Sunday, September 30, 2012

Big Sur Trail Marathon Recap

Yesterday, I ran my 7th marathon, the Big Sur Trail Marathon in Big Sur, California and it was amazingly beautiful!

If you read my last post, I was really dreading going into this. I knew there was a lot of climbing in this race and there was a cut-off that I wasn't sure I would make given how I was feeling. I could have sworn the website said it was a 6.5 hour cut-off but it was 6 hour! Good thing I didn't know that before or I'd have really been a mess.

After the disaster that was the 50K two weeks ago and the time I took off, I was having really, really...really sluggish runs and my legs were sore and I was still tired. But finally on Thursday I had a good run and felt...I would say...95%. It was a short run (4.6 miles) and I threw in some tempo miles and they were very close to my usual tempo pace so I thought I might have a chance of making the cutoff if it wasn't hot. I had looked at the forecast for Big Sur and one of the websites had predicted 90 for Saturday. Argh. That did not bode well and was just one more worry that I had since I've been really cautious about running/riding in the heat since the 50K.

Then an awesome thing happened...Josh (@bayou) who was also running the race offered to give me a ride up there. The drive to Big Sur is about 7 hours and I wasn't looking forward to it. I was worried about making him wait for me after the race but he said it would be fine so I accepted and it turned out to be the best thing ever because having company kept me from worrying about the race and I just relaxed and had fun.

So we left just before noon on Friday to drive up to Monterey where we were staying for the race. On the way up we had lunch at Taco Bell (burrito!) and made it to Monterey about 6ish. He dropped me off at my hotel to rest and unpack and then we had dinner at a little Italian restaurant to carbo load. We both had the half spaghetti/half ravioli w/meatballs and it was good. I ordered the full order and put a pretty good dent in it but left room for dessert which turned out to be a strawberry sundae after a quick trip to Target for supplies. Yum!

I went to sleep around 11 and woke up before my alarm in the morning. I'd slept really well for the night before a race and felt pretty rested. I was ready. I was still nervous but not too bad. I ate my usual pre-race breakfast (2 mini bagel, a banana, and some orange juice) and then got dressed. Josh picked me up about 7:30 to drive down to Big Sur. It was misty and foggy and cool and Josh said the high would be 75 and I was really happy about that. The drive down was beautiful with the mist and fog.

We got to the race and were lucky to be one of the last few cars they let into the parking lot. I already had my bib (which they'd sent in the mail) but Josh had to pick his up before the race. We had a while to get ready and just hang out before it started.

What a geek, eh? ;)

The race started at 9 and the RD led us to the start on the Old Coast Road. We would be running on the old dirt road that was used prior to the current Hwy 1. The course was an out and back with a double out and back at the end. It was a fun section because it had some great downhill and we ran up to the famous Bixby Bridge twice and you could see the other runners multiple times.
So the RD sent us off and we immediately started...uphill! I have got to pick flatter races! Here's the profile for the run:
All you can do is put your head down and run. The sooner you're up it, the sooner it's over. I felt good and ran almost all of the first half except the very steepest parts which I power hiked. The RD had told us the cutoff for the marathon was the aid station at 13.1 miles and we had to reach it by 2:45 or we would be sent back without doing the double out and back section. I needed to make sure I made that cutoff!

I passed people on the uphill and ran relaxed on the downhills. They were a lot of fun. The uphills not so much but they weren't too bad. During the first downhill, we hit the redwoods near the bottom and it was cool and gorgeous in there. The early morning light was filtering thru the trees and there were all these rays streaming down and it was just...beautiful. I wish I had taken more photos but the only photo I took was this one:
After I passed the cutoff aid station, I knew I'd see the leaders and Josh. It was fun to see how fast the leaders were running. And then there was Josh and it was awesome to see a familiar face. We cheered each other on as we flew by each other.

I hit Bixby Bridge feeling good and headed back to the cutoff aid station. I was pretty sure I would make the cutoff but it would be close. I saw Josh sooner than I expected as he headed back to Bixby Bridge and I thought for sure he would catch me before I made it to the cutoff but he didn't. I got there at 2:40! 5 minutes to spare. I now had 3:20 min to run the 2nd half and was completely confident that I would do it and was hoping for the same time for the 2nd half. LOL! You just never know though. Sigh.

So I saw Josh one last time on the way back to Bixby Bridge and he was totally rocking the run. I figured he would finish around 4:15 and that gave me a little incentive to run the 2nd half well since I didn't want him to wait too long for me after he finished. In fact, I was running so fast, all he caught was a blur when he tried to take a photo of me. Well, maybe not but it's a good story, don't you think? ;)

Just before I got to Bixby Bridge the 2nd time, my stomach got a little gurgly and my legs turned noodly. It didn't affect me too much until I got back to the big climb around mile 16. Frustratingly, I had nothing in my legs. I thought it might be because I was low on carbs (I'd been drinking GuBrew all along though) so I ate a HoneyStinger waffle as I walked. It didn't get better. :( I was worried that when I hit the downhills, I wouldn't be able to run them either. I felt time slipping away from me and began to worry about finishing before the cutoff. But luckily, I was able to start running again on the flats and downhills. Woo!

From that point on, I power hiked the uphills and ran the flats and downhills. The first big hill on the way back wasn't too bad because we had tree cover and it was cool and beautiful. The second hill was mostly open and I started to get hot. It was around 2 and I could feel the sun. I decided to be cautious and backed off a little. Still, only 1 woman passed me near the end and the rest of the time I was passing people. I think being able to run the downhills well really helped. Once I hit the aid station with 2.5 miles to go, it was all downhill and I was like a horse heading to the barn. My right shin hurt, my quads were hurting, my calves were tight and I was tired but damn it, I was going to finish running!

