Monday, July 30, 2007

Week 3: July 21: A Heated Running Equation

Here's my version of an equation to sum up my 3rd training: Heat + Stench of a drying marshland + 5 miles = 1 Heck of a run! Alright, so I've been blogging about how wonderful my runs have been thus far...and even though this is probably the farthest continuous run of my life up to this moment, I can't say it was fun, but it was very rewarding in the end. I know...this is the reality of training to run 13.1 miles...lotsa hard work and plenty of sweat, but a great sense of accomplishment to top it off.

I started out from Sac earlier than usual this week (6:30am) since our training site was the Baylands Nature Preserve in Palo Alto. I did a 5 mile route along the Adobe Creek trail which is primarily a flat dirt trail circling the marshes, up a small hill, along Highway 101 to a bike trail and then through a parking lot! Besides my handy water bottle, I was accompanied by two running partners: air redolent with the smell of overpowering fennel and the putrid odor of a drying marsh loaded with the droppings of its geese and other wildlife. Ick! I know! The smell was manageable for most of the time until I was in my last mile and then, I was downwind, so nothing could prevent the sulfur-like stench from permeating my nostrils to the point that I really thought I would be dry heaving. It was that bad. Otherwise, the rest of the run was pretty dry and heated...something I haven't experienced as a combo yet...but I know this will help condition me to run in San Jose for sure!

Oh yeah, my Reason to Smile (or shall I say Chuckle): During my 3rd mile, the trail was littered with little rabbit pellets...made me laugh for a moment there since I literally felt like Hansel & Gretel following stones to some witches' house made of candy. The sight of those pellets managed to motivate me to run a little faster; well, that and the funky smell. :)

After my run, and some stretch exercises with my team, I decide to head back home since the heat started getting intolerable. But before that, I take a detour to grab some lunch and experience 4th Street in Berkeley. You see...I went to school there for 4 years and never managed to make my way to that part of town; partly b/c from I-80, it looks like a dilapidated section of the city. But I had to make a trip to my favorite stationery store that I discovered as I was planning my wedding last year: Paper Source! It has the most unique and reasonably priced selection of papers...great for invitations, cards, whatever you can think up! I wasn't able to find parking right away, so I take a turn and end up on the 4th St. strip....similar to Chestnut St. in SF. It is home to some cute little boutiques and restaurants, plus my other favorite place: The Crate & Barrel Outlet..yes outlet! And as I'm always looking for great bargains, this was a great place to discover.

Well, stay tuned for a couple more weeks since next week, July 28, I'll be missing my training for good reason: I'm taking my GRE! Yup! A week of attending a national admissions conference in Memphis and then off to a 4-hour grueling session of test taking. Oh, and if you're wondering why I've been using such erudite vocabulary lately, it's b/c it's my way of studying my vocabulary for the GRE. And no..I don't always endeavor to sound so pretentious. Haha...until another week of laughs...wish me luck! :)

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Week 2, July 14

So, it's been a couple weeks into my training and thus far, I've discovered the joys of running outdoors..something I've always aspired to do, but never had the endurance to do so. During my individual trainings, I've been running laps around the State Capital...I figured out that one lap around the entire block is equal to a mile, so it's been easy to pace myself. Lucky for me, Sac has been experiencing unusually cooler temperatures for July (by cooler, I'm talking mid-80's), so I haven't yet experienced the running during a suffocating heat wave...thank goodness!

On Saturday, I had my Team Challenge run and just my luck, I get to practice late, but then I spot my team mates running with their Team Challenge T-shirts and I breathe a sigh of relief. There's so many people this morning...I hear that many of them are training for the SF Nike Womens' Marathon. Wow...that's on my agenda for next year! :) Anyhow, after a little bit of stretching to warm up my muscles, I get started and today, it's going to be 4 miles out and back from the Sports Basement to a marker on the hill in front of our landmark, Safeway...easy enough. I think I can manage and I did! I usually need my ipod when running on the treadmill..just to save myself from sheer boredom, but outdoors, just seeing everyone running, cycling and walking is inspiration enough to keep me going. So, halfway through my run, I finally catch up with my team mates and they're thrilled that I made it all the way from Sac to join them. I also spot Katie, the walk coach and right when I think she's our halfway point marker, she tells me to run up the hill (oh geez..a hill!) But then she also says that our new run coach, Jason, will be up there too. Yay! I finally get to meet my coach! He turns out to be a really cool fella who is all smiles as we shake hands and he directs me to run 2 laps around the hill before heading back to our starting point. By this time, I'm elated since I know it's just another 2 miles back.

As I'm nearing the end, I spot my honoree, Kelly, who's walking, and since I can pretty much spot the finish line amidst the foggy patches that occlude a complete view of the Golden Gate Bridge this morning, I yell "We're almost there... you can do it!" So we end up completing the run together...and just as I'm about to cross the street, there's this guy who runs up about 10 feet in front of me and hocks a huge "loogie," and it's sick...not just b/c he did that, but because the wind has been whipping my face this entire time since I'm running against it, but I am thankful that I wasn't in the line of target for this inconsiderate fool. Kelly is laughing behind me because I turn around and give her this disgusted 'oh no, he didn't!' look after the incident. I guess it was a bittersweet end to my 4 mile run!

