Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Getting down to the core of it all...

So I have decided that the PT I saw might actually know what she's doing. I have been really good about doing the exercises she gave me, and I can feel the core strengthening ones actually shifting my gait a little, especially when I am tired near the end of runs. 

Overwhelmed by my own enthusiasm, I decided that perhaps I should start the 100 pushup challenge, because hey--more core strengthening can't hurt, right? 

Um, wow. Just wow. I had no idea my arm strength was so pitiful. While I've never been Ms. Pull-up, and I don't think I'll ever look like Kami Semick, I have been able (in the not so distant past) to do a fair number of pushups. Even a couple of years ago, when I was doing more yoga on a regular basis, I "dropped" and did 15 for some squirrelly jr. high boys who didn't think I could. 

Note to self: next time you're out, pick up some arm strength.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Pt. Reyes Magnificence

Tomales Point
(Pierce Point-Tomales Point trail)
(9.88 miles)

So if my previous Marin run cast aspersions on the general smugness Californians can have about their running conditions, this run put all those doubts to rest. This run was an advertisement for the Bay Area and its running trails. 

Embarrassingly, I have lived in the Bay Area for fourteen years, and I have never been to Pt. Reyes. Pt Reyes is actually an old piece of the Sierra Nevadas that, due to seismic drift, ended up 350 miles away. (I find this really amazing--how is it possible to move pieces of earth so far?) The peninsula that makes up Pt. Reyes is separated from the rest of the coast by the San Andreas fault-- one of our state's biggest movers and shakers. 

One important caution about Pt. Reyes: this is a very, very popular place to hike. We got started early in anticipation of possible crowds, and I'm glad we did. The parking lot at the Visitor's Center was already hopping when we took a pit-stop before heading out to Pierce Point, the trailhead for Tomales Point. Most Pt. Reyes hikers stay in the area around the Visitor's Center, and while I would love to go back (starting EARLY in the morning) and explore this area, Jen pushed for the more remote (yet still popular later on) Tomales Point trail. 

Pierce Point trailhead starts at an old dairy farm. The National Park Service has conserved the buildings and provided informational signage--we educated ourselves a bit before starting off towards Tomales Point.

Apparently, the trails near the Visitor's Center are much more wooded and sheltered--Tomales Point has very few trees, making for an exposed trail that provides stunning views every way you turn.  While this area can be foggy and cold, the weather for our run yesterday was just about perfect. Not a cloud in the sky (as you can see), and enough breeze to keep us nice and cool on our run. 

This is a pretty mellow trail-- not a lot of up and down. The one thing I found completely irritating was the last mile or so of the trail out to the point was on sand. I do not like running on sand. I feel like I'm expending a ton of effort to go a very short distance. However, that's not so much to complain about on such a brilliant run, because once we got to Tomales Point, the views all around were incredible. Two hikers told us they had just seen a seal eating an octopus, and the mouth of Tomales Bay, due to its warmer water temperature, is a major breeding ground for Great White Sharks. It's possible (although we didn't see any) to spot Great Whites from the point. 

The other wonderful part about this trail is that it runs through Tule elk habitat. The Tule elk used to be plentiful in California, but were almost rendered extinct until biologists took note and started trying to stop their demise. A few Tule elk (8 cows and two bulls) were restored to Point Reyes in 1978--today their herd numbers more than 400, and they are considered one of the environmental success stories of California. It is possible to run on this trail and not see a single elk, but we were fortunate enough to see the herd yesterday.

Most of the elk stayed together--we saw one all male group and another mostly female, with some young bucks. As we were getting near the trailhead, we saw this lone young buck. His antlers are still in the "velvet" stage-- meaning they have not lost the furry covering that will become exposed in time for mating season. The elk were calm and not overly afraid of humans, but they would also move away, which I attribute to a strong docent presence on the island, constantly reminding visitors to leave the elk alone. 

