Saturday, August 6, 2011

Satisfied. Extremely Satisfied.

I have gone through this before. What do I love more, the ocean or the mountains? I settled on this issue back in the 90’s when I realized that I could not pick one or the other. I loved them both the same. The origins may come from my mom’s love for the ocean, and my dad’s love for the mountains. And as I didn’t love mom more than dad, or a child more than other, I found out that I didn’t love the ocean more over the mountain or viceversa.

Living in the Pacific Northwest (PNW), transfers me constantly to my experiences around my Avila Mountain; wet weather, mist, fresh and cool air. I simply love it. Many people complain about Seattle’s weather, but I LOVE IT. It doesn’t matter if it rains 120 days straight, I love it. Every morning when I open the door of my home and I see the mist over the lake, and the overcast skies, I breathe deeply, close my eyes, and feel joy. I love this. I really do. And there is nothing that I enjoy more that running at 40+ degrees while drizzling.

Notwithstanding, when I run by the ocean, I get transported to the Caribbean: The smell of the ocean, the warmth of the sun, the breeze that refreshes; the exhaustion that takes to complete a run under the heat.

One week after Ragnar, I went back to relay territory to run Anacortes Half Marathon. Met my niece Angie, and there I went with low expectations. Ragnar let me fatigued. I was never sore and nothing hurt, but I was very fatigued to the point that I didn’t log any miles during the week. I know my body, rest and recover is very necessary for me when I feel like that. In March 2010 I backed off for 3 weeks, doing only my long runs on the weekends. It works for me.  On race day I was not only fatigued, the sun was shining and the temperatures would reach high 70’s. My orders were to run slower than average pace.

The first four miles were delicious. Strong headwinds felt like heaven in that heat. The scent of the bay took me to my childhood when I used to go to the beach with mom, dad and siblings. I enjoyed every second of those four miles. The sensations were overwhelmingly beautiful. After crossing gorgeous Fidalgo Bay we encountered a very long and steep hill. At this point, around mile 5, two girls passed me; one dressed in black; and another with a sweater around her waist, and two shirts on, one being long sleeve. I needed her to go. Just to look at her with all that gear distracted me and made me feel hotter. The wind was gone and the heat was burning. 

We ran by Tesoro Refinery, which is located in March’s Point Peninsula, east of Fidalgo Bay. The run took me to the Paraguaná Peninsula in Venezuela. Hot, windy, oil industry, and nothingness. It took forever to run around it. Though our scorching temperatures of 78F/26C are not comparable to the Paraguaná’s temperatures (100F/38C) I felt the same. It was simply hot for a mid 40F/7C degrees runner. I was starting to feel dehydrated. I asked for two cups of water at every station; drank one, and poured another over my head. I saw the same “delusions” you see down the road when is hot. We had now crosswinds, and I wondered if I was even moving. I lost sight of the two girls. They had taken huge advantage over me. At the distance, probably a mile away, I saw the bridge that would take me back to town. I welcomed it. When I hit the 10 mile mark, at the start of the bridge, I saw the girls, far but now I could see them. I pressed the pace though I was way behind my pace. At mile 11 I passed the sweater girl, she was done. At mile 12 I was shivering, sign I was dehydrated. As I had only one mile to go, I continued with the effort because I knew nothing serious would happen. At mile 12.5 I passed the girl in black, she couldn’t believe it. Though I was running at a very high effort, the pace was not corresponding to such effort. 

Finally, the finish line was at my reach and there was Angie waiting for me. I crossed the line at 2:18, 9 minutes slower than my best run. While Angie went to kindly get water for me, I went to a corner because I was about to puke. It was done, it was tough, and I was, as always, happy.

After having a nice brunch with Angie, I drove back home to take a nap, and get ready for the second race of the day. Seafair Torchlight 8K (5 miles) at 6:30 pm. If the morning was hot, the evening expectations were hotter weather. Met my friend Benny, and we adventured among thousands of runners, as the Seafair Parade overture. Thousands of fans cheered for us, and thousands of kids along 4th avenue just wanted to touch our hands for a high 5. The skyscrapers kept us in the shade for more than a mile, which really helped, until we turned around by Qwest Field to face hilly Alaska viaduct... and the sun. My pace was slower than my 10K, but I felt in good shape. After mile 3 I knew I had a PR in my pocket. Miles went by fast, and when I was about to finish with a thought of 47+ min, Broad Street widely opened its gullet to chew us in the last stretch. The incline was brutal. I clocked 48:50, a PR by 2 minutes. Day was successful.

After a nice cold beer with Benny at the Michelob Beer Garden, I headed home with 18 miles completed in a day, split in two races. I was Satisfied. Extremely Satisfied.  

With Angie prior to the race
Brunch in Anacortes downtown. Pretty.
Seafair Torchlight Run

Climbing Alaska Viaduct
After an 18-mile day, I can afford a nice, cold beer

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