Tuesday, May 29, 2012

'Alternate' Saturday Long Run Description (6/2/12)

You'll be covering 4-8 miles this Saturday depending upon your training level

Here's a link to the course map-

Saturday Long Run Course Map

We'll do our warmup routine on Crissy Field and then head out onto the Marina Promenade. We will head EAST along the dirt path and head towards the Marina.

You'll run along the dirt path for roughly 3/4 of a mile until you hit the parking lot behind the Little Marina Green. Veer right through the parking lot and head towards Marina Boulevard.

Turn LEFT on Marina Boulevard and continue on Marina Boulevard past the Marina Safeway (this will be on your RIGHT).

When you pass the Marina Safeway, you will see a paved path that heads up Fort Mason Hill. Follow this path uphill until you crest Fort Mason Hill. Run a bit further and look over to your right.

You should see a building on the right on top of the hill. This is a Youth Hostel. This is 2 miles.

Head down the other side of Fort Mason Hill and continue running on the sidewalk adjacent to Aquatic Park. Once you reach the end of Aquatic Park/edge of Fisherman's Wharf you will encounter a cul-de-sac. This is 2.5 miles. Beginner runners will turn around here and head back to our starting point for 5 MILES!

Everyone else will continue through Aquatic Park onto Jefferson Street and continue through Fisherman's Wharf. (*NOTE-It can get a bit busy in Fisherman's Wharf, so keep your wits about you.) At Jefferson/Powell (look for the art gallery on the right), you will have logged 3 miles. Intermediate runners will turn around here and head back to our starting point for 6 MILES!

Advanced and Race level runners will continue through Fisherman's Wharf onto the Embarcadero. Eventually, you will reach the intersection of Embarcadero/Bay (look for the Hillstone restaurant on the right). This is 3.5 miles.  Advanced runners will turn around here and head back to our starting point for 7 MILES!

Race level runners will continue to the intersection of Embarcadero/Green. Roughly half a mile past the intersection of Embarcadero/Bay is Embarcadero/Green. This is 4 miles.  Race level runners will turn around here and head back to our starting point for 8 MILES!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Sunday Recovery Run /Walk (5/27/12)

We'll be running or walking 5 miles through Golden Gate Park on Sunday. Here are a few things to keep in mind before I dive into the details around the course:

1)You will be running gradually uphill for the first half of your run! This course isn't terribly steep, but there is a GRADUAL uphill for much of the first half of the run. Keep this in mind as you may need to dial back your pacing a bit when you head out.

2)Watch your footing! There's a reasonable amount of this run that will take place on a dirt path/fire road. This means small rocks, tree roots (sometimes), and uneven ground at times. I don't want to see anyone take a tumble. Stay tuned in! This is particularly important for those of you who wear MP3 PLAYERS! Stay particularly alert on the RETURN when you will likely be a bit fatigued and traveling gradually DOWNHILL!

3)Water Stops
. Roughly a mile into the run (not too far after you pass the Bison Paddocks on the left) there is water fountain on the LEFT adjacent to Lake Spreckles. Also there is a water fountain at the intersection of JFK/Transverse on the LEFT side of JFK. These descriptions will make more sense once you read my course description below.

Ok, enough of the preamble. Let's get down to it!

Here’s a course map for you to peruse-

Sunday’s Course Map

Course Description

We will head NORTH from the Beach Chalet and promptly take a right turn to get onto JFK. You will run along the dirt path for about a quarter of a mile until you come to a stop sign. Turn LEFT at this stop sign at the pedestrian crosswalk onto the dirt path running along JFK.

You will continue running along this path for some time. As you close in on the first mile you will see the 'Bison Paddock' on your left. Shortly after you pass the paddock, you will see Lake Spreckles on the left. If you need water, cross the pedestrian crosswalk over to Lake Spreckles and you will see the water fountain on your left.

Continue running on the dirt path for close to a mile and you will eventually come to a 4 way stop at the intersection of JFK/Transverse. This is roughly 2 miles. If you cross over to the LEFT side of JFK, you will find another water fountain.

Continue running on the RIGHT side of the path past JFK/Transverse for roughly half a mile. You will see a large funky looking building approaching on the right. This is DeYoung Museum. Look for a pedestrian crosswalk cutting across JFK. As soon as you are parallel to this crosswalk, you have covered 2.5 miles! I will also put down an ACS 5 in chalk on the ground. Turn around here and head back to the Beach Chalet for 5 MILES!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Sunday Long Run (6/2/13)

We'll be running 4-7 miles through Golden Gate Park on Sunday. Here are a few things to keep in mind before I dive into the details around the course:

1)You will be running gradually uphill for the first half of your run! This course isn't terribly steep, but there is a GRADUAL uphill for much of the first half of the run. Keep this in mind as you may need to dial back your pacing a bit when you head out.

