Friday, December 31, 2010

The Year in Rewind

Is it just me, or did the New Year sneak up on you just like me?  It feels like I was just writing my goals and recap from 2009!  But here we are, on the eve of 2011 and I have a feeling it will be just as awesome as 2010.

I had a few goals for 2010, and I think that I accomplished almost all of them.  Once again, I spent my year running and racing.  I ran 24 races this year, more than double for 2009!  I ran 8 half marathons, 6 trail races, 4 marathons, a 10 miler, a relay, a couple of 10K's and a fun 5K while I was in Boston - I would say that was a success!  But more than anything, I met all of my time goals that I had hoped for.  I really wanted a sub 1:40 half, and I got that in November!  And I really, really, really wanted a low 3:30 marathon, and I finally achieved that with my final marathon in December.  I learned to push myself when I didn't think I had anything left.  I learned to dig deep and come out on top when I really wanted something.  I also wanted to learn what it felt like to hold on to a pace that had always seemed so far off for the majority of my runs, and I can finally say I am there.  This was a year of growing for me, I learned that running is so much a part of who I am, and I truly find myself when I'm out there running towards the finish line.  I also finished off the year today  with 1,916 miles - about 100 miles short of the 2010 I wanted, but still almost where I was last year.  I'll take it!  I also went through 6 pairs of shoes!  Hahaha!  Maybe 2,011 miles in 2011?  We'll see!

2010 wasn't just about time goals, miles and finish lines, though.  I also met some pretty amazing people this year, and made a friendship with a running buddy that means a ton to me.  I also made the blog world a second home, where I could open up to all of you and share my success and failures while supporting all of you.  I found out that blogging is very much an important accent to my running and that sometimes just knowing that all of you are here rooting for me on any given day fueled many of my runs.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart. 

I went into a bit of detail yesterday on what I hope my 2011 looks like.  You all gave me amazing support as I shared with you my newest finish line.  All of you gave me the support I needed as I venture into 2011 with a pile of unknowns - but more than anything you gave me the confidence to know that what ever happens, it will surely be another fantastic year.  So again, thank you for all the kind words and support - you really know how to make someone feel pretty dang loved ;)

Aside from the dreams of becoming a mamma this year, I also want to make sure that I keep some goals in mind with my running - weather or not I get to start my family.  I want to be able to keep racing.  Many of you mentioned that running while pregnant is very possible, and that maybe I should focus on shorter distances.  And I think you're right - I don't need to run 4 marathon's in a year, or a half dozen half marathon's to feel like I'm still in the game.  I will focus on a few key races as long as I am able to in the mean time, and keep my fitness up.  I would love to continue to get faster, incorporating more speed and core work.  I don't want to forget all the hard work I did this year, so until "things" change, my focus will be keeping up my base.  And who knows, NY marathon could still very well be a possibility.

Without recapping each and every race from the year, I'll leave you all with some pics of the highlights of 2010 - it was a very, very good year.
Bear Creek Trail Half with some amazing ladies and MUD!

Running the Great Highway for the Kaiser Half Marathon in February

My cousin Sarah and I at the Valentine's Day 10K - LOVE her!

Shamrockin' Half with Aron in March

Santa Cruz Half with Sarah  in April

BOSTON! (with the flu!)

B.A.A. 5K with Lauren and Morgan in April

Boston Marathon with my BFF Jill in April!!!

Big Sur B2B challenge in April

The Relay in April - love these girls!

Sunset Run in San Francisco with Juliane!!!

San Francisco 2nd Half in July - with the fam

SVE Dirty Legs 10K with RBR and Punky

SF Sunset run with Kristen in August

Buffalo Stampede 10 miler with Buggy!

Lake Tahoe Marathon in September

San Jose Half with Kristen in October

Healdsburg Half with Aron, Punky and Tara!!

Stockton Half Marathon with Layla and Punky!

Summit Trail Half Marathon

Punky and me after the Summit Half

CIM in December


Crying in the finish chute at CIM

The fam at CIM

Wow, going through all those the pics really reaffirms for me, that 2010 was a really awesome year for me.  And I TOTALLY noticed I dropped some weight this year!  I had no idea I was that big! LOL!  The one of me crying at CIM still chokes me up, and it's my biggest accomplishment to date.  I hope I can relive that feeling once again in 2011.  Thank you again to all of you for your continued reading and support.  I can't wait to see what's in store for all of you in 2011!
Happy New Year!

I wanted to leave this with all of you, since it was a song I just loved the past few months while running - it's "Rolling in the Deep" by Adel.  I ran with it in CIM and definitely hit repeat a few times out there!  It has some great beats and strong lyrics - enjoy! (don't read too much into the lyrics , though!  It's just a good running song!)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Back On Track

I guess an apologies is in order: I'm so sorry I have been MIA from the blog world for the past few weeks.  I needed a break.  I needed to get some things in order, along with where I wanted things to go personally and well, here on the blog.  I had some ups and downs since the time I have been on here, it's been a difficult and trying time.  Nothing life threatening of course, just needed to square away what I wanted and needed out of life.  But, I'm back and ready to keep up with all of you and keep you all up to date with what's going on in my small little world.