Overall, a run not to be missed. It's definitely a drive to the trailhead (probably 30 minutes or more from the Visitor's Center), but well-worth the effort on days like today. As Pt. Reyes is a national park, no dogs allowed except for the Bolinas Ridge trail leading out of the Visitor's Center. 

Plus, at the end of the run, you can head down to McClure's beach (short trail from Pierce Point trailhead as well) to soak your dirty tootsies in the chilly surf, then head back on the main road, stopping by Priscilla's Cafe for a much-appreciated sandwich and an IPA. Not that I know anyone who's done that lately...

Friday, July 25, 2008

Why, Saucony, why?

Dear Saucony,

We've been together a while now. Pretty much since I started running in high school. You kept me company with that one version of the Jazz for years. I thought I was going to weep when you discontinued it. Then I started trail running. I dabbled in a pair of Montrails, but after a year or so, you came out with your Omni TR shoes and I was back in Sauconys. I love those shoes. They work well for me on pavement and on trails. I bought two pairs at once a while back, so much did I love them. 

And guess what? You're discontinuing them YET AGAIN!! Saucony, why must you do this to me? I don't want to get used to another pair of shoes. Today I called all over town and looked a whole bunch online and guess what? If I were a size 6 or size 11, I'd have no problem finding them. But being what looks to be one of the most popular shoe sizes ever, it's impossible to find them. 

You know what? This wouldn't sting quite so much if I'd had some kind of warning it was coming-- I would probably have gone out and bought as many pairs as I could afford. But alas and alack, Saucony, you have left me in the lurch. 

Today, I had to buy a pair of shoes you named Xodus. 

First, that name makes me feel like I should be leading packs of oppressed runners out of the woods. I'm not that fast (or perhaps so chosen), Saucony! 

Second, YOU SPELLED THE WORD WRONG. I can't even tell you how much I hate when companies who have plenty of money don't hire English majors to spell-check their publications. What else are my skills good for?? 

Third, there are latitude, longitude and elevation markings on my shoes. It says my shoes are at 6193.6 meters. (For the metrically challenged, that's 20,320 feet.) This is the exact height of Mt. Denali.  (Mere coincidence or psychic phenomenon?) While I find Mt. Denali fascinating and would someday like to climb it (after I learn to be a mountaineer, of course), I do not imagine that I will be RUNNING to the top. Furthermore, at this present moment, my shoes are sitting next to me in Richmond, California, where the elevation might be around 5 feet (1.524 m). How would I run if my shoes were at 6,193.6 m (20,320 feet)? 

Fourth, if you were going to go biblical with your name, why on earth did you say the shoes were at the same height as Mt. Denali? I think that Mt. Ararat (elevation: 5,165 m or 16,946 ft) would have been a more consistent thematic choice.  

Finally, your color choice is highly confusing. My new shoes are black with small bits of light blue. I mean, ok, Saucony, but you're making RUNNING SHOES. These look a little too much like they're trying to be street shoes. They don't need to match my Ann Klein black slacks. However, I am looking forward to seeing the contrast when I add my Dirty Girl hot-pink gaiters...

I hope you named your shoes Xodus because they are going to be so comfortable I'm going to keep running and running and running... but hopefully not to a new land. I like where I live. 

Well Saucony, that's about it for me. Take care and STOP DISCONTINUING THE SHOES I LOVE!!!

Con cariño,

p.s. In case you were toying with this biblical theme for your trail running line, I do not recommend that you name your next brand of shoes Leviticus. It lacks a certain je ne sais quoi

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Me n' the O.G...

That would be ye Olde Garmin. Not the original, as I have the 305 version. Alex and I went swimming today and then ran on the track. Because I am kind of inept when it comes to programming my Garmin, I managed to set it up for 4 mile repeats with 3:00 rest in between. This isn't what I would have chosen, but once the Garmin was programmed, I was locked in.

I've never run mile repeats before. I think they're probably a better idea than running 400 or 800s, because let's be honest-- when am I really going to be working on running a fast 2 mile race? Or a 5K even? I'd much rather run a loooooong way in a race, and mile repeats are at least closer to that idea.

