Leavin’ on a jet plane

Well, the time has come once again to get packed and ready to leave the USA and head to another country. Sometimes, I can’t even believe how fast time flies. It’s been 4.5 months since I found out I got into the Tokyo Marathon and a lot has happened in these past months.

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Official Tokyo Marathon packet

It’s taken me until about NOW to get excited about this trip because I have had some other things preoccupying my mind. It makes it hard to look forward to a vacation racecation. But, now that I am leaving in 5 days from now, I am getting a little anxious and have a lot to take care of before I leave. Mostly I have to make sure I am prepared with everything I need to bring (running gear – especially the shoes!) and I’m leaving Clint behind to take care of the last bit of paperwork and chaos going on with our house in escrow (!!!). This wasn’t the original plan. He wasn’t able to go because of work, but I guess it’s worked out that he couldn’t go to Tokyo so he can handle house stuff while I am away, although I am bummed he won’t be on this journey with me. So, I’m not only packing my luggage but packing our house at the same time. Ha!

10407854_10153632341708484_4778113372603688523_nA couple weeks ago, Clint and I were lucky to have Kaori visiting and got to show her around Sacramento. Kaori is our friend Shin’s daughter and both are from Japan. We met Shin at the Trinidad and Tobago Int’l Marathon last year and were totally happy to accommodate her on her first trip the U.S. Shin sent Kaori with a care package for me filled with Tokyo maps and items that may be helpful on my first trip to Japan. I was very excited! Shin has been amazing in helping plan out our trip in Tokyo via email, so I know we will have a great time seeing the sites along with getting me ready for the marathon.

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Kaori was a trooper and got up at 6am with me to run part of my 13 mile run

I’ve been simultaneously training for the Tokyo Marathon (Feb) and the Boston Marathon (Apr) so it’s been interesting. I am mostly following the Boston 365 plan and joining the training group for workouts, but I have had to adjust recently to taper slightly for Tokyo and also got a bad cold last Friday that lasted about 5 days. I feel much better now, but I missed out on a long 16 mile run (I got in 8), which I really needed or I felt I needed.

10432999_10153631941683484_4384499054668087628_nAt this point, my body does feel great. It does feel strong and I feel like the extra speedwork and training workouts will be beneficial. I’m not trying to go super fast or PR in Tokyo, I really just want to have a good race and have fun. Boston is a little more important to me as far as getting to the start line healthy and strong and fast. Don’t get me wrong, I want to do well in Tokyo, but I am not going to beat myself up over my time or whatever happens.

 

I’m going to TOKYO! It’s going to be an amazing experience!

Don’t fret – I’ll post a race recap when I return!th

It’s a New Year!

Ok, so I disappeared. I guess kind of MIA. Since the Dublin Marathon, I just haven’t had the desire I had to write about my running life. I’ve had these questions: “Do people really want to read about me? Do they like what they read? Do I talk about myself too much? Am I narcissistic? Do people really care?”

I try to stay fairly modest about this running adventure of mine. I’m not an overly braggy person, so it’s hard for me to boast about this stuff. It’s a hobby that I like and it’s one that I spend a lot of time and energy on. But sometimes I get bored with myself. I get bored (and annoyed) with what this all is. I guess I try not to take it too seriously. I’m just an average person who runs. That’s it, really.

But enough of all that. I’ll fill you in on what’s been going on. Since Dublin, I ran the California International Marathon in December with my friend Jenny. Then I got word that I was picked to be on Team SunRype. Then I got word that I got picked to be a Sacramento Running Association “AmbasSRAdor”. Then I decided to pay $149 for the Boston 365 (Boston Marathon) training for the next 13 weeks. Oh, and I was supposed to take the USATF Intro to Officiating courses a week ago, but had to postpone it until March 7. We also have a visitor from Japan coming in a week. Yeah…lots going on.

In between all this, we found out we have to move and now we (my other half, Clint) are in the process of buying a house together. So, while I am fitting in training for the Tokyo Marathon (oh yeah, that’s coming up in February) and my weekly group training workouts for the Boston Marathon, I am also filling out lots of paperwork for home loan approvals, looking at homes, working, planning our next Sacramento Ball Sack & Beer Fest event, and trying to breathe. Hahahaha!

As usual, it’s a whirlwind. I don’t always like this crazy life I have. Some say this is just how my life operates. Always has, always will. I can’t say I always enjoy it like this, but I always seem to get ‘er done. Sometimes I wish it was a more steady lifestyle, but then again, I like having lots of things to do and lots of things to look forward to.

So, while you are reading this, I have probably just finished another training run or have attended another workout session or completed a webinar about SunRype or just bought another set of SofSole running socks, because I love them and they are so comfortable.