And then I started seeing the little crowd at the end and then there was the finish and I had a huge smile because I'd done it! I finished in 5:40:44! Woo! And I'd run smart! Woo! Of course, I'd had the 50K in the back of my mind the whole time but I'd stayed on top of my hydration and salt intake and run relaxed. I don't feel like I held back until that last hill when it was hot so I am happy with my time. I think if I'd not had the 50K and the issues that happened after, I could have done better but it is what it is. It was the most climbing I've done in a marathon and the views were incredible. You can't ask for more than that on a trail run, right?

So, I was 68th out of 93 runners who finished the marathon and 5th out of 6 in my age group. It looks like 11 people didn't make the cutoff so they were given a 20 mile time which I think is cool because at least they didn't get a DNF. But I am so glad I made the cutoff!

After the finish, you had to walk down to the picnic area to get your shirt and medal. The medal:
Really? A generic medal for their races? Disappointing! And here's the shirt:
At least the shirt has an outline of the Big Sur coastline on it but But, I am not crying over it because the race itself more than made up for the lack of bling/swag.

Anyway...I met Josh down at the picnic tables and sat for a while as I ate some peanut butter pretzels and banana. It was fun to see the other runners I'd been sharing the hills with come in and we all congratulated each other. Hills are definitely a bonding experience!

Once I felt human again, I went to clean up so we could head back. Here's a pic of us after I'd changed:
By the way, Josh finished in 4:07 and was 10th overall and won his age group! He was flying! Congrats Josh!

After that pic, we headed out. I was wiped and sore and so thankful again that Josh was driving because I don't think I was in good enough shape to drive back on twisty turny Hwy 1. I would have probably stayed another night and driven home on Sunday. Plus, it was so awesome to see the views along the coastline. Just stunning. I could not have seen that much if I'd driven. This is a pic from one of our stops. It shows the wild weather we had that day with random mist/clouds/fog coming in.
We also saw sea lions basking in the afternoon sun on a few beaches, a castle (Hearst Castle), and a herd of zebra!

But we had our the first sign of civilization, we stopped for some post race celebration food at In-N-Out:
Notice how all the food is in front of me? Yeah, I was that hungry! No...I shared. ;) But I had a Double Double with fries AND a strawberry shake. It really hit the spot.

We made it back to Josh's close to 10 and then I drove home and got home around 11. It was a LONG day but I had the easy part. I even dozed a little on the way back. I hope I didn't snore! Gotta tell you that it was really nice not having to worry about logistics and driving and just going along for the ride. Huge thank you to Josh for driving. making me laugh, keeping me from getting nervous, and being a great friend. I'm so glad that I get to return the favor in 4 days. I'm going to crew him at the Yellowstone-Teton 100 miler next weekend! I am so excited about it! I've never been to Yellowstone and I think it will be awesome to see a 100 miler happening close up. He's going to rock it, I know.

So that's my recap of a fun trip to Big Sur to do a little trail running with a few hills. It was a good day and a good race for me. I am really sore today so it must have been fun, eh?

Thanks for reading!

[Thanks to Josh for sharing the pics of me and us!]

Monday, September 24, 2012

If You Don't Have Anything Positive To Say

Then shut the EFF up.

I'm talking to myself here. That's kind of why I've been mostly absent from Twitter. It's way to easy to wallow there and that's what I feel like doing right now. But I can vent. So be warned. It ain't pretty.

I'm running again and it totally SUCKS. I am so frustrated, you would not believe.

I ran on Thursday and Friday...4 miles each and they were crap. I felt tired and my legs ached. Worst of all, I felt loopy and like I was in a fog still. All I wanted to do was cry when I got home from each run.

Things in my personal life have not been that great either. I think I was depressed about the loss of my aunt and dreading her services on Saturday. I know I...we...need to say goodbye but the process is just not...good. The hardest part is seeing the people you care about hurting. After, is better. We can just be together and reminisce and think of all the good times.

Work has been hell. Too much to go into here but I have been feeling overwhelmed and stressed and hating life. I was not looking forward to Friday. Or today, for that matter. I just wanted to call in sick. I've been thinking more and more about quitting but I don't know what else I want to do.

On Friday night, it all caught up to me and I slept for 11 hours. Except for the 3 times I woke up with cramps in my right calf, that is. So when I woke up on Saturday, I decided to take another rest day and didn't run or ride. I spent the day with my family and it was nice.

I think it helped too because the 13.2 miles I ran on Sunday were okay. I felt like a runner again. Oh, they were slow but I had some of my form back. My calves were tight and my left glute, for some unknown reason, wasn't happy (probably from sitting on my a$$ too much!) but otherwise it was good.

Today's 11 miler...not so much. Just as bad as Thursday and Friday were. Worse, actually. Really bad. :(

I feel like I slid backwards 4 months, back to May when I was coming back from my foot injury and oh, so slow. I feel like I've gotten soft. Like my legs can't take the pounding. Like I'm old.

What the hell? What happened to the lightness I was feeling? My speed? My endurance? WHAT???

Did I EFF up my body that bad?

I NEED it to be better NOW. I don't have time for this. I have the Big Sur Trail Marathon on Saturday. It has 5700 ft of climbing and a 6.5 hour cut-off. I am not sure I can make that at this point. :(

And Javelina Jundred is in 33 days. I NEED to at least run the marathon on Saturday and get in an 18 (hopefully 20) miler on Sunday since I didn't get my 50 miler done. The thought of doing that makes me exhausted but I need it for my confidence.

I know it's more mental than anything for both Big Sur and JJ but what do you do when the thing you normally use to control your stress is the very thing that's causing it!

Guess what I've been doing? Yep, you guessed it. Eating. Damn it. So I'm frustrated about that too. And I just don't know how to reverse the spiral right now. Or how to get my head back in the right place.

I can feel myself closing up and that's not who I want to be. I've been there and it's not fun. It's lonely. But I don't want to whine either. No one can fix this but me so I have to make the changes to make it happen. I just don't know what to do...about a lot of things. Sigh.