So I was locked into my  mile repeats, and locked out of figuring out how fast I went on each mile, thanks to my Garmin-lameness, so I just kind of ran a pace I thought was moving well but not barf-inducing. (Always a good goal.) 

After a lovely carne asada burrito, I came home and looked at my mile splits after downloading them.

Mile 1 7:21
Mile 2 7:10
Mile 3 7:10
Mile 4 7:05

Hmmmm. Not sure what to think about that. Does this mean I can run faster than I think I can? Does this mean I was running too fast and need to learn how to run a slower pace for a longer distance? What would happen if I could figure out how to program my Garmin for 6-10 mile repeats? How long could I hold this pace? So many questions.

On a different note, one funny thing from yesterday? This sign:

This was next to a big pile of wood chips. Apparently there is a surfeit of wood chips at the San Pablo Reservoir Recreation Area.

The desperation of this sign made me giggle though... who is Davey? And why does he seem hell-bent on dumping huge amounts of wood chips at the reservoir? Does he sneak around, dumping wood chips whither or no they are needed? 

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

San Pablo Reservoir: Less than the sum of its parts.

San Pablo Reservoir
(Kennedy Grove- Bay Area Ridge Trail- Kennedy Grove)
(5.1 miles)

I soooo wanted this to be a cool run. After the surprise of the Briones Reservoir Loop, I had great hopes for San Pablo Reservoir. I had driven by the turnoff from San Pablo Dam Road, it seemed somewhat unknown, it was near a body of water-- it had all the potential for being a great run.

I started out thinking I would go from Kennedy Grove, as it was closer to my house than the San Pablo Reservoir parking lot, and it looked like you could find a trail from Kennedy Grove to the reservoir. Plus, I had pre-birthday celebration plans to eat here, and I wanted the chance to leisurely get ready beforehand.

First issue: as I drove on San Pablo Dam Rd, there was a sign telling me to take a detour to Kennedy Grove at Castro Ranch Rd. For some reason, I thought that the sign would be wrong, and by some inexplicable stroke of good fortune, *I* would be able to park at Kennedy Grove. Guess what? The sign was right. Given that I was on a two-lane fast-moving road, I could not turn around there, so I decided to go on and park at the San Pablo Reservoir lot and run back toward Kennedy Grove.

Second issue: It was impossible to find a place to get a parking permit. Every car I saw had a parking permit, so it's clear they were charging today, but the location was clearly a threat to national security, because it was well-hidden.

After an annoying drive all around the parking lots of San Pablo Reservoir Recreation Area, I decided to go back to Kennedy Grove via the detour.

Third issue: finding the Bay Area Ridge Trail in Kennedy Grove. I knew it existed, but finding it was another question entirely. I wandered around for a good 10 minutes trying to figure out where it was, all the time thinking about how my leisurely shower/getting cute to go out time was being sucked away by the lameness of the East Bay Municipal Utilities' District lack of trail markers. I was truly tempted to throw the towel in and head back to my house, but when you have a brilliant dinner ahead of you, il faut en profiter, if you will. I hate, hate, hate eating really good food when I'm not hungry, and I knew if I didn't run, I wouldn't be as hungry as I wanted to be.

For about 1/2 a mile, the trail is a fire road running up the back of the dam and then beside the reservoir. It was pretty. I was starting to hate San Pablo Reservoir a little less, and I was just beginning to enjoy the crimson of the poison oak lining the sides of the road, when suddenly I found myself ON the very road I had spent 20 minutes driving around on in San Pablo Reservoir. Yes, the "trail" on the map was really just the parking road at San Pablo Reservoir. How truly irritating.

Now, think not that I am a person who refuses to run on road. I'm not a huge fan, but if I have a road to run on, well, then, I'll run on it-- but when I was hoping for trail and found out I was running on a parking lot?

