The Hoppy Okapi

Occasional posts about hiking and other stuff

One Minute Faster August 26, 2008

Filed under: running,San Diego — Amanda @ 7:05
Tags: ,

We ran another race on Sunday morning, the 4-mile End of Summer Fire Run from La Jolla to Pacific Beach.

I finished with an official time of 48:56, about one minute better than our previous four mile race. I definitely need to work on speed, since I once again went out too fast and started with an unsustainable pace, alternating walking with running after about two miles. I still finished slightly faster than my usual training pace, but I’m still not sure how to train at one pace and then magically run faster in races (of course, if it was only a two mile race, I would have been fine! Hmmm.)

Next race is another 5K in October, my goal is to beat my previos time by at least two minutes.


Hike: Iron Mountain June 10, 2008

The first Sunday in June, we woke up early and walked down to the Rock N Roll Marathon route just in time to see the lead runners zoom past. The elite runners trickled past, then after about 10 minutes the crowd starting picking up, and by the time we left about 20 minutes later we’d watched thousands of runners go by, several in full “Running Elvis” garb, been nearly splattered by wayward water cups, and helped one runner with a wardrobe adjustment. As we left, I was of two minds about any possible marathons in my future – on the one hand, it was very exciting to watch the runners go by, and when you think about the distance in terms of doubling training miles (run a 5K, then a 10K, then a half-marathon, then a marathon) – it sounds like a completely reasonable progression; on the other hand, we were watching from right around the seven mile marker, and a lot of people were looking like they were in pretty rough shape already – with over 70% of the race still ahead!

After our marathon-watching, we headed out to east county for a hike (our first one since all of the moving craziness began, it had probably been about three months!). We went to Iron Mountain, Chuck’s favorite San Diego hike.

When we started out, there was still a nice cool layer of June Gloom protecting us from the sun and shrouding the trail in mystery:

The sun came out soon after we started on the trail, so I piled on the sunscreen as we trekked. Iron Mountain is a tricky hike – when I picture it mentally, I always think of the first 1.4 miles as fairly flat, and then expect the actual ascent to the mountain to be a harder climb. In reality though, that first section has about half of the total elevation gain of the hike, and is steeper in parts as well, so it always beats me up a little bit, but by the time I’m doing switchbacks up the mountain, the going is pretty easy (unless, of course, Chuck is in race-hiking mode, in which we try to pass everyone else on the trail to prove to ourselves that we’re faster…then, I’m just panting along and trying to keep up!).

Iron Mountain is a very popular hike, but it doesn’t typically feel crowded, either on the trail or at the top. This time though, there was a boy scout-like group on a backcountry training trip, probably 10 or 15 of them in the group, AND they left the summit right after us so that it felt like we were being chased down the trail until the faster ones passed us halfway down the switchbacks. The view from the top was a little bit obscured by the fog, but I was happy to have it in exchange for mild temperatures.

Summit Views:

Views from the descent:

Want to hike Iron Mountain? Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Trailhead: route 67, just south of Poway Road
  2. Distance: about 5.8 miles; Total Elevation Gain: about 1200 feet
  3. Don’t forget: sunscreen, water (if you’re hiking with a dog, take lots of extra water!)
  4. Need More Info? Get the ultimate guide to San Diego hiking – Afoot & Afield San Diego County

