I am still running easy these days and not by choice. Not only have the runs been slow, I have also felt generally sluggish and crummy (even at the slow pace) and I still have some pain in my groin area. Maybe I am getting too much sleep these days, hahaha. I am mentally more ready to go than ever but my body isn’t quite responding yet. At least I am out there running in the beautiful weather, if even for only 7-8 miles at a time. I can only hope that the issues will abate soon. The good news is that I am heading up to the ski slopes at North Lake Tahoe tomorrow and I am super excited. I know we are going to hit Squaw Valley on Thursday but the other resort is undecided. It looks like we will have spring snow conditions but cooler temps, which will prevent a slush puddle in the afternoon.
The other good news is that the abbreviated running schedule combined with spring break has allowed me to write a major 45 paper. The biggest assignment between me and graduation is almost complete! The 25 page paper is also coming along well and I can smell the finish line. The general idea is that by doing the work now, I will have free time in April to do fun things, and hopefully by then my groin will be 100%.
My hopes came to fruition and I was able to run the shore path in Pacific Grove again today. The fresh ocean breeze under sunny skies was awesome! Every time I run this awesome path I feel like I am getting a treat. The run basically covered all the paths from the Monterey Bay Aquarium to Asilomar State Beach and the Links at Spanish Bay. The run was 50 minutes and around 8 miles. The groin has been cooperating on these easy runs but tomorrow I am either going to take the day off or do a super short run so I don’t get ahead of myself on the recovery. My groin it is still a bit tight and I do not want to hinder the progress. Plus, I have got to be fresh for the skiing next week in North Lake Tahoe!!
Today was also my sister’s birthday so Happy Birthday Talli! The celebration with tea and a delicious chocolate torte was fun! Talli’s new baby boy of one month, Bram, seemed to be enjoying the event as well :)
Yesterday my groin felt good enough to go out for a jog and I was lucky to be in a beautiful spot for my first run in several days. The soft-surface pathway along the shoreline in Monterey and Pacific Grove is one of my favorite places to run! The run was only 35 minutes, but it felt great to get some fresh air and move the legs. The groin felt ok so I also ran today around campus for 52 minutes (8 miles). I head back to Pacific Grove tomorrow for my sister’s birthday and to take my mom back to the airport in San Jose. I hope to be able to run the shore path again!
Big congrats to my mom, Ita Pantilat, for a great powerlifting effort despite being sick with the flu all week. She started off with squatting doing 231 pounds (not feeling great) and then felt better on the bench putting up 215 pounds and then 303 pounds for the deadlift. This was the first competition my mom has done the complete powerlifting trifecta of disciplines (her specialty and focus has been the bench). Her marks enabled her to break the point record for her age group (55-60) and weight class (114 pounds)! Awesome!!
Yesterday we celebrated my friend Scott’s Birthday with a pub crawl in downtown San Francisco. We started the night off at the (apparently) famous Nick’s Crispy Tacos and I got a Chicken Burrito that was indeed tasty. We then hit the bars, including an Irish Pub, an elegant Wine Bar, a Log Cabin Bar called Bigfoot Lodge with animal heads on the wall and a giant wooden sasquatch, a tribal themed bar called Vertigo with cool masks and statues, and a grundge/emo bar. The sharp contrasts between the bars, from the decorations to the patrons, was very interesting and fun.
As far running, my groin still feels tight. It’s not very painful, but I notice it enough to the point where running doesn’t seem like a great idea. I’ve got no pressing races or goals in the near future so I am going to play it safe and wait this out. The result is days off the past couple days and more days off in the future until it heals. It would be nice to be running again on Tuesday when I head down to Pacific Grove to visit my sister, her husband, and my new nephew, Bram (the seashore path right by their home is sweet!).
Instead of running I hit Arrillaga Gym for some quality weight lifting. I did some benching today and got back to 10 reps of 150 pounds. I think at my peak when I was lifting routinely I was doing 10 reps of 160, only ten pounds more, so I am happy the muscles are still there :)
I hit the Moody Road Loop in Los Altos Hills for a therapeutic 70 minute run (11 miles). I felt quite sluggish the first 40 minutes but then things felt lighter so I added on a mile to the usual loop. Despite feeling good towards the end, I held back because I didn’t want to hinder the loosening of my groin muscle, which felt much better. I also need to learn how to do easy runs from start to finish!
I updated my Adventure Running website so check it out! I changed the name to “Adventure Running” because it is a better description of what I do in the mountains.
