Halfway around the world

After months of preparations and training, the time had finally come. I was in Berlin and awaiting race day. When I arrived, I was thoroughly exhausted from layovers and a long flight. I was hoping I could catch up on sleep and it wouldn’t affect my race. I also needed to hydrate…really bad!


No, this is not proper hydration

I didn’t get any short runs in after traveling to Berlin. I just wanted to rest up. But I had a chance to explore the city and the day before the run, saw Brandenburg Gate, the landmark we’d be running through on the way to the finish. I was having a tough time mentally getting through Saturday, having not heard from Clint in 24 hours and wondering if he was okay or not. I had a feeling he was probably sleeping off chemo but I just needed to talk to him to make sure he was alive and okay. So, this was not helping my motivation to run a race. I was having a hard time not having my biggest supporter with me in this great city.

But as I prepared my clothes and running items for the morning, I started to get a little anxious and that was better than having feelings of not wanting to race. I did end up hearing from Clint (finally!) so I felt a TON better and this helped in my mental preparation for the race.


Bright and early before the race

This race didn’t start til 8:45am, so it’s a lot later than most races back home. This also meant I didn’t have to get up so damn early, which was nice. As we got to the start area, there were so many people. 41,000! But the first thing I did was get in a porta pottie line. This one wasn’t too bad and was very short. But as we made our way into the gear check area, I needed to use the restroom again and the lines were outrageous!! I wish I could cart around my own porta pottie because these European races have no idea how to prepare for a race and how many porta potties they should have. I stood in line for a loooonnnggg time and then realized the gear check was going to close, so I had to leave the line to get my bag to the proper numbered section. And by this point, I was running to make it in time and make it to my corral. It just became chaos. Volunteers didn’t know where things were, so that was confusing.

I finally got to the corral but had to climb over the barrier to get in. I lost signal on my gps watch, so I had to mess with my watch one last time. Then finally, we were off! We were packed like sardines. This does not make me happy. Having to dodge people or go at a much slower pace because people in front of you should not be in the corral, is really frustrating. And the crowd of runners never dissipated. But my pace was good and I was feeling very comfortable and relaxed. The course was really flat and that was a bonus. I pretty much tried to zone out by listening to my music, but I did have the volume down low enough that I could hear the amazing crowds of spectators. Spectators in European races are much more excited, seem to have a greater love for this sport, and I just feel have more spirit. Don’t get me wrong – Americans are great too. It’s just different. And something like 120 countries were represented at this race, so people from all over the world were at the race with their country flags and are very proud to be cheering on their runners. It’s very cool!

I ran this race without my hydration belt. I didn’t want to pack it in my luggage and wanted to rely on just using the water booths along the course. However, these water booths were chaotic as well! I really had to watch my footing as people were darting all over the place in front of me to get water cups. And it was just super wet on the ground and runners would just toss their cups below them, rather than out to the side of the course, making it a huge hazard to runners. I definitely lost seconds here having to slow down and get around all the runners.

strecke-2013I have to say that I was so focused on my time goal that I wasn’t paying attention to my surroundings too much, meaning soaking in all of the city as I ran by. I observed other runners and spectators, but not the sights. I did feel like this group of runners was more in tune with running apparel and compression socks and shoes, unlike at the Paris Marathon last year. I felt like those runners just put on their raggedy workout gear to run the race. I remember around mile 15.25 we ran under a bridge and there was a large group of people pounding on metal garbage cans and it was pretty awesome to hear. The sound echoed under the bridge. Loud and festive and everyone was cheering.

As I continued to run, I checked my watch frequently. I realized I could make it under 3:40 with a few minutes to spare. I was just holding on and working hard to maintain my pace. I would speed up a little and slow down to relax a little if needed, but my pace was good. I actually prayed to God. I know that sounds corny, but I did. I actually prayed like three times to help me make it to the finish line and help me make this goal.

As I ran the last few miles, I was tired, but I was still hanging on. I was looking for the Brandenburg Gate knowing this was near the end. It seemed like it was taking forever for it to come in view. And then I started to get confused. My watch passed 26.2 miles and kept going. What is going on? How much further do we have? Aren’t we done yet? I saw the 42 kilometer sign and the finish had to be near, but it even seemed longer than it should be after that sign. I could barely see the time clock, but that wasn’t helping either. The time on the clock was started when the first corrals crossed the start line, so it was about 15 minutes ahead. Now I was totally thrown off as to what time I was going to cross the finish line. I kept pushing trying to speed up, but my legs were tired. My watch now was getting close to the 3:40 so I didn’t have that cushion anymore. What the heck?? When I finished, my watch said 26.85 miles. How could it be this far off?

