Archive for vacation

The “why New Zealand”…

Posted in races, running, trail, travel with tags , , , , , , , on December 3, 2013 by afuntanilla

(Written earlier on the plane from SFO to NZ. Currently at destination and IN heaven!)

New Zealand had never been on my radar, my bucket list or anything of the sort. Back in the early 1990’s, a friend a mine went by herself, to explore and vacation and I remember thinking, “wow, that is so awesome…here she is going all that way by herself.” I admired her for taking it upon herself to just go. She returned and told me of her adventures and the beauty of the country and that was the last I had heard of the country for a long while. Over the years, I have only met a few people who had been there and they, too, had good things to say.

So, I have this book titled, ‘Extreme Running’. I bought it a few years ago after I became interested in participating in ultramarathons. The book is basically filled with pictures, information, and inspiration to go run in some amazing places…all distances over the marathon. Back in the early part of this year, I was thinking I wanted to give a go again at the 50 mile distance. My one attempt back in 2007 at the JFK 50 miler ended in somewhat disappointing fashion as I had to exit the course at mile 34.4 because I had missed a time cut off. It was bittersweet as that (34.4 miles) was the farthest I had ever run, but definitely disappointed I was not able to finish the race due to the race rules regarding time.

As my desire reared its head to again try that distance, I was flipping through the book, and came across the Kepler Challenge 60k in New Zealand. After reading the incredible description of the race, surrounded by amazing beauty, and looking at my calendar, I decided I would attempt to get into the race and hope for the best. 60k is obviously not 50 miles, (60k is 37.2 miles) but I thought, “well….it IS New Zealand and it would be a chance to travel someplace super cool and you have been wanting to take a big trip for a while, so why not…..?” Also, I could not find a 50 miler that was enticing enough in a) location b) enough time to train, etc…

So, all I had to do next was wait for the online entry to open in July.

July came and oddly enough, I was waiting for something else at that time; to find out if I got chosen in the lottery system for the Nike Women’s Marathon in SF in October. So, as I am waiting for that result, I am online at the appropriate time to register for Kepler. Aware that the chance of me getting a slot is not great because the number of runners allowed is small, around 450, and the race is very popular. So, it was a total chance. In my mind I’m thinking I could get into BOTH these races; the marathon in October and then a 60k trail race about 7 weeks later. YIKES. But then again, I might not get into either! DAMN…..

After hitting the submit button for Kepler, I got an email saying that all entries had been filled and I would be put on the wait list. Damn. Ok…..
A day later, I received another email saying I was allowed in because I would be coming as an international runner! YAY…..YIPPEEE….I WAS GOING TO NEW ZEALAND. I was going on an adventure!!!

And with that, I proceeded to look into the necessary planning. It had been about 20 years since I last traveled outside the United States, (except for Montreal, Canada in 2004).

Within a week, I received notification I had gotten into the Nike marathon. Oh shit. I got into BOTH. I mean, yippee, right?!!!??!!!
(Me thinking to myself….angie, what are you getting yourself into???)

How do I prepare for a road marathon and then a longer trail race with over 4000ft of elevation gain, while traveling clear across the world? How do I do that?
Well, my plan was to train for the marathon as I have in the past and mix in a weekly trail run. Then, after the marathon, get some serious trail runs done, and hopefully the mix and the timing will all work out.

About half way through the marathon training, I questioned my plans…doing 2 big races so closely together on the calendar. Was it smart? Was it a bad idea? Was it too much? Was I over zealous? What were my options; don’t do the marathon. Just focus on Kepler. Ok. Maybe…, I want to do both, I want to try to do both. Well, over zealous or not, I stuck with it. The marathon didn’t go as I would have liked… and that is due to a variety of things. I rested for 2 weeks and then started getting some trail runs under my feet on the weekends. Running almost exclusively in Marin on the Dipsea Trail and the Tennessee Valley Trails, I worked hard, had fun, and thoroughly enjoyed all the amazing views, colors, smells, etc….I literally huffed and puffed up the many steep climbs and felt like a free little kid as I flew down the descents! That feeling right there, of going so fast on the downhill sections, that sensation of wild abandonment, that sense of play, that sense of joy…..that is my WHY. I hadn’t realized how much I needed to get off the pavement.

I really needed a least 2 more weeks of running on trails, getting in 1-2 more long runs in on the terrain. But, the calendar moves along and we have to move with, right!

I have no idea what will happen on race day, Dec 7th. I have no idea how the travel will affect me. I will have 3.5 days after I land to adjust to the time, etc…
I would have liked at least 2 more weeks of trail training, I would have liked to feel physically stronger and less fatigue in my legs, etc….but I am where I am and all I can say is, I will show up and do my best and give everything I have. I don’t so much look at this as a race, but as an adventure. For those who don’t know, trail running/racing is a completely different experience than road racing. I mean, there were 30,000 women running the half and full marathon in SF! There will be 450 for KEPLER! It’s more laid back, less fanfare, and more communal. I hope to meet some cool peeps and enjoy the ride. I expect to be out there for a long time.