I did manage to find a random trail that led through the oak trees (paralleling the road) for about a mile, but that ended soon enough and I found myself back at the picnic area, forced to get back to the parking lot run.

(Random aside: the only other runner I saw today was a man who looked like he was running in his work clothes-- button-down short sleeve shirt, slacks and leather shoes. I wanted to take off my Sauconys and explain to him how much better running could be-- his poor feet! Like I said, this is not exactly the land o' the trail runners...)

Anyway, eventually I gave up parking lot running and ran back to Kennedy Grove, at least a little hungrier for dinner (which was superb, by the way-- one of the best eating experiences I've had in a while-- and I'm pretty fanatical about eating). While there were pretty moments in this run, and I think that both Kennedy Grove and San Pablo Reservoir would be great for picnicing, as a run this was pretty unsatisfying overall. Meh.

Oh yeah-- I think you can take your leashed dog on this run. If you wanted to run in a parking lot, that is.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Race Results- Sequoia 20K

Well, here are the results for the Sequoia 20K. It's strange though, because a couple of years ago, I was placing much higher in these races... hopefully it's because more (fast) people have started running these races, too... that's what I'm going to tell myself, at any rate.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Sequoia 20K Race Report

Well, for once I did a run and have absolutely no pictures to show for it! I haven't done a "fast" race in a while, or a race in which I was continually moving. (The amount of uphill at Ohlone let me take tons of pictures.) If you want to see the kind of trails I was running on, check the posts from Redwood-- we started in Joaquin Miller, but most of the race was in Redwood. 

It was nice to go to a local race-- I didn't have to leave the house until 7:30, which felt late for a race day. Once I got there, I met Becky and Nancy from the RW forums, and then was recognized by Jo Lynn from my blog! (Yes, I felt like a celebrity-- I think that's 2 of my 15 minutes of fame used up so far...)

Going out, my plan was to try and hold it back as much as possible until the half-way point. I keep going out too fast, and with a bunch of long races planned for the fall, I need to figure out how to pace myself better. Having the Garmin for that really helped. I felt like I was nice and controlled for the first 6-7 miles. 

Part of the first section was the notorious French Trail, as chock-full of straight ups and downs as one could desire, but a lot of this race was relatively flat and fast. I think that I am going to try to incorporate a run a month on the French trail and one a month on Mount Tamalpais, because I need the up/down practice for 9 Trails

After French, the race curled back on Baccharis and Graham before ending up on West Ridge for a while. The relief I felt when I was on a trail I knew (I remember this feeling from 9 Trails last year) convinced me that I need to practice running on the trails for Dick Collins in October. 

The second half of the race went by pretty fast until the last 2 miles... at which point I could feel my blood sugar dropping. AGAIN, I need to eat more on runs. I ate 2 shok bloks at around mile 6, but then got carried away, thinking "only 4 more miles! don't stop to eat!" I also ended up with a very strange right butt-cheek cramp, the likes of which I have never felt before. I think it might have to do with the effect of the core strengthening I've been doing-- I felt like I was running a little different today-- definitely felt stronger around the lower abdomen area, which is great-- but what's up with the ass cramp?

Overall? I'm pretty pleased with today. I felt strong until the blood sugar moment (my legs felt fine-- I just had no energy), and my knee was great. I feel pretty good about where I am-- probably I won't end up running enough before Skyline to the Sea (because when do I ever?), but I'm much less worried than I was a month ago, when I saw the PT. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Finally home... getting ready for a race!

After two days of training for work in Orange County (with an unexpected run this morning that went through a nature preserve), I'm back in town and getting ready to run the Pacific Coast Trail Runs 20K this weekend. I was signed up for the 30K but due to previously cited knee issues decided to downgrade. It's a race on trails I've run before, which will be nice. It will also be nice to do a race-- the last one was the mid-race beer run--nice, but not an experience I'm likely to repeat this weekend. (Beer at 9:00 a.m. doesn't sound good even to me...) 

