Half marathon

Be the Best You Can Be

On my evening run tonight, I suddenly had the realization that at age 56, I am running the best I have ever run in my life. I don’t mean I’m the fastest, although I have taken nearly a minute off my slow pace in the last year, nor do I mean that this is the best I can ever be, but I have worked very hard and steady to become a better runner and it shows. The dedication I have put in to running and sometimes the struggle to stay with that dedication is paying off.

This really made me feel good, because so much of my life isn’t making me feel good right now. All those extra hours (mostly) eating right, going to the gym, strength training, rolling, rolling and then rolling some more are doing what they’re supposed to do and I feel very ready for my next Half Marathon this Sunday.

I’m quite excited about it, not nervous at all. I may not be a fast runner; I’m quite certain I’ll finish in the bottom third of the race, and that’s perfectly fine with me. But I’ll still finish strong and happy. I AM planning on PR’ing by at least three minutes. For me, as a runner, it doesn’t matter if I’m part of the Back of the Pack Club. What matters is if I tried my hardest and did my best to prepare. I think most runners, unless they have set their targets much higher than me, would agree with that. Rock it as hard as you can and enjoy the rest.

But I won’t get ahead of myself, I need to get my sleep and get ready for another day!

Cheers!

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THRIVING AT THE GIANTS RACE

After race crowd in AT&T

After race crowd in AT&T

When that lightbulb goes off in our heads, we don’t plan it; we have no idea where we will be or what we’ll be doing, it just happens. I’m sure when the great prophets in history received their revelations they didn’t happen in convenient or comfortable places, they happened in the most difficult times.

Mine happened today in a porto-potty. That’s right, as I was re-adjusting my running belt and making sure there was no toilet paper stuck to my shoes, I suddenly thought of something so profound, that it made things so clear to me for the first time in a very long time.

As I stepped out of that smelly and dank capsule and suddenly realized and KNEW that I no longer want to just “exist”. I’m tired of thinking how my life will be once I’m thin, or have more money, or have a better job or……..you fill in the blank.

It’s time to enjoy my life AT IT IS. Not “enjoy it as soon as I have this” or “enjoy it as soon as it’s the weekend” or “enjoy it if only this or that happened”. Even if there doesn’t seem to be anything positive, I will find something positive and if I can’t at all, then I will make changes until I can.

Sure, this is easy writing down (actually it isn’t and it wasn’t easy thinking about today), and it won’t be easy putting into practice. There are some changes I must make in my life RIGHT NOW. Not tomorrow, not in an hour from now, not next week, but right this very second I will change certain things.

One of the changes I must make RIGHT NOW is to stop putting myself down. Even small things like “I didn’t run fast” or “I don’t look good in that picture.” WHO CARES??? I need to that I can run or I should focus on the features of myself I do like. I must steer clear of being negative about others. I must stop trying to correct people. I’ve been working on this, but sometimes I get a stubborn streak and if someone annoys me, I feel the urge to want to show them up in some way. I don’t know why I do this, but I do. I will work on ending this, and if not ending this, than being more aware of when and why I do this. I know it annoys others and it isn’t doing anything to make me feel better either.

There are a few other things, but I’ll write about those in a day or two. This is a lot to work on right now.

There’s a song by Switchfoot that I really like called “Thrive”. I love listening to it when I run because it really gives me inspiration. Like the singer, I want to Thrive. I know it’s also used in ads by a certain hospital system, but it really says what I want to do. I want to do more than merely live.

Lou Seal is on the medal

Lou Seal is on the medal

THE GIANTS RACE

My 5K went well today. I had planned on running the Half Marathon but couldn’t do it because of my knee injury. The Giants race organizers were so helpful and kind switching me over to the 5K. At first I felt bad for not running the 13.1 race, but after getting into the mood of the pre-race and seeing all the excited and happy running Giants fans, it was hard to feel bad about anything.

It had been cold during the morning, but then the sun broke through and turned into a beautiful day. The 5K didn’t start until 10:50am and got there way too early. I went and grabbed a cup of Philz coffee and some water while I waited.

I ran a nice, slow easy pace. I hadn’t run for a month, so, my pacing wasn’t up to what it was previously. I also wanted to go slow to make sure my knee was feeling all right. It felt fine through the first two miles. Surprisingly in a good way, my knee felt fine through most of the race. It wasn’t until the start of the Mile 3 when I started feeling some pain and that didn’t last too long. When it started to hurt, I stopped running and walked for a couple minutes. In fact, the race was over before I thought it would be, making me feel pretty hopeful that I should be running regularly again soon.

