Monday, June 17, 2013

Big Basin (50K ultra maration) on June 9th plus the SF marathon on June 16

Hi everyone,

Long time no post.  I never had a chance to update my blog for the Napa Valley marathon.  But, that seems like years ago (it was in March of 2013).  So, I'll skip that one and talk about more recent races.

It's official - I'm an ultra marathoner!  On June 9th, I ran the Big Basin 50k!  It took me a very long time.  It was a nice course and a few of my friends were running it (so having company out there was great), but I struggled with it.

I did most of my training in at Rancho.  I clearly did not give myself enough training runs, but I did the best I could with my time commitments (work, family, teaching). I had about 4 runs around 3 to 4 hours in the hills of Rancho.  Rancho is great because there are some very steep hills and, best of all, I can run there from my house (3 miles away with climbing to get there).  Overall, I knew I maybe needed another two months of training, but I felt I could complete the course - and that was my goal!

I carpooled with some friends and met other friends up there.

Then we were off on the course.  It was mostly single track with a number of ups and downs.  The first few miles are mostly declines but after the first aid station you started climbing a little.  I did well the first 5 miles and then started slowing down a little, but was still doing good the next five miles.

About mile 11 or 12 I was starting to slow some.  I think the down hills at the beginning were working my legs.  But, I felt confident.  Big Basin has a marathon and 50K.  The 50K has a loop at aid station 3 where you do the extra five miles.  I just wanted to get to aid station three and start the loop so I don't back out and only run the marathon.  I signed up to complete the ultra and that was my goal.  At this point I felt I could complete it.  Here are some more pictures (I got from the Big Basin runners).  Stay tuned for more fun details below:


So I made it to the third aid station and started the loop.  There was about a mile and half climb (I'm guessing) and then down hill.  About mile 17 (the down hill part) I was going good and then . . . I hurt my ankle.  I landed on a tree root (I think, maybe it was a rock).  I hurt my ankle about 3 weeks before sort of bad where I had trouble walking on it.  This was the same ankle (my left one).  I landed wrong and it gave and I fell.  I grabbed onto my ankle in a pain.  I was in a lot of pain and said a number of F works (lucky there was no one near me).  And, I do not curse much.  Usually I say Frak.    I could hardly put any weight on it.  I almost started crying because I thought the race was over for me.  But, I was too mad, I think, to cry.  I was passed by a few people who asked if I was okay. I was except for the pain.  I sort of wanted them to check on me, but I also wanted them to just get away from me.  They passed me and kept going.  I knew I had to also.

I knew I had to move so I walked and walked and walked and finally the pain was manageable.   I finally completed the loop. Only 10 miles left.  I was going to fuel up and then take off.  My ankle was sore, but I felt I could run on it.  I wanted to complete the course.

That's me talking to one of my friends who was resting

Getting my rubber band for completing the loop

And, I was off.  The last 10 miles were tough.  I pushed forward, but my ankle got worse.  I landed wrong a few times and it just killed me.  My goal though was to complete it.  I pushed forward.  Ran when I could and walked when I had to.  I also yelled an F word when I would land wrong and my ankle would scream out in pain.  One time two hikers moved to the side to let me pass a turn, I looked at them to say thank you -- landed wrong, came to a stop and cursed while I hopped on one leg.  I wonder what they thought.  I walked it off and then started running again.

At the end of the day, I finished!!!!  My first ultra.  My left ankle ended up being twice the  size of my right ankle and was black and blue.  But, I finished!

And, to top it off on June 16th, I ran the SF marathon!  My wife told me I was crazy to run it.  Maybe, but I wanted to know if I could and wanted to try to run it.  My ankle was still a little swollen, but not as bad as it was.  On Sat am (after not running all week), I went for a short two mile slow run to see if I can run on it.  I could and felt I could run longer.  Could I run 26.2 miles on it?  I did not know.  But I wanted to find out.

I woke up early, drove to SF.  And, off I went.  I was taking it "easy" and things were going good. I would get shooting pains in the ankle here and there, but I taped it really good (I know I'm risking major injury, but if you don't try, you don't know what you can do).  I told myself I would pull out if the pain was too bad.  Had money for a ride back if needed.  About mile 11 or so, my legs were just giving out on me.  My ankle was very sore, my knee was now sore (the same one that I hurt on my first marathon) and my other parts of my legs were cramping up!

The marathon split off from the1st half finish at Golden Gate Park.  I have never in my life wanted to stop at the halfway point so much as I did today.  My legs felt like they were toast.  I walked the area where the full and half split.  I debated should I stop.  I'm going to hurt myself, I thought.  I can't do that, I thought.  But, I had to try.  So I pushed forward.  I tried to take it easy, but with my legs and ankle, this was not easy no matter how slow I was running.  Yet, finally we got out of Golden Gate park, which meant we were around mile 19.  Only 7 more miles.  I knew I could do it.  No matter how long it would take me, I knew I could finish.  So I kept pushing on.  I tried to "land soft".  Tried to ignore the pain.  Kept running (walked the aid stations and a few big hills).  I tried to run from aid station to aid station, with walking a hill here and there.

