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Archive for the ‘preparation’ Category

It’s been too long since my last post!  Ever since I ran the half marathon, it feels like I just have not been able to catch up.  My runs became shorter or not at all. Work was busier, I was tired, it was very hot, too hungry, too tired, too dark outside, or just couldn’t get my ass outside to run.  I have not done a long run since my half marathon. All my runs have been anywhere from four to ten miles.  I don’t know if it’s because I experienced my most difficult run at the half marathon and feared that it would be worse or if I just did not have the mental energy to continue.  My time was limited to very early mornings at 5:30am or very late evenings after 9:00pm because of the heat wave we have been experiencing.  Work hours increased because it is now my busiest time of the year with events.  It is now 16 days before I have to run 26 miles. Ah!!!!!

I started asking myself why am I doing this?  What am I trying to prove?  What is my goal?  Am I doubting myself? I’ve never been a quitter but reality started hitting and my training schedule had fallen apart. So I kept running whenever I could but my runs had changed. I was out of breath a lot, my muscles were always tight, and I was too tired to run too long.  William motivated as much as he was able to but I think this was something that I had to figure out on my own. I had hit a brick wall and did not know how to break it down.

I just came back after a one week trip from Alexandria, Virginia.  I went with my mom to visit my brother and his wonderful family.  They live right by Mt. Vernon and if you know Mt. Vernon, you will know that there is a beautiful scenic trail along the Potomac River.  The weekend that I was there was my weekend to run 20 miles.  I only managed to do somewhere between 8-9 because I had to turn back and go to the bathroom.  Yup it still happens!

I was disappointed at myself for being this behind in my training. William always tells me that I beat myself up too much. I couldn’t help it. I felt so triumphant after my half marathon and somehow I felt I began to fail right after it.  Being in Virginia and visiting my brother, his wife and his 22 month old son made me think about a lot of stuff.  I looked at my brother’s life and how he has spent about 17 years of his life in the ARMY and observing the end results: a beautiful family, great home, visits from the grandparents…I can imagine they are pretty happy.  And then there is my mom who struggles each day with her life at home but yet her happiness is seeing her children happy.  I look at my life and see how I live in a fast-pace world full of chaos.  So yes, my mind was in different directions and I guess I was just trying to figure out how to get back on my feet and find out why I got myself in this situation.

Before I had left to Virginia, William had shoved a book to read in my suitcase. It’s the book Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. William warned me how this book was going to change my life and especially my motivation about running. So I started reading this book on the way back to Los Angeles in the airplane. I was hooked immediately. It has been a while since I’ve read a good book and this was perfect.  I recommend everyone to read this even if you are not a runner.  It’s basically about the Tarahumara Indians and a man knows as Caballo Blanco (white horse) and their running skills. The Tarahumara Indians, which I grew up hearing about since I was child, are a tribe that live in one of the most hidden and lowest parts of the Earth in the Copper Canyons of Chihuahua, Mexico.  They are known for their running. They can run all day any day.  They live simple, eat pinole and drink chia water. There were also other people in the book like Caballo Blanco and Ann Trason that can run 30 miles in day as if it was an hour workout.  I know this is not what I am trying to do but reading this book started to put things in perspective for me.

When I first decided to run a marathon, I did it because it was on my “Health/Fitness” category to accomplish some day.  I also like to inspire people. But inspire them to do what exactly?  I like to help people not give up.  I am where I am today because I don’t like to take no for an answer.  One of the reasons why I don’t get a long with my old-fashioned-traditionalist father is because I don’t listen to him or his unrealistic ways.  I don’t like to be stopped. I like to explore, I like to live my life at my fullest, I like to help and encourage other people.  This marathon is a part of that.  It’s a way of saying “you can do anything if you put your mind to it. ”  Fuck the challenges.  They will always be there trying to pull me down but my mind is a lot stronger than that. I know it.  All of a sudden I have my mental strength back.  Yup, a book did it for me.  It was a reminder to me that there is always going to be something trying to stop you, but at the end of the race, it takes yourself to cross that finish line. I began to envision myself running in Maui. Power walk up the hills and pace my run during the flat surfaces. The Tarahumara is in me. We all need one. Yes, I know I have not practiced my long runs at all and it’s 16 days away. But it’s not about my physical strength anymore, it’s what I can do with my mind, like it’s always been. I’ve always had the faith that I can get through anything so why stop now?

Yesterday was a very busy day at work. It was my second day back at work and still trying to catch up. William and I were supposed to go to the beach after work to run but by the time I got out, it was late.  So we headed home and ran in my neighborhood. My run was different. There were some knee pains I had but my mind was calm and I was in the zone. I stopped focusing on my body and was just thinking of keeping my mind at peace.  We ran a little over four miles because it was dark and I did not want to trip and fall again.  It was a good run.  I am not going to worry about it anymore. I’m just going to try my best and forget the rest.

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The half marathon was great and gave me new confidence for a while.   Now I feel behind again…

It took me a few days to recover from the half marathon.  My body took a hit with those uphills.  I ran the half marathon on Saturday and then ran again on Tuesday the 24th for four miles.  I then ran Friday for five miles. They were two difficult runs.  I was suppose to do three runs for the week but because of work and recovery, I was not able to  run the third one.

This past weekend I was suppose to run 15 miles on Sunday. Time flew with other things on the agenda and had to leave my run for Monday.  I tried to run it after a meeting I had at the Pasadena Convention Center that ended at 6pm.  I started my run on Green Street going west.  Immediately my legs felt like they were pounding heavily on the sidewalk. I was also carrying a small backpack with my meeting papers and that was not helping at all. It was a difficult run. My body did not feel loose at all.  I also got lost somewhere in the residential areas of South Pasadena.  There were a lot of downhills as well that created pains on my right knee. By the time I was about two miles from my house, I was starving, tired, and frustrated. I don’t even know how many miles I accomplished but I was out there for close to two hours.

I can’t afford to screw up my long runs!  I’m about a month away from the marathon and I need all the energy and training that I can get!!!

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Oh July, how painful you have been!  July has been a big challenge for me. My work schedule has been getting in the way of my training. I’ve had to work every weekend in July and when I do that, it’s usually a heavy offsite where I’m working a 14 hour shift on a Saturday on my feet non-stop.  This means that I instead of running my long run on Sunday, I run it on Monday and do a lousy job because I’m still recovering from the offsite. This also puts all my other runs during the week behind.  William and I also decided in July that we should sign up for a half marathon the weekend where I need to accomplish 14 miles, which happens to be my birthday weekend as well.  Why not start my birthday with a half marathon accomplished!  It was perfect. This way I got a little experience from an actual marathon and it also made me stay on track for July with my training.

We registered for the Run Montecito-Summerland 1/2 Marathon.  It’s a 1/2 marathon that William found online that would take place on July 21st right up the Santa Barbara area. One day before my birthday. It was a perfect plan. We would drive Friday night, run Saturday morning, wine taste Saturday afternoon, have a lovely dinner by the wineries, go to the beach Sunday morning, and return Sunday evening.  We were able to book two nights at Hotel Indigo right on State Street near Stearns Wharf and downtown Santa Barbara.  It was a last minute decision that we didn’t really plan early but we were both excited to make this trip happen.  We were also trying to get friends to go but last minute plans for everyone else did not work out.

Like I said earlier, training this month was very difficult.  My 10 mile run that I had to run on a Monday was difficult because I was super tired from a wedding I had worked on Saturday. Since it was a weekday, William decided to run from work to the house to accomplish the 10 miles. I had the day off so I ran from my house and met William at the fifth mile and run the last five miles together towards the house.   I remember my legs were tired and I did a lot of walking the last three miles of the run.  I was able to finish the 10 miles in two hours and 32 seconds. Not the best time, or at least not the best for me.