I just need a little hope that I'll come back stronger. Hopefully, by Saturday or at least by Javelina Jundred.

Cross your fingers.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Rest Days

So…since I had so much “fun” on Saturday, I decided a few rest days were in order. ;) Ok, some of that was decided for me by the doctor. And some of that was drilled into me by my family and friends. But I listened to all of them and have done nothing since. The most strenuous thing I’ve done is walk to Chipotle for lunch yesterday.

Aren’t you proud of me?

I knew that with my run streak, I’d not had a day off running for 109 days but thought I had taken a full rest day or two after the Nanny Goat 12HR on Memorial weekend. But I looked back at my blog and saw that I had done some riding on those days. So the last time I took a complete day off was May 22nd!

I think I was due for one. Or four.

I don’t think I was overtrained but my body definitely needed the rest.

You know how I know this? Normally, if I don’t run or ride I start getting antsy. I miss the endorphins and I miss the joy of running and riding and moving my body. But not this time.

When I was laying in the hospital bed in ER, I had a lot of time to think…

I wonder if someone put my Brooks in the car. I love my new shoes. Would totally suck if they were gone and I only got to wear them once. I wonder if my car is locked. I wonder if I’m going to get a ticket. I wonder if my car will be there when I get back. I hope they don’t make me stay overnight. I hope I don’t have to take a taxi back to my car in a hospital gown. Thank god they didn’t have to cut off my shorts. I love those shorts. Hey, I don’t have any shoes here. I wonder where my car keys are? I guess my run streak is over.  I wonder when I can run again. I wonder if I will want to run again. Why are there buttons for a tv on this remote if there’s no tv in here? Watching my monitors is not as fun as watching tv. Speaking of tv…why are there no McSteamys or McDreamys here? ;)

A lot of random stuff, huh? And that's not even half of it! But the one thought - “I guess my run streak is over.” - told me the most about where I was because I was actually a little relieved it was over.

Shocking, right?

I’ve had no desire to run or ride the past few days which is wild to me. Especially considering all the drama of Saturday and then the pending loss of my aunt. I would be in my apartment and see my bikes or my running shoes and look at them with a sort of detachment, not really seeing them. Last night, I asked twitter if I should set my alarm to run today or take one more day off and most people voted for another day off. And again I was relieved. Because honestly…the thought of running or riding again made me nervous. My knees would actually get a little shaky.

I didn’t WANT to run or ride today but I felt like I NEEDED to so I could get past the nervousness I’m feeling about it. I know I’ll be fine once I do run. I just need to get out the door.

This morning, I found out that my aunt passed away. I was expecting the call but it is still really hard. It’s so hard to believe that one minute someone you love is there and the next minute they are gone. That you’ll never hear their voice again. Never get a hug from them again. Never see their smile or hear their laugh again. Death sucks.

When I heard, I thought “I really wish I could go for a run right now.”

Today is the first time since Saturday that I WANTED to run. Because I miss it. Because it makes me feel good and alive and strong and happy. Because it’s my therapy. Because it’s fun.

So tomorrow I WILL run again.

I’m ready.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

A 50K PR And A Trip To Emergency

I don't even know where to begin with this one. I have been trying not to think about yesterday very much so I'm not sure what I want to say about it. I PRd so I should be happy about it but things went so wrong that the PR feels tainted. Like it would have been smarter to not PR.

I haven't even looked at the race's Facebook page to go thru the photos. I just don't want to see them yet. Nor have I taken a photo of the medal yet. Is that weird?

I think part of it is because I didn't do what I set out to do 50 miles. And now I feel nervous about Javelina Jundred all over again. Sigh.

I have so many conflicting emotions about yesterday.

But here goes...

I got up at 3:30 on Saturday, ate breakfast (2 mini bagels, a large banana, and 12oz of GuBrew Blueberry-Pomegranate), and got ready. I packed food and water for me to use after the 50K was over for the bonus 19 miles. Then I left to go pick up Dani (@nanyob) for the race.

The race was supposed to start at 6:30 but when we got there, we found out the RD was going to let us start at 6:00. I had just a few minutes to pin my bib and get my water bottle out of the car, take a quick pick of me and Dani...

(check out the Elvis behind us :) ) and then it was time to go.

The course for the 50K was 4 out and backs along the beach path. Each lap was 7.85 miles and there was an aid station at each end. There were probably 10 people running the 50K so for most of it, I was alone. But there was plenty to see and we all encouraged each other when we saw someone. Eventually, the marathoners and half-marathoners joined us in the loops and I got to see Dani as I was coming in from the first loop and then when I was going out on the second loop.

I had my 10oz Nathan bottle with me and it had just water in it. I was going to refill it as needed and eat what they had at the aid stations. At the aid station at the far end of the loop on the first lap, I didn't stop. I still had plenty of water and wasn't ready to eat yet. When I got back to the start aid station, I refilled my water bottle and grabbed some potato chips and 4 oatmeal cookies to eat on the loop. The first loop and the aid station stop took just under 90 minutes. I was feeling good and felt like I was running really easy so I was happy.

I ate 2 of the cookies as I headed out on the second loop. It was still cool but the sun was out already. When I got to the far aid station, I grabbed an Scap and took it with a cup of water. They topped off my bottle for me and I headed back and ate the other 2 cookies. When I got back to the start, Dani was waiting for me. She'd run the half and PRd! Woo! Congrats Dani! I took another Scap w/a cup of water at the start and they again topped off my bottle. I grabbed 4 sugar cookies and headed out. The 2nd loop and the aid station stop were right at 90 minutes.

