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 adventure...next 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.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

About 2016 So Far and How your Mind Can Ruin Your Love for Marathons

The year 2015 was a great year for me as a runner, considering I ran the most mileage I have ever done in a year and my paces lowered consistently.  I just did not hit any of my goal races and had some medical issues to take care of during most of it (high blood pressure, asthma, etc.)

When 2016 started and with it, my plan to run another slew of marathons to earn new states on my quest, I was hopeful that 2015 and the speed therein would help me at least feel like a better runner in 2016.  And the year started well.  I ran the Dopey Challenge with my BFF Mary, and we had a ton of fun.  My next race was the Miami Half Marathon but when I saw that the temps were PR conducive (40F at the start and mostly in the 40s for the remainder of the day), I switched to the full and thought: this is my chance, I can do this!  Except I was sick and did not know it and spent the next three weeks with either a fever, or a chest congestion/cough from hell.  I was almost at 100% when the A1A Ft. Lauderdale Marathon came around and I set to run that one, if at an easier pace, only to quit at Mile 19 instead.  As I mentioned in my last race report, this played with my mind badly.  I knew I could've finished the A1A Marathon; I just didn't want to.  Part of me thought I couldn't deal with the slower pace that came with the high winds and my cough, but part of me thought I was still sick.  Or was it me?

After the A1A, I felt like I did not love marathons any more.  Wait, what?  I don't like running anything else!  And without my races, I feel that I would not run as much as I do because I would have nothing else to make me go outside (or the Treadmill) except my gorgeous INKnBURN clothes.  I hate half marathons and would not race them often, if at all, and I despise short races because I cannot race them without ending in the hospital, so if I didn't love marathons anymore, I asked myself, did I love running at all anymore?

So, I am very glad to have finished the RnR New Orleans Marathon almost two weeks ago.  I was a bit disappointed in the pace but I didn't set myself to race that day.  I think I was even more nervous about that race than my first marathon (which I ran an hour slower than I ran in NOLA now).  Based on my latest asthma follow up, there was nothing to fear: the cough was gone and my asthma is at an all time high (see below), so it was my mind. I did not enjoyed the second half of the race when my stomach issues arose and the temperature seemed to be from Miami than NOLA in Winter.  And I think I was able to tell my mind to shut up, but we will see about that in two weeks when I run my next.  Unfortunately, while I planned to mirror 2015 in terms of mileage, I have been slacking big time on my mileage this year and my pace bunny is laughing at me at this time.

Oh, and after the A1A Marathon, I had my asthma follow up appointment. I still felt meh concerning the three week cold from hell and I was seriously expecting my breathing to be at an all time low (my normal readings have been between 51% and 61% in the last three years).  But for some reason, even after the Prednisone treatment had been gone from my body, and for the first time since I was diagnosed with asthma, my breathing was at 75%.  Wait, say wut?  This explains why I felt stronger and faster last year.  Having a tiny bit more of lungs working does make a difference, LOL.

So, although I am not as hopeful as I was when I started 2016, I am happy at least with something.  Breathing is kind of important, don't you think? :)

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

RnR New Orleans Marathon

On Sunday, I ran the Rock n Roll New Orleans Marathon.  After two DNFs due to illness and maybe a mental block, all I wanted was to finish this one.  To say I was nervous is an understatement.  I was.  Once you have to DNF from a race, it either makes it easier to make that decision afterwards, or it plays with your mind for a while.  Not sure which one I had, but I really felt unsure I would be able to complete the distance but needed to because otherwise, my mind would win for the rest of the year.

This was to be my 32nd marathon an ultra (say what?) and my 8th state, not counting Puerto Rico, so I was looking forward to adding another state in my 50 in 50 quest.

We arrived in New Orleans on Thursday afternoon, since it was our first trip to NOLA and we wanted to experience the city, the atmosphere, the culture.  I was a bit worried about the food, since I am allergic to shellfish, and wondered if I could find something nice to eat and be able to experience the culture and food without eating shellfish, but I had almost no problems with that (had a bit of cross contamination, but nothing major). One thing I found is that NOLA had worse allergens than Miami, at least at this time of year.  My allergies were acting up from the start and they are still giving me a bit of an issue today.

The city was very nice.  A bit smaller than I expected, but also much cleaner, safer, quieter, than I expected.  We walked to Bourbon Street and walked it from beginning to end, and that was a bit of a disappointment.  I always assumed the locals would still be around the area, and the music scene would be there as well, but they were not.  Serves me right for assuming, ha.  We also met my friend, and fellow admin of the For the Love of INKnBURN FB group, Michele, and her husband.  It was nice to meet her in person and getting to know her a little better.  Picture!

Obviously, we were both decked in INB, as normal fans are. :)

After saying goodbye to Michele, Richard and I walked to Café Du Monde, to get some beignets from there before walking back to the Hard Rock Café on Bourbon Street for dinner.  We love eating at every Hard Rock Café we can find around the world and New Orleans was no exception.  We shared some nachos and a sangria pitcher.  Our vacation started well, IMO.

