Saturday, December 1, 2007

Closing the Year with an Everest - We All Have an Everest

Everything started on May 19, with a regular mom-daughter phone conversation: A decision was made, we'd run a marathon the same day in our respective cities.

A running plan was developed. First phase of 10 weeks to go from nine years without running, to run for 20 minutes in a row. A second phase, a marathon plan. For the latter many plans were reviewed and discarded. The one selected was one I had since 2005: Furman Institute of Running & Scientific Training, FIRST. It better fitted in my life style as only required 3 days of running. Heard many things: How can you train for a marathon running only 3 days a week? I believed in the Institute results and I followed it.

As a Project Manager geek I treated this as a project: Plan, Execution and Control; analysis of every week's results and risks to understand what went on and how to accommodate all the variables that play a role in our daily life: work, traveling, getting sick, weather conditions, commitments, sadness, pain, frustrations.

Good and very bad things happened, but still, my plan was executed to perfection and I feel accomplished for that. During the race I applied everything I learned during 26 weeks. I ran smart, I trusted myself, I put a lot into it, and I enjoyed the journey. I am still in that race bubble as I have now a PR for a marathon, yes, I've established a marathon record, my marathon record.

Lessons Learned?
  • Planning is a key
  • This endeavor is not a random endeavor that can be achieved without a disciplined approach
  • Unexpected things and frustrations will occur: step back, reorganize and move on
  • Shoes and carbs: key resources
  • Push yourself
  • Fall in love with the worst part of the plan (e.g.: hills?)
  • Monitor progress
  • Adapt training to the available routes (or treadmill!!!). It MUST be fun
  • During training we not only train for running, we train to learn and understand food needs, body's temperature, heart rate, in summary, body's needs.
  • Keeping the goal in mind is important, but no need to focus on it. Focus must be on the present training day
  • Rely on close friends and family for a boost
  • Mind has superiority over the body. We have so much power that we can beat a cold. I did.
I learned some years ago from a Venezuelan climber something that always have pounded in my head: Jose Antonio Delgado (qepd) always said: "We all have an Everest", yes, we all have a dream and we need to wake up to make it happen.

  • Wake up and make it happen. JUST DO IT!


Total Miles Planned = 423.2
Phase I=50 /Phase II=382]

Total Miles Executed = 455.2 (108%)
[Phase I=82 (164%) /Phase II=373.2 (98%)]

Total Time = 98h 36m 26s
[Phase I= 20h 51m /Phase II= 77h 45m 26s]

Average Pace = 13:00
[Phase I=15:15 /Phase II=12:30]

Fastest Mile 11/13/07 = 10:14

Slowest Mile 05/28/07 = 42:51 (First Day of running: Wasn't Lizzie out of shape? 1 minute run/1minute walk, imagine how I was after the minute run!!!)

Calories Burned = 46,025
Pounds Lost = 7 lbs.

Ok, I was tagged by Petra and Maddy. I'm it. As somebody said this is the electronic version of chain emails, but ... here I am, closing the year and sharing 5 facts about myself, some random, some weird.

1) I never went to Kindergarten. As I have suffered asthma all my life my mom over-protected me and didn't send me to school until I was almost 7. Mrs. Mate, a very strict Spanish woman, was the tutor in charge of my instruction since I was 4. She taught me literature and math for 2 years, from 9am to 11am from Mon to Thu. So at 6 I have read Don Quijote de la Mancha, the Masterpiece of Spanish Literature, and I also knew how to divide. But I never learned how to use scissors or glue, so I was and I am a total spaz with my fine motor skills. My sis Sara had to always come to my help because the night before of any art homework I had unintentionally ruined the materials, made holes in the fabrics used for embroidery, mixed colors in a horrendous way, etc. I challenged this 6 years ago and I confess I suffered in the classes, but my first piece was selected for a College Poster and a College exhibit.

2) I was born and raised in Venezuela, but all the members of my childhood world were immigrants from Spain, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Trinidad, France and Colombia, including my family. So, I could not understand when I went to elementary school that there were Venezuelan kids with Venezuelan parents and Venezuelan grandparents.

3) I had the gift of nursing a kid that was born prematurely four months after my beautiful daughter. Enrique A. Montbrun is 20 today, and has recently initiated his dream: a website dedicated to baseball (beisbol). One of his greatest moments was 14 years ago when he met Andres Galarraga a humble Venezuelan player for the Colorado Rockies.

4) I wear 90% of my time black & white. 9% brown/beige and 1% other colors and maybe this 1% only happens once/twice a year. All my clothes, work suits, summer clothes, casual clothes, night gowns, swimsuits and running gear are mostly black and white . If they have a color added is because there was nothing else available in the market. If they are of a different color is because somebody gave it to me as a gift. Blue jeans are the exception.

