Embracing the California Side and ALL the Challenges

Contributed by Kara Ruecker
Kara Ruecker is a 2016 San Francisco Marathon Ambassador and endurance athlete who has set out to complete more races in California this year, including completion of the SF/Berkeley Challenge. Her personal blog is Run Bird Legs Run.
This year especially, I am very motivated to get back to racing. Having a 6 month break will do that for you.  When I originally thought about what I’d like my 2016 racing calendar to look like, I had three goals:

Get myself back to marathon shape by the end of 2016 (10 months post baby)
Run multiple half marathons, maybe some 10K’s and only 1 marathon (so not to burn out a la 2014)
To run more races in California.  Although my co-workers kindly (I think) refer to me as a true Califoregonian, it’s time to embrace the CA side of the equation.  I’ve lived in the bay area for almost four years now and I love it.  Northern CA has so much to offer, especially in terms of amazing races so I don’t need to spend every extra $ I have flying up to OR to get my endurance fix on.

With those three goals in mind, The San Francisco Marathon was my first stop.  I’ve been wanting to run this race for all three years I’ve been in the city but it’s always conflicted with previous trips.  This year was going to be different.  I made the commitment in November and blocked it on my calendar.Tritreats and I have been talking about doing the Half It All Challenge for years so 2016 is gonna be the year I kicked it off.  Because I am type-A, naturally I’ll run the first half in 2016 and the […]

The Road to the Loyal Runners Club

Contributed by May Wu

May Wu is a 2016 San Francisco Marathon Ambassador who completed the Half It All Challenge in 2011 and went on to join the 52 Club in 2012. Most recently, she joined the Loyal Runners Club in 2015.

Click here to learn more about Challenges offered by the San Francisco Marathon.

The San Francisco Marathon has an amazing reputation as a scenic, fun, and hilly summer race. It is by far one of my favorite road races, ever. I love it so much that I’ve ran the half marathon 3 times and the full marathon 5 times. In 2010, after completing a handful of flat road races in Southern California, I felt like taking up the challenge to complete the infamous SF Marathon, whose motto is “Worth the Hurt”! It was a bucket list race and I trained hard for it, putting in time to do speed work and running hillier routes in my neighborhood. While I had prepared for the course, I didn’t expect the spectacular views of the Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge or the amazing crowd support to win me over. And let’s be real, I loved the medal I got for completing the 1st Half Marathon.

In 2011, the Half It All Challenge was introduced and I HAD TO earn that extra bling. OK, so that was how I got into running the 2nd Half Marathon. It was definitely a different experience from the 1st Half, but equally fun and exciting. Oh, and it also had some sneaky hills! Then in 2012, the 52 Club Challenge was introduced and knowing myself, I had to earn that awesome hoodie (and bragging rights). So I did what I swore I would never […]

Half-ing It All

Contributed by Bonnie Wilson

Bonnie Wilson is a 2016 San Francisco Marathon Ambassador who plans to earn her third finisher’s medal from TSFM this July, while simultaneously taking on the Half It All Challenge. She lives in Portland, OR and this is her third year as an Amabassador.

Let’s face it. We all love bling. The feeling of accomplishment when they drape that medal around your neck and you realize that you worked your rear end off to get that. The cheesy photos, the showing off to everyone you know. You know what I am talking about.

And then there is the feeling when you have completed a challenge and get that second medal with your finisher medal. That will be me this year, as I get to tackle the Golden Gate Bridge and the First Half Marathon to complete my Half It All Challenge.

In July, I will not only get my third finisher’s medal from SF (I ran the full in 2014, and the Second Half in 2015), but I will finish the Half It All Challenge and will be running around with the amazing spinner medal (which I fully intend on spinning everywhere).

The Half It All Challenge consists of finishing the First and Second Half Marathons in consecutive years. You have run 26.2 miles through the city, and you have seen the best that the City has to offer. You have truly half-ed it all.

At first, I didn’t intend to go for the Half It All Challenge medal. Last year I had every intention to go for my second marathon, but injuries and training challenges complicated that thought. So I ran the Second Half and had a blast. It was challenging, but fun and rewarding all at the […]

By |February 3rd, 2016|Categories: Ambassadors||0 Comments

Challenging Myself: California Dreamin’ Racing Cup

Ashley Jones is 2016 San Francisco Marathon Ambassador who will qualify for the California Dreamin’ Racing Cup by completing the Surf City Half Marathon on Sunday, February 7. She also plans to complete the SF/Berkeley Challenge this year.

