Sunday, October 26, 2008

Volunteering at the SF One-Day (12/24 hour event)

San Francisco One-Day Event
Crissy Field, San Francisco
(12 and 24 hours!)

I'm not going to lie to you-- I've never had any desire before yesterday to do a fixed time event. Running all day on a single course? Unchanging scenery? Boooring! I run because I love seeing changing views, getting to know new terrain-- if I'd wanted to be a track runner, I'd have become one!

Well, I may have shifted my view a little bit. Not completely-- I don't think I'd do one every weekend, for example, but I do see the appeal after yesterday.

To start with, the event location was absolutely gorgeous. Crissy Field is at the edge of the Presidio and right next to the beach, shadowed by the Golden Gate Bridge on one side and a view of the city's skyline on the other. I love the above picture because it shows two things-- one, the stunning backdrop for running around in circles (so I guess it's gorgeous scenery-- just unchanging), and two, the huge amount of food this race required. Yes, that's all food-- and what other reasons might one have for running a race, pray tell? Food and scenery are my top two reasons. Add in some great company, and you've got yourself a pretty good way to spend a day-- even if you're volunteering!

Anyway, after a little bit of a excess driving (I have very good "general" ideas of how to get around SF-- they're just not always the most direct...), I got to the check-in station at 6:45 in the morning-- in time to see this gorgeous sunrise over the city. Rick had already arrived at the start-- he spent the entire 24 hours volunteering-- how's that for some ultrarunning love?

Jo Lynn, Flora (another impressive ultrarunner), Sarah (RD) and I checked people in, handed out transponders and goodies until just before the race, at which point, we hastily broke down the check-in tent and turned it into the aid station. Yup, ONE aid station for a 24 hour race! That sounds rather sparse until one remembers that the race course was 1.067 miles long... not so far to go between aid stations, right?

After the start of the race (notice the RDs' son out in front-- several impressive showings by kids of ultrarunners at this event), Jo Lynn and I got busy at the aid station, chopping up all kinds of goodies into manageable bites.

(Note: The child shown in the picture below ran a marathon over the course of the day. I thought my parents got us to do impressive physical feats as children. Clearly, they weren't hanging out with this crowd...)

After several hours of manning the aid station, Jo Lynn and I did a lap around the course (and caught Mike in this action shot)-- very lovely place to be spending the day, I must say.

I think what stood out for me overall about this day was the fun of seeing people multiple times. Most long races, the only people you see are those who are running at very similar paces to you-- the people in front and behind you are rumors you can check out later ("How'd your race go?") but it's not a very social event. This event was definitely social. It felt like a big ultrarunning party-- people coming around again and again, having different conversations with us, and I'm sure with each other as well. People can run with their kids on this course, and there is always an opportunity to say hello to someone as they go by you or you go by them... again and again and again. Sarah and Wendell both did laps with their son at different points during the race-- how many trail races can one both direct AND spend some time with one's child as they race? (I'm going to go with none, off the top of my head.) I also saw people come out and run one or two laps with friends-- ideal for getting to spend some time with people who aren't well, as crazy as most ultrarunners.

I think this kind of event might also be more of a mental challenge than physical. Don't get me wrong-- I think running for 12 or 24 hours is plenty challenging physically-- but I think the mental challenge of running the same course over and over might be one of those Zen moments-- i.e., how can you stay present while doing something which has become mundane, like washing the dishes (only more physically painful, I might add)?

Yes, it is entirely possible that I could do this event next year. Perhaps "just" the 12 hour, because I was exhausted by 9:00, and I didn't run a step. Thinking about being out there for another 12 hours seemed overwhelmingly painful. Either way, a great day volunteering with some fabulous people (our morning volunteer crew in this pic), and helping out a bunch of really gracious runners. (If you feel you are not appreciated in the world, I recommend volunteering for an ultra event-- people thanked us profusely every time they came through the aid station-- it made me want to open more cans of coke and chop up even more potatoes...)