5) My dad (qepd) was a perfectionist and perfect measurement of time was one of his obsessions. He could not accept to hear "it's 7:10 pm" if it really was 7:08 pm. So he always corrected everybody. The night he was about to die with a severe leukemia that consumed him in a month I decided not to sleep to help him with the oxygen mask, so he did not get desperate. He passed away that night and after giving him a kiss, I saw the clock, it was 4:37 am. I called the nurse and she confirmed he's died. She asked me at what time and I said 4:40 am. At 6:00 am we took mom home and I went to my dad's study room, and sat in his chair to feel his presence. I felt something that touched my hand and I had the immediate need to look at his clock. It was stopped at 4:37 am. When I told the story to my family, my sister's mother in law Luisa (qepd) commented: "He could not permit that you weren't precise with the time of his passing".


Dear All, I am leaving on vacation next Thursday 12/06 to Thailand to be with my daughter. I will be there for a month and probably won't post anything until I come back in January.

Thanks for being part of my Running Journey and we'll continue sharing in 2008 our wonderful running experiences.

God Bless You All, and have a Blessed and Happy Holidays.

lizzie lee

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Yes, I Am

Phase II - The Week
11/19/07 - 11/25/07
Week Total: 32.4

Ladies and Gentlemen, Yes, I Am. I made it, I did it, I ran it. I Am a Marathoner.

The first gift from heavens above was NO RAIN and a sunny day. Cold though: 37F / 2.7C.

I was there, calm (!) and on time, with only 4 non-continuous hours of sleep, and 3 layers of clothes (upper and lower), 2 pair of gloves and 2 ear-bands. Accompanied my son's girl friend, Shelly, to the start line for the half (45 min before the marathon). Then went to Memorial Stadium to walk to keep myself warm. At 8:05 am the Star Spangled Banner sang by a beautiful voice. We started at 8:15.

First miles were ok,
going through a very familiar shopping area, downtown Seattle. Then my beloved Mariners and SeaHawks Stadiums. At mile 4.5 we entered in the floating bridge (see both pictures below), it was awesome, Lake Washington was gorgeous. Fast runners were already coming back (they were between mile 7 and 8), hi5 to a guy with a funny Zorro mask.

Turned around in Mercer Island and in mile 8 (end of the bridge) my legs felt heavy. I think was the cold temperature. I was keeping a pace barely under 13 min/mile. My heart rate monitor broke or didn't work at all, so I could not rely in my HR to keep a steady pace. Then, in front of me the next 13 miles that I know by heart as I have run them so many times. I felt very confident. By mile 11, hi5 to Zorro again who was coming back.

By mile 13.1, Seward Park, (little promontory on my aerial picture above) I registered 2:53 so I still was in my training pace.

Around mile 17 I've slowed down to around 14 min/mile, but I was ok. Then at mile 20.5 came Galer where the elevation went from 50 ft to 200 ft in less than half a block, but I knew it well, I've done before. I ran it, as I ran Madison, a slight upward slope of half a mile. At mile 21 I took my disposable super thick sweatshirt and 3rd layer of pants off. I knew I was going to make it when I saw the clock showing 4hr 50min. I was really happy.

Downhill by the Arboretum and then another upward slope: Interlaken. Entered in a park that I've never run before and seemed endless. I didn't see anybody and I was wondering if I was in the Marathon route (I knew I was).

Mile 23: the crowd cheering with very loud music. I was in good shape. I put everything I had, well, almost everything. I wanted a triumphant finish.

Mile 24: I re-encountered a guy (Ezell) for 4th time and told him "Hey, look who is here... we are going to make it". He said: "Yes, I am celebrating already". "Me too, let's go, let's finish good", I answered, and he said "you go ahead, I'll catch up with you". I told him, "you will".

Mile 25: I was telling to myself: I made it... I made it... I thought of Ryan Hall's last mile in his wonderful Olympic Trials. Then Broad St.: a hill. I ran uphill, a cop told me, "look at you, running up hill".

Mile 26: Grabbed my phone and called my beautiful daughter: "Your Sprint services do not include International Calls". Then called my adorable husband, he answered: "Congratulations", I told him "I'm not done yet, but I will be in a couple of minutes".

And then, the most marvelous 0.2 miles. I sprinted them like if I was going to beat a world record, getting into Memorial Stadium at about 7.5 min/mile. The lady at the microphone said: "Here comes Lizzie and in very good shape". The cameramen were certainly impressed. I was running with all I had and I with a big smile and raising my arms, I crossed the finish line. Got my beautiful medal with these words from an organizer: "What a way to make the finish line."

I had my triumphant finish.
My time was 5:54:37 (13:33 min/mile).

Thanks God for being alive, thanks Alejandra for bringing me back to running, thanks hubby for your constant support.

I love you All.

PS: Ezell did not catch up with me!

And I found out that Zorro made the news in a Seattle's paper!!!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

For My Daughter

Phase II - Regressive Count - Week Two
11/13/07 - 11/19/07
Week Total: 21.1

This week's blog had conflicting titles until I read "For my mom" written by my beautiful daughter Alejandra.

I will always immensely thank her for bringing me back to running. Our plan of running a marathon together being 7,440 miles apart was a beautiful plan and we enjoyed it. Some sad circumstances occurred two months ago that prevented Ale of continuing with her training, but even though she is not running, she is still running with me, because she is in my heart, in my thoughts, and in every fiber of my body every mile I go.

