Monday, November 30, 2009

What Is The Difference Between A Half And A Full In Seattle?

If you answer 13.1 miles, you are correct. However, is not my answer. My answer is 20%.

Every year, the Sunday after Thanksgiving, Seattle hosts its Marathon and Half Marathon. I have ran the Marathon in 2007 and 2008, but because all the issues I had this year I decided not to run Pheidippides distance in 2009. My year has been spent in 5K speed training which was successful from my point of view, racing a lot, and building mileage to have a good level by January 2010 when my Eugene Marathon training will start.

Being that said, Seattle Half was a good way to still participate in this race. I love the organization, the route, and I feel a sense of gratitude towards the race because it was my first Marathon ever, in 2007. My dream goal was 2:10, knowing that if by mile 3-4 I could not keep the pace, I would immediately adjust to realistic pace between 2:15 and 2:20.

Because the majority of the hills are after mile 7 I needed to take advantage of every flat area or downhill. I needed to push it through miles 3 to 7 that were pretty much flat, and before Seattle hills showed up to laugh at me. But, but, but.... after mile 5, in a total flat portion, I started to fail. It could be thought that I started faster than I should. However, I would do exactly the same if I race it again. To run negative splits seems impossible to me with Galer, Madison, and Interlaken in the second half of the race.

The strategy I used - from NY Road Runners - says:
"If goal pace is tough during these first miles, you're in trouble. Either your goals were way higher than your fitness, the course or weather are too difficult, or you're just having a bad day". The course was no difficult, yet. We had the perfect weather for running 50F/10C, no wind, no sun, no rain, and I don't think I was having a bad day (that came after, see red below). So, my conclusion, is that my dream goal didn't match with my fitness, so I rapidly adjusted it to realistic goal before the dream became a nightmare.

Mile 1 - 10:06 - Flat
Mile 2 - 10:26 - Half flat, half uphill
Mile 3 - 10:56 - Uphill
Mile 4 - 10:32 - Downhill
Mile 5 -10:12 - Flat
Mile 6 - 11:18 - Flat <------ NOTE THIS!!! I started to feel nauseated when I pushed the pace to a sub 10.
Mile 7 - 11:24 - Flat <------ NOTE THIS!!!
Mile 8 - 12:30 - UPHILL and miserable long (i.e. Galer and Madison). Pace is understandable at this point after 2 bad miles.
Mile 9 - 11:32 - Half downhill and half uphill
Mile 10 - 11:27 - Mainly uphill
Mile 11 - 12:06 - Flat - <------ NOTE THIS!!! Continue being nauseated, stopped to throw up (couldn't).
Mile 12 - 10:26 - 2/3 flat 1/3 uphill - I really pushed it here. My eyes shined when at the end of mile 12, I saw my son who went to run the last mile with me (he did the same last year).
Mile 13.1 - 10:20 - Half down and half up. Stopped again to throw up but couldn't and then I ran with everything I had, including the last uphill before entering into the Stadium. In that curve I sprinted like a cheetah reaching 7:48 min/mile. I know I don't gain too much time with this, but man, it felt last two splits were nice after six miles of nausea!!! When I crossed the finish line I had to be helped, I really left everything I had. ...

It was not until I finished the race that I really understood The Difference Between A Half And A Full In Seattle. The 13.1 miles that are not run during the Half are all flat. Assuming a person is well trained for either distance, to run a Half in a 40% hilly course, seems to me, way more challenging than a Full 20% hilly. So, the answer: 20%

Another difference is that when you get to the finish line (Half) and go to the recovery area you have to walk among thousands of people to get food, but after a Full you have to walk A LOT to get no food!!! Now I understand that in the past years the "Halfers" ate it all!!! Kidding!

This is an excellent race, excellent organization, excellent support from the Seattle Police Department and Volunteers, and for three years in a row, we have had EXCELLENT WEATHER!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Official Time: 2:23:21. Although I have run this distance many times for marathon training I have never done it officially, so PR it is.!!!

Thanks to my son Diego and his wife Shelly for being there for me.

I bought this Brooks jacket at the Expo. It is wind and water resistant (not proof). Fantastic and SO light, I don't think it weighs more than one made of saran wrap.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Vino Rosso

More than a month ago, on October 10th, we hosted a nice lasagna dinner with, of course, red wine... I never drink before a race, but I could not pass the wine when lasagna is present. I didn't care much about the race, so I didn't care much about how much wine I drank... that BTW was quite a bit.... The following day, I had my second best 5K time of the year: 27:46.

Last night, my good friend Melinda hosted a girl's night out. A delicious vichyssoise and guess what? A lot of wine...Then I thought.... what about if the wine has the same good effect than at the last race??? Let's test it, and I socially drank three glasses of wine (that is a LOT for me)... and had a lovely night.

The weather forecast for the race (and the reality) was pouring rain and 43F. The reports wrote things like: No rest for the Pacific Northwest, 3 to 5 inches of rain on Sunday.... Misery in the Northwest! The weather news were not encouraging, and when I woke up at 6:00 the rain was still there... and it was so dark that I stayed cozy underneath my covers... At 7 am, hubby asked me: Are you going?... I would love to stay in my warm bed, but the magic words jumped out of me: I regret if I skip a race, but I never regret when I go. Therefore, I went.

And... the rain stopped, and... it was not even cold as there was no wind... and... the Vino Rosso worked. I got a PR!!!! 27:27

Division 12/50 - Overall Female 107/497 - Overall 256/764

With world class runner Judy Fisher and Todd Byers, "Barefoot Todd, the Barefoot Coach" -----------------------------------------------------------
The highlight of the week was not my PR, but my birthday: 53!!! After what I've gone through I can say that birthdays mean a total different thing and I am thankful for another year of life. Talked to my kids, family and friends that are far from me and celebrated with my husband and son Diego that lives also in the Seattle area.

Hubby asked me what I wanted for dinner and my without-hesitating answer was: lasagna (I am original, ain't I?)... and for cake??? PECAN PIE.. If he is a master cooking those two (that are BTW my favorite) why to have something different???
Diego showed up looking like Santa full of gits.... A wonderful book: The United States Experience 1763 - 1815 (I love US history), a running earband and the best of all: Armwarmers!!!!!!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Break A Leg, But Not Literally

Not much to tell other than is cold... Last night, checking doors and locks before going to bed, I discovered that our front yard was totally covered with... SNOW!!! It was nice to see it, but discouraging. I had a race the following day in Snoqualmie, WA, 45 miles from home, with limited parking, meaning I needed to leave very early, around 6:30am.... a weather forecast in the low 30's indicated to me that the freeway would be ... icy?

Indeed, it was. After driving 4.2 miles, I already had past 5 separate accidents. Called my husband and he recommended to turn around. I told him I would be fine. And fortunately, thanks God, I was.

At 7:15 I arrived to the place, and found challenging to enter in the building. The whole parking lot was an ice skating field. After some tricks, I made it, picked up my package and saw the display of trophies to be given three deep in each age bracket. I decided I'd get one, didn't matter if 1st or 3rd place, I wanted one, they were gorgeous.

I had 2h 15 min to spare before the race started as it was delayed till 9:45 am to give chance to the ice to melt. Fortunately, we were all inside an Elementary School, and could keep ourselves warm. All runners wanted to Break A Leg, But Not Literally, so we welcome the delay. The sun was trying to show up, and we're glad it did.

The race finally started with a bunch of kids in front of the pack. Although organizers told them to go to the back, they simply didn't move. For me, it was kinda neat to see all these kids running for their school, and got a flashback in time to the school activities when my kids were little. I smiled.... good memories...

The run was really nice. The sun was present, and my three layers of technical fabric gear were perfect for the occasion. I ran good along the whole course with only one thing in my mind. A trophy!

Darn it. I got 4th!!!

Division 4/10 - Overall Female 60/280 - Overall 165/502

The weekend before
I ran another race under miserable weather conditions. I drove 1h 15 min to Fort Steilacoom, and it was pouring, windy and cold. The race was organized by the Army, and when I asked, where is the race? They pointed out: That trail... OK! It was XC terrain.

hile in the line to pick up the package, all of us were asking why do we do this... The common answer was: Because we can, because we are alive. That was good enough to decide to stay despise the rain, the cold, the wind and the terrain. My fear in unstable terrain is due to my ankles, so the strategy was to run slowly enough to avoid any sprain. Also I would need to run with a rain-non-running jacket I had, so running slower than usual would help me to not get too hot. And there I went. The rain stopped minutes before the race, but the terrain was muddy and slippery. I ran comfortable, had a lot of fun and got second in my division. All the runners, me included, did way better than expected... Why? We concluded the course was shorter than 5K.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Running With The Best: Ryan Hall, Meb Keflezighi and Bill Rodgers

Yesterday, Halloween Day, I had a 5K race which was extremely hard. I don't know what happened. At mile one I wanted to quit and was very close of doing it, being the first time this happens to me. At mile two I was done, I don't know how I kept going. At mile three, I thought I was not going to make it!!! When I crossed the finish line I had to sit down for a minute as I was pretty much knocked down. When I stood up, I didn't have a good balance. Obviously I ran hard, but the time (28:54) was way slower than my PR.

In my "race analysis" I think that the reason is that I ran my second mile too fast, or faster than usual. After the first mile I did target Stephanie Jesmer from my division and didn't let her pass me. She was pretty much breathing in my neck during the whole second mile. Every time she got close I pressed harder. But when we completed two miles, I was done, and she left me behind. Stephanie got the division and I got second. I was happy anyway as I tried something new.

My plans for the day after the race was to run 2 hours some minutes with the best and fastest marathoners of the world. The race? The 40th New York Marathon. I could barely walk when I jumped out of bed, but I was so excited with my plans that got my legs quickly ready, had a GU, set up my laptop in front of my treadmill, and joined the crew at mile 4. While they ran under 5 min/mile, I was at recovery pace of 11:30 min/mile. But I was running with them. I felt a motivation that I have not had before. It was the coolest idea. A front pack of 13 men kept me excited cheering for the US to bring the title. Among the pack two Americans, Ryan Hall and Meb Keflezighi. I was routing for the blond kid of Big Bear Lake, CA, but if was not going to be his, Meb needed to take it. Around mile 14 the pack was reduced to 11, Ryan and Meb, still there. At mile 17 the pack went down to 6, and Ryan was left behind. Around mile 20 it was a three men race: Meb, still there. At mile 22 went down to 2 men, and at mile 24, Meb took off. When my treadmill hit mile 9 and 1:44 minutes, the race was won by Meb. He crossed the finished line in 2h 09' 14".

The 40th New York Marathon had an American winner after 27 years. And I ran with him during 80% of the race - from home. It was a fabulous.

But what about running with one of the best for real ?

Last weekend I had the opportunity and fortune to run a 10K with one of the greatest American marathoners, Bill Rodgers. In a brutally hilly course, and a more brutal downhill, he joined the cause to fight prostate cancer, which he is a survivor of. After the race, he was ready to talk to everybody. In the waiting line, I didn't understand what took him so long to sign an autograph, but when was my turn, I understood.

Very nice to meet you, Bill. And then he started. Hi, have you been running for a while? Where are you from? How did you do today? What are your favorite distances? When are your upcoming races? Then he knew about me also being a survivor, and we both shared that running has more meaning now. He was asking all the questions because he was the type of persons that care. It was not about him, it was about all the runners and the passion of running.

I got 7th in my division with 1:02:23.5 and Overall Female 59/77.

I am blessed and thankful, not only that I can run, but that I could virtually and for real, be Running With The Best: Ryan Hall, Meb Keflezighi and Bill Rodgers.