Saturday, February 26, 2011
They are hoping to get an award designating Monterey one of the most runner-friendly cities in America. I was happy do this video, and afterward, it got me thinking that perhaps I should take more advantage of the area.
BQ, or before Quin, I had a lot of time to explore or drive to beautiful places to run.
When you run 100 miles a week, you do as much as you can to save your legs, which means hitting the dirt rather than the pavement. Lately, I have fallen into a bit of rut, running from my house most days out along 17 Mile Drive.
It’s a beautiful run, but when you do it week-after-week you sometimes lose your appreciation for it. Doing this video gave me a good kick in the butt to change things up a bit.
The day after doing the video, I decided to go the “Backside” or what I call the backside of the former Fort Ord land near Laguna Seca. I hadn’t done this run in probably six months. I used to do it almost ever other week. The reason I hadn’t done it was simple — it’s brutal. I have to get really psyched up to run it because some of the steep climbs.
Some of those can be periods of extended torture.
But the views of the Salinas Valley are worth the pain, especially on a sunny day.
Those are days when I might run into hundreds of sheep grazing along the hillside.
Imagine that helicopter shot from “Sound of Music.”
I’m Maria Von Trapp, arms open wide, soaking up the scenery, singing “The hills are alive...”
It’s just like that, except I’m wearing shorts and a sweaty T-shirt . . . and I’m too out of breath to sing . . . and my arms are pumping hard to keep my legs moving. But, other than that, it’s just like the “Sound of Music.”
A few years ago, I had a visitor who wanted to experience this run with me.
When I told my coach, Bob Sevene, I was planning to take my visitor there, he tried to warn him.
The warning was not heeded. This particular route is about a 16-mile loop, but I can’t say for sure. I’m a GPS skeptic.
A few hours later, my visitor, his pride slightly bruised, was offering me $100 not to tell anyone he had to walk several times along the route. As my dad always told me, “the male ego is a fragile thing.” By the way, I never got my $100.
The former Fort Ord trails were a main draw for me when I moved to California, and they have something to offer for all ages and ability.
Though it is true the trails accessed near the Creekside Entrance are more challenging, the trails closer to Marina and CSUMB are perfect for all levels and are just as beautiful. If you would like to learn more about the trails check out the www.fortfriends.net for the latest information and trail plans.
Better yet, become a member and have a say in what happens to our beautiful land that is so precious.
Friday, February 25, 2011
Recently I decided to run the “Backside” or what I call the backside of the former Fort Ord land near Laguna Seca. I hadn’t done this run in probably six months. I used to do it almost ever other week. The reason I hadn’t done it was simple - it’s brutal. I have to get really psyched up to run it because of some of the steep climbs. Some of those can be periods of extended torture. But the views of the Salinas Valley are worth the pain, especially on a sunny day. Those are days when I might run into hundreds of sheep grazing along the hillside.Imagine that helicopter shot from “Sound of Music.” I’m Maria Von Trapp, arms open wide, soaking up the scenery, singing “The hills are alive...”
It’s just like that, except I’m wearing shorts and a sweaty T-shirt … and I’m too out of breath to sing … and my arms are pumping hard to keep my legs moving. But, other than that, it’s just like the “Sound of Music.”
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Nice roundup of the national cross country championships earlier this month from http://sandiegonewsroom.com (although Super Bowl is two words, not one). Photo by Bob Betancourt (yeah, that's Blake front and center)
Football wasn’t the only major sports event that took place last weekend.
As Americans made Superbowl party plans and stocked up on beer and snacks last Saturday, top athletes from around the nation gathered in America’s Finest City to compete in the annual national championships for cross country running.
In cool 50-degree weather, the event started at 9 a.m. in San Diego's Mission Bay Community Park with a community race and concluded with the main event – the men's open – later that afternoon.
“There is no better cross country event in America with respect to the caliber of athletes who attended than the one we had in San Diego last Saturday,” said Paul Greer, San Diego Track Club coach and one of the event directors, in an email. “The very best cross country runners in the United States competed … many of the runners are former Olympians from the Masters and Open Championships, and many of the Junior runners who competed will be our future Olympians in years to come.”