So, my final time was 3:41:34…35 seconds shy of a BQ. Super disappointed. I thought I was golden. I thought I was going to be kissing the ground and jumping up for joy. This definitely did not happen. I was pretty bummed. I worked really hard for this.


With my medal in front of the Reichstag building

As I kept walking to get my medal, then my wrap, I was starting to feel faint and I couldn’t see very well. I knew I needed fluids right away. I got a water, then electrolyte, then I got a hot sweet tea. This tea was soooo good! I really needed to sit. There were too many people around me and I just needed to get away from the masses of runners. I started to feel better and made my way to the gear check. It was getting a little chilly so I needed to change quickly. I then got my finisher beer (which was non-alcoholic) and went to the family reunion area.

Running a race with 40,000+ people is tough. I am starting to realize that while I LOVE running races all over the world, I am not a fan of running with all these people on the course. That sounds horrible. I love people and I love observing all the cultures and differences, but it makes for chaos and the runners never spread out, so you are constantly fighting the crowds to get past people. And some runners don’t have good “race etiquette”.

But the weather was perfect for running and it even allowed for a world record set by the first place finisher. Pretty amazing to be apart of another race with records being set.

Even though I was bummed about my time, I tried to remember the positives. I completed my third World Marathon Major, I did end up with a great time, I love being able to travel to cool cities around the world, and I have a lovely medal to take home and add to my collection. To make myself a little happier, I bought a gerbera daisy at a flower shop at the subway line near the apartment. Just one euro and I was happy. 20131001-081106.jpgI don’t know what my next adventure is yet. I have lots of ideas, dreams, and am hopeful. I’m still waiting to hear if I got into London. Until then, I’m not making any new marathon plans for 2014, but I’m getting anxious to get something locked in.

Is there anything else you want to know about this race? Do you want to know more about the city, the course, etc? Let me know.

Will it pay off?

Over the last 6 months I have incorporated a few different elements into my training. Some of it was intentional and some just happened.

After I ran the LA Marathon in March, I took 3 full weeks off of running. Then in April, I started a circuit of lunge and squat cross training (provided to me by my gym owners who are also personal trainers) that I would add into the mix of my weight training once a week. This was intentional. I wanted to see if this would make a difference in my normal marathon training. Some weeks I would add a few of the exercises into another day as well, but I did this circuit at least once a week. Some weeks I was more sore than others, but every week I sweated my ass off when I did this series of exercises. I also know it has helped build my endurance and has helped with my speed. My last 20 mile training run I ran at an 8:20 average pace, so I was pretty happy with that. My legs feel stronger too.

photo(22)Recently, I also started adding more organic and raw foods into my diet. This was partially due to Clint wanting to change his diet during his chemotherapy treatments over the next four months. He started juicing in August with his Breville juicer and then got his Norwalk cold press juicer a couple weeks ago and that makes even better, more nutritional juices and drinks. There is a reason cold press juices are $10 each for a 12 ounce bottle at Whole Foods. The process takes longer and you get more nutrients in each drink. If you have ever juiced, you know how long the process is – you prepare a LOT of fruits and veggies which result in a small amount of juice. It’s almost sickening. But it is worth it. With the Norwalk, we can spend a couple hours juicing and prepare several servings at a time in sealed mason jars, rather than juicing what you need for that day. It saves time in the long run. And you are getting as much of the raw nutrients as possible.

I started drinking more kombucha. This wasn’t intentional. Since being introduced to it last Fall, I really took a liking to it, but it can be expensive. I would support our vendor friends, Kombucha Kulture, whenever I saw that they were going to be at the local Midtown Farmer’s Market or other local events. But it can be $4-5 for a 12 ounce cup and that adds up! I love the taste and how refreshing the flavors can be. It’s also really good for you – it’s organic and has probiotics, detoxifiers, antioxidants and are highly nutritional. I’m drinking one right now! GT’s Enlightened Organic Raw Kombucha – Gingerade…yum!! (This brand goes on sale at Safeway fairly often for $2-2.29 a bottle.)

photo(23)Because my life is super busy, I had to grab things from the store that were good for me and full of calories, but good calories. I turned to Odwalla superfood bars and juices. These are great mini-meals and full of really good ingredients. I try to eat and drink the items that don’t have sugar added, are mostly organic, and have higher calories. I also have been drinking some of their protein drinks after long runs. They taste great and are perfect for putting calories back in my body after running long miles. And it’s been great having a friend of Clint’s donating the superfood and protein juices while he’s going through treatment. So, we are saving a lot of money right now on those too!

