A Simple Running Log

February 4, 2014

Training for 2/4/14

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 6:00 pm

I’m back from California! I hope you like pictures. I have plenty.

I should start with Saturday, Jan. 25. It was freezing cold and windy here, which was making us that much more excited to get out. Before we left, I wanted to run a few miles straight through, with no walking intervals. I layered up and hit the road. I did my 3-mile out-and-back. The out was easy, as I had the wind at my back. The back was miserable. There were times the wind gusted so hard it almost held me to a standstill.

No matter though! I ran all three miles at an average 9:00/mile pace with no pain, and I wasn’t going to have to put up with those temperatures again for quite a while, so I had nothing to complain about.

It started snowing not long after I got home. It didn’t look like much, and neither of us were at all concerned it would have an effect on getting to the airport for our 4:45 p.m. flight, so we didn’t leave home any earlier than planned.

It turned out to be snowing more heavily than we thought. Much of the roads between our house and west of Denton were slushy or covered in fresh new snow being blown from the fields by the heavy wind. There was an accident on the main road between Federalsburg and Denton that had closed a section of it, so we had to take a detour on some back roads, which were in worse shape, of course. It took more than twice as long to get past Denton as it normally would.

However, by the time we made it to Route 50, the snow had stopped and the roads were clear. We had just enough time to stop in Annapolis for  a very quick lunch with Clark’s brother before going on to the airport, and made it to our gate with plenty of time to spare.

The flight out was uneventful. Our plane made a stop in Las Vegas, but we didn’t have to change planes. We landed in Sacramento around 10:30 p.m. their time.

Our bags successfully made the trip as well, and soon we were loaded up in our rental Dodge Avenger and heading to San Francisco, about a 90-minute drive. It was after 12:30 a.m. when we finally got to bed, which was 3:30 a.m. where we’d woken up.

First thing on the agenda Sunday was a tour of Alcatraz Island. I love creepy abandoned stuff like that. Unfortunately, the hundreds of other tourists milling around the place at the same time kind of took away from the creepiness factor, but it was still cool.

We were on the first ferry to the island for the day, which left at 8:45 a.m. People were already busy taking a ton of pictures of the view of San Francisco from the bay, and Alcatraz as we approached it.

alcatraz

The ferry let us off at the dock on the right side of the picture. The island is a national park now. A park guide told us how to get around the place and where to find the audio tours for the cell house, and then set us free to explore.

Most people headed up the hill for the cell house, so Clark and I went the other direction, and walked along a trail that cut across the bottom of the island.

fog signal house

That’s a fog signal house up on the cliff, with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background. A bunch of birds just happened to take off when I took this. The place is swarming with them because there aren’t any predators that live on the island.

Looking up from former parade grounds at the front of the island toward the lighthouse and the ruins of what was the warden's house.

Looking up from former parade grounds at the front of the island toward the lighthouse and the ruins of what was the warden’s house.

Clark and I went in the cell house the wrong way, and finally found where they were passing out the individual headsets that would lead you on an audio tour of the main building, where all the prisoners were kept. It was narrated by both former guards and prisoners, and included information about the time the Marines had to come in and battle the inmates for two days after a bunch of guards were taken hostage, and another time when three inmates escaped by digging through the vents in their cells with spoons, crawled up the ductwork to the roof and presumably tried to swim to San Francisco. Neither of them were ever seen again, so no one knows if they drowned, which is most likely, or if they somehow made it to the mainland and then to Mexico or something.

The aisle between cell blocks B and C was called Broadway, and new inmates had to march down it stark naked on their way to their assigned cells.

The aisle between cell blocks B and C was called Broadway, and new inmates had to march down it stark naked on their way to their assigned cells.

A typical cell.

A typical cell.

The inmates could hear sounds from the city through the windows, especially on New Year's Eve, when they could hear all the laughing and carrying on at parties.

