Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Three Weeks Until the San Francisco Marathon

I received a message from the race director of TCT Runs inviting me to join the run at Lover’s Leap in Strawberry, California. I messaged two of my running friends who I thought might have a race credit from volunteering with TCT Runs. The I learned from Carina that they still needed volunteers to sweep – i.e. picking up the ribbons/markers. Hassan and Jerry were up to the challenge. I prefer to sweep too because I may not be up to the high elevation run.


According to Wikipedia, “Strawberry is a small unincorporated community on the South Fork American River, 3.25 miles (5 km) south-southwest of Pyramid Peak, [2] along U.S. Route 50 in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. The sign on the highway reads population 50.

The town became a popular resort in the 1850s, and a station along the Central Overland Pony Express between Yank's Station and Webster's, Sugar Loaf House Station. The site is now registered as California Historical Landmark #707. [3]

Strawberry is also the home of Lovers Leap climbing area. [4]”.


Hassan had to beg off from the trip because they were expecting their sons to come visit from the Bay area. Jerry and I chose to sweep the 18 miles because it was the mileage we needed for training this weekend.

We left very early to drive the 77.7 miles via Highway 50 to reach Strawberry, California. As expected at that time and day, the drive was a breeze. We even got to have a good breakfast at the historical 150-year old Strawberry Lodge.

The 50Mile/50K runners started at 5:30 am. While the other distances; 18 miles, 13.1 miles, 9 miles, 10K, 5K, 2 miles started at 8:30 am. We started our sweep at 9:00 am, giving a lead to the runners about 30 minutes.

From the starting line outside the Strawberry Lodge we followed the road to the trail head. Once we hit the trail it was hiking all the way up. I was short of breath because of the elevation. But it surely seemed like it was still spring here. Wildflowers were in full bloom still – lavender, yellow, white. Unlike in the low lands where they had all dried up.

From Strawberry Lodge to Negro Flat aid station was a total of 7.3 miles. Hiking up surrounded by pine trees, wildflowers, crossing many streams. The foliage was very dense at parts, the paths are not well worn. At mile 5.5 the elevation was at 7,800 ft. At mile 6.75 we hiked down to 7,000 ft. before climbing another 100 feet to Negro Flat Aid station. The medic was stationed in this aid area and we got an update from him on the status of the runners. The race course was a loop, so we had been picking up the pink trail markers up to this point.  The 50-mile runners followed the loop to the right going all the way to Caples Creek and would be a total loop of 12.2 miles. As the 50 milers were still in the Caples Creek loop of the course, Jerry and I would not be able to pull the return course loop pink markers. We left the pink ribbons we had gathered at the Negro Flat Aid station and informed the medic to let the race director know that we were completing the 18-mile loop but will not be picking up the pink ribbons so that the runners still out on the course will still have their course markers. Jerry and I re-filled our water bladders with water and ate some good snacks. We also drank sodas, good for the immediate burst of sugar. Soon we were on our way to Buck Pasture a hike of 4 miles, with the highest elevation at 8,100 ft at 2.25 miles. The trail did not have the tree cover and the sun was high up. I could not wait to get to the tree line again. The views of the other peaks were breath-taking. Reaching Buck Pasture after 4 miles it was all going down now. I let gravity do its work as my legs were very heavy because they were very tired. We were startled by a movement in the forest thinking it was a bear, thankfully it turned out to be a deer. 2 miles from Buck Pasture we reached the water stop. There was just a jug of water there. I though if they were leaving a jug of water, would you not leave some snacks please? I laughed at myself. But at this point there was a dirt road and would make it possible to have an aid station here. Anyway, the next aid station is 3.3 miles away from this water station. Tired as I was I was thankful to be back at the tree line. We were on a dirt road now and an ATV passed by followed, another ATV, next a jeep and another ATV.  I was so thankful to reach the Lover’s Leap Aid station and Strawberry Lodge was only 1.1 miles away. There was one Seven-up left and Jerry and I split it. We need that sugar rush now.