Can't wait to get out there and be one of the runners!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Point Isabel

Point Isabel Regional Shoreline
(2 miles?)

Well, this is not technically a "trail" per se, and it's not the place to get your long run on, but it's been a long time since I reviewed any trail in here, and Point Isabel is such an old favorite, it deserves mention here.

Point Isabel is, to put it bluntly, dog mecca. If you don't like dogs, this is definitely not the place for you-- but if you are a dog owner and you have not yet visited Point Isabel-- throw Fido in the car and head over posthaste!

My first suggestion with Point Isabel is to head there early in the morning on weekends. By 10:00 a.m., the parking lot is packed. I went this morning, so it was fairly quiet. After picking up a coffee and pastry at the Sit and Stay Café (I kid you not-- this is the name, and you can get soup or sandwiches as well as your morning latté), Neko and I wandered along the path that borders the bay and has this absolutely stunning view of the city and the Golden Gate bridge. 

From there, we walked a little way up the path that follows the slough-- a major favorite for all the water dogs when the tide is in. (And a major favorite for Neko when the tide is out and she
 can get covered in mud...)

I didn't go much further than the paved path (trying not to overdo the foot!), but there is another section just on the other side of the slough where dogs and their owners have worn paths in the dirt--this is a great section to walk along as well, but be forewarned: in the winter, when it's muddy, this is a guaranteed dirty-dog area!

Fortunately, Point Isabel has a hose available for cleaning off your dog, AND they have a store/dog grooming facility on the other side of the café called "Mudpuppy's"-- you can pay a small amount to use their basins and soap to clean your own pup, or you can pay a little more to have them wash your dog.

If you are hankering to create a run from Point Isabel, the Bay Trail passes along the edge of Point Isabel, and leads all the way to the Richmond Marina. This is a beautiful stretch of trail as well-- and not super-well known. The trail follows the edge of the Bay, so every step has a sweeping, postcard-worthy, three-bridge view of San Francisco and the Bay. I don't run this trail too much simply because it's asphalt and I would have to put Neko back on a leash, but it's possible to create an 8 miler from Point Isabel to the Richmond Marina and back.

This is one of my favorite "Bay Area local" spots, and an absolute MUST for dog-lovers!

And away we go!

I wouldn't call this the most impressive shot I've ever taken-- but it's an important shot. Can you possibly guess why? Well, I shall enlighten you. This picture was taken yesterday morning at Wildcat when I got up to take Neko out for a short walk.

Yup, that means *I* drove the car!

AND we walked a little!

I went in on Wednesday morning, not sure what I would end up with. The doctor I had seen in September mentioned something about a walking cast or some kind of boot, so I thought I would probably not be done with the medical accoutrements-- and possibly not done with needing chauffeur service.

However, on Wednesday, the doctor checked my foot, prodded it to see if there was pain and then pronounced me ready to go. He said that I can't do high-impact sports for another couple of weeks (so still no trails), but that biking, swimming and even the elliptical trainer at the gym were all perfectly acceptable, AND that driving was fine. I don't even need any special shoe-- I can wear running shoes with my orthotics and that's enough support for my foot at this point.

Obviously, this made me very, very happy. 

It made Neko happy too.... I think we're friends again...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Some Updates....

To Begin: This is my Saturday night project. (No, not drinking, although that has been an activity other Saturday nights...) I was a domestic goddess and made blackberry cordial! 

Actually, I had put the blackberries in vodka a while ago, and finally decided to strain them and add a touch of simple syrup. It tastes fine, I guess-- don't know too much about how blackberry cordial is supposed to taste. I do know that I love putting it in the little cordial glasses-- so cute!

I also managed to strain a muscle today on the exercise bike at the gym. Of course, being me, I can't take it easy when I finally start exercising. How silly.

Big news??? NO MORE PINK CAST AS OF TOMORROW MORNING!!! I'll be in a walking cast, and I'm sure that will bring its own fun, but at least I will be able to walk around the grocery store and hold things...

