Archive for reflections

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.

reflections, stats, & the Olympic Rings

Posted in motivation, photos, quotes, races, road, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 22, 2010 by afuntanilla

“You never know how strong you are, until being strong is the only choice you have.”–unknown

For the 2nd race in a row, I was surprised with my finish time. As I mentioned in last post, the Birmingham Half-Marathon finish time of 2:01:55 was my 2nd best ever. Only time I was faster was by 12 seconds in 1999, in my first 1st Half-Marathon. Why was I surprised by my result. Well, my longest run since my last marathon in October was only 9 miles. I took it easy after the SF Marathon; resting in November and slowly getting miles in during December. I cranked it up in January & into February. Still, having my longest run only be 9 miles gave me room to manage expectations. Honestly, if I had finished anywhere under 2:05, I was gonna be happy. So, the question begs to be asked; why? what do i attribute it to?

For one, I think I am a smarter runner. I think I know my body well enough to tune in and pay attention to how it feels and then go with it. I think I am better at knowing how much I can push and for how long. Secondly, i believe my overall fitness is better. I’ve been doing a good amount of strength training and I do feel stronger, more fit. I guess I’ve been running races steadily for just over 10 years and I guess that’s a good amount of time to get to know your body and especially know it during a race environment. There are some days when you have it and definitely days when you don’t and I have been on both sides and no doubt, i will be on them time and time again.

Racing is fun. Not that I’m actually racing against anyone except myself and the clock. But, it’s the test. For weeks, for months, you train. You get out the door when you don’t want to. You run in the freezing cold when you’d rather sleep in. You get on the treadmill when you are dog-ass tired. Race day is when I feel free. I feel self-inflicted pressure, but I also feel free. Not sure if that makes sense, but it does to me. It’s like play. Race day is play day. I sure am looking forward to my next play day; March 21st. LA Marathon. I will be challenged, for sure.

The only stat I really have from my half-marathon is this:

Finished #60 out of 289 women aged 35-39. I’m happy with this. It’s better than last year. Moving up. yay.

My 1st run this morning was 10.5 miles. I ran from my house, zig-zag through Ansley, Midtown & Downtown and underneath the Olympic Rings near the Atlanta Braves baseball stadium. If you recall, the Olympics were in Atlanta in 1996. I was not a resident then, but I did make my first trip here 2 months before the games began. The city was buzzing. It was very exciting to see and feel the energy of the people. As I ran under the rings I remembered that when I was a little girl, I dreamt of going to the Olympics as a sprinter. It was really fun to have that dream.

I will never stand on an Olympic podium. And, that is ok. When I run, and when I race, and when i cross that finish line that sometimes seems to take forever, a little bit of an Olympian lives in me. And it lives in you too. Believe in yourself and all that you want to do, in all that you want to accomplish. Stay dedicated. Stay determined. Be your own hero. Make it happen.

Cheers!

Feb 21: 1st run=10.5 miles – outside, 2nd run = 2.5 miles treadmill

Feb 20: 3.0 miles outside

Feb 18: 3.5 miles treadmill

Feb 17: 3.67 miles outside

more reflection from Nike SF Marathon

Posted in races, road with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 8, 2009 by afuntanilla

Just some numbers I’ve looked at recently – running miles by months

June 2009 = 79

July 2009 = 104

August 2009 = 128

September 2009 = 122

October 2009 = 77 (including marathon)

I was looking back at some numbers last time I ran a marathon which was in March 2007. I ran the ING Atlanta Marathon that day. That was my 5th marathon and I suffered. I had my worse finish time of 4:53. YIKES. I looked back at what my mileage was the 3 months prior to race and this is what i found:

December 2006 = 99

January 2007 = 117

February 2007 = 121

What surprises me when i compare the 2 training periods (a loose comparison) the 3 month total prior to Nike race was 354. The 3 month total prior to ING was 337. So, not much difference in the totals.