My legs, thighs, feet were so tired. My shoes I have concluded were too small for me. My toenails were burying into the front of the shoe specially on the descents. I stopped from time to time psyching myself to keep on going. My body just did not want to move anymore. But there is no other way to return but walk or run if I can conjure the energy to do so. But we were on a dirt road, Jerry can go get his truck and pick me up, it will be faster. Of course, I stayed silent, I needed to focus on the task, less than a mile to go. The last mile always feels like the longest mile. Just like that we were back on the road and even that seemed to take like forever. A female 50-mile runner passed us swiftly with a quick hello. Oh my, I thought she still has so much energy in her. Just like that and she was out of sight. The sight of the bridge gave me a boost and I stopped to take a photo. Finally, we were back at the start/finish line and proceeded to the tent area for some yummy snacks. 18 miles done! Elevation gain 3,500 ft. asl.

For a recovery run, I got up very early again the next day to beat the heat. I had forgotten to post my intention on our group website so for once I am going to run alone. I am quite familiar with the trails from Cavitt Junior High School that I was confident I would not get lost. Ha! I followed our usual 4-mile run which is out and back (OAB). I also did the hill repeat, pushing myself to run up the hill and take a photo on top with a good view of Folsom Lake. I ran 2-loops to make for 8miles, but with the hill repeat I could have done a total of 8.4 miles. That’s is that for this weekend – three weeks before the San Francisco Marathon! Yikes!

Monday, July 2, 2018

Donner Lake Elevation and Pavement Training

The temperatures around our area had been averaging in the high 90s for the past days. We scheduled a trip to Donner Lake for high altitude and pavement training. Donner Lake being at the elevation of 5,936’ it was certainly a cooler place to be in the summer. I am thankful to Cindy and Hassan who hosted this training run for my benefit. There were several other training runs scheduled today – June 30th but we made a good choice of location. Temperature hit a 102F and there were many unhappy runners.

Roadside & lakeside running
Donner Lake is a fresh water lake in the Northeast, California on the Eastern Slope of the Sierra Nevada. It is about 11 miles Northwest of the much larger Lake Tahoe. We parked at the area nearest the entrance to the beach from there we ran on a clockwise direction around the lake. First, we were on pavement until we reached the end of the fence. We turned right and followed the interpretive trails running the side of the lake. This part was shaded with different type of pine trees around the lake. It was heart-warming to see groups of friends and families enjoying the beach and the public piers. It was also very motivating to see such scenery specially as the temperatures got warmer as the morning progress. We went over some hills, running up them for training and catching our breath as we reached the top.

Running on elevation has his challenges with a total ascent of 190 feet and a total elevation of 6,126 ft. asl. Tips from Runners’ World in running in altitude: 1) Include a longer warm up. 2) Run a slower pace. At high elevation with thinner air, you tend to run slower. 3) Get plenty of sleep. 4) Increase your intake of fluids. 5) Avoid alcohol and sodium.

At the first 2 miles, like always I was catching my breath and trying to catch up with the rest. After a couple of miles, I felt stronger and went up ahead from the group. I wish I felt this way most of the time. The last time I felt this strong was at Magnolia Ranch.

After finishing the 1st 7-mile loop we took a short break to go to the bathrooms, eat chilled watermelon slices, and refilled our water containers. We ran our 2nd loop in the reverse direction to make it more interesting. Towards the end of the loop we could not help but take pictures. Enjoy!

Movie: The Log at Donner Lake

Coastal Trail from Rodeo Beach

At the Vista Point
Life sidelined me, not from running though. I continued to run, and it helped conjure positive energy. Training for the San Francisco Marathon is keeping me focused and positive. My writing was sidelined, it was hard to pick up the pen, well actually it was hard to type my thoughts.

I was invited to join a training run by friends getting ready for the Golden Gate (Summer) Trail Run. There is something about the views of the San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate (It is actually red.😊), that inspires me- to walk, to run and now to write again.