I wasn't sure if I would share this with all of you, but I do believe this blog is a place of honesty and where I can share with all of you as a great support system.  See, there has been a ton of talk in the past month or so of where everyone will be and will be doing next year with their running and race schedules.  As you know, I decided to sit out Boston this year.  That was a really hard decision to make, seeing how I wanted a bit of redemption after last year's fiasco.  It is the race that everyone hopes for, so all of you going, soak it up - it is everything you want it to be an more.  But not only talk of Boston got me down, it was everyone trying to sketch out what their 2011 race schedules would be.  I saw peeps signing up left and right for the races I wanted to run, and as we all know, I LOVE to race.  I do really well when I have a training schedule and a race to work towards.  And without any planned, I was feeling a bit bummed and disconnected from all of you.  My plans though have a bigger plan for the 2011 year.  See, my hubbs and I have decided to start a family.  That was what I wasn't sure I wanted to put out in blog land.  I was almost afraid it would jinx us.

We have been attempting to get pregnant for over six months now, and honestly, I thought I would be by now.  It is a very trying time in couples lives when you are trying to start a family.  Who knew?  The plan from the beginning was I would be pregnant by the fall and hopefully be able to salvage the year with a great race schedule.  But as I sit here now, no baby on board, and each month it doesn't happen, I see the year fading away from racing.  I know what we are doing is so much bigger than a goal race or a PR, but running and racing is such a huge part of me that it is hard not to want to plan.  And that is the problem, you can't plan.  You can try, you can do all the "right" things, but sometimes things take longer than you want.  And even now, I had big plans of the New York Marathon being my fall, big marathon of the year, and I am sad to say, I don't think that is in the cards. *sigh*

A part of me thinks I should just sign up for some fun races and see where life takes me.  I feel like I shouldn't put my life on hold for something so unpredictable.  But races fees are expensive, and I wouldn't necessarily want to put my health or a baby's health in jeopardy just because I signed up for a race and didn't want to loose out on the fees I paid.  It's quite the predicament.  I'm torn, and I still don't know what the right plan is.  I really thought that I would be satisfied with all the goals I made and hit this year and that mentally I would be okay with sitting out - but I had also planned on being pregnant and that would make sitting out a whole lot easier.  I had no clue what to expect, so now I'm in limbo and feel a bit lost.  Some people have told me to just go for it, don't plan things you can't, while others have said that maybe it was all my miles and hard running that is slowing down the "process."  I don't know what the right answer is right now, but for the time being, I'm just going with the flow as best as I can.

I'm still running a ton, and when I look back on what I accomplished this year, I'm actually quite proud.  All of my runs lately have been at a pace that I never knew would become so comfortable.  I have been doing all my runs in the 8:00/mi range and I can finally say, that is my natural pace.  I worked really hard all year to get here, and as much as I want to start my family, I also don't want to loose all the gains I made this year.  I'm loving running right now, the NorCal weather has been just perfect for every run (minus the damn wind!).  It's hard not to have a training calendar, and running aimlessly for mileage or what have you.  I have kept my base right around 40 miles a week, and I don't necessarily feel like it would have that great of impact on my health.  But who knows?  For now, it's keeping me sane in this trying time.

Christmas was wonderful, although not void of some MIL drama.  That was the other piece of my life that really sent me down a spiral.  Attempting to deal with behavior that isn't going to change, especially around the holidays is very trying, but we did our best and thankfully we had a very blessed Christmas.  I couldn't ask for more.  I also realized in the last month or so, that as much as I love being my own boss and working from home, it's just not for me.  I felt a bit aimless and clueless with how to make it work.  Not having a set schedule or where to be at certain times can be really hard.  So, I decided that I needed to find a job.  I am a people person, and in accounting and taxation, it is actually quite helpful to have other people and their own thoughts around when working.  And thankfully, I landed the first one I applied for today!  I'm super excited about it, it's an environment where I can grow and thrive and give me the structure that I'm craving right now.  I even discussed with my future boss that I do have plans of starting a family in the near future, and they couldn't have been more supportive.  I'm finally feeling like I made a really good choice for myself.  A grown-up, healthy decision that will hopefully reap dividends that I can only imagine.  I don't start until 1/24, so I still have some time to play and enjoy not having a schedule for a bit longer.

Right now, I am signed up for a trail half in the middle of January and the Surf City half in February.  I had to bite the bullet and take the plunge.  I didn't want to sit out on these, cuz some of my favorite peeps are running both.  And I even managed a nice run on Sunday with Punky where we ran for the Operation Jack Virtual run - good times ;)
11 Chilly miles done!