2014 Dublin Marathon

photo(39)“It’s ok to not feel ok” – I saw this on the back of a gals shirt during the race and I wanted to tell her YES! It kind of became my mantra during the race. And I guess it’s a mantra for life.

photo(40)I was prepared for cold, rainy weather. I packed arm warmers, gloves and expected a chilly start. Well, it was far from that. As I got ready in the morning, I checked the weather and it was already 60 degrees and cloudy so I knew this was going to be a warm one. The race also started at 9am so it’s a little later than I’m used to. I walked to the start area from the hotel and wasn’t cold at all. I actually wished I had worn a tank.

I ate my banana, Pure Protein bar (it was easy to pack in my luggage for race day food), and Chia Surge Energy Gel on the way to the start area. I immediately got in a crazy long line for the porta potties when I arrived. I also barely got out of the restroom before the gun went off. There were 14,600 people so it was a bit crazy.

As we started, my watch hadn’t picked up the GPS signal yet so I ran anyway hoping it would pick it up quickly thereafter. After about 1/3rd of a mile, it finally came on but I decided at that point I wasn’t going to worry about my time. I just wanted to enjoy it as best I could and just run. I also never turned on my music, which I believe is a first for me! I thought it would be better to just listen to the sounds around me.

The crowds were pretty amazing. There’s a reason they call it “the friendliest marathon in the world”. So loud and boisterous and cheering every single person on. The whole way I’d hear “well done lads!” or “brilliant!” as we ran by. They were passing out jellies (these would be Haribo gummies) and candies and making so much noise with clappers. Even runners were motivating other runners when they were walking.

photo(1)My pace was much slower than normal but I tried not to focus on it and remind myself I was doing this race to experience running in Ireland. Time isn’t everything. Sometimes just the experience of it all is worth more than just a silly PR or “great time”. I found the course difficult which seemed odd since it was posted as being a flat course. There were some hills and there was wind as well. But the heat was making it really difficult for a lot of people. I saw a lot of folks pulling over to the side with cramps, tight muscles, and looking dehydrated. Several ambulances had to come through the course to get to runners. I even had to call for a medic for a runner that pulled off and was yelling in agony holding his hamstring.

I walked during parts and just said “it’s ok!” I noticed a lot of runners wearing orange bibs, like myself, were slower, walking and pulling over to the sides. An orange bib was the first corral of runners with an estimated 3:40-3:50 finish time. So generally these runners have a fairly fast pace. But not today. Many were behind, like I was.

As I passed the 3 or 4 announcing stations along the course, they called out my name and said I came all the way from the USA or the States or United States. That was kind of fun because there were not that many of us from the US running this race. Spectators would call out my name because it was on my bib, but others called out “Timex” because that was on the front of my shirt. I thought it was funny. I wasn’t sure if they thought that was my name (or last name) or knew it was a company.

I sprinted the last 1.5 miles. I was so ready to be finished and happy I was almost done. I rounded the last corner and I could hear on the speakers U2′s “Where The Streets Have No Name” which was too perfect of an ending. I kind of teared up.

My official time was 4:27. Not my best, not my worst. But I just let it be what it was. There’s always another race but there may never be another marathon in Dublin like this for me.

After a long walk from the finish line, I was having trouble finding Clint in the meeting area and my legs were tired so I kept sitting down. After about 20 minutes I got up, feeling really lonely, and looked to my left and I finally spotted him.

The one thing that’s always tough about running international races is I’m almost always running them by myself. There’s no one to start with or talk to during the race, nothing familiar. So I have to just soak in everything else around me and enjoy it as best as possible. I love hearing other accents and hearing people talking to each other. I just watch and observe things around me.

I found out after the race from other runners that the course was changed this year due to construction and this route change made it tougher for a lot of runners. Many runners ran slower times because of this, the warm weather, and the wind. We even heard on the local radio that the elites had a tough time too.

photo(38)We walked around for a bit after the race looking for a pub to enjoy a beer and food. It was a bit of chaos in the immediate area around the finish, so we walked a little further and came upon a pub down an alley in the Temple Bar area. We had beers, fish and chips and lasagna. Delicious!

I am finding that the journeys I go on to run marathons in different countries are somewhat of a parallel to life. We find joy and passion in things and sometimes it takes the struggles and suffering to get to the good parts of life. I find that running marathons is exactly this. Sometimes they just suck royally to get to the finish line and sometimes they are just amazing and beautiful. Either way, it’s all part of life and what we do to be stronger and appreciate things more. I still feel really lucky that I have the means and get to run all over the world.