Alejandra, you don't have
to wait for that phone call once I cross the finish line on November 25th because
I will cross the line with you on the phone. I love you, daughter of mine. Thanks for being who you are.

Last Week of Training and Bye Bye DC.

This was my last week of training and it was pretty good. It happened to be in DC, where I said bye bye but only for 2007, as I expect to come back for the first part of next year.

I did my best 8 miles on Thursday in the treadmill (my work hours in DC don't give me room for running during daylight with my
Iwo Jima guys). My 10 miles on Saturday, back in Seattle were really good. The conditions were perfect: Under constant rain. After mile 0.2 my shoes were absolutely soaked, so I was. I did part of the marathon route from Interlaken to Lake Washington Blvd 5 miles and back. I got some of the hilly part of the marathon and went slow all the time as did not want to risk anything. My knees DIDN'T and DON'T HURT AT ALL. I believe several things have helped: 1) I got rid of the superfeet. 2) I bought 54" shoelaces and I can play with the "tightness" by the insteps. The pain in this part of the feet has disappeared. 3) I have been in glucosamine/chondroitin/MSM for 2 months now. So because one of these reasons, or the combo, my knees and feet are painless!!!!!

Next week I have just a couple of easy 3o minutes and then on Sunday 25th, The Big Miler, 26.2. The weather forecasts temp around 42-43 (not that bad) and scattered showers (what's new).

I will be well rested because the Thanksgiving Holidays, and the only plan I have for the Holidays is going to the Expo
on Friday .

Please, wish me luck. Seattle hills scare me, especially those miserably located between mile 20 and 23, that are the same I did today, but a different story is doing them at mile 8 than at mile 20. My realistic time in a flat course is around 6 hrs, so, I could forecast a little more than that, but
my goal is to finish the marathon. That's it. Just finish it.

51! My life without blinking

I am 51 TODAY! It is my birthday. My life in a nutshell? I am as happy as I could be, I love my husband and my kids. I love my life and I spend every second without blinking, because "a hundred years goes faster than you think".

God, thanks for my life.

My B'day with my son Diego and his girlfriend Shelly, and my favorite dish: Pasta. P
er saecula saeculorum (Forever and ever!!!)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Bye Bye California!!!

Phase II - Regressive Count - Week Three
11/05/07 - 11/12/07
Week Total: 23.8

First than anything, THANKS to all my blogger-friends for the wonderful advices I received last week. You all were right. I completed 15 miles yesterday and it was good. Again, things hurt (e.g.: knees, hips, etc.), but finished well. I started slow and kept that pace for 13 miles which was above 13min/mile, but... I ran the last 2 miles at 11:25 min/mile which means "I did have some juice for the end".

6 hours will be my realistic time and I feel very happy that I am able to do it.

I said goodbye to California for the year and probably forever (well, as a semi-resident). My adorable husband is trying to get transfered to Washington State and we have all our fingers and toes crossed, wishing it happens before the year ends. Living apart and seeing each other once a month, when possible, has been hard for us.

California was fun for running. I got my senses spoiled running by the beach. The sea breeze, the sea-salt smell, the sea mist, the sand, the boats in the marinas, everything was a beautiful picture framing my long distance runs. Bye Bye California.

Sunrise in Long Beach

Naples, Rivo Alto Canal

Alamitos Bay Marina

Shoreline Marina - Queen Mary

Sunday, November 4, 2007

What went wrong? Advice anyone?

Phase II - Regressive Count - Week Four
10/29/07 - 11/04/07
Week Total: 21

20 miles were waiting for me on Saturday. I was a little bit scared as my knees, especially the right, seemed to feel loose. In addition, I did not run enough during the week because traveling from Washington State to California. Friday night was not so restful as I woke up every hour to finally get up at 4:30 am PDT to follow the Men Olympics Trials. Great race to watch and witness Ryan Hall, my favorite, breaking the Olympic Trials record. At mile 16, he "incredibly relaxed, dusted the field", and got 14 seconds of advantage. Some miles later he was 29 seconds ahead, for a final 2 minutes 5 seconds difference with the second qualifier. His stride was beautiful and his last mile was encouraging. At 6:45 am, with the excitement of seeing an Olympic Trial record broken, I went to bed to get some sleep for a couple of hours before my long run of the day.

9:00 am, with shoes on, music ready, monitor in place, & fuel belt in waist, I left to the beach to do my 20-miler. Told my hubby to have his cell handy because I didn't know what could happen with my knees.

The route was "Lizzie's Long Beach/Naples by the water" of 14.6 miles and I would repeat 5.4 miles to complete the task of 20. The temperature was perfect, 62F/17C, the sea mist was magical and the breeze was soft.

My first 8-9 miles were just fine. Actually, I pushed a little bit and I ran them faster than normal (not much, but a little bit faster).
By mile 11 I started to feel depleted. By mile 12 I needed to walk for 4 minutes. By half-marathon distance I had a 12:59 min/mile. I was destroyed, my knees hurt and my insteps were worst. The next 3.5 miles were done at 15:26 min/mile. I was dragging my feet. At 16.6 I stopped. My legs could not go any further. I barely could walk and it took me 1 hr 30 minutes to walk 2 miles back home, a walk pace of 45 min/mile. Did I hit the wall?

What went wrong?
  • I had for breakfast the same breakfast I've had since I started the long runs: a cup of coffee and 2 slices of oat & nut bread with butter and jelly.
  • I had my GU every 45 minutes as I usually do.
  • The weather was good and even though got hot (75F/24C) at noon, it was manageable and there was plenty of water along the route.
  • Same good shoes with same insoles (green superfeet, which really bother me but have been worn in every long run).
  • I have run in nine occasions during this training distances greater than 12 miles. Only once I've hit the wall and was in my first long run more than 2 months ago.
  • All the long runs have been hard, things hurt, but I am always ok.
  • My 20-miler in DC, 2 weeks ago was really good. My 15-miler last week was decent.
I am concerned. The marathon is in 3 weeks from today and the taper begins. Will I make it? Am I ready? What happened? What went wrong? Advice anyone?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

On My Own Red Carpet

Phase II - Regressive Count - Week Five
10/22/07 - 10/28/07
Week Total: 18.1

The highlight of my week and really of this month has been running under the beautiful colors of Autumn. Yesterday it was extremely pleasant to see the red leaves all over the sidewalks. I ran on my own red carpet.

The week suffered a shortage of mileage. A couple of reasons or excuses:

Sunrise time in Washington DC was 7:20am, sunset at 6:15pm. Because the long hours at work, and because I do not run outside in the dark I needed to do the runs at the gym. But the gym at the Hyatt Crystal City is extremely hot, probably because the fancy track lighting system above the treadmills where you feel under interrogation. The air conditioning is poor and there are no fans to mitigate the heat. My 3 miles on Tuesday at 4:30 am were miserable hot having very hard time, so I didn't want to deal with miserable 5 miles on Thursday.

2) I couldn't rest my knees properly after the 20-miler of last Saturday. Our project conference room in DC, where I was for more than a week, has a conference table that does not permit "leg extension". So having my knees bended for 10 hours-a-day killed me. On Thursday morning I got up as usual at 4:20 am to run my 5 miles of the day. Prepared my cup of coffee, felt my knees dancing and loose, thought of the hot gym and
and went back to bed.

I ran yesterday back in Washington State my planned 15-miler. I pushed it but did not get too much improvement. It was really cold, 41F/4C, but perfectly sunny. I tried my new Breath Thermo shirt and it worked nice, however, when running on shady areas I was cold. I felt better when I completed my 20 miles last week than after this 15-miler. Some of the reasons could be the knees' pain, cold temperatures, and not running enough this week, compared with rested knees, perfect weather in DC (62 and sunny) plus the excitement of discovering a route. These last three are priceless.

Today Sunday I have virtually followed my blogger-friend Chris, bib # 24639 throughout the whole Marine Corps Marathon. It was so excited to see her mile after mile running through a city that has become my third home. At this very minute she just finished the race. She did 5:06:24, 4 minutes better than her target time of 5:10:00. I felt so happy for her, and took that as an incentive for me.

Congratulations Chris. I had goosebumps just thinking on finishing a marathon at Iwo Jima, My Heroes, My Guys.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Now, I Know I Am Ready

Phase II - Regressive Count - Week Six
10/15/07 - 10/21/07
Week Total: 31

The plan for this week was Tue: 3mi, Thu: 8mi, and Sat: 20mi. As I had to fly from Seattle to DC on Thu it was not smart (at least to me) to run 8 miles after flying for 6 hours and "losing" 3 hours of my day. So, I moved my 8 miles to Tue and the 3 to Thursday. But Tuesday was a black and cold day in Seattle (what's new) and by the time I left work I was going to finish by dark. Not wanting to risk that (safe first) and a little bit tired of running under these weather conditions, I decided to run in the gym on the treadmill. I am sure there are people that do that, but for me was a challenge.

Surprise: The workout was awesome. I have to agree that running on the treadmill is more challenging that on the streets, and I reduced 40 seconds my pace. I felt really happy with the results and I believe is the best run I've done in my training.

And then, Saturday arrived. 20 miles to go. I had butterflies in my stomach during the whole week just thinking in the city (DC) I know but not completely, the heat, the humidity, and, so forth. I confess I was scared. I checked multiple routes, and saw many that go by highways, or places I had no clue.... After several hours, on Wednesday night, I drew my route (80% in known areas) and I prayed for the best.

The weather forecast was favorable. The 88 degrees of Thursday were not going to be available on Saturday. 62F early in the morning to 72 at noon was the promise.

At 7:15 am., sunrise time on Saturday October 19, I was in the lobby of the Hyatt Crystal City waiting for the shuttle to the Metro. At Arlington National Cemetery station I called my adorable husband and told him: "Wish me luck, I will text message you every 90 min or so....". Clicked my chron, and started.

The day was perfect. Blue skies, nice breeze and a delicious temperature of 62. Humidity was supposed to drop as the morning advanced.

I went to Fort Myer, Rosslyn, Francis Scott Key Bridge, M street in Georgetown, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Dupont Circle, Massachussets, Columbus Circle, Capitol Hill, Constitution, North Carolina, C Street, 22nd., RFK Stadium, Independence, Maine, Tidal Basin, Ohio, National Mall towards the Capitol, turned around in Pennsylvania, M Street, Key Bridge, Rosslyn, Fort Myer, Arlington Cemetery.

4 hrs 27 minutes. I thought of anything and everything. I felt wonderful in that loneliness state of mind that is achieved when we are just there, and just running. I saw myself crossing the 26.2 mile line in Seattle on Nov 25. I accomplished something. At least, my max distance before the marathon. Now, I know I am ready.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

True and Self-Evident

Phase II - Regressive Count - Week Seven
10/08/07 - 10/14/07
Week Total: 23.1

The long run this week was a 15-miler. Shorter and 1 min/mile faster than last week. The difference with last week was that I did only about 3 walk breaks this time when last week I did it every 5 minutes.

With any long distance I run, I feel "destroyed". It doesn't matter if they are 13, 15, or 18 miles. But I see that I persevere and I do what I have to do. I found the comments received last week to be true and self-evident:

1) We just get out there and finish - Jeff

We are under 1% of the country that can do that - Lora

We get extra mental toughness that we will somehow carry on to some other aspect of our lives and makes us a better person - Shirley

Thank y'all.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Getting back on my feet

Phase II - Regressive Count - Week Eight
10/01/07 - 10/07/07
Week Total: 26.0

I ran an 18-miler yesterday. It was cold, windy, and rainy. It was tough, hard. My knees and insteps hurt. It was slow. I was soaked. My mood was ok, much better than last week. Feelings are getting back to normal. I am getting back on my feet.

No much to write about other than counting the days not for the Marathon, but to visit and be with my daughter in Thailand. 59 days.

Alejandra, I love you.


Sunday, September 30, 2007

Be Strong

Phase II - Regressive Count - Week Nine
09/24/07 - 09/30/07
Week Total: 6.8

Last Sunday my daughter Alejandra and I learned that one of her best friends tragically died a few hours before. The world stopped for a while.

I know how hard this is and will be for Ale. I wanted desperately to be with my daughter, not as her running partner but as her companion. Long hours in the phone during the week was our only choice to be as close as we could be. Putting things in perspective, nothing was a priority but to mourn. Being
quiet, silent or crying at home. Running was put on the side.

My week should have logged 28 miles but I only ran 6.8 on Saturday. I did not care if I would complete my mileage this week, or if the only run was good or bad, or fast or slow, or if my heart rate was high or low.

Craig wrote in one of my posts that
"Running is the place where he processes thoughts and experiences and finds some clarity about life ." With that thought, my only run of the week was focus on life as is the most precious gift we have.

Life is short, but as my husband put it:
"life is beautiful, remember that when you get teary eyed. Cling to what you have, not to what you can't change."

Ale, my daughter, I adore you. Be strong. Treasure all the beautiful moments you shared with Veronica. Treasure them forever.

Veronica, you'll always be in the hearts of all you touched, especially your friends for 15 years from Kindergarten. God Bless Your Soul.

Sunday, September 23, 2007


Phase II - Regressive Count - Week Ten
09/17/07 - 09/23/07
Week Total: 28.9

Seventeen is a prime number, my favorite number, the day I was born, the day my son Diego was born, the age when my husband went to Vietnam and my favorite age when I was young.

Seventeen is the number of miles I ran yesterday with results singing "improvement" over previous weeks.

The day was cold, 55F, and the sky was overcasted. Not having any desire to drive 20+ miles to Seward Park in Seattle, I stayed in Mukilteo. My regular route there is 7.2 miles, which I doubled, throwing 3 more miles in the same route.

The streets were empty during my whole run.
My heart rate was lower than normal, being inclined to believe that was due to the cold temperature.

Some sadness surrounded me after a stressful work week, work negative feelings kept coming back pounding in my head. Same thing happened during my 8-miler on Wednesday in DC, when crossing the Potomac I literally made the gesture of grabbing the work thoughts out of my mind and threw them over the Memorial Bridge. It worked.

But, o
n Saturday, not having a bridge to throw unwelcome thoughts, I abstracted myself thinking on my number and relating it to the amount of miles I needed to achieve that day. I clicked "play" and transposed myself to my 17's, as well to my kids'. It was a nice movie.

more than 3 hours of absolute solitude I re-confirmed it was a beautiful and magic age.

Seventeen only comes once in a lifetime,
Don't it just fly by wild and free
Goin' any way the wind blew baby
Seventeen livin' on crazy dreams
Rock and roll and faded blue jeans
And standing on the edge of everything

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Just The Two Of Us. We Can Make It If We Try

Phase II - Regressive Count - Week Eleven
09/10/07 - 09/16/07
Week Total: 25.5

My running partner (my beautiful daughter Alejandra) and I had this week a very close encounter, although still 7,000 miles apart.

She received 3 CDs I sent with my long-runs playlist. We spent 3 hours in the phone listening it together, and making comments about it: This is cool! This is too slow! Isn't this awesome? For being so young, you have a great taste for classic rock, girl, must be in the genes!

Also we completed this week almost a marathon distance between the two of us. Both ran our max distance ever. She did 10 miles, I did 15.5. It was tough for both of us.

My 15-miler was done on Lake Washington Blvd, following Seattle's marathon route.
My knees had the same pain that last week, "oh, patella, oh". Heat, ice, icyhot, fish pills, glucosamin, chondroitin, etc, part of the treatment. I still quite don't understand why, all of a sudden this pain, and I don't want to even think on how to add 10.5 miles to this package.

Alejandra had pain in the ball of her feet (metatarsalgia) and in her hips. She has been running with a terrible pair of Adidas running shoes, and being mom, so concerned, encouraged her to get new shoes. As she also overpronates, I recommended her the Asics Kayano 13, but she could not find them in
Bangkok & Chiang Mai, the two biggest cities in Thailand. As the Asics for underpronators (Nimbus) cost there $200!!!, we decided that I will buy the Kayano in the States and ship to her.

On Thursday I went to Road Runners by Green Lake and bought the shoes. Now our feet will continue running alone, but pacing sometimes the same music and feeling together the same nice cushion and comfort, and hopefully with less pain.

We need just to keep the faith on us.

Ale, just the two of us, we can make it if we try (and KEEP TRYING). I love you.


Sunday, September 9, 2007

La Patella

Phase II - Regressive Count - Week Twelve
09/03/07 - 09/09/07
Week Total: 22.9

No, it is not a veal or chicken scaloppine with mushroom portobello. Nor is a typo on my favorite dish, paella. It is that I hurt my knees. It's "Runner's Knees: Chrondomalacia Patella".

Yesterday I went for my 14 miles run, through a very nice route in Long Beach, California. Along water, and at a nice temperature of 66F. First along the Ocean, then through Naples Rivo Alto Canal, then Alamitos Bay Marina, back to the Ocean, Shoreline Marina and a last mile by the Ocean again.

The plan to ensure "non-depletion" was to walk for a minute every 10 minutes and having my GU's every 45 minutes. By mile 8, my legs were fine, my breathing was steady, so was my heart at an average of 152 bpm. However,
I started to feel pain in my knees. I kept going and also felt pain in my insteps, more in the right than in the left, which I assumed was due to tight shoelaces.

Every start after a walk break was harder than the previous, but I kept going. By mile 13 the pain was huge, but I could continue. Stupidly, I sprinted the last 0.2 miles, as fast as I could.

For the rest of the day I could barely walk due to my knees. Meanwhile massaging my right instep I touched something in a way that gave me a terrible pain. So, my two knees and my right foot were out of order, and I was limping for a while. After icing my foot, the pain in the instep was gone. The knees keep hurting.

I am concerned that I am injured now. My calves and hamstrings feel like if I walked in the park, but the pain in my knees is severe.

Would it be any relationship between the instep pain and the knee pain?

Or is the patella (knee cap) imbalanced due to weak quadriceps?

I see myself tomorrow visiting the running store to
get a strap for compression and stability to the Patella.

Ah, and no question, legs extensions twice a week.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

All Dressed Up and Nowhere To Go

Phase II - Regressive Count - Week Thirteen
08/27/07 - 09/02/07
Week Total: 19.6

The first marathon plan I considered included two races. One 5K on week 5 and a 10K on week 10. The plan that I decided to follow does not have races, but I kept them on my schedule anyway. I registered in Bank to Bay in Tacoma, WA on Sep 9, which benefits the Tacoma Public Schools Help-a-Student fund; and I plan to participate in the UW Dawg Dash, Seattle, on Oct. 14th.

Plans for the 5K changed as I came to work to Long Beach/Seal Beach for the first week of September, not being able to run the Bank to Bay. I checked the races in SoCal and found a 5k/12K, the "
ION® Bridge To Breakwater® ", on Sep. 1st, in San Pedro, just only 6 miles from my second home in Long Beach. I registered, happy of running a race on a different state, and by San Pedro's waterfront. On Friday afternoon I finally got the course map of the races and called my attention than they were around several streets and not on the waterfront. Worst than that, the 12K were 5 loops on those streets. That did not sound logic to me, but hey, I just wanted to race.

Saturday morning I woke up really early to have an early breakfast (
and to digest it on time) , then got ready, and minutes before leaving, while checking directions, I learned that the races were canceled. Still I went with my hubby to the race place. The place was all set up for the races, but we were told that due to permit issues they had to cancel them. They gave us our goody bags, T-shirt, and let us know they will refund the race fee. Even though I felt sorry for the organizers I cannot understand how registration could even start weeks before, without having all the logistics in place.

So, I was there at the starting line with many other runners "all dressed up and nowhere to go".

Came back home and I traded my race for a 7.5-mile run on nice but smoggy Long Beach. Not bad after all.

The week went well, but keep going slow. My initial goal was to finish, but now I'd like to get a little bit faster, or less slower. More interval training, perhaps?

Note on the Race:

Through the San Francisco Gate I learned that "Hundreds of runners were left standing at the starting line after a [5K & 12K races were] canceled at the last minute. Organizers of the "San Pedro Bridge to Breakers" race failed to buy insurance and get necessary permits for the competition, which was scheduled to start early Saturday. Runners from across Southern California showed up at the Vincent Thomas Bridge just after dawn, having missed an e-mail sent Friday night that the race was canceled. Last year's race was marred by complaints that its waterfront course prevented businesses and their customers from getting to stores, and Los Angeles city officials said organizer Dave Behar was obligated to solve that problem before getting permits. At the last minute, Behar moved the marathon to five laps around a gritty industrial area near the port, but did not obtain permits for those street closures either. Behar spent Saturday explaining to runners how to get refunds on their $30 entry fee."

Saturday, August 25, 2007

God Bless You Please, Mrs. Robinson

Phase II - Regressive Count - Week Fourteen
08/20/07 - 08/26/07
Week Total: 25.4

I just finished my 13.1 miles of training. Half-Marathon. Who would've thought?

Same route than my last long distance, from Seward Park to McGilvra, and adding a hilly area: E. Galer (upward slope, thanks God is short), and Madison (slight (?) upward slope).

When I was going through E. Galer I felt good, I felt however that instead of running I was snowshoeing. Then in Madison a "slight upward slope" that did not look slight to me, but it was delicious when I started going down the hill to reach Lake Washington Blvd again. Then coming back, the delicious "slight downward slope" became a "slight upward slope" and the horrible upward slopes became downward.

Luckily, my fastest songs were at this point with Mrs. Robinson with 183 bpm going down the hill. God bless you please, Mrs. Robinson.  I felt invincible when I got back to flat McGilvra. With 8 miles on my feet I said to myself: "Nobody can't stop me".

But 3 miles later I felt running out of gas. In top of that I was also running out of water. When I got to mile 12 I discovered that I still had 8 oz. so I took a GU and drank the bottle, and thought that I could run at a good speed, but it was too late. I couldn't. I dragged my feet for 1.5 miles. When I stopped, at mile 13.1, my legs were glycogen depleted. I couldn't move at any speed. I hit the wall.

My car was parked 1.5 miles from the 13.1 mark. I did that to force myself to cool down, but I barely could walk. After a while I recovered and walked with pleasure feeling the breeze on my face, meanwhile watching boats and people enjoying a pleasant Summer day.

I did not take walk breaks during this run, and I didn't gain much. I will maintain the breaks for the long runs to guarantee late, or no-depletion (if I
could only guarantee that!)

My interval work this week was good. I ran them (1' intervals) at an average of 7.52 min/mile without the recovery and 8.35 with recovery.

Again, I am amazed what a person is able to do. I compare my first week, 15 weeks ago, being able of running only a minute, after walking a minute. This week, my run of 7 miles looked to me like a short run.

My marathon time should be around 5:30. Not bad after a 9-year hiatus.

Thanks to my beautiful daughter Alejandra I am back in love with running.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Pouring Rain

Phase II - Regressive Count - Week Fifteen
08/13/07 - 08/19/07
Week Total: 22.8

It is not strange, rare at all, that it rains in Seattle. And we, Seattleites, not even during summer, are exempt of rain. But the pouring rain we had last Sunday was too much for a summer day, to the point I thought my training was gonna be under the universal deluge.

I went to Seward Park to run 12 miles around Lake Washington. As "raindrops kept falling on my head" the hood of my jacket was of no use. I was not successful either avoiding puddles. When I wasn't looking, my feet were just submerged in a nice big one. When I ended my mileage I was drenched. I was changing clothes in the bathroom's park and I felt like if I swam for a couple of hours on the Lake with my clothes and shoes on.

However, the experience was all positive. The probabilities that will rain during Marathon day are ALL, considering that 1) always rains in Seattle and 2) Washington State receives the highest rain fall
during November. So, training under rain for a Seattle marathon is a must. The smell of the rain and the rain in my face have always been a nice sensation to me. Just a handful of runners were around the lake and we felt that camaraderie of challenging the divine liquid. But better than everything was the Danskin Triathlon which route was in Lake Washington Blvd. It was really nice seeing hundred of women putting a lot of effort to complete it.

In another order, I bought a second pair of the wonderful Gel Kayano 13 and plan to break them in during my short runs.

Also, good to comment that I have had for 3 consecutive weeks, a pain around my left hip flexor. The doctor told me on Monday it could be a stress fracture... ???? I don't believe it. Of course, X-Rays were scheduled, with a possible MRI, depending on the results. What about a p
ulled muscle? or lack of stretching? That makes more sense to me. We'll see.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Music, Beats and Endorphins

Phase II - Regressive Count - Week Sixteen
08/06/07 - 08/12/07
Week Total: 24.4

Speed, Tempo and Distance as part of Phase II made me wonder how I would be able to do any kind of tempo and/or cover distances greater than 6 miles.

Music was the answer. Downloaded to my iPod more than 160 beats-per-minute songs which gave me the ability to push myself and keep a steady pace. Endorphins were working. I enjoyed the distance running on the external trail on Green Lake, which is 3.2 miles, a little bit longer than the internal, 2.8 miles.

On Sunday I ran 10 miles, my longest run ever. It went good the first 6 miles, but just a few yards before mile 6 I felt an acute pain on my left side. I believed I didn't digest completely my breakfast. After some breathing exercise the pain was gone. But, in addition, the music was a disaster. The hard beat songs were at the beginning, the slow ones in the middle, so my pace was all messed up. Need to work on that.

The metrics provided by Runners World Training Log tell me if my pace improves over time and over type of training.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Phase I - Done

Phase I - 10 weeks - Complete
05/28/07 - 08/05/07
Phase Total: 90.3 miles

Summary Miles per Week

Summary Pace per Date

I started 10 weeks ago running 3 miles per week nervous of how I was going to increase mileage during the second week.

Today, after 10 weeks, I have completed 90 miles. Many nice places & stories along the road. Traveling to California, Virgina, Washington DC, and back home to Washington State, made these weeks interesting and full of anecdotes.

Now I start the second phase that will lead me (I HOPE) to finish a marathon.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

No This, No That

Phase I - Week Ten
07/30/07 - 08/05/07
Week Total: 17.5 miles

Even though I am a very positive person, I surrounded this week with negative things.

Prior week with 16 miles ended badly. I was poisoned with an overdose of something I prefer not to mention. So this week started slow, and I did not feel well throughout. In top of that I had a bunch of No this, No that.

1) No husband: I came back to Washington to be separated again from my adorable husband who knows till when.
2) No short drives to work. I had to go back to the routine of driving 60 miles/1.5-2hrs a day to do the route home-work-home.
3) No water. I realized that during this week I drank only 4 glasses of water, 1 glass of milk, and 5 cups of coffee.
4) No food. I also realized that I had lost my appetite with the consequence of daily headaches. In top of that I realized that I have 9 more pounds that when I was 9-month pregnant with my Alejandra. This was a shocking revelation. So, I would like to have... 26 pounds less?.
5) No motivation of continuing running around Lake Serene, as the lap is too short. Having to run at least 4 miles per training day, I cannot see myself running lap after lap after lap.
6) No speed. Ok, I don't plan to do time but finishing, however I feel terrible slow. If I keep running slow, I would master running slow.

I could not fix #1 and #2 for the moment, so I put that in my pipe and smoked it.

#3 & #4 were residues obviously of my poison situation. I did not want to ingest anything. I attacked the issues forcing myself to have a bottle of water per hour and a yogurt or fruit every 2 hours. In regards my weight, I recognize that I am still thin and a lean person. However "the inexplicable weight gain" (READ: aging, perimenopause, GETTING OLD) is just killing me. I normally eat well, maybe around 1500-1700 cals a day, a lot of carbs, very little fat and my proteins. Eating less I cannot do. That would be unhealthy, so I would bear with the weight... Would I? I still want to get rid of 26 lbs.

For #5, I went during the weekend to Green Lake & Alki Beach. The former is one of the
"Seattle’s most beloved parks". With a running trail of 2.8 miles, it changes its character throughout the course. Alki is one of my favorite spots in Seattle. Also with a 2.8 miles trail, the run by the beach is accompanied by the sea-salt smell, the view of the sound with ships, boats, and sailboats, and the beauty of Seattle skyline.

For #6, even though I ran on Saturday about 3 minutes faster for a particular distance, Sunday was again slow... Something to think about it. Still 16 weeks to go

Nice Green Lake Aerial Picture from a Seattle guy studying at Ohio State.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Art of Abstraction

Phase I - Week Nine
07/23/07 - 07/29/07
Week Total: 16.3 miles

About 30 years ago, I read the book "The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner", by Alan Sillitoe. I remember my fascination when the protagonist got lost in his thoughts during his solitary runs.

This week I knew that I was ready for more, and wanted to start running a little bit longer. By no means my actual runs are considered long runs, but I needed a process to jump from 7 miles done last week to 16 miles required for next week.

On Saturday,
when I hit the beach, with its delicious salty smell and the smooth ocean waves sound, I started to "write" in my mind, my running memoirs. I got totally lost in my thoughts and without noticing, I had past all my landmarks, turned around, and got back to my point of origin to complete 4 miles. On Sunday, I ran 5.8 miles, and beyond my expectations, I completed successfully over 16 miles for the week.

Certainly, Long Beach and running on its shore made a difference, but the big driver was the ability of applying the art of abstraction and reaching the loneliness of the long-distance runner.

Week 9 - Mileage: Tue: 2.5 / Wed: 2.2 / Thu: 1.8 / Sat: 4.0 / Sun: 5.8

Lessons Learned:
1) Abstract yourself. Write a story long enough to forget that you are even running. But, be aware: you don't want to be "abstracted' in a busy street or unsafe place.

2) Keep pushing.