Sunday, December 21, 2008

Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand Six Hundred Minutes

Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand Six Hundred Minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?
In daylights? In sunsets? In midnights? In cups of coffee?
In inches? In miles? In laughter? In strife?

In Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand Six Hundred Minutes
How do you measure a year in the life?

Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand Six Hundred Minutes
Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand journeys to plan

Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand Six Hundred Minutes
How do you measure the life of a woman or a man?

In truth that she learned? or in times that he cried?
In bridges he burned? or the way that she died?

It's time now, to sing out, though the story never ends.
Let's celebrate, remember a year in the life of friends

Oh, you got to remember the love, you know that love is a gift from up above.
Share love, give love, spread love. Measure, measure your life in love.

I could have measured this year in 662 miles and 126 hours of running,
or in 80,000 calories burned during runs,
or in 9 races,
or in 75,000 miles flown,
or in 40 planes boarded,
or in 140 days away from home,
or in 1 lump that changed my life.

But I am going to measure it in love. I measure my Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand Six Hundred Minutes of 2008 in pure and simple incommensurable love.

God Bless You All
Merry Christmas and the Best To All of You in 2009


My last race of the year, the Jingle Bell Run in downtown Seattle on Dec 14, 2008. Temperature of 20F with the wind chill factor. Ice on the streets. With Jingle Bells I also had asthma all the way, but I ran with high spirits. I am resolute. I will keep myself strong. I will keep running. Cancer, hear this out: You won't stop me!

Time: 31:15
Placement - Division: 21/138 - Female Overall: 613/2396 - Overall: 1406/4197

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Let's Rewind. Marathon Week. A Total Different Meaning.

Marathon week (again) and sub-sequent weeks 11/24/08 - 12/09/08

How to write this? Let's Rewind. Marathon week. On Tue Nov 25th I had an easy 4-mile run. In few more days, I would complete my Seattle Marathon.

I was getting ready to take a shower when I felt a lump on my left breast. A lump breast? I called the doctor and asked for an appointment. Set for 3 days later, Friday 28th, after Thanksgiving. After the check, Dr. asked for another mammogram (previous done past October), ultrasound and biopsy if needed.

Checked internet, and found out that 80% of the lumps are benign. Why to worry? Yeah, nothing to worry.

Raced my Marathon on Sunday 3oth, and felt very happy for the achievement.

On Wed 03rd, I had a new mammogram, and nothing shows. Let's have an ultrasound. Ok, girl, you need two biopsies. What? Yes, one for the lump, and another for some calcifications I see in another area. When? Tomorrow the 4th.

Not to worry much. Much of the biopsies come out negative. 80% of the lumps are benign, remember?

On the 4th, my hubby's birthday, I went to have my biopsies. Had to go alone as he was in California and I didn't want to upset my son with news that could be nothing. Results? Monday the 8th, my daughter's birthday.

My son and his fiancee spent the weekend with me. Got distracted organizing pictures and videos. Not to worry. 80% of the lumps are benign, I have ZERO family history of breast or ovarian cancer; I consider myself the healthiest person on the planet (
with the exception of my asthma); I eat extremely healthy; I am not overweight; I don't smoke; I don't drink; I had a late development; breastfed my kids for a long time; I exercise vigorously and consistently; etc...etc...etc... Of all risk factors, that are a ton, I had the age, 52, and one that seems a new issue and it is not being addressed much: dense breast tissue... Anyway, not to worry, all the numbers are in my favor.

Monday 8th. I worked since 5 am to be free at 1pm (yes, you can do that in the company I work for). Noonish, a lot of anxiety. Went with my adorable son to get the results. Arrived one hour earlier. Lizzie Lee? Come in. My son held my hand really strong. Lizzie, the calcifications biopsy came out negative, but I am sorry to inform you that your lump is positive to breast cancer.

The world stopped.

Let's Rewind. Marathon Week. A Total Different Meaning. Yeah, it doesn't mean anymore the week when I was getting ready for a marathon. It means the week when my life turned around. From a marathon where I ran one mile at a time to a breast cancer "marathon" where I need to walk one step at a time.

My life has changed in the blink of an eye.

Important things: my husband is here with me now to hold me and to help me go through this; my kids are my inspiration to fight this; my mom will help me too; my sister; family; and my friends.
I will get through this, I will get through this, and yes, I will get through this. It will be a self-fulfilling prophecy. I will get through this.

I have the oncologist appointment next Tue 16th. Then I'll know when and what kind of surgery I will have. Surgery will tell if I need chemotherapy or only radiation.

I have not told you guys, because I was planning to do this in my next blog, I was assigned in October temporarily to Italy for 9 months with the company (Petra knew). My departure was scheduled for January 4th, and some of my run plans included two marathons while there. Rome on March 22nd and Gletscher Marathon in Austria close to Innsbruck on July 5th. Not going to Italy now really doesn't matter, I have more important things to do right now. My priority is to get this done.

This past June I ran the Susan G. Komen race in Seattle, and felt so humble among all the survivors. I will run again with them in 2009, but from the other side of the fence.

I will get cured, I will keep running.

I promise.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Didn't Catch A Dream, But Total Happiness!!!

Marathon Plan - THE WEEK - Seattle Marathon
11/24/08 - 11/30/08
Week Total: 33.6

Marathon week. Got sad news, my older sister Miryam died of cancer in Colombia on Tue 11/25. I haven't seen her since my dad died, 15 years ago. Lamenting distances, lost time and lost communication. Therefore, regrets.

Easy runs on Tue and Thu. Quiet and lonely Thanksgiving spent just watching movies and eating pasta. Expo on Friday. Bib # 1368. Got measured about everything imaginable and got a lot of results that I don't know what to do with them, such as my body fat is 19.4%, meaning I am "underfat"; a physique rating 0f 8 meaning thin and muscular, and a metabolic age of 16, having no clue what this means... If it means that my metabolism works as fast as a teenager's, I take it as a good number.

Saturday did absolutely nothing, just entertained myself watching musicals at home. I slept awesome every night during the Holidays (almost 10 hours each day) with the exception of Saturday, of course, when I slept 7.5 hrs, which was still pretty good.

