Archive for expectations

The SF Half Marathon

Posted in motivation, photos, races, road, shoes with tags , , , , , , , , on June 22, 2013 by afuntanilla

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And, so…the day began. 5:30am start in San Francisco. Starting line just south of the Ferry building. A gorgeous morning as you can tell from the photo. I had run down to the starting line as my little warm up. The city streets filled with fellow runners….love it! As I ran along to the start, became more and more awake, enlivened…to do my thing. RUN.

It had been a long time in between races…the last one I did was very different; a super small trail race in Pacifica. The starting line was packed with those running the Full Marathon and those like me, running the Half. (This was the 1st half of the course, last year I did the race but ran the 2nd half of the course, which is actually easier in may opinion.)

My “starting wave” didn’t actually cross the starting line until about 5:50am, so I had plenty of to stretch, warm up and get comfortable. I felt relaxed and at ease with my “game plan”….which s simply run, enjoy and do my best. In contrast to last year when I had specifically trained for a personal best, I did not train much this time. I mean, I got many runs in, but I didn’t focus on speed work, I didn’t get the specific training in that I would have needed to keep pace with my 1:58:42 from last year. And, I was ok with that. I knew when I signed up this would be the case. So.

There was a Cable Car bell ringing to signify the start and off we went. The first 5-6 miles are almost entirely flat as we run all along the Embarcadero, past Fisherman’s Wharf and along the Marina Green and Chrissy Field. Felt easy and comfortable. I kept looking out into the bay….feeling loads of gratitude and appreciation for where I live.

And, then the climbs started. The steep climb up from the marina and onto the Golden Gate Bridge. Contrary to popular opinion, I did not enjoy this part. I knew I wouldn’t as I remembered this portion from when I ran this Full Marathon back in 2005. To me, running across the bridge is very loud and it FEELS like a constant steady slight uphill in both directions! I guess the path is like a slight arc, but honestly it doesn’t feel easy. I guess I also feel like it’s a bit chaotic because the bridge is not closed to traffic. So, lots of cars swooshing by and other runners headed in the opposite direction since it is an out and back portion. The remaining 4 miles were not easy.  Once off the bridge, we made a steady climb into the Presidio which is followed by a nice downhill section into the final Richmond District neighborhood and finally into Golden Gate Park. I was not comfortable on the climbs as any climbing has been almost non-existent in my training. Ahhh… A good kind of hurt, eh? But, even around mile 10, I remember thinking, “I am actually feeling ok…i would be curious to see how i would fare for the FULL course today.” And then, something happened in the last 2 miles where i just started to feel very tired…like seriously running out of gas!! I was surprised but probably shouldn’t have been since my longest run pre-race was only 10.5 miles. So, as we made the ran the final steady uphill mile into the park and into the finish line, I was Happy I was NOT running the FULL course. Today.

My finish time was right along what I expected in 2:09:42

My main goal while running races is always to see what I can do on a given day. How will I show up? How will my body perform? How am I mentally? As mentioned in previous posts, I had not felt the greatest mentally or physically before this race and I did in fact, have some fears that I would just crack and not finish. But, as I woke and got prepared in my hotel room….as I made my way to the starting line….as I stood there with thousands of my fellow mates,  I knew I was instantly stronger in every way. THAT’S why I do this. It was great to get out and be a part of the race and feel the enormous energy and camaraderie. I needed that.

I never really care how I finish overall, but I do care and like to see how I fare among my sex and age group: women 40-49.

Here were my numbers from this year :

Females 40-49    121/618

Which I think is good, especially on the tougher part of the course.

To contrast, here are my numbers from last year when I ran the 2nd portion of the course and had a PR

2012 Females 40-49    54/415

Which I also think is good.

Some comments about the race logistics, etc: Race Expo was ok, but it was VERY, VERY hot in the building so that made it uncomfortable to stay long. I was also super aware of how commercialized it all is….seems like every year, the feel of an expo appeals to me less and less.  I used to love going to these things and now I have more like a “get me in, get me out” attitude. But, that’s definitely the nature of big races and I have to expect that….if I want something low key, there are plenty of options for that!!

