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!!!