Tuesday, March 30, 2010

San Francisco and Summer Plans

I spent last weekend in probably my favorite city in the US. I used to say New Orleans was my favorite, but I haven't been there since Katrina, and assume it is a whole new city now. That makes San Francisco my active favorite. It was a work trip, but a work trip visiting dear and very cool friends, which makes it feel like a pleasure trip. I always thought the question, "for business or pleasure" was funny. Actually, "pleasure" is a cool word, I'd much rather say "my pleasure" instead of "you're welcome". Oh and, this trip, I had a pretty cool run in mind!

Last year, on my friend Trish's recommendation, I stayed at the Hotel Boheme in North Beach. It's now my favorite San Francisco home. The hotel is wrapped in beat culture, pictures of North Beach in the 50's with Kerouac, Ginsberg and Ferlinghetti. They have after dinner sherry available in the lobby. Lobby is a stretch of definition, but it is a beautiful hallway. A small word of warning, while wonderfully quaint, Hotel Boheme is boutique ish....very small rooms, even smaller bathrooms and even smaller TV's. It is right on a
very noisy part of Columbus Ave. So, the upside is awesome
outdoor cafes that are open late nearby, or right underneath
you if you have a room with a street view.

Sunday morning's run, I left the hotel at 7:15 and grabbed a coffee, 2 shot 12 ounce americano with a tiny bit of cream, from Cafe Roma. Finished my coffee before I hit Fisherman's Wharf and I was off. I was headed for Tiburon in Marin County, then going to take the ferry back to the City.

There were so many runners, walkers and cyclists going through Crissy Fields and over the Golden Gate Bridge. That always makes me run faster than I intended and I got to Sausalito much quicker than I had planned. I left a safe amount of time to get there without having to worry about missing the ferry but I didn't want to get there too early. So, I took a leisurely stroll through Sausalito. I thought about stopping for a snack, but a little voice in my head said to get going.

I'm glad I listened to the voice. I had directions in my head, and they weren't very complicated. The only tricky part was having street names remembered, but actually running on multi purpose paths along side those roads. I came across a path sign pointing me toward Tiburon. I figured I should be close to where I was supposed to turn so I trusted it. I suppose it was taking me toward Tiburon but it was clearly not the way I should have been going. By the time I figured out where I'd gone, where I was and where I needed to go, I'd added about a three mile detour.

That made the last five miles a little suspenseful, but I made it to Tiburon in time to have eggs, bacon, provolone and tomatoes on a buttery croissant, while waiting for the ferry. The ride over the bay was beautiful. Clear and warm.

I had turned my 18 mile run into a 21 mile run,
but loved every mile of it, even the ones where I wasn't sure where I was going. The view coming back to the city was amazing. As a photographer, I hate to blame equipment, but this was one of the few times the camera in my iPhone was inadequate.

I think my next trip to San Francisco will include a ferry ride to Sausalito, then a long run through the Marin Headlands, then a ferry ride back.

I've got some big summer plans. A continuation of last summers run from Portland to The Dalles. This July I'll run from The Dalles to Sisters, Oregon in four days. Then in August, I'll run my first 100 mile race at the Lean Horse 100 in South Dakota. I'm sure the distance training I'll need to prepare for that will lead to a few more adventures.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

It's like cooking a steak.

It's been an educational few weeks, running wise, at least. I had a goal to lower my 10k PR of 44:20 during the first three months of 2010. I am aware of the fact that at 46 years old, PR's at any distance are going to be more and more difficult to come by as the years pass. I only scheduled 10k's for January, February and March. I had a few decent races, and passed up a race, and now, here I was, nearing the end of March and no PR.

My training the last few weeks has been really good. I felt good on both speed workouts and long runs. I ran in some really crappy weather, without complaining too much. Every
thing seemed set up for a good race on Saturday In Alton Baker Park in Eugene, one of my favorite places to run.

We got up early on Saturday, drove down to Eugene and as I was registering for the race, my phone rang with a call from my son, Nathaniel. I didn't answer, but he left a voice mail, he never leaves a voice mail. It was 40 minutes from race start and I had instructions to do a 4 mile warm up. I spent the next 20 minutes finding out that Nathaniel had just hit a patch of black ice, lost control of his car and ended up in somebody's garage, through the wall. He said he was unhurt,
and we talked through calling insurance, police, tow truck etc. I got off the phone, explained to Jeanne what had happened, then sat down in the car, paralyzed with indecision. Should I drive back, and hour and a half, right away? I called him back, he had made all necessary phone calls, assured me he was ok physically, and that the neighbors to the house he hit were being very helpful, I heard them in the background ask if he wanted some hot chocolate, and decided I was still going to race. The race official announced 10 minutes til start time as I was putting my racing flats on. I quick run to the bathroom with number and pins in hand, then ran to the start line, arriving just as they announced 2 minutes to go. My only option to was to line up on the first line, I finished pinning my number on with 30 seconds to go. Despite telling myself not to get caught up in the speed of the start, I still went out way too fast. A mile in and I'd done just about everything wrong that could be done. Emotional, no warm up and out too fast.

Then I did something that only good training allowed me to do. I calmed down, slowed down a little, let my training do the work for a few miles and regrouped for a strong finish and a new 10k PR of 43:48.

Nathaniel is fine, thankfully, his son Elliott was not in the car with him. His car, and the garage he drove through are not so fine. I hate feeling grateful for insurance.....but.

I have been saving a bottle of The Abyss to celebrate a distance PR and Nathaniel came over to enjoy it with me. And so, my cooking a steak analogy. I take a lot of pride in my cooking abilities, heaven knows I'm a better cook than runner. When someone praises a steak that I've cooked, I'm quick to give all the credit to the cow. "You can certainly screw up a good cut of meat, but it's hard to save a bad cut of meat". And I think it's also true, that you can be well trained and still mess up a race, but it's hard to be poorly trained and race well.