Now I have to focus on two things to get back into running properly: 1) lose weight to take some pressure off my knees and 2) go to the YMCA three times a week to do weight training/ core work and stretch out my IT Bands.

The race was organized pretty well. It wasn’t the best organized race I’ve been to, but it certainly wasn’t the worst (I’m looking at you Mermaid). Race announcers/motivators, whatever they call them, should on the whole, do a better job in telling walkers to stay on the right and leave the left side of the course for runners. There were many spots on the course where it was quite narrow and with walkers going three in a row (why oh why do they do that???) it was hard motivating around them.

The starting corrals had the longest wait times in between starting. I think we waiting in #3 10 minutes to start after #2 did.

Strollers have long the bane of races. I’ve gotten used to single strollers, but double strollers? Come on, stay at the back of the race. I’m sorry if you’re a fast runner but your double wide stroller clogs up the course.

After the end of the race, there wasn’t any direction towards the food giveaways. I missed it entirely and have to beg an usher to let me back on the field, which he did. Thank you for that.

It was a great day to spend with my big Giants family. Now let’s sweep Detroit tonight!

Getting Back….

It’s not easy coming back from an injury or a forced time off. I was in Go Mode getting ready for The Giants Step, the San Francisco Giants baseball team annual Half Marathon/10K/5K. Training was going well, my runs were getting longer and I was feeling fine. 

But during a 6-miler, my right knee started hurting very badly about 3.5 miles in. I kept going and finished the run. but not without a lot of pain and walking rests. The next week I was in pain. I got a brace for my knee and took a second week off, hoping it would feel better. 

Unfortunately, after a trial 2-mile run, my knee still hurt. I went to the Orthopedic doctor after another two weeks. He said that my knees were OK and that they hurt because my IT Bands, thighs and core wasn’t strong enough. He gave me some strengthening work to do, as well as walked me to the physical therapy department of the hospital. They worked with me a little and gave me a set of exercises that should help make the areas stronger. The doctor also said I should be able to run again in 4 to 6 weeks, which is just about the date of the Giants Step Race. 

I felt quite relieved. I switched my race to the 5K. I can handle running/walking for 3.1 miles. 

So, I’ve been working at the YMCA, getting my upper body, core and thighs in order. My knee doesn’t hurt much now, which is good. I had a pretty good workout last night, so it was a tad sore this morning. The brace helps when it’s like that, but most of the time, i go without it. 

I’m also starting a Pilates class tomorrow night. I think that will help as well. 

It certainly feels better being active again! 

M.A.V. Won’t Stop Me

I have M.A.V. (Migraine Associated Vertigo). It’s a lesser known chronic condition caused by migraines. Rarely do I get the headaches, I get vertigo. Four years ago, it affected me so badly that I had to take time off work to find out what was wrong with me. They first thought I had Meniere’s, which has many of the same symptoms, but I wasn’t losing my hearing, so the specialist was able to ascertain is was indeed M.A.V.

After getting back to work and getting on the correct medications, I have it under control for 90% of the time. I can lead a good, normal life. But sometimes, the symptoms rise up, maybe once or twice a year and I have to deal with them.

M.A.V. is not life-threatening, but it makes life not a lot of fun. Everyone who has it suffers differently. Like migraines, it is personalized and not much is known about it. Without my meds, I would get vertigo so badly, I couldn’t stand up. I would be so sick for hours at a time, I would lie on the bathroom floor praying to make it back to bed. And the vertigo would hit whenever and wherever it felt like it. I could be out on the street, on a run, at work, no matter, and it would hit me. I would be sick in minutes. Along with vertigo, I would get extreme light-headedness, nausea without vertigo and dizziness without vertigo. It was a terrible, scary and also lonely time in my life. 

The week before last, I had the first vertigo attack I’ve had in over a year. It wasn’t nearly as bad as the ones I used to have, but it scared me. It was on a busy day and I hardly had time to rest it out. Rest was all I could do when it hit. Fortunately, it went away and I continued on with my life. 

When I had my M.A.V. under control, I made a promise to myself that I would not let it control me. I promised that no matter how bad it got, I would never, ever let it take over my life as it once had. Even if it meant I had to crawl to go where I needed to go, to do what I needed to do, I would do it, because I never wanted to go through the helpless, isolated feelings of despair I lived through. 

Today I ran for the first time in two weeks. It was a great 4 miles I enjoyed thoroughly. I haven’t gotten the rest I should have been getting these last couple of weeks, and my eating hasn’t been great. But these things will change starting tomorrow. June 1st will mark the beginning of my training for the Giants Step Half Marathon, happening in early September. 

