Saturday, April 05, 2014

Awesomest 10k Trail Race

I should note that this was only my second 10k trail race, so of the two, I liked it more. My first one being with Ben, my brother, last summer. It was fun, but I wasn't as in of good of shape, and I liked the trails on this one a lot more. 

The one we did last summer was Reservoir Dogs by Inside Trail Racing, was exactly a 10k (6.2 miles), and had 575 feet of vertical. Basically it was fairly flat with one big climb in the middle of the race. 

Today I attacked Grizzly Peak Trail Run by Coastal Trail Runs, which had just a hair over 1,000 feet of vertical, and it was a touch under 10k at 5.8 miles. I hope this is ok, screen shot from their website:

It was in Tilden Regional Park near Berkeley. I had never been there before; pretty place! 

Originally my running buddy and I were going to travel up early in the morning, but she woke up sick, so the family ended up coming with me. Jeremy was up at 5:30 making eggs for everyone while I got the boys dressed and packed stuff to take with for kids. Flexible family support! Was very thankful for Jeremy's willingness to change his plans and drive up with me, he's the best! 

Got there, potty break, grabbed bib and shirt, sat in van. All the other races started at 8am, so Jeremy took the kids to see that. I read the first two chapters of Ecclesiastes. Helps me chill and put things in perspective, that book. 

Then we met at the bathroom for another potty break, and it was off to the starting line. 

And we were off!

Pictures Jeremy took of kids while I was running:

On these trail races I like starting slow, warming up and finding my place in the pack. Which seems to be behind the middle of the pack, but not the last. Front of the last third. Or maybe that's front of the last quarter. However you want to put it. 

Started out flat for a short bit, and then we hit the first climb. And the trail was a disaster of mud. As in, it was thick, goopy mud covering the entire trail that people were having a hard time navigating. People mentioning aloud that if one person wiped out we'd all be going down. 

To start the race out like that was a bit of a downer, I have to admit. I was wondering if all the trails were going to be like this, and also worrying a bit about wiping out myself. Not afraid of getting muddy, but of hurting myself due to a fall, or worse yet hurting myself and taking out one or more others in the process! 

Turns out that not all of the trails were like that, just a lot of the short, uphill sections at the beginning of the race. Mud that squished around your entire foot and you felt yourself slipping just a bit with each step. 

A couple of road crossings later brought us to the loop section of the course, and at the beginning of that is where I dropped the people I had been by for the first part of the race. Nice climb, took the downs, and then took on the toughest climbing of the race, which I'm guessing is where it says "Tower" on the map above. PG&E trail type steepness, and beyond. It was during this part that I realized I was in the must beautiful section of trail, and thought about how in life when we go through trials are when we really see the beauty around us. 

Also on this steep section I quickly found out that the only way I could make it up the steep, slippery muddy trail was to hike in the little stream that was running to one side of the trail. There were no footholds otherwise!

Prayed for a friend who was scheduled to get induced today as I was hiking uphill and appreciating the beauty; I found out later that she had gone into labor on her own early this morning, which was an answer to prayer!

One turn on a series of switchbacks was so steep and muddy that I had no other choice but to scramble up on all fours! Then after that there were steps of rock. And then the beloved section of downhill. I love running downhill, it feels almost effortless! 

Most of the loop I was alone on the run, and that was very much enjoyable. Towards the end of the loop was when I started getting passed by the fast male runners from the other distances. 12 passed me. Four had to loop back and passed me again going the other way. 

On the long section of downhill and the rest of the race really I felt awesome. On the down I was thanking God for my legs to run with! Loving it. 

Going down the really muddy parts that I had climbed on the way up were tricky, I did not run those, but watched the guys who passed me how they handled it, and decided they were braver than I. At some points I was sliding a good half foot with each step!

Jeremy got this shot of me running strong on the flat to the finish:

Man, I was feeling so good at this point. Realizing I still felt awesome after doing a harder 10k, realizing that my training of running 3x each week faithfully paid off big time. 

Although, to taper for this race I did not run at all this past week. Instead as I was getting all antsy towards the later part of the week, I caught up on housework which was much needed. 

After the race Jeremy told me I had gotten a faster time even, and wow, that was awesome too. I think I ran something like 1:38 with Ben, and today I did 1:27. Even with the slow mud slogging and almost 2x more climbing. Granted, .4 miles less, but still. I was happy with my performance today. Finished 65th out of 84 10k participants, and for my age group and gender I finished 10th out of 16. 

