Saturday, August 4, 2018

41st San Francisco Marathon; D' Day

My 1st Marathon - The Final Push

Almost there! After an 18-mile hike at Strawberry with an elevation gain of 3,500 ft., starting from 5,500 ft. asl. It was taper time. I joined Stephanie’s birthday celebration with a 7-mile run on July 21st, starting from the top of Stagecoach, via the Manzanita Trail down to No Hands Bridge led by Chris. After which I raced back to Melissa’s to shower, pick-up my stuff and move to Fremont to start a job on Monday – July 23rd. What a hectic schedule but I was thankful to finally have a job and with very good prospects of growth and learning.

I settled in quite quickly, my housemates are a cool group of millennials. It was my first time since moving to the USA that I would experience having to go thru rush hour to/from work. The commute is not too bad though for me, just 17 miles to work it takes me 22 minutes in the morning and in the afternoon from 30-42 minutes. On the Tuesday – July 24th, after work I ran with Army Reserve Sergeant Fahad and we were quite impressed that we were fast even with the heat. It was too soon to celebrate because the next day my body and head were aching due to an oncoming cold. Lia gave me her box of Tylenol for severe cold and flu that put me to sleep right away. There were no more practice runs for me and I had this fear of not being well enough to race. I harvested lemons from the tree in the backyard, drank tea with honey & lemon and was taking 1500mgs of vit. C daily.

My boss Philip had sent me home early Friday afternoon as I was falling asleep so tired while he talked to me, I was feeling that bad. That night, I called Liza and assured here that, “Come hell or high water I would race.” And she said she figured as much. She commented that I really sounded congested, but I was not one to quit. Then searching through my luggage, I found a box of herbal tea from Sri Lanka named “Samahan” given by Jazz and Xenia. I have heard rave reviews about it and thought it was worth a try. At this point anything was worth trying. I had slept early all week and very soundly due to the medicine I was taking. Tonight, was not different I wanted to be well by tomorrow!

I woke up feeling much better, happy that the Sri Lankan herbal tea worked or was it the combination of all the remedies that I had sought? I woke up early to prepare and was on my way to San Francisco by 8:15am. I had planned to go to the Race Expo early, collect my bib and meet Liza at the Clift Royal Sonesta Hotel at Geary in downtown San Francisco. I parked my car at the Fremont Bart station, as it is free to park there (even overnight) during weekends. Then I took the Bart and got off at the Embarcadero station which was a big mistake because the race expo was in Fort Mason, sigh! It was a total of 4.2 miles from Embarcadero Station to Fort Mason and to the Clift, it was enough of a shake up run as preparation for tomorrow. I was so tired that Liza even was in the hotel ahead of me. We were happy to be able to check-in early with the help of Heather at the front desk. Our room was very nice with 2 very comfortable beds with fluffy pillows, a sitting area, huge tv, a full mini-bar and a host of nice appointments. The bathroom was well appointed too with very impressive toiletries. This hotel was surely one of San Francisco’s best kept secrets.

Liza discovered a Filipino eatery by the side rode from the hotel, another must try in the heart of the city! We had crispy fried pork belly with rice. They also gave us a sample of their chicken sisig which is served in a sizzling plate. We went back to the Clift Royal Sonesta Hotel to rest before going out again for happy hour across the hotel in a tapas bar called Bota. We each had a drink and shared a cheese sampler. I was trying to be as calm as possible and I felt much better.

The Clift Royal Sonesta Hotel
Back at the hotel I prepared all my gear for tomorrow’s race and I just have a hard time trying to run light. It was going to be a very early wake up call, that I set-up my alarm at 3 am. This early schedule will give me enough time to eat, settle my stomach and have a leisurely 1.2 mile walk to my Corral G at the corner of Embarcadero and Folsom Streets. From the hotel, I walked down Geary, turned left on Market Street, down towards Embarcadero and right turn to find my way to the corner of Folsom Street. The police and other event volunteers were already on site and barricades had been set-up for the race start. It was a little windy with the temperature at a very pleasant 54F.

Before I slept, I had entered in my cellphone alarm the expected times I should be at the mile markers. At the Expo they were giving away this information, in the form of a paper band that could be worn. It was hard to compute at that time, hence I estimated the times and entered them in my cellphone alarm.

It was hard to decide what to bring to the race. I checked the weather and ditched the wind breaker, beanie hat, and draw string bag. I bought a belt carrier that had my food bars, cellphone and ID. I need an ID just in case of emergency. At the back of my bib was Liza’s contact number as well.

The Race

I was feeling good and strong this morning, but I was nervous. I kept asking myself; Am I ready? Did I prepare enough? Will I even finish this race? Athletes were just chatting away, I was listening to their stories. Others were like me nervous on their first try. Others I heard this was their NTH marathon. It was a friendly and warm crowd. The Bay Bridge looked so pretty with its lights against the night sky.

The athletes were divided in groups according to the expected time of finish. The elites and seeded athletes were to start first, and it would take them lest than three hours to finish the 26.2 miles. I expect to finish closer to 6 hours. Yes, twice length of the time that the elites were expected to finish. I just aim to finish the race before the cut-off time.

