Monday, April 22, 2013

Dashing through the snow

Last week was the first week of Dash and Dine 5K.  It's a series of six 5K races on Tuesday at 6:30pm around Boulder Reservoir.  It is a great way to warm up towards the summer, but to our surprise, this race had nothing "warm" about it.

First, it was the first day after the Boston bombs, so people were angry about it.  We did have a few moments of silence for those affected by the bombings.  Lots of people were wearing Boston gear too.  That was cool.  Secondly, it was 34 degrees, and there was SO MUCH SNOW.

This is how Boulder Rez looks like during the winter (or Spring, whatever)
The race started at 6:30pm sharp.  There were 70 people present to dash and dine.  I'm always intimidated by these small Boulder races since you're usually up against very fast people.  Regardless, I gave it my all.

The first mile is uphill and always the challenge.  Once on the dams, it was snowy and incredibly muddy.  I hit my first mile in under 8 min/mile.  That was fast but unfortunately I couldn't maintain the pace.  The second mile was long, the turn around point must've been slightly off... and the second mile was my longest.  I started to feel tired, but I believe I've worked hard enough the past year to realize that I can push through pain much better than I used to.  I relaxed and kept going.  My garmin said mile 3, but seems like I was still a tenth of a mile away from the mile marker and I was.  Therefore, by the time I crossed the finish line, I had run my fastest 3.2 mile 5k.  Well, I must confess, this was my fastest 5k regardless of the extra tenth of a mile, I just didn't realize it until I got back to my computer.

I was happy with the results, which put me 7th overall women, 4th in my age group.  Whoa... TOP 10 IN BOULDER?  That's a new one.

I'm now hoping I can beat that in the next few weeks!

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Finish Line

As a marathon runner, I can tell you this: the finish line of a marathon is sacred.  It's yours for a split second but it's the one moment everything is perfect.  And the glory of having gone through it, last forever.  Regardless of your performance at the actual race, the finish line moment is perfect.  Regardless of what else is going on in your life, the moment you cross a finish line, nothing else matters.  Regardless of if you crawl, walk, jog, run or sprint to it, the moment that you cross it, you know you've accomplished something not anyone can do.

I have quite the special memories crossing finish lines: 

My first marathon ever with my BFF Theresita.  She "taught" me how to run a marathon, and helped design an IT band brace. 
Denver, my second marathon.  IT band brace got an upgrade... and I learned to finish with a real smile. 
My third marathon in San Antonio.  The one that qualified me to be part of the Marathon Maniac Club.  And the one where my besties from Mexico came to cheer me on. 
Fourth and most painful marathon yet.  Big Sur- Big smile, first time I allowed myself to cry.  First of many (Until today, I still cry at the finish of ALL my marathons). 
I remember San Diego, my fifth marathon.  I missed my personal best by 2 minutes, but the course had been quite the delight.  Later that year, I ran Denver again, where my friend Theresa met up with me a little past half way.  Then, there's the joy of running a marathon in an Ironman.  Those feel even better! 

My first Ironman Marathon in 2011
My second Ironman Marathon... seriously, does it get any better than that. 
Of course, there the joys of running your third and fourth Denver marathons.  It doesn't matter that it's the same course... it's still a marathon. And it's still a finish line. 

Sharing the joy with my little brother
Or your marathon #9 where you manage to break your personal best after 8 tries
Or when you break your personal best on your marathon #10 and you speak to some force from a galaxy far far away. 
Anyway, the reason why I decided to speak about the finish line of a marathon is because of today's events in Boston.  I can't fully express how I feel, but it strikes me too close to home.  Not physically, but figuratively. The finish line of a marathon is my home, it's where I feel complete.  I'm angry and heartbroken that someone so evil would go after healthy and happy people.  Us runners, are healthy and happy.  We run marathons to stay sane and to have some big challenges and goals to work towards.  

Some of my thoughts about it are selfish.  Sorta thanking that my friend who ran it is ok.  Thanking that I was not fast enough this year to be there, but I do also think about the race staff, the spectators, the runners and Boston residents.  THE Boston Marathon is a celebration for those who run marathons.  Just like Kona is the ultimate goal for all of those racing in Ironman, the Boston Marathon is that for runners.  I feel horrible for those people who put their heart and soul into getting to this race and have it end the way it did.  For some reason or another, it makes me want to work harder to qualify... I can't imagine how amazing it must feel to finish your race fast enough to say those words: "I qualified for Boston".  Can you imagine those who were running their first Boston?  Heck... I hold close to my heart all my Denver Marathon finishes (and it's been 4).  Can you imagine those who were finishing their 4th Boston?  Finishing a marathon should not be associated with terror, violence or anything negative.  Much less THE Boston Marathon. 

Let this be a lesson for us runners to stay together, more than ever.  Remember to wave at each other when running on the street, path or trail. We are all on the same team: all training to reach our finish lines.  

"You can never be sure. That's what makes the marathon both fearsome and fascinating.  The deeper you go into the unknown, the more uncertain you become.  But then you finish. And you wonder later, 'how did I do that?' This question compels you to keep making the journey from the usual to the magical." -Joe Henderson

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Trail-running in the Spring

The definition of early spring trail running in Colorado is- cold rain, toe-numbing snow, face-freezing sleet, shoe-sucking mud...

What is it that I like about it? Because it sure sounds miserable. What makes it so extraordinary and easy to lace up and blast out the door?

- Serenity
- Complete freedom
- The perfect sense of peace
- I get to be a kid again
- The solitude. Feels like I'm meditating by default.

So, some people do yoga. I like getting wet and muddy. Makes me smile.

Day 1- Thinking of you

It's been hard to come to peace with my decision to not go to Alaska. Since my man flew out on Wednesday, I've been an emotional wreck. I can't help but be jealous and wish I was there with him. "I should've quit my job" is a thought that constantly enters my mind. It's one of those times that my heart speaks louder than my mind.

I drove up to the mountains today, and as I was driving, I couldn't help but see the stars. It was such a beautiful clear night. And the moon. WOW. What a moon! I could see the whole moon even though only a small part was lit up.

I cried lots today as I said goodbye to my man. He was in Talkeetna, Alaska today and boarded a plane to get dropped off at the Pika Glacier. It was hard to say goodbye. I still wished I was there and can't believe I'm not. Such stupid decision to put work before life experiences. I should get paid to experience life.

Anyway, I wanted to write and tell my man that I love him. And mostly, I wanted nothing but to talk to him and ask him... "Can you see the stars the way I can see them in Colorado? Is the moon as bright there as it is here? Are the skies as clear as they are here tonight?"  I can only hope he is asking himself the same questions. I love you, Bicho!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I'm hardcore!

Deep down, everyone wants to believe they can be hardcore, but being hardcore isn't just about being tough.  It's about acceptance.  Sometimes you have to give yourself permission to not be hardcore for once.  You don't have to be tough every minute of every day.  It's okay to let down your guard.  In fact there are moments when it's the best thing you can possibly do... As long as you choose your moments wisely. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Is "PRing" even a word?

1) noun. Runner's jargon for personal record, which is a person's best in a particular event
2) verb. To achieve a PR

After two successes two years in a row, meaning PRing the half marathon distance in this event two years in a row, I decided to sign up for the Platte River Half once more.  Last year's race was good.  I ran my best half marathon so far and I was proud of me.  I was a happy camper.

I'm not going to lie, while I PRed, I knew I could go harder.  During last year's race, I ran with someone that held me back just a bit, and after a year of taking my training and racing as seriously as I have been, I realized I don't want to run races with someone.  I will start with someone and wait for my crew to finish... but running a race together is a whole different beast.  This time was my time to shine.

As you (random reader) know, I am training for a 50 mile race in Mt. Hood and I'm slowly adding mileage to my weeks.  I had a short jog scheduled for Saturday according to my training plan, but I was in the mountains with nothing else to do and a nice sunny day that called my name.  I left the house planning on running easy and slow for maybe 30 minutes, maybe 40.  Off I go... and 8 miles later I'm back in the house feeling as good as new.  I went slow.  It was a mellow pace, but still 8 miles.

On Sunday morning I woke up wondering if the 8 miles would hurt me.  I didn't feel tired, I felt fine.  This time around, I'd ask the man-friend that we get there early.  So we left home early and were parked by 7:15am. We picked up our race packets and relaxed a little bit before dropping off our bags and lining up at the start.  It was a gorgeous sunny day (unlike the past 2 years).

Sun's out... now let it warm up!! 
If you read last year's race report, I mentioned that my goal was to run a sub-2hr half marathon, so the pressure was on.  If I ran a 9:09min/mile race, I'd accomplish my goal.  Off we go.  I tried to stay calm and focused, but it's easy to run fast during the first mile.  I logged an 8:38min mile. I felt surprisingly good, so I just stuck to my pace.  The second mile was an 8:40 and the third an 8:35.  Am I just faster nowadays?  Well, I slowed down, since I was afraid I wouldn't be able to keep it up.  Regardless, I was able to maintain my pace under 9:00 min/mile.

Just like last year, I'd carried 3 GUs so I could eat one every 4 miles. And knowing that the aid stations were 2 miles apart, I walked through the ones on mile 4, 8 and 12 to drink some water and eat some GU.  Those miles were slower, but roughly around 9:05s and past mile 6 or 7, my pace was staying closer to an 8:50min/mile.  This felt so much more comfortable.

At mile 10 I had no choice but to stop and use the porta-potty.  I was well aware that I was roughly 3:30 minutes "ahead of schedule" so in theory I had time, but didn't want to use it.  I stopped anyway.  By the time I completed mile 11, I realized I may have lost just over a minute, so I was still roughly 2 minutes ahead of schedule.  Mile 12 consisted of an aid station (for me to drink water and eat a GU) so slowed down enough to barely run a 9:05 and Mile 13 has THE CLIMB. I hate THE CLIMB.  I was also able to maintain a pace under goal time.  The last quarter of a mile I gave it my all and ran a 7:10min/mile average.  Whew... I'd never felt this crappy after a half marathon.

Chuck was there waiting for me and knew I had made it.  My official finish time is 1 hour, 57 minutes and 23 seconds.  This will only teach me that I can easily do what I set my mind to.  Not only did I break the 2 hour mark (which would've been accomplished with that 9:09 min/mile pace) but I broke the 9 min/mile average running an 8:57 average per mile.

The day stayed gorgeous so we sat at the finish line area to drink some beer, enjoy some live music and soak up the sun.  Life is good.