I read this the other day: “In a lot of ways, people think I’m kind of crazy. There’s a little bit of crazy in us all, though. If you’re going to line up for a marathon and call that your sport, you’re definitely a little messed up, but I get a weird satisfaction out of it.” – Lauren Klepplin (American long-distance runner)

Brush yo’ teeth!

Clint, my other half, recently started a pharmaceutical job and while in a doctor’s office saw a bit on the TV in the office about runners having bad teeth. So, of course, he came home and told me about it. He told me about it because while I have good hygiene overall I have a bad habit of going to bed without brushing my teeth. He hates this. I’m tired, I get in bed and that’s it…I’m out. And we have a tiny bathroom which makes it hard for two people to share the sink at the same time (yeah, yeah…excuses!). He, on the other hand, is super OCD and does not ever forget to brush his teeth at night. He made a big deal about this topic, and it actually kind of freaked me out a little.

imagesWell, I did a little research. If you are an avid runner, just brushing your teeth in the morning and at night is not going to cut it. It’s actually very interesting and makes a lot of sense. You may want to consider brushing more often if you run a lot, eat carbs a lot, use sports drinks a lot, and eat those “Gu” type gels a lot.

Here are a few articles with more detail:

http://www.nelsondentalgroup.com/are-marathon-runners-doomed-to-have-bad-teeth/

http://completerunning.com/archives/2007/04/26/can-running-ruin-your-teeth/

http://sechicagodentistry.com/archives/why-athletes-have-poor-dental-health-and-other-dentistry-news

Now, get to the dentist!

Is this an addiction?

Last night, we had some friends over and the topic of addiction came up. There are many different types and forms of addiction. The question came up as to whether my running was an addiction. Now, I have been running a long time. Since elementary school, as a matter of fact. Obviously when I was younger, this running was definitely not an addiction. It was a sport that I was interested in and I enjoyed the competition aspect of it. But now that I am running marathons, and multiple marathons a year, does this mean I am addicted? As in REALLY addicted?

Some may firmly say yes. Some may joke and say yes. And others may say no. Can exercise become addictive to some people? Sure! Do I like to exercise every day (or almost every day)? Well, yes! I love it! It makes my mind feel good, it makes my body feel good and overall, I just feel GOOD! Notice, I didn’t use the word need. I don’t actually NEED exercise, but I really like and want it.

Screen Shot 2013-02-09 at 8.13.07 AMSo, now I bet you are saying this is really an addiction. “An exercise addiction can have harmful consequences although it is not listed as a disorder…This type of addiction can be classified under a behavioral addiction in which a person’s behavior becomes obsessive, compulsive, and/or causes dysfunction in a person’s life.”

Are running marathons becoming an obsessive thing for me? Are they starting to cause a dysfunction in my life? I don’t believe so. So I asked my boyfriend. He said, “It’s a good thing, because it keeps you sane and level.” He says that I drive myself crazy with other things in my life, so this is good for me. (At first, he did try to say it is an addiction, but he was joking.)

Honestly, I love the direction of where my life has gone and is going and marathons are just part of it. Without this challenge, structure of training, goals, and events to look forward to, what would I be doing in my life? I really don’t know. For now, I am happy and content with what this “addiction” has brought me. I really feel it’s healthy and it really allows me opportunities to travel more. Would I have gone to Germany if it hadn’t been for the Berlin Marathon? Would I have gone to Trinidad & Tobago if it hadn’t been for their T&T International Marathon? Probably not. I also have the Dublin Marathon coming in a couple months. I’m sure at some point I would have gone to Ireland, but having a reason such as running a marathon in this country only makes this adventure happen sooner. I also have many other marathons in different countries on my bucket list. It’s all purely to see the world and a great way to do it.

I still find running a great sport and love the competition of it.

So, if it is an addiction, I’m sure my family and friends will have an intervention down the road. But I think I can say with confidence that’s it’s not hurting me or anyone else, so we’re all good…for now. (I joke!)

2014 Eugene Marathon

After 18 weeks of training, the Eugene Marathon arrived quickly. The months flew! I wasn’t sure I was ready for it, but I did all the training, in hot Sacramento weather, so I had to be ready at this point.

We arrived in Eugene the day before the race and went straight to the expo. After a 1.5 hour drive from Portland, we both needed to use the restroom so we quickly found parking and walked in. It was way too easy. Bathroom, bib number, then downstairs through the expo to get my participant shirt. I also bought an official Eugene Marathon hat. It’s kind of my tradition – I always buy a hat from the marathon I run. We really didn’t spend much time at the expo because we wanted to explore Eugene.