I was still feeling pretty good when I headed out for the 3rd loop except my stomach was feeling a little sloshy but I forced myself to keep drinking. I'd chosen not to wear my garmin for this race because I knew it was going to be hot and I didn't want to be a slave to the pace as it got warmer. I normally use the lap beep (mine is set for a mile) to remind me to drink water but since I didn't have it, I set the timer on my watch for 10 min intervals. So when my watch beeped, I took a drink whether I wanted to or not. It was 9 by this time and starting to get warm. At the far aid station, I took another Scap with a cup of water and got a refill. I grabbed 2 more oatmeal cookies which I ate as I headed back. I walked while I ate them and I was sweating so much the sweat got in my eyes so I had to use some of the water in my bottle to rinse them out. I walked for a while until I could see again and then went back to running. I started doing a run/walk from then on. Near the end, I did feel really hot and my stomach was super unhappy so I walked more than ran. I think I still finished this lap in about 1:40ish. I took another Scap and refilled my bottle. I had emptied it on this half lap. I also grabbed a banana.

I headed out for the last lap and I was walking. I was craving Sprite or orange soda and I'd seen a snack stand that sold them along the course so I walked there and bought a can of Sprite and walked while I drank it. It was delicious. I'd meant to only have a little but the calories from it revived me a little and I could start running again. Still doing the run/walk though. It wasn't so bad going out because there was a breeze but it was still pretty hot. At the far aid station, I took another Scap w/a cup of water and then had a cup of coke. I refilled my bottle and grabbed another banana.

The run back was miserable. Since the breeze was at my back and it was almost noon, it was flipping hot. I'd looked at the forecast for Santa Monica on Friday and thought it was going to be about 82 or 85 but it ended up being about 95/96. I didn't know that at the time though. I did a lot of walking and some running. I really did think I was drinking enough water even though it was hot. I felt like I had to pee but knew I could wait until I'd at least finished the 50K. In fact, I was more worried that I was drinking too much water. I guess I was wrong though.

I wanted to finish the 50K running so I didn't walk the last interval. I just wanted it to be over so I could sit down for a minute and change my shoes. Yes, I wore my new shoes. Yes, I know I shouldn't have. But my feet actually felt good in them and I didn't get any blisters or anything. I am super happy with how they did. Love them! But I didn't want to push it past that so was going to change into my Kinvaras and different socks.

Anyway, I finished! The RD gave me my medal. Okay, fine, I'll take a pic...

There was no clock so I asked the RD what my time was and he said 6:38 and change. I was happy to hear that because it meant a 19 min PR! Woo! I tweeted that and then headed to my car.

Some of this is kind of blurry so I might have some of it a little out of order but you'll get the gist of it...

When I got to my car and was going thru my stuff to get ready to head out for the 19 miler, I suddenly felt like I was going to pass out. I sat down right there at the back of my car in the parking lot and leaned against the bumper and closed my eyes. But then I started to feel nauseous so I put my head on my knees and tried to calm my stomach. It just wasn't getting better though so I thought if I went horizontal, it would help. So I laid down. Right there in the parking lot. And then people started coming over to see if I was okay. Someone brought me ice and put it on the back of my neck and then they made me get up off the ground and I got in the back of the car. And then someone tried to get me to drink Gatorade and/or eat a banana. I tried eating some of the banana but only got a few bites. And then they had drink as much of the gatorade as I could and that was horrible. I really thought I was going to throw up right there so I laid back down again and closed my eyes. (The nurse later told me that that was a bad thing. I should have just sipped it a little at a time).

Somebody must have gone to get a lifeguard because then he was talking to me. I just wanted everyone to go away! There were so many people talking to me and all I wanted to do was let my stomach settle. I felt overwhelmed and so flipping sick to my stomach. I didn't want to lose it in my car and in front of all those people so I refused to sit up or open my eyes. The lifeguard told me he'd called the paramedics and they were on their way. And then my calves started cramping and I didn't know what was worse, the cramping or the nausea. I felt like crying. What I really wanted was someone I knew with me. I'd tried calling my mom to see if she could come down. I'd sent Josh (@bayou) a text and then I think I called him. Or he called me. It's kind of fuzzy now. But the paramedics were there and it was more people and I started hyperventilating and couldn't talk. So I did try talking to Josh but I couldn't really get enough breath to talk. And then I think one of the paramedics tried talking to him and then they took my phone away so I couldn't talk to or text anyone. Then they put the oxygen mask on me and I didn't like it at all! I couldn't calm down and I was really starting to panic. I felt like I was going downhill. I think that's when I resigned myself to going to the hospital and actually was glad. I wanted how I was feeling to stop!

The ride to the hospital was horrible. I think we hit every bump and hill on the way there. The whole time I kept my eyes closed and prayed I wouldn't lose it. I still couldn't breathe right and they kept telling me to take deep breaths but I couldn't. Then finally we were at the hospital and the world stopped spinning and I started to calm down a little. The paramedics had put an IV in at the beach but it was having issues so when we got to the hospital, the nurse redid that. They hooked me up to the machines and I had to answer all the questions all over again. I kept asking them to call my mom and the nurse tried but for some reason it wouldn't go thru. I thought maybe I was telling her the wrong number so I had her look at my GoSport ID and it was right so I'm not sure what was going on.

Then they took my running gear off. You know, compression stuff just does not come off that easily when you're lying in a hospital bed. They made me sit up to take my bra off and when I laid back down, the gatorade and all I'd eaten before came back up. It was not pretty. So then they had to change the bedding and I had to sit up again and then I lost it again but thankfully this time I had a bag so it wasn't a disaster like the first time.

So finally, I could lay down peacefully but wouldn't you know...the second IV was having issues too so they had to try it for the 3rd time and this time in my right arm. Thankfully, they gave me some nausea medicine and that really helped. Someone found my phone and was able to send a text to my mom and let her know where I was and could she come get me, only didn't tell her why I was in the hospital and she thought I'd been hit by a car so she was a mess (I found this out later). :(

Then I sent Josh a text so he would know where I was too and that I was okay. I was so drained and feeling so vulnerable and helpless there. What I really wanted to do was cry but I didn't. I had some awesome nurses though and they made me feel a lot better. But seriously, nothing makes you feel more helpless than lying in a hospital bed with machines beeping at you while all you're wearing is a flimsy hospital gown. I hated it. I felt so alone. So stupid!