Annalisa, Hiromi and I set-out from Sacramento at 6 AM, or was it 7 AM? Anyway, it was early. We car-pooled, and I agreed to drive going to Rodeo Beach because after the run I know I would not be in the condition to drive. It was an easy drive until we got to the tunnel and we tried a different way to get to Rodeo Beach without having to go inside the tunnel. We took a few turns and got on the road on the way to Baker Beach and a wrong turn landed us facing a wire fence with a sign that said, “Keep out”. It had a beautiful vantage point of the Golden Gate Bridge, so I declared that I was going to take a picture while Annalisa and Hiromi worked out the directions. We got back on the road towards the tunnel and took another turn and was on the coastal road passing a Vista Point. Again, I said “I have to take a picture!”. Satisfied and on track we made our way to Rodeo Beach.

At Rodeo Beach, it was very windy, waves splashed hard on the shore, and there was fog (but of course!). After a trip to the ladies’ room and gearing up we were on our way. Our goal was to head out for 6 miles and turnaround for a total of 12 miles. We followed the Coastal Trail, Tennessee Valley Trails and the Miwok Trail. The trails were well-marked but there were a series of turns and could get you lost or run around in circles.
Overlooking Rodeo Beach

The hike started off very friendly and there were many families enjoying the trails and the views even on this very windy day. The trail was dusty and had gravel and was a steady climb and step were made in some parts. Then we took a left up the bunkers and descended on the other side. It happens to me all the time, it takes me a couple of miles to warm up. I often wonder, why each time I go out and run, it feels like the first time. I am out of breath, my heart pounding, and my head feels like it would explode. At this point I would slow down, as if I was not slow already and let the pounding subside. This is the reason that I realized I need that special Garmin watch that had a heart monitor. According to Garmin: The goal is to make you aware when physical or emotional sources cause your stress level to rise so you can find a way to relieve the pressure. It is very important to know this information so as not to hurt our body. I do not have a coach, but I listen to advise and get tips from friends who have run ultras.

I am really slow, so I tell Annalisa and Hiromi to just go ahead at their pace and they waited for me at the junctions. By now I have a history of getting lost 2x that my running friends make sure I don’t anymore. At the same time, I have paid attention to the trails even as I pay attention to my body.

Aside from my 1.5 litter water that I carry in my vest, I also carry 2 8oz Camelbak drinking bottles with Gatorade. My favored protein bar is Think Thin High protein bar with 20gms of protein because it is very tasty and not like a cardboard. I also like Snicker bars and Brach’s’ gummy worms. I have stayed away from dried cranberries or raisins, I really like them, but they make me gassy. For much longer runs, I have carried McDonald’s sausage burritos and peanut butter sandwiches. I switch them up a bit to relieve the boredom of taste.

We reached an area where sections of the trail had wooden planks and reminded me so much of a Japanese Garden. Another reason that slows me down is I take time to admire the scenery and take photos. I also carry a GoPro because nothing beats live video. I used to get teased carrying a GoPro but after friends have seen the videos they appreciate that I took the time to do so.

The Coastal Trail is good training because of the hills where the ascent and descent is definitely good for training. Annalisa and Hiromi waited for me a the 6mile mark on their Garmin and called to me saying “Come on Eve, this is mile 6”. On the return, we ran faster as we had become familiar to the trail. At an area close to the beach, Hiromi waved at me to show the way and I waved back. Then I turned because I saw a photo opportunity and Hiromi followed saying she was worried that I was taking a different trail. She laughed when she saw I was taking pictures. The fog had cleared up some and the view was fantastic.

I love trail running because just like in back packing and hiking I am there for the scenery. I am enjoying God’s creation at the same time keeping me fit. In trail running I get my exercise and enjoy the views in a shorter span of time so I can attend to other responsibilities. I schedule my runs on a weekly basis and reserve my backpacking trips for when I have a longer break from work. Enjoy!

Link: Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy
Link: Marine Headlands Map

Monday, June 4, 2018

4 days & 3 nights Backpacking at the Lost Coast

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, I think a video is even better.

In the outdoors you get to know the character of a person, really well and really fast. Faced by unusual conditions we are stripped of all pretentiousness. We find out our strength and endurance, how we hold up carrying our own load and walking several miles on uneven ground. We find out how adaptable and flexible we are. We know what ‘team’ and ‘team building’ really means, watching out for each other, respecting personalities, counting on the different strengths, making group decisions with ease. We find joy and have fun. It's no surprise we become life-long friends. - Eve Cayaban

Amazing sights.