2)Watch your footing! There's a reasonable amount of this run that will take place on a dirt path/fire road. This means small rocks, tree roots (sometimes), and uneven ground at times. I don't want to see anyone take a tumble. Stay tuned in! This is particularly important for those of you who wear MP3 PLAYERS! Stay particularly alert on the RETURN when you will likely be a bit fatigued and traveling gradually DOWNHILL!

3)Water Stops
. Roughly a mile into the run (not too far after you pass the Bison Paddocks on the left) there is water fountain on the LEFT adjacent to Lake Spreckles. Also there is a water fountain at the intersection of JFK/Transverse on the LEFT side of JFK. These descriptions will make more sense once you read my course description below.

Ok, enough of the preamble. Let's get down to it!

Here’s a course map for you to peruse-

Sunday’s Course Map

Course Description

We will head NORTH from the Beach Chalet and promptly take a right turn to get onto JFK. You will run along the dirt path for about a quarter of a mile until you come to a stop sign. Turn LEFT at this stop sign at the pedestrian crosswalk onto the dirt path running along JFK.

You will continue running along this path for some time. As you close in on the first mile you will see the 'Bison Paddock' on your left. Shortly after you pass the paddock, you will see Lake Spreckles on the left. If you need water, cross the pedestrian crosswalk over to Lake Spreckles and you will see the water fountain on your left. This is roughly one mile into our run.

Continue running on the dirt path for close to a mile and you will eventually come to a 4 way stop at the intersection of JFK/Transverse. This is roughly 2 miles. Beginner runners will turn around here and head back to the Beach Chalet for 4 MILES! FYI, there's a water fountain on the LEFT side of JFK at this intersection

Everyone else will continue running on the RIGHT side of the path past JFK/Transverse for roughly half a mile. You will see a large funky looking building (this is DeYoung Museum) approaching on the right and a crosswalk cutting across JFK. There will also be a chalk 'MM5' in the middle of the path. This is 2.5 miles. Intermediate runners will turn around here and head back to the Beach Chalet for 5 MILES!

Advanced and Race level runners will continue running on the RIGHT side of the path for roughly half a mile. You will see a stop sign and traffic joining JFK from 'Conservatory Way'. (this is just prior to the Flower Conservatory) There is a pedestrian crosswalk. There will be a 'MM6' in chalk in the middle of the path as well. This is 3 miles. Advanced runners will turn around here and head back to the Beach Chalet for 6 MILES! 

Race level runners will CROSS OVER TO THE LEFT SIDE OF JFK AT CONSERVATORY WAY AND KEEP RUNNING. Continue running until you reach the intersection of JFK/Stanyan. This is a controlled intersection with stoplights. This is 3.5 miles. There will be a 'MM7' in chalk at this intersection as well. Turn around here and head back to the Beach Chalet for 7 MILES!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

I run because they need me to...

For years running was purely a selfish endeavor. I ran to soothe my addled head. I ran to make myself stronger or faster. I ran to achieve a personal best. Then, I became a coach. The act of running became something else.

Most of the running I do is no longer about me. My running goals, aspirations, and dreams are largely an afterthought. My running has become a vehicle by which I inspire others to run faster, run farther,  or just simply 'run'.

Running has become my job.  I love my job, but it's still a job. I have bad days. I have days when I'm stressed out, feel crappy, or just don't want to get off the couch. I have days when I'm scared or just don't feel comfortable in my own skin for whatever reason. But, I still show up.

As I said recently to one of my most challenging clients, 'There are three valid reasons for not showing up. You're deathly ill, you're seriously injured, or you're dead. As far as I'm concerned, these are the only valid reasons for not showing up.'

I was being somewhat facetious when I said this, but this has always been my mindset when it comes to my job and perhaps it's because I view it as more than just a job. I'm not selling widgets. I'm directly impacting people's lives sometimes in ways I don't always fully comprehend.

I've seen firsthand the impact my mere physical presence can have on others. Occasionally, I will catch one of my runners walking. Their gaze is trained on the ground and slowly rises until they see me standing in the distance. Suddenly, their leisurely walk becomes a run. I didn't have to raise a finger. I didn't have to say a word.

It's nice to know just being physically present can impact people in a powerful way. But, my job often requires much more than just being physically present. It requires patience, compassion, intuition, creativity, humor, empathy, and some knowledge about running.

In short, my job is much more than just running. It's challenging in ways most people probably don't understand. I enjoy it most of the time, but like any other challenging occupation, there are times when I simply don't know if I can pull it off.

But on the days when I feel weak, I remind myself of the impact and importance of what I'm doing. Even if I'm not 100%, my presence can have an impact.  Ultimately, I run because they need me to...