I'm not sure what the near future holds for me, or what my 2011 will look like.  I'm not good with the unknown - I'm a planner and love having things all lined up.  But I'm realizing that not all things in life can be planned, and it's definitely a lesson in patience.  I've spent my whole life making lists and plans, and relishing each time I can cross one off my list.  Right now, no lists, no plans is a difficult place to be in - so if I get a bit frantic or crazy, just know, it will hopefully be temporary and 2011 will hold great and wonderful things for me and my hubbs.

Whew, I feel a lot better that I finally shared this will all of you.  Some may think it's an "over-share" or that I'm just being whiny and feeling sorry for myself.  And to those, you don't know what's it's like until you walk in my shoes.  No one prepares you for what it's like when you start down this road of starting a family.  Trust me, even from some of my closest and dearest friends and family, I'm  constantly still getting, "it will happen when it's supposed to."  That's all well and good, and I know there right, but damn it stings a little.  And to all of you who continue to be supportive and excited, thanks - it means a ton.  I promise to be back to my normal, happy, cheery bloggy self because I find so much inspiration and support from all of you.  And I will live vicariously through all of you as you embark on 2011 and some really awesome races and goals.

Tomorrow I will do my look back post and see how the year wrapped up.  I do know, 2010 was one of my best running years yet.  All of my accomplishments and goals were pretty great in my eyes, and I'm going to use it as a reminder that I've got a lot going for me when I do get to get back in to my crazy racing schedule.

Thanks to all of you again, I'm off to catch up with all of you!
Have a wonderful New Year's Eve Eve!
Happy running peeps!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

On Your Left! Race Report: Summit Rock Trail Half Marathon

You probably don't know this about me, but I'm a bit of a tree hugger.  Which may or may not surprise you, since I do live in the tree hugger capital of the world: the Bay Area, CA.  True story:  I'm such a fanatic about recycling, I used to take home all the recyclables from my office I used to work at.  I couldn't stand that they didn't recycle, so much so that often when I left on Friday's, my car was stuffed to the brim with all the office recyclable garbage!
Tree Hugging Saturday

But I digress.  I forgot to mention this to all of you, but I had a little race to run on Saturday:  The Summit Rock Trail Half Marathon, with my buddy Punky.  Yeah, maybe not the smartest idea to run a trail half less than a week out from a pretty grueling marathon, but I couldn't pass up a Saturday run with Punky or the beautiful trails that were pretty much in my back yard. 

I like to think of myself as a pretty on-time person, mainly due to the fact that growing up, my parents couldn't be on-time to save their lives.  I was often late to school, girl scouts, soccer practice, even Mass!  So, being on time to me even means being about ten minutes early.  Saturday I had told Punky to be at my pad around 7:45.  I got up around 6:30, dottled around as I got ready and thought I had plenty of time to get going.  But then, around 7:10, I got a text message that read, "You should really buy a rake."  WTH?  Ron?  Followed by the next text at 7:11, "I'm outside."  Oh $hit!  He's here!  Already?  Quick, get dressed and let him in!  Dude was over a half hour early!  Talk about on time!  And talk about embarrassing!  So, I let him in and scrambled to get ready as he drank my coffee and hassled my dog.

Soon enough, we were in the car making the 20 minute drive to the race.  The race was almost in my backyard, in the beautiful Santa Cruz mountains in Saratoga, CA.  This was the first event that Brazen put on at this park, but they did an awesome job as always.  Thank goodness Punky was early - it took us almost 15 minutes to get into the park with all the traffic.  After we parked, got body-glided up, we headed over to pick up our chips and meet up with my girl Stacey and Ron's friend Anne. (Side note: did you ever notice, Punky has a LOT of girl runner friends!)  The weather was really perfect, overcast and a bit foggy, but not too cold.  After a few pictures with the gang, we lined up at the start together.  Stacey was doing the 10K with Anne, while us two stupids, Ron and I, were doing the half.  Stupid only hit us when we were a half mile into the run and wanting to turn around and find a doughnut shop instead ;)
Stacey and me - she's the smart one on the right

Stacey, Ron & Anne - a stupid sandwich

Neither Ron nor I had really looked at the course map or elevation chart - big mistake!  But I guess ignorance is bliss, because if we had looked, we probably wouldn't have even started.  The whole run is pretty much single track, where you are enveloped by the beautiful canopy of redwood tress.  It was damp and dark, just the most beautiful scenery you could ask for.  Right away, the course went up hill.  And just kept going up.  It was an out and back course, so in the beginning we told ourselves that this would be great - negative split, baby!  But it became pretty apparent right away, that might not even be doable.  The race director, Sam - great guy by the way - had encouraged runners to walk the uphill parts and run the down hills - pretty smart advice.  So, walk we did.  All week, my legs felt pretty great after the marathon, but all of a sudden, on those hills, I felt like a lazy butt.  I couldn't run up them if I tried!  We were both out of breath and sweaty messes by the time we finally, finally hit mile 1.  No worries, it's a trail run.

