Sunday, August 29, 2010

New Heights

Late in 2009 I set some fitness goals for myself that involved more than running half marathons. I decided that 2010 was going to be the year I would run a full marathon (which I later added an addendum to and decided it'd be the year I'd join the Marathon Maniacs by running 2 marathons in 2 weeks). But I also decided that I was going to do something that would force me to branch out athletically.

On one of the last days in 2009, I registered for the Minneapolis Duathlon -- a 5k run, 18-mile bike, 5k run. I signed up for a 4-part Team Ortho race series called the Monster Series, which included a freezing cold (-14F windchills) Polar Dash 5k on New Year's morning; the Minneapolis Marathon at the start of summer; the Minneapolis Duathlon at the end of summer; and Minnesota's largest half marathon, the Monster Dash on Halloween. They've since added two more races to the series, the Get Lucky 7k around St. Patrick's Day, and the Go Commando 5k adventure (you know, mud pits, jumping over fire, etc.) in the fall. After completing the races, each participant receives a pie-shaped medal that could create one massive piece of bling by the end of the year if they completed enough races. Unfortunately, I am missing out on three of the potential races -- two of which I am still registered for -- since I moved across the country. This is as far as I made it.

The Minneapolis Duathlon was this morning, and I'm really bummed I missed it. The race debuted last year as the largest in the country, and this year it officially became the largest in the world. I've seen and heard nothing but fun stories and happy pictures from this highly successful event. Really wish I could have been there.

To brighten my spirits on missing out on an awesome race this morning, I decided to take on a mental + physical challenge in exchange for a multi-sport physical challenge: I ran across the Golden Gate Bridge! Without an arm to support me! And I didn't even fall off!

What's more, today was warm and beautiful and the bridge was overcrowded with tourists -- this means I had to run right next to the scary, scary edge and I would often have people stop to take pictures right in front of me. It was truly a test of patience, my fear of the bridge, and a physical challenge since it's all gradually uphill on the way there.

Looking up the South Tower. Okay, I couldn't look up or else I would have lost my balance, so I had my phone look up for me. Yes, that's my hat's bill in the upper left corner.
Proof I made it across: The view from Marin.
I accidentally found myself on part of the San Francisco Triathlon at Alcatraz course. Luckily this was the tail end of the race, so I wasn't in anyone's way. It was nice having all the roads blocked off, though.
9.04-mile splits (1:24:47)
1: 9:22
2: 10:08
3: 9:19
4: 9:02
5: 8:53
6: 9:02
7: 9:26
8: 9:44
9.04: 9:48
Air Temp: 64F

Thanks to Alma F. for giving my blog an award called the Cherry on Top Award last week! I am honored that my blog makes your day a little brighter. :) I feel weird answering those questions and asking others to do the same, so I'm going to be that person who breaks the chain -- but thanks a lot for thinking of me! I love the color pink and I especially love cupcakes, so I got excited when I saw the cute avatar you passed along. Thank you, my average twin!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sunday Streets: Penguins to Penguins

I started my half marathon training last week, and I'm trying something completely different this time. I'm not expecting to PR at the U.S. Half Marathon because the hills on the course are supposed to be large (no shock there), so I'm doing an advanced training program that incorporates 8x hill repeats, tempo runs, race-pace strides, 5k- and 10k-pace sprints, track-style workouts, and strength training. Unlike all the other running programs I've followed, this program removes cross-training and focuses strictly on running. Instead of training for a specific distance (e.g., Sunday's long run = 10 miles), it focuses on time (e.g., Sunday's long run = a 2-hour run at moderate intensity). I'm excited to give this new training plan a shot in hopes it'll make my first half here a little more rewarding -- in my head, a goal such a "finish 13.1 miles at a net uphill" sounds like a bigger accomplishment than what my watch reads.

My first long run of this new training program was to do a 90-minute run at 3/1 difficulty. I was to run the first 3/4 of the run at a moderate pace, then the final 1/4 of the run at a more challenging pace. Because I wanted to actually do this run without having to walk after the first mile, I knew not to head to the seacliffs or the hilly trails around my house. Instead, I headed to Golden Gate Park for an awesome gathering called Sunday Streets.