Friday, May 18, 2012

Determination Long Run Sunday (5/20)

You're knocking out another mile this week for a total of 9 MILES!

Here's a link to the course map for those training at the marathon level-

Sunday Marathon Course Map

We'll do our warmup routine on Crissy Field and then launch our run from the same spot we have previously. launch our run from the same spot we have previously. This time we will head EAST along the dirt path and head towards the Marina.

You'll run along the dirt path for roughly 3/4 of a mile until you hit the parking lot behind the Little Marina Green. Veer right through the parking lot and head towards Marina Boulevard.

Turn LEFT on Marina Boulevard and continue on Marina Boulevard past the Marina Safeway (this will be on your RIGHT).

When you pass the Marina Safeway, you will see a paved path that heads up Fort Mason Hill. Follow this path uphill until you crest Fort Mason Hill. Run a bit further and look over to your right.

You should see a building on the right on top of the hill. This is a Youth Hostel. This is 2 miles. Head down the other side of Fort Mason Hill and continue running on the sidewalk adjacent to Aquatic Park.

Run through Aquatic Park onto Jefferson Street and continue through Fisherman's Wharf. (*NOTE-It can get a bit busy in Fisherman's Wharf, so keep your wits about you.)

Run through Fisherman's Wharf onto the Embarcadero. Roughly half a mile past the intersection of Embarcadero/Bay (there's a Hillstone restaurant on the right) is Embarcadero/Green. Just past the intersection of Embarcadero/Green is 'Pier 9' on the left.

Continue running past Embarcadero/Green for another half mile and you'll reach the main entrance to the Ferry Building. This is 4.5 miles!

Feel free to head into the Ferry Building and use their restrooms/water fountains. Knock back a GU/gel if you need to and turn around head back to our start the way you came for a total of NINE MILES!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Determination Sunday Long Run Description (5/13/12)

We'll launch our LONGEST run of the season from our normal rendezvous point at the Marina Promenade. We'll head West on the Promenade towards the Warming Hut. Upon reaching the Warming Hut, you will run past the Warming Hut and take an IMMEDIATE left to head towards LONG AVENUE. Long Avenue is effectively a short hill that heads up towards Lincoln.

Everyone will head up Long Avenue along the shoulder until you reach a stop sign. This is LINCOLN. Take a right on to the paved cyclist/pedestrian path and follow this path to your right.

The path will eventually curve to your left and dead ends. At this point you need to make your way onto the shoulder of Lincoln.  Head uphill on the shoulder of Lincoln for roughly 200 meters. Look to your right and you will see the parking lot for the visitor center for the GGB. Turn RIGHT into this parking lot and head towards the Golden Gate Bridge.

PLEASE BE CAREFUL ON THE BRIDGE! THERE ARE TYPICALLY A REASONABLE NUMBER OF TOURISTS WHO AREN'T PAYING ATTENTION ON THE BRIDGE. ADDITIONALLY, THERE ARE CYCLISTS, RUNNERS, AND PEDESTRIANS FREQUENTLY USING THE BRIDGE. BE SMART AND BE POLITE IF YOU NEED TO GET AROUND SOMEONE.

Everyone will continue to the end of the bridge to the Visitor Center. This is 3 MILES. Stop here to grab some water, use the restroom, and/or take a gel, clif shot, etc. Everyone will turn around here and return to our starting point.

To pick up your extra 2 miles, you will head EAST on the Marina Promenade past the East Beach. Eventually the promenade runs into the parking lot for the volleyball courts. Cut through the volleyball courts and get onto Marina Boulevard.

Turn LEFT on Marina Boulevard and run to the intersection of Marina/Broderick. There is a stop sign and a crosswalk here, but I will also try to put down an 'ACS' in chalk for you as well. Turn around here and head back to where we started for 8 MILES!

Friday, May 04, 2012

Sunday Recovery Run Description (5/6/12)

 We've got a recovery run of 5 miles lined up for Sunday. Here's a link to the course map-


Sunday Recovery Run Course Map

After we knock out our warmup routine on Crissy Field, we'll head EAST along the beautiful dirt path commonly known as 'The Marina Promenade'. You will run along the promenade for about half a mile before you will see a parking lot to your RIGHT.

This is the 'East Beach' parking lot. There are restrooms and a water fountain here if you need to make a pit stop.

Continue running along the promenade for roughly a 1/4 of a mile and you will end up in a parking lot behind the 'Little Marina Green'. Run through the parking lot and veer RIGHT onto Marina Boulevard. Take a LEFT on Marina Boulevard and head towards the Marina Green Monkey Bars.

