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Posts Tagged ‘achievement’

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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It was 5:00am on Saturday July 21, 2012 and I was wide awake thinking about the half marathon in two hours.  I laid in the comfortable fluffy Hotel Indigo bed in Santa Barbara trying to get myself mentally ready for the Run Montecito-Summerland Marathon.  This usually happens to me. I get nervous the last few hours of whatever I’m trying to do. I never think about it days before. It’s always right before the activity happens that I get nervous. I finally got out of bed at about 5:20am and took a shower and got dressed. I wore my black yoga pants because I still haven’t found the running shorts that I’m comfortable with. I wore my new white thick and tight sports bra creamed in vaseline.  I put on my new and first marathon shirt that was given to me the night before when I picked up my bib and put on my Asics running shoes with purple shoelaces.  I was somewhat ready. I decided to go outside and get my poop loop out of the way.  Our hotel was walking distance from the beach. It was the perfect area in Santa Barbara. I ran parallel to the beach for five minutes. It was cold and very foggy but the breeze felt good as I ran.  I usually do not like running in the morning, especially this early. But for some reason this five minute felt good. Maybe it was because it was right by the ocean and I love being by the sea.  It gave me motivation and encouragement. Sure enough after 5 minutes, I had to go the bathroom.  There’s one out of the way.

For the people that know me, I know they wouldn’t be surprised on my conversations about poop. I’ve maintained for the most part a high fiber diet for the last 12 years of my life and it has led me to constantly keep an average of four poops per day. Don’t think it’s gross. I like that I’m not keeping wastes in my body.  It just happens more when I run. I’ve blogged about it before how I’ve had to create a “poop loop” before I start my run so I don’t have to stop once I start running. So now I run five minutes before I start my official run so I can get the poop out of the way. It always works.

So going back to my morning…we left the hotel after 6am and got to Cafe Luna before 6:30am. There was plenty of parking and it was not crowded at all. It was going to be a very intimate run!  There was a nice breeze coming from the ocean.  I decided to jog again for five minutes and sure enough I had to go to the bathroom again.  Once that was out of the way I began to stretch. I felt ok and was trying to keep calm and not get so nervous about the race.

7:00am had now arrived and William and I were lined up towards the front of the starting line.  All of sudden the race began and everyone started to run.  My heart began to pump fast. I became nervous.  Immediately there was an uphill on the next block and I became very anxious and nervous to the point I couldn’t breathe.  I didn’t want to stop to walk because I just started but I just felt stressed and uneasy.  So I stopped and walked and told myself to breath deeply and calm down. I felt I just needed a minute to get myself together.  I took deep breaths and tried to get myself focused by clearing my mind. It worked and I began to run again. I just tried to maintain a steady pace and follow the runners. At this point, William was a few feet behind me.

 

 

The first few miles were fine once I stopped panicking.  We were running parallel to the ocean and there was no sun yet.  It was so far a cloudy breezy day.  I maintained a good pace for the first three miles and William stayed behind me.  Once the third mile began so did the hills.  This is when William caught up to me and I started slowing down. I did not want to start walking the uphills. I did not want to get very behind where I was the last one running! I was so worried about that. With only 160 1/2 marathoners, I did not want to be the last one!  The hills got worse and I became slower. By the time the fourth mile was there, I was power walking.  William had maintained a good pace and he was not ahead of me. The hills were very difficult.  My surroundings changed from viewing the ocean to being with the mountains. It was beautiful in Santa Barbara. I was breathing the forrest trees and enjoying the scenery around me.  There were still runners around me and I thought maybe if I try to pace myself with others, I would get a little better.  There were a few girls around me that seemed to be at my pace so I started running  behind them. However I was still going uphill and my running didn’t last that long. I had to stop again to power walk.  People were passing me by a lot.  There was another girl I tried to follow who was wearing a back pack.  That seemed to work a little better. There was also a very old man running the whole time and I don’t think I ever saw hims stop to walk. He maintained his pace the whole time when he was going up hill. I thought that was very impressive and I wanted to be there!

So many things were running through my mind through this journey. I no longer saw William in front of me.  I started thinking about the Maui marathon and thought how in the heck did I commit to this!  Running these hills were very difficult and I knew that it was not going to get any easier in Maui.  I thought a lot about the marathon during my run. I thought how I always commit to things and then wonder why I do it. I reached the sixth mile and finally the hills started to go down.  Yay!