On Sunday I couldn't have my complete cereal portion, I had nauseas,
nerves??? Gun time was scheduled at 8:15 so I left home at 7am for a traveling time of 20 min, however, I forgot to add 40 minutes to get into the parking lot. So, this super type "A" personality had barely 10 minutes to go pottie and be ready... And because of this I couldn't meet my blogger friends Michelle and Eric. National anthem, and off!!!

I dedicated the race to my sister Miryam.

The weather was really nice, 54F / 12C and totally misty and overcast. No RAIN!!! It smell so good. My strategy was to run 1 mile and walk 1 minute, but I forgot. When I was in mile two I remembered it, and even though I said to myself "don't blow it" I decided to walk every two miles. My dream goal was a sub-5, (11:30 min/mile) and I was planning on doing everything possible to achieve it.

Mile 1 - 10:22 - At mile 0.3 I threw away a "disposable" jacket. At mile 0.7 I took my gloves off.
I wonder why I had them in first place. 54F/12C and no wind means warm and nice for running, even without sun.

Mile 2 - 10:48 - The water station at mile two was the idea of only a genius (or not!!!). They didn't have cups, they had pitchers and large plastic water dispensers, so they
were pouring the water in runners mouths. Can you imagine the mess? At mile two!!! when you have ALL the runners together...Putting that on the side, the first miles were nice running along 5th Avenue. I am a downtown Seattle lover.

Mile 3 - 11:38 - a 100% upward slope. At this point I noticed that my watch was not calibrated. It was doing 0.03 miles shorter, so it meant that my pace was not accurate. To have a sub-5 I needed to do a 11:05 per my watch, but never got it.

Mile 4 - 11:25 - a full mile of a slight downward slope inside Mount Baker Tunnel. It felt warmer... From now on they DID have cups for water...

Mile 5 - 10:48 - The magic of Seattle Marathon appeared on the scene.
Lacey Murrow Memorial Bridge, which is the second longest floating bridge in the world, floating magically over the beautiful Lake Washington. The scene was spectacular. The mist covered most of the lake with the exception of the shores. Ducks and other birds could be distinguished through the mist. It was gorgeous. The sun tried to get its way through the clouds, adding a "from heaven above" effect, but the clouds didn't let it.

Mile 6 - 11:32 (turn around on a tunnel by Mercer Island, my first GU), 7 - 11:21 and 8 - 11:19, still on the bridge. Hard on the calves, all concrete. Yachts driving under a section that is not floating...

Mile 9 to Mile 17 - all flat course along Lake Washington. During these 9 miles I never saw the lake; all foggy. Mile 12 my 2nd GU. At mile 13. 1 my watch was off by 0.4 miles and the official marathon time was 2:35, telling me that I'd need to have a heck of negative splits for a sub-5. I still kept the dream goal in mind.

Mile 18 - 11:29 (off) - My 3rd and last GU. My chances were little (or zero?), knowing what was coming ahead in the marathon route.

Mile 19 - 12:01 - The last portion of a flat course, but my legs were feeling it.

Mile 20 - 12:00 - Official marathon time: 3:53. I still have 1 hr 07 minutes to do 6.2 miles, could be possible? Heck, yes if I am fresh, but I wasn't. Now is when the struggle started. A very short (0.15 miles) upward slope beat me.

Mile 21 - 12:49 - Here is where Seattle Marathon runners came to oblivion. Galer, the worst upward slope, totally uncalled for, and then, Madison Street, where we climbed 145 feet in just one mile . It was BRUTAL.

Mile 22- Half going down (I took advantage of gravity, and didn't hurt my legs), and half going up.

Mile 23 - I had in front of me, another hill for a whole mile, through Interlaken Blvd and a park that never ended. When I finished the darn hill, the marathon official time was 4:35 minutes, so it took me 42 minutes to do 3 miles from miles 20 to 23... Chao to my dream. 25 minutes to complete 3.2, almost a 5K when my 5K PR is 29:01. I was not disappointed at all. Even though I was battling it, I felt really happy. I knew I've done my very best.

Mile 24 - A ray of sun showed up. Not from the star, but my son Diego came to cheer me up and to run with me the last 2.2 miles.

Mile 25 - The Space Needle couldn't be seen. Covered still with mist. The flat portions of this mile were as bad as the upward slopes. I was pretty much exhausted.

Mile 26.2 - A terrible and hard downward slope, it hurt. Then flat, then a nice sprint. My watch showed 8:50, but be aware, another hill, for 0.3 mile. And then the entrance into the stadium, I sprinted as hard as I could, and there was this woman that I tried to pass, but she decided I was not going to, we sprinted so hard that the whole stadium was cheering. I heard the announcer mentioning our names. She beat me for five seconds. I crossed the finish line at 5:17:10, for a new PR and 38 minutes improvement compared to last year. Thanks Furman!!! (My watch showed 27 miles!!!)

I Didn't Catch A Dream, But Total Happiness!!!

After the race I could hardly walk. I went to the recovery area with my son and his fiancee, had hot soup, 2 bananas, 2 chocolate milk, and the best of the best: a 15-minute session of stretching and massage. It was amazing, I fell asleep. Then a guy tapped my shoulder, and said, ma'am, my name is James is there anything else you want us to do? I could walk after that like if nothing had happened. Then went with the kids to Bucca Di Beppo, but couldn't eat much (or nothing, I'd say)

Congratulations to Eric and Michelle B. who did a triple challenge, three marathons back to back (Fri 11/28 Wishbone @ Gig Harbor, Sat 11/29 Ghost of Seattle, and Sun 11/30 Seattle Marathon)

Thanks to my older sister Miryam for the not so many but very precious times together. God Bless You.

Thanks to my son for running with me the last 2.2 miles, to my daughter Alejandra that is fundamental to my runs, thanks to Shelly for being there at the end of the race, to my hubby for the consistent cold and nice cantaloupe waiting for me at the end of all my SoCal long runs, and thanks to all of you, my runner friends, for your disinterested friendship and support.