This tent withstood a storm. Ozark bought for $44.

There was time to relax and enjoy the offerings.

Sunsets were a sight to behold.

I love hiking in the spring when wildflowers are abloom.

Backpacking builds character and friendships.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Mother’s Day Training Run Magnolia Ranch Trailhead to Movie Set loop 9.5 miles

As described by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Magnolia Ranch Trailhead is five (5) miles North of the town of Coloma along Highway 49 and the South Fork of the American River. From Rocklin, I drove East on 80 towards Reno, and exited at 119C to Elm Street. Then I drove down Highway 49 in Auburn, past Cool and Pilot Hill. A total of 28.2 miles just a little over 30 minutes in drive time.

At 7 am, there were a total of 19 of us at the Magnolia Ranch Trailhead. The weather was a bit chilly this early, but it was going to heat up soon. First, we followed the Gerle Loop Trail then followed the Down & Up Trail, so named because it is going up and down the green hills. On the trail were lupines, sun flowers, and other wild flowers of yellow and lavender that I cannot identify. I deeply regretted not wearing a hat, thinking it was early enough that the sun’s rays won’t be that fierce. But it was quite fierce and there is not much shade in the Conan Ranch area. Then we followed the route down on the Long Valley Trail where the yellow wildflowers covered hillsides. We reached the movie set of “Love Comes Softly” where there are 2 dilapidated houses and one of which had a warning. The structures were built in 2003 as a set and was not built to last. Ironically, there were two construction vehicles as well.

After a group photo, we took the trail by the South Fork American River. There were plenty of restrooms. You can access this area via the Conan Ranch Road and have a picnic. We followed the river all the way back connecting on the Down & Up Trail then onto the Gerle Loop Trail.

I was happy today, I was in keeping in step with the main group. I was running up and down the trail because I was taking videos with my GoPro. I was not lagging behind where I would normally be. And because I was not last, I did not get lost since there were people ahead of me to follow and people behind to guide me, too! It was a good short hike before Mother’s Day lunch festivities.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Auburn Dam Overlook (ADO) to No Hands Bridge to K2

Life happens, and I was side-tracked for a month. I moved from my home of two years. The good thing about being adventurous is we welcome these changes and are ready to move on taking the lessons and life experiences as we go. The dust has settled or rather kind of because I have come up with a rhythm. Being back on the trail last Sunday was one of them. Life is not normal but having a rhythm and doing the things we have control of is helpful.

American River Canyon Overlook or to many hikers and runners ADO or Auburn Dam Overlook offer a beautiful view of the canyon. It has a big parking area and a popular starting point for hikers and runners to meet up and follow the trails down to the canyon.

After crossing No Hands Bridge
No hands Bridge or officially Mountain Quarries Bridge it was declared a historical place in 2004. It’s No hands bridge was earned due to an equestrian who rode her horse without holding the reigns across the bridge and at that time there were no guard rails. The bridge stands 150 above the river and is 482 feet long.

K2 or Training Hill; for me as a long-time backpacker / mountaineer K2 is the 2nd highest mountain in the world although it is said to be deadlier. This K2 in Auburn you might find your toes will get killed. On the way down that is, if you are not careful. This K2 you will climb 1,000 feet in 0.9 miles and starts at 607 feet of elevation.

Here we go waking up early on the weekends like at 5 Am to be at the meeting area (ADO) at 7 am. I like to be able to eat a good breakfast (And have coffee!) before going out on a run but have enough time to let it set before running. Our trail run host Hassan reminded to bring enough fuel (food) and water. I had prepared water, Gatorade, pretzel w/ peanut butter and peanut butter sandwiches the night before.

