Sunday, April 27, 2014

From Boston to Dayton to Boston

After landing on the Sun a racing break was on order. And a racing break unintentionally paired with a blog break.

The break was also paired with the company of my beautiful daughter who came from overseas to visit and the best summer we’ve had in Seattle: sunny, warm, and dry. Paddleboarding, sleeping in, preparing fresh meals, and just enjoying the weather were the activities that filled up our calendar.

After living the dolce vita, a new marathon training program was followed to prepare me for my 10th state: Ohio. This training coached by Migs was centered on specific paces for each of the workouts, and mandatory “no-racing” unless they were purposely included in the plan. I followed the plan to the T. The mileage was reduced by about 25% but I still felt strong and very good throughout the season. 2-mile and mile intervals, 400m  repetitions, and long runs accompanied me for 8 weeks. The scheduled races were Seafair 8K, and Over The Narrows Gig Harbor 10 miles. I did well in these races though they were just a tad slower than the year before.

I clocked in Seafair (07/27/13) 42:08 (8:29) and placed 1st in the division, compared to 41:24 (8:19) and 4th place in 2012.

In Over the Narrows 10-miler (08/31/13), race I love, I clocked 1:22:08 (8:13) and 1st place in the division compared to 1:21:15 (8:08) and 1st place in 2012. I think I still was within my range on both races.

I ran also a First Call Half Marathon on 8/3 as part of an 18-miler long run.

The tapering for Dayton was new. It was a 2-week tapering with a 24 mile run just two weeks before the race. I trusted blindly and followed suit. This has been one of the best, if not the best long runs I’ve ever done. I ran it with my friend Ginger who helped me to stay focused. The last miles were strong and I felt very comfortable with the marathon ahead of me. My only goal in Ohio was to run a great marathon. I was not expecting a PR, I just wanted to run down Boston’s emotions still carved in my heart, and feel good along 26.2 miles.

The trip was fantastic in the company of Steve B. and Jimmy D. Other than a major delay and problems with the connection through O’Hare I made it to Dayton at 11 pm (planned to be there at 3pm) and changing my trip via Dallas. The weather was a threat, mid-80's, sunny, and horrendously humid the day before the race, so I was clear that regardless a good training, the marathon could go south due to these conditions; but… on marathon day the weather was perfect: The start was hot and muggy, but after 45 minutes the humidity dropped dramatically and the rest of the race felt cool and nice for an overall 63F, overcast and a wind that helped more than damaged. 

The run started uneventful and Jim and I were running at the same pace. At mile 2 I saw my dear Maria Jose, which made my day. No talk or conversations were allowed but being together provided some sort of welcome help for me. At mile 12 there was a heavy headwind and I deliberately left Maria Jose to move to the right and draft behind 3 tall guys. It worked pretty well. At the half mark the wind was not bothering as much and I moved back to the left side of the course where I normally run. I have lost MJ at that point so I just said to myself: Let’s do this sh#t all over again.

Jimmy continued being close to me, when at mile 20 I started to feel tired. My pace dropped a lot but curiously I still was running with good form. The last 10K, though slower, were good. I never felt that I needed to drag my feet. I conquered my 10th state OH clocking 4:01:18, for a 9:13 min/mile and 2nd place in my division. The time was good enough for a 2015 BQ with 9 minutes to spare. The trophy, which I received later in the mail, was gorgeous, to say the least.

I felt so good after Dayton that I wanted to run a marathon right away, but resources were an issue. I focused then on speed and didn’t run anything longer than 6 miles for week totals of 30 miles. Asthma was very present during this season, and racing a couple of 5Ks proved that asthma can limit me a lot. My doctor mentioned that air stagnation could be the culprit. I just hope so.

I started my build up for Boston with Seattle Half Marathon in November and I went from there. After much thought, I concluded that racing is my passion and that I can’t be on a leash. I need to feel the freedom to race when I feel is right, and enjoy very much the social and competitive environment that races offer. Nothing wrong with any other type of training but they are not for me. Racing is my thing. From Boston to Dayton to Boston, a year will go by.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Landing On The Sun, 52 Half Marathons In 52 Weeks

On August 20, 2012 I wrote: The next adventure translates to reach the hot, round, and yellow star that is above us. And with that I will secure a special place in the asylum sharing with nuts individuals that will continue doing nothing else than piling more Half Marathons underneath the bed. There will not be any more movements towards anywhere, no other dimensions, no other solar systems, nowhere, just moving around in circles around the star because when I arrive there I will become one of the Masters of the Asylum and I will be fried. 52 Half Marathons in a year... 

Landing On The Sun: 52 Half Marathons in 52 Weeks has become a matter of fact. I can say that I am glad I did it though I hesitated several times on continuing doing it. The major challenge of all was not being at home during the weekends with my hubby, and not having any day to actually sleep in. Though most of the races were in Western Washington and relatively close, just the fact of getting up early, drive, run, drive back, shower, eat, and nap, made the whole weekend day unavailable for anything else. It's done now and I loved ALL the races. I am taking a well deserved 3-month period of not racing. I’ll keep running and I may race only 2 or 3 short races at most before my next Marathon in Ohio (Sep 21). So, if you are encouraged, come and visit. It takes time, but it feels great up here, and HOT!

The greatest thanks to my hubby for his unconditional support. 

Here are the stats for this 52-week cycle which started and finished with the same race: Berry Dairy, in Burlington, WA, from 6/16/12 to 6/15/13.

Stats: 52 Half Marathons in 52 weeks. 46 in Western Washington, 2 in Eastern Washington, 2 in Oregon, 2 in British Columbia, Canada.

Fastest: 1:45:23 – JBLM, Lakewood, WA - Sep 15, 2012
Slowest: 2:08:58 – Lake Sammamish, WA – Mar 09, 2013
Average: 1:55:00

Favorite Race Overall: Capital City, Olympia, WA (tough decision between Capital and North Olympic Discovery, NODM, Port Angeles, WA – didn’t like the profile of the latter).

Favorite Course: Edmonds USRA, Edmonds, WA
Least Favorite Course: Labor Day, Redmond, WA

Favorite Shirt: NODM

Favorite Bling: NODM & Capital City
Favorite Division Award: Seattle, Tacoma City, Capital City, NODM

Hilliest: Edmonds USRA, Edmonds, WA & Round Mountain, Naches, WA
Flattest: First Call (Spring, Presidents & Veterans), Bothell, WA

Most Scenic: NODM  & Round Mountain, Naches, WA

Wettest: Abbotsford, BC, Canada.
Driest: Sage Rat, Sunnyside, WA

Coldest: Veterans Day, Bothell, WA – 11/10/12 – 30F
Hottest: Moon Run, Olympia, WA – 7/7/12 - 84F

Closest: Edmonds, USRA – 7.5 miles – 15 min
Furthest: Helvetia, Hillsboro, OR – 207 miles – 3h 20 min

Hardest: Lake Sammamish, WA (Very sick during that week, 80 hours without food before the race.
Easiest: Edmonds, USRA (definitely, hills is what I like)!

In My Heart: Seattle

Monday, May 27, 2013

Running North, South, East, And West: What Else?

When you are pursuing a specific challenge within a specific time limit, you gotta do what you gotta do. In my case (reaching the sun) means driving around no matter what or where. I am about to finish my 52 Half Marathons in one year, so go figure.

On Sat May 18, I drove to the EAST side of the mountains, 190 miles, 3 hours, accompanied by a friend. The race: Sage Rat, a point to point Half Marathon from Sunnyside to Prosser. As I used to live in this side of the state I felt the nostalgia of the dry country and the well-known vegetation (or lack thereof?) It was a hot day for Seattleites standards and I had nothing but to accommodate the pace to avoid overheating. I learned in the Moon Run race last year how to run in the heat, and it pays off. For the first miles I maintained a comfortable high 9ish pace, and at mile 7 felt acclimated and I was able to push it then. The strategy worked again and I had a very nice negative split (splits below). The finish line was fantastic, a lot of great food, gigantic medals and a cute sage rat medal for division winners. I got second in my age group with  1:58:46.

I drove back immediately after to the WEST side not to home, but to the capital, Olympia. Noteworthy to mention that I was distracted talking to my co-pilot and took I-90 East. Yes, this Goddess of directions (because I am indeed pretty good at it) made a huge mistake and had to drive 26 miles each way to come back to the junction of I-82/I-90W. We laughed and decided to see it as “a couple of marathons” in our way.

We stayed at The Governors hotel and that was the treat of the weekend: Just to slide the balcony door of our room, and we could literally jump to the finish line; so worth it. We picked up the packet, had dinner and went to bed, but the best of all is that I could sleep in till almost race time. Only needed to get up, get ready, and get out of the hotel. How good was that?

The race was fantastic as always, but without rain this year. Last 2 years had been pouring (which I love, BTW). I finished strong with an 1:55:40 and got 3rd in my division, a nice plaque that couldn’t be handled to me right away because they messed up with the bib # and chip, and had me as a Robert, male 51. They promised to mail it.

Following weekend, on Sat May 25, was the turn to drive SOUTH: 180 miles (3 hrs again) to St. Helens, Oregon for Race Against Child Abuse. It was a small local race for a great cause, and again what made it worthy was not the additional race to pile to my stats, but the amazing ladies I met: The Honey Badgers of Oregon. After chatting and getting to know each other, we started together the race as a nice female six-pack (yes, we all look that good too.) The course, designed by some of these ladies was gorgeous. A portion of the course ran by my beloved favorite river in the world, my Columbia River, and then about 4+miles in the woods, in a beautiful mountain setting. Did I mention “mountain”? Yes, we had a 2-mile climb that was absolutely beautiful. We started to spread about mile 4 but seeing the girls in the out and back was great. One of them, Christine, is my age, and she not only got the division, but was the overall female winner with a strong 1:51 in that challenging course.  I ran the course in 1:58:06
The Honey Badgers of Oregon harassing a Washingtonian runner
And on Sun May 26 I drove NORTH to Abbotsford, Canada, for Run for Water, another super awesome Half Marathon, worth, worth of doing, supporting Ethiopia's communities. It was very well organized, great course, amazing volunteers, great medals, and the best food EVER. Chocolate milk, bagels, bananas, oranges, PB, jelly, boiled eggs, the most delicious yogurt with pistachios, other nuts, and fruits; you name it. The race occurred under my favorite weather conditions: 52F, overcast, zero wind, and non-stop rain. I love to run in the rain as you can’t believe. I couldn’t get wetter. I finished 4th place in the division with 1:51:11.

Running North, South, East, And West... What Else?
Well, I did a couple of local races the week prior to the prior (sighs): First Call Bothell (always longer than Half Marathon, I wonder why), and Kirkland's Mother's Day
Race #204: First Call, Bothell, WA - May 11, 2013 - Why Takao Suzuki draws the rainbows further than the Half Point? - 2:01:40 - No splits in Bothell.

Race #205 - Mother's Day - Kirkland, May 12, 2013 - 1:53:57 - Great course as always
1- 9:16
2- 9:00
3- 8:00
4- 9:11
5- 8:15
6- 9:22
7- 9:30
8- 7:24
9- 8:36
10- 8:43
11- 9:18
12- 8:35
13- 8:00
13.1 - 0:42 (7:00)
Race #206: Sage Rat, Sunnyside, WA - May 18, 2013
1- 9:07
2- 9:20
3- 9:36
4- 9:30
5- 9:24
6- 9:36
7- 9:12
8- 9:03
9- 9:03
10- 9:07
11- 8:36
12- 8:14
13- 8:12
13.1- 0:45 (7:39)
Race #207: Capital City, Olympia, WA

1- 8:59
2- 8:54
3- 9:27
4- 9:27
5- 9:13
6- 9:12
7- 8:55
8- 8:52
9- 7:35
10- 8:50
11- 9:08
12- 8:43
13- 7:39
13.1- 0:45 (7:39)
Race #208:  Race Against Child Abuse, St. Helens, OR
1- 8:49
2- 8:32
3- 8:24
4- 8:24 ...
and here comes the 2 mile mountain:
5- 9:55
6- 10:05
8- 8:15
11- 9:02
12- 8:39
13- 9:00
13.1- 0:56
Race # 209: Run For Water – Abbotsford, Canada
Splits in min/Km as it was in K country
1- 5:01
2- 5:02
3- 4:56
4- 4:59
5- 5:08
6- 5:15
7- 5:08
8- 5:13
9- 5:13
10- 5:12
11- 5:24
12- 5:07
13- 5:14
14- 5:23
15- 5:25
16- 5:08
17- 5:14
18- 5:21
19- 5:25
20- 5:35
21- 5:35
21.1 - 0:29 (4:50min/Km)