The mist lasted the whole day. I am just a few meters away from the Space Needle and it can't be seen completely...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

To Dream The Impossible Dream

Marathon Plan - Regressive Countdown - Week Two
11/17/08 - 11/23/08
Week Total: 21.4

This week started with my 52th Birthday, a year wiser, a year older, and definitely, running-wise, a year stronger.

I missed not being with my husband on my Bday for third year in a row (California and Washington State living... when will this end?) but still I had multiple celebrations, starting with
a nice little banquet with my son and his fiancee. My son prepared for me delicious baked oysters that were A-number 1. We had as main dish a great pork loin with beautiful black and white farfalle (gorgeous!!! and recommended). And for dessert, my daughter-in-law to-be had a yummy cheese-cake.

I also went out to dinner twice with different group of friends. I talked on the phone for hours with my daughter in Thailand and two of my best friends (one in Florida and one in California), talked to mom who is in Venezuela, but couldn't talk with my older kid who was in Japan. I received more than a hundred messages of congratulations (thanks God for 21st century communications). Important to note that most of my friends have been friends for more than 30 years, and for that I am thankful and blessed.

Now, the week is ending with an itchy throat, an itchy ear, itchy eyes, a headache, stuffy nose and I just pray they are allergies (to what?) and not a cold, (taking Zicam, just in case). Setting that on the side (I don't even want to think about it), my last week of training ended really good.

Saturday's forecast was cold and overcast.
I had my wind stopper ear band, my Mizuno gloves, tights, technical long sleeve and my breath thermo. Miraculously, the sun decided to shine (kinda) and the 42F/5.5 C felt nice and warm for the first 5 miles when the sun decided to go away. The highlight of the run was my adorable hubby's present: a Polar running watch. I tested it during this last "long run" of 10 miles. Even though I tried not to run for time (advice from some of you) I couldn't avoid it. This gizmo gave me a lot of confidence on my pace, an after six months running my long runs on the same route, I finally understood with numbers (*) the ups and downs of each mile (before, I was measuring the splits with a post-it and a pen when I hit the mile marks).

(*) As an engineer and a stats-freak I need numbers....

Well friends, the training is over... In Spanish we say: Here is where the river brought me...Now let's get the job done next Sunday 11/30/2008. A great news is that the forecast, so far, for Marathon day is High 53 Low 42, partly cloudy, no showers. That'll be a gift from Heaven... but knowing Seattle... that can change!!!

I am ready, everything is ready. Gear, shoes, pod, watch, Ipod, GUs. I'll have three miles on Tue and three on Turkey Day,
Friday the Expo at the Westin... But the best of all is having the Thanksgiving Holiday for resting and mentally prepping...

What is my goal?

My Dream Goal is a sub-5, and if it's possible or not, I have it as my dream (an impossible dream?)
My Great Goal is 5-5:15
My Realistic Goal is 5:15 - 5:30
My Ok Goal is 5:30 - 5:45
My Oh Well Goal is > 5:45

Chris B. and Charlie have taught me two great lessons during their past marathon endeavors (Rock & Roll Arizona Marathon and Chicago Marathon respectively). There are variables we cannot control, and
there are things that go out of hands.

No matter what, our tenacity is there and the finish line is welcome, but if we still DNF we had the courage to go there wanting To Dream The Impossible Dream

To fight the unbeatable foe

To bear with unbearable sorrow

To run where the brave dare not go

This is my quest
To follow that star
No matter how hopeless
No matter how far....

HAPPY THANKSGIVING !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Art Of Doing Nothing

and this is exactly how my legs feel now... relaxed!!!

Marathon Plan - Regressive Countdown - Week Three

11/10/08 - 11/16/08
Week Total: 23.1

Thanks to all friends for the boosting words last weekend. I followed some of your advices and took it easy. On Sunday I rested well, and did NOTHING, and on Monday I got home from work early enough to continue doing NOTHING.

It is tapering time. Who doesn't love it? I do. I love The Art Of Doing Nothing, or as the Italians would say, The Dolce Far Niente (The Sweetness Of Doing Nothing). Of course it is not a nothing as many would understand it, but for us runners, tapering is close to nothing. Welcome!!!

My nothingness traded Intervals on Tuesday by an easy run, and Tempo on Thu was done @ low tempo instead mid tempo.

My Saturday "not-so-long run", as my once running mate Chris F. (*) put it, was a half distance run, 13.1 miles. My goal was a 2:20 to taste the possibility of a marathon dream goal of a sub-5.

The weather conditions were PERFECT.
After two weeks of pouring AND tiring rain, and scary wind storms, the rain tampered off by Thu morning, to have on Sat, a dry, sunny day at the perfect temperature of 54 F/12C with no wind. So perfect it was, that I was able to run just with a long sleeve running shirt, without my breath thermo, and that's a lot to say...

The first half happened towards my set goal, and I felt really good, but the last 6 miles, when I decided to battle it as if they were the final 6 of the marathon, were not as good as I thought they would be. F
or unknown reasons, my total time was 2:28 (4 minutes more than on Sep 27, Half Petra Marathon, when I wasted 2 minutes in my car); and I say unknown reasons because I don't remember either slowing down, or having any issues with shoes, water, cars, rain, wind, slippery sidewalks, etc. Maybe I am still tired.

Oh well,
no analysis was decided, and we'll see what happens on Marathon Day. Two more weeks!!!


(*) Chris F.: I know that it is not possible to run a race together next year. Running together the Tidal Basin Race in DC was so much fun, and I hope that by 2010 we join again to race somewhere....

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Am I Back To Square Zero, Not Up To The Task, Or Simply Tired???

Marathon Plan - Regressive Countdown - Week Four
11/03/08 - 11/09/08
Week Total: 29.5

Last Sunday, my sacred Sunday, the day I have to sleep in, to rest from my Saturday long runs, to do NOTHING, I had to wake up at 4am (Sprint did not update the standard time till 5am, so my alarm went off at 3am!!!), to go to the airport and fly 2,700+ miles to our nation's capital. So there it went my Sunday.

On Monday I got up at 4am to do my intervals, as the week was promising to be horrible work wise. The work day started at 8 am and ended at 10:30 pm. Tuesday I needed to be at the office at 7 am. A closed session with 20 some government and aviation industry people to end the day at 6pm. Then, went to a bar with a couple of friends to watch the elections. Bed by 12:30 am.

