Sunday, December 4, 2016

Space Coast Marathon 2016 (Just one more for Intergalactic Level!)

On Thanksgiving weekend, I ran my fourth Space Coast Marathon, the fourth of five Space Coasts to get the special 5 year medal and the Intergalactic Challenge.  I still remember the first time we registered for this challenge and how much fun it has been.  Not sure what the race has planned for after the challenge, but I hope it's something as amazing as this has been.

The race is great.  The RD really does a great job with not only the race, water stations, medical, potties, etc., but also on the post race party, which includes, among other things, free unlimited beer, breakfast (pancakes, even eggs), towels, and everything else you can think of.  Unfortunately, I don't really enjoy the party much as I am done when I finished the marathon, in more ways than one.  But hubby, who runs the half marathon, always partakes of the celebrations.  He just knows he needs to have a beer for me when I finish. :)

Training has been almost non-existent.  Since Chicago and later Indy, I have had a tough time breathing and just basically moving.  I did some research and thought the blood pressure meds might also be causing my lack of energy.  They did some labs on me and they came back perfect (well, my cholesterol is high, but only because my good cholesterol is extremely high, which is good).  I guess half an avocado a day does that to you!  Anyway, being that my BP has been super low in the last month, my doctor/husband agreed to take me off the regular BP meds (the ones that were causing my swollen legs that hurt in Chicago and what I thought was the cause of my lack of energy).  This was a gamble and something I would never thought of trying a year ago when my BP was 160/95.  But it remained in the 120s so we also removed the diuretic.  That's when I started feeling better.  Two days before this race I had no energy.  I could barely stay awake.  Once we took off all BP meds, it took around 2-3 days but the morning of the race, I felt great.

However, as I said, training for marathons has been nonexistent.  I have run 40-50mpw but no long runs, and no energy to run them.  I knew the race would not be fast but I was hoping to get close to 5 hours and I think I could've done it had I pushed.  But as you'll see later, the race was too much fun for that.  My only other goals were to finish and to have energy throughout, something that was lacking in Chicago and Indy.

Race Weekend
We thought of getting to Orlando a day earlier this time around, to meet with some friends and maybe drink around the world at Epcot, but since hubby and I had to work on Friday (I took the day off but he couldn't), we ended up spending another night at home, eating some leftover turkey from Thanksgiving, watching a movie, and just relaxing.

We left on Saturday morning and stopped at our usual pancake place for breakfast and headed North.  This time, the trip felt shorter, so it was just near 2pm when we arrived at Cocoa and stopped at the expo.  We did our expo thing quickly, so that we could get to our Mofongo place, El Guavate in East Orlando, as quickly as possible.  We always do that for lunch and it has always been a great lunch pre-race, plus it's the best mofongo outside of PR, in my opinion, so worth a stop ALL THE TIME.

After lunch, we headed to run some errands, get water, breakfast, etc., and managed to meet our friends, Beth and Shane, for a drink (was bummed to not come in Friday to see them so it was nice to manage the meet!)  Once we went back to our hotel, we rested a bit and then went to dinner at a Mexican Restaurant near the hotel which we tried last year and loved. It was nice once again.

Here is me and Beth.  Shane and Richard are not in the picture, but they were there as well. :)

Race Day
Woke up at 4:45am and got ready.  We headed to the race parking area around 5:15am and got there pretty quickly.  Parking wasn't an issue this year and we were ready to walk to the start by 5:30am. The half marathon starts at 6am and the marathon at 6:30am, so we were there timely.  I spent the next 30 minutes on a potty line only to realize they had no toilet paper there, so went the other potties and spend the next 15 minutes there.  I was able to see my husband start his race and then headed to my start.  I stood near the 5 hour pacer (there were two, the regular pacer and the Galloway pacer).  My plan was to keep up with them as much as I could.

Of course, when we started, the runner pacer passed me and was too fast for the next 13 miles and the 5 hour pacer passed me at Mile 18 or somewhere around there.  So, I stayed between the two until then.  I know the runner pacer was too fast as I was running faster than 5 hours and I couldn't even catch him!

The first 7 miles went well.  I was taking it easy but my pace was back to my regular easy pace.  At Mile 8-9, I had to use the potty again, sigh, and I lost around 4 minutes, but still making good time.  I felt bad after that for a while, around the time where I have wanted to quit the races lately (mile 9-11) but it passed and I crossed the halfway point at around 2:26, I think, I don't recall.  As we headed to the point where the HM starts going through the finish line chute, there is a Worm Hole, an area where marathoners quit the race, their chip is taken out and then they join the HM runners and go through the finish.  I saw a couple of people do that, and I felt tempted this time around, but I felt much better than I had felt in the last two marathons so I continued.  Miles 14-18 went well but I was getting slower every mile.  My lack of LRs was felt right here.  But still, I felt strong throughout and it was just an issue of how long til the 5 hour pacer would pass me.  I had not seen them at all for a while, so no idea how ahead of 5 hours I was.