I like mornings, when there is no traffic, watching the sun as she rises, the wind is cool with a gentle breeze. At this time though a long sleeve tight hugging (lightweight) shirt is all that is needed. There were 14 of us that showed up and after a brief introduction proceeded to follow the trail down to the American River to No Hands Bridge. This is 500 feet of elevation loss. The trail was very pretty with wildflowers abound. I was feeling pretty good today, but I still reminded Hassan to wait for me. Hassan and Steve waited for me at the important junctions. I attribute my slow pace to being careful with my left knee, watching where I step, short legs, need for more training and taking time to admire the flowers. My running friends inspire me because they are ultra-runners that have finished 50 – 100-mile races.

Training takes time, as Stephen Covey writes about the Law of the Farm; natural laws determine processes and outcomes in the natural world. For example, farm workers understand that “ripping up the soil, throwing in the seeds, watering and cultivating overnight” will not provide them with “a bountiful harvest overnight.”.

Hence, I cannot expect to finish a marathon in good form if I do not put in the required training; building strength, building miles, preparing my body with food, and preparing my mind. Preparation is everything. I like to run with a group and I count it a blessing to have found Trail Running Adventures led by Carina and Hassan. The training and camaraderie is awesome, and it makes me come back for more.
A lady with her fur baby coming from the opposite direction had a message for me, saying that my friends were just a few minutes ahead. I reached No Hands Bridge and saw everyone was waiting at the end of the bridge. As I ran across the bridge, I was shouting, Hassan please take my picture and I am happy he obliged. Next a group photo by the sign “Mt. Quarries Railroad Bridge” and we were on our way to the K2 trailhead.

At K2 trailhead we let the others go ahead while we posed for more photos. Steve wanted to let us go ahead so he could run his way up. If only for this short distance of 0.9 miles and an elevation gain of 400 feet I could do this over and over and be prepared for any trail hardship. Hassan kept reminding me to fuel up (eat) and hydrate. I was eating my pretzels with peanut butter filling. It has salt and protein.

As I hiked up, I was sweating profusely, my heart rate is up, and I could feel my leg, thigh and behind muscles getting a good work-out. At the top of the hill, a German couple offered to take our photo and we had our photo taken with the backdrop of the ridge across which is the ADO.

Hassan went ahead and was waiting as I navigated the last few feet of the trail. He asked if I wanted to do the 4-mile loop or go back down via the K2. I voted for the shorter route by going back down the K2 trail. Interesting that when we got there, a few from the main group were already waiting. I voted to run ahead since I am slow. After less than a mile they all caught up and passed me. Except for Hassan who was doing the sweep.

Again, I was enjoying the view and greeting everyone along the trail. I was also making a mental note of the location of the wildflowers so that I can re-visit and take photos. I was tempted to stop at the waterfall for photos but decided against it. Christina and Hiromi would wait for me at the junctions and I did not want to make them wait too long, less they think I have once again gotten lost.

Three quarters of a mile to ADO parking lot, Hassan caught up. As we passed the yellow flowers I asked Hassan if he had seen this on the way out. A trail hidden by bushes going up with the bushes so full of these beautiful yellow flowers. It did not take much to convince Hassan to take a few photos and a couple of videos.

We raced on to ADO parking lot where our friends were gathered as we waited for Steve to arrive. Our motto is “No person left behind”. We did not have to wait long, Steve arrived in 5 minutes. I felt good this whole training run, I was glad that Hassan reminded me to eat and drink repeatedly. It makes a lot of difference. Not eating or drinking is very bad and once you crash it is hard to recover. Looking forward to the next training run!

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

2018 Run Rocklin

Kids' Race
Yesterday was the AR50 or the American River Endurance Run which has two distances a 25 or a 50 miler. Many in our trail running adventures group were running the race, including my friend Carina who is one of the leaders of the group. I greatly appreciate all the training runs she is organizing to get me ready to race. In my own little way of thanking her, I had volunteered to be one of her crew. There were 4 crew stops, where runners can meet-up with their crew for such things as: change of shoes, change of clothing, refill beverages and/or water and other necessities. I was so envious with all the fun they had but I know, I am not ready for a 50-miler yet. I should push through with my plans of running the San Francisco Marathon on July 29 before proceeding to much longer races. It was a good experience, being a crew on the AR50, it gave me an idea of what to expect and how to prepare for race day. It was a long day of racing for the runners but they were all very inspiring.

