ON YOUR LEFT: A Fleet Feet Menlo Park blog
Our second annual Summer Trail Training Group starts this week! There's still time to join (more info here).
We'd like to introduce our newest trail coach, Natalie McMahon!
Coach Natalie pictured center, in the blue shirt, after finishing the Avenue of the Giants Marathon.
Interview by Isaac Medrano
Natalie, could you share a little about yourself?
NM: I’ve been an active runner since my track and field days in high school. Being a nature girl, turning to trails was like a breath of fresh air. I love the technical elements of trail running, being in the great outdoors, and most of all, hearing the sounds of the forest. To me, this is BLISS.
You've been running trails for a few years now. What inspired you to hit the dirt?
NM: I first started running trails at the Stanford Dish (before the revamp of the place). I found the hills there challenging but the paved trail rather boring, so I decided to check out the dirt trails that jetted off the main paved one. I thought to myself; this is great, these trails are fun and lead you to very cool spots all over this place. I was hooked!
Share with us your experience last summer as a training group participant in Fleet Feet's trail training group.
NM: The Fleet Feet trail group last year was a BLAST! We ran many of the wonderful Mid-Peninsula Open Space Preserves; the coaches and training group athletes had such a great time out there soaking up the EPIC views and tackling the technical climbs. The comaraderie among the group was uplifting and positive.
Congratulations -- now you're a coach of the trail group. How do you feel going into it?
NM: I am so psyched for our 2013 Trail Group! We have great coaches that each brings a unique quality to the team. I look forward to sharing my passion of trail running with all who come out for the adventure. Grab your shoes and let’s go!
Lastly, Why should someone sign up and train on the trails in our group?
NM: If you’re looking for a new way to challenge in your running fitness, trails are it. You’ll be running with great people and hitting trails in some of the most beautiful places that the Bay Area has to offer. Join us to get your run on! Fleet Feet Trail Team = Fitness and Fun.
This is the latest installment of On Your Left, a Fleet Feet Menlo Park blog.
Special edition: Reaction to the Boston Marathon tragedy from our community
April 19, 2013
Let's Run Forever
by Steve Marra
I’ve been restless all day thinking about writing this, knowing that it was going to be painful and not unlike running a long distance. Except, the easy part of writing this, is knowing nobody will get hurt which is not what happened in my hometown of Boston a week ago.
I look forward to the Boston Marathon the same way I do the Tour de France and Ironman. And since I compete in triathlons, I can indulge in thinking pure runners who go very long distances are a little nuts even to other endurance athletes.
I grew up in Boston and in April we simply went to see the marathon. What really captivated me were my own feeble attempts at running and then watching Bill Rogers run. I just could not process that a human, after running so many miles, could run as fast and steady as Bill Rodgers. For those of us growing up in Boston in that era, Bill Rodgers was the Boston Marathon.
This past December, I had the spectacular fortune of running maybe a quarter of a mile with Bill, competing in the Pleasanton Double Road Race, a 10K immediately followed by a 5K.
It was cold and pouring rain the entire event. No matter, I got to run with Bill Rodgers! We talked about our kids; it was a normal conversation with a normal runner who happened to have won the Boston Marathon four times. Then, Bill quickly sped up while I did not which led me back into the mindset of just finishing this race. There was power on the course that day, in the rain, just being around a legendary runner and all those other joyful runners who did not complain for an instant about the horrible weather. In fact, they were smiling.
In July, I was the crew chief for an Italian runner, Marco Mazzi, from Verona, Italy, competing in the Badwater Ultra Marathon in Death Valley. 135 miles from 282 feet below sea level to 8,500 above at the finish. After the race, at a pizza event, I felt the power and energy and the belief in magic that those 100 competitors posses. Like running with Bill Rodgers and the Boston Marathon, there was enough positive energy and belief and joy in that room to offset the pain we feel about what happened in my hometown of Boston.
In July this year, Marco and I will be back at Badwater and during those long hot miles I’ll think about the Boston Marathon and Bill Rodgers and the simple art of running.
Bill Rodgers signed my bib “Let’s Run Forever” and my Badwater race jersey reads “Nothing is Impossible.”
I believe both statements and hope that you do to. And that’s all I have to say.
The alarm went off at 6:15 a.m. on Monday, April 15th, I rose to turn on my laptop and logged in to watch the 117th Boston Marathon online. The Boston Marathon has held a very special place in heart ever since I was coached by Rey Flores who hailed from the Boston area. I lived in Boston for two years, and I was there cheering the marathoners in 2006 at Copley Square. Boston was where I went to figure out what it meant to be an American after 9/11.
I had three teammates of Wolfpack Running Club, many members of the extended PA-USATF family, and friends from RunCoach.com competing at Boston. I eagerly awaited to receive the text message alerts at the 10K, half marathon, 30K, and finish that I quickly posted on Facebook so my other teammates could celebrate the success of our runners.
It was an amazing race. So many great stories! I was fired up seeing the awesome performances of Shalane Flanagan, Kara Goucher, Jason Hartmann! My teammates were having amazing races! I was so fired up that I went for a run to visualize attaining my Boston Qualifying time. The Chicago Marathon in October is where I am making my next attempt.
I returned from my run and I started to worry. One of my teammates had not crossed the finish line yet. Then I got the first word of bombs at the finish line. I felt my heart being torn from my chest. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t stop worrying.
The news images I saw were all too much, too raw, too close to home. I had moments of relief as I got word via Facebook that my friends were OK. Finally, I received the last text message of my third teammates crossing the finish line. She crossed the finish line six minutes before the bombs went off.
Tuesday morning I found out the child that was killed in the bombing was from Dorchester, a quintessential Boston neighborhood that was my first home in the City of Boston.
I dedicated my track workout Tuesday night to Boston, the victims, and all who had a runner, a volunteer, or a supporter at the Boston Marathon. During my cool down I was overcome with tears for a few strides then shook them off and cheered my teammates as they finished their workout. I finally felt normal again.
Let us not forget the amazing feats that were accomplished, let us celebrate the first responders, let us cope, let us heal, and Run for Boston!
February 13, 2013
Testing Online Training,
Or Why I'm Signing Up for Thrills & Skills Again
We asked run group member and speedy runner Caroline to test out an online training program. Her thoughts after the first run:
The other night I ventured out on my own to do the track workout assigned by Run Coach. I think left to my own devices, I would have just ended up running my usual route around Stanford campus, or rode my bike on my indoor trainer while watching The Biggest Loser, wondering why the 300 to 400 lb. contestants can pedal faster than I can.
But, I was supposed to do some drills and speed work, so I put on my running clothes, grabbed a light, and headed out to the track.
Here’s what I learned:
- It is way more fun to do drills in a group than on your own – this is reason enough to do the Thrills and Skills class again.
- Running repeats of 300m at 1:11 is HARD! I felt like I needed to be hooked up to oxygen on the last repeat – and my 100m cool down ‘jog’ must have looked like a geriatric shuffle.
- I need to learn how to use the timer function on my Garmin so I’m not running around town wearing two watches. Or I could start a trend…
Tonight I have a maintenance run – a little more like what I’m used to doing – longer distance at an easy tempo. I'm looking forward to it!