The doctor finally came in to see me and she was happy with my vital signs but worried because my legs were still cramping and because I'd thrown up twice so she ordered another IV with magnesium, super-sized. Then it was funny because when she had me sit up to breathe for her, she asked me if I'd lost a lot of weight. I thought she meant because of the race and I said I'd probably lost some and then she said no, had I lost a LOT of weight. Then I got what she meant and told her about losing 150 lbs. So then she asked me questions to see if I had anorexia or an eating disorder! When I told her I didn't but that I had recently lost weight after plateauing at my weight for a year, she told me I shouldn't lose anymore. But mostly she was asking questions about my running. Was it my first race at that distance? How many miles did I run per week? Etc. I guess my answers satisfied her because she said after that IV I had in I could go home.

I was kind of drifting after that. I think I tweeted about where I was and had texts back and forth from Josh to update him so he could update the RIF group. I did get to read all the tweets and Facebook messages and they meant so much to me. They made me feel less alone. THANK YOU for those!

Then thank god, my mom got there with Tony (her boyfriend). Okay, I know I'm 44 but I just wanted my mom! :) She was really happy to see I was all in one piece. I told her they had gotten there at the right time because the doc said I could go after that IV bag but then the doctor came back in and said she wanted me to do one more bag just to be safe. So at least I had company for that. By the time that last bag was done and we did the paperwork, I didn't get out of there until 7 pm. I'd been in there 5 1/2 hours. Seriously not the way I'd intended to spend my day.

I got a lecture from the nurse about being more careful before I left and instructions from the doctor to stay out of the heat and not do anything for at least 48 hours. And then we left to go back to my car. I'd had to put my yucky, wet running clothes back on which was not fun but better than the hospital gown, right? I didn't even have any shoes because they were back at the car! We got back to the car and I changed and then we stopped to get something to eat. I got a half sandwich. Mostly because I wasn't that hungry but also to see how my stomach would handle it. Then we drove home. By the time we got home it was almost 10:30 and by then I was starving so I got a strawberry shake and fries at Del Taco and they tasted delicious!

I was so happy to be home! I was so tired I just wanted to fall into bed and sleep. But weirdly, I couldn't sleep last night. I think I was still a little scared and feeling depressed. My mom had told me when she got to the hospital that she'd also gotten a call from our cousin that my great aunt, Tia Lucy, had a stroke and they'd brought her home so she could spend her last days there. :( She's been bad for a while and I guess the stroke was too much for her body to handle. It's not totally unexpected but I don't think any of us are ready to let her go.

Yeah, yesterday was not a good day. I want a do over! Anybody have a magic wand for that?

Today, I felt much better. No real soreness in my legs from the running, just from the cramping. I felt okay energy-wise for most of the day. I spent the day with my mom and grandpa. We went to lunch (pancakes!) and then we went to visit my Tia Lucy to say our goodbyes, which was not easy but I am thankful I could say goodbye. It was a good family day since there were other aunts, uncles, and cousins there, including my cousin Lynette who is due in 9 days with her first child, a boy! :) Isn't it funny how things like that happen. New life coming in just as we are losing someone? It feels bittersweet.

After that, I lost all my energy so I am not as recovered as I thought I was earlier. I definitely need a few days off.

Well, that's my recap. It was long, I know. I guess I needed to get this out. I still feel conflicted about what happened though. Especially, after talking to my dad and my sister and seeing how worried my mom still was today. That's the part I hate, that I scared so many people I care about.

I do want to say that even though I felt overwhelmed by everyone at the beach, I am VERY thankful they helped me. They took care of me, made sure all my stuff was in my car and it was locked up. There was even a family who was leaving the beach when we got back to my car that came over to check on me because they had been there when it happened. It's not often that you get to see the kindness of strangers nowadays and I was blessed by that.

I am also thankful and blessed to have such good friends (especially Josh who made me feel less alone til my mom got there) and an awesome family that care about me.

I really am lucky. I just wish it hadn't taken something like that to remind me of all that I am blessed with.

Thank you for reading. :)

Friday, September 14, 2012

Roller Coaster Week

I’ve been on a roller coaster the past few week. I started out on such a high after Saturday that the low I hit on Tuesday felt like the ride had crashed off the track. But then Wednesday, something awesome and fun and exciting was put into motion and it makes me feel like a kid waiting for Christmas.

High. Low. High.

Roller coaster.

The result: I feel tired. Kind of drained. And a little bit like Jekyll and Hyde. ;)

It hasn’t helped that this week I’m doing my highest mileage ever for the week…and for a day. The plan calls for 95 miles for the week and a 50 miler on Saturday. My first 50 miler! I’m excited about it but also nervous.

Oh, and I started my period yesterday. 


Roller coaster.

Yeah, I’m telling you this week has been a WILD ride. I would like to get off now…

The worst part is that my confidence has been kind of shot. I feel like someone took me out at the knees and I haven’t been able to stand fully upright again yet. And I feel helpless. Like I can’t defend myself because that would only feed into their agenda/opinion. And like I don't know what to do so I do nothing. I hate feeling like this.

The old Lisa would be eating everything in sight. The new Lisa is having to bribe herself with her favorite foods to eat. I’ve had zero appetite for a few weeks now. I’ve lost 8 lbs in the past few weeks without trying. The one good thing about it is that I definitely feel lighter while I’m running.

Anyway, this all started on Monday (I got a preview of what was to come on Tuesday) and I started thinking about the 50 miler and suddenly, I just didn’t think I could do it on my own with no incentive to keep going. And the weather forecast for Saturday here is 105. Ugh.