On Sunday, I will run the Surf City Half Marathon in Huntington Beach, CA. By completing this race, I will have qualified for the California Dreamin’ Racing Cup. Yesssssssss! As you can see from the graphic above:
All you have to do is run both the Surf City Marathon/Half Marathon and the San Francisco Full/Half Marathon and you get a fancy medal!
Sounds simple right? It’s not. Running 13.1 miles, or 26.2 miles takes time. It’s takes effort. It takes dedication. They don’t just hand these medals out to every athletic lookin’ dude or dudette on the street. No, no they don’t.
You have to earn it.
This medal isn’t just earned on race day. It is earned in the early mornings. It is earned in the snow, in the heat, and in the rain. It is earned in July, in December, and in March. It is earned on the weekends when you would rather sleep in. It’s crazy to think that one simple medal could represent so much.

My California Dreamin’ medal might be one of twenty-two medals hanging on my medal rack. (Yes, I counted them.) But it represents so much more. For me, it represents 2 years of hard work. It represents my vindication over the injury that caused me to DNS in 2014 at the Surf City Marathon. It represents how I clawed my way back from that same injury to finish one of the most challenging half marathons of my life, the San Francisco Half Marathon.

So needless to say, I am looking forward to wearing that medal around my neck for a while. Who knows, I might […]

By |February 3rd, 2016|Categories: Ambassadors||0 Comments

Getting Back to Me in 2016

Contributed by Heather Stewart, San Francisco Marathon Ambassador. This is Heather’s third year as an Ambassador, and in 2016 she’ll run the Half Marathon in honor of Girls on the Run LA.
If it is both terrifying and amazing, you should definitely pursue it. ~erada
For 2016, I didn’t make resolutions. I didn’t even really make goals. I set intentions for myself with a theme. 2016 is “The Year of Being Vulnerable.” I intend to be more open and honest – to let people see me how I really am. In that spirit, I have to revisit a time when I was the person I was most proud to be, and when I felt like, “This is me.”

This “Me” is Heather from 2013: two years into my journey to a healthier life after losing 80 pounds. Proud and joyful after completing my first full marathon. I felt happy, healthy, and authentic.

That was also the first year I ran the first half of The San Francisco Marathon. Oh, and I set a PR. And it’s still my PR at 2:40. (We’re not all fast, we just all do it).

I remember running through the finish line, feeling strong and proud. Snapping selfies, texting everyone, picking up my bonus medals and a cup of Irish coffee. It was a great day! I haven’t run a sub 3-hour half since then. I want that day again. I want more of those days!

At the end of 2013, I got injured. I let that derail me – I gained some weight, made lots of excuses, and allowed myself to feel disappointed and defeated. Although I continued to move forward and once healed I kept racing, I wasn’t really “in it”. I didn’t do it […]

By |January 29th, 2016|Categories: Ambassadors, Latest News||1 Comment

Running Resolutions for 2016

Contributed by Stephanie Laska, San Francisco Marathon Ambassador. Stephanie is a first-time TSFM Ambassador and plans to run four marathons this year: Modesto, Big Sur, San Francisco, and the California International Marathon.

At the end of every year, I spend hours locked away in my office, methodically organizing digital photos from the past 12 months. It’s a grueling task that everyone in my family pretends “not to know how to do.” Pulling from every digital device, I place photos chronologically from iPads, iPhones, and GoPro into one master database, followed by a review and evaluation of every image. Should this be in the family album? Is it representative of our year? The next step is much more fun: I organize, design, and publish a 100 page album. It’s a lot of work!

The same process should occur for our running. We devote so many hours of our lives to this beloved sport, but how much time is spent reflecting and planning? I decided to take a look at my past year in running. I wanted to see what worked, what didn’t, and what’s worth repeating. What I learned about myself is worth sharing with you; it is what I call my Running Resolutions.
Run Happy!
This Christmas we adopted a dog from a shelter for my little boy (cue sad music). It was all he wanted in life (that and Call of Duty). I had been toying with the idea of needing a running partner for safety, and suddenly I had a new best friend at 5am wagging her tail and grabbing the leash. Our first run together surprised me. She was so happy! Tail­waggin’, butt­shakin’, nose­sniffin’ HAPPY! Somehow, I had lost that feeling in my own runs. This is supposed to be […]

By |January 26th, 2016|Categories: Ambassadors, Latest News||1 Comment

The Importance of Being Mentally Tough

During my second attempt at the Comrades (Ultra) Marathon in South Africa I was convinced I was going to fail and DNF. In fact, by mile 13 of the 56 mile race I was finished. Despite traveling over 24 hours by air to arrive in Durban, South Africa, to participate in the World’s Largest Ultramarathon, I knew all my hard work was going for nought.

I would fail myself, my friends, and my family who had sacrificed so much to give me the opportunity to get a once-in-a-lifetime shot at a back-to-back medal. You see, at the Comrades Marathon, if you finish in your rookie year (your first attempt), and then return the very next year and finish, you will receive the coveted back-to-back medal.

You get one shot, and I was going to blow it. And I wrote all about it here.
Being Stubborn Isn’t Always Bad

The above picture shows my finisher medal and the back-to-back medal. So, if I was so convinced I wasn’t going to finish less than 1/3 of the way into the race, how did I achieve it?