See the route on MapMyRun:
View Interactive Map on


Run, Run, Run in the Warm California Sun May 18, 2008

Filed under: outdoors,running,San Diego — Amanda @ 12:43
Tags: , ,

Today was race day number two in my short running career. The 22nd annual Bay Bridge Run/Walk was today, a four mile course over the Coronado Bay Bridge. Race day is the only time all year that pedestrians are allowed to cross the Coronado Bridge, so that experience was as much motivation to participate in the race as the actual running. The race was sold out with 8000 registered participants, so it was more than ten times larger than the 5K we ran in March. The start line was incredibly crowded, and I crossed the start line about a minute and a half after the official race start. The crowd started to this out as we headed south on Harbor Drive and over a small hill, but I had to do some darting around walkers and the occasional runner who was going more slowly than I. Other than the huge crowd, the main difference between today and my training runs was that it was hot today! My typical morning runs down by the water are cool and overcast, taking advantage of “May Gray” and soon, “June Gloom” (do we have one of those early-morning-fog phrases for every month? maybe I should watch local weather stations more to find out…) I definitely would have preferred to run the race on a day that was NOT part of San Diego’s second major heat wave of the year, but there I was pounding the pavement, with the sun beating down. I somehow missed the first mile marker as I was running, but I must have passed it in around ten minutes (fast for me!), because before I knew it I was heading up the ramp onto the bridge, and facing a looooooong uphill stretch. I couldn’t hack the uphill in the heat at a running pace, so I slowed down after about 17 minutes of running and walked the hill, but I still managed to make the two mile marker in about 22.5 minutes. I took advantage of my slow pace to enjoy the views from the bridge, looking ahead to Coronado and back to the downtown San Diego skyline.

I planned to start running again after a few minutes, but my legs were not having it, so I kept walking until the downhill part of the bridge. By then, I had enough energy built up to run the rest of the way without stopping, although the last mile sure seemed long! I hit the three mile mark at about 37 minutes, and then came off of the bridge and onto the street, looped around a park trail (a muddy, narrow park trail, with lots of runners and walkers, some of whom were pushing strollers – it was quite a mess really, and surprising that no one crashed into each other!), and then ran under the last part of the bridge and into the park. The run-up to the finish line was long, and I didn’t have any energy left for a final sprint – I had to be content with actually crossing the finish line while still at a run. I made it through the finish chute fairly quickly, and Chuck was waiting for me with a very welcome bottle of water – he’d finished in just over 40 minutes (unofficially better than 40 min, since it took us about 90seconds to cross the line), so he’d had about ten minutes to get rehydrated and scope out the finish area while waiting for me. My official time was just over 50 minutes, which means I came in around 49.5 minutes from crossing the start line – I’m pretty happy with that time, especially considering that I walked for almost a mile on the uphill part, and my best training sun was 4.2 miles in 49 minutes on flat ground. The Coronado race was pretty fun, and I’d definitely like to do it again next year, and finish in a better time!


Mission Accomplished! March 30, 2008

Filed under: Balboa Park,outdoors,running,San Diego — Amanda @ 21:23
Tags: , ,

Yesterday I accomplished my first goal for 2008 – to run a 5K. With the help of the CoolRunning couch-to-5K training program, I finished my first ever race in just under 35 minutes. The race was a fund-raiser for the National Foundation for Autism research, and it was pretty exciting to be part of such a big event.

I’d been nervous about the race for two days – as soon as I finished my last training run on Thursday morning, I began to feel anxious about the race and worried about silly things like getting lost on the course or not being officially timed or being the very last one to finish. From the previous year’s results, I was expecting a hundred or two runners in the race, but I think it must have been closer to a thousand. I was nervous right up until the start, but then we were off! and I was carried away by the crowd. I got off to a quick start since I tend to try to match the pace of people around me and almost everyone runs faster than I do, but I tried to stay focused on a running at my own pace and on enjoying the experience of running with a crowd and looping through Balboa Park. I hit the one-mile split at just under 11 minutes, a full minute better than my training pace, and midway through the second mile I started noticing that I was passing people who had preciously blown by me at a brisk run but were now walking to catch their breath. I hit the second mile split at just over 22 minutes, but then lost a little time in the final stretch – a combination of tiring out from my quick pace and a vicious uphill finish to the race. Or, maybe I just got a little distracted – Team Twinkie was running just ahead of me, and while they were spreading the snack-cake love, a passer-by was apparently hit by a flying twinkie. The resulting altercation – much shouting, some death threats issued toward the twinkie-tosser – certainly made for a bizzare ending to an otherwise idyllic run through the park. By the time I hit the finish line though, all was forgotten – I beat my best training time by almost two minutes, so it was a victorious ending to the morning for me!



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