I took a day off from running today because my groin muscle is a bit sore and tender, likely from all the steep hills I have been running recently. I can definitely run on it, but I have found it is better policy to give things a chance to heal. My philosophy has always been that running steep trails on a daily basis is not sustainable for my body, but I haven’t been taking my advice lately. Never before have I run so much technical/steep terrain day after day so I realize there will inevitably be some issues – it’s simply part of the game!
Despite having tons of fun on these hilly trails in the woods, I am going to re-insert some of the more moderate runs on flatter surface and try to limit the “tough” runs to three days a week. Instead of running today, I went to Arrillaga gym to lift weights so at least my upper body got a workout! I also plan on inserting some leg weights into the routine, particularly the hip adductor and hip abductor machines, to strengthen those muscles that are so important on the hills.
I have not run at El Corte de Madera Creek Open Space preserve since September so it was definitely time to revisit some of the great trails this park has to offer. I ran for 1:38 and covered around 13.5 miles. It took me some time to find a rhythm, but I had some hop to my stride in the last five miles.
The Preserve is off the western side of Skyline Blvd. and provides a feeling of remoteness and wilderness, especially on the weekdays – the only people I saw were a couple mountain bikers in the last couple minutes of the run. The setting is great with some awesome single track in thick redwood forest, cascading streams, and wildlife. One constant on all the trails in this park is hills!
I gave my legs a break from the hills and ran around campus this evening for 52 minutes (8 miles). It feels weird being able to run at 6:30 pm (daylight savings), but with the warmer weather approaching, I’m going to be doing more late evening or early morning runs.
Today’s run in comparison to yesterday manifests just how much hills slow the forward motion of the runner, especially for humans. Today’s run was easier both mentally and physically but yet I was running over one minute faster per mile. Four legged mammals seem to have far lesser reduction in efficiency with their lower center of gravity and more parallel movement to the ground. Humans, meanwhile, have a higher center of gravity which inherently places the body in a more perpendicular position to the hill. Oh well, I’m glad I’m just racing humans up the hills!
After taking the MPRE exam in Alameda, it was a great opportunity to run the fine trails of the East Bay. After the test, I drove out to Redwood Regional Park. I parked at 11500 Skyline Blvd and the loop was as follows: Dunn Trail, Graham Trail, West Ridge Trail, the entire French Trail, Orchard Trail (downhill/left), Bridle Trail, Golden Spike Trail, Toyon Trail, West Ridge Trail, Baccharis Trail, and Dunn Trail.
I pegged the loop to be a 90 minute affair so I didn’t feel the need to carry water – mistake! After feeling ok through the cool forest of the French Trail, it started to unravel on the Golden Spike Trail and especially going up the Toyon Trail where direct sunlight was beating me. My quads were also still “pumped” (i.e. tired) from the Foothills Park run on Thursday. I was getting dehydrated and there was no water source making the hill more laborious. It wasn’t that bad, but I definitely finished more tired than usual. The lack of proper hydration and nutrition before the run due to the test in the morning probably had an effect too. Total running time ended up being 1:38 and distance covered was 13.5 miles with about 2,400 feet of elevation gain.
The good news is that the loop provided a great overview of the park environs with the redwoods along the French Trail being totally awesome, as usual. I wanted to check out Black Mountain via Rhus Ridge tomorrow, but I think my legs need a hill break so I hope to do it sometimes early next week.
Today I ran the Los Trancos Trail in Foothills Park. The trail is a hilly 7.5 miles that is nearly a loop (the start and finish are about .4 miles apart). I haven’t run here in over a year so I forgot how beautiful the scenery is on this trail. One of the best sections is up the narrow canyon in which cascading Los Trancos Creek runs. Another highlight is the amazing views of Portola Valley, Stanford, and the rest of the bay area that open once you reach the upper meadows. Last time I descended via the firetrail and this time I continued the Los Trancos Loop which provided some awesome sections of single track where I could open it up. I also forgot about how steep the Los Trancos Trail is. Right from the get-go, the trail climbs steeply and then the section along Los Trancos Creek really got “the pump” going in my quads! I added a loop of the fern trail to bring the mileage total up to 9 miles over 62 minutes. There is definitely possibilities for extending the running distance by taking the Page Mill Trail from the top part of the Los Trancos Trail and into the Los Trancos Open Space Preserve where it looks like there are many variations to make a 3-5 mile additional loop (11-15 mile run).
This was a highly enjoyable loop that provides some challenging (steep) ascents, but a great setting. I’ll definitely be back here soon to try the Los Trancos Open Space Preserve extension.
Image Courtesy of The Friends of Foothills Park