I’m not trying to figure out why there was such a vast difference in finish times as I pretty much already know the answer to that question, but it is all pretty interesting. Some of the big differences were the time of year for training. ING was in March, so i trained in winter into early spring. Maybe I spent too much time on treadmill. I can’t remember. For NIKE, I trained all through summer/heat/humidity and then some fall weather conditions. And then race day conditions were completely different. ING race day ended up being an incredibly hot day(unusual for march). There was not enough water on course and it was quite hilly. NIKE race day was some good ole’ San Francisco weather; high 50’s to start and probably never got above 65. Very few hills. Perfect. I think my performance was aided by something else; sheer enthusiasm for being back home. There is no way to calculate that, but it made a difference! I needed that race. I needed that race experience. I had to get the bad taste out of my mouth from the poor showing at ING. Ya know?! I needed it like sometimes you need to kiss someone so that last person you kissed isn’t the last person you kissed. Know what I mean? So, again, Thank you San Francisco, my city bay the bay.

Back in my office, people were interested to hear how it went. I am lucky to have good and enthusiastic support among my work folks. Just the other day one of my colleagues asked, “so, when’s your next race?”

Well. What’s next?

let’s break it down

Posted in races, road, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 27, 2009 by afuntanilla

Alright, lemme break it down for you. First, let me mention that I trained the least for this marathon compared to all other 5 run before. What that basically means is that I logged less miles over the specific training cycle. Normally, I get in at least one 18 miler and one 20 miler before tapering. This time, my long run was 16.25 and I felt that this alone could really hurt my race outcome.

Heading into the final 2 weeks of the race I was run down, traveling, and basically feeling like I wasn’t even sure I would finish the darn race. So, I really did not know what to expect from my body. Mentally, I was feeling so much better than a month or so ago so i was super thrilled with that part, but physically I wasn’t sure what to expect.

As  you might have read though in the earlier post, when I woke up on race day, I KNEW I was ready and I knew I would have a good day. Here are the mile breakdowns:

Mile 1: 8:45

Mile 2: 9:43

Mile 3: 9:41

Mile 4: 10:03

Mile 5: 9:31

Mile 6: 10:23

Mile 7: 11:00

Mile 8: 9:23

Mile 9: 10:29

Mile 10: 10:26

Mile 11: 9:47

Mile 12: 10:04

Mile 13: 11:17

Mile 14: 9:46

Mile 15: 9:58

Mile 16: 10:00

Mile 17: 9:40

Mile 18: 10:32

Mile 19: 10:21

Mile 20: 10:05

Mile 21: 10:13

Mile 22: 9:54

Mile 23: 10:22

Mile 24: 10:10

Mile 25: 10:17

Mile 26 + .2 = 12:44

OK. Here is where it gets tricky on my “official” time. I was wearing my Garmin, which is where I got my mile splits from, however, i noticed my mile markers on Garmin did not match up with race mile markers. Usually not a big deal because often it is pretty close. But, it was not close this time. When I completed the race, my watch read: 26.61 miles, 4:28:01. So that is .4 more than official race of 26.2. When i looked at my watch for 26.2, I was at 4:24. My RACE CHIP time was 4:28:10. Hmmm…what to do? Well, considering my Garmin has been off before, but never by that far of distance, i’m gonna split the difference and say I finished in 4:26. How does that sound? Fair?

In my age group Female 35-39, there were 742 runners. I was #171 out of 742. Not bad.

I’m cool with it! Like I said, a few days before the race i wasn’t even sure i would be able to finish. Comparing this time of 4:26 to my best of 4:19 is interesting. I trained less and didn’t fare too much worse. I wonder what i could have done had I got more miles in….lots of info to consider going forward. I did notice that for rest of day and next day, I felt the best I had ever felt after a marathon. I wasn’t nearly as sore or as fatigued. And I almost want to whisper this, but it kinda “felt easy”. Maybe it’s because I was “home” and feeling so awesome and loved. Maybe it was because it wasn’t in the damn heat and humidity of the south. Maybe it was all the Peets coffee. Maybe it was the Pacific Ocean breeze. Maybe it was “Rocky” on the iPod. Or maybe…it was just one of those days.

