A week ago today, I qualified for Boston Marathon. Seven months ago, almost to the day, I lost my friend Rudy. I wanted to do something special to honor his memory and running the marathon again would be it. I know it isn’t true, but it feels as more and more time passes, our dear friend Rudy is mentioned less and less. Like I said, I know it’s not true, but it bothers me. Life goes on. Things get easier with time. Blah, blah, blah.
I remember how excited he was for his friends that were qualifying or running Boston Marathon. So much so, that I left my only Boston Marathon medal with him at his service. To me it wasn’t a big deal to let it go, and to be quite honest, I’ve never had an interest in running it again — until two months ago when I made this decision.
I was a little dramatic when coming to that decision because there was only one Boston qualifying race left in Oregon which was 9 days before I could register: What if I cannot qualify? It had been three years since I ran my last marathon. What if I can no longer run fast? What if my hip starts hurting again? My coach, Andy Noise helped me realize that I only needed to qualify and that I didn’t have to commit to a sub-3 or anything near it. Just qualify and worry about running fast in Boston next year. (more…)
Wow, it’s 2015 and already halfway through January – time comes and goes so quickly! I have really been on the fence lately about which races I want to focus on this year and I am finally making progress (at least for the first half of the year). Late last year, I registered for Sean O’Brien 100K (SOB) which is just around the corner on 2/7. At first I was really excited and then my excitement started to wane once Coach and I started talking about marathons. As much as I love being out on the trails, there is competitive side in me that loves a painful marathon. Training and planning 50-milers and marathons together is a challenge already – throwing in a 100K just because is a different story: Lots of recovery and lots of excessive miles on my legs and less races on my calendar cumulatively.
This last week I decided to race Marin Ultra Challenge 50 (MUC)again for the third time on 3/14. This race will replace SOB. I LOVE this course – it’s definitely not an easy one, having over 11,000ft of climbing with one pretty loooooooong hill that I can barely get up hiking. I try not to think of the super hard sections – I know they are there and that is enough for me to know. No play-by-play recaps until I get close to the event so that I can focus on being tough instead of worried or scared. I will start to get more consistent with my training, run a 50k at the end of this month and maybe a half or some other short-er type of even in February before the big day.
I spent all day yesterday and this morning in San Francisco with my friend Stacie – we are so excited about the race that we decided we’d run a large portion of the course at a conversational pace. Trust me when I say that it is very rare and unlike me to run more 20-25 miles in one day, but it does happen on occasion. We had a phenomenal day – ran from the city and across the empty Golden Gate Bride and right to the race start. We ran the first section up and through SCA and then we were gone. Before we knew it, we were halfway done with our run and at Muir Beach. I suggested we go through one of my favorite sections of the course, Middle Green Gulch, which is a super long climb with lots of switchbacks. This was only one of a few hills where I took off and forced myself to envision myself right there on race day. Gosh, it felt so good, I felt so strong and I am glad I did it so I can remember this spot with a positive memory. One less thing to occupy my mind with later. 🙂
Anyway, after a solid 7 hours running, and 35 miles, we found ourselves back at her house devouring whatever food we could find until we could get some real food. We both looked at each other and said, “Can you believe we only need 15 more miles to get 50?” We both laughed, we had an amazing day and are really looking forward to this race.
As for my marathon, I am looking into a May/June event. OC on 5/3? This is the race I ran and broke my foot at mile 20 – not the best last memory. Read about that here. Or, Eugene on 5/10? Finish on the track. Not sure yet, but training begins regardless.
If you are interested in reading my re-caps from the last two years at this event, you can find them here:
Since the first day of last year, I knew my ‘A’ race would be the North Face 50 (SF) in December. There wasn’t a day that went by where I didn’t imagine myself somewhere in the Headlands, imagining how good it was going to hurt. Every tough workout, every time my legs screamed and my lungs burned, every time I climbed the 2-mile Wellbarn fire road climb at the end of a killer trail run, I would pretend it was THAT race. I sacrificed a lot of local racing throughout the year to avoid burnout for this end of the year race. I had high hopes. I was confident. And I believed I had it in me to battle the whole way. I didn’t.
My race was cut short at mile 28 when I decided to drop. My body was fighting me for last 8 miles. My quads, hammies and back were cramping. I knew I was doing the right thing when I called it. It hurt, but I needed to be smart. Today, as I sat in a cafe talking to a friend, she asked me what my true running goals were. Like did I have something major I wanted to accomplish? The answer for me was simple, and it really confirmed that I did do the right thing. My answer: I just want to be able to run. There is no doubt that I am a competitor and that I will continue to compete, but that is just a bonus to huge blessing already bestowed upon me.
That day in the headlands was a big reflection of my personal life and struggles. I needed to let go. I needed to be realistic and stop trying to fix things or hang on to things that were broken. Things that I thought were so important to me. Things that I thought I needed. Things that couldn’t heal themselves with more time, more talks or miles. This race outcome was the closure that I needed to start a fresh new chapter of my life. It felt really good. I feel really good. I feel hopeful, happy and refreshed for a beautiful new year filled with new opportunities and experiences.
Here was my immediate Facebook post after my race:
I dropped at 28. At mile 19 I stopped to stretch quad and my hamstring cramped too. Then it was my back. I was strong until that point and took a break at 28 then stated again, but I had to stop. Then I tried again and stopped. I walked back to the aid, visibly upset, but it was the best decision for me. Not happy, but there was no way I could run downhill for five miles and that is when I decided to call it. Omg I hope you never experience hamstring cramps – nearly made me scream like a girl. I literally saw all of your faces during that moment of me needing to drop – I had to do it, and hated having to relay this message about the drop. This is what makes ultras unique – anything can happen even when you feel you you are complete ready. Thanks for all the well wishes and support – it means a lot to me.
“Roll, won’t you come roll with me, slow, fast, full speed…”
These were the lyrics I played over and over on my shuffle and in my head for the last 8 miles or so and in review they fit so perfectly well with the rhythm of my race, or at least that’s how I thought it played out – my splits could say otherwise.
I can honestly say I am proud of myself for this performance – it has been a trying past few months, but somehow I managed to keep it together. Today I ran smart – not too fast, but good enough to enjoy this incredibly beautiful and challenging course AND take the top third spot and F1. The course was gorgeous, the aid was perfect and I got really teary-eyed near the finish because I have the privilege to run and race with such good friends. So proud of everyone today, definitely a special day! 8:26:35.
A few weeks ago I was asked to be the running guide for Heaven during her run portion of the iCanTri here in Fresno and without hesitation, my answer was YES! You see, Heaven is 10 years old and is blind. The opportunity to guide her on a one mile run around a grassy and bumpy high school may have been to help her, but in the end, it was obvious that she would be the guide for so many of us who let small obstacles stand in our way when trying to reach our goals.
I only met Heaven the morning of the race and I was very nervous to guide her without prior training with her. In 2011, I was one of two guides for my now good friend Adrian for the Surf City Half Marathon and I will say it again, it was actually him who helped me because at the end of the day, he inspired me through all of our training runs, forgave me for the many accidents I caused (forgetting to tell him that there was a curb coming up, or a tree branch near his head, or a pack of cyclists heading our way through Griffith Park!) and helped me with a huge PR. He taught me a lot about the human spirit and what we can achieve all by effort and attitude. Read about that race experience here.
For this event with Heaven, she started out with a swim, followed by bike and then the run. When she got to the bike/run transition, she was so calm – it was as if there were no concerns. She was there to do something and there wasn’t anything going to get in the way of that or anything else she wants from life. She did great and finished strong and happy, not to mention she inspired many. It was a great day — thank you, Heaven!