By the time you reach the Marina Green Monkey Bars you will have logged 1.5 miles. Continue running on the Marina Boulevard past the Marina Green Monkey Bars. Soon you will see the Marina Safeway on the right and a paved path heading uphill directly in front of you. Head up this hill.

Head down the hill and veer LEFT onto the sidewalk along the waterfront. Run along the sidewalk through Aquatic Park. You will all the way through Aquatic Park. At at the end of Aquatic Park is a large cul-de-sac. Once you hit this cul-de-sac you will have logged 2.5 miles. Turn around and head back the way you came for a total of 5 MILES!

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

I run because there's glory in finishing..

A few weeks ago I ran 50 miles for the first time. Actually, that's not an entirely accurate statement. I stumbled, walked, hobbled, and ran every once in awhile for about nine and a half hours to complete this distance.

It wasn't my day. I could tell almost as soon as the race started the stars weren't aligned. My legs didn't feel sharp or well rested. I didn't feel spry. There wasn't any kind of spring in my step. The one day on which I needed things to go well just didn't happen.

It would have been easy to bail out as I had a feeling I was going to suffer immeasurably in the latter stages of this death march. But, there was a lesson I learned from my very first (and best) coach back in high school that has always stuck with me. That lesson is to simply finish the job.

Kick, scratch, claw, or crawl, but find a way to finish things. I've never dropped out of a race for any reason even when I (unknowingly) had a broken femur years ago. Bad day or not, I had invested too much time and energy to not knock this one off.

While I never contemplated stopping despite continuous GI issues and legs that felt flat from mile one, I did take a very leisurely pit stop at the last fully stocked aid station. Someone was kind enough to ask me what I wanted my water bladder refilled with and after a pregnant pause I simply said, 'Vodka.'

Unfortunately, they were out of Grey Goose, so water would have to suffice. I'm not sure how long I lingered at this aid station, but it was long enough for one of my friends who was working at the station to tell me I needed to leave. That's what friends are for.

I stumbled away from this aid station and descended into one of the darkest, most uncomfortable places I've ever been. I've heard some folks refer to it as 'the pain cave'. It's a pretty apt description. I had a feeling I would enter this place about 10 miles out, so I was right on schedule at mile 40.

My quads were destroyed making running uphill nearly impossible and downhill inordinately painful. This was a bit problematic as this course was nothing but hills. Adding insult to injury, numerous stream crossings and seemingly omnipresent mud made footing a bit challenging.

I found myself in a scary place where it seemed there was a disconnect between my brain and my body. Despite focusing intensely on the ground in front of me, I was stumbling, struggling, and not really sure what I could do to remedy things. So, I walked...a lot.

I found myself reflecting on the blog posting I'd published a few weeks prior to undertaking this journey. In this posting, I referenced J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit. I started thinking about The Lord of the Rings and Frodo's perilous journey to Mordor.

I began to wonder if the fatigue, pain, and discomfort I was feeling was comparable to what Frodo endured en route to Mordor. I wondered exactly how Frodo survived. Then I remembered that he simply had to. If he didn't get to Mordor and the destroy the ring, mankind was doomed.

While the stakes weren't quite as high for me, I realized I simply had to finish. There was no other option. Eventually, the battery on my watch died after 8 hours or so. Somehow I managed to get to the final aid station at mile 45.

I tried not to think too much about the fact that I still had 5 miles to go and my body was completely shutting down on me. I simply ingested as much fluid as I could handle, refilled my water bladder one more time, and tried to run.

I don't know if it was the fluids or divine intervention, but I somehow found a way to run most of those last 5 miles. I will never forget how relieved I was when I saw a sign indicating '1 mile left!'

I've struggled the past few weeks to fully process this experience and what it was about. I heard so many stories from so many people about how running an ultra was an amazing, transcendent, life altering experience.

I can't say this was my experience. I can't say I fully understand the people who embrace this kind of thing on a regular basis. This is not to say I don't respect and admire those who do. Maybe if it had been a good day for me, I would feel differently.

I have decidedly mixed feelings about this journey. What I went through to get into the kind of shape to even attempt running fifty miles was huge. I did all kinds of things I had never done before.

I ran farther than I ever had in a single run. I logged a couple hundred mile weeks. I suffered through massive cramping, GI issues, and more. I ran in uncomfortable heat and humidity. I soldiered on through torrential rain and gusting wind.

I have memories from my training cycle for this event that will never fade and I am proud of everything I did to prepare. But, I don't know if I will ever want to do something like this again. My curiosity has been sated for the time being. I'm confident I can do better, but I don't know if I care enough about it to try again.

At the end of the day, I finished which is all I ever really wanted to do. Setting aside the challenges I faced on the day of the race, I did something that only a few years ago I thought was nearly impossible for me. I run because there's glory in finishing.