Wednesday started at 7:30 am to work half of the day and fly back home at noon the same 2,700+ miles
. On Thursday I wanted to do my tempo early in the morning to have two days of rest before my last 20-miler...but I couldn't get up. So, the 8 mile tempo was done at the gym at the end of the day. It was not an easy tempo as my legs felt heavy, so I followed Shirley's advice of turning it into a tempo interval run and although I completed the distance I didn't feel strong at all.

After constant pouring rain on Thursday and Friday, I started to feel moody thinking on my last 20-miler. The forecast for Saturday? M
id 50s, 100% rain till 11 am and 90% after that.

Saturday arrived raining certainly 100%!! I waited about 3 hours and at 10am I left knowing that I would soak myself under the divine liquid. Miraculously, when I parked my car, the rain stopped. What were the odds that I would run under the 10% of "no rain?" I was lucky.... I dedicated my run to
Tim and Susan Feeney

But then my legs were exactly where I left them on Thursday. Heavy and heavy and heavy. All my eight first miles were above 12 min/mile. I recognize that I ran with extra caution as the sidewalks had a gazillion of wet fall leaves, I also tried to avoid puddles. At mile 9 a woman almost sent me to the hospital. Seems that she forgot that a stop signs means to stop before the stop sign to have the opportunity to look at both sides before going. She kept going only looking to the left for cars coming. She didn't think that pedestrians can come from the other side. Some *&*#%% to her, and that is the only mile that I did below 12. I was really mad.

After that, everything went down the hill, even though the clouds dissipated and the sun was out there for me. All splits were above 13 min/mile. By mile 13.5 I was really in bad shape. It was very windy, but not like the day I almost flew. Thought of Tim and Susan, thought of Tina who has a 20-miler race this weekend and decided to keep going. At 15.5 (point I passed by my car) I stopped, rested for a couple of minutes and decided to go for 4 more miles to complete 19.5.
Dropped the fuel belt, took one bottle with me, took the coat off (mistake) and continued. I was soaked because of the sweat, therefore, without the coat, the wind killed me the first tenth of a mile. Instead of going back to grab the coat, I went back and quit. Probably I didn't want to face that if I'd completed the 20-miler I would've ended around 4:25, when two weeks ago I did it in 3:54. Last year, my first and only 20-miler took me 4:27.

My average pace was 12:49, the worst pace of my last seven long runs.

Am I Back To Square Zero, Not Up To The Task, Or Simply Tired???

Three more weeks!!!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

One Hundred Twenty Miles... And If The Cold Didn't Kill Me, It Made Me Stronger

Marathon Plan - Regressive Countdown - Week Five
10/27/08 - 11/02/08
Week Total: 28.1

October closed with One Hundred Twenty Miles - One Hundred Ninety Two Kilometers... Even myself is impressed. It's the month that I have run the most amount of miles since I came back to running in 2007 ...!!!

Arrived on Monday from California, my adorable son p
icked me up at the airport, hugs, kisses and I asked him: Do you have a cold? and he said Yes... I told him: I love you too!!!

Ran my intervals that day to have enough time between tempo (Wed) and long run (Sat). Three intervals on one mile each plus the warm up and recoveries, for a total of 5 miles.

And... on Wed... I got the cold. Zicam with me. My boss as soon as he saw me in the office told me: your eyes are puffy... go home. I didn't. I had a lot of work to do. I started to feel better during the day, and decided to go to the gym to do my tempo run which was planned for 10 miles.
Instead of keeping a steady mid-tempo pace I chose to do negative splits. It was a good workout. I wondered where the cold was. I completed 9 miles in 98min 38sec. The treadmill stopped at 99 minutes, and I lost momentum and didn't bother to start the work out again to do another mile. The good thing is that I felt great, there were no signs of cold until the night showed up, when in bed I felt it.

On Thursday I needed to go to work and I knew it was going to be a long day. In addition we had an evacuation drill and it didn't feel nice being out for 40 min (luckily it was not that cold outside). In the afternoon I wanted to cry because I didn't feel well; co-workers told me to go home, but I had a presentation review for a meeting in DC next week. So I stayed.

Friday was a different story, this time I stayed in bed. Zicam, and resting. Fortunately, my asthma was not impacted, that is always my biggest concern when I get a cold. Then on Saturday the questions were: Should I run? Would it be wise or stupid? How can I miss my long run - a 14-miler?

Traveling to DC on Sunday left Saturday as my only option.
The day was offering a decent weather in the mid-50s without rain (overcast, of course). After 2 hours of deliberations and feeling slightly Ok I decided to go. I was planning in a 11:08 min/mile pace (similar to a 13-miler I had in September) but that was too much to ask. My legs ached as in the typical cold discomfort. When I thought I was running 11 min/mile I was registering 11:40, then resolved not to get hung up in numbers today as obviously the cold had an impact in my run. I ended doing 11:43 as average pace and If The Cold Didn't Kill Me, It Made Me Stronger.

Below the average pace for the long runs of the past six weeks.

Four More Weeks!!!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Pidiendo Cacao - Asking For Cacao, And Cacao I Got

Marathon Plan - Regressive Countdown - Week Six
10/20/08 - 10/26/08
Week Total: 31

The highlight of the week is another 20-miler in my pocket done 40:51 faster than the first 20-miler one month ago, for a decrease of 2 minutes per mile. I also improved the pace by 22 seconds in relation to the 20-miler ran two weeks ago. I still can't believe it.

20-miler - Sep 20, 2008 - 4:35:37 - Pace 13:47
20-miler - Oct 11, 2008 - 4:02:02 - Pace 12:07
20-miler - Oct 25, 2008 - 3:54:46 - Pace 11:45

This week 20-miler happened in Long Beach, CA, by the beach in a 98% flat course. I started 3o min before sunrise to take advantage of cooler temperatures, 56F/13C. My plan consisted in running with negative splits, have an average of 11:20, and break the 4 hours with
a total time of 3:46:40.