At the line, I was standing beside the two lady pacers that had the sign 4:55 which is they will hold the pace at an average of 11 minutes and 11 seconds to finish the 26.2 miles in 4 hours and 55 minutes. My projection to finish was 5 hours and 30 minutes. Months ago, Brian chided me on this asking if I planned to go shopping instead of racing.

The Clift Royal Sonesta Hotel with Liza
 The hardest challenge for me in my training was switching from a hiking mode to running. I had been a backpacker / hiker for almost 3o years that it’s hard to just switch away from that habit. During my training runs, I never really pushed my self to be faster. I just hope that my strategy in training in the mountain trails and elevation will give have prepared me for the San Francisco city marathon.

In a measure of caution not everyone racing this year’s marathon will be going across the San Francisco bridge. The half-marathoners (1st & 2nd half) would not be going on the bridge, but under it. The Ultra runners, those who signed up for the 2x the distance of the marathon started the race at 12 midnight.

The race starts were sounded by the Champion Cable Car Bell ringer – Ryan Cobb. I felt giddy myself, but I kept my focused to finish this race. I was glad that it was going to be cloudy and windy because I prefer to run when it is cold and perhaps the gloomy weather will deter me to take pictures. I cannot waste any time and I decided there were other times I could take pictures of this beautiful city as I had done many times before. I also signed up for the official photographs and hope that I catch the eye of the photographers.

It was a strong start for me, I kept up with pacers 4:55 we had a small group who kept up with them. Running past the Embarcadero, Pier 45, on Marina Boulevard, on Old Mason Street, past the Golden Gate Promenade where I saw a few athletes stop for a photo. By mile 5.5 we were on the hilly road going up towards the Golden Gate bridge. I was hoping the pacers would slow down but they did not. Their strategy was to gain ground and slow down later. By mile 6, I could only see the markers of the pacers as they disappeared around the corner stepping on the Golden Gate bridge. While I huffed and puffed my way and as soon as I stepped on the bridge, I tried to run faster to catch up with them. But my heart was beyond the beats where it should be, I was catching my breath and the pounding on my head was excruciating. I still have not gotten a Garmin watch, that measures the heartbeat, pace and all those wonderful stats that is needed. I was just going by feeling, and I knew I had to slow down. I alternated running and walking and envied those who stopped and took a picture on the Golden Gate. I welcomed the chilly, cloudy, gray weather this day. Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge is an adventure all on its own and I will always feel the excitement as a privileged runner. I turned right on the Vista Point Park, on towards the backside and went down the dirt trail under the bridge. Coming out the other side and climbing towards the other side of the bridge and turn around point of the full marathon runners. As a security caution and to lessen the runner traffic on the bridge, the half-marathoners were not crossing the Golden Gate Bridge.

Between mile 11 and 12 we covered the stretch of Baker Beach and turned left on 27th Street. I could feel myself getting tired. I wondered what the distance between me and the next pacer behind (5:25). We entered the Golden Gate Park at Mile 14 running on JFK Drive. After approximately 1.5 miles it was a left turn to MLK Drive and a slight left to Middle Drive West. I loved going through the Golden Gate Park with its trees and greenery. I was following an elderly lady who I would catch up on and get left behind. The lady was one of those who had an all day paced and just kept at it. She eventually finished way ahead of me. The all-day pace is still something I yet have to master. It was total of 5 miles and 4 aid stations and we were out of the park at mile 19. We were back on the road and sky was clearing and the sun was out. This was going to be a hard 7 miles to the finish as it became warmer but the gusts of wind coming from the ocean brought me so much relief. There were gradual hills and at this point I was walking more than running. I would rest a while, then pick-up the pace only to slow down again. I noticed other runners were in the same predicament as I was, getting tired and slower as the miles crept on. It helped a lot that there were plenty enough aid stations. I started to use BioFreeze on my thighs and legs. If I can get to my tired feet, I would have done so.

Mile 20, I saw the cheer board and had a message for me. I never found out who greeted me on the board, but it did give me a boost. Pacer 5:25 came up and I struggled hard to keep my pace. This was a red flag for me because the time limit is 6 hours. I noticed that one of the guys who was in my pacing group of 4:55 at race start had dropped behind too! I said hello to him and he gave me a nod. I think he was wearing prosthetics and admired his resolve.

Mile 24, only 2.2 miles left and almost to the finish line. I dug in deep to the very last ounce of strength I had. At aid station 15, the cheers of the volunteers were very encouraging; “You are doing great!” and “You are almost there!”.

I carry on challenges compete with myself. I would ask myself; “Can I do this?”. Now it has turned to, “You have to do this!”. The streets and the boardwalk were busy with Sunday revelers and the AT&T Stadium was busy with folks for the afternoon game.

A few feet from the finish line, I heard the announcer call my name. I crossed that finished line with the last ounce of my strength. I collected my medal. I heard my name being called and looked around. Seeing Liza being there was a very touching experience. I tried to see where I could cross to meet with her. I Saw the BioFreeze photo board and had my picture taken. I also welcomed the warming aluminum sheet being given. Then Liza was in front of me, smiling, congratulating and hugging me. I just wanted to cry. I could not think, and I could not react. But I loved that Liza was there.

Grit, endurance, perseverance….and so many more traits that you build to come to this moment. A year of training, total running miles of 432.70 miles, 20K+- of elevation gain and a whole community of runner friends.

Click the video: The year in training
Click the video: Watch my pace

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!