Running on Fletcher Street

The following weekend I was supposed to run 12 miles. It was also the weekend before the half marathon. This meant that this 12 mile run was very important to finish.  However, I worked both Saturday and Sunday!  Saturday I worked for about 12 hours and Sunday I worked about 8 hours. Both dates were me being on my feet. It was awful and I was very tired.  William was very good about giving me back and leg massages to release some soreness from my body. I knew skipping the 12 mile run was not an option.  But how was I supposed to run it when my legs did not have the energy? Monday came along and I was super tired and still in pain. My lower back was not at its best.  William texted me at about 5:20pm to ask me if I was ready for my run.  I responded to him that I would start it closer to 6pm. I did not know how I would accomplish this but I got dressed and made myself go out there.  I walked  the first half mile to get my body warmed up and then started running after the half mile.  My back was killing me and my legs were very tired.  By the time the mile ended I was walking again. I thought about my options and knew that I did not want to turn back and quit. I also knew that running 12 miles was not going to happen. I thought of how I’ve told myself before that I would try my best at whatever I do and at that instant, my best would be to walk until I met up with William.  I tried running a few more times but by the 2.5 mile I was walking again.  I walked all the way to Silverlake and got to 4.2 miles and still no sign of William. I did not want to continue walking too much because I should also be recovering and give my legs some kind of rest.  I thought maybe I missed William somewhere so I decided to turn back.  While I was walking on Fletcher, William came from behind me and found me! I guess he had started to walk on Silverlake thinking I was close by. I turned a little too early.  He agreed that it was the right thing to do was to walk miles instead of nothing.  Somewhere a long the way, my left calf to my achilles tendon started to hurt really bad. I tried to stretch it out but it wasn’t helping. By the time I got home, I was limping.  I was not sure what I did but I figured I would wait a day and find out where this pain was going.

On Tuesday, the pain did not go away from the achilles tendon area. I know hurting your achilles tendon can be very delicate and sometimes it can take a long time to recover. This is the last thing I wanted and were just a few days from the 1/2 marathon.  Tuesday night I worked a long day.  I still had the pain on Wednesday and still limping at work.  That Wednesday night, William rubbed my calf and leg.

By Thursday morning the pain was gone!  It was just a tight muscle that I had and William was able to release some pressure I had there.  Thursday evening we had to get another run in between the marathon. Besides my 8 mile walk on Monday, my last run had been on Friday the 13th for 6 miles. It was time to get another one in.  We ran only 5.3 miles because we also wanted to save strength for the 1/2 marathon on Saturday.  I was feeling confident that I was going to do good in the half marathon.

Friday morning we were both very excited. We packed, went to work, and started our drive to Summerland at 5pm. We made it there just in time to pick up our bib and shirt.  The location where we picked up our bib was Cafe Luna which was also the start and finish line.  This is when I started questions.  It had just hit me that I did not bother to ask how difficult this course was or how many people were involved. We asked the volunteers there how many people were registered for the 1/2 marathon and they responded that there were only 160 runners.  Yikes!  This was going to be competitive! I had not realized how small the group was of runners. I finally started to get nervous about the race. What if I would be the last one finished!  I did not want that.  What if I had to stop and go the bathroom a lot of times? I started having second thoughts about the race and started thinking that I was physically not prepared for this.  I had not even accomplished 12 miles yet!  My farthest run I had done was 10 miles and the last week I only got in a 5 mile run.  I was in panic mode.  That Friday night we went to bed early at the hotel so we would have a good night sleep and wake up at about 5am to be at the location by 6am. I also had to wake up early because I had to do a 5 minute run before the marathon so I made sure I went to the restroom.

The whole night I couldn’t sleep. My mind never went to sleep. I kept dreaming that I missed the marathon or that I was very behind. Finally the alarm went off and it was official.  The half marathon was just two hours away and I was wide awake.