The second half was full of me seeing some of my friends coming by to finish:

At Mile 18, I saw a Beer Station.  So, I stopped and drank a cup.  I talked to the people handling it and thanked them for being there.  They told me there was a bacon station ahead, yum, so I continued on.  I did not see the bacon station 1/2 mile away as they indicated, but there was a vodka station, so I stopped as well. Got two cups of vodka and mango. Yum.  Talked to them for a bit and they did confirm the bacon station was the next so I moved on in search of bacon.  I found it!

I actually stopped here to post the following in FB (with the picture):

The 5 hour pacer just passed me. And I don't care cause I've had beer, vodka and bacon and it's only Mile 19. They promised Blue Moon at 22.

Then I continued.  Mile 19 and 20 were a blur.  I was getting slower but having a lot of fun.  I kept with the 5 hour pacer until around Mile 22, where I saw the Blue Moon station and had more beer.  Took another picture, talked to the volunteers, had fun.

Heading down to the finish started feeling hard at Mile 23.  I was slow and finally making it hard for me to continue running.  At mile 25, my calf tightened enough for me to worry.  So, I walked around 1/2 mile then and thought about walking it to the finish to conserve the calf, but I noticed it was harder to walk than to run on it, so I started a shuffle that took me to the finish.  As usual, hubby was near the finish ready to take my picture.  Normally, I would yell something at him, from I FORGOT MY INHALER, DAMN IT, to GET ME A FUCKING BEER.  This time I just smiled and didn't say much.  Damn.

Finished in 5:18:18, but it was the best marathon I've felt all year.  So, success achieved!

This week has been much better!  I finally have lots of energy and no issues.  I hope my BP continues the way it is and that I won't need to go back on meds any time soon.  Bring on 2017.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Indy Monumental Marathon RR

I was looking forward to running Indy for close to a year, since it was a race that people recommend, it's where my BFF lives, and it is always cold and good for running.  They also said it was flat but to this Miamian, that shit was NOT flat.  But still, everything else was true.

I had been dealing with asthma issues since the Chicago Marathon, plus my hamstring and glutes were sore during mostly every run, so I wasn't expecting to be fast by any means.  My plan was to break 5 hours on this one and to have fun.  Since my BFF Mary said she would run with me, my plan to try keeping up with her and not make her waste her day.  I kind of fail at that, but we had tons of fun!

We arrived at Indy on Friday afternoon and headed to the Bru Burger Bar, a place friends had recommended as having great burgers.  They were probably the best burgers I've had.  I had the Mexicali Burger and Richard had the Bru Burger.   Both were amazingly good.  Next time, I'll try The End Burger, just for the fried egg, ha!

After lunch, we headed to the hotel to check in and rest a bit.  Met one of my friends from the Chicago forum and Sub-4 Hour FB group, Michelle:

Glad to have finally met her in person.  She had a great race!

After a while, we met my BFF Mary downstairs to meet her kids, which are as amazing as her.  It's amazing how we met online and ran one of the Disney Goofy races together.  You learn a lot about a person when you run for 3+ hours with them.  We became BFFs after that and talk to each other almost daily.  She was key in me finishing the race, because I sure did not have a good day. I told her to not let me walk too often and not let me quit.  She achieved that and more.

We forgot to take a picture of all of us so failed at that!

Then, it was time to meet the Dailies FB Crew!  So many of my friends are online and I've had the pleasure of meeting many in person through the years, but from the Dailies Crew, I've only met three so far, so it was great to meet more of them for dinner.  Here is us:

We had a great time and great food.  Richard had the Club Sandwich and I had Fish and Chips, which I've never had before a race but will have many times more because my stomach was happy with that.

We woke up at around 6:30am and got ready on Saturday.  Once Mary was ready to meet us downstairs, we headed that way so we could meet one of our friends from the Love INKnBURN group, Jeanette:

It was 36F and lovely.  Everybody was freezing, but me.  I think I was born in the wrong country (PR) since I feel like I belong in the snow, haha.

Hubby did not take a picture of us, so again, we failed.

I also got to meet another one of my friends from my Sub-4 FB Group, Marciano, and here is both of us at the start:

He also had a good race. Hubby also had a great race and ran a 2:29.  Which left me.