Every three Sundays or so, the city of San Francisco blocks off neighborhoods to vehicles and lets bodies take over the roads instead. Participants are allowed to do whatever they want -- run, bike, walk, skateboard, roller skate, dance, yoga, hula hoop, push strollers, throw a ball, etc. It's a great way to see new neighborhoods, meet local vendors and shop owners, scope out new stores and restaurants, listen to live music/other entertainment, and most importantly, get some free and safe outdoor exercise without the hazardous city traffic.

Today's Sunday Streets was called "Penguins to Penguins." From 10am to 3pm, the streets between the California Academy of Sciences (where they have a penguin exhibit) in Golden Gate Park, down the Great Highway, all the way to the San Francisco Zoo (where, surprise, there is also a penguin exhibit) was shut off to motor vehicles. The entire route, if one were to do it in both directions, is just over 10 miles.

A family takes a break at the silly Dutch Windmill.
Biker hangout with games, prizes, samples, and live music.
Running down the middle of the Great Highway.
This awesome circular bike thing had bubbles that shot out of the back -- hence the kids trailing behind.
Boys learning the Lindy Hop.
Girls doing the Lindy.
This was my longest run in San Francisco so far, and it'll be hard to top the fun I had today.

90(ish)-minute run splits:
1: 9:27
2: 9:14
3: 9:22
4: 9:45
5: 9:12
6: 9:15
7: 9:33
8: 9:20
9: 8:44
10: 8:50
.69: 6:03
Air Temp: 67F

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Holy Hill!

Thank you for all the kind wishes on my new adventure. :) Moving to San Francisco is something I've wanted to do for a while now, so I'm elated to finally be here.

I'm not happy, on the other hand, to be running these hills ... yet! I am determined that I will grow to love them, though. I live in a neighborhood that has a few miles of easy, flat stretches, but I've gravitated toward the hills leading up to the Golden Gate Bridge, over to the trails of Golden Gate Park, and up and down the cliffs of the Coastal Trail. The views there are much more beautiful than mile after mile of city block -- but they are also so much harder.

While the scenery of San Francisco is something I always enjoy, I also think that running some hills will feel like a good idea as I step out the front door. I never think that once I start the long steady inclines over the course of a number of miles. I've never felt so out of shape (and stopped to take so many walk breaks so early on) since running a few of these San Francisco hills. I only hope that this will get easier.

My best friend Gramps, who helped me with the 30-hour drive across the country, and I headed to the Coastal Trail along the seacliff earlier this week. I headed out on a short run while he sat in some caves near the Sutro Baths to sketch some drawings. I've done a number of shorter runs on flat dirt trails around Minneapolis, but I've never done this choose-your-own adventure kind of trail running. The Coastal Trail along Lands End has so many trails to choose from, both marked and unmarked -- the "follow this if you want to live" and "stay out if you want to live" kind of paths. One could spend hours exploring this park and I plan to spend more time here.

The Sutro Bath ruins.
Coastal Trail
About 50 gajillion steps going up this hill.
And another 50 gajillion steps going down.
Running to the Lands End.
Looking down at the land's end ... hoping I don't roll my ankle here.
I keep waiting for some Jurassic Park dinosaur to peek its massive head out of the trees.
This is fun navigating. Ha!
After I finished a super slow 3-mile run along the Coastal Trail, I met back up with Gramps near the Sutro Baths and we headed on a short hike to Painted Rock.

Some new mussel and starfish friends.
I didn't imagine that Painted Rock would be as literal as it was.
Gramps contemplating which massive rock he's going to scale next.
Fog or no fog, it's going to be hard to grow tired of this.

Friday, August 6, 2010


Last weekend I packed what would fit in my car and drove across the country. This week I took time to organize my new life on the West Coast. This morning I went on my first run as a San Franciscan.

A bunch of cool trails and these beautiful views happen to be a short distance from my house. I think I'm going to like this.
I'm a bit scared of bridges and I'm terrified of heights and ledges, so making it across the Golden Gate Bridge will be a serious challenge for me. Luckily I've got plenty of time to practice before the U.S. Half Marathon, my next scheduled race. I have a lot of hills to get used to before I'll feel like a solid runner here.

5.31-mile splits: 8:41, 9:43, 9:32, 9:55, 9:52, 2:50
Air temp: 59F, foggy