Saturday, January 31, 2009

PCTR Events Ceremony and Run

PCTR Events Ceremony and Trail Run
(Shell Ridge Trail--7-8 miles?)

This morning found me drinking coffee and eating bagels with some very fit people. As a culminating event for their race series, the race directors for PCTR decided to have a breakfast celebration in Walnut Creek.

It was fun seeing people "clothed"-- I almost didn't recognize Andy and his wife Lori, as the last time I had seen them was at the ridiculously hot Ohlone 50K last year.

I went to this breakfast thinking it would be a chance to hang out with runner people and talk in a more relaxed fashion than pre-race chats, and also for the chance to do a mellow group run. I hadn't run enough races to be even remotely competitive in any of the categories, so I wasn't expecting any awards. Imagine my surprise when Wendell called my name up for a special category of awards that they felt showed "something extra" (depending on who the award was for). I got an award for my performance in this debacle. Apparently twisting one's ankle and complaining about pain is fairly common, but doing 8 miles on a broken foot is not. Anyway, I got an unexpected $25 gift certificate to Zombie Runner, which was a serendipitous bonus from that ridiculous day. (I'm leaning toward a pair of these, probably in zebra or perhaps the leopard print?)

Probably 10 minutes later, my number was pulled for a raffle prize--I won a pair of Vasque trail runners!

After that, a group of us (led by Wendell) took off for a trail run. I had never run this area, and while I felt extremely sluggish and very, very tired (fighting off a sickness, I do believe...), I was quite happy to see this new trail area. Given that Wendell was leading the run, a goodly amount of hills were involved as we ran up to the top of the ridge, a trail that gave beautiful views of Mt. Diablo (yes, I will end up running there someday!) and all around the East Bay.

As can be seen in these pictures, the East Bay hills think it's time for spring--green has carpeted the hills and is appearing wherever you happen to look.
I know we need rain, and I sincerely hope the warm weather we had today is not a portent of a ridiculously hot and dry season to come, but it was SO NICE to run in such a temperate clime today.

Tomorrow's run should be long and slooooooowwwww in Marin. The knee was making itself known today, which did not make me happy. No hurting, but I'm aware of it--not part of the plan. Hopefully it will make it through tomorrow fine-- it will have a couple of days to recover because I have a conference in San Jose next week and will be pulling a few long days without much running.

Finally, a pic of the other Tart of the Trails and me. I think we should get t-shirts made proclaiming our tartness, don't you?

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Lagunitas Three Lake Loop
(Phoenix Lake-Bon Tempe- Lake Lagunitas)
(This route + Lagunitas Lake trail- Lakeview Rd- Eldridge- Gertrude Ord)
(13.09 miles)

I know California is having a drought. I wish it would rain more. I know that days with clear blue skies are not good for our water supply.

However, I would be lying if I said that I was sad it was not raining today. Thirteen miles in the rain is far less fun than thirteen miles with crisp, sunny skies.

When I drove over the Richmond Bridge this morning and saw this view, I knew I was in for a fabulous run. (For the non-Bay Area inhabitants, that mountain you can see is the famous Mt. Tamalpais, seen in other photos and runs on this blog...) Because it was convenient, I decided to run a route I know fairly well, but added on another lake circumference-- Lake Lagunitas. The last time I ran at Lake Lagunitas was probably 2 years ago--this must not happen again. Lake Lagunitas is a pretty little lake and I was very happy to run by it.

After running around Lake Lagunitas, the trail climbs rather steeply up Lakeview Rd to Eldridge Grade, at which point I ran back down to Phoenix Lake, taking the slightly longer Gertrude Ord trail to get back to the starting point.

I love the lakes in Marin. It amazes me that we can run by the ocean and then head into forests that have such beautiful lakes tucked away in them. I am considering trying to figure out how to run a 4-Lake Loop (adding in Alpine Lake, which could make the run either 19 or 23 miles, depending on how much of the lakeside trail one wished to do) in the near future, as training for AR50.

This run also felt really, really good. I was tired but not so tired that I couldn't push it coming down Eldridge Grade a bit, and going up Shaver Grade, I passed a bicyclist. That was funny.

I must post my other Spain runs this week-- not trails but some interesting sights all the same.

Back to the work week! Hope everyone enjoyed their weekend running...

Monday, January 19, 2009

Our Beautiful Bay Area

One of the things I love about the internet and reading blogs is finding amazing writing and photography tucked away in modest little corners. A blog which absolutely fits that description is that of Gambolin' Man, and his latest post left me absolutely grateful for his blog. I talk a lot about how I love the Bay Area (and I do), and how we have great outdoor spaces (and we do), but the latest post by Gambolin' Man truly captures in both words and images what I adore about living here.

Great writing, amazing pictures. If you haven't ever read it, get to it. And if you're not from the Bay Area, try not to be too sad...or schedule a trip out here and I'll take you running in one of these places!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Pacifica 21K- summer in January!

Pacific Coast Trail Runs
Pacifica (San Pedro Valley Park)
Now, if you are not familiar with Pacifica, this picture might not be so exciting to you. You might, in fact, look at this picture and think, "Typical California-- what's the big deal?" Typical California if you live in a section of California that is not blanketed in fog 360 days out of the year, which is Pacifica's general state of existence.

However, we seem to be having a spate of summer in the middle of January, and so I spent a marvelous day running and then hanging out at the PCTR race in Pacifica today.

