Tuesday, December 10, 2013

California International Marathon-- Race Report 2013

I'm long winded and this post is a very good indication of that.  :) Read only when you have a few spare minutes and a good cup of coffee to keep you awake. Ha!

On May 30, 2003 my parents, a couple friends, and I checked into a cute little condo on Coronado, near San Diego, to celebrate my 21st birthday.  Months prior, these plans had been made because I had registered for San Diego Rock 'n Roll Marathon which was the day after my big birthday and was going to be my first marathon.  In the time between registration day and race day I became injured and unable to run, and while I spent my milestone birthday in San Diego I never ran a step, a mile, let alone a marathon.

Several years later I made the same attempt with a similar outcome.

No matter how much I wanted to be a marathoner it didn't seem to agree with my body.

Finally, last year I successfully trained for a marathon, but life had other plans and when race day came I was moving and nursing a sad, heavy heart.

Life happens.

The marathon and I still weren't the BFF's I knew we could be.

On July 18th I decided that while 2013 was not my year for Ironman, or half-Ironmans, maybe it was finally my year for the marathon, and so I registered for CIM.

CIM starts just a couple miles from my previous home in Folsom and runs along some of my favorite streets of the Sacramento area, past my alma mater Sacramento State, and down to the lawn in front of the State Capitol.  I know these streets and neighborhoods - they feel like home.

The CIM expo went off without a hitch.  Bibs and shirts were picked up, booths were perused, and a few goodies were purchased.  My friend, Wendy, and I went to lunch after and then drove the course.  After a quick stop at the grocery store we were ready to relax at the hotel until dinner and were able to do just that.  Wendy and I kept the conversation mostly light, joking about work and school stuff, without talking too much about the race.  I don't think I could have picked a better roommate for the eve of my first marathon, and for that I am forever grateful to call Wendy a friend.  We went to dinner with a few other friends who were also running/racing where my nerves and anxiety really started.  In the group of 5 of us running, 3 of us were first-timers and while it was partly helpful hearing everyone else's concerns for what lay ahead of us, it also got me thinking about my own concerns and fears.

New favorite tee from the expo
Have I mentioned we've been having a bit of a cold snap?

My mind was not focused on whether the marathon and I would finally be BFF's.... it was whether or not I had brought enough things, or the right things, to wear for the mid-20s start that would only warm to the mid-30s at the finish.  WHAT DOES THIS CALIFORNIA GIRL WEAR??  I hate to get hot and so I didn't want to overdress, but I didn't want to freeze into a runner shaped statue in the starting miles either.  There has been few times in my life I have stressed so much over the clothes I was going to put on my back.

After dinner we headed back to the hotel, showers were taken and then it was lights out.  I was asleep before my head hit the pillow and slept until my alarm went off at 4am.  While it wasn't a ton of sleep I felt fairly rested and it was easy to get moving... hot tea, food, dress, shoes on, and down to the shuttle.

There was icicles on the bus that awaited to take us to the start-line.  ICICLES.  All-aboard.

Trying to stay warm before the start....
Luckily for all of us on the buses we were allowed to stay on the bus until the last minute.  I literally went from bus to porta-potty to being swept up into the river of bodies running to and across the start-line.  Here we go!

My friends and I split up right away, they all retreated into the music in the headphones and I started to tune into the conversations around me.  Most of the talk involved complaining or exclaiming how cold it was.  One guy was cracking jokes and talking about how all he wanted to for Christmas was a finisher medal.  I thought of him later as my own finishers medal was hung around my neck.

Around mile 3 I smiled to myself at how incredibly lucky I was to be exactly where I was, being swept along with all the happy chatter going on around me.  How thankful I was to not have music blasting in my ears, but to hear the runners around me talk to their friends or neighbor runner, to hear the sound of hundreds of footsteps on the cold asphalt, and to watch everyone's breath billow into the air as if we were a group of chain smokers running to the nearest convenient store for the next carton of smokes.  As we approached the first aid station everyone started yelling about the ice - "watch out for ice!"  Around aid stations the ground is typically wet, and today was no different, only instead of wet, the spilled water and Powerade was freezing on the pavement making the first 3 water stops ice-skate rinks and none of us brought our skates. Wheeeeeee!