The inmates could hear sounds from the city through the windows, especially on New Year’s Eve, when they could hear all the laughing and carrying on at parties along the waterfront.

There was still something locked up in solitary confinement!

There was still something locked up in solitary confinement!

After the audio tour of the cell house, we walked around the rest of the island a bit more.

Crumbling ruins of houses that were once occupied by guards. These houses and a barracks on the other side of the island, near the ferry dock, were the home of not just the guards, but their families as well.

Crumbling ruins of houses that were once occupied by guards. These houses and a barracks on the other side of the island, near the ferry dock, were the home of not just the guards, but their families as well.

Recreation yard behind the cell house.

Recreation yard behind the cell house.

We took the ferry back to the city. Our next stop was a barber shop, where we both got haircuts. We climbed about 300 steps that made up Filbert Street on the way, which covered about four city blocks. We found ourselves on another street so steep, the sidewalks had steps cut into them.

steep street

The barber shop itself was a pretty cool little place:

barbershop

By the time we were done there, it was time for lunch. We ate at Neptune’s on Pier 39, overlooking the bay. When we left, Clark took my picture right below where we’d eaten.

me and alcatraz

We also saw where all the sea lions congregate just around the corner:

sea lions

Our next stop was the Ghiradelli store:

ghiradelli

I showed a little restraint and only bought two chocolate bars, instead of one of the enormous bags of individually wrapped squares, and I only got a waffle cone with a single (huge) scoop of mint chocolate ice cream instead of one of the gigantic sundaes in the ice cream shop.

We walked back to the hotel for the free daily wine tasting (no free breakfast there, just wine in the evenings, so I guess that’s a win.) That evening, we rode a cable car all the way to the other end of the line for dinner at a brewpub.

Monday morning, Clark and I went for a run. We ran out to and along the bay for a little bit, but the real destination was the famously crooked section of Lombard Street.

We wanted to run down the crooked section, which meant we had to run up the two blocks leading up to it. I don’t think this picture, from the top looking down on the massive hill we had to run, does it justice at all. We were both completely spent when we got to the top.

It flattens out where the other road crosses, but the other side of that intersection was just as steep too.

It flattens out where the other road crosses, but the other side of that intersection was just as steep too.

Every day is a hill run day in San Francisco.

Anyway, the “run” up that hill was worth it, because we got to run down the crooked part. There was only one vehicle creeping down it, so we ignored the signs that forbid pedestrians on the brick roadway. Such rebels.

Conquered it!

Conquered it!

We ran 3 miles that morning. We checked out of the hotel and took a very roundabout way to Sacramento, hitting a few more landmarks on the way.

The Painted Ladies, as they're seen from Alamo Park in the opening credits of "Full House."

The Painted Ladies, as they’re seen from Alamo Park in the opening credits of “Full House.”

We also saw the actual house that’s featured in the exterior shots in the show, which is not one of these, but we didn’t stop to take a picture because it was on a busy street and there was a huge “NO TRESPASSING” sign on the front porch, so I think the owners are tired of nostalgic ’90s kids pestering them.

We drove through the Haight-Ashbury district, where all the hippies were centered in the late ’60s, and saw the house where the Grateful Dead lived for a while. We saw Billionaires’ Row, where the wealthiest people live in huge houses overlooking the bay, and we drove across the Golden Gate Bridge.

On the other side of the bridge, we eventually got to wine country. (And an In-N-Out. We have to eat at one of those every time we go to California.) Sonoma Raceway, one of NASCAR’s two road courses, was right off the road we were following, so we stopped in to take a look.

sonomasign

The security guard made us sign a liability waiver to even drive on the premises, something I’d never had to do before, so I thought he was about to tell us we could go ahead and take a lap around the track if we wanted. No such luck! But we did get to drive up an access road that took us to a point where we could see all of the track.

Part of the track.

Part of the track.

