Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Start Of Fall

Marathon Plan - Regressive Countdown - Week Seven
09/20/10 - 09/26/10 - Week Total: 30.9

In most of the places with deciduous trees Fall brings leaves' color changes from green, to yellow, to red, to brown, to dead. But in Evergreen State, to be specific, in Western Washington, that's not perceptible. Most of our trees are evergreen, yes, the leaves stay green. 

For marathoners the Fall marathons are a couple of months ahead, and the training is at peak levels.  There are half marathons, and half marathons, and half marathons... and I want to run them all.

Started my September race calendar on Sat 9/4 with Over the Narrows 10 mile race.  

Two days later, on Labor Day 9/6, I raced the Pacific Northwest Half Marathon Championship/Super Jock&Jill, PRing the distance by 1.5 min. 

The following weekend on 9/12 I raced Skagit Flats Half Marathon.  

On 9/18 I raced Army Strong Half Marathon and PRd the distance again by 4 minutes. 

And today, 9/26 I raced Bellingham Bay Half Marathon. 

Four half marathons and one 10-miler race in one month. The month of September. That's when Washingtonian runners know when is The Start Of Fall.

My shorts are soaked. Overcast, rainy and windy. Good temp: 60F

At mile 9 my tank emptied. At that point it was a combination of trail, slippery wooden bridges and wind. I really don't perform well in trails. I was desperate to finish that portion and didn't know how much longer we'd stay in that area..

Splits         HR
10:03 168
10:42 161
11:12 156
11:09 164
10:34 165
10:21 168
10:23 167
10:24 167
11:09 176
11:12 163
11:17 166
11:43 164
10:23 181

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Tie A Yellow Ribbon

Marathon Plan - Regressive Countdown - Week Eight
09/13/10 - 09/19/10 - Week Total: 20.1

After an exhausting and very stressful week at work I went on Saturday to the place that gives me solace, my weekly race. This time, Army Strong. 

As my normal routine when I got up at 4:30 am, my first thought of the day was: I want to sleep in, why do I do this? The same answer of every weekend: Because I can.  

Got ready and left. Drove 70 min. Got to the Fort Lewis gate, got my paperwork inspected, got my pass.  

The plan was to run for the best tempo that I could run. Between 10:10 and 10:50. That would give me a PR (current 10:50 gotten 2 weeks ago) but I was not going for a PR. I was going for a good tempo run, and to get there I would get a PR. To help with the process I used an adapted Galloway strategy: 1mile/100 steps. 

By mile 2.5 I felt my power going away and implored for a second wind which I use to get between mile 3 and 5 (though being so early in the race it may be my real first wind). At mile 3.3 it came. It was a muse, like a divine intervention. I pressed, and ran very strong. When I got to the half mark (mile 6.5) I was in a very good PR pace. I kept pressing. A couple of miles at a slower pace than PR pace but I knew I was fine. 

Last two miles were amazing. Don't know where I got that power. I was not even tired, though my heart rate was raised as it should. My playlist was telling me that I was way ahead of my PR. Then the last tenth of a mile, and I saw the clock, 2:17:xx.... Don't let it go beyond 2:18 was the order, and I sprinted for a 2:17:58. PR by 4min for a 10:32 pace, and with that, 3rd in my division, bronze medal, the most gorgeous medal that I have gotten so far. 

I ran with the Army, and like the Army: Strong. 

I commemorated the lives of the servicemen and women that have sacrificed their lives for us. 

I pray, I run, I race. I Tie A Yellow Ribbon.

'Round her neck she wears a yeller ribbon,
She wears it in winter and the summer so they say,
If you ask her "Why the decoration?"
She'll say "It's fur my lover who is fur, fur away.

Running for our servicemen and women that have sacrificed their lives for us.
Tie A Yellow Ribbon

The most gorgeous medal I have gotten so far. 3rd in my division
Thanks guys for serving in the military
Note: This month I started my races with bib number: 177 (17th of July), my son's birthday as written in the rest of the world. For this Army Half I got bib number 812 (8th of December), my daughter's birthday... Lovely. I felt them running with me.


1-10:07 158
2- 10:27 165
3- 10:39 167
4- 10:36 169
5- 10:22 169
6- 10:27 169
7- 11:08 168
8- 10:31 173
9- 10:44 170
10-10:56 174
11-11:21 174
12-10:09 177
13-10:01 185

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Heart Of America

Marathon Plan - Regressive Countdown - Week Nine
09/06/10 - 09/12/10 - Week Total: 28.7 miles

The Labor Day Holiday (Monday 9/6) was celebrated with a half marathon that happened to be the Pacific Northwest Championship. Not that I'd win anything, but the elite level of some of the entry made the race interesting. 

I had the idea that the course was fairly flat as that was what the organizers said, but I was told the day before that it had some steep hills. Oh well, what do you expect from Western Washington?

My plan was to run at long tempo pace (10:41), but I was concerned about how my legs would behave.  This race was two days after running a hilly and windy 10-miler race. To my surprise I felt strong all the way, but was looking for the "hill". Close to the half mark, I recognized it, I've run it before in a 5K at UW Bothell. Though I knew it was really a VERY steep hill, I also knew it was VERY short, and after that I didn't think I would find anything that I'd call hilly. At the half mark I was at PR pace, but told myself, "don't declare victory yet". Mile after mile my watch was confirming the possibility of a PR. At mile 12 I didn't want to know how close I was from it, or how fast I needed to run to get it. I just went and picked up the pace. When I saw the finish line clock I knew I got it. Not for much, but a PR is a PR,  I couldn't be happier. A pace of 10:51 for 2:21:55 over a 2:23:21. (Note: I agree with the organizers, this is a fairly flat course).

Then flat Kansas was ready for me for a business trip. My run there, by the Arkansas river, was more than pathetic. I went for an easy 3 to 5 miles after work but my left leg had some indication of a possible shin splint. Ran slow, hot and humid, though breezy, and called it a day at 2.5 miles.

To close the week I wanted to race on 9/11 to commemorate the day that is seared in our memories forever. The longer race in the area was a 15K (9-miler), but I needed to do a longer run. So I waited until 9/12 to run a Half Marathon in Skagit County, and according to the plan at marathon pace +20 (11:11)

The day was warm for us (58F/14C) but it was drizzling. I knew it would not stop raining. I kept my arm warmers,  a short sleeve shirt, and decided to take my Brooks "paper" jacket which is wind & water resistant. What a piece of wisdom that was. At mile 2, I was extremely hot, removed my jacket, rolled down my arm warmers and rolled up my short sleeves above my shoulders. Everything went well, and the splits were on track. I didn't know until we turned back at mile 6.5 that I have been running with a tail wind and rain in my back. Now, I was running with a strong headwind and a delicious drizzle on my face. Arm warmers rolled up, sleeves rolled down, and jacket back on. (Here the wisdom).

The wind certainly slowed me down, but the pleasure of the rain on my face affirmed how much I have always loved the rain.  This, topped with the fact that the course was through quite and peaceful country roads, farms, cattle, and the smell of hard work, made me be thankful of these blessings. The blessings of running in The Heart Of America. 

Skagit Flats Half Marathon 9/12/10 - 2:27:25 for a 11:16 min/mile
Skagit Flats Half Marathon 9/12/10

Super Jock & Jill - Pacific NW Half Championship 9/6/10 - I PRd with 2:21:55 for a 10:50 min/mile
Super Jock & Jill - Pacific NW Half Championship 9/6/10
I PRd. I couldn't be happier.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Too Emotional

Marathon Plan - Regressive Countdown - Week Ten
08/30/10 - 09/05/10 - Week Total: 29 miles

Got from work on Monday to find out that my college mate Victor Ferreira had tragically died. His death was shocking to all. The following day, Tuesday, we would celebrate Luis' birthday making it now a more emotional week. I laced my shoes with sorrow and went for a long run, a 14-miler. At mile 5.7 I decided to quit. My legs could not go any longer, and I felt physically and emotionally shattered. Started to go back home when, after walking a bit, I chose to continue. Dragging my feet but moving forward. 

It was a very tough run with those life's questions coming and going. Victor had changed his Facebook profile picture just one week before he passed. A beautiful picture of the Caribbean sea at sunset. A lonely sailboat in the body of water, now looking lonesome. The horizon at the distance. How come Victor is not here any more? How come Luis is not here anymore? How come these tragedies happened?

It was hard to cope with the events. Though it took me forever I finished my 14-miler

On Tuesday I went with my son and daughter in law to dinner to commemorate Luis' birthday and to have in his memory his favorite dessert: flan. We started last year this tradition of eating flan on his birthday and has become a wonderful experience.

The rest of the week went by with the scheduled intervals on Wednesday and a 10-miler race on Saturday. The race, Over the Narrows, was a perfectly organized race in Gig Harbor, though tough, very hilly and very windy. While crossing the beautiful Tacoma Narrows bridge I was pushed by a south to north wind towards the concrete barrier that separates the walk path from the bridge. Almost hit the barrier as there was nobody to draft. I ran the race by heart rate instead of pace. Avg HR was 172.

Dedicated the race to Victor. After I got to the finish line and received my gorgeous medallion, I sat on a sidewalk and broke into tears. Thought of Victor. Thought of Luis. Thought of life. 

It was an emotional week. Too Emotional.

Victor's profile picture posted one week before he passed. A lonesome boat, the sunset, the horizon, the Caribbean sea.

Tacoma Narrows Bridge
Over the Narrows 10-miler
A lot of bananas for me, por favor
A nice reward
A gorgeous medallion