We started out doing pretty well, between 10-10:21mm and walking the water stations.  I felt great until around Mile 14. Mary noticed I was slowing down but so far, my lungs were holding.  But at some point, I started sounding like Darth Vader. I used my rescue inhaler every two hours and even that didn't feel like it was enough.  At some point, Mary said I did not look good, but I told her we could move on.  I started walking sooner than I wanted (Mile 16ish, I think) but we were still ahead of Chicago and that made me happy.  We took a couple of pics throughout the course:

 By Mile 18 I was done. I mean, my lungs were done.  Poor Mary was running ahead of Darth Vader, LOL. I wanted to walk all the way to the finish, but as requested, Mary never faltered in getting me to start running again.  We headed to the finish and I started crying. Crying from the frustration that I had lost my endurance (mostly due to my meds) and that once again, I had a disappointing race.  But, by the time I crossed the finish I had shaken that shit off and headed to the finish line with a smile on my face, as I knew I had beaten my Chicago time by somewhere close to 25 minutes.  Not fast by any means, but getting better.

We had a great time, for sure. Fun in spite of my issues.  After the race, we met with LRB for lunch:

Since the race, I have been able to get off two medications and feeling much better.  Endurance has been wrecked from the BP meds (which right now I am not taking because my BP has been too low).  But now I'm rebuilding.  I have another marathon next week.  All I want is to continue improving.  The time for attempting a PR might be there next year, but right now I need to continue rebuilding the endurance that I lack.  2016 can really finish soon.  Good riddance!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Chicago Marathon RR

Late to the party but here is me after the Chicago Marathon. What this picture does not show is that this was my goal race but I had to modify training when my husband found out he had a brain tumor (a gigantic one, bigger than a fist), that he went through surgery and he is A-OK, that he recovered and ran his first Half Marathon post surgery (and almost PRd), and that all of that left my training very crazy. And in addition to that, my asthma doctor told me on Monday, I only had 52% of breathing capacity. I have done 36 marathons, including this one, but I never expected that by Mile 1, I was so slow (for me) that I didn't even want to push. I wanted to quit, I was slow. My husband kept texting me not to quit and I felt guilty for bringing him to Chicago after all of that only to quit another marathon (I've quit before due to the asthma). So, I finished. I was slow (for me), I felt like all this year was a waste in my training. But when I stepped into the hotel room, my husband was so excited I finished, he showed me what was important: perseverance, hard work, being alive, even imperfect. I finished for him.

So remember, when your races don't go as planned, but you still finished, it's all good. I seemed to have forgotten that until now.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

RnR Chicago Half Marathon - The Road of Missed Marathons, Brain Tumors, and Life Turned Upside Down

So, our next adventure was the RnR Seattle, my next marathon.  We were ready and all but had been tired for work and other stuff, so not sure if we were looking forward to this trip.  Then, the day we were leaving, we couldn't find our check in information.  My husband, sigh, had booked the wrong date and we were scheduled to fly there the next month (*facepalm*).  So, it was partly a relief that we did not have to travel that particular weekend and we were able to cancel everything and reuse the tickets for our next race.

So, on we continued, with me starting to train for the Iceland Marathon.  Then, on July 8th, my husband went to get a CT Scan and found he had a giant brain tumor.  It was a shock to see the picture of his brain with fist + ball inside of it.  It was a tough weekend for us, and we spent it calling doctor friends (being a doctor has its privileges, I guess) and getting consultations with brain surgeons ASAP.  Fortunately, we were 99% sure it was a benign tumor, as it had the particularities of a non-malignant one.  Yay for that.

So, we had a race on July 17th, the RnR Chicago Half Marathon.  I was going to use it as a race effort to gauge where I was training wise.  We asked his brain surgeon whether we could go and he assured us he could and he could run.  So, I decided to run it with him.  He would go straight from the airport to packing and sleeping and then going to the hospital at 5am the next morning, so for us it was our last vacation for who knows how long.  We made the most of it, I am sure, going to our favorite restaurants and sights.  We love Chicago!

The trip was filled with some stress and worries, including that my mom had what I thought was a stroke that weekend but declined to go to the hospital until the weekend after (more on that later).  We raced and had fun, as you can see from the following pictures.  We came close to his PR even though it was a somewhat warmish day:

Overall, it was a great weekend, except for the worry of what was soon to come.  My husband went through brain surgery for almost 11 hours on Tuesday, July 19th.  They removed 65% of the tumor (the rest could not be removed), he had probably one of the best brain surgeons in the nation.  He was home the next day (amazing, right?).  He started running again two weeks post surgery and is now getting ready for his first Half Marathon back from surgery.