There were a ton of wineries near the track, so we stopped at the nearest one, Ram’s Gate, and tried a couple of flights of wine and had a look around. Obviously this isn’t really grape-growing season, but you can picture where they would be if it was:

ramsgatevines

 

We drove the rest of the way back to Sacramento, checked into the hotel and a had a really good dinner at a gastropub before calling it a night.

Tuesday was Clark’s 31st birthday. I went for a short run around downtown Sacramento, among all the state government buildings. I think I did 3.4 miles. Later that morning, Clark and I met his coworkers to set up their company’s booth for the wine and grape trade show that opened the next day, and had lunch at a barbecue place.

That evening, we first went out with Clark’s coworkers, first to a little dive bar with live music and then to a British pub, and then we met two of my Runner’s World friends for drinks.

Laura and Kynan are a married couple who live outside Sacramento and run trail ultras together, up to 100 miles. It was kind of funny trying to explain it to Clark’s coworkers, when he told them we were leaving to meet friends of mine. They’d ask if I knew them from school or something, and I would say no, I know them through an online running community and I’ve never met them in real life. They would say, “Oh, that’s… nice,” with the implication being, of course, “Unless they’re serial killers luring you two in, of course! Hope you’re still alive tomorrow!”

Laura and Kynan suggested a place called LowBrau, which had our No. 1 amenity — an extensive craft beer list. We sat outside for four hours and drank delicious beer after delicious beer, and talked about everything. It was by far the most loaded I got the whole trip haha. By the end of the night, I’d bummed a cigarette off a hipster and stolen most of Clark’s dinner. The same hipster stood up on the table to take a group shot of us:

matzes

As a result, Wednesday morning was the roughest morning I had the whole trip. Clark got up early to meet his coworkers to be in their booth for the opening of the two-day show, but I spent most of the morning nursing my hangover and watching “Mr. Holland’s Opus.” Eventually I went to the hotel’s gym and did 25 minutes on the elliptical, probably the first time I’ve used one of those things since college. I’ll be fine if I don’t see one again for another seven and a half years.

I had myself showered and dressed by the time Clark got his lunch break, and after lunch, I went back to the show with him. The first couple of hours, I wandered around the show. Since I had an exhibitor’s badge, I didn’t have to deal with too many vendors trying to sell me crap, but I had to be a little sneaky stealing the free candy they all had set out to try to attract potential customers.

I was snagging one of those free Hershey’s kisses when I heard a voice I didn’t recognize say “Abby!”

I turned around and didn’t recognize the owner of the voice either, but then he introduced himself as someone else who posts every now and then to the Runner’s World community. I then remembered him commenting before that he was going to the same wine and grape show. I didn’t even get his real name, but it was still cool to be picked out of a crowd by someone who’d only “known” me through an online group.

Soon, they started the two-hour regional wine tasting that would close out the show for the day. We stayed right up until they told us they were done pouring. Clark and I went with the rest of his coworkers to a sushi place for dinner. I went back to the hotel after dinner, skipping out on going back to the dive bar with the live music with Clark and his boss.

Thursday, Clark had to go back to the show. I’d seen enough the day before, so instead, I ran another 3.8 miles in the morning, and then I drove to Fairfield, Calif., to visit what I consider to be the happiest place on Earth:

jellybellyfactory

The Jelly Belly Factory!

Inside is an enormous candy and souvenir shop, a cafeteria, a free sample bar and, the best part, free tours of the factory.

I was first in line for the next tour. We all had to wear little paper hats, even though the walkways above the factory we’d be in were completely enclosed. I had a souvenir picture taken with a giant stuffed Jelly Belly mascot, but it was ridiculously expensive, so you’ll just have to take my word for it that it was awesome.

The tour was really cool. We got to see just about every step of the process, from the test lab where they create flavors to the packing department where they sort them and box them up. We also got free samples along the way. We weren’t allowed to take any pictures inside the factory though.

After my tour wrapped up, I bought a bunch of jelly beans — three bags of the classic mix for Clark’s coworker’s grandkids, and then a bag I filled for myself with flavors I can’t find at home, including the new draft beer beans, which really tasted like a hefeweizen. I loved them!