The Race organization itself was awesome. Even their communication per-race, with sending emails and letting us know security would be enhanced and to arrive earlier than usual. And yet, there was no waiting or anything at the starting line, everything was clearly marked for each different starting wave and just simply well-organized. There was enough of water, Gatorade, etc on the course and the volunteers were terrific, as usual. Massive thank you to all the volunteers. I realize some were probably starting their VOLUNTEER shift at 4am or earlier. THANK YOU! The finish line and snacks afterward were more than sufficient. I took a shuttle bus back to the starting line and that was easy as can be. So, overall the WIPRO SF HALF MARATHON was terrific.

I made my way back to my hotel, changed and met a friend for breakfast at the Dipsea Cafe in Mill Valley.  A great Sunday morning.

Thank you to my friends who cheer me on, near or far, in person or in spirit. Thank you!

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Shoes: Brooks T-7 Racer. super light shoe, felt good but would not want to run in full marathon, but good for this distance. Would want more support for longer distance

Also wore: compression socks for the first time. loved them and will use again.

Next up: The Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta on July 4th!!

“Running to him was real; the way he did it the realest thing he knew. It was all joy and woe, hard as a diamond; it made him weary behond comprehension. But it also made him free.” –John L. Parker Jr.

LA Story

Posted in motivation, photos, road, shoes, travel, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 26, 2010 by afuntanilla

Race morning began with a 5am wake up call. Ready to wake up, i rose and immediately went into the hotel lobby for the complimentary coffee. It was no Peets, but I was happy to have it. I returned to my room and changed into my running clothes and made sure i had everything esle I needed; garmin, iPOD, gels, bandana. Yep, that’s about it. Then, it was off to the drive from Beverly Hills into Santa Monica.

I parked in Santa Monica because that’s where the finish line was and there were shuttle buses there to take us to the starting line at Dodger Stadium. Personally, i thought this part was a pain, but oh well. So, we are on the bus at 6am and trying to get to the race start. Traffic to the stadium was a nightmare. Traffic all over. Everyone trying to get to Dodger Stadium. It was now 7am and i had serious thoughts that we’d be running from the bus to starting line because race start was suppossed to be 7:20am. That didn’t happen, thank goodness.

I got off the bus and had to go to bathroom. Of course, there were LOOOONG lines at port-a-potties so i improvised. I saw a row of trash dumpsters and me and a bunch of other women just took matters into our own hands and went behind the dumpters. Hey, it’s RACE DAY and anything goes!!!

Made my way into the starting area and was getting excited. Lots of folks all around, huddling together for this adventure. Lots of people of all ethnicities, sizes, shapes…loved seeing the diversity.

I guess the race organizers were behind schedule because we didn’t end up starting until almost 7:50am, not 7:20am. I was ancy. I wanted to get started.

Finally, the race begins!

The first mile was weird in that it was basically a full lap around Dodger Stadium. Then another 1/2 lap and we were out on the roads. There were some small hills throughout the course…a pretty good sized one about mile 5. Yikes. Where did that come from? The course went along different neighborhoods and not being from LA, i did not know these different spots. First section I recognized was Downtown, then Hollywood. I was struck by the good amount of spirited spectators along the course. Even though I had my iPOD on, I heard them, saw their signs and even gave a bunch of high 5’s along the way. I love seeing spectators in races. It makes it more fun and it helps stay motivated. So, thank you, dear LA spectators!! I was also struck by the MASSIVE amount of volunteers! There were water and Powerade stops at every mile and there were a ton of volunteers. Really appreciate them!!

I can usually sense from the get go how my body feels and even though I was ancy to start, ONCE i did, my body was telling me something different. My legs were just not feeling it. They felt tight, heavy, tired. At mile 6, i thought, “well, I’ve got 20 more to go…damn”. I knew i was in for a long day. Aerobically, I felt great. My legs were the issue.

Still…i kept on and was thinking about all those that did my “adopt-a-mile.” With each mile, I had a different person from my life in mind and it helped me stay focused and keep truckin’. It was fun to think of the different people as the miles passed because everyone means something different to me…i have a connection with each person and it’s all pretty damn cool.

