“Oh, the places you’ll go”

As 2013 comes to a close, as many people do, I have been reflecting on what’s happened during the year. Lots of ups and downs. Lots of challenges. Lots of happiness too.

I feel really grateful for many things in my life. I am grateful for my boyfriend and his cancer journey coming to a positive end being cancer free. I also feel very lucky that I get to do a lot of things I love, like running and traveling.

And I realized I did a lot of traveling this year. I went to Los Angeles a few times to hang out with friends and also run a race, and I went to Boston, San Francisco, Germany, and Arizona. I ran in all these great places! I was inspired by so many things to run races in these amazing cities, states and countries. While thinking about all my journeys this year, I decided to count miles. Not just the miles I ran, but miles I traveled to races and back, and miles I raced. I came up with a LOT of miles! The ratios are ridiculous…

Check this out -

I traveled a total of about 19,000 miles.

I trained about 1,450-1,500 miles.

And that was to race ONLY 131 miles.

So, maybe I’m a little crazy. Or a LOT crazy! I was even called a “maniac” by a coach/friend of mine.

running-inspiration-human-heart-limitsWhile we are on the subject of my craziness and traveling, I finally registered for a race in 2014 and it’s a surprise for now. I’ll keep you posted very soon as to my whereabouts and my next adventure!

I am excited about 2014. Clint has finally realized the importance of traveling and is ready for it. He missed out on a lot of adventures I have been on without him. He always had a reason he couldn’t go with me -  mostly money or work related. But after going through a life threatening disease, he is now ready to not worry so much about those things (“life is too short”) and not miss out on great adventures. This is really exciting to me! Oh, the places we’ll go!

Happy New Year to you all! May 2014 bring lots of fun, laughter, good health, and plenty of running!

“You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”
Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

Last race, I promise

Ok, so I lied when I said the CIM was my last race of 2013! I had kept it a secret that I was registered for a half marathon in Scottsdale, AZ. I had registered for this race in November, but pending my outcome of CIM. As long as my body felt good, then I would run it. If for some reason I felt like crap or got injured, I wouldn’t.

Just four days after CIM, we flew to Phoenix. My body was feeling a lot better but my quads were a little tight still. I had been icing, stretching, cycling, more icing, stretching…and I cycled when I got to my dad’s resort. By Friday, I said “Let’s do this!”

photo 2-2I signed up for this race because my dad and stepmom have never seen me cross a finish line of a road race in all the years I have been running half marathons and marathons. I thought it would be a cool experience for them to see this and I selfishly also wanted to run a race in another state while I was visiting. A half marathon was do-able – I did not want to run another marathon this soon after the CIM. So this was perfect timing while I was there.

I ran the Runner’s Den Fiesta Bowl Half Marathon in Scottsdale. The race location was about 45 mins away from where we were staying, but not too bad of a drive at 6:15am. I got to the start with very little time to spare. I wasn’t worried too much since it was a small race. I got in a porta pottie line immediately but as we inched forward I realized I didn’t have enough time. So I darted out of line and ran to the start. 30 seconds later the race started!

It was a very flat course in the town of Scottsdale. It was also fairly warm compared to the marathon last weekend. The temp was in the mid to high 40′s and I didn’t even need gloves. Nice and sunny! The race also had only about 3,000 runners combined with both the 5k and half marathon.

The race had a good amount of water and electrolyte stations and even porta potties along the route. I actually had to stop about Mile 3. I did not want to hold it for another 10 miles! But I was fairly quick about it.

The last few miles of the course were along a bike trail. I saw what I thought was a large dog with a toy in his mouth. I looked for an owner thinking they were playing fetch. But there was no “owner” in sight because it turned out to be a coyote with a duck in his mouth from the pond he was walking away from! Then I saw a second coyote walking the opposite direction. This little grassy area and pond were right next to homes! I was surprised these coyotes were so close to the houses. It was pretty interesting to watch as I ran by.

As I finished the race I saw Clint and my dad and Jackie (stepmom) along the railings. It’s pretty rare that I can spot my supporters at the end of a race this easily. It was fun to see them at the end and hear my name called as I crossed the finish line.

I got my medal which looks like a sun catcher, picked up some things to eat at the booths, we snapped a few photos and then headed back home.

That’s really it! 13.1 miles in Arizona. A great morning run (and race)!

photo 1-3When I picked up my bib on last Friday, the man that helped me asked if it was my first half marathon and I said no. I mentioned that I was from Sacramento and just ran the CIM last weekend and he said he ran the first three CIM races many years ago and we chatted for a few about how there’s only 12 runners left that have run all 31 years. It’s always great to have conversations like this with fellow runners. However, the best part of packet pickup was seeing the Boston Marathon finish line painted on the outside of their shop. I knew it was meant to be.

CIM #6

After running marathons since 2008, I am not big on running the same ones multiple times. I want to experience new races, new cities, new environments. But when it comes to our local California International Marathon, I feel like I have to run this one each year for my friends. I also run each year to continue the streak with this being number six. My friends have also made it their tradition to go out to a local pub, Bonn Lair, and buy beers for runners that pass by. It’s about 2.5 miles to the finish, so it’s a good spot to get fatigued runners to have a sip of beer (or entire beer) before finishing. They try to see if they can beat the previous year’s number of beers bought, so it’s become a challenge. I love it! Apparently, Guinness sponsored them and got them a keg for this year’s race.

For me, it’s a great motivator to see them and get a little energy for the last couple miles. This race is in my “backyard” so it’s a fun one to look forward to. It’s also known as one of the fastest races in the US, so a lot of people come to Sacramento to qualify for Boston here. And I was attempting this again this year.

I ran three other marathons this year with this forth one on the radar. This is not a typical year for me. I have been running about two marathons each year with some half marathons or other events in between. But it’s been an interesting year and I won this entry so I figured “why not?”.


Rock Tape

Going into this race I had just finished Berlin missing a Boston Qualifying time by 35 seconds (correction: by 1:34). I was super bummed. I then had about two months to train for CIM. I actually took it easy and didn’t train nearly as hard as usual because I had trained so much this year. And I also had been going to my PT for regular maintenance for a slight injury, if you want to call it that, for the last six weeks. My knee was feeling bruised on the kneecap before I left for Berlin, but I didn’t think anything of it. I thought I just hit it on something. I then ran Berlin with no injuries or pain. But about a week and a half after that race, I started running again and felt that little bruised feeling again on my knee. I thought I had Runner’s Knee, which is usually from overuse or over training. So I went to the Iron Thumb again to see what was going on. My left knee had popped out again! It’s not something where your knee buckles or you have any serious pain. I didn’t even know it popped out. So, he popped it back in (which was extremely painful) and then we did regular taping using Rock Tape (or KT Tap) to keep everything tight and strong. We retaped it once a week and I continued to run and train. It was really worth the time and money to make sure everything was in place. I also added in additional inner thigh exercises and more lunges and squats.

As it got closer to the race, the muscles in my leg were getting stronger and everything was looking good. What’s funny is, I never had any pain when I walked or ran, but would have a little soreness on the side of my knee after longer runs. Nothing major though. I just continued to ice religiously and hoped for the best. I actually became a little obsessed with making sure it got better as quickly as possible.

As the CIM got closer, I was getting excited. I had made a special jersey in honor of several people (friends and family) who have cancer, survived cancer, or even passed on from cancer. I wanted to run this race in honor of all of them, including Clint. It just seemed fitting. It was my last race of the year and Clint was finishing his last chemotherapy treatment two days before the race. We’ve been through a lot this year and I wanted to do this for them!

The day before the race, I prepared all my race items, as usual (they were laid out all nicely on the living room floor), and then watched funny movies like Big Top Pee Wee to take my mind off the race. I ordered my pepperoni and mushroom pizza and actually went to bed early. I can’t believe this happened, but I went to bed at 9:30pm! This is a record time. I normally go to bed at like 11pm or so (midnight even) on race nights because I am thinking about everything. So, I got lots of sleep, which was truly amazing.

I woke up at 4:43am and got everything together and my ride was at my house at 5:15am. I got a ride with a friend, Jennifer, who I have never raced with before but have been training with a little the last month or so. She offered and it turned out to be a great offer. This was the first time I was dropped off on the other side of the porta potties at the start area and we got to sit inside a warm car for a long time before heading out the start. Kind of awesome!

This year’s race was the coldest race I have ever run. Everyone was actually freaking out about the weather because it went from Fall (warmish) weather to Winter in like a week and we were not expecting it. We’re talking mid-20′s. Freakin’ cold! We didn’t know what to wear to protect ourselves from the bitter cold during the race. It became a little stressful. But I opted for my normal shorts and shirt with arm warmers and gloves.


A really cool photo taken near the beginning of the race. See all the frost?

As usual, I didn’t really have a solid strategy or plan. I had a basic goal time but I wasn’t stressing about it. I wanted to BQ if at all possible. The gun went off at 7am and it was soooooooooo cold! You could see all the puffs of breath in the air while we ran. It was kind of cool to see. The ground was frozen in many places along the course, so we had to be cautious. We also had to watch out for water freezing in front of the water stations. When runners would grab for water or powerade, the liquid would fall out all over the place and would freeze on the ground almost instantly, so people were slipping on ice as they would run in to grab a cup. It made me a little nervous. It was so cold that sweat was literally freezing on clothing. I could see it sparkling on runner’s backs as I ran by.