The bulk Jelly Belly wall.

The bulk Jelly Belly wall.

I had lunch in the cafeteria, which I washed down with one of these:

cherrysoda

Kinda weird, but not bad.

On the way back into Sacramento, I pulled over on the highway to get a picture of this:

ocsign

Route 50 starts in Ocean City, where there’s a sign as you’re leaving that says Sacramento is 3,073 miles away. I’ve seen that sign a million times. I’d never seen this end of Route 50 though! I never really thought about where Sacramento is in relation to the Pacific Ocean. I was a little disappointed to find out Route 50 falls about 90 minutes short of actually reaching coast to coast.

Not long after I got back to the hotel, I met up with Clark and his coworkers. The show was over. After they finished breaking down and packing up their booth to be shipped home, we went to an expensive steak house for dinner. Four of us shared three huge appetizers, we each got an entree and then shared three huge desserts, plus a couple bottles of good wine. I was still uncomfortably full when I woke up the next morning for the flight to San Diego!

That flight left around 7 a.m., and we landed not much more than an hour later. We picked up our next rental, a Jeep Liberty, rented a couple of surfboards and found a state beach with a bathhouse where we could change into our swimsuits and wetsuits and try some surfing.

The water was about 60 degrees, and I was totally comfortable in my wetsuit, which isn’t as thick as Clark’s. I wasn’t doing any better, as far as surfing went, in the Pacific Ocean than I do in the Atlantic haha. I’m definitely better at paddling out through the waves than I used to be, but I still just get rolled a lot when I try to do anything else.

Oh well. I enjoyed it anyway. It felt pretty nice to be somewhere you can actually go in the water at the end of January.

We drove to Escondido, where we were staying that night so we could do a retake on the Stone Brewery birthday dinner that went so badly last year, when we both got sick beforehand. This time, no one was feeling sick.

Stone went much, much better this year. We took a cab again, so we could both drink as much as we wanted. Stone had a huge beer list too, a lot of it from other breweries. I enjoyed every beer I tried. I also really liked the food. I’m pretty sure I got the exact same crusted tilapia, which tasted much better fresh than it had last year after chilling in a takeout container overnight.

Clark at Stone.

Clark at Stone.

So that was a success!

Saturday, I wanted to go for another run. The hotel was in a very congested area right off a highway exit, so I drove to Daley Ranch, a nearby recreational area with miles of trails. Clark went with me.

Turns out Daley Ranch is pretty hilly! We took off running, but soon we were just power walking the uphills, and running the downhills and very few flat areas. We had a map, so I picked out a loop that didn’t look too long.

After about three miles of walking the ups and running the downs on a rocky trail that reminded me a lot of the Bulldog trail run course a couple of years ago, Clark wanted to just walk a bit. We walked all the way to the ranch house, at which point there was less than a mile left to the parking lot, and all on a paved road. We decided to run it in.

There was a slight downhill, and then it started climbing again. I kept up my pace though, and made it to the top. Then it was time for the payoff — a nearly 10 percent grade downhill the rest of the way to the parking lot, and I absolutely flew down it. It’s the closest I’ll ever get to knowing what it’s like to really run fast. I was zooming past groups of startled walkers, and heard one guy yell out a very surprised “Woah! Speedy Gonzalez!”

It was exhilarating! But it wasn’t long until my quads started to feel it. I had no idea how much farther I had to go until I reached the parking lot. I didn’t want to ease up, but I also didn’t want to wipe out when my legs couldn’t take the pounding anymore. Finally, I saw a sign that the locked gate that separated the parking lot was only 300 yards ahead, so I gunned it a little harder and sailed all the way home.

I have no idea what the fastest pace the Garmin clocked me at was during that downhill run, but the final nearly complete mile — much of the first half of which was uphill — came in at 6:35. We did a total of 4.9 miles.

We drove back toward San Diego that afternoon. Our next hotel was right on the coast, in Solana Beach. We checked in, changed into our wetsuits and walked down to the beach.

That afternoon, I’d gotten the bright idea to get a disposable waterproof camera and take it out surfing with me, so I could get some shots from the water. What I’d failed to take into consideration was how much harder it would make it for an inexperienced wannabe surfer like myself to paddle when I’m trying to hold a freaking camera in one hand!

I hope I got some good pictures. I won’t know for a loooong time; I only took 10, tops, of the 27 exposures on the camera. I’m not wasting the rest now just so I can get those developed, and it will probably be spring before I go in the water around here.

I flailed and got rolled around by the ocean even more than the day before thanks to that dumb camera idea! I was starting to feel a headache coming on from all the water up my nose, so I called it a day.

That evening, Clark and I went to the Encinitas Ale House, where I found out I can add ground beef to the list of foods in which I can’t really tell a difference between the expensive “good” stuff and the “average” stuff. I mean, the Kobe wagyu beef burger I got was better than a McDonald’s burger, obviously, but I don’t think I could have picked it out of a lineup with the restaurant’s lower grade burgers.

However, my taste buds might have just been off their game, because I felt like I was getting sick. In California. Again.

I felt congested and a little achey all over, so on the way home, I stopped at a CVS and got some cold medicine.

I didn’t sleep very well that night, and Sunday morning, I felt terrible when I woke up. Weak and achey, and all stuffed up. Clark went back to the CVS and got me a neti pot, Zicam tabs and some Breathe Right strips.

I’d never used a neti pot before, and considering all the salt water up my nose over the previous two days was probably what made me feel so awful in the first place, it seemed like a strange choice. However, it really seemed to help. I took some more cold medicine and slapped on a Breathe Right.

By the afternoon, I felt well enough to walk down to the beach while Clark tried surfing again. That was when I took the only picture there that’s not on that damn disposable camera.

Solana Beach.

Solana Beach.

It really was beautiful.

I was feeling cruddy again when we got back to the hotel, but some more medicine got me fixed up again. We drove my board back to the rental shop, since I was leaving in the morning, picked up some beer and snacks and went back to the hotel to watch the Super Bowl in the room. I was not in the mood to be out in a loud bar.

I did another round with the neti pot before I went to bed. Monday morning, I didn’t feel nearly as bad as I had the morning before. I guess it really was the ocean water that did that; the cold I picked up in California this time last year lasted more than a week. I need to get a lot better at surfing, clearly.

My flight home was really early.We were out of the hotel by 4:30 a.m. I turned in the rental car, and then Clark and I rode the shuttle to the airport.

He got to stay a few more days in San Diego for work, so we said goodbye before I went through the security gate. Though there was a winter weather advisory in Baltimore, the flight back was smooth and landed with no trouble. I was home and curled up on the couch with my silly dog by 5:30 p.m.

Today was a bad day to have to go back to work after more than a week of vacation! I had an early meeting first thing this morning, and I have to stay late for another meeting tonight. I’m also a little off because of the time change again, in spite of making myself go to bed “early” last night, so I didn’t work out at all today.

One last thing — since it’s a new month, I have to post my pathetic January summary.

The mileage:

  • Week 1 (Jan. 1-4): 13.2 miles
  • Week 2 (Jan. 5-11): 0
  • Week 3 (Jan. 12-18): 0
  • Week 4 (Jan. 19-25): 8
  • Week 5 (Jan. 26-31): 10.2

Total: 31.4

Yuck. Obviously, there was no racing this month. There was also hardly any marathon training either, which is why I dropped from the full to the half at Shamrock.

Buuut, on the bright side, the mileage is starting to creep up a little again. (Had the last day of January fallen on Saturday, the fifth week’s total was actually 15.1 miles.) I seem to be doing well running in my new 890s, so I hope I keep improving. Fingers crossed, anyway.

 

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