Thanks for reading. Thanks for cheering. Thanks for the support. Means more than I can say!!

Cheers!

Race Reflections – Part III

Posted in photos, road, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 24, 2009 by afuntanilla

I was lined up right in front of the St Francis Hotel on Powell Street. Looking up at the windows, i saw a few folks peeking outside their windows to us crazy folk down below. Boy, if you stayed there and DIDN’T know a marathon was gonna start right in front of your hotel, you were in for a shock!

At 7:10am, I was finally beginning my 6th marathon. Damn, it felt like this training period has gone on forever and I cannot express how relieved I was to FINALLY GET ON WITH IT!

Even though I was wearing my iPod, I didn’t turn it on for about 3 miles. I wanted to hear all the natural sounds around me; the fellow runners chatting, laughing, the footsteps beside me…

The course started in Union Square and did a zag zag pattern onto Montgomery St. (my old work place street) and over to the Embarcadero. This street(for those who don’t know) is just beside that Bay, so running along it you have great Bay views and Bay Bridge views. A cool, clear, SF morning. Nothing better! All flat so far.

Passed Pier 39/Fisherman’s Wharf and then the first “hill” (SMALL) as we went up and over to Fort Mason (bigger hill) and over to Chrissy Field. We were at about mile 6; lots of support there along the Marina Green! THX PEOPLE!!

Flat along Marina/Chrissy Field and then a nice steep hill up towards the Golden Gate Bridge. (did not go on bridge like regular SF marathon) This next part was probably my favorite. Basically these next 2-3 miles were small hills on the outskirts of The Presidio; wonderful Eucalyptus trees scented the now somewhat foggy area. Felt very refreshing. Pine trees and pine needles lines some of the damp roads. Very quiet and calm except for the often times heavy breathing of fellow runners. I gotta say that this course has a few hills, but NOTHING like I have trained on in Atlanta! These were EASY. (yes, I am thankful the course was not thru the MIDDLE of SF!!) Coming out of that area, we had a nice, steep descent that lead to the famous CLIFF HOUSE — gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean as we approached the GREAT HIGHWAY.

Oh, how was i feeling? Feeling very solid at this point. Drinking water and had a gel and all was good. Next, we made our way into Golden Gate Park and I was getting excited to see Kim at mile 13! Right before that marker, the Half-Marathoners split off and did their own route and we did ours. Boy, there were a LOT of people running the HALF. Crowd definitely changed. Rolling into 13 Miler marker, I saw Kim from a distance there on the left hand side of street, wearing her North Face gray fleece and sunglasses. She brought me some peeled oranges! YAY! Needed them. Delighted to see her on her Birthday, I was the one in for a treat as she then ran about 1/4 mile with me….then called it quits! THANKS KIMMY FOR COMING!

Still in the park and made the turn to head DOWN the park (East Side). Mile 14 and there is my buddy, ALEC!! YAY! He took this pic, we hugged and I continued. So happy he was there!!

Mile 14

Mile 14

I was still feeling pretty good and I felt very focused and happy! Seeing friends definitely gave me a jolt! By the time we excited the park, we were at Mile 16. Now we were in for a stretch back on the Great Hwy (beside PACIFIC OCEAN) before heading over for a loop around Lake Merced. By Mile 17, I could see some of the water. Truly wonderful to see and be near the water again. I don’t need a fancy beach. Just give me water and some sand and a place to keep looking further and further and I am a happy girl. (please don’t ask why i live in a place where i am land locked!!) There was a SMALL breeze. Thank goodness because I know the route well and there can be some grueling winds out there!