I took the easy way out and signed up for a 50K in Santa Monica (where it’s only supposed to be in the 80s). I feel wishy-washy about this. Sometimes I'm glad I did it because I'll get to meet Dani (@nanyob) and have fun and then sometimes I'm mad that I didn't suck it up and just do it here. But I signed up for it so I'm going to run it the best I can.

So here’s the plan: I’ll run the Summer Spectacular 50K first and my plan is to PR it which means I need to do it in under 7 hours. My goal is 6:15. This means the first 31 miles of my run will be supported and with company for motivation/fun/encouragement. Then after that, I will change shoes and load up my pockets with fuel and my bottle with water and head out for another 19 miles. My dream for these bonus miles would be under 4 hours because my goal for the 50 miles is under 11. I would be happy with 12 though. I guess. I just don’t know. I suppose I shouldn’t do this with any goals but I think if I don’t put a goal out there, I’ll take too many breaks or do too much walking like I did at the 12 HRs.

I am nervous and anxious about this but determined to get it done. And to do it strong. Running is the ONE GOOD THING in my life right now and I want to do it right. I need to do it right. I need to run strong and be strong, physically and mentally.

I’m just so afraid I don’t have it in me right now.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Endure the Bear 15K Race Recap

I did my first 15K, the Endure The Bear in Big Bear Lake, on Saturday...and it was hard! Why do I not pick flat races? No, they have to be hard. Which is kinda fun. If it ain't hard, why bother? ;)

It was kind of a last minute addition to my race schedule. Joshua (@bayou) was doing the 50K and he mentioned that there was the shorter 15K that would fit my planned 10 mile run for the day. So of course, I signed up! As an added bonus, it totally fit my Year of Animal Racing. Bam!

I was feeling really, really...really good going into it so I planned to run it as hard as I could. I didn't taper but I wanted to go all out and hurt! I wanted to see if I could really push myself. I put it out there on Twitter and told some of my friends so I would have accountability about it. I felt like I could do a good run there. I thought I could even do it in maybe 1:30. But I didn't have the whole picture of the race course. The race website had this to say about the race:
The 15, 30 and 50k courses will cover some exciting and technical terrain.  Bring your sturdy shoes and be prepared for some climbing.
The course map was a topo map and I can never tell what's a hill and what's not (I haven't decided whether or not this is a good thing yet). So I figured there would be hills but I was totally clueless! The biggest lecture I gave myself about the race was that I was going to be aggressive on the downhills. No being timid. Not this time!

So bring it on!

Big Bear is about 50 miles from my house with the last half being a drive up the mountain. I never go up there because I hate the drive but it wasn't so bad on race morning. Probably because I left so early and no other insane, I mean, runners were out yet. ;)

I got there about 6 am so I could meet Joshua before the start of his race. The plan was to see him off for the 50K at 7 am and then eat breakfast and get ready for my race at 9. Before he started, we took some pictures. I took one of him in front of the Conquer the Bear sign and then he took a picture of me with the sign on my side:

Then I looked at the sign and saw it said Conquer the Cub instead and burst out laughing...which is of course when he took the pic (photo by Josh) ! So much for looking like a bada$$ trail runner! ;) Then it was time for the 50K start and he was off and running!

After that I ate, watched the 30K start, and then got my bib/chip and race shirt:

Pretty cool, huh? Then I did a mile warm up and it was time to race!

So...remember how I said I thought there would be hills? That was a little bit of an understatement. At the start, you faced the uphill straight away. This is the course map for the 50K:

The water station in the black circle is the turnaround point for the 15K. So we run up 8K and then run down the last 7K of the 50K course. This is the elevation profile of the 50K:

So we shared the first 8K and the last 7K of this profile! And we started at about 7000ft! 


Yeah, let me tell you, I was gasping for breath for the first 3 miles or so. I'm not sure how much the altitude affected me but I gave it all I could and was breathing hard for all of it. I tried to run as much as I could but walked some of the steeper sections. 

Did I mention it was hard?

My only goal was to keep moving and to keep myself at the edge and I did that. The only time I stopped was to grab a cup of coke at one of the aid stations. Other than that, I was moving and trying to not let anyone pass me. But about 4 men and 2 women did pass me. I caught both women before the top though and a couple of men on the way down. 

After we hit the top of that huge climb (around 43 or 44 minutes for me), it was such a relief to run downhill. I ran hard. We'd have a few little uphills on the way down but I think I did ok with my plan to be aggressive. In fact, I was running so hard down hill at one point that I almost lost control...right in front of the course photographer! But luckily, I didn't eat it. :) There was only a tiny bit of single track and the rest was fire road so that made it easier to run hard. You just had to watch for rocks and roots. 

The only problem I had was that I think I needed a few more calories or maybe some salt. My legs did get a little noodley in the last couple of miles. And the last mile and a half, both calves kept trying to cramp! I did slow down a little because of that but not too much. As soon as I felt like the possible cramping had passed, I'd run hard again. 

Towards the end, one of the women I'd passed earlier passed me. She was looking good and I couldn't catch her back. But then in the last mile, a man passed me and I was like "oh, no you don't" and I caught him and passed him back! So there!

So I finished in 1:50:49. 20 minutes off my goal. :( My garmin did say I'd run 9.86 miles though. And there was more climbing than I expected so I was a little disappointed but felt like I'd done all I could. I was so wiped at the finish that when the guy asked me to give him my foot to take the chip off, I just stood there. He's like "I need your foot" and I said "I'm trying but both calves are cramping!" But he finally got the chip and I got my medal:
It's not big but it's cool! :)

After I finished, I grabbed water and some banana and orange to see if that would help with the cramping. It didn't. So I went back to my car and cleaned up a little then went shopping for a bit to keep moving. Finally, I went back to the race to see if the results were posted. They were and when I looked for my name, I saw this:

I was shocked! 2nd in my age group. Wow. I actually took this photo about 11:20 but didn't post it on Twitter because I was thinking maybe it was a mistake. Or it wasn't real. I figured I better wait til the award ceremony to make sure. ;)

The awards for the 15K were going to be handed out at 12 so I stuck around to wait for them. I should have gotten something to eat because I was beginning to fade but instead watched the 5K awards and racers come in for all the distances. Finally, it was time for our awards and I held my breath until...
"And second in the Female 40-49 is Lisa Gonzales."
Woo! So I went up on stage and I got my 2nd place medal for F40-49! What a trip!

