You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘wilder ranch’ tag.

Today is my 30th birthday – and what better way to kick off a day (or week) of festivities, filled with amazing food and drink, than with a long run?! Okay, if I’m honest, I would’ve been equally happy sleeping in and running 5M on the beach, but alas, that’s not what my running schedule had in store for me. I suppose it’s good to remind my body that it’s still young and strong – surprisingly, after more than two and a half hours of running this morning, I actually feel that way too!

Originally I had planned to run 17 miles on September 17th to kickstart my celebrations, but then decided to throw an extra mile in there for good luck. Since I decided to scrap my 20 miler next weekend, I figured 18 sounded better than 17 as a final long run distance too!

E arrived a couple days ago, and it was great having him join me for the first half of my run. I wanted to do something relatively flat and partly on road to practice for race day, plus I needed a break from running on the beach and the trails in Nisene Marks, so I decided to take him to West Cliff and Wilder Ranch. I had only explored a couple miles of the coastal path on my 13M run a couple weeks ago, so a good chunk of our run was new to me too! Rather than park on West Cliff, we decided to drive to and start at the trailhead:

Here I am on the first part of the trail (excuse the camera phone photo) – proud to be 30 today!

Turns out that the coastal trail went on for far longer than I had thought – rather than about 8M on trail, we ended up doing nearly 13 and didn’t even go all the way! We had a slight mishap around mile 3 where we lost the path and started to hack our way through what we thought was an “overgrown trail,” but which turned out NOT to be the trail at all – hence the relatively slow pace – but otherwise, it was a very straightforward, lovely trail. The California coastline is truly stunning – a wonderful way to start off my birthday! I left E back at the trailhead and finished my last 6ish miles on road, which felt pretty good in my new purple Sauconys. Check out my Garmin details here, as well as a few post-run photos:

I’m really pleased with how my final long run went – my pacing was on the faster side (8:50 average pace), and although I was a bit sore towards the end, overall I felt strong through the finish. I definitely think two full rest days (tomorrow will make three) helped a lot, as did the gorgeous scenery and weather, E’s company and excitement about today’s festivities! I can honestly say that I feel good about hanging up my Portland marathon long run hat after today. I know race day will still be a struggle, but better to rest up and than force out a 20-miler next weekend.

On our way home, we met up with my parents at my local farmer’s market and got some coffee and acai na tigela (which means acai in the bowl – a favorite of mine from Brazil). The acai wasn’t quite as authentic as the stuff I got down south, but that’s okay – it tasted delicious after burning 2200 calories this morning!!

To top off my long-run success, the tasty post-run snacks and the fact that the sunshine was STILL shining even at my house (often it is foggy where I live) was what I saw as I approached my front door – not one but TWO beautiful flower/balloon deliveries waiting for me!! One from E, and another from my old flatmates in London. I was so surprised and happy – really feeling the birthday love, you guys are the best!!

So now that I’ve taken my ice bath and am all cleaned up, what’s my plan for the rest of the day? I decided to save the partying for next weekend (drinks up in San Francisco) and keep my actual birthday rather low key. With so much going on lately, I really just wanted my birthday to be an intimate affair with the people I love – so I’m having a chilled out afternoon at home with E and my family, including my sister, bro-in-law and little E, and an awesome BBQ later in the day, including my two closest friends from high school. Fingers crossed the weather holds!

I of course got to plan the menu – excited to have many of my favorite foods that I associate with home, including my Mom’s marinated steak which my Dad grills to perfection and the most delicious cake that I’ve had at nearly every California birthday celebration since I can remember. It’s the princess cake from Gayle’s bakery – if you’re not familiar with princess cake, it’s a dome-shaped cake with three layers of vanilla genoise cake, and pastry cream, raspberry jam and whipped cream inside the layers, covered in whipped cream (mainly on top, to fill the dome) and then encased in a pastel marzipan shell (obviously, I get mine in purple), sprinkled with powdered sugar and topped with a fresh rose. Yes, I am turning 30 years old! I will never outgrow this cake…

And tomorrow, banana pancakes from the pancake master chef himself – my Dad! Good thing I ran this morning…

I can’t believe I’m finally 30 – all I know is that if my day so far is any indication of what 30 is like, I think this decade is going to be AWESOME! I feel so loved and am extremely grateful for everyone and everything in my life. This is going to be a big year – and I can’t be more excited for it all!!