When I got home I saw Carina one of the events that Carina created on Facebook letting us know that she was signed up for Run Rocklin the next day, as a taper run. I messaged her and ask if she was running. Due to an ankle injury from the AR50, she would just help in the registration. I still signed-up because my plans for Sunday fell through and I was determined to get some miles in for the week.

12K and 13.1 mile race start
There is a continuing debate on whether it is harder to run on the road or the trail and both has its merits. I prefer trail for the simple reason that I like the scenery. I think trail running is harder because of the natural obstacles like rocks, roots, elevation, water, and many more.

Rocklin is a very challenging road course because it is very hilly. I like Rocklin because the traffic is not as bad as it would be in other places, also there are a lot of pocket areas of greenery. Everything is just so well-placed and organized, considering the city was incorporated in 1893. That’s a total of 125 years!

I was in bed as soon as I got home and just fell in deep sleep. I did not realize I was tired, too! I woke up at 4:30 am, an hour earlier than I would have wanted. So, I lay in bed for an hour before getting up to prepare. I wanted to be early at the Rocklin Community Center for packet pick-up and to find good parking. I was up before the alarm on my phone came on. I was at the Johnson-Springview Regional Park parking at a little before 6:30 PM. I went to the office for the bib pick-up and while I stood in line, Carina called me over. Carina oversaw giving the bibs for the late registrants like me. I am amazed that Carina after a 50-mile run and a still swollen ankle could be able to get up out of her bed and volunteer.

With Carina and the trail adventurers we regularly run on the trail, mostly around Folsom Lake. My 1st half-marathon was the Cool Dam(n) Run and my 2nd half-marathon was the Sofi Golden Gate Half was a mix of road, a little bit of dirt road, and hilly. This Run Rocklin will be the 2nd time only that I have run on the road.

I tried to keep her pace.
After getting my bib and a short chat with Carina, I went back to my car to stay warm. At 7:30 AM I began my stretch exercises. By 7:45 AM I made my way to race start. There was a kid race first and that was awesome to watch. It was amazing that there were even young kids who showed much determination to finish their race.

After the kids finished, the half-marathon and 12K runners were next to start. I took my place by the flag that says 12 minutes per mile. I have been running on the trail and have little experience on the road. From the Johnson-Springview Regional Park race start the course would run South then turn left on Sunset Boulevard and turn right on Whitney Boulevard for over a mile and the half-marathon runners turn right on Crest Drive which comes into the hilliest part of the course. I was trying to keep up with the pacer that had the 2:30 sign. I mentioned to her that if I keep her pace I will be able to beat time of my 2nd half-marathon time of 2:47. As the road went uphill though I was beginning to lag my 2:30 pacer. The turnaround was at 4.5 mile, then it is downhill for three miles before turning left on Midas Avenue. My pacer had already turnaround, I greeted her and she said that I was still on track, because the next pacer was still behind me. The course continues to Rawhide Road and the second turnaround is before mile 9. On the turns that were clearly marked, there was a marshal and cheerers for encouragement. It helped me big time. The sun was out and beating hard that I ran out of water in my bladder pack. That is even if I was also drinking from the water / Gatorade stations. Somewhere along Rawhide Road, I approached a family cheering from their driveway and they immediately asked what I needed. I asked for water and they were quick to grab and hand me a bottle of water. I was so happy and thankful for them. I was feeling so hot and faint at that point but the bottled water helped big time. The official high temperature that morning was 68F but running 13.1 miles, it felt much warmer than that. Along Rawhide Road, I looked backed and saw the 2:45 pacer. I picked up my pace and ran as fast as I could, I kept pushing till I covered the last two miles and finished. The photographer was there I even smiled and requested a jump shot to which he obliged. Another photographer took my photo when she saw me taking a selfie with my medal.

On the way to race office, Stacy (also a crew during AR50) saw me and she had run the 5K. We both went to check our official time for the race. Yes, we both beat our previous record! YES!