My legs felt so wobbly at this point. I was able to run once the hills were over but my body felt numb.  I just kept running. I was still around the backpack woman and caught up to the old man running. I passed him up!  I tried to maintain a steady pace in the sixth mile. I even got my first cup of water from the volunteers. My hips felt like they were going to collapse. I tried to walk a bit to rest them but that didn’t work. I think my body didn’t want to stop anymore. It was in running mode and if I walked, I felt all the body pains. So I kept running and then I started feeling stomach cramps. It started to feel like there were knots in my stomach and they got very painful!  I then walked and took deep breaths to see if it would go away.  I was irritated because I was finally running but had to slow down for my stomach cramps. Once I started taking deep breaths, it seemed to calm my stomach down. So there I went again trying to run again.  I was wearing my iNano and according to my time at that point, I was not doing so bad on time.

During the seventh and eight mile, I knew I was tired but kept running.  I tried to think of things that would keep my mind off the running. I started imagining my friends at the finish line rooting for me when I finished even if they were not going to be there but it helped me.  I also realized that it was my last day to be 32 years old and I was running a half marathon on my birthday eve!  What I was to start my 33rd birthday with already a half marathon accomplished!  I thought about William and how much he has motivated me and how together we help each other accomplish certain things in our lives.  I thought of how it would be great to live in a place like Montecito.  We passed through some grand estates and I hear that one of them was Oprah’s home.  I thought of my family and tried to imagine them shouting out my name when I ran through the finish line.  I enjoyed this portion of the run because there were hardly any runners around me.  Everyone had spread out throughout the course and I just had to make sure I did not take a wrong turn.

I think I finally learned during this time of my run what the point of all of this was. I started this race thinking to myself that I did not want to be last. Now I knew what this madness was all about. It was about committing to something and not giving up. It’s about finishing at your best with whatever it is.  It was not about the time I was going to do it in, it’s about having the strength to tell yourself that you can do whatever you put your mind to. It’s all in the mind.  So somehow I knew that I was going to finish the Maui marathon no matter what.

I made it through the ninth mile and my body was still going.  I don’t know how but it was very difficult.  Maui is going to be huge!!! All of a sudden another hill began at the end of the tenth mile. What the heck!?  Another hill?  It was not a short one. It seemed like it was one full mile that was going uphill. Why would they do this to us and put an uphill at the end of the marathon??  It wiped any energy I had left to give. I was so frustrated because I had already carried good pace the last few miles and thought I was going to finish in about two hours and 15 minutes. But this last hill blew that away. It felt like the hardest hill ever!  And then I hear the old man’s footsteps. The same one that I had already passed was coming back.  Oh no! Did it slow me down this much!  I was so exhausted.

Somehow I got passed that awful hill and there I went downhill. It seemed like this marathon was never going to end!  I thought I was near when I saw the ocean again but there were some turns and I was back in the middle of nowhere running all by myself. Just keep going Melissa, just pace yourself is what I was telling myself.  The 12th mile was the longest mile so far. I knew I was getting very close when I started seeing the marathoners walking towards me. This means that they had finished and were going home. I asked one of them how close I was to the finish line and she said that I was very close “Just past that turn and you should start seeing the big finish banner” she responded with a smile.  I was so close but yet so far away!  I wondered if William was there at the finish line waiting for me. I knew I was not the last one because I had again passed the old man and the girl with the backpack.

Finally I saw the finish line ahead of me. I looked for William and didn’t see him in the crowd.  Where was he?  I got closer and heard the people cheering for me. I looked up and I saw William running through the crowds trying to get close to the finish line.  I ran and ran and ran until I crossed the finish line!  There was a lady there waiting for me to give me my medal. William was there too with a big smile. I took the medal and took William’s hug. It was finally over!!!

I

My official time was 2:28:54.6. I did it in less than two and a half hours! No way!  William was very impressed with my time. He thought I would finish in three hours or so. According to him, it was a very difficult half marathon. Below is how my pace changed throughout the race.

I finished 6th place in my women’s age group from 31-35.  Not bad!  I was very happy it was over and felt good about it.  I can’t believe I’m actually running. I never thought myself as a runner. I was once told my an orthopedic doctor that I’m flat-footed with introverted hips and that I should not try running for exercise.  This just shows that sometimes people are lazy!  Any of us can do whatever we pleased  and I am proud to say that I ran a half marathon!

 

 

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Yikes!  I have waited too long to blog!  It’s only because my schedule has been all over the place. Now it’s time to catch up!  I would say June is the month of change.  It’s the month where I started my official training schedule.  I run about three times during the week and run my long run on Sundays.  The fall I had early in June delayed me a little. I might have skipped about two runs during the week day but I did not skip my long Sunday run, which is the most important run of the week!