 

 

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I stated on my last post that I started to panic about the marathon. Just a few months away and I feel that my progress is very slow.  I don’t mind the running, it’s finding the time to run that has been the biggest challenge for me. I wake up in the morning usually before the alarm wakes me up at about 5:30am. I’m one of those people that wakes up when there is daylight.  But just because I wake up so early does not mean I have the energy to go outside to run.  I was able to do this at the beginning of the year. It’s just very difficult.  I wake up, go to the bathroom and as I’m sitting there peeing, I start feeling the cold and the stiffness of my body.  So I crawl back under the bed sheets and tell myself “just ten more minutes under the sheets” and then I will go run.  I do that for about half an hour and before you know it, it’s time to get ready for work. I’m an early bird but not an early runner. I need to warm up for about an hour before I decide to go run in the morning.  I know I will need to change that because I know I do not always have time after work to run. I think this has been part of the reason why my progress has been slow, because I count on the evenings for my training.
So as my worries began about my training, Coach William came to me with a solution to all of this. He gave me a sheet that he researched online that is a 16-week marathon training schedule.  It was the perfect timing for this. If I get on this schedule now, I would be on my 2nd week of training which is not bad because I basically did week one with the miles being a little different.

My training schedule

I started week two on June 5th.  If you read the chart above, the week starts on a Monday but I will actually start the week on a Tuesday. This is because I would rather have my rest days on Saturdays instead of Fridays or Sundays. In my daily schedule, I usually always keep my Sundays free so this would be a good day to do my long runs instead of Saturdays where I usually work for my job. If I keep this training schedule, I should be able to finish exactly on the day of my marathon.  Week 16 will be Hawaii week!

When William showed me this, I became very excited. I think each brain is different and I do better with visuals and calendars. I guess what was missing was some set direction. Before this, I knew I had to run shorter runs during the week and longer runs during the weekend, and be able to increase it every week.  Now that I have a chart, I know exactly what I need to do and when to do it. Also, it came at the perfect time. If I don’t follow this schedule, I won’t be able to run the marathon.  This chart makes sense to me and so far I’ve been able to follow it.  So far I finished week two without any problems.  Week three starts today!

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I didn’t get much running done in the beginning of the week.  On Saturday, April 21 I worked a wedding that took me the whole day.  I was very tired on Sunday  the 22nd but had to work again in the office because I was preparing to leave for three days to Albuquerque to see the Tom Petty Concert.  William and I left very early Monday morning to Albuquerque by plane and we were there until Wednesday.  It was a lot of fun but very hot and dry!  Not a place where I would want to live.  We ate any meal that had green chiles and drank a lot of alcohol. This is what you have to do when you are on vacation!  We also shopped and explored the city.  The Tom Petty Concert was wonderful and very worth it!

So Thursday was back to work. It was my catch up day and tried to get out as soon as possible because I wanted to get home to go grocery shopping. My plan is to get back on my healthy diet. William and I haven’t been doing as good as we should for the last month on our eating habits. I can feel it in my tummy and I don’t  want it to get worse.  So after work I went to Costco and Ralphs and stocked up on lots of greens and protein meats.  It was so noticeable that the cashier even commented “very healthy stuff.”  It was all green vegetables, greek yogurt, and fruit.  Hah!

I was also able to squeeze in a quick run on Thursday.  William and I did “The Loop” which is a circle going up some streets towards El Paso Drive, Avenue 50, and back on Lincoln to my house. It was 1.5 miles and made me very tired.  I felt behind again but knew that it was up to me to change this!

Friday I worked and went out with friends so no time for a run.  Saturday was another catch up day and began to cook my recipes.  I started the morning with a green shake: yogurt, mint, 1 cucumber, kale, 6 celery sticks, pineapple, ginger, cardamom, agave nectar, 1 scoop of protein, 1 spoon of natural fiber, and 1 green apple. I used the juicer for most of the greens and then combined everything in a blender.  It was the perfect way to start my day.

For lunch, I had a Which Wich Sandwich in Burbank because William and I were doing some shopping in that area. We came back home and I went back to my recipes. We then decided to do another “Loop” for a run but extended it by a street so it was 2 miles.  The new extension was an uphill street and it nearly killed me!  We did the loop twice! Hooray for 4 miles on Saturday!

For dinner I am making a kale salad with pine nuts, radish, marinated in olive oil and lemon juice.  It will be topped with quinoa mixed with dried cranberries, parsley, chopped carrots, mint, and some other spices and oils.  I will finish it off with marinated honey-grilled chicken.