I also went to my physical therapist a few more times this training, rather than only going to him when I had an injury. This was also intentional. I pretty much was using him for regular maintenance and injury prevention. When I saw him yesterday, he said I look lean and my quads look good and well rounded, rather than flat, like most runners. I was happy to hear this because that means all the squats and lunges must be helping! He said I should have a good kick at the end of my race. Well, I hope so!

I feel like I have put in a good effort, despite all the things going on in my life. I have always lead a busy life, but it got really, really busy these last couple months. Will all this pay off? I really don’t know. Does it mean I will have the best race ever in Berlin? I don’t know that either. But it was worth a try and I can at least say that I am trying to live a healthier lifestyle, feel good, and will continue to do these things moving forward!


Are you doing anything different with your training lately? Have you seen any differences or improvements?

It’s been one month

Monday September 9th marked the one month anniversary of when Clint had surgery to remove the cancerous mass in his testicle. I really can’t believe it’s been four weeks. I feel like it’s been so much longer. We’ve had so much going on in these four weeks and there’s still more ahead of us.

I am also less than a few weeks away from running the Berlin Marathon. I can’t believe this is coming up so fast! It’s been almost a year in the making and it’s right around the corner. But it’s also bittersweet. I am mentally (and physically) trying to get ready for being away from Clint during this time I am in Germany, but also mentally trying to be ready for this race. I honestly have no idea how I will do. I’m not saying my training runs lately have been bad or anything, just my focus is on lots of other things, so I am going to have to get back on the race mindset soon.

I ran my last 20 mile training run a couple days ago and felt pretty good. I can’t complain too much about an 8:20 average pace, so I’m happy that my training seems to still be going fairly well.

When I run, there are days I think about everything under the sun (I’m sure this happens to all runners) and other days when I think about how I want to run this upcoming race wearing my American Cancer Society singlet and can’t wait to run this for Clint. I know he’ll be on my mind while I run this next 26.2. This singlet has even more meaning than it did before. I never thought when I ran the Chicago Marathon in 2012 as a charity runner for ACS (helping the lovely Miss Jenny Cox raise money for this great organization) would I be faced with cancer in my own immediate family so soon. I have had family members with leukemia and breast cancer, but when it’s your significant other it’s even harder to process. He is my best friend, my partner, my love and I would do anything for him. But I know everything will be ok and after we throw some punches to knock this cancer down, we will come back stronger than ever. So I will be going against my normal attire for this race, which is wearing my last race’s participant shirt, and will be proudly wearing this blue tank.IMG_5752

I also think I am ready to watch Spirit of the Marathon soon to get some great motivation. I’m thinking the night before I leave I will want to get lost in the film and think about my race.

As you can see I’m already planning details. Yes, I’m a planner. I’m already starting to pack and have been making my lists of things I need to bring to Germany (well, I’ve been doing this for months) and lists of who needs to be here to help Clint while I’m gone.

Lots more to do and lots more to come!

Life’s obstacles – one day at a time

I haven’t written anything since August 8th. Little did I know when I posted my last blog entry that later the same day I would find out my boyfriend, Clint, has testicular cancer. Literally hours after I posted about the SF Giants Half Marathon that I just ran and had a great race, I would be faced with something WAY more important.

It all happened so fast and by the next morning my boyfriend was in surgery to remove the testicle. We had no time to think about what was really happening and how the next few days, weeks, and months would play out. We barely had time to call family and let them know.

In the back of my mind, I knew I had to keep running to stay on track with my training and to just get out and run. I exercise almost every day, so it’s something my body craves. After my boyfriend’s surgery and the surrealness (is that a word?) wore off, it occurred to me that we have a trip to Germany coming up and I am running the Berlin Marathon. While my boyfriend’s health is much more important, I still wondered if we could pull this off. We have been looking forward to this trip for several months and had our flights booked since March.

Not only was this trip on my mind, but I am also an event coordinator for a 5k zombie run coming up in October and my boyfriend is also my partner in this business. I realized that I am going to have a tough couple months ahead of me while we finish planning this year’s event. I am going to have to do a lot of it by myself.

Everything was changing so fast in front of me and I had to figure out how to make it all work.

Surprisingly, I have been very calm about my boyfriend and his situation. I guess I know he’s going to be alright. It may be tough now, but I know he is going to pull through this and he is going to conquer this cancer! If I really think about it for a long time, I know this is CANCER…it’s a big word. So many people have cancer, have gone through treatments, are going through treatments, have died from cancer, and have survived cancer. It’s a reality (unfortunately) for so many, many people on this Earth. But his is one of the most treatable and curable (thank god!) so I know everything is going to be just fine. He is really lucky that it’s not a worse situation and that it was caught early.

I have still been getting in my training runs. I may have had to alter my schedule a bit or just swap days or make some minor changes, but I am bound and determined to get the miles in. I think it gives me something else to focus on too. Some days I feel guilty when I leave him for a bit to go run, but friends keep reminding me that I need to do things for myself too and keep my spirit up. And running makes me feel good, so I know I must continue to do it.

So here we are – one week into my boyfriend’s treatment. He’s had five full days of chemotherapy for five hours a day. I haven’t left his side. He’s 25% of the way through his treatment for this cancer. This is no sprint; this is a marathon. Kind of ironic. We need to take our time and get through this. There are going to be days when things don’t go so well and days where things are great. But we will get through this. There’s no doubt in my mind that we will kick this cancer’s butt and will carry ourselves differently after this is all said and done.

It’s really just one day at a time. We will overcome this. We will make it to the finish.

Watch out Berlin!

This week is my first week of training for the Berlin Marathon. 18 weeks of gearing up for another World Marathon Major race. It’s exciting!

I’ve already been training a little since my last race in March (after a three week recovery). I’ve added more strength and endurance training into the mix in hopes of becoming a little faster. I feel really good. I’ve tried to run faster sprints and tempo runs. I think I’m just trying to push myself harder than I have been. I’ve been in a comfortable zone for a while, but I think I’m ready to work harder.

263-1I mostly train by myself so I have to constantly stay motivated. I’m pretty good about it, but I may have a day here or there when I get in a funk or just can’t get out the door. It happens to us all.

Within this 18 weeks, I am also running the Giants Half Marathon in San Francisco in August. I figured it would be good timing to have a 13.1 mile race in the middle of my training and to test myself.

I have a goal in mind for the Berlin Marathon – PR or qualify for the Boston Marathon. I’m going to refrain from putting a lot of pressure on myself, but just work harder on my training beforehand and make sure my body feels good.

I’m looking forward to the next 18 weeks. I even have a cool German flag flying on my front porch. I literally almost rode over it on my bike over the weekend, so I picked it up and posted it out front. Maybe it’s a sign of something good to come. Scratch that! I just walked outside to take a picture, and someone stole it! Grrr! Oh well. I’ll keep you posted over the next few months on how training is going. I hope you all have some great races or adventures to look forward to!

Sweet sweat

I have been chasing my marathon PR of 3:40:43 for a few years now. I have read blogs or know people who PR all the time or make running 3:15-3:30 marathons look so easy. I guess it’s not that easy for me.

After my last marathon in March, I decided to incorporate even more strength training into my daily regimen to reach this goal faster. I’m so close, but I just need to shave off a few more minutes (more like 10-12). A fellow runner and ultramarathoner started going to my gym about a year and a half ago to get personal training sessions to help build endurance and help him increase his speed. After five months of additional training, he was able to shave an hour and a half off his 50-miler race time!

My gym owner also does personal training and offered to give me a few training sessions for free. So far we’ve only done one session, but I use the list she gave me with all the exercises and do this at least once a week.

training 4Last week I moved and had a crazy week (I was pretty exhausted), but was able to get a few runs in. On Thursday I did a short 4 mile run, then did another 45 minutes of strength training. This extra circuit training makes me sweat! I did step-ups, sissy squats, split squats, v-ups, Bosu pushups, planks, and shoulder, bicep and tricep exercises.

I was sore on Friday AND on Saturday! But a good sore in my quads, chest and abs. I’m only about 3 weeks into this additional training, but I’m excited to see what results come of this. I like that I am sweating even more than I already do. I am hoping I will be faster by the time I get to Berlin in September, which is also known for it’s fast course. I am hoping I will qualify for the Boston Marathon at this race. I’ll keep you posted on my progress and all the sweat that comes of this as well. Ha! #runforboston