I started out slow but gained speed and thought I would catch up with Jennifer. She’s a fast runner and even though she said she was going for a 3:40-3:45, I knew she would run faster. I caught up with her and we ran behind the 3:35 pacer for a while. I lost her for a bit and ended up running by myself for a while ahead of the 3:35 pacer. I just had a lot of energy and thought I could just run it out until I lost momentum. I wanted to pad my time as much as possible. I know this is the total wrong strategy, but I did it anyway. My goal was to get a 3:35-3:38, if at all possible, to have a cushion for the Boston Qualifying time. I ran really well for the majority of the race, but of course, fatigue sets in a little and I started to slow down.

About Mile 11, I saw guys dressed in chicken suits and one had a sign that said “Touch this for Power” so I did! I mean, why not, right? Another guy had a sign that said “I just farted”…that one made me laugh!

photo 4

Mile 23.7. I’m in the white shirt and Kimio is on the far right.

I felt my legs getting colder and colder and my gloves were getting wet from grabbing water cups so my hands were getting wetter and colder throughout the race. For several miles I couldn’t feel my bottom half and it felt like I wasn’t wearing anything. I seriously thought my shorts fell off and people could see my butt. I would look down from time to time to make sure my shorts were still there. But I just kept running. My Shot Bloks and chews were frozen as well, so they were incredibly hard to chew when I popped them in my mouth. My friend Kimio met me around mile 20.5 to help pace me to the end. I felt bad because I was starting to get tired and I hoped I wouldn’t let him down. I know that sounds weird, but that’s what I was thinking. By this time, I couldn’t feel my lips and I barely spoke to him because I didn’t even want to open my mouth. He said I was “in the zone” but I just listened to him encourage me and try to get me to pick up my pace.

At this point I was struggling a little because my quads were getting tight and were so cold. I just kept trying to dig in when I could. I knew I had the time but I was trying to get a little more of a cushion if I could. When I saw Clint standing outside Bonn Lair it made me smile and so happy that I was almost to the finish line. I wasn’t sure if he would make it out to watch because he was still recovering from chemo and was tired. I didn’t have time to stop so I just ran by with a big smile and peace sign held high above my head. And all my buds on the patio chanted my name as I ran by!

I was so excited to reach the last few blocks of the race. I saw my time as I finished and knew I had the PR and BQ. I leaned over the railing and cried for a minute. But my calves tightened up a little and I saw a chair next to a table by the finish and just sat down. I needed to get off my feet for a moment. A runner wrapped up in a silver wrap was sitting in the other chair next to me and he looked like he had fallen asleep, so I asked if he was ok. We chatted for a moment. We both tried drinking the Cokes that were given to us as we finished. I was trying to find Clint but I was having trouble using my fingers to text. After I pulled my gloves off, my hands were frozen and swollen. I also wanted to confirm my time and Jenny (another Jennifer in my life) had just text me so I responded and the only thing I could say was “Shit. What does my time say on the tracker?” She replied with “3:38:52!!!!!!” I did it!

I really didn’t think about the food or beer at the finish line. I just wanted out of the cold. And Clint was having trouble finding parking to walk into the finish line area. So I made my way to gear check so I could get my pants on (which was hard to do being so cold) and then walked a few blocks to the car.

photo 1.1

I’m still cold. Can you tell?

Getting in the warm car was like heaven! I was shaking so bad and my teeth were chattering so it took a while to warm up. But off to lunch we went! We met up with some friends and had Mexican food and beers and just enjoyed being warm. I continued to make my rounds with other friends and went to a few other bars to celebrate and didn’t get home til about 9pm. Yeah, I know, I’m crazy. I actually didn’t even go to bed til 1am. I was amped up.

While I was running, I thought of my “friends” frequently. By friends, I mean the 11 people that I was running for. There were a few times when I was getting tired that I had to talk to myself and repeat some of their names to keep me going.

They helped me get to the finish line. I’m sure of it. This was a great way to end 2013.

Dear Legs – A letter of inspiration

Dear Legs,

You’ve had a full year of running and races. You’ve been to great cities and have been successful and strong. You have just one thing left to accomplish before 2013 ends. Your 6th CIM, California International Marathon, and 13th marathon, is in a couple days and your mission, should you choose it, is to finish this race for 11 people. These 11 people are counting on you to finish 26.2 miles to honor them and spread the word about cancer. This is an important mission. No matter how you run this race, you will complete this race and will celebrate these 11 lives. They will be in your heart, spirit, soul and in everything you can give on Sunday. Each one of these people has a story and you, my dear legs, are going to tell their stories through those seconds, minutes and hours to the finish line. You will fight to the finish and it will be a beautiful fight. This may be the hardest race you run, but you can do it. Be strong, bundle up and good luck!

With much love,

Your friend Amyphoto-5