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Tonight’s run was incredible. It was supposed to be a quick four mile run and it turned it to be  six miles of exploration.  I wanted to make sure I ran some hills since I’m only six days from the Merrel Down and Dirty .  I hear that I’m going to be running hills so I’m very worried that I won’t be ready.  I decided to take William for a run up Avenue 50 towards Figueroa Street and going towards my friend’s house in Montecito Heights. This was the bike ride I did on Sunday and so I figured it would be a good route to run. In general Highland Park (where I live) has a lot of hills so why not take advantage of them!

The first 1.5 miles was running north on Avenue 50 up to Figueroa Street.  It was basically the warm up but my calves were in so much pain!  I guess the streets were bumpy and the little hills were killing me but I managed to to make it to Figueroa in 10 minutes and 21 seconds.

We then made a left on Figueroa and ran through the Sycamore Grove Park, down a tunnel, up about 30 flights of stairs to run through the bridge over the 110 freeway and down to Griffin Avenue.  William and I were so excited to go through different areas and off the main streets.  We were supposed to run to Montecito Drive but instead William spotted a trail off to the side of Griffin Avenue. We decided to take it to see where it went. We were basically at the Ernest E. Debs Regional Park and were taking a trail up this hill.  I tried to run must of it but then it became very steep. It was so steep that at one point we were climbing it.  Mosquitoes were biting me and it started to get dark.  William was already up the hill waiting for me of course.  It took me a while to get up there and my calves were still hurting.  I finally made it and I was in so much pain. But the view was very worth it.  We made it up the hill just in time to see the sunset over the city. The purple skies were beautiful and priceless.  I felt happy at that moment.

After the top of the hill we decided to go run down another wider trail where it was not as steep. We assumed it would take us back towards the freeway and the bridge.  We did end by the freeway but there was a fence blocking the road!  We couldn’t get through unless we climbed the fence but it seemed so high. We decided to backtrack a little and take a turn towards another road.  At this point it was already very dark and it was hard to see where we were going. We were stuck at this mountain and did not know how to get out of it. This new road that we took finally took us through the back of some houses and into a main street with a giant blue hornet.  Very odd but it was there. We finally made it back to the city! We then realized that we were very close to my friend Carmen’s house. So we ran to her house and knocked on the door but nobody was home. We then ran back home which was the last 1.7 miles of our journey.

I was so tired when I returned home but I was so happy that we did it.  We ran and hiked around a total of six miles in about two hours.

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The Pre-Run

I woke up to a beautiful last day of the year. The sun was bright, the sky was blue, and the weather was perfect to go out and try a run.  I also woke up with a stiff left neck.  I must have slept wrong.  William and I figured that we should do the “last run of the year.”  So we had a fruit shake that consisted of fresh pineapple, frozen berries, water, coconut milk, grounded cardamom, a scoop of protein, and a spoon of fiber.  We went outside and I immediately started to stretch but my body was so tight!  William suggested we warmed up first with some P90x moves.  We did some ballistic stretches and some lunges until we felt our heart pumping.  We then started to run.  The goal was to run to Fresh and Easy, buy some groceries for our New Year’s Eve festivity at my brother’s house, and walk back to the house.  The destination is .8 miles away.  As soon as I started the run, I felt tired and heavy. It was a wake up call that I have a long ways to go.

What’s going to get me through is William.  It’s an advantage to train with somebody who already has more strength because that way he didn’t want to stop when I wanted to. “We only stop if there is pain. Tired is not pain.” He said as we jogged.   I didn’t feel any pain, just heaviness all over me.  William continued to talk and it worked.  He said all the correct quotes from Tony Horton’s P90x videos.  “Think like a cat.” So I immediately tried to take it easy and not jog so heavy.  We made it to Fresh and Easy. I was so tired.  But I’m glad I did it because now I know where I’m starting tomorrow.  I’m going to pace it until I make it!

Happy New Year everyone!

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