Monday, May 27, 2013

Running North, South, East, And West: What Else?

When you are pursuing a specific challenge within a specific time limit, you gotta do what you gotta do. In my case (reaching the sun) means driving around no matter what or where. I am about to finish my 52 Half Marathons in one year, so go figure.

On Sat May 18, I drove to the EAST side of the mountains, 190 miles, 3 hours, accompanied by a friend. The race: Sage Rat, a point to point Half Marathon from Sunnyside to Prosser. As I used to live in this side of the state I felt the nostalgia of the dry country and the well-known vegetation (or lack thereof?) It was a hot day for Seattleites standards and I had nothing but to accommodate the pace to avoid overheating. I learned in the Moon Run race last year how to run in the heat, and it pays off. For the first miles I maintained a comfortable high 9ish pace, and at mile 7 felt acclimated and I was able to push it then. The strategy worked again and I had a very nice negative split (splits below). The finish line was fantastic, a lot of great food, gigantic medals and a cute sage rat medal for division winners. I got second in my age group with  1:58:46.

I drove back immediately after to the WEST side not to home, but to the capital, Olympia. Noteworthy to mention that I was distracted talking to my co-pilot and took I-90 East. Yes, this Goddess of directions (because I am indeed pretty good at it) made a huge mistake and had to drive 26 miles each way to come back to the junction of I-82/I-90W. We laughed and decided to see it as “a couple of marathons” in our way.

We stayed at The Governors hotel and that was the treat of the weekend: Just to slide the balcony door of our room, and we could literally jump to the finish line; so worth it. We picked up the packet, had dinner and went to bed, but the best of all is that I could sleep in till almost race time. Only needed to get up, get ready, and get out of the hotel. How good was that?

The race was fantastic as always, but without rain this year. Last 2 years had been pouring (which I love, BTW). I finished strong with an 1:55:40 and got 3rd in my division, a nice plaque that couldn’t be handled to me right away because they messed up with the bib # and chip, and had me as a Robert, male 51. They promised to mail it.

Following weekend, on Sat May 25, was the turn to drive SOUTH: 180 miles (3 hrs again) to St. Helens, Oregon for Race Against Child Abuse. It was a small local race for a great cause, and again what made it worthy was not the additional race to pile to my stats, but the amazing ladies I met: The Honey Badgers of Oregon. After chatting and getting to know each other, we started together the race as a nice female six-pack (yes, we all look that good too.) The course, designed by some of these ladies was gorgeous. A portion of the course ran by my beloved favorite river in the world, my Columbia River, and then about 4+miles in the woods, in a beautiful mountain setting. Did I mention “mountain”? Yes, we had a 2-mile climb that was absolutely beautiful. We started to spread about mile 4 but seeing the girls in the out and back was great. One of them, Christine, is my age, and she not only got the division, but was the overall female winner with a strong 1:51 in that challenging course.  I ran the course in 1:58:06
The Honey Badgers of Oregon harassing a Washingtonian runner
And on Sun May 26 I drove NORTH to Abbotsford, Canada, for Run for Water, another super awesome Half Marathon, worth, worth of doing, supporting Ethiopia's communities. It was very well organized, great course, amazing volunteers, great medals, and the best food EVER. Chocolate milk, bagels, bananas, oranges, PB, jelly, boiled eggs, the most delicious yogurt with pistachios, other nuts, and fruits; you name it. The race occurred under my favorite weather conditions: 52F, overcast, zero wind, and non-stop rain. I love to run in the rain as you can’t believe. I couldn’t get wetter. I finished 4th place in the division with 1:51:11.

Running North, South, East, And West... What Else?
Well, I did a couple of local races the week prior to the prior (sighs): First Call Bothell (always longer than Half Marathon, I wonder why), and Kirkland's Mother's Day
Race #204: First Call, Bothell, WA - May 11, 2013 - Why Takao Suzuki draws the rainbows further than the Half Point? - 2:01:40 - No splits in Bothell.