By being stubborn and keeping a promise. You see, prior to my first race, I attended a meeting hosted by some of the best known Veterans of the Comrades race. During that meeting, I remembered one bit of advice:

“No matter what you do, don’t get on a bailout bus.” (A bailout bus is a bus that you get on in the middle of the race to get a ride to the finish, causing an automatic DNF).

I promised myself at the beginning of the race that I would not quit. Now, if I didn’t make a cutoff, if I was pulled off the course by the officials, […]

By |June 17th, 2015|Categories: Ambassadors||Comments Off on The Importance of Being Mentally Tough

GPS Watches: My How Far We’ve Come

If you aren’t already running with a GPS device, chances are that if you look around at your next race or group run, most runners will be wearing a GPS watch or carrying a GPS-enabled smart phone. Today, GPS technology is rapidly improving and there are a number of watches, wearable devices and smartphone apps, which empower you with real-time data about your running—but, it’s worth noting that this technology has come a long way over the last decade. It wasn’t long ago that the accuracy and accessibility of GPS data was a far cry from where it is today—and GPS devices available to runners were similarly clunky. Today we get to enjoy feature-rich devices, like the Fitbit Surge, that integrate a heart rate monitor, GPS activity tracker and more – all while looking good on your wrist.

In fact, it wasn’t so long ago that runners ran without GPS. Although the US began development of the Global Positioning System in the 1970’s, the first running watch with a GPS receiver did not hit the markets until 2003. Prior to then, we used stopwatches to keep time but distances were generally just estimated from a map, or if you were an experienced runner, you might guess at your pace. In 1984, Timex came out with an LCD watch targeting runners, and the Timex Ironman series dominated runners’ wrists for the next couple of decades.

When Garmin released the first few GPS watches, they were bulky and anyone brave enough to wear one received a lot of smirks and oddball comments as fellow runners wondered why someone would use such a funny-looking watch.  I used a Garmin 201, which took up much of my forearm and created an odd feeling of weight […]

By |March 22nd, 2015|Categories: Ambassadors||Comments Off on GPS Watches: My How Far We’ve Come

The Social Media Runners

Ever since I started running, I have been so lucky to have such an amazing support system. To be honest, there have been some days that without that support system, I would not lace up my shoes.

And the wild thing is?

I have never met most of them.

Social media is a funny thing. There are some days that I hate Facebook, I hate Twitter, I want nothing to do with it. But there are some days that a sure fire answer to a running question comes from cuing my social media.

For those of you on Twitter. A quick way to get answers to any of your running questions or ask support from the wide world of a running community is to post using the hashtag #runchat. #Runchat is a community of runners world wide that meet up on Sunday nights to talk running, but they also help eah other out during the week, answer questions, lend support, make suggestions for shoes, help remind you to go out for a run, remind you to pack your shoes. The #runchat community is a family that is all encompassing for runners. I find if I miss Sunday nights #runchat my week is not complete.

If you are on Facebook and looking for support. I suggest you search groups for running groups. I am part of several running groups. My favorite group is a collection of Pacific NW based runners in a group “We are runners”. I see these runners out at races or when I am out doing my volunteer commitments and am constantly getting encouragement from them. I also know they are the experts when it comes to local running questions. There are also groups out there that […]

By |May 23rd, 2014|Categories: Ambassadors||Comments Off on The Social Media Runners

The Five Most Memorable San Francisco Marathons

I have completed The San Francisco Marathon for the past 5 consecutive years.  Most people assume it is an extremely tough course with lots of hills, but that is just not the case!  The full marathon course is ½ flat, ¼ uphill and ¼ downhill.  Personally, I love the changes in elevation and scenery, which are just a few of the reasons it keeps calling me back year after year.  Each year holds special memories and I would like to share them with you.

My first year running The San Francisco Marathon was 2009, just a few weeks after my very first marathon and I was hooked.  My family joined me for this marathon and cheered me on.  This was the ONLY time my entire family had attended one of my marathons.  My mom, dad, husband, 2 sons, daughter, and aunt and uncle all were there cheering me on along the course, and at the finish line.  It means so much to see your family there for you! My dad still recalls how much fun it was cheering on the runners, coming up with cleaver ways to encourage perfect strangers to keep running.  My elderly aunt and uncle sat at a near by bus stop, the only area where there was seating, waiting for me to run by and catch a glimpse of me!   Since then, it is usually just my husband out there, meeting me every 7 miles to hand off a water bottle, take a photo and give words of encouragement.  The kids have decided they would rather sleep in!

In 2010 I ran my personal best at The San Francisco Marathon.  It was a perfect day, the weather was cool and overcast […]

By |May 19th, 2014|Categories: Ambassadors||Comments Off on The Five Most Memorable San Francisco Marathons