#2015bestsix

With the year coming to a close, we all tend to look back on the year; what we’ve been through and what we’ve accomplished. My year started off a little shaky and stressful but quickly turned into one amazing and epic year full of great adventures and a lot was crossed off my bucket list.

Clint and I bought a house together (crazy!), I ran a marathon in Tokyo, Japan(!), ran the Boston Marathon a second time (such a great time!), then ran the Boston to Big Sur Challenge six days later (I’m one of those crazies)…then started training for an ultra…then ran the Athens and Istanbul Marathons within a week of each other, and finished off with running the California International Marathon for the 8th year in a row. That was six marathons this year! Ummmm, crazy!

I met new running friends this year, became a USATF official, worked as an expo coordinator for the CIM (that local, hometown marathon of ours), and also helped coach the Runnin’ For Rhett organization’s half marathon training program in the fall. Yeah…a lot of running stuff. But as I get older, I realize more and more that passion is the key to happiness. Do the things you really love!

Aside from running, I got to hot air balloon twice(!) and see the Grand Canyon finally. BIG checks off the good ‘ol bucket list.

I wish for you all to do the things you love so you can find your happiness. I hope your 2016 is as great as my 2015 was. I really don’t know how I will ever be able to top it, but I do know there’s still lots out there for me to learn, discover and see in the world. I have plenty of other countries on my list of where I hope to run all over the world. I’m hoping to get more in next year. Peace!

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Tokyo, Boston, Big Sur, Athens, Istanbul and CIM #2015bestsix

 

 

#8 CIM: My hometown – 2015

This year’s CIM brought no expectations. I had just run two marathons back-to-back three weeks prior (Athens & Istanbul) and had long work days leading up to the race so I had no idea how my body was going to feel running my last 26.2 of the year. I was feeling positive though so I knew no matter what I was going to have fun. This is my hometown race and I get to see my friends cheering on the sidelines, fellow runners on the course, and I know the course like the back of my hand. This is something I miss when I run out of the country.

I did my usual routine and prepped all my running gear the night before. I ate my pizza immediately after I got home from work about 7:30pm. I ate the same pre-race breakfast, except forgot to eat some banana. I even hydrated a ton the day before while I was working because the Nuun rep suggested I bring a water bottle and fill up on their free electrolytes all day at the expo. I was so glad he had suggested that!

When we got to the start, Jen and I met up with her friend LaDawn and my friend Scott, who was running his first marathon. We got into the pack and took off at 7! Jen was feeling good and was going a little faster than I wanted to run, but I stuck with her for about 4.5 miles then I dropped back to run with Scott. I had told him I’d help him get to the finish line under 4 hours, which usually isn’t that hard for me to do. We were running a steady pace that felt very comfortable but around mile 13 my quads started to feel pretty heavy. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to keep this pace the rest of the way. So about mile 14.5 or so I told Scott to go ahead and try and keep up with my friend Brian. Brian just passed us and was slightly in front of the 3:55 pacer so I knew he could bring Scott home so he could reach his goal. I felt bad I had to drop back but I had to be smart and I knew my legs weren’t going to be able to take a harder beating of going faster. It just wasn’t going to happen.

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You feel better when you’re having fun!

After Scott left me, I saw Deirdre Fitzpatrick from KCRA running and I said Hi to her. Then about mile 16 I thought it would be fun to take a pic of myself at the mile marker and posted to Instagram. At this point I totally didn’t care about my time and was just going to have fun. Not too long after, a fellow SRA ambassador, Leo, came up and we started running together (I ran with him earlier, as well, around mile 10). We were pretty much in the same boat and just wanted to have fun and finish, no matter how that happened. Around mile 18, I think, I was so hungry so I grabbed a handful of a brownie bite, orange slice, red licorice, and ate one of my chia surge gels. I have only been hungry during a race once before and that was in Paris, so this was weird.

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Nuria’s husband and their adorable pooch

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Drinking about half a Guinness

I saw Nuria (from Buffalo Chips and my Boston 365 group) and her husband and took a picture with them, then saw Katie and her crew from Team in Training, I fist pumped to a few bands as I ran by, then I came upon my friend Manny who was walking around the 21 mile marker. He was having a hard time, so I stuck with him. Then I saw Leo again and he joined us. It just became a party! As we were crossing the bridge, Tiffany, another SRA ambassador, joined us for a bit and we all chatted about our struggles, but none of us were negative or feeling let down. We were all smiling! We just sucked it up and made the most of it.  We had to keep stopping to tend to Manny’s inner quad that kept knotting up. We rolled it out periodically with a small water bottle and he stretched on the railings. At this point we were in East Sac and this is where I get a little excited each year. My friends and Clint are always waiting at Bonn Lair at 37th and J with beers for runners and I get so pumped when I see them. It gives me some energy to get to the finish. We stopped this year and drank some Guinness as they videotaped the madness. They were calling it #guinnessmile which makes me laugh! We now have an official hashtag for this stop on the CIM course. Manny downed the beer; I couldn’t finish it. But it was fun to see them for a few and then we took off. We turned onto Alhambra, saw my friend Katy and took pics with her. We were getting so close but it was still tough.

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Me and Manny – we’re smiling!

As we approached the finish, Manny was still having a tough time with his quad, but I made sure he was okay and then I took off to the finish line. I was really happy to finish, although I never doubted I would make it, I just knew it was going to take a while. My time didn’t matter at all, having finished three marathons in a month (dumb! don’t do this!). If you really want to know, it was officially my worst marathon time. BUT! I was smiling the entire way, I LOVED how many friends I saw along the course and on the course, I got to chat with new SRA amabassador friends that I met this year, I ate lots of food on the course, I drank more beer at Bonn Lair this year than I ever had in the past (PR!), and I’m just happy to continue my tradition of running the CIM each year. This is the only race I run every year. It makes me happy to continue my streak.

It really was one of my favorite races that I’ve completed. Time is definitely not everything. While I love running abroad and seeing new countries, there is nothing like running in your hometown and having so  many people supporting and cheering you on. I don’t get this when I run international races. I’m alone, can’t understand what people are saying as they chat to their friends while they’re running, it can sometimes get boring, and I have to stay super motivated. But, all of these experiences, whether abroad or in town, are what making marathoning (is this a word?) so magical for me. Every race is different and that’s what makes it an adventure and experience for me. These are the best experiences!

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Manny, Katy, me and Michelle in front of Limelight

My friend Scott and I chatted the next day after the race and he mentioned that he didn’t get to have as much fun as I did because he was so focused on his goal. I told him that’s what happens…you kind of have blinders on and don’t see what’s around you or get to laugh, smile and enjoy what’s going on. That’s why I mix up my races so I can have both experiences.

Cheers to all my fellow runner friends! You are all amazing! Keep chasing your dreams!

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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?”.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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

I won?!

Today is National Running Day. I have no idea how long this has been going on for, but this is the first year I have heard about it. For weeks now, I saw posts on Facebook from different running organizations putting on special runs for today.

One that caught my eye was by the local Sacramento Running Association. They organized a 5 mile run along the American River Bike Trail tonight at 6pm. There wasn’t much broadcast about it other than a time and a place and maybe free swag. Well, I didn’t care about the free swag necessarily, I just knew I needed to get a run in today, so why not join them.

photo(19)I don’t usually join groups to run with because my schedule is so crazy, so I can’t stick to one group consistently. But I marked my calendar for tonight to get my butt down to Guy West Bridge to check it out.

Earlier today I caught my friend Scott, who is also a Track & Field coach at Sac State, on Facebook and he said he was going to be down there as well. So it was also a chance to see him and catch up for a few.

I arrived not knowing anyone, but got in line to fill out a raffle ticket.  I picked up a water since it was blazing hot out. And we were able to pick up a free tech shirt from a past race (I got two, while others were grabbing what looked like several). It’s always nice to stock up on tech shirts to run in.

After the 5 mile run along the river in the 85+ degree weather, I cooled down with some water and chatted with a fellow, Alex, that I introduced myself to while we were waiting for the raffle.

photo(20)Next thing I know, they called my name! What?! Me? I never win anything. I won a free entry into this year’s California International Marathon! Kinda cool! So, if any of you want to run the CIM this year, let me know. I have already paid for my entry (the early bird special) and you could get a great discount if you want the entry. They can’t comp my entry or give me a refund, so I would have to sell my freebie. But it was still cool to win!

Great evening overall! 5 mile run in, free shirts, free marathon entry…couldn’t ask for much more.

Happy National Running Day to you all! Hope you got a run in!