Saturday, December 31, 2011

La Vida Es Un Carnaval - HAPPY 2012

(English follows Spanish text)

Todo aquel que piense que la vida es desigual, tiene que saber que no es así, que la vida es una hermosura, hay que vivirla. Todo aquel que piense que está solo y que está mal, tiene que saber que no es así, que en la vida no hay nadie solo, siempre hay alguien.
-Ay, no hay que llorar, que La Vida Es Un Carnaval, -Y es mas bello vivir cantando. -Oh, oh, oh, Ay, no hay que llorar, -que la vida es un carnaval -y las penas se van cantando.

Everyone out there who thinks that life is unfair needs to know that's not the case, because life is beautiful, you just have to live it. Everyone out there who thinks they are alone and is feeling bad, needs to know that's not the case, because in life no one is alone, there is always someone. Ay, no need to cry, because Life Is A Carnival, it's more beautiful to live singing. Oh, Ay, no need to cry, because life is a carnival, and your pains can be alleviated through song….

… and running…

2011 is over. Started pretty much with breast surgery in January to remove pre-cancer cells… when can I run again Doc? I asked. “Use common sense, though I know runners have none…” he replied.

Year ended as the best running year I’ve ever had. Stats are pretty neat, with all the races I could run: Across the country from Washington State to Florida, and across the globe from home at 48° parallel north to daughter’s home at 48° parallel south in New Zealand. PRs in most of the distances… I’ll let the numbers talk to you.., and remember: Life Is A Carnival... and your pains can be alleviated through song….  and running…

Have a great 2012.

2011 Stats

52 races
4:44:04 – 10:51 min/mile
3:16:05 – 10:32 min/mile
15 Miles (24K)

Half Marathons
2:07: 21 – 9:43 min/mile
10 Miles (16K)

1:31:12 – 9:47 min/mile

56:22 – 9:05 min/mile
8K (5 Miles)
48:50 – 9:50 min/mile
3.8 Miles

26:19 – 8:29 min/mile

Relay 187 miles

Blisters (one tried but didn’t succeed)
Partial black toenails (Coeur D’Alene Marathon and Tacoma Narrows Half)


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Triple Crown

An invite to Miami Beach for a seminar triggered the Florida racing calendar check. Two possibilities: Mangrove Marathon in Cape Coral, and Inaugural Latin Music Rock and Roll Half Marathon in Miami Beach.

Because Florida’s heat, I was hesitant to register in either one of them. I have faced most of the weather elements, having run in snow, hail, 60mph winds, 20F… but I have never run this distance at high 70’s. Though I know I needed to run slower, I was concerned and fearful of dehydration, hyponatremia, and all those things related to a hot day race. Specially, because when you are a Seattle inhabitant, you never experience situations like those, and not knowing how to deal with them really worried me.

Mangrove Marathon was tempting. I could check Florida in my 50 states quest as complete. But logistically, it wasn’t too appealing. Race location was 2.5 hours of where I was staying while Rock & Roll Half was at 2 miles. Also, as I am training for Houston (January 15th) I want to put all my efforts on Texas. It seemed a no brainer.

In order to triumph over my “heat” fears, I clicked the register button the last day of online registration with the note to self: Go and Learn It. As a “heart rate strategy” runner I should not be too concerned as the effort should dictate my run and pace.

During my Miami visit, I took the opportunity to visit close friends from childhood, high school and college. I had a fantastic time. On Saturday my good friend Chucho and his wife China took me to the expo at the beach (first shock) to pick up my packet. It was a nice afternoon at high 70’s with a nice ocean breeze; nice for a stroll by the beach but not sure for running a 13.1. After the expo, they invited me to my carboloading dinner and dropped me at my hotel. I prepared all my racing gear, bib, chip, and after a shower, went to bed with the normal non-sleep hours before a worrisome race.

Race start was scheduled at 7 am, so I left my hotel at 5:45 and jogged the 2 miles to get there. When I arrived I was drenched. It was 77 F/25C. If this was at dawn, I could not imagine how it would be when the sun came out.

I had half a bagel and a banana, talked to some locals, joined the Half Fanatics for the photo, went to the bathroom (nice ones in the lifeguards’ headquarters) and at 6:45 am went to my corral, #3. Worth to mention that I didn’t recognize a single face (imagine that). After the national anthem and the announcement that Shalane Flanagan was among the elite running the course, Celia Cruz’s song “La Vida es un Carnaval” hit the speakers, to prepare for the start of the race. This song is a salsa song that my son and I always dance together. I definitely was in a Latin Music Race and felt moved. Back to my roots.

3 minutes after the first wave we were set to go. The race started in South Beach, 11th & Ocean Drive. We turned left to go over to Washington St. I was absorbing everything I could absorb from the pretty urban development that Miami Beach has become. I was trying to drop my heart rate to 150 but was stuck at 162. I could be in trouble if I didn’t get it down, but it was really hard to achieve. At mile 2 I am still in 160, and I knew what was coming would not be pretty. In my climate, I normally run the first 3 miles at ~80% between 148 - 152. Here I am at 88% in a hot race just at the beginning with a slower pace. We turned on pretty Alton Road, to direct ourselves to I-195 to go towards Miami City. This is the first time ever that I ran on a freeway. Though the extreme right lane was closed and reserved to runners, I was very cautious and wondering what would happen if a distracted driver, driving at 70 mph, swirled the steering wheel.

This portion of the freeway (causeway), over Biscayne Bay, was nevertheless beautiful. Miami City skyline to the left, and the gorgeous bay to the right. Miles 4 to 6 were good, I got a sort of impulse and ran those miles really good. We took exit 2B and entered in 2nd Av. Though it was not an attractive area, it had a lot of volunteers and people cheering for us. Volunteers had hoses connected to fire hydrants so we could just take a quick shower and refresh ourselves. At mile 7 I started to feel spent. Heat had got me, and I needed to slow down more.