Finally, I'll be volunteering at the SF One Day 12 and 24 hour races on Saturday morning with Jo Lynn and Rick. Mike, Catra and a bunch of other insane people will be running-- should be a fun day at Crissy Field!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

I dare you...

... to read this without crying. (Courtesy of Ms. Running Free's blog)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Back to me (sort of)!

Well, I never thought I'd say this, but I fell in love with a stationary bike yesterday. 

Let me back up a bit. This whole week, I have been Ms. Cranky Pants Extraordinaire. I am DONE with this lack-of-exercise feeling. I'd taken a nice, long trip down "Feeling Sorry For Myself" lane-- to the point where I was getting annoyed with myself, but couldn't pull myself out of the slump. 

One of my chief annoyances was my lack of hunger. As those who are close to me know, eating is one of my most favorite, favorite things to do. While I run for a ton of different reasons, one of the big reasons is how much better food tastes when I am actually hungry. Well, since I've burned a grand total of 15 calories per day since September 20th, I haven't been hungry practically at all. This alone would be enough to put me into a funk. Add to that, we were supposed to go out to a nice restaurant to celebrate the birthday of one of my good friends in my doctoral program on Friday night. A great restaurant, with a good wine list and an exciting menu, and me not hungry? What a tragedy!

Fortunately, we were staying at a hotel in Sacramento and I remembered that the hotel had a gym-- how much could I do in the gym? 

Well, my friends, Friday afternoon I got back from class and got on the exercise bike... and I actually SWEATED!!! I BURNED CALORIES!!! MS. CRANKY PANTS LEFT!!!

Then we went out to a lovely dinner at the Firehouse, and I enjoyed every bit of my dinner!

I got up this morning and worked out AGAIN... and right now, even after having a reasonably-sized lunch, I'm hungry again! 

(I realize there is an over-abundance of exclamation points in this posting. I sound like one of my former middle-school students. Humor me.)

I came home and mapped out the bus route to the 24 hour fitness nearest my house-- I think I'm going to go tomorrow morning as well-- 3 days of exercise in a row! 

I can't believe what a difference it makes though. I feel like some of me at least is back. And it feels really good.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Encore du vin!

Well, I realize this posting has nothing to do with running, but I thought it was cool-- my dad told me today that his amateur winemaking career has truly begun. (Friends who have recently talked to my dad have heard all about the stemmer-crusher, and those who visited Santa Barbara recently have been privileged to have a private viewing of said machine.)

Anyway, he de-stemmed and crushed almost a half-ton of merlot today. Then they added potassium metabusulfate (whatever that is, chemistry peeps) to the must. Tomorrow they're adding yeast... and then... let the fermentation begin!!

For the tipplers amongst us, this is fantastic news... up next on the wine horizon? Syrah!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Life at the Firetrails Finish line...

Wait a minute, I hear you asking-- weren't you supposed to be at Firetrails today? Why does this picture look like people are getting ready for a wedding?

You're looking at the age-group and finishers awards for Firetrails. Yes, welcome to the Bay Area, where wine glasses are given as finishers' awards and the winners walk off with specially-made bottles of wine! (All about promoting healthy behavior, these running events...)

Anyway, I obviously wanted to be running this race, and finding out that the awards would be something I'd actually use (I only need one coffee mug in my life, but I can ALWAYS use more wine glasses!), I was even more annoyed at not running. Besides, if I had a wine glass with a trail race on it, it might actually remind me to drink less rather than more, because I'd be reminded that I might run faster if I drank less... or not. That could still be an area for later exploration. Doesn't need to happen right now.

Back to the subject at hand. After signing people in for the Golden Hills Trail Marathon (half of Firetrails 50-- started at the turn-around point), I got a ride to the Lake Chabot finishing area where we got all the awards organized and set up, and then waited around for people to start coming in. I was charged with keeping track of the first place awards for the various divisions, so I got to see who came in first, etc.-- it was a different view than I usually have in races, I can assure you!