I’ve been in California for nearly a week now, which is somewhat hard to believe given that the contents of my various suitcases are still heaped in a massive pile on my floor, and I haven’t made the slightest dent in my to-do list for this month (most importantly, school applications). However, that’s primarily because I’ve only really been home – i.e. my parent’s house in Santa Cruz – for three days, and I haven’t had much time to myself. At least I’ve managed to stay somewhat on top of my Portland marathon schedule (more on that below)!

A good chunk of this past week was spent up in the East Bay, where I met my adorable one-month old niece and spent quality time with my sister and brother-in-law, as well as my parents and grandma. It was a busy but lovely visit, and I can’t wait to see my little E again in a couple weeks, when she will make her first journey down to Santa Cruz with her parents to celebrate my 30th birthday! As much as I miss London, it was a wonderful feeling to leave my sister’s place knowing that I wouldn’t have to wait another year to see them again. I can’t help but include some photos – I’m such a proud Aunt!

 

A champion in the making? I think so…

 

I was on cooking duty one of the days, so I made my sister a super tasty and nutritious kale, mushroom and tofu stir fry with apple/raspberry garnish (below) and my colorful quinoa salad for dinner. Gotta keep mama feeling strong and healthy!

I’m back in Santa Cruz now for awhile and am facing some tight deadlines, both school and marathon related, so it’s time to get down to business. My main priority, aside from continuing my training, is to (ahem, start and) finish solid drafts of my applications in the next ten days, so that when E visits me from London, I can enjoy my time with him as well as my various birthday celebrations.

I meant to start working today, but my body made it clear that I needed to devote some time to myself first, to just chill out and regroup after so many hectic weeks. So I slept in, skipped going to the gym, met up with one of my oldest and closest friends (who I haven’t seen in a year) for brunch, swam and sunbathed at the pool in my neighborhood (today is the first sunny day all week), and now, I’m sitting on my deck in the late afternoon sunshine, listening to the ocean and finally making time to write.

You’d think that I’d have all the time in the world to do things like blogging, now that I’m not working and have left London, but I’ve actually found it challenging to stay on top of everything (particularly electronic things) without an established routine, and with so many things to get done. I keep getting sucked into random projects – for example, yesterday’s attempt to finally put away my clothes and clear my old desk away so I can have a decent workspace morphed into starting to go through nearly 30 years worth of accumulated stuff, which I do need to do but not right now. It was hilarious though, some of the treasures I discovered, including a drawing of various fruits and vegetables from when I was very little. Clearly I was destined to go into nutrition – perhaps a supplement to my application?!

My latest discovery, however, is that I get internet access on my deck, so on sunny days, this will be my workspace:

Man, I’ve missed California! Yes, that is a hot tub…

Anyway, it’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted a training week recap, so I’ll catch you up on my progress as I rapidly approach race day, which is less than five weeks away…(!!!)

I’d say that things are going well in many ways – I’m gradually regaining my fitness levels and building up my mileage, for instance – but in others, not so much. Essentially, my injury is starting to flare up again, which isn’t exactly breaking news (in truth, I’ve been having some hamstring/abductor/hip soreness for the past couple of weeks), but I’ve been downplaying it a bit here in the hopes that it won’t drag me down once again. If I’m honest with myself, I’m not totally positive yet based on my longest run yesterday of 13 miles that I’ll be able to run (even simply to finish), but I’ll keep taking things day by day and will make the call if/when the time feels right. In the meantime, here are my week 11 training highlights!

As you can see from my training log, I made a pretty large jump in mileage from weeks 10 to 11. That may be partly why I’m feeling so sore today, and I’ve also somewhat neglected my rehab exercises recently, which surely hasn’t helped. I’ve been so busy, I keep saying to myself I will do them later and then next thing I know, it’s late at night and I’m too tired to move. I’ve at least done the easier ones a few times this week (as opposed to the ones that require some equipment/setup), but I have to start being more disciplined.