Monday, July 14, 2008

Let's play: Guess The Season!

Tennessee Valley-Green Gulch
(Tennessee Valley- Miwok- ???- Coyote- Green Gulch- (wandering)- Green-Gulch- Coastal)
(11.44 miles)

So I think I've already established that I'm a California girlie. Specifically a Bay Area girlie. For about 4,000 reasons, I'm in love with my Bay Area--especially the trails. But like any love affair, sometimes we have our off days. You know, the days when you think every trail is warmer, wittier, more fun to run on? And it's worse when you just spent time on the most sparkling, warm, ideal, complete-with-swimming-options trail... it makes your Bay Area trails seem a little weak by comparison.

...Especially when it's FREEZING COLD IN THE MIDDLE OF JULY!!!

Notice on the last post, I said I was off for "one more run in the sun." Clearly, I had the California coast confused with any number of places. There were perhaps 2 moments in my 11 mile run today in which the sun appeared. Most of the time it was a) completely foggy b) gale-force windy and c) just freakin' cold. Add to that a moment of missing the trail I wanted to take (Coyote) and getting a bit lost on the ridge paralleling the Miwok trail, then wandering around the Green Gulch Zen Meditation Center, trying to find Coastal trail, and it was the kind of run that made you think perhaps you should start seeing other trails.

However, there were still a couple of moments that reminded me why the Bay Area and I are in this for the long haul. First, the Green Gulch Zen Meditation Center has a beautiful vegetable garden, and I love that the trails actually lead through the garden. (Note: the trail that leads through is the "Middle Green Gulch" trail-- not the "Green Gulch" trail. That trail will put you at the edge of the center, but then you are left to wander the grounds, hoping you aren't disturbing anyone's contemplative moment. Not that I know anyone w ho has done that recently, of course...)

Second, Coastal trail from Muir Beach to Tennessee Valley is 1.7 miles of stunning beauty--even in fog and cold. I have run this trail several times on PCTR runs (most specifically Pirate's Cove and Muir Beach) but never with my camera. This trail has signature Marin Headlands hills, and views of the Pacific Ocean that will keep me coming back for more Bay Area trails.

Dogs? ¿Quien sabe? Well, you can take your leashed dog on Coastal Trail or Miwok Trail, but apparently nothing else. Who knows what you are supposed to do with your dog on Coyote trail, for example.

...AND my knee was a happy camper the entire run and even feels great now. Skyline to the Sea, Dick Collins and 9 Trails, here I come!

Rattlesnake Mountain

Rattlesnake Ledge
(Rattlesnake Mountain Trail via Rattlesnake Lake)
(4.0 miles?)

So I did not actually run this trail, but I'm including it because it was a gorgeous trail, very runnable, and had a lot more trail to add on, should one want a longer run.

I would imagine that anyone from Seattle who hikes and/or runs on trails would be familiar with this trail. It seemed as if a large portion of Seattle's population was on this trail, which might make running difficult, but if you are like me, and do not know Seattle, but happen to be there for some reason-- I absolutely think this is a great trail to run.

The trail started at Rattlesnake Lake, spent the next two miles climbing through green trees, leaves and all kinds of foliage, finally ending at Rattlesnake Ledge, where you get views like this. Again, the number of other hikers rule out this spot for romantic trysts, but summer views? Gorgeous!

As I said before, there are many options for lengthening one's run. Apparently there is a trail that you can run to (9 miles point-to-point) that leads to a winery. My kind of run!

The best thing about this trail, though? After our lovely hike, we came back to the lake, changed into swimsuits and went swimming! How many trails can boast both challenging terrain and swimming opportunities afterwards?!

This is also a dog-friendly trail. All the dogs we saw were on leashes on the trail, but there were tons of dogs swimming free in the lake.

Well, that's it for the Pacific Northwest Tour 2008. I'm off for one more run in the sun before my vacation ends and I'm back on a plane again tomorrow for work.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Seattle Saturday

Burke-Gilman Trail
(5 miles)

Well, this isn't a REAL trail-running moment, since the trail (as you can see from the picture) is paved. But I had a great run this morning, so we're counting it anyway.