Jeremy snapped this pic of me with my finisher's medal:

And there's a story to go with this one. We were hanging out by the water's edge with another mother of four who I was chatting it up with. Jeremy came and got a picture, and just in that moment right after he snapped it Blake fell headfirst into the lake and was floating facedown in the water. Jeremy bounded over and jumped in and picked him up, so it was only a few seconds, but it was just so crazy!! He cried after Jeremy picked him up, and then I took him. The other mother offered her baby's blanket to wrap around him, which was so kind, but I told her we'd just go to the van and I'd get him some dry clothes to change into. 

Google maps directed a slightly different exit of the park, and so on the way out we came upon this view which we had to pull over and get some shots of: 

In the picture above Oakland is on the left, San Francisco straight ahead, and that's the Bay Bridge connecting the two, with the Golden Gate Bridge to the right if you can see it. Here's a close up of Bay Bridge on the left and part of the Golden Gate on the right:

Beautiful day, and what a view! Had some nice views from the top of the climb during the race today too. Looking forward to running my first half marathon with my brother this summer! This was a very encouraging race for me today, as well as the most fun I've had with trail racing, which has been a grand total of 4 races. (I've run Brazen's Summit Rock 5k the past two years with Hayley. '12 was fun, '13 not so much.) On my four races I would say that 10ks are more fun than 5ks. :)

Special thanks again to Jeremy for making this day awesome! Not only did he do all the driving and take the kiddos on a walk during my race, he also got his run in with them in the afternoon so I could go to a ladies event at church after the race. Put the kids to bed around 6:15pm and they were out by 6:30. Sleep time for me now!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Ramblings of the Random Rambler

I realize that this blog has been taken over by my running this year. The fam is probably like, I want pictures and updates of the kids! :)

They're doing well. Growing a lot. And I love how the girls ask questions about God; there is nothing I like talking to them about more! Hayley trusted Jesus as her Savior over two years ago; Ada last fall. Such a blessing that they saw their need for the blood of Jesus to pay for their sin, and that by accepting that gift they could saved. Saved to live for God! And to spend eternity with Him. The girls and I sometimes pray for the boys, that they would see their need for God and would follow Him all of their lives. It is so encouraging to me lately, that Ada will say, let's pray about this (whatever the situation is). And so we will. I love that! I try to pray with the kids every night before bed. Even Blake gets a turn. He copies the words from me; I've just taught him a simple prayer that I used to use with Seth when he was little: Dear God, thank You for this day. In Jesus' name, amen. I know Jeremy's parents remember when Seth was one and a half, because when they came to visit then, one of Seth's sayings was "oh dear God".

A few months ago a camp friend had posted that a relative of theirs had lost part of their right leg in a grain auger, so the kids and I had prayed for this person named Jonathan. Well, the story really made an impact with Seth, being into machines and all, and he prayed for this kid every night and even started referring to him as "Jon". He would also converse with me about how we need to be safe around machines. Then when Jeremy's cousin Eric got in a pretty bad car crash, we prayed for him, and Seth took him into his prayer routine too, being into cars and all. Sometime this year he started praying on his own instead of asking for words to say, so he's been a little less consistent with who he's prayed for, but it's been neat to hear his short prayers.

I pray almost every night that we'd all have a good night's sleep, and most nights we do, so... ask and you shall receive? :) I know it doesn't quite work that way, but the kids do sleep really well in that room together. It's funny talking to people and they find out that all of our kids sleep in the same room; not quite the norm, but it's what the kids are used to! Ada is still our earliest riser. Always has been, probably always will be. On occasion I'll wake up and there will be a smiling redhead face all up in my grill when she is just so excited about the day and can't wait for people to enjoy it with her. I think Hayley is getting to that age where she could start sleeping in a bit. Well, when she was two and it was just her, we did make it to a wake up time of 8 and that was pretty luxurious. And a thing of the past.

Hayley is a great help, and so is Ada, and the boys love helping too. One of Seth's jobs is folding the washclothes for the kitchen, and he is so neat and particular about it and does great! A guy of detail, that one. Blake likes to be a helper, so I try and find things that he can do, such as throw something in the trash or recycling. He also likes to get into a lot of stuff... at that age, always busy. But I love the one year old's view of life, everything is so exciting!