The last time San Diego hosted the championships was in 2008. The San Diego-Imperial Association hosted the event for USA Tack & Field.In addition to designating the country’s national champion, the event is also used for the World Cross Country team trials. The top six runners for each race will continue on to the World Cross Country Championships in Punta Umbra, Spain on March 20.
Shalane Flanagan, an Olympic bronze medalist in 2008 and American record holder in the 10,000 meter run, placed first in the Woman’s Open with a time of 25:47. Flanagan was closely followed by Molly Huddle with 26:31 and Lisa Koll at 26:41.
“I took a very conservative approach,” said Koll, who placed third. “All I wanted to do is to make the team and everything else was just gravy. I got to the point where I could see second place and went for it, but I didn’t make it, which was OK.”
Magadalena Lewy Boulet, Blake Russell and Alissa McKaig completed the USA Women’s Open team.
Teammates Koll and Flanagan prepped for the race by tapering from 80 miles a week to 1000 km and did more race-specific workouts.
In the 12km Men’s Open, Brent Vaughn placed first with a 35:46 finish, followed by Andrew Bumbalough at 35:54 and Edward Moran with a close 35:54.
The USA men’s team includes Matt Tegenkamp, Benjamin True and Brian Olinger.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
This week Blake will be writing about running the many trails of Fort Ord. Seemed like a good excuse to post this picture of Monastary Beach from one of the many trails through Point Lobos. The great number of hikers and multiple obstacles on the trails doesn't make it the best place to run, but it offers some beautiful views. - d
Monday, February 21, 2011
Yeah, that was me with the camera (cell phone variety). I too had gone out Monday morning for a run through Pebble. I spotted Blake coming toward me through a break in the trees, so I stopped, and took out my cell to catch her coming around the corner.
Damn paparazzi, damn creepy media.
The photo? I think I had my thumb on the lens because it didn't come out. - d
Saturday, February 19, 2011
And then in April, I’m going to run in the Boston Marathon. It will be my first marathon since the Beijing Olympics and my only marathon before January’s Olympic Trials in Houston.
At the USA Cross Country Nationals in San Diego two weeks ago my goal was to finish in the top six and qualify for the national team. I finished fifth. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go on the trip, but it is nice to have the option to turn it down if it did not fit my schedule. Last year, I would not have gone if I had qualified (and I didn’t). I had too much work to do to get back in shape after giving birth to Quin.
This year it was a tough decision, and one I left up to my coach, Bob Sevene. Don’t get me wrong, I got in my two-cents, and he knew I wanted to go despite a few obstacles — I have never traveled overseas while in marathon training. Sev took a few days to mull the decision.
Cross country and marathon training really go hand in hand. You have to be strong as a bull, yet still have some speed. An 8-kilometer cross country race isn’t too taxing.
I’m excited about cross country team. It has three Olympians including me, two American-record holders, a NCAA record-holder and a young rising star. Our credentials are some of the best I have ever seen and who knows? Maybe we can take down Kenya or Ethiopia. In any case, it was a trip too good to pass up. With the course and hotel located along the resort town of Punta Umbria, we are bound to have a good time before the race.
Racing cross country at the world level is actually a bit scary. Imagine teams from about 30 countries charging from the starting line to an area that will eventually narrow to about 10 feet across. The first time I ever went to the World Championships I was terrified of being trampled. One of my teammates fell hard a few hundred meters into the race and could not get up. Runners were diving over her, dodging her, stepping on her with spikes. It’s a full contact sport and you better be quick on your feet and be ready to throw some elbows. Danger aside, it’s so fun. The organizers usually add mud, giant logs, and steep moguls to the courses just to make it interesting.
But back to logistics, I have never left Quin for more than three days for a race and that was my main reason for wavering. If I didn’t feel he would be in great hands while I was gone, I wouldn’t go.