This trail runs from the Fremont district (where my friends live) to the University of Washington, and then goes a distance in the other direction as well, but I didn't run that.

As you can see from this picture, the weather was spectacular today. Seattle in the summer is beee-yooo-ti-ful. The path runs along by the water, treating you to views of bridges, boats and... The Wall of Death. I don't get it. If you are from Seattle or have any idea why this exists, please let me know. I was deeply confused.

Really though-- this morning was one of those runs where you have to ask yourself, "what on earth could I possibly have to complain about right now?" The sun was out, it wasn't too hot (mid-high 70s), no humidity, water all around, flowers in bloom wherever you looked... THIS is why people put up with 9 months of rain!

The rest of the day? Seattle's Olympic Sculpture Park, the Experience Music Project, beer, and then an amazing afternoon/evening of boating around on Lake Washington and Lake Union--including a surprise fireworks display from Mercer Island.

My oh my, but do I love me some vacation.

(Me. With some beer.)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Oh yeah...

How cool is THIS??? Ok, so maybe you're someone who always saw their name in the racks of personalized kid crap, but not me. So getting a gift of chocolate named after me made me smile. Plus, the little girl has some crazy curly hair... like another Victoria I know...

p.s. You are now instructed to use the words "yummy scrummy" (preferably in reference to a person) at least once in your day tomorrow. Yay England for amusing turns of phrase...

A Pause in Portland...

So not much trail running this week because I'm in Portland and then Seattle, visiting some non-trail obsessed good friends. 

I have been running though-- my friend in Portland is the one who is organizing the Hood to Coast Relay, and she's currently training for the Portland marathon as well. Today we did a lactate-producing track workout that involved running through groups of high school students who were presumably doing summer school, and who also (so generously) added commentary as we ran by. 

Portland in the summer is beautiful-- for those who were not aware. Last night was bbqing and eating outside (does it get any better than that?) and today was the Portland Rose Gardens-- definitely the most impressive rose gardens I've ever seen. 

Monday, July 7, 2008

China Camp Rediscovered

China Camp
(Bay View- Oak Ridge- Peacock Gap- Shoreline)
(9.11 miles)

What's wrong with me? Why do I forget about how much I love China Camp? I haven't run here for over a year, and I'm not sure why. 'Tis true, China Camp does not offer huge mileage (although I think you could cobble together a longer loop if you added another trail and an out-and-back section), and once you get past the first section, there's not much steep climbing up or down, there is a plethora of mountain bikers, and you can't take dogs to China Camp. All that being said, China Camp is a gorgeous little piece of Marin, and the trails are absolutely worth exploring.

I parked near the Back Ranch entrance, on Point San Pedro road. If you want to pay the $5, you can park inside the park entrance, but ample parking exists for the cheapskates amongst us. From there, I took the Bay View Trail. For the first two miles, the trail climbs through madrones and manzanitas, but always in the sun. This was a rough start to the run, because today was hot. Very hot. After that though, the trail dips into groves of bay trees and redwoods, providing a welcome respite from the sun. All along the trail, when the trees have an open space, the views of the Bay (hence the name)
are beautiful. Really, I don't think I went more than 3-5 minutes of running without a (usually stunning) view today, which is why I'm confused by my neglect of this park.

I think it was up on Patrick's Point that I was treated to this one-- in case you were wondering why the housing prices in Marin are so ridiculous, this shot should explain it. The bridge in the background is how you get to the 'hood of Richmond-- I used to take that bridge every day, and I must say, it has a beautiful view as well.

After Patrick's Point, the trail winds down to the Shoreline trail. It never actually runs along the shoreline (which is gener ally a protected marsh), but this trail is a winner, treating you to one shot of the bay after another.