Also, we'll have to get Blake a scooter soon because he was sad that he didn't have one to ride with the older three the other day. He likes to be a part of the group and do all the big kid stuff! His thumb looks amazing. Still so thankful to God for providing that surgeon there who did a wonderful job sewing. Thumbs are good things to be able to keep.

Hayley is doing well with school, and enjoys going. Of course homework is not a fav, but she does a great job of being responsible for it and getting it done. Ada will be starting up in the fall. That will be interesting! I know she is looking forward to it, and I think she'll do well. The boys have started to play together a lot more now, so I think they'll be fine without their leader. Blake is totally car & truck crazy like Seth, and plays with them on his own a lot now, so that's why I think they play together a lot more now because they have that common interest. They've got stuff going on in their heads about cars and they act them out with their vehicles, it is quite entertaining! And reminds me of growing up with my brothers, it's cute. :) Blake's favorite show is "Chuck & Friends", and he asks for it by name. It is amazing how the language just explodes at some point.

I'm still listening to, branching out to people I don't know. Good stuff on there, folks! Actually, after Jim Fleming visited our chapel this year I listened to all of his messages on there; I always enjoy when he comes and speaks. Right now I just started in with Randy Amos, who is going to be speaking at the mens' retreat this year. Listening to his take on Malachi and how the people didn't fear God anymore. Very interesting topic to me as one of my favorite verses is "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom".

In the fall I read through Jeremiah, finished up at the beginning of Jan., so now doing 1 Cor-Jude. And since I started listening to the Malachi stuff, I started reading through that too. Also on my third Tozer book now. Started with Man: The Dwelling Place of God which I thought was great and gave a few copies away. Then I read The Pursuit of God and thought it was even better! I'm now going through The Knowledge of the Holy.

Honestly I feel like the retreat last year really kindled the fire, when Mike Attwood spoke. Then someone mentioned the website on our church's yahoo group when someone asked where they could hear more of him and that's how I got on there, and then I found out about Tozer. Lots of good spiritual growth and trials since then. Not that I have enjoyed the trials, but they are important to realize that we depend on God for everything, and we can do nothing without Him. He is our rock and our salvation!

Not as strong as I used to be, but strong enough. Fun pic we took the other day. When I looked at it on the computer and realized Ada had used her right instead of her left, that reminded me of when her and Hayley arm wrestled not too long ago. Ada won with her right, and Hayley beat her with her left. Jeremy had taught them how to do it, and oversaw the matches.

I love Jeremy so much! He's a good husband and dad, I feel very blessed to be married to him. Coming up on 11 years, that is so..... where did the time go-ish! First few years we got to enjoy just the two of us, and then we had kids and that has been another journey altogether! Some days I think we should have more, and some days I think of how much I am enjoying my freedom to keep up with the kids' energy. Oh wait, they always have more, never mind. :)

Saturday, March 15, 2014

March's 8 turned into 10.

Yesterday morning I was going to go on a run with the three youngest, but then Jeremy offered to watch them so I could go on a trail run--an offer I couldn't refuse! Time by myself and running, that's like, awesome! Did five miles of trail at Rancho, pushed myself and I hurt afterwards. Sign of a good workout. 

At some point this past week I was thinking about how I needed to do my 8 mile run this month, and that this weekend would be the best time for that. So running on somewhat tight but not too bad legs today, I had planned to do this loop, which would have been 8.5 miles exploring totally new trails; but then Blake threw his blanket out of the jogging stroller, and when we realized that had happened, we had to go back and get it. Which added another mile and a half. Thanks Blake. It was totally right after we had just run a mile, so not the best way to start a long run, but thankfully we found the blanket. 

Kids lined up at the start:

Name the bird: (I don't know)

At about the halfway point where we stopped for a snack and took a little break.

Photography by Hayley:

The four!

The five--I love Ada's face in this one.

Our "shortcut". As in, if we had followed around the outer edge, we would have ended up doing like 11 miles. Which is just crazy. We'll save that for June.

See the white foam behind Hayley? It was blowing across the path in this section in little bits here and there. 


2 hrs. 47 min. Slow pace, but we did stop for that snack break and also for water breaks here and there. I was thinking I'd work on my tan with the sleeveless shirt, but ended up getting a good sunburn. Burn. It hurts. Must remember to respect the sun. Hayley said her arms hurt a little bit, but she doesn't look burnt at all. Thankfully Ada wore long sleeves, so just her face got a bit red. Her skin has a reaction to sunscreen... maybe I need to keep trying new kinds? I don't really ever use it. For myself or the kids, really bad about that.