June has been a big success. I noticed improvements with my body.  I get less tired during my runs and I’ve been able to run uphills!  There are still a few which kill me but overall I think I can manage a few uphills.  For June, my longest run that I achieved was eight miles.  It was a great 8-mile run because my friend Carmen waited for me with her two daughters at the 4 mile mark with some water. I surprised myself on how steady I was the whole time. It only took me 1 hour and 24 minutes to run 8 miles.  I was pretty pleased at myself! However, now that I’m running longer, there are some consequences to that.

After my 8 mile I discovered a painful red rash under my breasts.  I got so scared! William explained to me that it’s chafing from the clothes and skin.  All runners experience this.  I went to a woman marathoner for advice on this one because William does not have the boobies that I do.  The woman marathoner told me that most women get this.  There is no perfect sports bra for this but things that will help according to her is to put vaseline (click here to listen to the vaseline song) in those locations that will rub a lot. Also the tighter the breasts are in the sports bra, the less movement.  I started putting vaseline under my breasts and wearing tight tank tops with the sports bra until I get better clothes. So now I’m showing more cleavage that I wanted to but oh well, I have to protect the twins!

My body has also been changing. I told William that I feel like a cocoon. I’ve been trapped in this cocoon for a few years and now I have began my metamorphosis with my training.  My fingernails have been growing fast and firm. They are unbreakable!  My legs definitely feel stronger and tight.  My belly does not stick out as much or does not look bloated.  I’ve been breaking out on my face a lot. There’s been zits all over the face!  It must be the sweat or possibly my body is releasing lot of toxins.  So release the toxins!  I’m also hungry all the time. I eat about every two hours and sometimes I can’t keep up with myself. The great thing is that William bought us a grill. I’ve been grilling everything that we eat!  Chicken, tilapia, vegetables…it’s all delicious and healthy!  I’m still about the same weight at 170 lbs but I does not matter. I can feel the changes each day.

I also bought new running shoes.  It was time to switch them out and get new selections that I will be using for the marathon. I met William at the store to go shoe shopping. He was very helpful and laid out about six different pairs of shoes for me at DSW.  I tried each pair and walked around in them.  I ended going with the same shoes I bought in January but the most recent version without realizing this!  This must tell me something.  The shoes I have are Asics Gels for women.  They have been the most comfortable for my running. I’m glad to say that I have not had any issues with my running shoes.

Overall for June, I feel that this has been the turning point of my training. For the first five months of this year, I was trying to get my body used to run steady and to learn how to run.  June hit and I feel it’s stage two: The Metamorphosis month.  My body has reacted to my running and it is transforming each day.

Running here I come!

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In the beginning of May I decided to add hikes to my calendar to mix it up a little and not get so bored of running. Plus, hikes will help build strength when I have to run up hills.  When I go hiking, I usually go to the mountains where the elevation can get up to 8,000, sometimes even more.  So in May, William and I planned two hikes for the month with my brother Ray.  The first hike took place at Mt. Baldy on May 12th.  Mt. Baldy happens to be the highest in the San Gabriel Mountains or the highest in Los Angeles County reaching an elevation of 10,064.

We started our day by waking up very early in the morning and met up with Ray at Duarte.  We rode to the mountains and started our hike at 8:57am.  The weather was neither hot or cold, the skies were clear blue and the pine trees and chipmunks were waiting for us.

The beginning of the hike, about 6,000 ft elevation

At the start of the hike my body felt good. My heart started pumping right away and I felt the burn on my butt as I took each step.  At one point we stopped for a second to drink some water and I was able to feel my heart pumping out of my shirt!  It was a great feeling because I did not feel tired. I was very excited to be surrounded by the mountains.

We only had a total of two backpacks between the three of us.

They consisted of the essentials for a hike: lots of water, food, snacks, and some miscelleneous items.  Just from William’s backpack, he was carrying four liters of Smart water, two Vitamin waters, six meat lovers sandwiches (that I made at the crack of dawn), and trail mix.  I did not get to carry a backpack but I know I eventually will have to. It’s a pain but I know it’s necessary if I will want to do more hikes.

As we hiked, the switchbacks increased and the steepness did as well.  

The views just got better too. As you can see from the above photo,  we were in the middle of magnificence.  There is no better place than to be with nature. It is such a great feeling to be away from the every day life and city. It’s peaceful and tranquil, just what everyone needs to decompress from the hardships of our every day lives.