My initial runs this past week were a massive struggle – not so much from my injury (which felt pretty good for a few days, actually) but rather, from exhaustion and jet lag. My “easy” run on the beach (which I set off to do after my last post) was horrible. Granted, I hardly got any sleep and was sore from the previous day’s tempo session, but I was shocked by how difficult my 9:53 average pace run felt, and didn’t feel very well for the rest of the day.

Thankfully, a rest day and a couple nights of solid sleep helped me tackle Saturday’s hill workout. I hate doing hill repeats on a treadmill, but that was my only option where I happened to be that day, and it sufficed. My injured areas weren’t feeling awesome, but not terrible either, so I pushed myself with caution. I hadn’t done a dedicated hill session for months, so it was still incredibly challenging! Sad to think that the run I did (8 x 1min) was the very first one I did for my NYC training, in week 2 (out of 18), building towards 4 x 5min continuous hills. Oh well!

The following day, however, I had a really strong long run, at least in terms of distance and pacing. I was aiming to do 12-13M with the last few around MP, and I ended up running 13 miles at an average pace of 8:42, with all miles (except for one hilly one) well under 9:00 and the last three miles at 8:20, 8:06 and 7:55. I struggled with sections of this run – at times, due to the fact that I haven’t run this far in months, and at others, because of various pain I felt in my right leg – but I still really enjoyed it, probably because I was so mesmerized by the scenery and it was early enough that only a few others were out and about.

My route was a wonderful mixture of the familiar and the new. I started at Lighthouse Point on West Cliff Drive, a beautiful coastal path that I love and know well. It’s quintessentially Santa Cruz, with a popular surf spot (they were mostly still changing into their wetsuits on the way out, but on the way back, I got a good show!), views of the Boardwalk as well as endless coastline on one side, and very expensive homes on the other. And of course, since I live in Santa Cruz (where people like to keep things weird – check out Urban Dictionary’s definition) among the few runners I did encounter was an older man “joggling.” Perhaps you don’t know what that is – at least I didn’t – but when I told E about the amazing man I saw juggling while running, he somehow happened to know that joggling was the correct term for this strange practice – I mean, competitive sport. It was awesome – and that’s literally what I said to the guy – certainly left a huge smile on my face!

I reached the end of this 2M path, at which point I would normally turn around and go back to my starting point as in the past (and carry on until finished). However, that obviously gets boring, so I was determined to run somewhere new this time – it seemed wasteful to not take advantage of living in such a beautiful area! I had read online about a network of trails further up the coast and had a vague idea of how to get there, so I carried on past Natural Bridges and into Wilder State Park. I had to run a mile or two on road, but eventually arrived at the Old Landing Cove trailhead and ran along a gorgeous coastal path that I had never visited (at least not as a runner and not for many many years). It was foggy, but you could still see the waves crashing against the cliffs, and several tiny secluded beaches tucked into the coast line. Wild rabbits and other wildlife darted across the path (thankfully, no mountain lions though!!), and the smell – some sort of mixture of dirt, hay and ocean – reminded me of growing up. I only ran 2.5M before I had to turn around, but I imagine the rest of the trail is equally wonderful.

It was all so Northern California, which was nice to take in as I make the transition from four years in London and remind myself, this is where I am from – and ask myself, is this where I belong? As out of place as I often have felt this past week, I think the answer is probably yes.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos of my own, but I did find a couple shots of the trail, one on a sunny day and another on a foggy one, to give you a sense of what the scenery looks like. (Source 1) (Source 2)

I must say, it’s pretty amazing to view my hometown from such a different perspective – I never used to run for more than an hour, nor was I as adventurous with my running routes – so when I came home in recent years while marathon training, I wasn’t really sure where to go. Now that my interests have changed, and I’m not just here for a quick vacation, being a runner in Santa Cruz is really quite exciting! I look forward to exploring further…

Welcome to FFR

Hi, I'm Claire! I’m a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (MS, RD, CDN) and a Road Runners Club of America certified coach. This is where I share my latest adventures in running, racing, food & travel! If you'd like to work with me, please visit my professional website, Eat for Endurance.

My PRs

Marathon (Chicago): 3:33:18
Boston Marathon: 3:36:14
Half-Marathon: 1:37:21
10M: 1:14:52
10k: 44:52

Flying Tweets

Recent Posts

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 61 other followers

Oldies but goodies

Categories

%d bloggers like this: