Sunday, November 28, 2010

Seattle, My Must Do

When Thanksgiving week gets into town, Seattle hosts a marathon. And though you would ask, who wants to run a marathon after Thanksgiving in that cold and rainy weather, 17,000 runners say: We do.

My first marathon ever was Seattle, and as a first marathon it left in me that mark, like the first kiss, like the first love. It reserved a place that no other can take, or replace. It is engraved in the heart forever. My second marathon was Seattle and the improvement was abysmal. Then 2009 debacles came along and after not being able to train for marathons I trained for my first Half ever: Seattle. As a Half, it was a total different meaning and a total different love. Recorded.

By 2010, I decided to change marathon seasons and ran Eugene in the Spring. Registered in New York City Marathon thinking that the odds of getting in were very low, but I got in, I was IN. After NYCM, I made the hard decision to run in every state of our beautiful country. Because of that, I would not be able to run Seattle Marathon again, as I need the time and the energy for other states; however, the Half is there for me. I can still run a course that I know like the back of my hand, and the best of all, 100% of the marathon hills are available in the half course, so no worries, the training comes with all!!!  I did 2:34:39 using a strategy that obviously didn't work for me. I didn't follow the pace but ran by HR. The result was an 11-minute slower race than my Seattle course time (2:23:21 last year) but I am still happy. Last year Seattle Half was the race I trained for. With speed, tempo and long runs. And tapering. This year, it was just a training run, plus my first long run after NYCM.

Today Seattle hosted a field of 17,000 runners. I am happy to belong, and as life permits, I hope to always, be part of that field. Seattle, My Must Do.

6:45 am. Race starts at 7:30 am

Our Seattle icon, my gorgeous needle, behind awesome Experience Music Project (EMP) designed by Architect Frank Geary

At mile 13 I saw my son with this sign. He always runs with me the last mile. Due to his recent ACL surgery, he couldn't run, but he still was there. Hug and a Big Kiss...Thanks my son!!!

I am happy running road races week after week... until life permits.

The prior weekend (11/21/10) I ran the Green Lake Gobble, to see how I would perform in a 5K. As I've trained 32 weeks for two marathons I did not race but longer distances. My 5K PR is in this course 27:27 (2009) when I trained mainly speed. This year I finished in 29:03.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Taste After

There is always a taste after a marathon, about the whole experience. It could be exciting, it could be dreary. It could be sweet, it could be bitter. It could be warm, it could be cold. It could be lovely, it could be awful. It could be a dream, it could be a nightmare.

After NYCM I had time to taste many things. First taste was the taste of race results. I had a 5:10 time. For the training I did, 30 miles per week, I felt very satisfied. Especially, after age-grading the results: A 4:12 marathon time for an open division. I ran very comfortable all the course. I was never exhausted, my feet never hurt, my legs never wanted to stop. I walked three miles immediately after the marathon, went to dinner, and I wasn't sore. On Monday I wasn't sore, on Tuesday I wasn't sore, on Wednesday I wasn't sore, and I wasn't sore for the rest of the week. I don't know if the lack of soreness is due to me participating in races a lot, and having a very easy recovery or that I have a lot more in my legs that could be used. Please, feel free to chime in. My heart rate avg was 161; 84%, which is pretty much the recommendation for running a marathon (I've become a HR geek). So the general taste of my race was more than satisfactory, it was exciting.

Then I tasted a full time week ahead of me, enjoying NYC with my adorable daughter. Slept in, had coffee and cookies, went to Broadway shows, visited family and friends, stayed the last days in a nice little studio in a brownstone building in Brooklyn to have a taste of living away of exhilarating Manhattan. We enjoyed NY skylines from different points of the city. We ate and walked around holding hands. The world was at our feet. Then we kissed and said goodbye, she left to DR, I came back to Seattle. The taste was so sweet and warm.

Back home, hubby waiting for me; going back to work; my 54th birthday; lunch with co-workers, dinner with hubby and son; the day after, another dinner with son and daughter in law; some days later, another dinner with friends. A lovely taste.

My personal birthday gift to me? Dean Karnazes visit to Seattle.

LL: Dean, you are probably tired of hearing this, but you are truly an inspiration to me
DK: I am happy to hear that I can inspire you
LL: And because of you, and my friend Shirley, I decided to run 50 marathons in 50 states
DK: That's awesome
LL: But I won't do it in 50 days
DK: Why not? Well... may be you are smarter... than me?
LL: No Dean. I don't have your DNA
DK: How many?
LL: 4 (*)
DK: 4 down, 46 to go, never stop
LL: Age could be an issue
DK: How old are you?
LL: 54 yesterday
DK: I am right behind you with 48. Age is not an issue

And then I left with a decision made. A decision that I had been weighing but wanted to determine if I could run a marathon working out only 30 miles per week. I ran it. And it was New York. I tasted the dream. And here I go, with Arizona R&R next. In a couple of months.

Nothing like a savory taste after a marathon. A taste that is exciting, sweet, warm, lovely, and a dream. That was The Taste After.

(*) Dean meant how many states, I responded how many marathons total. I really have 3... Only 47 to go.

Dining at Quality Meats, Manhattan, with my class mate Hilda and her daughters.


Just having fun

At Broadway

La Cage Aux Folles.

La Cage Aux Folles. Formidable.

A gorgeous brownstone building in Prospect Heights where we stayed the last three days

A more than cozy room in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn
Drawing a skyline from Brooklyn

Walking by nice and cozy 7th Ave, Brooklyn

A beer at Water's Edge, Queens. In the back Queensboro Bridge, the worst portion of the race

Drawing Manhattan skyline from Queens

Drawing Manhattan skyline from Queens, East River

Arepas Cafe, Sabor Venezolano, Venezuelan Food, in Queens. Highly recommended. We preferred Arepas Cafe in Queens over Caracas Arepa Bar.  Arepas Cafe has better atmosphere, more variety of Venezuelan food, and better prices. And its owner, Riccardo Romero, is a a great person.

Arepas Cafe, Sabor Venezolano, Venezuelan Food, in Queens. Highly recommended. 

Caracas Arepa Bar, Manhattan. Venezuelan Food.

Dining with my adorable cousin Carol in Forest Hills, Queens. Carol, a true New Yorker, a true love.

Dining at Bistro Les Amis, in Soho
Dining at Oliva, Spanish Restaurant, in East Village with Ale's school friends

At JFK. A kiss and goodbye

Lizzie, 4 down, 46 to go. Never stop. Dean

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Best Of Times Is Now

Marathon Plan - Regressive Countdown - The Week
11/01/10 - 11/07/10 - Week Total: 26.2

I registered for the New York City Marathon, NYCM, with the thought that I would not get in. I really didn't want to run two marathons this year, and Eugene, May 2010, was the chosen one.

Lottery day on April and I'm in. What were the odds? With a bone bruise and a 3-month resting period ahead of me I was concern on how the training would go for NY. Surprisingly, it went well. I purposely under-trained, but I knew that I was ready for the race. More important, it would be an opportunity to spend the best of times with my daughter who would fly from DR to NY for the race. I hadn't seen her for more than a year.

Pre-race time: Caught a red-eye from Seattle to New York on Wed 03rd; went to Brooklyn to pick up my daughter; checked in at the Grand Hyatt at 42nd; expo on Friday; got bib and D-tag; my shirt with my name on; met Dathan Ritzenhein, former 5000m American record holder; met Tyson Gay, current 100m American record holder; did nothing on Saturday but a manicure with daughter; carboloaded at Carmine's.

Race day: Up at 6 am; dressed with my beautiful Americana outfit; breakfast two cups of coffee and two bananas; a very cold but sunny morning with 15 mph wind; at 7 am a NY yellow cab to Staten Island ferry terminal; a ferry ride with daughter to Staten Island; a kiss to daughter and goodbye. Bus shuttle ride to the start area; nice chat with Douglas, a local runner; clothes to the UPS truck; porta potty; getting into my corral; more talking with more runners; porta potty INSIDE the corral (this was wonderful); moving forward; getting to the start line; God Bless America song; New York, New York by Frank Sinatra; tears in my eyes remembering my dad playing this song in piano; warmy and disposable fleece sweater and fleece/windbreaker pants are removed; ready, set, go!!!

The Race:

Staten Island, Verrazano bridge, crossing The Narrows, a tidal strait separating the boroughs of Staten Island and Brooklyn. A very steep uphill (150 ft elevation in 3/4 of miles), manageable due to the enthusiasm of the start and the thousands of people running at my side... this makes me forget the hill. Then a steep and longer downhill (200 ft decline in a whole mile); a slight hill-related pain at the bottom of my left leg. Verrazano is over, so is the leg pain.

Brooklyn at mile 2, suddenly after crossing the Verrazano I see THE CROWD. I couldn't believe it, hundreds of hundreds of NY people cheering for us. With my name on my shirt the only thing I heard was: Go Lizzie; You can do it Lizzie; You're looking good Lizzie; Lizzie, you're awesome; Lizzie bring it on. Lizzie, Lizzie, Lizzie; An old lady yelled: Lizzie, you look great, kid (that sounded terrific); Lizzie, stars and stripes, baby; Lizzie, go USA. ....Mile after mile after mile I felt like the star of the stars and only due to the amazing crowd. How does a race like that go bad? Impossible. 

Queens at half point. Mile 13 and the crowd continues, and between bands of music Lizzie, Lizzie is the only thing I hear. I lost my left glove when having my GU and this was bad, it was very cold, low 40's with chill factor - gusts up to 25 mph. Entered in Queensboro Bridge crossing the East River. Same elevation gain as the Verrazano (150 ft elevation in 3/4 of mile) with the slightly difference that I have 15 miles in my system. This was the toughest portion of the race. As we are "inside" a bridge, there is no crowd, the only thing to hear is the difficult breathing of all runners, including mine. Downhill is not as hard as the Verrazano, 150 ft decline in 3/4 of miles. 

Manhattan, at mile 16 with all its glory. 1st Avenue, My, Oh My. The crowd goes crazy and so I go. One of my best miles. I ran like if it was the start of the race. I felt obliged to "my" fans. More Lizzie, Lizzie, way to do it, Lizzie. You are there Lizzie; Lizzie, you are almost there!!! I wanted to cry, it was unbelievable.

Bronx, mile 19, crossing Harlem River on Willis Avenue Bridge, a concrete bridge AND my legs could feel it. The crowd is thinning out but still supporting. Music, and more music. I feel great. I have only a 10K ahead of me.

Back in Manhattan, mile 21, Harlem, with amazing type of Gospel choirs. Spirit lifting. At mile 22 I heard a couple of kids saying: Run mommy, run... looked up and saw a video in a big screen: two kids cheering for their mom... Immediately, the unexpected: MY DAUGHTER was on the big screen, on a video she recorded at the expo: Mom, I love you. Te amo cero (*), and a banner saying MUMI !!! I cried. Pointing at the screen I told everybody: That's my daughter. What were the odds of passing by the screen when they were showing my daughter's video? That was fuel for the 4 miles to go. Fifth avenue was amazing, more Lizzie, Lizzie, you have already won. Lizzie, a couple of miles to go. Lizzie you did it. Bordered Central Park before mile 23 and I am only waiting for the one-mile hill that everybody talks about. Never saw it. Never felt it. It's not hilly for a Seattleite (50 ft gain in one mile). Mile 24, entered in Central Park. It's packed with fans. I felt so good, never tired. Fans moved me forward. At mile 25.5 in front of the Plaza Hotel we turned west to finish the race. Again, the unexpected. I heard: MUMI... and my daughter was there, first row. I hugged her tight and kissed her. Her cheeks were cold, her hug was warm. More fuel for my last 0.7 miles. Lizzie, you got it. 800 meters, then 400 meters. I slowed down, and a guy cried: Lizzie, DON'T!!! and I ran to the finish line, crossed it, kissed the ground, got my gorgeous medal and conquered New York. 

I got interviewed and had the opportunity to be thankful to whom really deserved it: the NY crowd " I heard my name about 100 times per mile, for a total of 2,600 times, that was simply amazing. The best marathon experience I've had so far, thanks exclusively to the NY people".

I walked about 3 miles after the race. We, runners, walked about one-hour going North, before leaving Central Park. Met daughter at Columbus w/77th. The streets were full of marathon runners walking towards downtown covered with heat blankets. I was warm with the blankets and my hand heaters. Got into a Starbucks that happened to be full of Venezuelans...what are the odds?  Changed clothes; got a hot cappuccino; ate deli-snacks that Ale brought for me; chatted for more than one hour with fellow runners; left to meet HildaT, elementary/high school class mate (she flew to NY as her daughter also ran NYCM); went dinner with her and our daughters; wine on the house due to our gorgeous medals around our necks.

The best of times is now. What's left of Summer but a faded rose? The best of times is now. As for tomorrow, well, who knows? So hold this moment fast, and live and love, as hard as you know how. And make this moment last because the best of times is now.

Now, not some forgotten yesterday. Now, tomorrow is too far away. So hold this moment fast, and live and love, as hard as you know how. And make this moment last, because The Best Of Times Is Now.

With elementary/high school class mate Hilda Machado who went to NY to cheer for her daughter Adriana. Adriana ran a fantastic 4:17 race.

 (*) The amo cero: I love you zero. My dad used to tell that to my daughter when she was little. She, after hearing that always had a pouting face. Then my dad said: Zero not as in the number, but as in round, as the whole world. I love you the whole world. Then she smiled.

PS: If you are going to run New York City Marathon, you need to do two things in this order:

1) Have a shirt with your name on
2) Train for a marathon
3) No Ipod. Not necessary AT ALL... 

Love you ALL!!!!