This area is named after a community of Chinese fishermen who lived here with their families in the 1880s. According to the State Park website, up to 500 people lived here. Remnants of the village still exist, but the trail I was on did not circle through the village, which was on the other side of the road.

Finally, as I was finishing up my run
(a little tired from yesterday's charge up and down the mountain, I'm not going to deny), I heard a rustling in the bushes. While my first terrified thoughts were "Mountain Lion!" and then "Rattlesnake!" the
noise-makers emerged:

Wild Turkeys!

I realize this is SO déclassé in certain sections of the Bay Area, but you know what I thought about
when I saw these cute little guys?

I wonder if wild turkeys would be better roasted or barbecued?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Big Rock in Novato

Novato- Lucas Valley
Big Rock Trail
(5.91 miles)

A new trail! A new trail! Will the excitement never cease?

Um, yeah. So this is a great out-and-back trail I had no idea existed. It runs through Lucas Valley Open Space Preserve, and then once you are up on the ridge, the trail marks the divide between Ignacio Valley Open Space Preserve and Lucas Valley Open Space Preserve.

I've spent plenty of time running trails in Marin, but for some reason, I never ventured north of the watershed. This is too bad, because today's trail was nothing but great views after the first quarter mile.

To get to the trailhead, take Lucas Valley Road out until... a big rock. There is very little parking near the rock, but we went on a Sunday afternoon, which should be a prime time for hiking, and we had no problem finding space. The trail winds away from the rock, and climbs (and climbs and climbs) up through some oak groves (and a couple of madrones) until it flattens out a bit on the ridge. Big Rock Ridge is also part of the Bay Area Ridge Trail. One could follow the trail south, but apparently this is the northernmost point until Indian Valley Open Space Preserve-- there seems to be a bit of a gap on the trail, according to the map. Anyway, Big Rock Ridge follows the ridgeline (shocking) for a while. I was concerned about my knee, since it was going to be straight downhill for the second half, so we did not run long, but according to the map, it would be possible to run all the way back to the freeway, or take one of the forks and run through Pacheco Valle or Loma Verde Open Space Preserves.

As I said before, the views on this trail are worth a) the heat and b) the climb. This is not an easy run, but you are treated to sweeping vistas at more or less every moment on the trail, so it's hard to get too upset about the uphill grind. Plus, the out-and-back made for a screamingly fun downhill run. Almost three miles of flying downhill-- and not overly technical as well. Some single track, but not too many rocks and ridges, so it was easy to pick up some good speed.

AND... my knee didn't hurt at all, which made me SOOO happy! I have been worrying about downhill since I sent my entry form in for Santa Barbara 9 Trails a few weeks ago, when the RD sent out a "people who have done 9 Trails in the past-- do you want to get in on it before we open it to the public" email and I jumped on it. (He told me I was the second person to send in my entry form. I swear, I am going to have my revenge on that trail this year!!)

Dogs? Um, don't really know. On the map I have, it says dogs must be leashed and under voice control at all times (why you would need voice control when your dog is on a leash is beyond me), but then it says (in the next sentence) that dogs can be off leash on the fire roads in Marin County Open Space District. I guess bring a leash and hope for the best?

Friday, July 4, 2008


Well, I wasn't going to post anything today, because this is a trail I've run many times, but Neko and I came across EIGHT groups of cows in a 6 mile run!!

If you look closely, you can see the first group on the side of the trail. The second is hidden behind the hill.

Group Number 3 at the top of the ridge.

Group Number 4... by this time, I was starting to lose "cow"nt...

Group Number 5- we were starting to "cow"er in fear...

Group Number 6- at least these cows weren't sCOWling at us.

Group Number 7-- you should have seen my "cow"ntenance!

Group Number 8- I think this is really too many to "cow"ntemplate...

I have a piece of advice for you though, if you're ever on the trail and en"cow"nter some of my bovine friends.....

"You just COWl out my name, and you know, wherever I am, I'll come running...." (my deepest apologies to James Taylor)

Whoo. That's only one beer into the 4th. Time to clean up the yard for some 'cuing!

