Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Last Runner And The Last Breath

Marathon Plan - Regressive Countdown - Week Ten
02/22/10 - 02/28/10 - Week Total: 42.7 miles
Total February: 130.3 miles
2010 Mileage: 245

I was officially the last runner of my last race. I am in the 65 percentile for a 5K in my age group, 60 for 10K, and for distances above 13.1 I am a still a hair above average, 56 percentile.

But when you race in a race that has no average runners, being a hair above average puts you in the last place. Fast runners from a very good running club plus some runners like me that left me in the dust when I started to collapse at mile 10. Two DNF. I knew I ran at a great pace, better than my training pace, but still felt frustrated, and to leave the frustration behind I searched for some kind of mental therapy.

Pre was there to help me.

On Thursday I sat on the couch to, again, go over Pre's life. Life I know by heart. His trials and tribulations, his passion, his determination, his perseverance, his successes, his failure at Munich which I believe made him a better person, his fights against the system, his last race, and sadly, his last breath. A last breath that occurred too early, too young. A breath that I embrace as his legacy. The legacy from a runner that has touched me the most.

And on Saturday I left with Pre's determination, perseverance, and passion to complete a 20-miler. At mile 4 I started to lose awareness of my surroundings, and the music was the only thing talking to me. Thoughts came and went, family and friends showed up in live images in my mind.

Who loves you pretty baby? A flash of my three babies comes up. Images at all ages. Who loves you pretty baby? They live now their own life. Grown up. Gone. Close at heart, but far away in the distance. A gorgeous morning, 50F/10C, partly sunny. I feel hot, it is hot. Then the clouds cover the sun, and I feel a nice cold breeze in my face. See our majestic flag waving in all its splendor on the top of a building when I hear a 747 flying close by. Yes, my ears are getting so educated that I am starting to differentiate an airplane just listening to the engines. Looked to my left and there it is: the Dreamlifter has taken off. Though ugly, it is a wonderful piece of machine that carries the 787 fuselage inside.

I continued with my pace when Stairway to Heaven hit the pod. German D. is there with his beautiful guitar playing it for me. He did record it for me, and deleted it. A complaint. Does the stairway take me ever to Heaven? I hope so. When my time comes I want to climb them in a state like this state, with a nice breeze in my face and a radiant sun warming me up. And it's whispered
that soon if we call the tune, then the piper will lead us to reason, and a new day will dawn for those who stand long, and the forest will echo with laughter.

And Franco De Vita sings "nothing is the same". And yes, without Luis nothing is the same. Tell me that you will come back, that this is your place, that nothing will change. Here, between you and I, nothing is the same if you are not here. Why to lie? Tears, pouring tears running by my face. My life stopped here. Yes Luis, nothing is the same. Will never be.

And I think of you all my runner friends. I think of Ricky E. that broke 4 hours and is getting ready for Paris. I think of Pre, not built like a runner but the best American runner ever. I am built like a runner. We were born to run. S
omeday girl I don't know when were gonna get to that place, where we really want to go and well walk in the sun, but till then tramps like us baby, we were born to run.

And then Chucho is playing my dad's piano. It is 1975. Carrie is also there. We were a trio. A nice trio. We still are. He is playing a Chicago's song. Will you still love me? Just say you'll love me for the rest of my life... and then I see the three of us singing so out loud that we lose our voices. Our youth is frozen in those images. Plans to get back together in 2011. In Florida. The three of us. It is a date.

I see the sun semi-covered and the sun rays through the clouds. And that's God talking to me. And there is Craig V. telling me that the only way to avoid the pain of losing those we love would be to never have them with us at all... And I would love to have a run with him and talk about the things trapped in my throat.

I crossed the ocean for a heart of gold, I've been in my mind, it's such a fine line. I found Randy, my heart of gold. And Randy, through Seger, sings to me: I've seen you smiling in the summer sun, I've seen your long hair flying when you run, I've made my mind up that it's meant to be, someday lady you'll accompany me.

And the music goes on, and on, and on....
and in a minute of silence, between songs, I only hear my breath, and it is Pre's last breath. That's all I hear. I look to the ground and see my feet, right, left, right, left, and think of Enrique Alejandro, and though I am tired, I need to keep running. He can't run, he can't walk, so my feet go for him, and though I believe my feet cannot go any longer, they can. The fighter still remains. In the clearing stands a boxer and a fighter by his trade and he carries the reminders of ev'ry glove that layed him down, or cut him till he cried out in his anger and his shame, I am leaving, I am leaving, but the fighter still remains.

The 20 miles, as a run, were bad, too long, but they were a journey and a new experience... They taught me something. Taught me that my anger and my shame of being The Last Runner were surpassed by the inspiration of The Last Breath.

Monday, February 22, 2010

A Blank Mind

Marathon Plan - Regressive Countdown - Week Eleven
02/15/10 - 02/21/10 - Week Total: 30.5 miles

My long runs normally dictate my writings. As I go and hit the road, dozens of topics or ideas on how to describe my running week come to mind. I usually get several blog titles, but one always shines over the others. That has been the case, week after week, year after year, with very few exceptions. Like this past weekend, when I ended up with A Blank Mind.

The distance: a 15 miler. The course: pretty much known. The setting: A race. The temperature: Started at 36F/2C, ended at 48F/9C. The Sun: In all its splendor. The clouds: Absent. The Rain: Nonexistent.

And there I go with members of a running club, ALL very fast runners, to prove myself that in race conditions I am able to improve my pace.

And without knowing I was in mile 5. I don't remember what happened in the first third of the race, or what my mind had in it. All of a sudden I found myself in the place where we did the turn around at a 10-mile race organized a month ago by the same club. This time, we continued for 2.5 miles to turn around in the half mark. From 5 to 6.5 I only remember I felt very strong. It was a little bit hilly (nothing remarkably hilly, but not flat) and I felt that my legs and heart could not be in a better situation. At mile 6.5 I started to slow down but still felt good. No thoughts until I got to 7.5 miles and was the time to turn around.

At mile 8 - a water station - a lady that had been running close to me all the time told me "come on". We ran together for half a mile until I noticed my right shoelace was loose (thing that never happens to me and I tend to criticize). Lost my thoughts again when I found myself between mile 10 and 12 completely falling apart. Literally. And in top of that I was very thirsty. I was drinking at every water station 1 cup of water, but I felt I needed to connect a hose to my mouth. At the 12th mark I improved a bit and got a surge at mile 13, don't know how, and suddenly I was finishing the race. I tried to sprint as I use to, but didn't have too much strength.

What happened throughout the race and why I was blank most of it, is beyond me!

Overall, I ran at a better pace (11:12) that my long runs training pace (11:21), and faster than my Half marathon the weekend before (11:32)... And as my first 15-mile race... it is a PR.

1 - 10:05
2 - 10:33
3 - 10:59
4 - 10:36
5 - 10:37
6 - 10:57
7 - 11:45
8 - 11:09
9 - 10:54
10- 11:05
11 - 12:06
12 - 12:21
13 -11:48
14 - 10:52
15 - 11:40

Sunday, February 14, 2010


Marathon Plan - Regressive Countdown - Week Twelve
02/08/10 - 02/14/10 - Week Total: 24.1 miles

When I was young some of the Greek names that were familiar to me and had a meaning were Apollo, Poseidon, Zeus, Aphrodite, Hermes, Hercules, Daedalus, Olympus, to name a few.

Today, the name that resonates the most to me, is without a doubt, Phidippides. The man that, 2,500 years ago, has served as the inspiration for the Marathon race and long distance running.

USATF established a national recognition for those Masters Athletes that race a certain number of races in USATF certified courses with verifiable results: The Phidippides Award.

Not bragging about it, but I feel proud of having received this national recognition during 2009, especially, because 2009 was the hardest year I've had in my life.

And when you get an award, you give a speech: So here is mine.

* My thanks to Mary Yuliet Busato, who, back in 1997, accompanied me in my first ever run.
* To my daughter Alejandra, who set the stage for me to go back to running and put me where I am right now.
* To my son Diego, who runs with me when he can, and who, during my marathon's quests, is waiting for me at mile 25 (Km 40) to help me get to the finish line.
* To my hubby Randy, who, when I get home after 4 hours of running, has a plate full of cold fruits, water, and the perfect setting for me to come back to normal.

I will continue - it is my promise - in 2010 with my racing's quest.

This week I raced a Half marathon at a training long run pace of 11:32 for a 2:30 Half (my PR is 2:23:21 in a hilly course). The race was in Rochester, WA, a town that no Washingtonian knows it exists.

Question: What are you doing this weekend?
Lizzie: I am racing in Rochester.
Question: New York?

This occurred with every co-worker that, before leaving for the weekend, asked that nice question on how the weekend will look like. Well, no wonder they asked if New York.

When I got to Rochester, 100 miles away from home, I asked myself: How is this town on the map? It is a small community, rural,
an old western town, that seems to be frozen on the past. But none of these aspects raised any worries about how the race would be. I blindly trust the organization capabilities of any American race (we just have to experience how miserable races in other countries could be).

The place to gather was Swede Hall, which is the town hall. I felt like in the earlier 20th century. The races included: a marathon, a half-marathon, a 10 mile, a 10K, a 5K, a kids' mile and a duathlon. Could you believe this? I couldn't.

Loved to see that with the registration fees, they went to Costco, and bought plenty of refreshments for all participants. They had a couple of crock pots, one with chili and another with soup.

Loved to see the aid stations with volunteers in a van with a couple of tables serving us water or energy drinks in a cup.

Loved to run in the middle of the streets without the feeling we were jeopardizing our lives, because the drivers were aware these are rural roads.

Loved running by farms.

Loved the medals.

Loved to be part of the experience.

Loved the race completely: A Cupid's Marathon, Footraces and Duathlon, ran in a small rural community, in Rochester.... WASHINGTON!!!

Race and medal dedicated to my mom, who is 81 on race day!! love you MAMA!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Peaceful Easy Feeling. Peaceful Easy Running?

Marathon Plan - Regressive Countdown - Week Thirteen
02/01/10 - 02/07/10 - Week Total: 33 miles

This week I ran my first 20-miler of the season. I decided not to watch my pace and have a peaceful easy feeling, courtesy of Eagles via My iPod. And though hard to believe, I watched the pace only a handful of times. That gave me freedom.

When I hit mile 10 (
I know the course by heart, and know where every mile mark is) I decided to watch my time: 1:56:00, for an 11:36 min/mile. Good pace for my long run and I was feeling good.

Now, the next 10 miles proved to be different. I started to feel it, and to slow down. At mile 15 I was in 3:01 hours, pace now averaged 12:04. In this portion of my run, I had two pit stops: one, my husband saw me running and pulled over and offered me a bottle of lemon-lime water. I drank half a bottle. Half a mile later I wanted to puke and now I pulled myself over... from there I felt my pace dramatically going down but I pushed and persevered to finish my run. My motto: "Lizzie, just cover the distance, no matter the speed. It is the first 20-miler and you have 12 weeks to go!!!"

I finish my run in 4:03 for a 12:10 min/mile - which was not that bad considering it still was within the range on my long runs pace.

The initial Peaceful Easy Feeling didn't convey a Peaceful Easy Running. Neither my feelings nor my running were peaceful let alone easy. What 20-miler is?