THEN I could post it on Twitter! :) I'm a nut, I know. But you never know! So when I checked the final results today, I was 2/7 in my age group, 10/33 Women, and 36/82 Overall! 

Finally, I could go get something to eat and I chose the restaurant next to the race venue so I could wait for Josh to come in. When I walked into the restaurant, I heard someone say my name and it was Josh's wife. So I got to meet his wife and their two totally adorable kids and have lunch with them! Then we waited for Josh to come in (entertained by the kids) and it was so fun to see how excited his kids were to see him and to watch him run cross the finish with them! Too cute! He did awesome, by the way! Here's a pic of both of us after he finished:

Run It Fast represented in Big Bear! Woo! (thanks for the photo Josh!)

They went back to the restaurant so Josh could eat and I decided to head back down the mountain because I was wiped and starting to get a headache. :( I guess the altitude affected me more than I thought. Or I ran harder than I thought. Or both. 

But for sure yesterday was amazing and fun! The course was beautiful! Although I didn't see as much as I would like on the downhill because I was trying not to fall. The course was challenging with some brutal climbing but it was fun. I loved running downhill! I want to do it again next year! Only I'll train more for the altitude and the steep climbs! And Conquer the Bear! :)

So that's first 15K. It will be hard to top this one at the next one!

I love racing! :)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

100 Days Of Streaking

Whew, what a day! Today. Was. EPIC!

Today, I reached a milestone in my run streak. I have been running for 100 days straight! Kind of wild considering I had a 51K and a marathon in there and I didn't have to take time off after them. But I was fine to run the very next day. In fact, lately (and especially this week), I've felt better than ever. Probably better than I have in a year. Nothing hurts and I feel strong. :) I really do think my body likes running every day. And I'm not just saying that because I'm addicted!

I feel lighter, happier, calmer, stronger, and more confident. I have so much energy right now. Energy to burn. And I've had a little strut in my walk lately and that really comes from knowing how much work I've done to get where I am. I am NOT the lazy girl that I used to think I was!

In the past 100 days, I've run 932 miles (I posted 920 on twitter forgetting to add this morning's 12 miler to the total - oops). That's almost twice what I ran in my whole first YEAR of running. I never, never, NEVER thought I could run high mileage without my body breaking down. But I can...and I am thriving on it. How cool is that?

I celebrated with a run, of course! I had an awesome run this morning and it was the perfect way to start the day. :) I also did some shopping and bought a cute new running skirt which I hope to test out at Endure the Bear this weekend. And then I had a yummy carnitas burrito for lunch with a great friend. Today was a good day.

Just a few more numbers/stats (because I'm a numbers geek)...

Last week's stats:

Running - 75.1 miles (7 runs)
Riding - 87 miles (5 commutes)

August stats:

Running - 300.4 miles (1 51K and 1 marathon)
Riding - 371 miles

When I look at the stats, I feel even better about my time at the Disney Half. I forgot I didn't taper and ran it coming off a big week and a big month. It's totally got me thinking about maybe running a Half and really going for it to see if I can lower my PR!

Hi, my name is Lisa and I have a race addiction. ;)

Speaking of...I'm doing the Endure the Bear 15K this weekend. It's a trail race and I am ready to rock it. I am not going to go easy. I am going to run my a$$ off there and Run It Fast! I'm done with playing it safe. I want it all and I want it now!

Have a great weekend! And good luck if you are racing!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Disneyland Half Marathon Race Recap

Oh. My. God. Where do I even start. I had so much fun this weekend!

Today, I ran my 15th half marathon and my first Disney race - the Disneyland Half Marathon in Anaheim, California. It was a total blast!

Um, this will probably be a long one! Hopefully you've carbo loaded before you sit down to read it. ;)

On Saturday morning, I ran 17 miles. My right calf started twinging about 5 miles into it so I switched to a flat course. I did not want to do anything that would prevent me from running the Disney Half! After my run, I did a little shopping, had breakfast for lunch with my grandpa and visited for a while, then headed down to the race expo. Bib and shirt pickup went smoothly and I was happy to see I was in Corral A. Yay!
I roamed the expo for a while and luckily made it out of there only spending $20...for something that would come back to bite me on Sunday! I know, I know. You aren't supposed to try new things during races but I always do in half marathons. They are a good test. And if something goes wrong, it's not that long! Right? :)

Once I was done with the expo, I did more shopping at Downtown Disney. I was looking for a Tinkerbell or Minnie shirt but didn't find anything I liked. :( I did find a hat though so not a total loss but also happy to make it out of there for $25! Miracles do happen!

Next...I left the Happiest Place On Earth and drove over to the Irvine Spectrum to meet up with Teal and Beth (@LifeisaRun) for dinner. We ate at the Yardhouse (I had turkey burger sliders and a few fries). It is so fun to meet twitter peeps. They are awesome! And dinner was great!

After dinner, I drove back to my grandpa's to stay the night. I had asked him if I could because it's closer to Disneyland than my apartment but once I thought about how early I had to get up (3 am), I changed my mind. But then he said no, he gets up around then anyway so I should stay! So I did. And my sweet grandpa was up and knocking on the door at 2:55 to make sure I was up! I really love that man! I, no, we are so lucky to have him with us. One day, I'll have to tell you the story of how we met.

So, I got up, got dressed in my Minnie outfit, and headed down to the race. I didn't eat anything before the race and just planned to have GuBrew during. That might have been a mistake. But I was planning on just having fun. In fact, I hadn't even packed my garmin! Gasp!