And, I finished!  A marathon one week after doing an ultra, with my ankle injury.  My worst time for the SF marathon, but a marathon I'm very proud to have completed.

Some pictures I took from one of my friends.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

100th post and 36 days running

Sorry for the long absence.  I've been meaning to post, but never quite got around to it until tonight!

I looked at my blog and noticed that this post will be my 100th post.  I'm not quite sure what that means, but I wonder how long it will take me to get to 200 (1 year, 2 years, 5 years . . .).

I do have something to share - today I ran for the 36th straight day!  I'm not quite sure this is the best idea, but something I thought about doing just before the New Year.

After the cancellation of the New York marathon, I let my running slip.  Mostly due to work as I was traveling two to three days a week and just working a ton in November and December.  I decided not to run CIM (which I signed up for) as I was only running 1 or 2 days a week and not getting in the long runs I needed for a marathon.  Then, in December I got sick and that completely stopped my running.

I started getting better (from my week long illness) around Christmas and new that I had to start running more.  I just felt out of shape and for some reason really, really wanted to run more.  I always like to challenge myself so I made the goal to see how many days in a row I can run at least 20 minutes.  With my work schedule I knew I had to have a time limit that I thought I could meet every day.  Some days when I need to fly out of town, I need to get up at 5am to catch the first flight out and I don't get back home until 11pm or so (when I'm doing 1 day travel) - so I definitely wanted a time that was reasonable to get a run in.

I started this plan three days before the New Year.  I've had days when I've been sick (should have got the flu shot), cold, in snow, up early, up late . . . but so far I've managed to run at least 20 minutes each day . . . with many days being much more than 20 minutes.

Basically I do my long runs, my tempo runs, speed runs, and my hill runs.  Then on the days my work schedule is crazy or my legs are tired, I just do a nice and easy run (some days I limit that easy run to 20 minutes, other days run (easy) longer).

I'm not sure how long I will keep this up.  A lot depends on my legs - sometimes they seem real tired and need a day or two off.  In fact, I did 15 miles today with very tired legs and am having thoughts of resting a day or two, but I also think it would be great to get to 50 days in a row.

Importantly ---- Go 49ers!  Hopefully, we will win!

And, to close, here are a couple of pictures of my daughter with her riding lessons:

Saturday, November 3, 2012

New York Marathon - Cancelled

This year my big race was the New York Marathon!  Tomorrow morning, in a normal year, I would have been running it.  Instead, as you all know, the marathon was cancelled.  And, now I plan to run around central park in the morning before I head back home to the bay area.

Yes, I made the trip out here.  After the storm, I was very unsure what to do and expected that more likely than not the race would be cancelled or postponed.  I checked often for updates on the marathon and on my flight.  My flight was scheduled for Thursday morning from SFO to Newark.  I thought about calling off the trip, but we had used miles for the flights and paid for the hotel.  Thus, as Wed came, my wife and I agreed that we would go if the marathon is on and our flight was not cancelled.

I check the marathon and flight status late Wed and early Thursday.  Everything was a go, so I woke my two year up at 5:30am to make the flight.

We landed on time in Newark and had a car waiting for us.  We decided to get a car because we heard of the gas problems.  On my way to the hotel in New York, talking to the driver, I started to question whether I should be out here.  The driver told me that many people were not happy the marathon was taking place.  Back at the hotel, I saw a lot more images of the damage done by Sandy.  My wife told me, should we be out here for a marathon?  I was not sure. We had followed what we heard from about the marathon being on and made the trip.

On Friday, we went to the expo.  I picked up my bib and shirt.  And, started to feel okay about running.  I felt horrible about the damage and the lost lives.  Yet, I thought that I could run this marathon.

Then, we loaded a shuttle to head back towards the hotel.  On the shuttle my wife told me she heard some one behind us say the marathon was called off.  I told her she must have misunderstood.  I checked cnn and espn and sure enough the marathon was off.  News spread fast.  Everyone was checking their smartphone.  There was silence on the bus.  People did not know what to say or how to react.

I brought my family out here and wanted to run the marathon.  I was disappointed.  But, I understood the decision.  Especially being out here as I questioned whether I should run.  My heart was torn as to whether I should even be out here.  I know my running friends were just getting off a plane and heading to New York when the news broke.  I thought of the people I spoke to who had traveled great distances to come to New York.  Yet, I also thought of the people who lost their lives, who lost their homes, and those who are still struggling to survive.  I understood the decision to cancel the marathon.

I wish the decision was made sooner.  If I knew the marathon might be cancelled and was not "on" on Wednesday, I would have never made the trip. 

However, I don't feel bad for the trip I made out here. I was able to spend the weekend with my wife and daughter in New York.  I will not run a marathon in New York, but I will run in Central Park.  My life will be back to normal on Monday.  Yet, many people affected by the storm will be affected for years.  I'm disappointed that the marathon was cancelled, but my heart goes to the people that lost so much due the Storm.  I wish a fast recovery for those who were affected by the storm.  There will be another marathon.  And, I will run the NY marathon another time.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Marathoners: Do you find this annoying?