The run took us through the Arts District of Miami City, and I continued absorbing the architecture, the landscaping and everything so different from my home town. Just before mile 10 we climbed the A1A, another freeway (causeway) that would take us back to Miami Beach. Here we ran with the nice view of cruise ships, Watson, Star Palm and Hibiscus Islands.  After leaving the viaduct over the water, we entered back in Alton Road, for the final mile. I felt that sense of satisfaction. I was about 10 minutes slower of my regular range, but that was not as bad as I thought. When we got to Ocean Drive with 1st street, I knew it was now one kilometer to go, and indeed the 20K sign was there. Finish line was located at the beach by Ocean Drive and 6th, so 6 more blocks, and I would have a hot half in my pocket. At 5th my heart was pumping, and though I had my max heart rate of 183 I was not able to get the speed that I normally get at the end of my Halfs in cool weather. My pace was 10:20, which was pretty good considering the new experience. I saw the crowd; we left the street, to start running on the beach, sand beneath my feet. I crossed the line at 2:23 getting 14th place out of 87. Got my rock and roll medal, and as my third Rock and Roll of 2011 (Arizona, Seattle, Miami) I got the Triple Crown.

Monday, December 19, 2011

November, And The Account Of The 11th Month

The month of November proved to be busy after baby Halloween arrived to the world. Family came from overseas to visit; weekends were baby oriented; a new birthday moved me to a new running bracket; and a turkey was on the table for our traditional Thanksgiving.

In the meantime, I kept running. The highlights of the training were the 2-hour runs at 4 am at mid 30’sF with my nephew Federico, plus the races were it was understood, he would participate, because, “when will you have the opportunity to run with your aunt again?”

November 06th
The day the clock falls back. Anything is Possible including running back in time...

A race to run negative times. Race started at 1:50 am and I finished at 1:16 am, before the race even started... It was fun to see the clock in the finish line with negative times. The female winner ran in -41:00. I ran in -33:03. It was cold (38ºF/3ºC) but FUN! Venue: UW Campus.

I won the division and placed 16 out of 75 female!

November 12th
Mom arrived on the 11th and on the 12th I told her “I have to run a Half Marathon, I’ll be back at mid morning”. Veterans Half Marathon was organized by First Call Running Group just a few miles from my home, starting at Bothell Landing. The course, one of my favorite training routes: gorgeous Sammamish River Trail. The scenery, the most stunning fall landscape

Met my good running buddy Marie, and went to conquer another half distance. The run was nice, and though it was not the race where you have all the crowd, and city movement around, it was a race that let me perform much better than if a Lizzie’s solo run.

Got 4th place in the division out of 14 runners. This was my last race in the current bracket.

November 17th
My birthday…. NEW RUNNING BRACKET…!!!

November 20th
This weekend was the turn for a short run. There were no prospects for a long run and  Turkey trots’ short races were the only ones available over Western Washington. Federico, who’d arrived on the 14th, ran his first 5K ever, on a cold but sunny day, launching his American racing career over Seattle runners’ paradise, Green Lake, at Green Lake Gobble. It couldn’t happen in a prettier place, where 3.1 miles are run around a dazzling calm lake reflecting, as a mirror, the deciduous trees, with their naked branches.

In regards to my performance, I was curious if a PR could be in my pocket as this is one of the fastest courses in W. WA. Though it wasn’t, I ran pretty good, and clocked 26:55: for an 8:40 pace. 

Got 8th place in the division out of 82 runners.

November 26th
Seattle 5K, part of the Seattle Marathon Races. I have never run this race before. For the last 5 years, I go to Seattle on Friday after Thanksgiving, to pick up my Marathon or Half Marathon packet, and dedicate Saturday to rest around my husband, turkey leftovers, and a couch in front of the fireplace. But, Federico was here, so, why not to entertain with another downtown visit, run a 5K, and get a little speed work before my Half Marathon on Sunday?

The race is relatively small, with a couple of thousand runners (I assume the rest were laying around family, turkey leftovers, and fireplace ). This is not a fast course as it is in downtown Seattle, which is hilly, but fun nonetheless. I clocked 29:07 for a 9:22  place. Got 4th place out of 39 runners.

Federico had had two races in two weekends in a row, and probably was wondering, if it was time to leave the country before I drag him into my weekend’s race folly.

November 27th
My race, Seattle:  My first marathon in 2007 and the race that brought me back to long distance running. My first half marathon in 2009; and, after two exact years, I was logging my 35th half marathon. I felt proud for this, because it has been a lot what has been learned and achieved in 35 races in the span of 24 months. It has been a committed and enthusiastic challenge that led me to fall in love with this distance.  This day, I ran with a unique passion, my 50th race of the year, my 35th half in lifetime, and my 20th half in 2011, . The rounded stats made it more special.

Once, a great Venezuelan entertainer, Renny Ottolina, said that to love a place, you need to know the place (emphasizing the meaning of “knowing”). I love Seattle’s course because I know it by heart. I know every single inch of it, and with all its hills and possible rain, snow, or hail, it’s simply mine. It’s the race I call home. It’s the course that taught me what a marathon teaches to a runner, it’s the race that taught me that no matter how hard things are, if you set your mind and your heart to it, you’ll succeed. And because I ran it with that one of a kind passion, it was a fantastic race, having a course PR of 8 minutes, finishing strong, and placing 23rd out of 127.

With nothing but gratitude, I closed the month. November, And The Account Of The 11th Month.