The theme of the day became, "on your left!"  We heard it constantly from the majority of our fellow runners passing us.  Hahaha!  Neither Punky or I could keep up with the mountain goats passing us.  No big deal really, we had plenty of beautiful scenery to keep us occupied, and well, when you run with Punky - a good time will be had, even if your walking.  I really, really wish I had put a sign on my shirt that read, "I'm not usually this slow!  I ran a 3:34 marathon last week!"  Funny how as runners, we don't ever want to show a "slow" side, but if there ever was one, yesterday was my slow day.  I just hoped I wasn't slowing Punky down too much.

And so the day went on.  Walk, jog the uphills, fly down the down hills - "fly" being relative also.  We chatted with fellow runners, took in the great smells of the damp forest and just generally goofed off as we made our way to the top.
I'm also a bird lover ;)

By the time we hit the 10K turn around and aid station, we may or may not have contemplated turning around.  But the show must go on!  And on and UP we went.  The conversation got pretty "R" rated in here, which means neither of us will be sharing exactly what crossed our mouths as we kept plugging along.  By about a mile and half from the last aid station and half turn around, we had many, many people coming back down.  WOW!  I mean LOTS of people were already lapping us!  Hahaha!  And you wouldn't believe what they kept saying to us!  "You're almost there!"  "Just a bit more to go!"  Did we look that bad!??  I mean, come on!  We had a LONG way still to go!  Thanks, but you can keep your pity comments to yourself.  One woman, and I have to say this, she was on the larger side, looked at me at this point and said, "almost there, they even have pumpkin pie waiting for you!"  WTF?  Do I look like someone who is motivated by pumpkin pie?  Do I look like someone that needs food as a motivator?  Sheesh!  Punky and I just had to laugh, but by like the 100th person telling us "almost there!" with just over a mile left, it got old - quick!

At the final aid station, we both stopped to fill our water bottles and grab a cup of water.  I started chatting with a few runners and the support staff, when I turned around and I couldn't see Punky.  Now, by no means was this a large area, so I would have seen him and his hair if he was still there.  But no, he ditched me!  He took off and left me as I stood there drinking my water.  Argh!  So I high-tailed it down there where I found him running down the hill trying to leave my slow butt.  What a friend, what a friend.  It was when I found him that I got my revenge, I jumped into a giant mud puddle and covered us both in mud!  Tee hee!  That's what you get for leaving me.  Don't worry, he knew I would catch him...eventually.  And so we made our way back down the mountain.

Down?  Yeah, not so much.  There wasn't much down happening on the way back.  I guess it is possible to go up both ways in a race.  We were cursing the course and Sam at this point - he's a dirty, dirty race director.  Our legs were both toast at this point and we still had six miles to get back.  So, back to shenanigans for us!  More dirty jokes, more making fun of our slow selves and finally the miles began to tick by.  We would attempt to run the down hills when we could, but both of us had quads there were screaming at us.  No biggie, we still enjoyed the scenery.
My view for the majority of the race - check out those calf muscles!  Meow!

I look happy, no?

We slowly inched our way down the mountain, only to be greeted by the last two miles that were pretty much straight down.  You had no choice but to run, stopping killed our quads and well, we had been out there so damn long we just wanted to finish.  We both did an awesome job of keeping each other motivated and finally, after 3:17:58, we crossed the finish line together - oh so happy to be done!

Yes, you read that right, it took us 3 hours, seventeen minutes and fifty-eight seconds to go 12.4 miles - or a 15:58/mi pace.  Just think, I covered more than twice that distance the week before in almost the same amount of time - hahaha!  When we finished, we felt like we had just come back from war - we saw some crazy things out there people, some of which will forever be etched into my brain.  But you know what, I HAD A BLAST!  Yes, the course was the most difficult trail race I have ever done, but I couldn't have done it without Punky, and I sure as heck wouldn't have had as much fun!  Thanks Ron, you're a gem, and I'm so glad we got to share this "experience" together.  Note to self: NEVER run this one again!
Before - all happy and ignorant

After - what the hell happened to us?

We finished!

The medals

I'm so glad I did run this, it taught me I'm stronger than I thought.  I enjoyed a beautiful Saturday run in the most beautiful scenery around.  I may not run it again, but so glad I can say I did run it - once!
Thanks Ron for all the great pics - at least the ones I could show here and still keep my blog rated PG.

My legs were pretty tore up all day yesterday, but I iced-bathed when I got home and today they felt pretty dang good so I went out for a quick run.  I was so surprised they felt so good, in fact, they just wanted to run!  I did some fartleks and some speed and enjoyed a foggy run  - 5 miles in 39:44 - 7:57/mi pace.  Did not know I still had it in me.  I even managed to run over 27 miles this week even post marathon.  Recovery went really well, I'm still recovering mind you, but so far so good.

I have a busy week again ahead of me, 2 days of tax classes and some snow boarding are on schedule! 
Have a wonderful week peeps, I'm off to catch up with all of you!
Happy Running!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Race Report: California International Marathon 2010

Where to start, where to start!  I have so many thoughts and emotions about my race and everything involved with it, that it is kind-of daunting thinking of where to begin!  But I'll start at the beginning, which is usually a good place to start ;)

I did not sleep very well at all on Friday night.  I wanted to make it a good night's sleep, but I just was tossing and turning for pretty much the whole night.  I did manage to get a few hours in early Saturday morning, but when I finally got out of bed I was exhausted.  I was not happy about this, but went about my morning getting all packed up to leave for Sacramento.