As I last posted, I ran the SF marathon on Sunday.  I had a blog post on it and also posted to facebook.  A friend of a family member who is a "friend" of mine on facebook (but otherwise do not know real well) posted the following either later that day or early the next day:

Not only did he post it, but then changed it as his main picture.  Maybe because I just ran a marathon, I found this annoying.

I would never compare running a marathon to an ironman.  Heck - the marathon is after you swim and biked a crazy distance.  I know that I could not come close right now to doing an ironman.

I think people should be very proud of their accomplishments, but I don't understand the need to say "Oh, you ran a marathon?  That's cute".  That just seems arrogant to me.  I hope I would not tell someone that just ran their first half "Oh, you ran a half?  That's cute" and then put a 26.2 sign up.

I do hope to do an ironman one day.  It is on my list along with doing an ultra.  It is not in my current plan because (i) have more than a full time job (more than 50 hours per week), (ii) I'm an adjunct professor (one class each semester) and (iii) I have a young daughter who I want to spend time with on my free time.  Thus, no time for the training.  A sign like this does light a fire in me and makes me want to do it . . . but I think I prefer a 50 mile run first.

Anyone else find this a bit irritating or annoying?  I do understand that some/most/all of us marathoners can be a bit irritating to people that do not run marathons.

Maybe, I need to do an ironman so that I can understand the need to post this after someone just ran a marathon.   If I ever end up doing an ironman, will I also now have disdain for marathon runners?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

SF marathon done! 10th marathon!

It was far from my best time, but I finished it!  And, it was a course PR (though only the second time running it)

Before Big Sur marathon, I hurt my ankle.  I ran on a very sore ankle at the Big Sur marathon and since that time I have not been able to do any hill runs, speed workouts, tempo runs.  So basically, I did not do any training that might actually help my "speed" after the ankle injury. I ran generally about once a week most weeks due to my ankle being injured.  I would do a long run on the weekend and then have to rest my ankle during the week so that I could do another long run on the next weekend (at times I could get 1 easy run in on a Thursday or Friday).

Then, my calf (on the same leg) got injured two or so weeks ago.  I had to walk three miles back to my car when it got injured. It has been bothering me since.

This really lead to many questions about whether I should have rested after Big Sur.  After Big Sur I tried to take it a little easier and hoped the ankle would get better by not pushing it too hard.  The smart decision would have been to take 3 or so weeks off after Big Sur, but I did not and it was a bit too late to take time off after the ankle did not get better with SF around the corner.

Thus, my expectations were not high.  I was just hoping that I could complete the marathon.  And I did!

I started out a little slow, tried to get my legs loose and into it.  My wife was running the first half so I ran near/next to her for most of the first half.  We were keeping about a 9:05-9:10 pace.  I felt okay, but my calf was tight (it has been since I hurt it) and the hills (especially the downhills) brought pain to it.

The GG bridge was very foggy and did not have great views, but it was still nice running on the bridge.  I was starting to have stomach issues so I stopped at the restrooms on the lookout after getting off the GGB.  There was a little line and I was about 9:16 avg pace when I started running again.  I pushed to get closer to my wife.  I caught her on the hill after coming off the GGB.  I then tried to keep about a 9:09 or so pace to get her close to the 2 hour mark for the half.  She was a head of me at times, but then fell a little behind me.  I slowed down before the cut off and when she caught up I tried to give her some words of encouragement.  She came in at the 2 hour mark.  A PR for her.

I was doing okay at the half way point, but by mile 15 my calf was starting to really hurt.  I also stopped to use the rest room again (I don't know what goes on with my stomach and marathons).  By the time I got back to running I was at a 9:17 or so avg pace.

In the back of my head is to beat 4, but I knew that was not a strong possibility.  I pushed forward and tried to get my avg pace down, but the faster I ran the more my ankle and calf hurt.  I decided to not try to push for under 4.  I just wanted to finish.  I was worried about my calf and if it hurt like it did two weeks ago, I would not be able to run.

I focused on getting out of GG park.  Too many miles in that park.  But, about mile 19 I was finally out of GG park and then I just focused on running and kept a steady pace. I kept my avg pace according to my Garmin at 9:17 (which was a little off due to it reading the course long, showed my running further than what I actually ran).

I stopped to refill my water bottle two times and to use the rest room two time.  Other than that I kept running.  I was tired about mile 22/23, but it was so close that I just focused on trying to knock 1 mile off at a time.

I finally got to AT&T Park and then to the bay bridge.  My Garmin has already showed me past 26.2 so I'm a bit annoyed (where is that finish).  But, then I see it and soon I cross the finish line.  I finish with a time about 4:05 and 50 seconds.  Not bad considering the injuries caused my training to be horrible.

My daughter with the medals:

I was a bit surprised that the half medal was not even a 1/4 of the size of the full medal.  But my daughter said, Brooklyn size medal.

Overall:  I was very happy to finish. I felt that I pushed through the injuries (maybe not the smartest) and accomplished a goal.  I will now rest for a few weeks and hope to get healthy for the NY Marathon!