Not long after the first water stop I also realized that eventually the chatter around me would stop.  People would stop chatting among themselves and start to go within their own minds, for better or worse, and I was curious to see when that would happen... Mile 5?  Mile 10? Mile 15?  Beyond?  Turns out the conversations died around Mile 8 and the course remained mostly quiet until Mile 22.  At Mile 22 the conversation was different.  If a runner slowed to a walk between aid stations another runner would encourage them to push on.  Get running again.  We were close to the end.  I still get emotional thinking about the support out there on Sunday.  Not just the other runners but the spectators and visitors freezing their asses off to cheer on and aid us crazy few who wanted to take on twenty-size point two.  I thanked every volunteer I could and took advantage of many "Free High Fives" on the course.

Aside from having to wait in a line for another porta-potty stop (well hydrated FTW!) for more than 5 minutes, the first 10 miles really, honestly, flew by.  Then, only a couple blocks from my favorite local, greasy, fast-food Mexican spot I crossed the 1/2 way mark.  We ran down Fair Oaks Blvd through Arden Arcade where the trees of Sacramento show off their best fall color, and while we were weeks late and a couple windy days short, the fallen leaves still lined the street reminding me that Fall has always been my favorite season in Sacramento - The City of Trees.  Just before getting to the intersection where one of my old favorite coffee shops used to be - the coffee shop where I discovered my love of the tuxedo mocha, but that I equally love good cup of hot tea - I crossed Mile 20.  Though later I'd see an update when I crossed the 1/2 way mark with the comment - It's time to do work. Truth is, the real work started after Mile 20.  I had been consistent with my nutrition and hydration from the first step.... but simply put, fatigue happens and stomachs decide when they've had enough, even if you're not yet to the finish line.  I stopped taking calories right around Mile 20 - I wasn't having intense stomach issues, but my stomach was doing its best to warn me that there were no promises if I were to try to put more in it.   Just before Mile 22 the H St bridge dropped us down in front of Sacramento State, it was as painful up, and down, and had been promised by friends who have run the course before - here comes Midtown!

The trip through Midtown is flat.  If we were only running a 10K, and not just the last 10K of a marathon, it would be a fast 10K.  Instead it was a slow, painful 10K that was far more mental than physical.  A few times I began to go down the rabbit hole - this was so painful and how would I endure all this pain after a big swim and bike in Ironman, and what could I have done to not hurt so badly now, and.....  Tears began to well up in my eyes and it started to get hard to breathe.  Prior to this race I've never had a panic attack, but I'm pretty sure I wound myself up into not one, but two, in the final few miles of CIM.  Both times I managed to get my thoughts under control and talk myself off the ledge and continue to do work.  I was counting down blocks... 39th St, 38th St...20th St, 15th St.......  Soon the Capitol Building was on my left and I knew it wasn't far...

I turned left and followed the runners down the finishing shoot and boom...

I was a marathoner.

Picture with 1,000 words
I took a space blanket, let the medal be hung around my neck, and used up every last bit of my concentration keeping my balance as another volunteer took the timing chip off my shoe.  With a coke in one hand and gripping the space blanket around me as tightly as possible to stay somewhat warm with the other I waited to have my picture taken.  Once my picture was taken I walked through the crowd and the tears began to come again, this time I let them fall.  My quads were trashed, I was utterly terrified of Ironman, I was at the finish line of my very first marathon by myself... and that moment was more than 10.5 year in the making.  I let the emotion come and sat with it for a moment.  Afraid if I sat I wouldn't be able to get up again I stood out of the way and let tears roll down my face for a minute before walking back over the the course, just past the Mile 26 marker and cheered on fellow racers while I waited for my friends.