It didn't take long to get there and parking went pretty well so I had an hour to go before the race. I made it into corral A and waited and watch the jumbo tron and all the goings on.

I also looked for Teal and Beth but couldn't find them. I kept moving back in the corral to see if I could see them come in but no such luck. :( Then it was time for the national anthem and they counted us down and there was fireworks and then we were running!

There were 14,823 runners in the half marathon. It was a tiny a bit crowded at the start! I just relaxed and took it easy. No dodging or surging. Then a little before the first mile, I see 2 familiar outfits and I run over to make sure and yep, it's Teal and Beth! Yay! So I settled in with them and we ran together.

First up was California Adventure (which I've never been to) and I had the first picture opportunity when we passed Paradise Pier. It was still dark and all lit up and there was a water show going on and it looked amazing! But I kept running. And then we went thru Cars Land (my favorite part) and there was Lightning McQueen and Tow Mater and I thought "Oh, Max (my nephew) would love to see a picture of me with them". But I kept running. And then there was Phineas and Ferb and Max thinks Phineas and Ferb rule all! I would score major Aunt points if I got a photo with them. But I kept running! Selfish Tia Lisa, aren't I? I guess that's when I was finally honest with myself that I was going to try to run this harder than I'd originally planned. :)

So, the rest of the run I focused on just running smooth and steady. I'd worn my Delilah's and felt light and quick. Part of that could have been my skirt. It was very floaty and twirly. :) The only issues I had with my outfit was the choker since it only had a little velcro tab and the thing I bought at the expo. I bought a pouch at the expo which had a magnet closure and you were supposed to be able to carry your phone, keys, and money in it and it went on your waist band of your shorts or in my case, my skirt. But it was weighing my skirt down and then it started slipping so I ended up carrying it. And then my choker came off after a few miles and a man rescued it for me and gave it back to me so I started carrying that too. And then I lost it again and thought it was gone for good but then the same man caught me and gave it back to me! I thanked him and told him I thought it was a goner and he said he would rescue it again if it happened again. My very own Prince Charming. ;) I didn't drop it again though so I never saw him again.

So anyway, despite my two issues, the run was awesome. It was so cool seeing everything in California Adventure and I was looking this way and that to check everything out. We left California Adventure and headed into Disneyland which I'm much more familiar with but was still a lot of fun. Seeing all the characters and all the people cheering was fantastic. The time sped by in there.

After Disneyland, we headed out to the Honda Center so we were on streets. There was still lots of people cheering and a lot of cheer squads and high school bands. There was also a group of Hawaiian dancers and a group of Mariachis and Spanish Dancers and then for about a mile there were classic cars and roadsters lining each side of the route. I love classic cars so it was hard to concentrate on running because I wanted to check them out! During this section, I lost both Beth and Teal. I saw Beth ahead of me for a while but lost her in the next part so the rest of the race, I was on my own.

Next, we ran through my 2nd favorite part - Angel Stadium. I totally felt like a rock star! They ran us through one of the tunnels out onto the field and there was a huge roar when we got in there. As we ran around the field, we were on the jumbo tron! And all the spectators were high fiving us as we ran by. It was an amazing feeling. I know I had a huge grin on my face. I loved it!

So, once we left there, we had less than 4 miles left. My plan was to pick it up when there was 5K left. Around this time, the 2 hour pacer showed up. I was talking to him and he said he was on target for 2 hours so I thought if I just kept him behind me I would finish in under 2 hours. I think I didn't push as hard as I maybe could have because of that. :( But what I didn't realize was that the 2 hour pacer started in corral B which started 5 minutes after us so I wasn't going to be under 2 hours at all!

Anyway, when we hit 10 miles I said "5K left people! Let's kick it!" and I got a totally dirty look from a woman running next to me. Oops. But I just shrugged and ran. And that's all I did til the end. When we hit 13 miles. one of the spectators yelled "run it fast Minnie" and I put on the turbo chargers! Then right before the finish line, I saw and in person! Of course, I had to run by her to get a high five! She saw me coming and got ready for it and the was the PERFECT way to end my race! :)

Then I was done! (chip time was 2:03:14) I was kind of sad it was over. I walked thru the finisher's chute and Beth was waiting there so I stopped and we both waited for Teal. Once we were all done, we went thru the rest of the chute and got our medals.

It's huge! And so pretty! :) I love it! I heard it's the same as last year but since I didn't run it, it's new to me! Beth and Teal got in the line to get their Coast to Coast medals (which is really cool) and then we got the rest of our goodies - a wet towel, water, a banana, and a snack box. Not much but kind of cool.

We sat down for a while and then took pictures:

We watched the award ceremony (which was fun and the trophies were awesome), and then headed back to the cars.

And it was over! :( But what great memories! I had a good day. Better than expected considering I ran 17 miles yesterday, did a lot of walking at the expo and shopping, and didn't eat breakfast. So I'm happy with it even if it wasn't sub 2. Also, this was my third fastest marathon and I negative split the run (the first 10K was in 59:19). Can't complain about that.

I really wasn't sure about dressing up as Minnie Mouse but it turned out great! I got lots of encouragement for my name, my Run It Fast - The Club singlet, and my outfit! It was awesome! I would do it again. One other thing about this race was that there were a TON of photographers on the course. If I don't get a good pic out of this I'll be surprised. I just wonder if I'll look like a kid because of the huge grin on my face. :)

I've got to hand it to Disney...they put on a well organized race. I loved that they were checking our bibs to make sure we got in the right corral. The aid stations were great. The Disney staff was super helpful and did a great job of cheering us...from the cleaning crew to the characters to the animals. Also, cracked me up that the same guy who does the ride announcements was giving us recorded instructions on the course. Kind of made me feel like I was on a ride. As a matter of fact, it was an E ticket ride!

I don't really plan on repeating any of the races that I do because there are so many out there but this one...this one I would do again!

Thanks for reading!