Unfortunately, my stress would soon be higher as my mom had a stroke and they found a large aneurysm in his brain.  She went through the same brain surgery my husband had, except hers was a bit different, and her recovery was much slower.  I was able to fly to PR after three weeks of hubby's and her surgery to see her and she is doing much better.  No more stress and no one is allowed to get sick ever!

So, due to all of that, we missed the Iceland Marathon.  Which is fine, I prefer to have a husband and a mother alive and well than running another marathon.  I'll do it next year.

On to the next marathon week.

Flying Pig Marathon Race Report

Still running behind in reports, woohoo!  SMH.  Here is the one for the Flying Pig Marathon in May, 2016.

Hubby and I added some new states this year that included WA, OH, and even Iceland.  However, for reasons I'll explain in the next report, we never made it to WA or Iceland, but we did make it to Cincinnati for the Flying Pig Marathon and HM.  The city was really fun and we loved it and could see ourselves living there.  It is vibrant, somewhat small (smaller than Miami) and the people are very nice.  Kudos, Cinci!

The race was fun, but hilly.  I had already decided I was going to walk all uphills and run the rest (like I do in San Francisco), but there wasn't many flats (hint: none) and more uphills than downhills, so there was some running but not a lot.

We arrived in Cinci on Friday night and we went straight to the hotel to rest.  We stayed at one of the flag hotels which was around 1/3 of a mile from the start and that was great.  We had to drive to the expo because it was raining that day but we managed to do it without any issue.  The expo is fun and they gave Richard some goodies for the Half and I got some different goodies for the full.  They sure make a party out of the race and the expo, so it was a really nice atmosphere.

On race day, we woke up with a nice mid 60s weather, which would soon turn a bit too warm to run a marathon, but not too hot to have fun.  We headed to the start of the race and while heading to the corrals, the National Anthem started so we couldn't move for a few minutes.  I entered my corral with a minute to spare, if at all.  Met with my friend Christina B and her hubby and hang out and took pictures while we waited.

We started and Christina B and I parted ways.  I headed at a pace that felt comfortable and ran some of the minor hills.  But after Mile 6, there was a huge hill that went on for 3 miles or so.  And not a tiny hill, the elevation was substantial.  There were parts where you couldn't run it was a bit steep.  But I kept going until Mile 9 or thereabouts where we split from the HM who had a downhill all the way to the finish while we headed for uphills some more.  The course appears to indicate that the second half of the race is slightly downhill but it's all up and down up and down with a slight downhill elevation but you don't feel that you are going downhill, not at all.

During this second half, I concentrated on running the downs and walking fast the ups.  Met a Marathon Maniac and talked to her for a while.  Played some hoops in one of the stations where they had a huge party going on.  Didn't eat bacon (shame on me!) but passed by it and it smelled delicious.  By Mile 23 I saw a fellow INKnBURN Ambassador and friend Tasha, and she looked to be struggling, so I joined forces with her and we finished the last 2-3 miles talking and getting to know each other better.  I think that is a great way to spend a marathon, IMO.

We finished in 5:37 or 5:27, I don't recall.  The time is not important; it's the memories that we create from it.  And OH is done!

Friday, August 5, 2016

The Star Wars Dark Side Challenge (10K & HM) RR: A Wedding, Friends, and Some Running in Between

Sorry for the delay in writing race reports! As you will see with my last report from the July race, there have been many surprises in the last few weeks to keep us busy here at home!

But, back to race reports.  In April, I ran the Star Wars Dark Side Challenge at Disney World.  Initially, I was to run only the Half Marathon with hubby, but after my friend Beth announced she was getting married that Thursday and that we had several wedding parties to attend to, I said why not do the challenge instead since I was going to be at Disney since Wednesday?  So, when Disney opened a few more challenge spots, I was ready!

We left Miami on Thursday early afternoon and I had the bachelorette dinner that night, so we barely made it in time for me to change and head there.

Beth and I are part of a group of wonderful women (Just us Girls) and a group of us were there to celebrate Beth and Shane's wedding.  But first, the bachelorette dinner:

Lots of fun!

On Friday, Beth and Shane were married.  We first had a breakfast while the bride and groom got ready, and then, we crashed the wedding, and I mean that literally...

We had so much fun.  And Beth and Shane looked spectacular:

The rest of the day was spent at the expo and eating great Puerto Rican food with hubby.  I had the 10K on Saturday early morning, and I was already exhausted even without running!