I watched a mother/grandmother come down the street to discover many family members as her son (my guess) ran along side her filming her great finish.  Her "whoop" and smile of joy.  The pride on her son's face.

I watched a group of women with matching running outfits run alongside their friend toward the finish, with words of encouragement, who was in tears and hobbling.

I watched a man come walking down the road, stiff legged from obvious cramping to stop just 20 feet in front of me.  The crowd shouted words of encouragement and finally another spectator and I walked out onto the course to have a chat with this poor man who's legs were failing him when his heart clearly wanted to go on - it was written all over his face.  I took my space blanket off and offered it to him, he didn't want it.  A volunteer walked up to us and said that medical was on their way over to us.  I looked the man in the eye and said, "You've already passed the 26 Mile marker, lets walk."

"I'm that close?  I have to finish."

We began to walk down the block, a volunteer yelled that only participants could be on the course, the other spectator who had come out with me gave me the "I've got to go, are you staying?" look, and I took my space blanket back off so that my race bib was clearly visible and we continued to walk.  As we made the turn from L Street onto 8th Street I turned to the man and said "High Five!  See where the race officials are right down there, they are directing racers to the finish line, you're there."  He gave me a high five, "That's the finish line?"

"Yep, just around the corner.  Congratulations."

And I watched him walk his way to the finish.  And let the tears come again.

I got out my cell phone.  My parents had been tracking my during their drive back from Ventura and my dad had sent a single text, "Congrats.  Great marathon!  We love you."

"I love you guys too.  Thank you"

I sent a text to my coach, "I'm done.  Its overwhelming.  And my legs are trashed."

And I updated a FB group "I'm done.  It was incredibly overwhelming and there were tears after the finish.  So much more to say but I'm freezing my ass off and typing is difficult <3 p="">
I shivered my way though all 4 of my friends finishing.  There were smiles around.  If I had thought about it earlier I would have checked extra clothing for the finish-line but that lesson is added to the long list of lessons learned from December 8th.

Marathoner.  4:32

Now for some good recovery before 2014 gets started.

The year of finish lines has already begun.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

1 Week Down, 14 To Go....

Sometimes I feel like I only write when I'm sad.  When life isn't going my way or I've been upset by something or yadda yadda yadda.  I do not enjoy being sad or upset.  I don't like letting people see they get to me and when it happens it really makes me more upset.  Mad.   Maybe I write because I need to get some thoughts out.  I linger on things.  I have a certain sense of... fairness.  And when I feel like things are unfair, for whatever reason, it take me while to let it go.  To convince myself that "life isn't fair."  So tonight I'm nearly back to convincing myself that life isn't fair.  That keeping my poker face on and my hand safely tucked away is what one might call "best practice."  I'm not quite there, but I'm getting close.

A week ago I was full of motivation and positive thinking and all those warm and fuzzy things that you get when you are ready to get sh!t done.

But then work and stress and life and hormones (sorry guys!) happen and not much else gets accomplished. 

I mean.... things did get done.  I worked a ton, had Thai for the first time, worked some more.  Training got done.  I swam (miracle!), I ran, I biked.  I got to ride with friends again on Friday... 30 miles with 2500+ ft of climbing. 

Sadly I forgot my Garmin for the ride.  What I know without the magical data device is it was slow going up and FAST going down.  Oh what a ride.  On the decent I kept my fingers mostly off the brake levers and just let it fly.  Racing down the hillside I realized just how much I really love riding my bike when I get it off the trainer from time to time.

The problem is life happens.  I care too much, take things to heart, and when things don't go to plan I take that personally too. 

So when I get workouts done and eat "the way I should" - great!  When I soothe hurt feelings with ice cream or opt the extra hour of sleep because I'm just not yet ready to take on the world - I'm giving myself a pass for the moment.  I mean, let's be serious... ICE CREAM IS DELICIOUS AND SLEEP IS AWESOME.

I'm taking a 3-day weekend.  The break will do me some good and I kicked it off right this morning with a really nice 5-mile run.  Since I am away from home I will run again tomorrow, along with some strength training, and run again Tuesday  morning before heading home and cycle when I get home. 

I hope everyone has had a wonderful weekend.  Head up, chin up.  Put a smile on your face regardless of how you feel on the inside - it seems to help.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

15 Weeks

A couple days ago I was scrolling through my Facebook news feed and came across the following picture.  Please keep in mind, this is NOT (no really, not) me.

This is a friend of a friend.  I met her once, several years ago, so it was really interesting to see the before/after.  Her transformation is nothing short of awesome and she should be proud of what she has done.

Seriously, she looks freaking amazing.

But I scrolled past, closed the app, and went along my way aka opened Twitter and wasted time on there.

Twitter is never wasted time -- just so we are clear.   

So, this morning -- This morning I went back and re-found this picture.  15 weeks.  A lot can happen in 15 weeks.  A lot can be accomplished.  I found the picture and then went to the calendar.  Today happens to be 15 weeks until California International Marathon, CIM.  I registered for this race several weeks back but I haven't talked about it much.

Maybe because it feels like its a long ways away.  CIM is December 8th.  Its 90* here today and there is essentially an entire Fall season that we have to go until I toe the start of my first marathon.

Realistically I probably haven't talked about it much because I have really only made it to 1 race start yet this year.  I've talked about Wildflower Long Course, IM Coeur d'Alene, and Paso Robles Harvest Marathon last fall.  I'm meant to train for these races, making it to the start line was "in the plans" --

It just didn't actually happen.  Shit happens sometimes.  My past year has been full of shit.

But I've got 15 weeks to make this start line.  15 weeks to make the right choices, the choices I want to make even when they "aren't the most fun" or the "most glamorous" -- let's be honest, 5am wake-ups are rarely either.

For me, the next 15 weeks isn't really about weight loss, looking better naked..... its not really even about the marathon.  It's about re-finding my happy self.  Last year I went into Vineman 70.3 happier than I'd ever been before.  Happier with being the truest version of myself I had ever been.  I worked a lot (which I actually enjoy), trained a lot (which I also actually enjoy), and did most of it without guilt or regret.  I was proud of the choices I was making far more days than not.  This is not to mean that I am really unhappy.  Most days I enjoy my life.  I work at a cool job, with good people.  I am blessed. 

I just don't always feel like myself.  Like the girl I was a year ago.  And I like that girl.

And its about freaking time I bring this girl back to life.

This week started me off on the right foot.  Next week I am headed back to the pool (finally)...

The highlight was Friday's 35mi bike ride with 7 of my coworkers.  I really do love my job and the people I work with.

3 girls, 5 guys -- one of which rode his mountain bike the whole way -- 35 freaking miles!.  Dude is STRONG.

15 weeks.  So much can happen. :)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Ironman Update

You can’t fake your way through Ironman training.  If you try, things will get ugly and the outcome won’t be what you want…

I’m paraphrasing my coach here.  Over the course of several email conversations about my training, or lack thereof, I was left with the choice.  I could do Ironman, but it would be hard to do much else, or I could recognize that maybe 2013 wasn’t going to be *my* year for Ironman and try to move on. 

Life was really different when I signed up for Ironman Coeur d’Alene.  I lived in a town I didn’t like, with a pool that I loved.  I was in a dying relationship with a guy who worked a lot and was home very little.  I had a job that paid better than I make now with a schedule I basically set myself.  My life was mostly: Work, Train, Sleep, Repeat.  Training was my escape, the thing I used to fill up lonely evenings so that I didn’t think about how fish-out-of-water I was feeling about my life.  Most evenings and many weekends it didn’t matter if I had hours of training on the schedule, because I didn’t have anyone around to notice I was off riding, running, or swimming.  And I didn’t care that I was spending hours off riding, running, or swimming, there was no one I was missing at home either. 

Then life changed.  The dying relationship ran its course, I moved, I changed jobs, and then changed jobs again.  I’m trying to make friends and am dating a nice guy.  Trying to do more than just work, train, sleep, repeat.  I like my job, but I make less money and can’t make my schedule quite like I use to.  I haven’t yet found a pool I love (and my lack of swim motivation isn’t helping, or vice versa).  I was half-heartedly working my way through the beginnings of Ironman training staying up late and getting up early (read: being exhausted All.  The.  Time.), missing workouts or only doing portions of them.  

So I talked to my friends and family… my coach.  I did some crying and then some soul-searching, mind-clearing trail runs and finally had to admit to myself…

2013 is not the year of Ironman for me.

I’m still training.  I’ve got Wildflower Long Course on the horizon.  Maybe Barb’s Race and another later season 70.3 like the Folsom LongCourse or Big Kahuna.  I’m getting better about getting quality sleep and not indulging in all the foods.  I’ve gained about 6lbs since my lightest, post-breakup weight, but I’m working on it. 

Not doing Ironman was a tough decision for me and come June 23rd I will no doubt have mixed feelings on not toeing that start line.  But Ironman isn’t going anywhere.  This isn’t my ONE CHANCE TO BECOME AN IRONMAN.  I can’t think of this as a failure, but more as a change of direction.  I’ll race more this year than I ever have before, which will make me a stronger, smarter racer.  And when the time comes to commit to Ironman, I’ll be that much more ready.

Smile. Sweat.  Enjoy.

P.S. I have not yet officially withdrawn from IMCdA, and secretly wish I could get my shit together and pull it off, but the reality is that it is HIGHLY unlikely.  My training hasn't been there and the finances to get there and stay there are slim.  *Sigh*

Friday, February 22, 2013

Too Much Good Stuff

After a rough end to 2012, 2013 has, so far, been the year of open doors and varying opportunities.  I'm not ever always very good at making decisions.  Especially when there is no "good" option and "bad" option... they are simply different.  Lucky for me I have friends who remind me that I shouldn't focus on "WHAT AM I GOING TO DOOOOOO?????" but to instead remind me to recognize all the oppotrunity I have before me and be thankful for it.

Honest friends send honest texts. :) Thank you Nick

Recently I've been slacking in a couple areas of my life that are important to me: Training is not as consistent as is should be, my eating is slightly derailed.  I have been dreaming about doing my first Ironman for YEARS, but now that I'm faced with the choice between an extra hour of sleep or that swim/bike/run... I always want to pick the sleep (or always want to stay up late and make up for it by sleeping in).  I want to do it aaaaalllllllll.  The social life and the ass kicking athlete life and the healthy/conscious eater life and the student life and the good employee life.

And I realize.. maybe that is what this space should be all about..  My struggle/failure/triumph at having/doing it all.  Enjoying time with the new guy in my life while still getting to bed early enough to make it to the 5am swim session.  Eating to fuel quality workouts without skipping all the social eating out that is happening.  Not being the old-lady-stick-in-the-mud for going to bed at 10 but still being rested enough to squeeze in double day workouts and a full workday when necessary.

So look for more here.  More life unfolding.  More choices being made and wherever this path may lead...

I've got TOO MUCH GOOD STUFF to not share. :)

Smile. Sweat.  Enjoy.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Wish No Ill-Will

Sometimes I'm not great with words... so this is going to be Pinterest-quote heavy because it seems to say it better.

2.5 months ago I made a big change because...

And then recently I got some news... but really... As one of my best friends keeps reminding me....

Because here is the thing -

So I wish no ill-will.  I want people to be happy - to find *their* happy.  Mine isn't in my past and big things are in my future....