Between 18-19 miles, right when I was beginning to hurt, we had a nice little climb over to the Lake. Then it was like another gradual uphill for about 1 mile. HMMM…perfect timing! My feet were hurting on their bottoms and my legs were getting heavy, but i wasn’t in too much pain. Again, I was really focused and i really tried to take in everything; the sights, the sounds; the aches as they came and stayed and came and went. I think I might have had a mental benefit from knowing the course since I have lived in SF in the past and spent much time running in the same areas. I basically knew what was coming. The loop around Lake Merced was kinda uneventful. The main memory was that at about mile 22, they were handing out Ghirardelli Chocolates. WTF? Not bananas or oranges or GELS, but CHOCOLATE! Sorry, I just cannot do that while running. Would have been a perfect place for any of those other things. Oh well….keep truckin’

Made our way back to the Great Hwy for the final 2.2 miles back to the finish line. At this point, my mind started to turn to thoughts like, “wow, I’ve been out here a long time. wow, another marathon. I did it. I’m gonna do it. is it really almost over?”

As I looked to my right, i could see those runners just making their trek towards the Lake. I was on miles 24-25 and they were on miles 17-18. Watching them, I had so much respect. Who knows when they would finish. But, it didn’t matter. They were out there! They were doing it. If the marathon requires anything above all us, it is GUTS. And those people have it. Anyone who gets on that starting line has it.

Now I was onto my last mile. i tried to pick up the pace as much as i could….legs were heavy and my back was getting tired. As I neared the finish line, I shut off the iPod again and just listened. The crowd grew thicker and thicker as I approached..all those spectators cheering on THEIR person for THEIR reason. I saw the finish line banner, ran a little faster, pumped my fists, and crossed the finish line. Because I am able. Because I can. Because the desire burns. Because….

Final Stats to follow

Race Reflections – Part II

Posted in photos, races, road, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 23, 2009 by afuntanilla

CIMG0208

Can you find my name?

Can you find my name?

Race day wake-up call at 5:30am. I promptly changed out of PJs and into some other clothes and went into the downstairs hotel lobby for some coffee. Good Coffee. Came back up to my room, opened the curtains and looked out at the stunning clear morning in San Francisco. All was dark still except for the flickering lights out in the streets and those i could see from the Bay Bridge. It seemed so serene and so romantic at the same time. (in fact, i would definitely describe SF as a romantic city).

I sipped my coffee and chowed down on my Clif bar. My body was awake and I knew i was ready. It’s funny how that is…the KNOWING. More often than not, even before I take the first steps of a race, I just know if it’s going to be a good day for me. I don’t get this feeling at any other time. Just on race day. And on Sunday between 5:30-6:00am, I knew.

I looked online a bit, read the newspaper a bit and finally it was time to put the shorts and shoes on and get out the door. I had my iPod, 2 gels, and those Luna things i mentioned in previous post. I was a little worried about not having more gels because i knew there wouldn’t be more on the course. It still baffles me how they didn’t have any. Oh well, i figured i would grab whatever there was while..as long as it wasn’t anything too different.

I made the quick walk over to Union Square and found the place to line up. Again, the place was ELECTRIC. TONS AND TONS OF WOMEN and a few men. Looking around, I saw smiling, excited, exuberant faces. I saw young, old, asian, white, black, latina, tall, short, thin, pudgy…women of all shapes, sizes, etc… AWESOME….all standing around just waiting for the clock to tick, for the opportunity to pass GO!

I stood there and while I ran, I kept thinking that everyone was out there for their own reason. While watching some of the fellow women near me, I saw their faces; some with pained expressions, others just simply focused and I felt so proud to be out there and in their company. I felt like i wanted to give everyone a HIGH-FIVE or a PAT ON THE BACK!

While participating in a race, especially a marathon, one is truly taking on something big. There’s not a whole lot of thought that goes into running a 5k, but when you sign up and commit yourself to the marathon training, you are definitely in for an amazing journey. That journey is long, grueling, demanding, and very solitary, no matter if you train with a group or not. At the end of the day, YOU have to put one foot in front of the other, YOU have to keep going when your legs start to cramp, YOU have to keep climbing that damn hill that seems like it has no end in sight. And so, yeah, I looked around and wondered about what some of those reasons were of those mighty women surrounding me and my own reason…