By mile 13, i was at about 2:07 and though I was physically not feeling great, i was pleased with my time and figured if i can just keep it up, i can maybe have a personal record. If I finished under 4:20, i would have a marathon best. Since the 2nd half was more flat and downhill, i really thought i had a shot. Well…it wasn’t soon after that where I started to deteriorate.

Ouch. Legs were hurting. Quads. I knew I was in trouble when we had a short steep downhill section in West Hollywood and I COULD NOT go fast. Legs were like OUCH as i tried to zoom down the hill. They would have none of it. I think that was the point where I started to get disappointed. Obviously, that’s not how I wanted to feel. I wanted to feel strong and fast. But, I kept on. I never thought I wouldn’t finish. I just knew it was gonna continue to sting.

We ran our way through rest of W. Hollywood, Bevery Hills and into Westwood. Again, lots of spectators and it seemed like they were growing in size. very cool!

I knew there was one last hill somewhere between mile 20-21 and then it was downhill to the finish. Well, lemme tell you….I never FELT the downhill. It all seemed just flat. The MAP shows the downhill, people KEPT SAYING,” IT’S ALLL DOWNHILL FROM HERE.” Not to me and my aching legs.

On the plus side, my nutrition was good. I felt fine. I was taking some gels and clif bloks and drinking plelnty of water. Also, the weather was good. It was maybe 60 at the start and never got too warm. it was overecast and actually pretty cool as we headed into Santa Monica and the beach! The last 3 miles seemed to take forever. I was looking at my watch and seeing the time get further away from what I had hoped.

2 friends who live in Santa Monica were gonna try and see me at about mile 24. I looked for them but didn’t see them, unfortunately. On the last mile, I tried to kick it up a notch and go strong. I crossed the finish line of my 7th marathon in 4:32. I was more relived than happy.

As soon as we cross the finish line, we are greeted by a volunteer who places a medal around our neck. That DOES feel gratifying. A medal for the battle just “won”. Four hours and 32 minutes of mental and physical battle. We all deserve the medal!

I looked around me and saw some people getting their finisher photo taken, others were on the ground, sitting with a glazed look over their face, drinking water or eating their bagel, banana. I really wanted to sit down but I feared not being able to get back up! Also, I had to   go to PLAN B to meet my 2 friends. We were to meet at the beach party tent area under F for my last name. The area was about another 1/2 mile walk from finish line.

Once we joined up, i fell down and for about 3 seconds i thought i was gonna lose it. But, i didn’t. I told them a little about the race. I was really happy to see them.

Soon enough we started walking down the beach to the parking lot where my rental car was located. It took a while to get there – maybe another 3/4-1 mile in total because we couldn’t find the car. I was so confused..could not remember where I had parked at 5:45am in the dark!

I dropped them off at their house and i went on to my hotel.

So, what happened? Why was I not able to perform better? I have a couple of thoughts.

One: given that my last marathon was in october, perhaps it was too much for my body to do another one so soon. this was the first time I had done 2 marathons in such a short time period. but remember, I felt so great at SF Marathon that I wanted to run another one. I felt like I could physically do it. Maybe I was wrong.

Two: my other theory is that i simply did not get in ENOUGH LONG MILE runs. I did not run much in Nov/Dec and picked it up in January. But, perhaps…the miles I’ve done since January weren’t enough to get me to where i wanted to be. It’s one thing to finish a marathon..it’s another to finish a marathon and still feel physically ok afterwards. I now know both sides.

Am I happy and proud to have finished? yes, of course i have those feelings. But, my disappointment is certainly the more dominant feeling. This is not marathon #1 for me and as such, I don’t have the same expectations and wishes for myself. i want to feel better. I want to perform better. That is part of what makes me who I am. That is part of the drive. I KNOW what a huge achievement it is to get out there and to finish. And I know in many ways it is not about the end result. Every race, every training teaches me something and therein lies some of the beauty. I know there are jewels to be found.