We all re-convene after our run and after some stretching and talking with my fellow team mates, we all part ways...but it's just the beginning of the day for me. I end up walking back along the promenade b/c I hear that Chestnut Street has cute shops and boutiques to check out...and besides, I drove 1.5 hours to get to SF...I have to milk my time here to the max. I end up taking a turn towards the Palace of Fine Arts...and with its majestic golden columns, I feel like I'm in a Paul Bunyan story. This monumental edifice is a sight to be seen, truly spectacular and up to this point, I've only seen pictures, mostly from browsing wedding photography websites. My only regret is that I didn't bring my camera from the car..oh darn! But well, another day I suppose. The weather in SF isn't up to its potential today; slightly chilly with a strong wind that bought along fog with it to shield the sun from illuminating this part of the city. I make my way around the Palace, and as expected, lots of other tourists out and about as well. There is also a crew setting up white chairs for what I presumed to be a wedding and right in front of the fountain, I spot a group of teenage girls in white gowns and some boys in handsome black tuxes. At first I think they must be the lucky wedding party, but then, I spot one girl in a pastel pink gown and come to my own conclusion that they must be part of some debutante party. Whatever it was, they all looked like they belonged on top of a cake.

A few turns up and down the blocks, I finally arrive at Chestnut. True to what I'd heard, the street is home to a collection of cute fashion/stationery boutiques, family-owned bakeries and eateries, and even street musicians playing up some jazz to entertain diners and passersby like myself. The thing I miss most from my college days in the bay are the small floral shops that dot the streets, so much to my delight, I was excited that one existed on Chestnut. From crimson ranunculas, orange and gold dahlias and pearl white's truly a pleasure for my aesthetic senses.

I end up grabbing the good old bento box lunch of chicken teriyaki and a couple of sweet delights before making my way to the ocean to take in the cool, bay breeze. As I sit near the shore to savor my lunch and watch the tides roll in as if being nudged by the wind, it occurs to me of how peaceful and happy I am at this moment. Running has really allowed me to experience a whole new level of inner peace with myself. I remember reading an article about a woman who had recently lost her husband and confessed that running gave her a sense of peace and fulfillment she never new existed. It was through her runs that she was able to de-stress and come to terms with the events that had transpired in her life. I remember thinking: "How can running do that for someone? Everytime I run, I feel like I'm going to pass out." That was then. This is now. I feel like a fitness infomercial when I tell people of how fitness has changed my life. Fitness was never something I aspired to partake in...mostly because I come from a family that isn't accustomed to this lifestyle. I'm happy to say that I'll be the first to change that for everyone. :)

Okay, end my training day on a good note, here's my Reason to Smile for the day:
I'm walking back to my car and I hear this, "Come me what you've got!" I turn around and it's the cutest thing: A cyclist is racing (I kid you not) with a couple in their bright, school bus yellow, electronically motorized vehicle along the street. From afar, the vehicle is reminiscent of a yellow ladybug w/o the black polka dots, slowly inching its way to catch up with the cyclist. As I watch them go by, I can't help but laugh out's the funniest thing I've ever seen (today, at least). You'll have to check back to see what else happens during my training adventures! See you then!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

My First Training: July 7

Wow! Simply amazing! I just finished my very first training for Team Challenge--a total of 3 miles running from the Marina Green to a marker along Chrissy Field. I have to be honest...I was dreading the run outdoors b/c I am used to running (like a hamster) indoors on a treadmill in Sacramento...what with the 100 degree or above leaves me with very limited options. Aside from that, I was also very excited! The view of the Golden Gate Bridge set amidst the backdrop of a misty Pacific Ocean made for a very dreamy early morning run. I ended up doing a run/walk combo and it worked perfectly for me since I can't do a steady jog the entire way. And believe it or not, running outdoors is so much easier than indoors on a treadmill...not to mention a lot more fun and enjoyable! I got so motivated by the scenery and the plethora of other runners on the trail...the whole time, I kept on saying to myself, "Chandara, this isn't boring..yay! You can do this...3 miles today...13.1 miles in the's going to happen and you can do it!"

Alright...if you know me...this is something I w
ould not have ever been saying to myself years past. I still remember trying to run outdoors and feeling my ankles hurt after running 5 minutes. It was sad...but I realize I've progressed so much even at this initial point in my training. And get this: I only had 1.5 hours of sleep the night before, yet I somehow managed to muster up the energy to drive from Sacramento to SF. Okay..this isn't the wisest thing to do, but it's unbelievable how much the run re-energized me.

After the training, I spent the entire day walking (4 miles!) from the Sports Basement to Fisherman's Wharf. Note to anyone who doesn't know where to go in unfamiliar places: follow the tourists on their rental bikes...they know where to go! And by doing just that..I discovered a new path to the Wharf and Ghirardelli Square--one that winds up a hill overlooking the ocean with a perfect view of Alcatraz.

So glad I ventured over or else I would not have discovered cupcake heaven at Kara's Cupcakes! They remind me of Sprinkles in LA, but unlike Sprinkles, Kara's makes their cupcakes from organic ingredients and firmly support local farmers and businesses. Pretty cool..and their cupcakes? die for! I ended up with a meyer lemon one with lemony buttercream frosting that tasted like decadent ribbons of heaven just sliding on my tongue..wowie! And to your right is a pretty Raspberry Dazzle cupcake. I know..Yummy!

My first day of training couldn't have ended on a sweeter note :) I'm so looking forward to every Saturday from here on out! Be sure to check back!