On Saturday, the Star Wars 10K was held.  I thought of racing the 10K to see where my speed was at, and I tried, but without any chance for a warmup run and the humidity being bad (for April, it was not that hot or humid, but more humid than normal), I had an asthma attack at around Mile 2, so I had to jog the rest of the way.  Still, I ran most of it closer to the MP, so I was happy nonetheless (and looked good):

(I bought the photo pass and am still have been unable to download the race pics from the 10K, sigh).

We had a brunch with the bride and groom later that morning, and I was surprised when hubby made it and met everybody.  We spent the rest of the day shopping.

On Sunday, I ran the Half Marathon with hubby.  After the asthma attack, it was for the best.  Unfortunately, when I packed, I packed the wrong lace top (the tank instead of the racerback) and the shirt I brought did not look good with the skirt, so I did a last minute outfit change and wore the race shirt, OMG!  Still, we did well and ran a good time for hubby.


Saturday, May 14, 2016

The Shamrock Marathon DNF Race Report

I have been super swamped at work, so I have had no time to write new race reports or blog posts.  But here it goes. :)

We had planned on running Shamrock to get Virginia for my husband in his quest for more states.  I had heard this race is very flat (it is) and that it has great weather (doubtful), so I signed up for the full and planned on at least racing it at a good effort.

As the time got near, the weather had turned to rainy and windy.  When we arrived to Virginia Beach on Friday night, the rain had not started but as we woke up on Sunday, the wind and the rain were there to stay.  We were staying in front of the start for the marathon and we could see the finish line for the 8K that morning falling down from the wind.  The wind was brutal, indeed.  I was already worrying about my lungs but thought the rain might calm the wind a bit.  It didn't.

We spent the day before the race shopping, eating, and just enjoying the area.  There was not much to do outdoors since the winds were brutal.  That night, we wanted to walk around and find a good restaurant but the wind was so bad we went back to the room and ordered a pizza.  Before going to bed, as I was preparing my outfit (undecided as to whether to wear a LS or a short sleeve, a skirt, or capris), my husband decided to not start his race if it was raining hard.  The winds were expected to be in the 30s and they didn't disappoint.  I was undecided as to whether to even start with that forecast, but thought I needed the miles anyway and, rather than hop on the TM at the hotel, might as well try to run and see how the winds felt.

The morning of the race, we woke up and hubby decided to DNS.  The rain was bad during the start of the HM and I heard it rained for half of it.  I don't blame him.  It was cold, rainy, and super windy.  I wouldn't have done it.  But, I prepared myself to start, ate my usual pre-marathon breakfast of Krispy Kreme donuts and a Mountain Dew, and headed downstairs to meet a friend, Meghan.  We took a picture together and this was the only picture taken of me during the race (and it was before the race!).  Meghan had also decided to DNS and with us being in the lobby of my hotel, I was still debating.  But I had decided to start the race and run the first 12 miles of the race, which would bring me back to my hotel.  At that time, I would decide if continuing was worth it.  I didn't care for the rain, I don't mind running in it, but the wind was another story.  My lungs cannot take it and I didn't want to screw my asthma too bad.

I went to the start line and the rain had stopped (thankfully).  It was 47F feels like 38F and the winds were in the 20s (allegedly because they felt worse).  I had a throwaway shirt from one of my husband's races but I took it off before the start.  I had my tech tube in case I needed to breathe and a light LS from the Misfit Runners FB group to protect me from the wind.  I might have been a bit overdressed for anything but the wind, but I felt OK in it.

We were off! The first 5 miles were with the wind to our back, so the first 5 miles felt nice and easy and I took them nice and easy.  But as soon as we turned back, the wind hit me in the face.  Although at that point, the wind was not too bad where we were, I started slowing down from all the running towards the wind.  I was fine...until Mile 9 where we went straight to the shore and there was no harbor from the wind.  I put my techtube up hoping it would diminish the effects on my lungs, but for the life of me I couldn't move.  It felt like I was running in pace without making much ground.  I think my paces here dropped into the 11s and then the 12s.  As we got out of the shore and back on the street, we headed towards my hotel.  It was Mile 11 and I had already made my decision to stop at the hotel and DNF.  I couldn't run anything faster than 12mm with the 30mph gusts hitting me in the face and the rain had started.  That I could've finished?  Probably.  But who wants to run in this shit, really.  I passed by the hotel and stopped.  I got to my room and my husband said Told you so.  LOL.

Although I am sad I did not finish this race because it is a fun race notwithstanding the weather, I was so glad not to be out there for 3+ more hours in the brutal weather.  But at least I got to meet friends and had a good time.  Maybe one year I'll go back there.