So, back to clean eating, back to regularly scheduled workouts and saving up money for my racing bike. I’m not sure when I’ll be able to afford that, if not sooner, than later, but I’ll get it eventually.

So, there’s no giving up for me, no going back, no falling down and not getting up. Onward I go!

 

San Francisco Rock & Roll Half Marathon

The sign read:

“It’s Sunday Funday – you’re doing it wrong”

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Nice medal!!

Yeah, we were. This race was brutal. The most brutal race I’d ever ran. In fact, the course was changed and revealed after many runners had already signed up, expecting the same course as last year. In fact, it was a reversal of last year, with lots more added hills, as if it needed more.

This R&R Half started much earlier than most. I assumed it was because of the portion crossing the Golden Gate Bridge. Start time was 6:30am. I caught a free shuttle at Civic Center at 4:30am, so I got up at 3:00am to make sure I had everything together. And of course, just as I left the apartment building, I realized I forgot my watch. Thank goodness I had lots of time. I made it in time to catch the first bus.

The organization was great. It was short of the Hot Chocolate 15k, but I don’t think any race could be as well produced as that one. The SF Hot Chocolate was stellar in every area and I hold it in the highest esteem.

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Ocean Beach at about 5am

Here are my Pros and Cons of the race and some final thoughts. First the Pros.

PROS:

– Great organization. They kept everything simply explained and the corrals were easy to use.

– Nice expo, really enjoyed that.

– Great medal and t-shirt. It’s probably the best race t-shirt I’ve ever seen.

– Lots of porto-bathrooms.

– Good amount of water and aid stations scattered throughout the course.

– Volunteers rocked

 

And now for the Cons:

– The course. It was released late, and I wonder why. This course was nasty, nasty, nasty. I will not run this race again if they have it on the same course.

– Not much good music. It’s supposed to be the “Rock n Roll” Half, but the only music they had pre-race was disco and dance. That’s NOT rock! Lucky I had my own music. There were a couple good bands along the course, but aside from them, the rest of the bands/DJs were again, not rock.

– Post race snacks were weak. Lots of water, good, bananas, good, milk chocolate, good, pistachios, good. But Cheese-Its? Power Bars? Not interested.

– Post race event at Civic Center. I was happy to finish, of course, but the whole after race event seemed to be too low-key. The band playing was awful. They were some sort of whiny alt band, and didn’t fit into the general vibe of the morning. I mean, if you’re the ROCK & ROLL HALF MARATHON, wouldn’t it fit to have a ROCKIN’ band to get finishers moving? At least that’s what I would think. Plus, I really expected a bit more food goodies, which I already mentioned. Or maybe a few more vendors, like a coffee stand. That would have been nice. This is San Francisco after all.

But, with everything considered, it was a good race. I do have some observations and opinions that I wanted to share. Now, these are just my opinions, so if yours are different, that’s awesome.

– Walkers really need to stay on one side or the other. I don’t care which side, just stop dominating the entire length of the course. I’m not that fast of a runner; yet, and it irritates me when two or three walkers will walk in a row without considering anyone else trying to pass them. And yes, we runners will pass you, unless you’re a speed walker. In that case, nevermind.

– if you follow that Jeff Galloway methd of wogging (it’s not running, it’s not walking), for the love of all things right in this world, LOOK BEHIND YOU before you stop running to walk!!! I nearly ran into no less than five woggers today because, they, along with most walkers, thought there was no one else in the race.

– Not a fan of tutus. If you like them, good for you. Same with running skirts, no thank you.

– I LOVE LOVE LOVE my Ultimate Direction Hydration Vest! I didn’t see anyone else wearing one, but it worked beautifully for me. I never had to stop at any of the water stations, and since I carried my own gels, I was good for the entire distance. It was also big enough to carry my phone’s battery charger and cord, so I had music the entire time and was able to get a couple pics at the end. The best part was avoiding the gear check-in.

– Why or why do people still use plastic garbage bags pre-game?? I thought that went out with the 90s. In SF of all places, I don’t want to see such waste. It is really that difficult to to go Goodwill or another used clothes store, buy a cheap sweatshirt and then toss it aside when the race begins? They’re all picked up and donated back. NOTHING is wasted. Plastic garbage bags, on the other hand, are nothing but waste. It makes no sense.

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My medal and bib

I’m sure there’s more I can write about. I’ll do that in upcoming blogs. My week this week will be off to a slow start. I have Monday and Tuesday off. No workout tomorrow, but I look forward to either hiking or swimming Tuesday, not sure which yet. Have great workouts and great weeks!