When I arrived at the race this morning, it was a little chilly, but the clear ocean views driving in promised this would be just a temporary state. I checked in and said hi to Mike, who was graciously volunteering his time, Sarah (RD) and Suzanne, a fellow tart of the trails. Jo Lynn almost missed the start, but she and her friend Christy also made it for the 21K as well.

This course has two loops-- if you are a 30 or 50K runner, you do them more than once, but the 21K runners had a 12K loop and then a 9K loop. The first loop leads up to the top of North Peak, from which we had an absolutely stunning view today. (The first pic is from the trail leading up to the top.) For the first time ever, I had someone take a picture of me during the race on top of North Peak, but since my camera's shutter is lamer than lame, it didn't come out, so you will not see me atop North Peak. You can see the trail leading up to North Peak however, and then the view looking towards the East Bay. While this is not an amazing picture, if you click on it, you can see the tip of Mt. Diablo poking through the clouds, which is why I took the picture.

Then the first loop drops back to the start/finish line (also the aid station), embarking on a loop that has less elevation gain/loss than the first loop, but which reminded me that I have not been running long or hills lately. This is another way of saying this portion kicked my behind. The second hill of the second loop is made up of switchbacks that are flat enough that they should be 100% runnable but steep enough to make you feel like your body is devoid of any kind of power at the same time. Fun. Then I got to the downhill and realized that my quads really need some downhill experience.

However, once I finally finished, I had a great rest of my day. I ended up hanging out for hours, both because the weather was great and because I was having fun talking with everyone. PCTR events are like a party with a bunch of tired and sweaty people and no alcohol. We are really lucky to have them in the Bay Area.

I waited for Jo Lynn to finish, then hung out with Christy and her for a bit-- Christy had taken a rather nasty face plant on her first loop (but still finished!). This course had a ton of very technical, rocky single track which was pretty but left a bunch of bloody runners-- the RD ran out of band-aids! I spent time talking with various and sundry people and sort of helping out Sarah (RD) until it was time to break everything down and go home.

This run was a great way to start the season and a good inspiration to get myself in gear for the upcoming craziness I have planned into my life. Running today was a big wake-up call that if I am going to run AR50 in April, I need a LOT more miles on my legs.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Running in Spain: Round One

Manzanares El Real, Spain
(10 miles?)

On December 28th, I got up in the dark, walked to a bar in an unfamiliar city, got into a car with three men in spandex I did not know and drove off to the mountains and an undisclosed location with more strange men in spandex.

When I read that paragraph, it sounds like some recipe for ending up on the missing persons list, and yet this day was one of the highlights of my entire trip. As I said before, I had contacted Luis via his blog and asked if he could recommend any trails in/around Madrid while I was there. He went one better and invited me on their annual pilgrimage to Manzanares El Real, a town with a castle and a national park (and tons of trails). I accepted immediately and the plans were laid for the international trail running fest.

I was supposed to arrive in Spain on the 26th, but due to various flight disasters, I ended up arriving at noon on the 27th, having slept (and I did the math here) 11 hours in the previous 77. Yes, it was kind of an ordeal. Needless to say, I was not at my sleep-filled best on Sunday morning, but I was still pretty ready to run.

We drove the 45 minutes or so out to Manzanares and had a coffee while waiting for the rest of the group to show up. One of my favorite moments was the contrast between the group of us in spandex, about to run for a long time, with the group of locals in dark coats having their morning coffee, all smoking.

Luis had suggested it might be cold, and while the cold wasn't so bad, it definitely had its icier moments. This was one of the more technical trails I've run, because if you weren't running on rocks (and possibly ice), you were running through the trees, with a goodly number of roots upon which to trip and fall on one's face (or foot). I was definitely a bit more cautious than I might have been a couple of months ago, but this was good running, and not something I would have been able to organize on my own.

We climbed up to a small hut (ass included, as you can (partially) see here... and there was a donkey too!), took some pictures and then ran back down. Two of the group managed to take an unplanned route that sent three other members of the group off after them, but eventually everyone managed to make it back to the local restaurant for a round of beers, accompanied by some cake and sweets other people brought.

Then it was back to Madrid for more crazy touristing and some much needed sleep.

As I said before, however, this trip has given me a huge appreciation for living in the time period we live in. When I lived in France in 1994, I would have loved to have found other runners (particularly because at that time, there were SO MANY less runners in Paris!), but there was no way of getting in touch with them, short of trying to flag down the few and far between I ever saw on the streets. While I might have done the research for figuring out that there was a national park outside of Madrid, the friend I was traveling with does not run and I probably would not have taken the bus by myself to run on trails I was not familiar with. However, thanks to the internet, I managed to find a madrileƱo who was willing to drive out of his way to pick me up and let me see a side of Spain I would never had had access to by myself.

I said this to Luis, but let me say it to all trail running peeps who happen to be reading this-- if you or anyone else you know happens to be in the Bay Area and wants a trail running experience, I am absolutely willing to play trail guide. While running in the city wasn't bad (more on that next posting), running for a couple of hours on the trails was much, much better, and I would love to pass on the favor for other people visiting my beloved Bay.

So here's to international trail running, and to the internet!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Acabo de Llegar...

Ok. I was going to try and post something here about running in Spain, but it's going to have to wait. I will say this though: the weather in California today made me very happy to be back. Going from London's freezing temperatures, the snow in Madrid, to a sunny, 70 (21 for the celsius crowd) degree day today? Lovely. I came home and ran this afternoon in shorts and a t-shirt. Ha!

The view flying in was also spectacular today. I could see Mt. Tam, Mt. Diablo, the Bay and the Sierra Nevada, all in the same frame. Gaw-ge-ous!

More on the Spanish adventure soon....