Luckily, my mom and her husband are doing everything they can to get me to the starting line of the Olympic Trials. They will be working overtime on Quin duty which is saying a lot since Jon is at work each day by 7 a.m. and doesn’t get home until 6:30 p.m., if we are lucky. Thank goodness for grandparents!
Friday, February 18, 2011
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Monday, February 14, 2011
Saturday, February 12, 2011
Constant pain is draining, physically and emotionally.
In 2006, I had a huge breakthrough, running a 1,500 meter race in 4 minutes and 6 seconds. It was a personal best and one of the best in the country that season.
But flying home I dropped some luggage on my right foot from the overhead bin. I thought my foot just had a bad bruise. But looking back at it, I think a bone must have cracked. It finally broke all the way through when I was racing a few weeks later in Switzerland. I remember it breaking when I started my kick in the home stretch. My adrenaline was flowing so I can’t say it hurt that much. But as soon as I stopped I couldn’t put any weight on the ball of my foot.
I called my coach in tears. It was the first time I couldn’t run through an injury. Pain is your body’s way of protecting you from permanent damage. I had ignored it and paid a big price.
That injury threw me off in more ways than you might think. To compensate for the injury, I changed my running form, which wreaked havoc on my body. I wound up having severe hip and knee pain on my left side.
The injury lingered and lingered so long that it started affecting my preparations for the 2008 Olympic Trials. On more than one occasion I didn’t think I would make the starting line. My coach says that year was his best coaching job because I could not do the training I would usually do because of the pain. It was the toughest mental race of my life. I was forced to focus on the strategy of finishing in the top three rather than going for a win. And I accomplished that goal, finishing third to grab an Olympic berth.
Pregnancy for many runners is really a blessing in more ways than one.
Although I ran until I was about six months along, it was short and comfortable. It allowed my body some much needed healing time. Strangely, even though I am in my mid-thirties, I am feeling young again. Other than a freak muscle pull a few month ago, I am injury and pain-free on all my runs. It’s nice to go out the door and enjoy every step of the way. Having been through years of pain, I don’t take it for granted.
Friday, February 11, 2011
When thinking about aches, pains and injuries, I can't help but remember how a carry-on luggage mishap derailed my career for a bit, in fact, could have cost me an Olympic berth. That's what I'll be writing about in this week's column, which appears in Saturday's Monterey County Herald (behind all the AT&T coverage, Dave sends his apologies).
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Note from the editor: Giving Blake a little time off while she figures out if she’ll compete in the World Cross Country champioships in March. And Quin, well, he’s holding out for more cash (or cookies) before he blogs again. But I did want to make quick comment about one of Blake’s favorite places to run, Pebble Beach. It’s golf week here on the Monterey Peninsula, with the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am teeing off Thursday. That’s always an exciting time for us as hordes of tourists descent to catch a glimpse of celebrities like Bill Murray and Kevin Costner and golfers like Phil Mickelson.
Of course, for runners who like to wander and explore the quiet streets and trails of this quiet, upscale community it’s not so convenient. As you run through the Del Monte Forest you must keep your ears open for the shuttle buses full of fans that dominate the small roads; watch for the tourists who aren’t watching for you, but looking for a place to park; skim the ropes that close of the shoulders of the roads to keep people from parking there. No daydreaming allowed on this run.
In the morning you’ll see the fans walking to the courses, some of them looking confused “Which way is Spyglass? How close is it to MPCC?” And there are the junior traffic guards, high school kids who direct traffic who give you quizical looks as you run past.
I found a little break from the buzz and excitement by, ironically enough, running the horse trail that borders Poppy Hills Golf Course. Until last year, Poppy was in the AT&T rotation and was considered a good place to spot celebrities. But it was replaced by MPCC and now is a quiet, peaceful port in the AT&T storm (hence the picture I snapped this morning).
Blake gets back in the swing of things later this week, writing more about injuries in this week’s column. - dave
Monday, February 7, 2011
The 2010 USA Cross Country 8k Nationals was my first race back after pregnancy. What a different experience from this year's race! Last year, we went out hard, and I was in oxygen debt after the first 200 meters. I hung on for ninth place, but was never really in the race and had no chance of making the World Championship Team. Saturday, thankfully, was a different ball game. I can't say I am on top of my game like some of the women that have been setting American records and running personal bests, but I was ready and eager to race.
Coach Sev is always nervous, but this time he was particularly nervous, talking even more than usual ... if that is possible :) The gun went off, and we went out really hard again, but this time I was ready. After the first lap of the cross country course and with three to go, Sev was no longer nervous because there was such a huge gap between the top six women (top 6 qualifies for Worlds) and the rest of the field. After the race Sev and I walked back to the hotel. He said, "Now I can be nervous wondering how well you will run, not how bad." True. Last year was rough, but I am expecting good things to come.
I flew home Saturday from San Diego, while Jon and Quin stayed with family to watch the Super Bowl. From the pictures I saw, Quin was more interested in the cat house at my sister-in-law's house. I got in a great 18 mile run in Fort Ord and can't wait to see them both today.
Saturday, February 5, 2011
From Quin: Mom finished fifth on Saturday, so we could be heading to Spain to the World Championships (you were going to take me Mom, right, right?). But Mom sez she still has to talk to Coach Sev and Dad to decide. She wants to get to London pretty bad and is still figurin' the best way to get there. It'll be 2012 by then and editor Dave sez I can do the blog fulltime then, so I'm looking forward to it. Heck, right now they won't even let me into the finishers' corral.
A note from Blake's editor:
Just received a text from Blake, she finished fifth at the national cross country championships in San Diego. The top six finishers make the team that will compete in the world championships in Spain.
Here's a link to a story about the race:
When you run twice a day and put in about 100 miles a week, your body takes a beating. There is a fine line between hard work and over-training. You would be hard pressed to find a runner who has not had some sort of injury or pain. Elite runners are no exceptions, and are probably more injury prone because we are always pushing our bodies to the edge.
In high school I experienced my first athletic injury. I had pain in my lower leg and ended up seeing a physical therapist. I was so impressed with how they helped me that I decided I wanted to go to physical therapy school. After graduating from the University of North Carolina, I received my master’s degree in physical therapy from Elon University in North Carolina.
The great thing about being a physical therapist is that I now understand my body more than the average runner. I can treat myself for many common injuries. I have so many books, tools, equipment, and devices in my garage that I could easily start my own clinic.
Unfortunately, I can’t treat every problem. One of my biggest challenges has been dealing with my feet. I have had horrendous bunions since I was little. I remember in high school getting a physical for sports. The doctor took one look at my feet and ran out of the room.
He came back in with my mom and asked her if she had ever seen my feet. She took off her shoes and asked, “Do they look like this?” You can’t fight genetics.
While I was training for my first marathon in 2003, I started to feel some pain in one of my toes. It was bearable when I was running, but when I walked and pushed off it, it felt like someone was stabbing my toe with an ice pick.
Little did I know this pain would last three years and be there every step. It was diagnosed as metatarsalgia, which is a fancy word for toe pain.
Pregnancy for me was really a blessing in more ways than one. It allowed my body some much needed healing time.
Strangely, even though I am in my mid-30s, I am feeling young again. Other than a freak muscle pull a few month ago, I am injury and pain-free. It’s nice to go out the door and enjoy every step. Having been through years of pain, I don’t take it for granted.
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
A quick word from Blake's editor: Inspired by Blake's blog and column, the past few weeks I've been taking pre-dawn jogs through Del Monte Forest. Hauling this overweight, middle-age body out of bed that early ain't fun, but every once and awhile you're greeted with scenes like this that make you glad you did it. Thinking of my daughter and niece hip deep in the Midwest snow. - dave
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
I have had horrendous bunions since I was little. I remember getting a physical for sports in high school and the doctor took one look at my feet and ran out of the room. He came back in with my mom and asked her if she has seen my
feet. She took off her shoes, “Do they look like this?”
You can’t fight genetics.