Race #205 - Mother's Day - Kirkland, May 12, 2013 - 1:53:57 - Great course as always
1- 9:16
2- 9:00
3- 8:00
4- 9:11
5- 8:15
6- 9:22
7- 9:30
8- 7:24
9- 8:36
10- 8:43
11- 9:18
12- 8:35
13- 8:00
13.1 - 0:42 (7:00)
Race #206: Sage Rat, Sunnyside, WA - May 18, 2013
1- 9:07
2- 9:20
3- 9:36
4- 9:30
5- 9:24
6- 9:36
7- 9:12
8- 9:03
9- 9:03
10- 9:07
11- 8:36
12- 8:14
13- 8:12
13.1- 0:45 (7:39)
Race #207: Capital City, Olympia, WA

1- 8:59
2- 8:54
3- 9:27
4- 9:27
5- 9:13
6- 9:12
7- 8:55
8- 8:52
9- 7:35
10- 8:50
11- 9:08
12- 8:43
13- 7:39
13.1- 0:45 (7:39)
Race #208:  Race Against Child Abuse, St. Helens, OR
1- 8:49
2- 8:32
3- 8:24
4- 8:24 ...
and here comes the 2 mile mountain:
5- 9:55
6- 10:05
8- 8:15
11- 9:02
12- 8:39
13- 9:00
13.1- 0:56
Race # 209: Run For Water – Abbotsford, Canada
Splits in min/Km as it was in K country
1- 5:01
2- 5:02
3- 4:56
4- 4:59
5- 5:08
6- 5:15
7- 5:08
8- 5:13
9- 5:13
10- 5:12
11- 5:24
12- 5:07
13- 5:14
14- 5:23
15- 5:25
16- 5:08
17- 5:14
18- 5:21
19- 5:25
20- 5:35
21- 5:35
21.1 - 0:29 (4:50min/Km)

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Most Dramatic Mile And A BQ In Her Pocket

After finishing my 100th HM at Tacoma City and celebrating with many friends my milestone, I went back to the course to mile 25 to cheer on my friends and to pace my dear Maria for the last mile in her Boston Qualifying quest: 3:45. I was frantically texting with our common friend Marie to know where Maria was and how she was doing. Marie told me that she had just run at mile 21 with Maria and that she was ahead of pacer. I was in a corner before the last water station, exact location 25.1 mile. Three young girls are cheering on every single runner. I saw 3:25 pacer running by, texted Marie back and forth, and after I saw the 3:40 pacer I put my phone away.

When the 3:45 pacer was approaching I noticed that Maria was not with him, I started to freak out. Then I saw her may be 5 seconds behind, and told the girls: This is it. Here she comes. The girls started screaming: Go Maria, Maria, you can do it, only one mile to go.  Maria was running with Marc Frommer what gave me great relief.

As soon as we passed the hydration station, Maria stopped and said: I can't do it. I told her "you've gotta go. You can't stop now, only one mile to go”. The pacer was separating from us and he was about 10 seconds ahead now.  I gently put my right hand in her back pushing her, and told her, we gotta keep going. Maria started running again, and 10 seconds later she stopped again saying I can't do it. I replied: YOU MUST do it. I pushed her again now not so gently and she kept going. I told her as soon we turned around the corner this slight uphill is gone, then will be flat till mile 26, and the last .2 are downhill. We turned into Pacific and about mile 25.6 Maria started to slow down. The pacer is now about 20 seconds away.  I understand distance and velocity well, and I knew that we still had chance to press on to reach the pacer, but seconds were golden and we couldn’t afford to lose any of them. I pushed her again literally with my hands on her back, she accelerated and yelled at me: NO ME TOQUES !!! (DON'T TOUCH ME in Spanish); I yelled back, "Fine, I won't touch you but you must keep going." Marc was on my left, Maria on my right and to avoid touching her I moved to the left to leave Marc in the middle. She goes, sorry Lizzie. I told her: don't worry HATE ME today, hate me if you want to, puke if you have to, but you can’t slow down. We need to pass the pacer, we are getting close." I totally knew and understood what was at stake, I knew the regret if missing it by a matter of seconds, and I knew that she had the guts to push the pace, so I could care less that she had yelled at me...Then, we passed the pacer, Maria moved to the middle, and I think this moment was huge because that gave her the confidence she needed (somebody captured this moment with a great photo).
After passing the pacer
We were now about mile 25.9 and I told her, "see the cop's car? That’s mile 26, the rest is an awesome downhill". We turned around the corner, and when we had the clock in front of us I wanted to get Maria focused only on the clock. I knew that with that she would have all the adrenaline that she needed to cross the finish line with a BQ. I told her "Maria, look at the clock, look at the clock, keep your eyes on the clock".

Look at the clock, look at the clock

Maria, look at the clock

Keep your eyes on the clock
Then I told her "YOU GOT THIS" and I stepped aside to avoid crossing the mat.
You got it Maria, YOU GOT THIS
She sees the clock and she knows she's got it
 She beautifully crossed the finish line at 3:44:41. A Dramatic Mile And A BQ In Her Pocket.
The most beautiful expression.
I asked her: Can I touch now? And she said: YOU CAN TOUCH ME ALL YOU WANT!!!