The first ten miles were planned at an average of 11:30 and I ran them at 11:39 average. I was happy were I was, and I felt as if I worth a million bucks, I was running strong. But next five miles were another story, planned at 11:15, and done at 11:50.

What happened with my million bucks??? I felt like 10 bucks!!!!!!

I'll blame it on the temperature which started to go up to get to 76F/24C. The sun was at its full splendor and there were no clouds on the sky. Important to note that my hubby joined me at mile 13 with a new used-bike he bought. It was nice to have him by my side for the rest of my run.

When I hit mile 17 I have increased my pace to 12:34... Time to do something. Coincidentally, my iPod played Seventeen, by Tim McGraw, which has a good bpm, and lucky me,
I went abstract. I ran from mile 17 to mile 18 at 11:10, great!!! I could make up for lost time... But... couldn't. The pace for the following mile was done at 12:47. I was "Pidiendo Cacao" - Asking For Cacao - When you say you are "pidiendo cacao" (Spanish) is that you are asking for mercy.

And Cacao I Got. I didn't let my last mile to be spoiled. I sprinted for a final mile at 10:31 (
nauseas included) . My husband was there waiting for me.

Performance Check:
Negative Splits: Nope!
Pace planned: 11:20 - Pace achieved: 11:44
Time planned: 3:46:40 - Time achieved: 3:54:46

Still I broke the four hours. For the marathon (Nov. 30th) I will pray to go abstract for the next six miles, and I will play Seventeen, Mrs. Robinson, The Boxer and Firecracker, as many times as possible to keep a good pace.

Five more weeks!!!!


Interval and Tempo work done without issues in Albuquerque, New Mexico where I happened to be during the week. I missed (again) running with Chris who was in SoCal during this week.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Running East

Marathon Plan - Regressive Countdown - Week Seven
10/13/08 - 10/19/08
Week Total: 25.9

Six o'clock in the morning, 59F/15C, twilight,
sea smell, running by the beach. Two miles later an amazing orange ball of fire is rising up. I am Running East.

I arrived to Long Beach, CA on Thu morning, and as any Thu, my tempo run is scheduled after my work day. But is Southern Cal, mid-October, and 79F/26C. It is hot. Thought of my blogger friends Petra, Maddy, Melisa and Charlie who just ran Chicago at mid-80s. Thought of my life in the tropics where is humid and the average high temperature of the city I was born and raised (and ran) ranges from 77F/25C to 81F/27C. Thought of how well we adapt to climatic conditions. Thought of how adapted I am to Seattle's weather, and how 65F/18C is just the max high I can stand without feeling uncomfortable.

After all those thoughts, I know I will not run at this temperature, let alone a tempo run. Run is postponed for Friday morning. But on Saturday I have a 15-miler. Back to back tempo - long run just doesn't work for me.

Oh well, I traded my tempo for an easy one on Friday. Four miles.
And then the words at the beginning of this blog: Six o'clock in the morning, 59F/15C, twilight, sea smell, running by the beach. Two miles later an amazing orange big ball of fire is rising up. I am Running East. Then I turned back for the rest of the run, two more miles. I am Running West, and there, high in the sky, it was the moon. And I felt blessed.

Next day, Saturday, same time, same temperature, same twilight, same sea smell, same beach, but almost four times further. Fifteen miles and Pestrategie plan. Similar results: 11:37 min/mile. Same blessings.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

With Everything I Had

Marathon Plan - Regressive Countdown - Week Eight
10/06/08 - 10/12/08
Week Total: 32.5

For my standards, I ran this week With Everything I Had.

My speed work (intervals and tempo) where done till exhaustion. Both were around of 6 miles so, I decided to complete a 10K distance and measure how I did on each.

The intervals work consisted of 4 sets (1 mile, RI of 0.25, 2 miles, RI of 0.5, and two half miles with RI of 0.25). The speed pace was between 10 min/mile and 8:34 min/mile. The RI were done walking and jogging at 12 min/mile. The 1oK time was 1:03:27. The tempo consisted of 1 mile easy, 4 miles at mid-tempo, and 1 mile easy. To challenge on getting better times than the intervals, I did 5 miles at mid-t
empo for a 10K of 1:02:23. My legs on Thursday felt the work. I did challenge myself big time.

On Saturday the big try. A 20-miler planned on a 11:30 pace. The day was gorgeously sunny, with the most beautiful blue sky. Not a single cloud. Cold as cold could be for Fall. 42F. The run was going to be a "see what happens". Trying to keep the paces I had for my two previous weeks of 13.1 and 16.2, did not go that well. The tempo work really left my legs tired. The average pace was 12:07 for 4h 03m 15s, but still these numbers were a great hit. Three weeks ago I ran the same distance 20.1 mile in 4h 37m 00. This is an improvement of 1:4o min/mile for a total of 34 minutes!!!!

The first five miles were better than last week where I battled the wind, but after mile 6 my legs were asking for help. At mile 14.1 I stopped by my car and sat there for a couple of minutes. I felt absolutely destroyed. I thank that it did not occur to me to quit because I would've. The thought was just not there. I was just recharging myself. After shutting the car door I said to myself, come on, 7 more miles. At mile 15 I had recovered, improving the pace, but it felt back again. I kept going as I knew that I was doing way better than three weeks ago. At mile 19 I said: Lizzie, you made it, just push it. After finishing I drank a lot of water, and almost collapsed. I indeed ran
With Everything I Had.

Below the splits:

Mile 1 - 10:33
Mile 2 - 10:31
Mile 3 - 11:20 - This is a portion that is run on uneven grass. I dislike it SO MUCH. For some reason when I arrive again to the sidewalk my legs feel it hard.
Mile 4 - 11:15
Mile 5 - 11:19 - The steep hill
Mile 6 - 11:20
Mile 7.1 - 11:53
Mile 8.1 - 13:32 - Stop by my car to pick a bottle of water

Mile 9.1 - 11:37 - Recovering, I felt good here
Mile 10.1 - 13:02 - Same uneven area
Mile 11.1 - 13:25 - Tie my shoelace
Mile 12.1 - 12:22 - Steep hill - Don't know why this pace. It should be slower because I couldn't run part of the hill. I walked it. I may have pushed it after the hill.
Mile 13.1 - 12:25
Mile 14.1 - 14:40 - Stop by my car and sat there for a while. I felt destroyed.
Mile 15.1 - 11:27 - I pushed it here.
Mile 16.1 - 13:02 -
Same uneven area
Mile 17.1 - 12:41
Mile 18.1 - 12:53 - Steep hill, couldn't run it.
Mile 19.1 - 12:40
Mile 20.1 - 12:17

Average pace: 12.07... This is an improvement of 1:4o min/mile for the same distance ran three weeks ago, saving 34 minutes!!!! Last week I also had an improvement of 1.47 min per mile for the same distance ran 3 weeks before... So it seems a PATTERN!!!!

Ten minutes later I was home. I couldn't take a shower, or do anything. I changed my clothes and put on something dry, I crashed in my bed and slept deeply for two hours. It felt good...

Here a graph comparing last 3 long runs (20, 16.2, 13.1) - Same course

Saturday, October 4, 2008

One Hundred Miles And The Flying Nun

Marathon Plan - Regressive Countdown - Week Nine
09/29/08 - 10/05/08
Week Total: 23.2

One Hundred Miles / One Hundred Sixty Kilometers. That's my total for the month of September... total satisfaction. I had 93 miles on Sun 28th with only two days left to close the month. I had scheduled 5 miles for Tue, what would've given me 98!! so I moved my 7 miles tempo from Thu to Tue to break my goal of 100 miles.

I spent my week in our Nation's Capital which was a crazy week of work. And because it is probable that I don't return to DC as part of this project team, I spent several nights having mojitos and "mangoritas"...with people I am going to miss, so I skipped my Thursday run...

On Saturday, back at home, I had my regular scheduled long run: beginners call for 12 miles / advanced for 18 miles, so my goal was 15 miles. The day started with a wind advisory in effect until 9 pm. So there I go, to have a battle with sustained winds of 30 to 39 mph and gusty crosswinds of 45 to 57 mph due to
a vigorous trough of low pressure affecting Western Washington.

It was crazy. I really felt in every step that I was about to take off and be like The Flying Nun.
When I was not totally running against the wind I was fighting with gusty crosswinds. In addition the winds snapped lots of tree branches, and I was waiting for a branch to fall on my head.

I ran 16.2 miles following the same strategy that I followed last week for my half marathon distance. It did work fine, but I assume that because of the winds I couldn't match the splits. At 13.1 I already had 6 minutes more than last week. However, I ran today at a pace of 11:33 - 29 minutes faster than the same distance ran three weeks ago by Lake Washington at a pace 0f 13:20. Thanks again Petra!!!!!!!

If I only could keep this pace for the marathon I could run it in five hours... but ten more miles is no Country Club. Or is it?

This week splits - Past week's in parenthesis:

Mile 1 - 10:18 (10:19)
Mile 2 - 10:42 (10.11)
Mile 3 - 11:54 (10:42) - (I felt my legs like if they were two iron tubes)
Mile 4 - 11:24 (10:50)
Mile 5 - 11:50 (11:07) (Between 4 & 5 there is a very steep hill)
Mile 6 - 11:11 (11:09) (My legs felt good at this point)
Mile 7.1 - 11:36 (11:08)
Mile 8.1 - 12:59 (13.25) (Stop by my car to pick a bottle of water, but didn't waste as much time as last week. I decided today not to run with the fuel belt, I wanted to be light)
Mile 9.1 - 11:26 (10:56)
Mile 10.1 - 12:02 (11:32) (Totally going against 35mph wind)
Mile 11.1 - 11:52 (11:36)
Mile 12.1 - 12:09 (11:52) (Between 11 & 12 the same very steep hill)
Mile 13.1 - 11:20 (09:56) (As it was not my last mile I didn't sprint, however I started to accelerate)
Mile 14.1 - 12:13
Mile 15.2 - 13:20 (Another stop by my car for another bottle of water and an English muffin, I was starving)
Mile 16.2 - 10:44 (Sprinted the last mile, but I had to push really hard against the wind)

Average pace: 11:33... This is an improvement of 1.47 min per mile for the same distance ran 3 weeks ago - 29 minutes saved, and with a horrible WIND!!!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Hail Petra Half Marathon

Marathon Plan - Regressive Countdown - Week Ten
09/22/08 - 09/28/08
Week Total: 26.1

Do we know the effect that we produce on other people? We may not. We may know the effect on our children, spouse, parents, close relatives and friends, and possibly, co-workers. But what about the rest?

Well. I am going to tell you the effect that a blogger friend had on me.

After reading her blog last week, I got some sort of inspiration to drastically change my long runs' strategy. My intervals and tempos have been awesome, but didn't know how to translate that to my long runs. They were just long and slow. I certainly was able to complete my mileage, including a 20-miler last week, but it was a dragging-feet type of situation, telling me that something else needed to be done. I love my 3-day running plan from Furman; it fits with my busy schedule and continuous traveling. I can say that thanks to Furman I am a total injury-free person, but again, how to speed up the long runs?

Well, my Brit friend Petra, who is training for Chicago after a season of some injuries, with no races in 2008, and some lack of motivation, ran on Sep 14th, the Mablethorpe Half Marathon on the Lincolnshire coast to "shake" herself. There she went, taking pictures along the race, inspired by our friend Shirley from Hawaii/Florida, she did 2:01. That was a big WOW...

After exchanging some messages with her, I made my drastic plan for my long run of the week. It was my turn "to shake myself." My plan called for a 13-miler, so perfect timing for a Half. There was a Marathon and Half on Sunday 28th, in Bellingham Bay, along the coast, 1 hour 15min from my home, but I already had committed that day with my son. As I didn't find any races on Saturday, I decided to organize my own Half. I designed the route in Harbour Point in Mukilteo and sponsored the race providing free water and GU for the participants (only one, me)!!! My son provided the gadget to measure the times and the splits. The name of the race? Hail Petra Half Marathon.

The day was perfect for a race, 61F/16C and 100% sunny. The strategy was to run 1 mile and walk 1 minute, based on Petra's similar strategy. I did that as my training last year, but my runs/walks were too blended that never got below 13:15... This year the best long run I've had was a 14.6-miler at a 12:28 pace. The rest had been always above 13:19. For the Hail Petra the mandate was to speed up.

The organizer (me) aligned the participant (me) at the start line. The crowd (me) cheered for me... Everything was about me!!!! "On your marks, get set, go", and I went. I did as I have never done before. My thoughts all along the way were just on the next mile. That was my goal, not a Half but the next mile. The split times gave me the needed mojo. Total time 2:24:43, including two stupid minutes lost at mile 7 in a water station (my car) where by mistake I left my asthma medicine, having to go back to get it.

I didn't have negative splits, but that will be part of a next strategy. The goal was achieved. I won the race (my age group, female category, overall, everything - of course I was the only one). I enjoyed it as if I was in the most official of the Half Marathons. Maybe the organizer had some leftover funds from the sponsor and can send me a medal....

Thanks Petra, you really inspired and motivated me to move my butt.

Here my splits:
Mile 1 - 10:19
Mile 2 - 10:11
Mile 3 - 10:42 (I did feel some slowness between 2 & 3)
Mile 4 - 10:50
Mile 5 - 11:07 (Between 4 & 5 there is a very steep hill)
Mile 6 - 11:09
Mile 7.1 - 11:08
Mile 8.1 - 13.25 (Lost 2+ minutes fooling around)
Mile 9.1 - 10:56 (I ordered myself to makeup for the time lost)
Mile 10.1 - 11:32 (I can't tell what happened here, I didn't notice so much difference with the previous split)
Mile 11.1 - 11:36 (It seems my body was feeling the mileage, I felt good, though)
Mile 12.1 - 11:52 (Between 11 & 12 the same very steep hill. It was hard)
Mile 13.1 - 09:56 (I happened to have Mrs. Robinson which is a 184 bpm song. Knowing that it was the last mile I ran as fast as I could)

Average pace: 11:03... This is an improvement of 1.25 ~ 2 min per mile!!!

Hail Petra!!!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head

Marathon Plan - Regressive Countdown - Week Eleven
09/15/08 - 09/21/08
Week Total: 30.4

Memories of "raindrops keep falling on my head", soft raindrops gently touching my face for more than four hours, sensing the nice smell of wet soil, wet bark, and wet leaves that start to change their color. All these provided me with more than two hundred delightful minutes... Last week, my long run was under a sunny and warmy day with blue skies. This week, under a rainy and coldy day with grey skies. No difference at all.

Being alive and well, sensing nature in its different manifestations, sensing my feet pounding on the ground, having the opportunity of just doing it.... No complains, "cause I'm never gonna stop the rain by complainin', because I'm free, nothin's worryin' me. "

Saturday 21st
was that typical Seattle autumn day, constant temperature throughout the day of 52F/11C, constant greyness, and constant soft showers. To run at 9am was going to be the same than at 12, than at 3pm. So I snoozed in the morning, rested in my bed for a good while, and at 11 am I decided it was time to go. A very long run was ahead of me...

I follow the intervals and tempo for the Furman advanced plan, but for the long run, I sum the mileage for both, beginners and advanced plans, divide by two and establish that distance as the minimum distance I should run. This gives me something to push for.

Last week the beginners called for 12 miles and the advanced for 18, so my goal was 15: I ran 16. This week the beginners plan called for 13 miles and the advance for 20, so my goal was 16.5. I ran the whole 20-miler.

I cried when I was feet away of my finish line as if I was about to break the ribbon. I felt so accomplished for the challenge. The challenge of running for more than four hours wet, with my wet breath thermo, my wet head, my wet face, my wet hands, my wet socks, and my wet shoes.

Raindrops keep fallin' on my head
But that doesn't mean my eyes will soon be turnin' red
Cryin's not for me
'Cause I'm never gonna stop the rain by complainin'
Because I'm free
Nothin's worryin' me

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Running Together. Not Alone, But Together

Marathon Plan - Regressive Countdown - Week Twelve
09/08/08 - 09/14/08
Week Total: 27.5

Marathon Plan - Regressive Countdown - Week Thirteen
09/01/08 - 09/07/08
Week Total: 9.0

I am logging two weeks at the same time as week thirteen was kinda busy. I only ran 9 miles. But, trust me, it didn't matter. I arrived home from California on Tue 02nd - after Labor Day - to 3 days later fly back east to the beautiful city that never sleeps: New York.

The reason was that my adorable daughter was in her way from Thailand to South America and we arranged to spend a weekend together. And guess what? For first time since getting back to running, and running alone, but together, we ran together...
not alone, but together.

Given our conditions of recent arrivals from the west coast and from the other side of the world we ran 3 very nice miles. She jumped on my bed at 7:00 am and told me: Let's go running. It was a reality.

My son and his f
iancée joined us on Sat afternoon. We got the "Hanna experience" and walked for more than 10 hours under the tropical storm ~ 5 inches of rain!!!

Following week, #12, was a complete one - mileage wise. Everything was successful. My speed work, intervals and tempo, was very good and my long run was a 16-miler by Lake Washington. The weekend in Seattle was extremely gorgeous, and the weather was just perfect. During my long run on Sunday morning, the temperature went from 62F to 69F, with a nice breeze and a perfect combination of a blue lake and a blue sky. Couldn't ask for more...

Monday, September 1, 2008

Being in Ryan's Territory. Run, Ryan, Run

Marathon Plan - Regressive Countdown - Week Fourteen
08/25/08 - 08/31/08
Week Total: 25.6

I started to sweat profusely just after 0.5 miles of the warm up for my weekly interval session. I didn't feel dizzy at all but certainly I felt too hot... My husband recommended me to stop, so I did. I stood for some minutes in front of the fan, and decided to do leg curls, extensions and abduction/adduction workout. No clear explanation for my extreme sweat... unless it was... a hot flash? Oh My, I am old.