My brother and sister-in-law live up in Sac, so we were planning on staying with them.  My parents also joined us, and together we drove up with 4 peeps and 3 dogs ;)  I had no appetite on Saturday - my nerves were really getting to me.  But I forced down a sandwich and headed to the expo with my brother Michael and sis-in-law Suzie.  Suz has been to a few expo's with me, but my brother was an expo-virgin.  He couldn't believe all the crazy peeps and crazy gadgets.  We had fun hanging out and sampling things and after I got my bib and stuff we headed home where I tried to relax.

My mamma made her homemade spaghetti sauce and for the first time I ate pasta the night before a race.  I still had no appetite but I managed to get it down - along with a serving of Suzie's pumpkin pie desert ;)  I was all nerves all day, I don't think I have been this nervous before a race before.  I just couldn't get the knots out of my stomach.  But I did everything else right, with hydrating, eating and resting the best I could.  Finally, I hit the sack around 10 and attempted to sleep.  I slept really light, waking often, which isn't unusual for me the night before a big race.  But again, when my alarm went off at 4:15 in the morning I just didn't feel rested.  My dad decided to drive us to the start up in Folsom while everyone else in the house slept in a bit more and got ready later. 

I ate my usual pre-race breakfast in the car as we drove to the start.  I saw lots of school buses driving on the road along with us.  This actually calmed me a bit, finally I wasn't alone in this endeavor.  Ari was planning on ridding his bike along side me during the race, so when they dropped me off at the runner's spot, he took off to the start on his own.  I boarded a bus with other runners where they finally dropped us off at the start.  I was worried Ari would get lost or have a hard time finding me, but I just couldn't think about it.  I was so sick to my stomach.  I felt like I was going to barf as I wondered around the start area.  I stood in line a few times to use the bathrooms and each runner I talked to commented on how warm it was out.  The weather report was calling for a 50% chance of rain and the temps in the low 50's.  When I had gotten out of the car it was already 50, so I went with shorts, a short-sleeve shirt and wore a long sleeve shirt on until the start.  The temps weren't too bad, you could stand around and not feel chilled to the bone.  I even ditched my gloves before the start.

My plan was to stick with the 3:30 pacer.  I met him at the expo and he is the head pacer.  Everyone said he runs really even splits.  I had a plan of going out faster in the first half, banking some time, and then using that time to help me if I struggled the later miles.  I wanted to go 1:40 in the first half and 1:50 in the second half.  The start wasn't too bad, and it seemed like all the runners were lined up in the right spots.  This was one thing about this race I really liked: it seems this race really brings out the hard core runners.  You know, not too many peeps making this challenging course their first one.  I finally lined up between the 3:20 pacer and the 3:30 pacer.  Figuring, I would shoot to stay between them.

As I stood waiting for the gun, I thought I was going to puke right there with my nerves.  I don't know how I managed it other than I was afraid of loosing any nutrition even before the race.  I even told the peeps around me to watch out, I might barf!  None of them seemed to bat an eye - I'm sure I wouldn't have been the first to do that!  Everyone was also shedding clothes like crazy!  It was pretty warm in the start corral and I think everyone was banking on it being cold just like last year so they were all over dressed.  I took off my long sleeved shirt, tied it around my waist and soon the gun went off.

The first mile is almost all down hill.  I had memorized this course pretty well, and attempted to keep my strategy in the front of my mind the whole time.  The 3:20 guy took off pretty fast so I let him go and just stuck to my feel good pace.  I had my watch set to current lap and I was keeping at a pretty good clip the whole time.  I was also on the watch for Ari here - I was still worried it was going to take him a long time to find me.  Right away I also knew that this race was going to warm up fast.  I was already pretty warm by the end of mile 1 and just tried to stay positive.
mile 1 - 7:50
mile 2 - 7:50
mile 3 - 7:38

Consistency was the name of the game for me.  I just tried to go by feel as much as I could.  Those early miles felt really good - no knee pain and my stomach had pretty much decided to play nice for the time being.  Score!  I kept looking for Ari and took some water at the first stop.  I was getting a bit worried though by mile 3 when I didn't see him.  He had my GU and I wanted one in my hand to start warming it up by my 4.  I couldn't focus on that too much though, I was too overwhelmed with just keeping my legs right on task and not thinking too much about what was ahead.  Finally, around mile 4 he found me and I instantly felt so much better.  The miles in here are pretty up and down.  Gradual up's but none the less, it is some good rolling hills.  I kept my pace up through them and just went with what felt good.  I used the down hills to my advantage and just kept plugging away.
mile 4 - 7:49
mile 5 - 7:53 (GU'ed at mile 5.5)
mile 6 - 7:52