Pre's Rock

Pre’s Rock

Since I was in Tracktown USA, I wanted to get in as much of the legendary track history as I could. So after the expo, we roamed about town and then found Pre’s Rock, as in the famous track star, Steve Prefontaine. This tribute “rock” is at the site of where he crashed his car after leaving a party and ended up dying at age 24 in 1975.

While driving around and stopping at other spots in Eugene (Ninkasi Brewing, Tacovore, Tap & Growler) I was also looking for pizza spots, as this is my favorite fuel for a marathon. I saw Tracktown Pizza directly across from the university campus and knew I wanted to go there! When we arrived it was pretty busy as there were a bunch of World Junior Track & Field Championship participants from the Netherlands and China also enjoying some delicious carbs. The menu was awesome and very fitting. You could pick from pizzas named “Decathlon” or “Track & Field Combo” or “Olympian” and various other track and field events. I loved it! So I got the “Olympian” hoping I would feel like a champ in the morning.

I did the usual pre-race prep by laying out all my race gear, set my alarm for 4:35am, and then quickly went to bed. And 4:35am came quickly. I jumped up, got my clothes on, brushed my teeth and and made sure I had my bagel, banana, Vitalyte Tri-Phase Endurance fuel as well as my Shot Bloks and Chia Surge Energy Gels.

photo 3We were staying super close to Hayward Field so it was a quick 5 minute drive and we were there. I didn’t know how many people ran this race so when we arrived it seemed pretty quiet in the porta pottie line. I didn’t know if this was good or bad. But I was able to get into one immediately with no one waiting. Then about 20 minutes later more people showed up. But I still was able to get in line again with only like 2 people in front of me. I was supposed to be in Corral B, but as I walked forward to the front, I saw that the gate was open in Corral A, so I snuck in. The 3:35 pacer was right there, so I got in the group.

After the National Anthem, we took off at 6am! I felt great! Just a couple miles in, I came upon a runner that I recognized by his gait. That may sound funny, but he kind of runs like a competitive run/walker. His name is Walter and was from Sacramento. I took my headphones out of one ear and said hello. He couldn’t believe I remembered him. I believe I first met him at the San Diego Marathon several years ago, but he was living in Sacramento at the time (now he’s living in Toronto), so I would then see him all the time after running around Midtown. I was glad I spotted him.

I stuck with the 3:35 pacer for a long time…probably til about mile 10, but then I started to slow just a tiny bit. I could see the pacer not too far in front of me, but then I just started to drift away a little bit. I got a little mad at myself, but I had to just be okay with it. I was having a hard time mentally from like mile 10-12, but then just got in a zone after that. I just told myself that everything was fine. I’m still feeling fine. Nothing is hurting, nothing is feeling tight or sore, so just keep going. At that point I knew I wasn’t going to PR or BQ, but it’s OKAY! Just enjoy this.

So I continued to run and tried to just enjoy what I was seeing along the course. Early on around mile 10 I had run over a bridge across the Willamette River and that was just gorgeous. From mile 17-25, I also ran along the North, West and South Banks of the Willamette River on a trail and that was nice too. For a long time, I felt like I was the last runner. No one was passing me. I never looked behind me but I just hoped I wasn’t last (I knew I wasn’t, but it was strange). I also passed a community garden around mile 17 that had huge sunflowers and I just loved it.

Probably around mile 21 or 22, I started to see a few people that had also been in the 3:35 pace group slowing down and even walking. It actually kind of made me feel a little better that I wasn’t the only one slowing down. These few people were struggling way more than me. I had to walk for a few seconds at a time here and there, but I kept going. I saw a sign that said “When your feet start to hurt, run with your heart” and so I did. And right about that time, a guy ran by me and said “You’ve done this before! You can do it! There’s only a few more miles!” I don’t know how he knew I had done it before. It could have been my first one. But I loved his energy and it helped me!

Then something crazy happened. A perfect, high energy song appropriately called “Let’s Go” came on my playlist at the right time. With just a couple miles or so, it was the exact thing I needed to get me pumped up and I started running fast faster again. I got so pumped that I was fist pumping and yelling “woo hoo’s” in a tunnel and I kind of went nuts! I was so happy that I was almost to the end. I popped in a couple more Shot Bloks and just ran it out as best as I could. As I passed mile 26, I was so happy. I couldn’t stop smiling. As I rounded the last corner going into Hayward Field, I saw Clint and I smiled and waved and was so excited! I finished with a time of 3:56. It’s not my best and not my worst but it’s still under 4 hours so I was happy about that. Even my overall placements in my age group (35-39), women, etc were still pretty good. The temperature was 55 degrees when we started and about 67 when I ended. I’m not really sure if this was a factor in my finish being slower than normal, but it’s possible. Check out the video Clint took of me at the finish: Finish line video

As I walked off the field, I grabbed a chocolate milk and pounded it. So good! Then I met up with Clint and we walked around for a bit after I changed into my flip flops. We decided to leave and go to breakfast (or maybe it was really brunch at that point). I was recapping the race to Clint and somehow the topic of the Timex Factory Team came up. I had submitted my application for their team about a month ago but hadn’t heard back. Then BAM! I checked my email while we were sitting there and there it was. I got the “congratulations” email that said I had been chosen for their team!! I was so excited I kind of teared up.