Happy 4th of July, everyone!

Gap Fire- Goleta

Well, they may not have to cancel any races this weekend, but over 1500 homes have been evacuated in Goleta because of the fire they're calling "The Gap Fire", some of them less than a mile from where my parents live. I talked to a friend tonight who was getting stuff from her parents' house (they were evacuated), and she said the fire was so close, she could hear it-- not what I would call relaxing. Hopefully the fire will burn the brush that hasn't been burned for over 50 years but leave the houses...

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Developing the Practice

As I was running today, I was thinking again about the book Mastery, that I've talked about before in here. We have been talking about this book a lot at work (it's going to frame what we do this year), looking at how it relates to the practice of teaching, or any other practice. 

I kept thinking today though, about what moves us from the "I'd like to do this" stage to the "this is my practice" stage. I have written in here about my mom, and her daily running. She didn't grow up running (or exercising) at all-- at some point, like tons of other non-exercising people, she had to make the decision to try it, and then at some later point, it became part of her life, a daily practice that was a given. My family also ate dinner together every night. It wasn't an organic, spontaneous kind of thing-- it was something that my parents made a conscious decision about and then worked hard to make sure it happened--but it also became part of what we did. At what point did it become part of what makes our family us, the same way being a runner is a big part of who I am? Even now, with both kids gone, my parents eat dinner and talk to each other every night over a glass (or two) of wine. Like exercising or eating healthy or anything else people want to incorporate in their lives, I'm sure it wasn't always easy to maintain. My brother and I did lots of different activities and both my parents worked full-time--but part of what makes their marriage successful (in my opinion, and I'm pretty sure they'd agree) is this daily ritual. 

So for the past couple of years, I've thought "I want to be more disciplined about writing. I want to write different articles. I want to write a book," but I don't write the way I run. I go through spurts the same way one of my friends goes through exercise spurts-- I'll write on a daily basis for a while, feel great about things and then slide the minute my new "schedule" gets jostled. Haruki Murakami said, about both becoming a novelist and
 running, that people do things because they suit them-- he became a runner and a novelist because those things suited him, as opposed to other choices. At some point though, running and writing became daily practices for him, and I am fascinated by where this moment is for each of us. I think writing does suit me (I'm not trying to be a painter, for example), but it's still not part of my daily practice the way running is. It just hasn't become something I do no matter what else is going on, the way I run and the way my family ate dinner together.

Ok. Enough of all that. I'm going to contemplate where to eat dinner tonight. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Lactate Levels

Found the Contra Costa College track today. Less than 4 minutes from my house and quite nice. Well done, Richmond! 

Running some 800s and 400s today, I ended up with that ol' lactate feeling. It had been a while-- at least a couple of years, I think. It may sound really strange, but I love it. It is an absolutely visceral reminder that you are working hard. Very hard. Plus, I can walk around with my hands on my hips when I'm done with the final, hard 400, pretending I'm Mary Decker Slaney in the days of 'yore (just without the fall... or the drama afterwards). 

A woman who was walking around the track while I was living my fantasy, (but really getting ready to puke up a lung) commented, "Don't kill yourself." 

Guess I'm not a dead ringer for Ms. Decker Slaney.

Hood to Coast Surprise!

One of my friends emailed me this morning to say that they had a runner drop out of their Hood to Coast relay team, and would I be interested in running? August promises to be insane, but the chance to travel in a van with a bunch of sweaty people, get no sleep and end up needing to use rather full portapotties by the end of the race? Sign me up! This means I won't be doing the Headlands 50K, but I'm not sure my knee would be totally built up for a hilly 50K by then. 

I highly recommend doing long relay races--even if they are on a lot of pavement. I did The Relay two years in a row, and would have done it this year, but it was on a weekend I had school. Running over the Golden Gate bridge alone at 2:00 in the morning was one of my "lifetime memorable" experiences. 

Oregon, prepare thyself!