I had told the girls that if they didn't complain during the run that they could watch a movie afterwards. Call it reward or bribe, it works. I don't use it all the time, but when I do, it's for really long runs. They did great. I know it wasn't what they would have chosen to do with their time, but they stuck with it. And the boys did great in the stroller. They are used to being in there I guess, no complaints from them.  Except maybe in the form of ditching a favorite blanket and then waiting 3/4ths of a mile to ask for that very blanket.

This is a cool place, Alviso Marina County Park. When I first drove through the neighborhood though, I was trippin out. It's a confused place. You've got like an updated farmhouse, some older houses, some new big houses, abandoned cannery, abandoned restaurant. Some of it reminded me of what you'd find on the coast somewhere. Just seemed strange to drive into that from the big office buildings. And I was worried it might be busy there and no parking, but there was plenty. Hardly anyone out where we were on the trail! A couple of runners, a few bikers. Oh, and a ranger type person drove past in his truck once. Otherwise we were alone out there until we got within a mile or so on the way back. Kinda nice to find solitude so close to a densely packed urban area. We did see some kayakers and boaters on the nearby slough at the beginning as well; the adjacent parking lot has a slip for such things. That parking lot was a bit fuller with menfolk going about their hobbies.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

A Refreshing Run in the Rain

Yesterday afternoon I found myself at Rancho for some trail running, score. No girls went with this time. Hayley has come with me a few times, and Ada once. Did just under five miles on some beautiful single track as well as fire road. The rain was off and on; at times the wind was gusting, others it was a gentle breeze. Loved feeling the wind pick up for the first time when I was alone on the trail. Reminded me of when thunderstorms would hit in Kansas and the thunder would be so intensely loud. Just a touch of God's power. A reminder of One who is All-Powerful. If there is one thing I miss the most about Kansas weather, it would be those crazy thunderstorms. Thunder, lightning, wind, rain. The works. And me, snuggled safely in my bed.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Girls' Mile Race, take two

Must be something to do with the weather; a similar scene outside as last time, but earlier in the day. A spontaneous decision to go race the mile again. Here we are before jogging to the track.

I wish I had timed our race last time, to compare. I know we were all faster from my pace, but no idea by how much. Well, at least we'll have these numbers for next time.

Ada won at 9 minutes even, Hayley second at 9:04, and I took third with 9:13. Those times pretty much sum up the race. As in, Ada was in the lead the entire time, Hayley close behind, and me a bit farther back.

Hayley definitely took it seriously this time. She was still amazed with how Ada pulled out a win again, but happy that she wasn't last. :) I was thinking before the race how I might be able to take these two with all the running I've been doing... totally got put in my place.

When we congratulated Ada afterwards, she said, "Ya, I like beating people." Cracks me up. She wasn't quite so humble after this race!

After dinner Ada promptly got into her pajamas and wanted to go to bed; she was out before 7pm. Hmmm, might have to do these more often... and looking forward to when the boys can start racing with us! ;)

A few weeks ago I was looking through my cross country newsletters from high school (our coach put out a few page one every so often called The Cougar Challenge) to find my fastest time. (girls ran a two mile race back then) Looks like it was 14:34. I decided my ten year goal is to beat that time by the time I'm 40. I wasn't very fast in xc, but funny enough, I had started it to stay in shape for soccer, but it ended up being the sport I did the most years. (3) I played volleyball in 9th. 8th & 9th grade I did track and had some good success with that. (mostly with the 400, my favorite) 10th & 12th grade I did soccer. When I was in 9th that was the first year soccer was added to our city's high school teams, but they were concerned that not enough people would try out so they combined the two high schools. I was interested, but asking around I gathered that they were going to have a huge turn out, and they did, so I'm glad I stuck with track. 10th grade year they split and each of the two high schools got their own team, so that's when I joined and had a really good year that year. That was a sweet year for me because I also got first place in the weight lifting competition for my weight class for clean. Never was that great with bench or squat, so I came in fifth overall for my weight class, but I was way ok with that having got my gold for my favorite lift. Funny how things you're good at start to become favorites... OR, maybe things that are favorites you become good at because you enjoy doing them and practice them more.