Friday, May 10, 2013

100 Half Marathons Along The Road

When I started this running “business” pretty much with my first marathon in Seattle in 2007, I liked it so much that I decided to run one marathon per year (WOW!). Loyal to my commitment I ran Seattle again in Nov 2008. As I was ready with air tickets in hand, luggage packed, a furnished apartment, and a car to start a new work adventure in beautiful Italy for the next year I put my eyes on Rome Marathon on Mar/22/2009 to be my 3rd marathon. Then, life hit me hard. Luggage was unpacked; tickets, apartment, and car were returned. My own illness plus the terrible loss of one of the most important persons in my life, the father of my children, all happening at the same time reshuffled my whole being.

After the main treatment was over and I was able to cope with the loss, I started thinking back on running a race. After much thought I got inclined to work more for speed than for endurance. I dedicated to run 5K and 10K; a bunch of them. I unleashed myself and ran 24 races in 8 months. By the end of summer I decided to run something not so short, but not as long as a marathon. I discovered the half distance, and registered for Seattle Half Marathon 2009. My first.

41 months later, May 2013, I have run my 100th.  It was a feast for me; a running and numeric feast; a milestone. And it was no coincidence that my 100th Half Marathon was run at Tacoma City: a Maniac/Fanatic centric race because the Half Fanatics Club was pivotal to reach this goal. It motivated me to run more finding my own limits. It was only a year ago when I ran my first back to back (Saturday and Sunday), now I do it all the time. Every race in the calendar means seeing friends and new faces, and the new faces become friends, and the friendships become magical.

Tacoma City was inundated this weekend with MM and HF from all over the country. It was a whole weekend of festivities celebrating the 10th anniversary of Marathon Maniacs. Starting with the Ghost of Tacoma Marathon and Half Marathon on Saturday (my 99th HM), followed by a day at the Expo at the Hotel Murano, girls times with good friends, raffles as a pre-stage for the 2012 awards and pasta dinner (let’s not talk about this). I got 2012 Half Fanatic of the year 5th place, a pretty trophy engraved with my name and HF # 881. On Sunday the real deal happened. MM and HM departed our way to run an awesome race (HOT) but awesome. For the Silver Striders of Washington is was the last race of the Grand Prix Series.

After I finished my 100th Half Marathon, which I struggled a lot because let me repeat: it was HOT, I celebrated with friends at the finish line. I went to mile 25 to cheer on my marathon friends and to pace a dear friend that was running to qualify for Boston 2014. This particular pacing deserves a blog entry of its own (coming soon). It was exciting to be now not a runner but part of the crowd and to encourage all runners with the terrible sound of: Only one mile to go! (If I don’t know how hard that last mile is.)

I always ask Prez (Steven Yee): Did you guys ever imagine this MM/HF explosion? The answer is always no, but I will continue asking so they can savor the good they have done for running, not only in Washington State but in the US.  The beauty of the Half Fanatics Club and the Marathon Maniacs is that are all inclusive. It is for all kind of runners, you don’t have to be elite, fast, or under certain range of speed, or age. You just have to want to be part of the community, run like a maniac, and voila, you are in. Sorry, yes, you have to run like a maniac. I heard once some runners in Green Lake criticizing the club because it was a matter of “quantity” not quality. Those are the runners that believe the track belongs only to the under 6 min/mile runners.

There is no major quality for me that what I have experienced during these 41 months. The amazing friends I have met during my 100 Half Marathons Along The Road.

Lizzie Lee 100th Half Marathon

2013 Ghost of Tacoma Half Marathon and Marathon
Splits details of races #201 (98th ,HM), #202 (99th,HM), #203 (100th  HM)

Race #201 – Heroes Half Marathon – Everett, WA – Apr 28, 2013 – 1:51:47 – 8:32 min/mile – 2nd place

1- 8:59
2- 8:52
3- 8:21
4- 8:18
5- 8:29
6- 9:24
7- 7:45
8- 8:40
9- 9:00
10- 8:44
11- 7:58
12- 8:12
13.1- 8:12
Race #202 – Ghost of Tacoma – Tacoma, WA – May 04, 2013 – 1:50:24 – 8:26 min/mile

1st Half 57:08
2nd Half 58:34
Race # 203 – Tacoma City Half Marathon – 100th – Tacoma, WA – May 05, 2013 - 1 :55:38 – 8:50 min/mile

1- 8:35
2- 8:26
3- 8:49
4- 8:52
5- 8:28
6- 8:58
7- 8:48
8- 8:37
9- 9:03
10- 8:35
11- 9:05
12- 8:56
13- 8:46
13.1 – 0:42 (7:00)