Ari had done a pretty good job of memorizing the route.  I had forgotten it all at this point.  He warned me that there was some good climbs coming and that I should be prepared.  Well, I was in for a shocker.  Right before mile 7, a big hill came.  I looked at my watch on the current lap setting which also showed elevation change.  At the beginning of that hill it said something like 220 feet, but the time I got to the top of that first climb it said 350 something!  WOW!  It felt like that big of a gain!  I was also getting excited to see my family who said they would be out just past mile 10.  I couldn't wait to see them, and that was fueling my legs, too.
mile 7 - 7:54 (big first climb!)
mile 8 - 7:56
mile 9 - 7:56 (Gu'ed)
mile 10 - 7:42 (nice downhill)

Around mile 10 you enter into the cute downtown area of Fair Oaks.  It's super cute and a big spectator spot.  I kept looking and looking for my family.  I couldn't see them, and when we got through all the spectators I was afraid I missed them.  I turned to Ari and asked them if I had missed them.  He told me the bad news - they couldn't get there due to the traffic closures and would be at mile 19.  And angry for a moment.  I really wanted to see them.  I needed to see them.  But I had to put it behind me and keep moving forward.  The hills just never stoped in here.  They just kept coming.  I wasn't getting tired just yet but kept drinking water from the aid stations and Ari constantly.  Sometimes because I was thirsty or needed to wash down a GU but also because I wanted to just stay on top of my hydration.  I was also getting really warm in here, and by mile 13 or so, I took off my shirt and went with my signature sport's bra look ;)
mile 11 - 7:47 (BIG climb in here)
mile 12 - 7:55
mile 13 - 7:50
mile 14 - 7:45

At the relay exchange at mile 13 I got to see Tara and Kristin!  I soooooo needed this!  They spotted me first and it felt sooooo good to see a familiar face.  I needed that boost.  I was starting to get down on myself.  I had hit the half in 1:42:xx, a bit off from where I wanted to be and this really bummed me out.  But seeing them reassured me I was right on track - my legs were feeling really good in here and I was holding them back just a bit.  To say that I had another 13 miles to go made me worried and I promised myself I could pull back a bit around 16 and gather myself and my plans.  It seemed my legs were fresh, but my head was another story.
mile 15 - 7:56
mile 16 - 8:04
mile 17 - 7:56
mile 18 - 8:00

I had told myself I could back off a bit at mile 16, but seeing that 8:04 on my watch had gotten me worried.  I didn't like it one bit and knew I was being easy on myself.  So, at 17 I picked it up a bit and at mile 18 I just tried to cruise.  With single digits left I tried to stay positive, but I was a sweaty mess and just kind-of done running.  I had some really low moments here, but then I remembered my family would be at 19, so I grabbed a GU somewhere between 18 and 19 and that helped a bit.  Not much, but it did help to think about that instead of running!  Finally, at mile 19 I got to see my family - my dad, my mom, my sis Suz and my nephew William.  They were cheering so loud I could hear them before I saw them.  It felt so good to run by them, and I tried to be strong.  For some reason though, I just wanted to cry.  I was starting to hurt really bad and all the thoughts of loosing my goal started to enter my head.  Ari also noticed around this point my posture was starting to slouch.  He coached me a bit to stay more upright and to focus on my kick, but I may or may not have yelled at him to shut the heck up!  I knew he was right, but I just didn't want to hear him.  My legs started to get really, really heavy - mainly my quads.  The whole course is rollers - some up's are really long and steep, while others are just a pain in the butt.  They had taken a toll on me at this point and my quads were just not happy.

By mile 20, my quads had pretty much seized up.  They hurt to step up at all and I had no kick what so ever.  I couldn't understand what went wrong.  Really, physically up to this point I felt great.  I wasn't tired, my legs felt pretty fresh, and I was running almost by feel.  Yes, my head had been an emotional wreck, but physically I was moving just fine until here.  They just had no strength left by mile 20.
mile 19 - 8:12 (saw the fam)
mile 20 - 8:26 (the beginning of the end)
mile 21 - 8:34 (WTH??)
mile 22 - 8:48 (GU'ed)

I was in full on survival mode.  I couldn't believe I had nothing left in me.  Ari also managed to get a FLAT in here!  Argh! NOT AGAIN!  But I had to keep moving.  At mile 22, the 3:30 pacer passed me and I died a little inside.  I couldn't believe it.  All my hard work was crashing down.  My legs were DEAD.  I felt like I had energy, but my legs had pretty much seized up in my quads.  I couldn't get them to move any faster.  I took one more GU at 22 right before Ari got the flat but that didn't seem to help too much.  I wanted to cry again.  I was on track for so long.  I tried to stay with the 3:30 group (it was big!) and even though it was pretty flat these remaining miles, I just couldn't catch up.  This was so disappointing to me.  There were tons of spectators now that were back in down town again.  It was nice to have the cheers, but they weren't making my legs carry me any faster.

I started doing the math in my head, even if I ran 9 minute miles for the next four miles, I would still hit my B goal of 3:35 so I just tried to stay positive.  This was the lowest point for me during the race.  Ari was gone, I just lost my great pace, and I felt really alone.  I wanted to be done.  I had gone from being on an 3:26- 3:28 pace down to settling for a 3:35.  I was crushed.  I had to stay with it though, I still had 4 miles left and decided to get my head away from the pitty party and just enjoy the fact that I was running the race of my life.
mile 23 - 9:05
mile 24 - 9:11 (it was getting ugly in here!)
mile 25 - 8:57

With just over a mile left, I knew if I picked it up I could break 3:35!  I was running as fast as I could - I had looked over my shoulder at one point and saw the 3:35 guy coming and there was NO WAY I would let him come close to me!  So I just started kicking as best as I could and before I knew it I was passing mile 26 and looking down just the last .2 with a few turns.
mile 26 - 8:19 (where was this 3 miles ago!)
last .2 - 2:16 (7:25/mi pace)

I crossed the finish line in 3:34:16 - an over 4 minute PR!  I had done it!  I was so emotional right away.  I had worked so hard out there, fought so hard those last 6.2 miles that I was very overwhelmed when I crossed.  I started balling right away.  Thankfully, Layla was there to catch me and wrap a blanket around me.  It was sooooooo good to see here.  I was a sweaty, sticky, crying mess, but my friend gave me a big hug and carried me to my family.  Thanks Layla - that meant a lot to me.  When I finally saw my mom and everyone, they were also crying.  I was so spent, but so happy.  I'm proud of my time, proud of my accomplishment and so glad I had my family there.  As soon as I crossed, after I saw my fam, my sis Suzie got in the car to go and pick up stranded Ari.  He had missed me crossing the finish line - and I was so sad about this - he had worked hard to keep me going out there, too. 
Official Stats:
26.2 - 3:34:16 - 8:10/mi pace
AG - 62/437
245/2549 - woman
1143 overall
26.31 - 3:34:16 - 8:08/mi pace

After I got a bit collected, I put on some dry clothes and went to see where Aron and everyone was.  I met up with them inside the finish shoot and it was nice to see how every one's day went.  This is a tough course - don't be fooled by the negative downhill they play up so well.  Yes, it is a net downhill, but it is rolling hills for the majority of the race.   It can chew you up and spit you out quick.  The race itself, it just awesome.  VERY well organized, great course management of the route and aid stations and I will definetly be back next year.  I would recommend this race to anyone - it may be difficult, but it is so worth it ;)

I have some thoughts on why my quads seized up.  I'm not 100% convinced though of what exactly went wrong.  I know that I was running very well the first 20.  Like I said, my legs never felt really tired, and my energy was always spot on until the end.  I think it had to do with my salt intake and how warm it was out.  I didn't bring any salt tabs on me, and since I just was not hungry the days before, I probably didn't eat enough of my usually salty diet before hand.  I GU'ed and drank at all the right spots, but in the end I think it came down to the lack of salt and all the sweating I did.  My shorts and sports bra were so wet I probably could have wrong them out and got a good puddle.  I'm not sure what I could have done with that info during the race - I was probably already in a deficit.  But I'm glad my knee behaved, my tummy behaved and my energy was great.  I also know I ran pretty smart through 16.  I could have gone faster, I could have tore that course up more - but I ran by feel and effort and the whole time (until 20) I had the right energy and legs. 

I'm hungry for another.  I wanted my sub 3:30 that I just know is waiting in me to be unlocked.  Although, today I'm a wreck.  Standing, sitting, walking, going to the bathroom are all still very, very painful.  I know I left it all out on the course.  I'm not sure what is next now - I had planned on this being my last full for a very long time, but I want more - I want my sub 3:30 - I need to step back and see what my options are and what my ultimate goals really are.

Thank you to all of you for your support during my crazy training cycle.  You all always made me feel so special and so strong - and I thought about allll of you while I was out there.  I kept you all in the front of my mind when it got tough or hard, and reminded myself that you would all be proud no matter what.  So, thank you to each and every one of you - I couldn't have done it with out you.

Congrats to all my fellow CIM'ers out there and to all of you that tackled Vegas this weekend - you are all rockstars in my book ;)

I know this has been long, but I'll have pics up in the next couple of days - so thanks for sticking with me!
Have a great Tuesday!
Happy Running peeps!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Race Report To Come But...

I made my goal yesterday in a hard won battle and crossed the finish line in

I will update you all tomorrow with a race report when I can sit still for more than five minutes pain free!
Have a great Monday!
Happy Running!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

CIM Goals

I hate to say it, but race day is almost here!  Where on Earth did this week go??  Normally race week seems to drag for me, but this week, with a ton of crazy going on, it has swept past me and we're in the home stretch.

Monday I had 8 miles on the books and was a bit nervous about them considering my knee didn't feel too fab in my prior attempts.  But by mile 2 it had behaved itself and I was able to cruise home with a teeny tiny bit of confidence for Sunday - 1:04:33 - 8:04/mi pace
Tuesday was scheduled to be an easy 5 at 8:32/ mi pace.  Easy enough, especially when I was still tired from the day before.  Does that happen to anyone else during taper?  I felt tired after doing 8?  Sheesh!  When I hit the pavement though, and started running my 5, my legs apparently didn't get the memo about the "slow" pace or that I was tired.  They just wanted to move!  I looked down at my Garmin about 1/2 mile in and saw 7:30 pace!  Whoa!  Too fast!  I tried to rein it in, but still managed an 8:02 first mile.   And from there, it just got worse.  I couldn't slow them down and when I did, it didn't feel comfortable.  So...I went with it and turned my 5 into a little tempo run.  I finished the five in 39:28 - 7:54/mi pace and called it a day.  My knee was not angry at all during the run, and after a good stretch and ice session, I felt even better.  I can't say my confidence was lifted by much, but it gives me hope that at least the first five miles on Sunday should be fast and hopefully pain-free.  After's any one's guess! LOL!

Yesterday was a rest day and today is a tempo run 6.  I think this will be an easy 6 since Tuesday was already a bit fast.  We'll see.  I'm heading out to my favorite trail later this afternoon with the hubbs when he gets home.

I know I have been talking about my expectations for Sunday for a while now.  I had big plans of achieving them in Long Beach back in October, but as we all know, it just wasn't the right place or time for me.  This Sunday, I have crossed all my "t's" and dotted all my "i's" and hopefully the stars align, and my sacrifice to the running god's will appease them.  I have a great support team coming with me, which include my hubbs, my rents, my sister-in-law, big Bro and my nephew.  All will be braving the cold for me, in hopes that I will succeed in crossing the finish line of marathon #8 with my fastest time yet.

I have a lot of goals I want to achieve.  You would think by marathon #8 you would have this stuff down, but race day can be a crap shoot and you never know what you're going to get.  I want to really focus on hydration and nutrition.  I want to be spot on, even when my tummy doesn't feel so great.  I know I had a missed opportunity in Stockton when I didn't take in anything, and I don't want to be in that spot again.  I want to at least attempt to get it down.  I also want to enjoy the race.   I don't want to speed by and miss all that comes when you run a marathon.  It's my victory lap for putting in all the hard work, and if I don't soak it all up, then I feel I may be missing out on some of the glory.  I also want to work on saying "thank you" to all the volunteers.  I'm already pretty good about this, but towards the end of a marathon, I often fall off this and miss peeps.  I want to stay alert and be gracious to all those people who are giving up their Sunday morning.

To say I'm not nervous or anxious would be a lie.  I know we all get a touch of this when we are towing the line of our next big race, but mine seems to have gone overboard this time.  Butterflies have filled my stomach since Tuesday.  My dreams are already consisting of race day disasters, and every second I'm not thinking about the race, I'm thinking I'm forgetting something! Ha!  But I know as the day gets closer I will be able to relax.  I often have that occur for me - I get all the stressing done ahead of time so that when I toe the line I'm ready to attack!  So, the big time goals for Sunday:
1. 3:29:59 - this is what I have been training for, it's what I want most
2. 3:34:59 - if I begin to see my 3:30 slip away, I would be happy working for this
3: 3:38:18 - beating my PR (3:38:19) by at least a second!
4. 3:39:59 - BQing - I know that this is possible
5. FINISH - with a smile on my face and knowing I did the best I could that day with what I had

As you can see, my #1 goal is to come in around 3:30.  I have done most of my runs to shoot for this.  I know what an 8:00/mi pace feels like even when I'm not running!  I have drilled it into my head and legs and know exactly what I need to do to get back to that "zen" pace I know so well.  And....AND if McMillan has been accurate about anything, according to him and my recent 1:39 half, he believes I should be able to run a full in 3:29:21!  And even if I put in my 1:41 half that had a course more similar to CIM, he thinks I could go 3:33 - which is still great awesome in my book.  In the past McMillan has been pretty spot on with pacing and predicting - but that means that I would need the perfect race day, and I'm hoping that will grace me come Sunday.

I'm heading to Sacramento on Saturday with the fam.  My brother and sister-in-law live there and thankfully I won't have to stay in a hotel bed.  I'm already packed!  I have my play list ready (although, side note - I may not wear music, I've been doing most of my runs without it, so I'm going to have it but might not use it) and all my running esscentials ready to throw into my suitcase.  I want the day to get here now, but at the same time I could push it out a few days!

To say this week wasn't crazy is an understatement.  I have had a ton on my plate.  Work is busy and on top of that, my sister's boy friend had emergency surgery on Tuesday night and we have been going to see him when we can.  I'm being pulled in all directions!  But, there is an end in sight and I'm excited to cross #8 off my list! 
Off to catch up with all of you!  Hopefully I will get a chance to check in here one more time before Sunday.  But, if not, you can find me with the runner tracker system on the CIM website and here, I'm bib# 201! 
Happy Thursday and Happy Running peeps!