On Friday, we headed to the expo, which was not far from the hotel (in fact, everything is within walking distance there, love it).  We had breakfast at the Harrah's Buffet and, except for the bit of cross contamination I got with my omelet (oh, that shellfish), it was delicious.  And they had beignets there too.  Win.

We met a friend of mine from the MRT Turtles FB group (it's not about time, but about attitude!) and it was a pleasure to finally meet Allison.  She is as lovely as the internet has shown. :)  More pics.

Since we usually do the expos last minute on the last day, it was a rare experience for me to see an empty expo full of a couple of runners and nothing else.  We then headed to lunch and later to explore a bit more of the city by using the Hop On, Hop Off buses.  We had dinner and tried to sleep a bit better than the night before.  It was unsuccessful.

By Saturday morning, I had noticed that my allergies were bad and I had my first nose bleed of the weekend.  Fortunately, the dewpoint was so low, my breathing was good.  We explored the WWII Museum, which I think it's a must if visiting NOLA, and we met my friend Melissa from the Smoking Hot Mammals FB group after the museum.  I have known her for close to 7 years but never met her in person.  It was a very nice day!

We finished Saturday with a trip to the Aquarium, including Melissa.  Like I said, a great day!

Race Day is here!  I woke up after another sleepless night with a migraine and stomach issues.  Ugh.  I thought the stomach issues would stop or delay until after the marathon, but as you can see later, they did not.  I took an Immodium, together with my normal meds before the race, had some calories in the form of a non-Krispy Kreme donut (sniff, we didn't find any for this trip and I should have bought my own) and sip a bit of my Mountain Dew, but didn't feel like I wanted to eat/drink anything else.  We headed to the corrals closer to 7am and stood near my corral, Corral # 10.  Took some pictures and met a couple of ladies from the INB group, who I had been looking forward to meeting and they did not disappoint.

Of course I was decked in INB, doh.  The arm warmers, I knew, were coming off at some point, since it was 45F then but predicted to go up to 70F, too hot for marathoning, IMO, but what can you do.  This was a just finish race, not a goal race.  But I wore my favorite Bandit camisole to get a bit of badassness rubbed off on me since my mind was telling me to quit already.  My head hurt here.

And here are the two lovely ladies from the INB group, and they are now joining me as INB Ambassadors:

The race started at 7:33am, almost on time.  My corral started around 12 minutes later, said goodbye to my husband and started.  I found the GPS did not do well near the CBD (Central Business District) because my first mile was a full 0.10 before the actual marker.  I also found the roads full of holes, so the going was rough.  I almost trip and fell twice, oy.  I was trying an easyish pace at the start and felt fine, albeit a bit warm.  The arm warmers went off by Mile 1 and even then, I felt it was too warm already.  The temps went up to 68F before I finished the first half, 70+ by the time I finished the full.  The race, especially the second half, has no shade.  I am sunburned, ha.

At Mile 5.53, my Garmin froze.  Gah!  It didn't come back up until Mile 24, and by then it was too late.  After that, I had no idea of what my pace was like, but I knew that I had done the 5.53 in 56 minutes and change, so not bad.  After the halfway point, I pulled my phone out and (while running), quickly texted hubby that I had no Garmin and to please text me the splits when they happened.  Apparently, I ran the HM in 2:15 something, which was good, but a bit faster than I wanted at that point, with half of the race still ongoing.  I think by Mile 20, the pace was somewhere close to 10:40, so I slowed down a lot (details below).

Miles 14-16 went well.  I was looking at the mile markers and making a quick math and most splits had been between 10:08-10:20, so around where I wanted at that point.  I had taken gels at Miles 4.5, 9, 13.50(ish since no Garmin), but after Mile 16, my stomach cramps got worse so it was time to find a potta potty.  I think I stopped at one somewhere before my Mile 18 gel, so 17ish.  And again at Mile 19, and then later at Mile 23.  It was frustrating!

The rest of the race went by roughly.  The sun was relentless and it was already 70F or even more.  I was dehydrated from the migraine and, even though I was taking two cups at every water station, one for drinking and one for going over my head, I felt thirsty.  I kept my gels going when they were supposed to and my energy was fine; I just lost a bit of time stopping for the bathroom and walking.  Cause at some point, the sun killed me and I walked.  Still, I was having a good time.  I high-fived kids, took some beer from one of the stations (by that time, the stomach had settled), and headed to the finish.  After 13 miles of relentless sun, a cloud passed by and I finished in the shade.  I wish that cloud had been with us all race long.  I finished in 4:52:23, 18 minutes from my PR but far from being a PW.  I was happy with that.

My husband had already finished his race, showered, checked out of the hotel and driven to the finish to pick me up.  I found the line for the finisher's jacket (which is lovely but I forgot to take a picture of it), and met my husband.  We headed straight to lunch, the airport, and home.

It was a nice race and I am glad I battled the DNF demon and prevailed.  I also better get used to the slowing times until my goal race, as adding marathons every month will take their toll as the time goes by.  Next one is in less than three weeks!