Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Journey Begins

Yeah, after the marathon, I dropped off the face of the earth.  I need to stop doing that.

After the marathon, my training went from full throttle to maintenance mode. I slept in every morning (which means no 4:30am wake up calls), had a work out here and there, did a muddy obstacle race in Austin, completed  a tower climb (and came in 4th in my age group-woo hoo!), had an amazing volunteer experience at the finish line of the Texas Ironman and yesterday I struggled through the Combat Triathlon in Texas City.  I say "struggled" because on top of not training at all the week prior, I was dealing with another stomach bug during the process.

I had blast during this time.  Plus I needed the break.

But that goofing off  is about to come to an end since I officially signed up for my first 70.3 race in October.

I hired a coach and will start my journey June 1, 2011.

I am excited about the journey to this goal I have had in my head for quite some time now.

Exactly a year ago to this day, I could not swim freestyle.  Not a single stroke.  I had never done a triathlon before and I was petrified of the swim.  I had signed up for swim lessons and I had vowed to conquer my fear of the water.  The first two weeks I felt like I was running in place, no progress what-so-ever.

When...BAM!  I had finally had a break through.

A moment suspended in time where something finally clicked.  And as quick as I realized I was finally mastering something, that moment was gone, and I was back to my floundering ways.  But that taste of victory was all I needed to keep going.  The rest of that season was a series of setbacks and breakthroughs, but that is the part that fascinates me the is the process and the journey of getting to the goal that truly is the beauty of it all.

And so it goes...a new destination and a new sea to conquer.

 1.2 mile lake swim.  56 mile bike ride in the hill country.  13.1 mile run.

A 70.3 mile race in Austin, Texas.

There are a few other side items I would like to accomplish along the way; like work on my nutrition habits, drop 10 more pounds and work on my strength training.  The coach I hired is will be testing me every three weeks to do a litmus test to see what is working or what needs to change. I plan to share this progress in a series of posts with the hope it may help someone else on their journey to a goal. I intend to capture the small victories to look back on when I want to give up.  It would also be amazing to see where I came from when I finally get there.  

I am fastening my seat belt.  I have a feeling it is going to be a bumpy ride

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Big Sur Marathon Race Report

So, you may have noticed, there was little hype going into this past weekend.   I briefly mentioned it in my blog, but because so much focus was put into my MS 150 training, I had neglected my running. 

Oh sure, I planned the runs ahead of time.  This is where I planned to have my long run on Saturday and bike on Sunday.  The plan was brilliant….only until reality sunk in.
The most I ran was 15 miles…and I even struggled to pull that off.

The plan was to go with my friend Jessica, who signed up for the 9-miler.  Maybe she could upgrade and run with me.  She had not been training for a full either…so at least we could suffer together.   The race organizers denied her request to switch…but offered a kernel of hope….they might be able to do it at the expo, the day before the race.

The alarm goes off Saturday morning at 6:45am and Jessica sends me a text.   

Her little boy is sick.

Wahoo!  I am off the hook.  I am sure she wants to stay home and be with her little one.  I am ready to roll over and snuggle into my bed.

I text her back:

Wanna stay home?

No. She replied.

Damn.  So close.

Her hubby is going to provide around the clock care to their son.  She is on her way to pick me up.  We are running a little behind schedule. 

But hey, if we don’t get on this plane, it is fate right? 

We make it. 
We get seats together in a row with no middle person which is exciting when you fly stand-by. 

Pure giddiness.  I start to get excited and also feel butterflies.  Yet, at this point of time, I am still running 26.2 miles…alone. 
We start to strategize.  I did not want to downgrade to the 9-miler, but I did not want Jessica to wait 4 more hours at the finish line for me either.  We decide to add her name to the rental car as a backup plan. 
We get to the hotel with no incident.  We are staying in a cute little historic hotel in the heart of downtown Monterrey.  Walking distance to everywhere we want to be.  The only drawback is there are no elevators in the building.  No problem.  We are not wimps.  Service was friendly and we felt welcomed.

We get to the race expo and hit the jackpot.  Jessica is upgraded to the marathon.  I am ecstatic.  I no longer have to suffer alone.  In the meantime, we are both nervous nillies.  We walk around the expo to calm our nerves with some shopping therapy. I get to meet (more like stare at) one of my favorite celebrity runners, Jeff Galloway.  As usual, I peek at him from behind obstacles because I always become speechless when I meet someone I admire. 
Race morning. 

Alarm goes off at the ungodly hour of 3:15am.  I had woken up at 2am ready to go…but going back to sleep another hour put me in groggy state.  We shuffled off to the bus and they shuttled us to the starting line 2 hours early.  We find a nook in a shopping center wall and try our best to keep warm.  We curl up and put our heads on our knees and shiver.   

It was the longest wait ever.

Finally it is time to line up.   

The sun comes over the horizon at 6:15am and it slowly starts to warm up.  Jessica and I throw our bags into the sweats van and find our place in the C corral.  We have 6.5 hours to complete the race and to get a medal.  I know we can do this.  We are not amateur runners.  I tell Jessica that I think we can do it in 5.5 hours.  We had made a pact to walk every water break.  We were going take it nice and easy.  We had our pockets stocked with fuel gels and we were taking our electrolytes like clockwork.

The starting line gun is supposed to be fired by Bart Yasso.  He shoots blanks.  We laugh. 

It is time to roll.

First 6 miles go great.  We feel great.  It is gorgeous blue skies and the waves are crashing against the cliffs.  And we stressed out about this?!?  Really?  Really.  Silliness I tell you. 

We are running on air.

It is all going quite well except I have to pee and nature would not stop calling me. I lost count but I think it had to be at least 5 times I had to visit a port-o-potty.  Ridiculous.  Why now?  I keep analyzing what I did to make my kidneys work over time.  If I was going to go for a goal time…I really have to resolve that potty break issue.

We see the famous piano player.  A grand piano is hauled out to a cliff overlooking the water…and a piano player in a tuxedo serenades us while we climb up the hill. 

Then there were the Brazilian drummers, who gave us a motivational beat to make the middle miles fly by. 

Jessica and I joked about the wall at mile 20.  Jessica even pretended to run into an imaginary wall and fall down.  (I was too worried I would not be able to get back up.)  The last 6.2 miles were the hardest…but we did our best to push through them.  We just kept moving. The advice from my sis-in-law, Erin, kept ringing in my head.  She said once you stop, it is nearly impossible to get going again.

Video of me hitting the wall.  Stopping was not an option.

The course was an out-and- back.  We ran to the bridge and turned around to head back. We had a 2 mile detour through Los Lobos state park.  It was breathtaking beautiful.  When we came out of the park we had one more monster hill to conquer (26 total hills).   

After that hill, it was downhill to the finish line.  And that finish line was such an emotional sight to see.  It took all I had not to burst into tears when they put the medal around my neck. 

That is when the pain began.  Every step took all my effort.  Somehow we made it to the bus…but once off the bus, that is when Jessica reminded me of…the STAIRS at the hotel.  I am sure that was a sight to see! 

I am so grateful that I experienced my first marathon with a dear friend.  It was full of smiles and cheer.  And when I wanted to stop, Jessica kept pushing me to keep going.  It would not have been the same without her.   
I am so thankful for a weekend that went so well.  Good times.

And it is funny to me when I look back on how badly I wanted to cancel yet it worked out better than I could ever imagine. 

Now, that I have a personal record for a marathon...I have a desire to beat it. Next time, I need to train properly.  

But hopefully, next time, it will be without all those pee breaks.  Thank you very little.