My goal: to have fun and to finish.

Oh, and then…..I will travel around and have myself a vacation!!!


west coast leaning…

Posted in road, travel with tags , , , , , , , , on July 2, 2009 by afuntanilla

Went to my home state of California last Thursday-Sunday for a little bit of business and even more fun/vacation time. I spent time in Los Angeles & Santa Monica. I had really been looking forward to the trip. I had been needing a change of scenery and also, I wanted to see what the hell all the LA buzz was all about as I know of 3 different sets of people who have moved there within the last year. What gives? The only time I had ever spent in that area was very brief back in 1996,  so i was curious to see what I would find.

It definitely did not disappoint. My first night I stayed at a hotel in W. Hollywood called THE STANDARD. Overall, pretty cool. Cool room, lobby, pool….but it was also nothing very fancy. Great neighborhood for me to be in…Peets coffee less than 1/2 mile away. i was a HAPPY girl!! Met up with some clients and took them to dinner at The PALM. Great restaurant/great service. There is actually one of these restaurants in Atlanta, but I have never been.

Friday woke up, enjoyed some Peets while delighting in the cool temps and overcast skies to start the day. Soon, I was out the door and running a zig zag type route through W. Hollywood and into Beverly Hills and back. 5 good miles. Can i tell you how FREAKING EASIER IT WAS TO RUN in that kind of weather in the middle of summer! YAY!

After getting cleaned up, I asked the helpful valet guys for a breakfast recommendation in Los Feliz neighborhood. They gave me a name which i promptly forgot, but then found a place called FIGARO. And man, am i glad I went there. AWESOME. INCREDIBLE. One of the best breakfast meals I’ve ever had. French Toast on some small pieces of bread w/ wonderful flavors mixed on top w/ cinnamon & real whipped cream on the side. Strawberries. Scrambled eggs w/ some sort of spicy potatoes. And a double cappuccino in a BOWL. ALL TO DIE FOR. Adding to the food was the ambience; very french…all the decor was actually brought in from Paris(was told this by waiter). Wonderful, beautiful establishment and a place often frequented by Katherine Heigl (damnit! i missed her!)
I was in some true la la land by the time I finished! Afterwards, I made my second driving jaunt up on Mulholland Drive and Laurel Canyon. Awesome! Great views of the city. Reminded me a lot of the Oakland Hills with all the windy streets and cool homes. I got out of the car several times just to look around and take it all in.
Soon enough, I made my way to Santa Monica. Stayed at a fancy place called THE VICEROY about 1 block from the beach. I would highly recommend. Great service. Very nice accommodations. Early evening, some friends came by and we had happy hour and then went to dinner nearby. A wonderful evening topped off by dessert back at the hotel; cookies and ice milk. not sure what kind of cookies they were, but we only had 3…one each and i savored every last crumb of mine. WOW! It was great to see & visit with friends again and it would continue the next night.
Saturday woke up and found another Peets nearby. YAY! I could move there for PEETS alone! (maybe) Same drill; came back to hotel, changed and went running. Ran a solid 6 on Ocean Ave and then up into some neighborhoods and back to hotel. It was about 730-8am when i started and there were tons of people out already. Walking, rollerblading, running…i loved it! I noticed how much easier it was to run in this locale…flat, cool temperatures…ocean breeze….AHHHH.
After breakfast, I went down to the beach to check it out. I was wearing jeans & a t-shirt. All I had with me was some water and a newspaper. I sat down and just stayed there a while…very different for me! I was feeling really relaxed and wanted to recline and since all i had was my newspaper, that’s what i used to lay on. Hilarious! It did the trick! The warm sun felt healing, the breeze was refreshing, the sounds of children playing and of faint conversations was comforting. What a great way to spend a couple of hours!
Later I stopped by Peets for an early evening coffee and then headed to friends house for the evening. It was neat to see where they lived and be in their space instead of out at a restaurant. Lots of time to just chill and visit and hang. L made a very tasty dinner w/ fish tacos(grilled halibut) with yummy guacamole, mango salsa, & cabbage. Dessert was a refreshing homemade sundae. YUM!
Sunday – I settled for coffee from a cafe across the street from hotel. Went for another run. 6.25 miles from hotel and zig zag route over to Venice Beach and back. On the return, ran much closer to the water and loved looking out at it the entire way north.
Met up with same friends for breakfast and then a final stop at Peets before I made my reluctant drive to LAX!
I needed the change of scenery. Needed the time away. Needed the balance. I’m thankful for it all.
Long post! Thx for reading. Cheers!

me & my love

me & my love