I was thinking the other day that if Jeremy and I had gone to the same school, I might have stayed with track. That's what he did in the spring, and then I could have seen him even more. Probably good we didn't end up going to the same HS, I would have been a total stalker.

Never played a winter sport. If swimming had been in the winter I think I would have gone out for that.  Tried out for basketball in 8th grade, didn't make the team. But you know, I quickly realized at tryouts how much I sucked, but I stuck with it the entire week, making a fool out of myself, because I had committed to it so I was going to finish it. Couldn't even make a lay up, that's how bad I was.

Rambling about sports again. Happens.

Another thing I was thinking about the other day is how much discipline plays out in running is like how discipline plays out spiritually. There are times where I'm running a lot and feeling great. Like last week, racking up 17+ miles. Also last week I was steadfast in spending some time with the Lord in prayer and reading my Bible. Having that hunger for running more and having more time with God. Then this week hit, and it started raining outside. Which was good, we need the moisture here desperately. But I felt like I was slipping on both running & my spiritual growth this week. The rubber wasn't hitting the road. Those are the hard times. The times where I don't feel like doing what I need to do. When I just need to ask the Lord for strength to overcome the pull of the flesh and get things done. Every day I need to seek Him and spend time with Him. He is the only reason I get anything done. And when I push Him aside, I fall. Emotionally and every other way. I focus on self. I like how Scott DeGroff says in his messages on "More of You, less of me." Sometimes I say that when I'm in a moment of conflict, wanting to respond my way instead of His way. Muttering it under my breath. I'm a selfish sinner, what can I say!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

CTTS #4 Family Style

Last week Jeremy ran to the ocean again from our house. That's the kind of behavior that has become the norm here at the Johnson household. This being the fourth year, we've got the hang of things and everything worked exactly as it should. Thanks be to God for that! Runner didn't get hurt, van didn't get a flat, etc. So many things to be thankful for. 

This year the kids and I showed up way early on purpose so they could have time to play at the beach. 

Throwing rocks into the side stream here was quite fun, especially for the little male ones, as they kept at it pretty much the entire time.

The girls quickly moved on to constructing a pirate ship out of driftwood.

At this point we took an intermission to sit in the van for lunch and then headed back out for some more play. 

That is their map that they would consult for sailing directions.

Pirate ship infiltrated by the little males. 

Confiscating the map--caught you red-handed you redhead.

In the above pics if hair is visibly being moved, it is because of the intense wind that would pick up from time to time and occasionally also throw sand which was unpleasant. But not for the kite surfers on the water, that's why they frequent this beach. If only Kansas had ocean front, haha. 

There's Jeremy! 
We had just stepped out of the bathroom area and saw him run past.

The kids give chase:

The dude is a stud, what can I say. 

As we were getting ready to leave, and waiting at the bathroom area for one last chance before the drive home, who appeared but our friend Amelia with a friend! Totally random. She was speechless, and we kinda were at first too. Too funny! Her family had a family visiting at the time and neither of us knew that the other would be there. We got to meet the friends of our friends and check out the big van they rented. Totally trippy. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

7 mile run for the month of Feb.

Been following my running schedule that I set up for myself (3x a week) and have been seeing some legit results. I think this week I'll probably bump that up to 4x, but we'll see. Feeling great! Also have gotten myself addicted to running again. Always looking to score my next high.

This month I needed a 7 miler to keep up with my goal of doing one longer run each month of subsequent mileage to prepare for that half marathon this summer. Yesterday it dawned on me that it was 7 miles from church to home, so I could just run home from church on Sunday. The girls heard that and they begged to get in on that action with their scooters! They were persistent even through my explaining how long we'd be out there, etc., so I agreed.

We got changed after church and headed off. I carried Jeremy's hand-held water bottle with cell phone & a bit of cash stashed in the pocket of it for emergencies. I also had a little baggie of homemade granola bars that I had made the day before; stuck that in the back of my sports bra. Those things come in handy for carrying stuff! Like last weekend, went on a trail run with Hayley and realized I had no where to put my car key, so I stuck it in the front. Worked most excellently.

Anyway, the girls did great today, full of pep and it was really nice to have them along. We clocked in our run at exactly 100 minutes, which I was happy with! Nice slow, steady pace. Stopped a couple of times to wolf down some granola, which tasted awesome btw (most everything does when you're working out!), and had sips of water here and there. And stopped for stoplights. Word.

I think I'll keep doing a running update once a month when I do my long run. It's good to be accountable.