On Wednesday I needed to do some short run to replace my failed interval mileage. I ran 4 miles at the beach and they were particularly slow, way slow, 13:45. This was slower than my marathon pace of 13:35... WHAT'S GOING ON? After some thought I remembered the phrase "if you always run slow you will be an expert running slow".
I've learned to keep the pace in the treadmill as I became its slave (Seattle's weather.... hot weather in the back east...) , but keeping the pace on the road has become a challenge , especially, having lost all my running gadgets. TIME TO STOP. Needed to do a further evaluation of my paces and determined them again.

Following McMillan calculator, which is a "
method that estimates your equivalent race performances using a current race time at any distance" I should be running the Marathon in 4:42:53 at a pace of 10:48, given my 9:21 for my best 5K of the year. No way... There is NO WAY I can do that. McMillan mentions that although these are estimates they are accurate. Could they be accurate for me? I only wish. But in my wishes, I decided to get more serious. My plan continues to be Furman's Marathon plan with the optimal training paces proposed by McMillan.

Friday was my trial. My plan indicated a warm up of one mile, a tempo of 5 miles, and a cool down of another mile, for a total of 7 miles. Paces? My warm up/cool down around 12 min/mile, and my long tempo at 10:15. With a "no feet dragging" as a mandate I finished the tempo at 11:24 average. I'll try to nail next tempo at 10:15, but at least this was much better than a 4-miler at 13:45.

My long run should be at 12:18. I ran a 14.6 miler at 12:28.... NOT BAD AT ALL....

For the long holiday weekend my hubby and I went to the mountains to Big Bear Lake, Ryan Hall's city of birth. Even though the Olympics ended one week ago and Ryan finished 10th, the marathon still was on the air. It was cool to be there and see the support his community gave him. Seeing banners all over town, I felt pretty happy being in Ryan's Territory. Run, Ryan, Run.

Marathon Plan - Regressive Countdown - Week Fifteen
08/18/08 - 08/24/08
Week Total: 15.7

Short mileage week... Traveling to SoCal... Not much to say, only that I felt heavy legs in my long run (11.5 miles), and a very slow pace... Hoping for improvement...

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Back... and with 24.5 miles!!!

Marathon Plan - Regressive Countdown - Week Sixteen
08/11/08 - 08/17/08
Week Total: 24.5

Hi friends, I've missed you as I've missed running. From July 07th till August 02nd I was pretty much in jail. 2 weeks in Huntsville, AL, and 2 weeks in Washington DC, logging very long work hours. I worked 85 hours in one of those weeks. We had a deadline, and "get it done" was the task.... As you can imagine, my priority, other than work, was to sleep... Needing to cross the country for each of these trips added to my exhaustion. I was pretty much destroyed.

The results of this involuntary hiatus was a total of 16 miles in five weeks. SIXTEEN!!!! When I do 16 miles in a week it is a low-mileage week!!!!!!! Fortunately it's over.

I started on the 11th my marathon training plan and it went way better than expected. Although I found out I lost all speed I gained during my first portion of the year, my endurance was still there.

This week#16 was not free of travel, of course. I did my speed work in Seattle, but I had again to cross the country to Philadelphia on Wednesday. When I arrived at 3pm I felt I needed to run. But it's summer, right? and Philly was HOT! So, no choice but a hot gym to run 8 miles on the treadmill. I needed to pour cold water on me every 20 minutes, as the temperature in the whole hotel was 78F!!!!!! Anyway, I felt successful.

Back home I found there was a heat wave in Seattle. So my long run on Sunday morning was at 75F. A High School in my route had their sprinklers system on and one of the valves was broken, so every time I passed I took a delicious shower to refresh myself. Another successful day completing 12.4 miles.

Happy to be back.... and with 24.5 miles!!! Now, I am going to catch up with your stories...

Sunday, July 6, 2008

America The Beautiful

I have been working since March on a half-marathon plan for the Seattle SeaFair (June 26th). I was ready with what I believe was the same pace that I had in my Seattle Marathon of November last year, however, a possibility of going to California to be with my husband arose during the week. Priorities are priorities, and preferring being with my husband in SoCal I flew there and didn't race SeaFair. Not a bit of remorse. As I start my Seattle Marathon plan at the end of July I hope to find a Half Marathon race on the week I have to run the half distance.


California was hot, however its mornings were nice for running. With the exception of Independence Day which was really hot, 85F, every morning I ran was in the mid 60's, which I consider the perfect temperature for running.

My favorite run of the week was certainly the 4th of July. It was a gorgeous sunny day (and hot) with a nice breeze. The beach was packed with families celebrating this great day. A cute kids parade showed hundreds of kids' bikes beautifully decorated on red, white and blue. In Bay Shore Ave, a street that shores with the Naples canals, a family was painting a huge American Flag on the asphalt. But what brought tears to my eyes was a lonely man standing on the sand facing the ocean with a trumpet. He was playing "America the Beautiful". I stop, heard the song with respect, and when he finished I ran toward him, shook his hand and told him: Thank you Sir, you gave me a beautiful gift. Happy Independence Day and God Bless America.

That night my husband and I went to the beach with our "beach bums chairs" and enjoyed the fireworks launched from the "Oil Islands" of Long Beach.

America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

I am blessed that I can run and race in
America The Beautiful
from sea to shining sea!


Even though I had a good 17-mile week, I feel as if I did not run at all. The reason? I have not raced since June 21st . Weird how we are. To replace tempos, which I dislike, I have been running weekly 5K races to replace them. These races became a weekly goal...but I have missed a couple of weekends, and it seems I will miss another two as tomorrow, I am off to Huntsville, Alabama for two weeks, and there are no races in the vicinity. I'd have to wait until I go back to Seattle and see what is available in two weeks.

The pictures below are of a race I participated with a co-worker in Washington DC on June 18th at noon: Tidal Basin, 3K, which is scheduled every third Wednesday of every month. Although it is an informal race the organizers "DC Runners" register the results. It was a nice and fun race around the Tidal Basin/Jefferson Memorial with a big turn out with serious runners in the 5min/mile pace. My goal for this 3K was to get it under 18 min. I achieved it: 17:28 for a 9:23 min/mile. Chris did it in 11:41 for a pace of 6:17.

This race was the 413th monthly Tidal Basin 3K, the day before Juneteenth, which celebrates the freeing of America's last slaves on June 19, 1865.

This photo belongs to: