell, my body overly spent and somehow I found the strength to continue. There were literally thousands of runners all around me. We ran past the Chicago White Sox ballpark and I gathered as much energy as I could as we ran parallel to the Lake. I have never forgotten the scene of that last mile as the streets, and then stands, were jam packed of spectators/cheerleaders; those crazy, supportive people who come out in droves to cheers us runners on to the finish line. It was thunderous, colorful; a scene and a feeling I hope I never forget.
As I traversed the United States by car several times, I have had the pleasure of running in the 7000 feet elevation city of Flagstaff, Arizona (one of my favorite small cities), the absolute and utterly flat lands of Lubbock, Texas, through an old, quaint mining town of Bisbee, Arizona, along the fringes of the beaches in both Myrtle and Virginia Beach (South Carolina/Virginia); I’ve run though the downtown areas of Cleveland, OH before heading to the wild and booming Browns stadium filled with thousands of my best friends for four hours. I’ve run a few marathons in my birthplace of San Francisco, California and did an epic 40 mile run on my 40th birthday in the city where I was raised, San Leandro, California.
And HEAT, yes, I’ve been in the heat. For about 13 years, I trained and raced in and around Atlanta, Georgia. I ran mile after training mile on the gorgeous, peaceful, paved Silver Comet Trail, the hilly, windy trails of Sweetwater Park, circles of paths in and around Stone Mountain Park, and through more neighborhoods than I can list. The stifling heat and humidity of the south will always remain a heavy KNOWN in my body, a sixth sense perhaps, but I will also never forget running through the snow storm that blanketed and shut down Atlanta for a few days a few years ago. THAT was fun.
Birmingham, Alabama grabbed me more than once as it puts on a terrific half marathon every February. The sleepy, slow city with nothing else to do comes alive in the dead of winter and has an awesome race in typically chilly temperatures.
And I have done what perhaps many of you have as your number 1 bucket list item; I have run the “Rocky Steps” in Philadelphia. As I finished a short run though the city, I ended it by going up those few steps and of course, raised my arms in victory as I got to the top. Myself and many others were all so proud of ourselves. I think every person should do this at least once in their life. I’m not sure you have TRULY lived until you have run the “Rocky Steps.”
More heat and humidity dragged me down in the cities of Orlando and Panama City Beach, Florida. Not much else to say there.
I sucked some wind in Denver, Colorado but luckily found a Peets Coffee along the way. I’ve gotten my fill of education as I ran through the campuses of University of Texas (Austin, TX), Clemson (Clemson, SC) Harvard (Boston, MA), University of Nebraska (Lincoln, NE), Vanderbilt (Nashville, TN) and the mighty orange of The University of Tennessee (Knoxville, TN) I’ve suffered through boring routes comprised of office parks in New Jersey and Connecticut and come alive on tortuous runs and races in Marin County, California. I paid tribute to history as I ran past the many memorials in DC and then gasped at the beauty of the George Washington River. I have raced on The Las Vegas strip and took refuge in its farther removed Red Rock Trails. I’ve found breathtaking beauty on the Appalachian Trails of Maryland before being pulled from the JFK 50 mile race because of a time cut-off.
And many more roads and trails in between and all over.

My legs, my feet, my body have given me more than I could ever ask for and I am enormously thankful I am able to do my thing. I do my best to treat it well; to feed it properly and adequately, to allow it to rest, to play and dance and move in non-running ways. I try to do my best to appreciate what my body CAN do instead of focusing on what it cannot yet do or may never do…but I often fail in my efforts of appreciation. I can be demanding. I can be greedy. I want more. From me. And so, I try to be mindful of appreciation, of realistic expectations, of balance….

I am now “on vacation” until Dec 16th. This is absolutely foreign to me as I have never taken this much time off of work. I have never taken any sort of trip anywhere that didn’t involve a race or some fun running. And I have ZERO regrets about this. I don’t think I am suited to go lay on a beach, beautiful as they may be. I am meant to roam, to explore, to go sniffing around while I’ve got my kicks on….

And now, I am taking myself on another adventure to do what I have long dreamed of; running an ultramarathon outside of the United States. I will travel to New Zealand to take part in the Kepler Challenge on DEC 7th. The race is 60k (37.2 miles) all on trails in the southern area of the South Island of NZ! I’m beyond thrilled to be going on this adventure.

More later on the why New Zealand and my hopes and expectations for the race and the trip itself.

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21 > 27 ?

Posted in photos, road, running, shoes, trail with tags , , , , , , , on August 13, 2013 by afuntanilla

This was a little step back week and even though my total weekly mileage was only 21.54 miles, it felt more than the previous week’s 27.

Perhaps it was simply due to running some trails and a little hilly terrain. I really haven’t run hills consistently…most of my mileage over the summer (and longer) has been very flat. I did 2 short runs at Helen Putnam Park. 4 and then 4.5 miles. Awesome both times and i loved being off road. The park is not very big which is maybe a reason I don’t go there more often. If you go more than 6 miles there, you are doing repeat trails. But, still….a great place to go and very close to my house.

Also, this is the 2nd week in a row where I had booked a massage for Friday afternoon. Well, 2 Saturday’s in a row now, the runs have felt difficult and I’m sure in big part to the massage. Just not smart to get it on a friday before 2 days of running. Oddly enough, this past friday, my primary reason for the massage was to get some work done on my right shoulder and arm. I have been doing some strength exercises and such and apparently I tweaked something in my arm. I think it is a result of not using proper technique. Anyways, my right shoulder & arm muscles are super duper tight and tweaked. Still. Deltoid, Upper bicep, Trapezius. The therapist spent the entire hour just on those areas and I’m still not right. Better, but something is still off. Not sure what my next course of action ought to be….

Thankfully, this does not prevent me from running. 🙂

Sunday long run was just 10.  Ran all over the town. Need to go somewhere else next weekend. Feeling a little claustrophobic.

This week starts a new week of increasing mileage. Hope to get it all in and with quality!

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View from one of the trails…gorgeous day. After I was done, I sat on a bench and just listened. No music with me. Just listened to the slight breeze, the quiet of mother nature in all her glory. AHHHHHHHH — so awesome.

Oh — wore my ASCICS Trail shoes that I hadn’t used in a loooong time. They still work!

Happy Running!

Running for Coffee and Fun

Posted in motivation, photos, random, road, running, shoes, trail, travel with tags , , , , , , , , on February 11, 2013 by afuntanilla

Yesterday I made a spontaneous trip down to Santa Cruz. It’s about a 2.5 hour drive from where I live. I just wanted to get out of town and go somewhere fun. I needed to get away but I didn’t know how much until I actually arrived. I arrived, checked into hotel, changed into my running clothes and hit the road for a quick 3 mile jaunt to explore and kinda get my bearings. It was a beautiful late afternoon, just a hint of cool temperatures. I ran through the cute, packed in downtown, saw the coffee shop i wanted to visit (VERVE COFFEE) and just made a loop back to hotel. Felt great to move my body. I’m SLOWLY getting back into running….and being ok with that…

I felt myself excited and awakened by the new sights all around me. My senses were awakened. On alert. I wanted to take it all in. I love how a new place has this effect. I had been to Santa Cruz many times in the past….but i’m talking about 25 years ago….

After run, made my way back downtown to visit Verve and find dinner. If you don’t know, I’m a big coffee fan and love finding new good coffee and coffee shops. Verve did not disappoint! I went to 1 of their 3 Santa Cruz locations. Its located downtown on the main street, Pacific. The shop was spacious, tall ceilings and a large area for the baristas to do their thing! A decent sized crowd were sitting and doing THEIR thing. I ordered a Cappuccino and passed on the yummy looking Chocolate Chip Cookie. While my drink was bring crafted, I nosed around in the shop…looking at their beans, mugs, apparel (yes!) and other logo items. I knew i would spend more than a few bucks in this place! I picked up my splendid cappuccino and took a seat at the bar area that allowed me to watch the baristas. Love that! The VIBE in this place was a huge plus. Young, cute,  friendly staff. All of them. Welcoming!  Image

I also ended up chatting w/ a gal who works there and she gave me a recommendation for dinner. I asked for “someplace casual with a TV to watch sports”. She directed me to SurfRider Cafe about 1/2 mile away. It was pretty packed but I got a seat at the bar immediately. Ordered a house-made Veggie burger w/ sweet potato fries and an ale called Dragon’s Breath. All very good! And again, loved the vibe in THIS place. Young, casual crowd. Very good and pleasant service. I think the VIBE i am speaking about is just very much Santa Cruz. Always been a very casual, independent, liberal place. Love that!

Saturday morning got up and went back to Verve for morning coffee. using my iPad, i found one of their other locations about 2 miles away and figured that would be a fun out and back route. So, off i went. There’s a river that runs thru town, The San Lorenzo River, and the route carried me on a path next to the river. Mostly flat, with just a little bit of incline. Gorgeous day outside. I could see the Boardwalk Rides off in the distance. And the Pacific Ocean. AHHHHH — Soon enough the short 3.6 mile run was over and again, i felt like i couldn’t run much more. for now!!

Got breakfast, walked around a bit, got cleaned up and headed to the Boardwalk. I went straight to the arcade and played my old favorite video games; Ms Pac Man & Centipede. Fun! I could’ve played longer, but had only a short time to get a few rides in and head back home. I chose 2 rides; Double Shot – which is just a straight ride up 125 ft. Super fast up and super fast down. a few times. I was facing the ocean and of course, great views. I was screaming and laughing the entire time. Other ride was the classic Giant Dipper roller coaster. More laughing the entire time. I love rides…i love the feeling of being locked in but totally out of control. SOOOO FUN. I really needed it.

This morning (Sunday) I drove just a short distance over to Mill Valley to hit some trails I had yet visited. These were right off of Tennessee Valley Road. I really had no idea where I was going, but i thought it would be easy to get back to the starting point, and it was. I ran, hiked up and came to some amazing views of the bay! Picture does not justice. Image

The trail up was mostly single track with hard packed dirt. I could’ve worn regular road shoes but I had my adidas trail shoes on. Came to some fire roads also. A hefty climb, especially given my current level of fitness..but i sure loved being out there!

So…I am making progress with getting back to being as fit as i want to be. Here’s a snapshot of what i’ve done lately.

Feb 10: 6 mile trail run; Elevation gain 1,179 (highest elevation gain since last August!)

Feb 9: 3.6 mile road run

Feb 8: 3 mile road run

Feb 7: core workout @ home

Feb 5:  3 mile treadmill run

Feb 2: 4.25 mile trail run; Elevation gain 635 (makes me realize how this is really nothing compared to what i can do in muir woods)

Feb 1: 3 mile road run

So as you can see, February is off to a much better start than January. Thank God for HEALTH! I still have not picked any races. Basically, I’m just trying to get a base level of fitness back and go from there. I saw a lot of folks on the trails today and that also gave me a boost!

Also, these are the newest add to my collection:

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Brooks Pure Connect. These are one of the minimalist shoes. Not the least MINIMAL, but mid range minimal. So far, so good. I like the feel..like they hug your feet. Good traction even on the trail I used them for last weekend. Got ’em at a new specialty running store: San Francisco Running Company located in Mill Valley. If you are in the area, go pay them a visit. Good guys running the show!

to each his/her own

Posted in motivation, photos, quotes, trail with tags , , , , , , , , on May 3, 2010 by afuntanilla

“Every single thing you ever achieve will come as the result of something you attempt. So get busy making those attempts.” RM

Everyone’s got their own way of feeling/being spiritual. You might go to church, temple, practice voo-doo, chant with monks or whatever….

A lot of times, Sunday running for me is how i get part of my spiritual need met. And when, it happens to take place at a track, well…you might just say that for me, that is holy ground!

Saturday did a challenging and invigorating track session here:

Talked a few minutes to a fella who had just finished his workout. He was 61 and only had his running shorts on. Looked as if he had no body fat. Chiseled legs, arms. Asked me; “why did you stop? you were crushin’ it”. Ah…he was so flattering! He said he only runs 2 races a year now. He has had 2 spinal surgeries. Could have fooled me. Dude was awesome.

My health fortune is not lost on me.

Spent some time on these after the track:

The good about the track: you feel fast and it’s over pretty quickly.

The bad: it hurts.

The best: my “church”

Sunday went up to Kennesaw Battlefield and met my buddy, Jeff. We ran what I thought would be an easier part of the trail….um…think again; it was harder. 5 good, challenging miles in the humidity. Well, i guess it’s back…like I told Jeff, “this ain’t no winter weather”