It was a really good day-- would have been better if I was running, but I appreciated getting to see a different side of racing than I normally do. I definitely gained an appreciation for volunteers and I think I will probably be volunteering more in the coming year, whether or not I am capable of running. It definitely pointed out how much volunteer power is needed to put on such an event, and how much better people are able to run when there is strong volunteer support at aid stations, etc.

Cool things about the day? Let's see... Again, Kelly managed to post a fast time and serve as an incredible role model. Second woman overall, and first in the 50-59 age group. Like I said before, it makes me look forward to all the running ahead of me. Likewise, my fellow Aussie-owner running pal Julie also ran well, and I can't wait to get out with the pups again. Despite a painful muscle in her leg, Jo Lynn finished the trail marathon-- how
about doing AR50 in the spring, JL? Rick ran a great race today, taking almost an hour off his last year's time, and managed to look fresh-as-a-daisy for this picture.

This was a great way to stay positive and focused about running. I really wanted to be out there, and it reminded me of why it's important to keep doing core strengthening right now, and why I want to make sure I do all the physical therapy exercises I'm assigned (sometimes difficult for people with a lot of energy and a predisposition to lose interest in things fast). Ann and Carl are also wonderful people-- full of encouragement and support for all the runners. (They also have an adorable Aussie (maybe a mini?), Zoe, who ran around all day herding Ann and generally getting love from anyone and everyone she saw.)

Can't wait to do this race next year, but for now-- congratulations to all who ran today!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

You must be kidding me.

So this morning, I'm working from home, and wandering around in a bare left foot and my cast (um, duh) and its little cast-sandal (attractive-- almost as sexy as a pair of Manolo Blahniks!) that is supposed to stop me from sliding all around. And my dog is, of course, as close to me as is caninely possible. She has way too much energy right now (no running lately!) and so wants to be RIGHT NEXT TO ME at all times. (Aussie/Border Collies have been called "velcro" dogs before-- and let me tell you, they weren't kidding.) Well, she lay down on the floor right between me and wherever I was trying to get to, I stepped with my cast-sandal on her tail, slipped and in trying to catch myself from falling, manage to rip open the big toe of my left (hitherto unhurt) foot!

Aargh! Why must this happen?

Now I'm bleeding all over the floor and my poor intern teacher is running around trying to get me a washcloth so that I can staunch the flow of blood... and now the OTHER FOOT has problems too!!

It's not so bad, really-- it will heal and if it weren't for the broken quality of the other foot, I wouldn't care so much... but it IS feeling a little ridiculous.

My dog, of course, tried to lick the wet washcloth on my toe.

Anyone want to run an Aussie for a good 15 miles or so?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Firetrails Peeps!

So if you're running Firetrails this weekend, look for me at the turn-around! (Perhaps even at the finish line-- it depends on transportation). I found a ride to Lone Oak in the morning, and I will be cheering people on (perhaps signing in marathon people earlier) as they make the turn. I'll be the one in the pink cast....

Sunday, October 5, 2008

In the spirit of Constantina T.D and Dara Torres...

How cool is this? Kami Semick, a very strong ultrarunner (tons of wins in the last few years on various difficult courses), who is also over 40, was the first woman in the Portland Marathon today! The second woman was a full five minutes behind her, and the male winner was a good 10 years younger. What an inspiring athlete....

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Skyline to the Sea... in video!

No, this isn't a video of me falling-- thankfully no one was around to see that-- but a bit of the trail captured on video by the Bay Area's Two-Heel Drive blogger. (This is one of the most thorough trail sites for the South Bay/Peninsula I have discovered-- tons of trail info here!) He did this video a couple of days before the fateful fall, but I think it captures why I had such a good day, despite the breakage and bees. 

Picked up Running Within on the recommendation of The Skirt-- she has other aliases as well-- and have been reading it. Good motivation when one cannot run. I'm sure I will have some observations to share soon...

Hope everyone else is getting some good miles done out on the trail!