What I know to be true is that i did my best with what I had on race day. I could not have done any better.

There will be other days when  i can try to be better…to be a better me…As long as I have a body that works, i will keep trying. For me, that’s the juice.

Other TIDBITS and PICS from TRIP

Here’s my blog buddy, JOSH, wearing the cool-ass KSwiss Knit Cap. We met up at LA Expo on Friday. When he met me in line to get our BIB #’s, he gave me this KNIT cap cause he knew I loved it. WHAT A COOL GUY, HUH!!!

And here’s me with the same cap on next A.M. in my new LA Marathon Shirt at Peets Coffee in Santa Monica!

Here’s me again at Peets. yes, i’m in love. Yes, I am addicted.

Other highlights of LA TRIP:

Going to KSWISS Store in Santa Monica:

The guy helping me was SOOOO cool. I bought another shirt, shorts and yes, MORE SHOES. (just 1 pair) and He have me BART YASSO’S new book, My Life on the RUN.

Other great parts of the trip were eating at different restaurants. Have you ever noticed how you kinda get into a rut at home…eating the same things or at the same restaurants. I went to URTH CAFE on Melrose, which was fantastic, healthy and had outdoor seating. We don’t have enough healthy places as such here in Atlanta. Went dining at a great Italian place with 2 friends on Saturday night. Wonderful, simple, yet stylish restaurant called OSTERIA LA BUCA.

Obviously, had multiple trips to PEETS Coffee, but I also went to a new coffee joint: INTELLGENTISIA – a really neat little joint over in Venice. Watching the baristas make the coffee there was truly a pleasure and they delivered ART!

Met a friend for lunch in Beverly Hills. Man, i felt like such a star! HA!

My hotel was SOFIETEL on Beverly Dr. near Beverly Hills. A wonderful place to stay! Excellent service across the board! Highly Recommend this hotel! I also had a massage post-race which was exactly what I needed! The spa space was calm, empty, soothing, and peaceful. Very nice after the not-too-happy space I was in post-run.

Here’s the last photo share…taken the next day before leaving LA. It sure was not a pretty race, but it still counts. #7. Done.

LA marathon: first post-race thoughts

Posted in quotes, races, road with tags , , , , on March 22, 2010 by afuntanilla

There’s some quote out there that says something like: “you have to forget about your last marathon before you can run another one”

Hmmm.

Well, my last marathon before today’s LA race was in October of last year, 2009. Honestly, I did NOT want to forget about it because it was a great race for me. What made it a great race? I felt pretty good the entire way and had a decent finish considering I had felt sick beforehand and was worried about the outcome. I also never did a longer run more than  16.25 miles. So, considering ALL that, I felt fine about my 4:24 finish.

Signing up for LA Marathon was somewhat of a risk, a gamble. I had taken it easy with the running in November/December of 2009 and started to ramp up for the Birmingham Half-Marathon on Feb 14th. That, too, was a great race for me. Had my 2nd best finish time ever for that distance and was thrilled with my effort. So, on the heels of that, I signed up for LA! I felt it was a course I wanted to run and I dig LA, so why not? I only need 13 more miles. Well….it was tough to get those long runs in…and bottom line is I didn’t get enough of them done. I had a feeling it might be a tough day for me. Past couple of weeks I just have not been feeling right…more mental than maybe anything else…but I do believe all our systems work together…mental, physical, spiritual, etc…

And even though I had taken the last 2 weeks pretty easy, my legs have felt heavy. Heavy legs = long, tough race day!

Given where my body has been, I should not have expected anything…but I did. Hard not to. Hard not to harbor your secret goals, ya know?

So, sure I am disappointed. And that happens. I’ve had great races. I’ve had tough races. That’s part of the picture. No doubt, there will be more of both in the future. But, I can learn from this experience and use the learning to my advantage.

I know it takes a lot to get out there. I am proud of the people who pin on their marathon bib # and cross the start and finish line. It takes guts, it takes courage, it takes a knowing willingness to endure pain, it takes dedication. It takes heart.

my heart goes out to all those finishers today.