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That’s Hayward Field in the background

I may have not met my original goal, but I wasn’t too hard on myself about it. I still had a decent finish time AND I received really great news about being on the Timex Factory Team. I also got to run on the historic Hayward Field and that was pretty cool too! It was a great day!!

#15

I’m about to embark on my 15th marathon this weekend.

If you had asked me seven years ago about running a marathon, I would have said it wasn’t even on my radar, never thought of it, not interested in it.

Now, I’m 15 marathons in. Kinda nuts. I wouldn’t change a thing though. It’s given me great health, I’ve met lots of different people all over the country and world, I’ve traveled to great places, and I continue to dream of other places I want to run.

I’ve also gained a lot of great friends through this community of runners.

There are times when running is hard and times when it’s easy and amazing. There are times when I wonder what the heck I’m doing and why. There are times when I’m really hard on myself for a bad race or training run. There are times I realize this is the best thing that’s ever happened to me.

I’m a runner and these legs of mine are pretty amazing. I hope to be doing this for a long time. Cheers to #15!

2014 USA Track & Field Championships

June 24th through 29th, I volunteered at the USATF Championships in Sacramento. I had various tasks including Media & Athlete Check-in/Credentials, Basket Crew, Shot Put & Javelin Retrieval, and Anti-Doping Escort. It was a lot of fun! Here are some of the pictures I took during the event.

Exciting news!

Today I got some exciting news! “Congratulations! You have been selected to be a Vitalyte Brand Ambassador.” Say what? Is this for real??

A little over five weeks ago, I submitted my application to be a Brand Ambassador for Vitalyte. I had tried their Chia Surge Energy Gels (see post: “Drinks that make me go mmm!”), liked them, and thought it would be really cool to represent the company and spread the word about their great, healthy and delicious products. I didn’t hear anything back and then forgot about it until I opened my email today!

What is a Brand Ambassador, you ask? “A Vitalyte Brand Ambassador is a runner, a sprinter, a surfer, a yogi, a lifter, a walker, an athlete. A brand ambassador is everything that Vitalyte is: Endurance, Agility, Speed and Strength.”

So, I am really excited! I will get different products and other cool stuff shipped to me each month. I get to blog about Vitalyte, Instagram and Facebook about Vitalyte, and share my experiences and spread the word about Vitalyte. Sounds pretty easy and fun, right!?!

It’s going to be like being sponsored by a product, kind of. I mean, I don’t get paid to do this like an elite runner, which is totally fine. That’s not why I submitted my application. But as a moderately okay runner, I’ll take it as a compliment and I can’t wait to be a part of their Brand Ambassador team and have this support by a great sports nutrition company! I officially start July 1!

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www.vitalyte.com

Eugene is near

With less than 5 weeks until the Eugene Marathon, I’m starting to get a little excited. If you had asked me a couple or few weeks ago how I was feeling about this race, I would have had a different answer. But now that I am getting close to the taper and have one 20-mile training run under my belt, I’m feeling a little better.

Tomorrow is my last training session of the 8-week training with SRA. I have actually liked going each week and getting in extra speed work, interval training, Fartleks and hill training. I train mostly by myself, so it’s been a nice change to meet up with the group and get some extra motivation.

The hot weather has been a challenge at times, but I have been able to work around it most of the time. Getting up at 5am for a long run is definitely not my favorite thing to do, but I have to do it when it’s going to be a 90+ or 100+ degree day. If you asked my pal, Rick (an ultramarathoner), how he likes his training runs, he’d say the opposite. That crazy guy LOVES to run in the heat.

This week is the 2014 USATF Outdoor Championships here in Sacramento and I am volunteering for 5 days of it. I’m super excited and this has also led to a spike in my motivation and inspiration! I will give a recap of my experience after it ends on this Sunday.

You can read more here – http://www.usatf.org/Events—Calendar/2014/USATF-Outdoor-Championships.aspx

And here’s my lovely badge – e6smx3c9

Hope you all have a great week!