If you see in the background, there is a man who was trailing behind us who had his skis with him!  We were so curious of where he was going to use his skis. The only areas of snow were ice patches that were scattered in random places where they were melting.  It was not enough to ski but we thought it was funny that this man was hiking with his skis.

As you can see from the above caption, there is no place to ski!

Our resting point was going to be at about 8,000 ft of elevation where there is a small green house located in the middle of some trees.

The little green house

The little house was closed but there were some benches and tables to take a rest. Conveniently there was an outhouse right behind it.  We stopped to enjoy a lunch.  We had already hiked more than hour, probably two hours by now. The hike up to the house had not been easy but we managed.  I know that if I had not been running before this, we would have taken longer and maybe not even had made it this far.  I have to mention the satisfaction of eating during the hike. Food does not taste any better than when eating it at a hike.  Every bite is delicious and savory.  Those sandwiches that were trapped in the backpack since early morning tasted like the best sandwiches ever on the planet.  They were simple too. They had three kinds of meats: peppered turkey, roast beef, and ham. They each had one slice of cheese with Veganaise and mustard.  Simple but the best!  Food just tastes different when you have been hiking non-stop for a couple of hours. It’s a great feeling.

Once we rested, we gathered our belongings to continue to the summit of Mt. Baldy.  We were high up in the mountains close to the clouds and navy sky.

I forgot how beautiful it is to be that high in altitude, where the sky is darker and you feel you are close to the outer universe.

Off we went to the peak and everything got difficult.  We were in the 8,000 ft of elevation or probably higher by now and the breathing began to change.  It was harder to catch my breath and difficult to hike.  The inclination was almost a flat wall and somehow we were climbing this wall that was no longer a trail but instead loose rocks everywhere.

Almost seems we were climbing the wall to Mt. Baldy’s summit

I don’t know if I had gone this high before. The highest I have hiked was a few years ago was in the San Gorgonio wilderness in the mountains of San Bernardino where we hiked about six miles up from 6,00o ft in elevation to 9,000 ft in elevation.  It reminded me of a hike like that but Mt. Baldy was worse because we were getting up to 10,000 ft in elevation in less than two miles.  It was a beast!  It was a hiker’s high I guess. It was a thrill where the end results was a satisfaction feeling that cannot be described.

Once we reached the summit, I made sure to take a picture of the evidence that we made it!

Highest point in Los Angeles County

It was quite an accomplishment and it felt good to be up there.  We did it!

Everywhere we turned we saw beauty.

On top of the world

A great moment that will not be forgotten.

At peace

A moment of happiness.

We stayed at the peak for a while and enjoyed the 360 views.  We scoped out the areas and found an area where it looked like someone had skied in a patch of snow. Minutes after we saw the same man with skis going up the snow. We had lost this man when we reached the green house. It looks like he took another trail and found the his snow. This was so funny.  This man hiked up Mt. Baldy in the left over snow. Here he is resting after he reached the summit.

The man with the skis

Good for him!

Once we absorbed the greatness of the summit, we decided to hike back down.  A minute into the hike down the summit, my legs were trembling. It had not occurred to me how much more difficult and strenuous the hike would be on the way down. By this time, the legs were tired but we were using different muscles to hike down but it didn’t matter.

Going down very slowly

I wasn’t able to feel my legs and I couldn’t control the trembling and weakness they felt! It was awful, very awful. I fell about four times because my legs gave out, or maybe I was just slipping easier because I had no more strength to give. It seemed to take forever to go down.  I was the slowest of the pack. The trails looked so different going down.  I kept asking how we managed to get up!  This trail all of a sudden seemed impossible!  All my steps were slow and careful. I was trying to use the surrounding rocks to hold on to for balance.  It seemed there was never a break.

Rocky finish

We rested a few times a long the way but it never got better.  I had not experienced this kind of work to my legs before.  No matter how many breaks we took, my legs were not recovering and I knew there weren’t going to anymore for the rest of the hike. There was no room to quit either.  I just had to tough it out and pace my steps. Every single step was closer to our destination.  Even when reaching the 7,000 ft and 6,000 ft elevation where it wasn’t as steep, I was still having a hard time.  I wondered if this was the way I was going to feel for the marathon.  At least I was catching glimpses of the reality of the marathon.

At last, we reached the bottom of the mountain.

I couldn’t be any happier to reach the end of trail. If you click here, you can view the recording of me reaching the end. I was not exaggerating when I said I was slow. Even it seemed flat, it was still difficult. By the finish point, I had spaghetti legs. We finished the day with a total of about ten miles.  It was an amazing experience and I can’t wait to do more!

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