Thursday, December 4, 2014

Honored Hero Half Marathon

This is an October 20 post from my fundraising page that I'm just now getting around to cross-posting on Blogger.

Yesterday was the event that this had all been building toward. I met my $2,000 stretch fundraising goal and surpassed it by $81.

I hadn't trained much since the August 31 half marathon, and my longest run since then was only 6.55 miles October 11. The night before the race, I'd unexpectedly seen an abusive ex at an event and so began my morning with lingering grouchiness, misanthropy, and no desire to participate at all. Especially not alone. I couldn't find my mp3 player, and it was going to be a VERY long run.

But I wasn't doing it for me. I was there for the victims, survivors, friends, family, coworkers, and their loved ones.

I set off near the back of the pack at a slow and steady jog, thankful for the cool overcast morning and mostly dirt and gravel trail but still scowling at the photographers I passed. I grumped internally about how much fun the other pairs of runners were probably having and the likelihood that I would never ever get to run a marathon because doing this alone was SO horrible.

Seeing Coach Ginny didn't quite cheer but helpfully distracted me for a while, and she pushed me to run a little faster than I otherwise would have. One of the volunteers passing out water remarked on her surprise at one of the front-runners passing the other way so soon. "I didn't expect him to come from behind." And her friend responded with "That's what she said!" before I could analyze whether it would be appropriate to say it myself. I laughed loudly and and pointed at them in acknowledgment.

Sometime as I approached the turnaround, a Wednesday Addams smile threatened to appear. I was on pace for my 3-hour goal. But from 7.5 miles to about 10, the course was all but empty, and eerily lonely and quiet. The sun came out and I panicked, fearing because there was no tree cover at all, but it disappeared again about 2 miles later.

I met Coach Ginny again and had a good, long trot with her until I had about 2 miles left. But the last 1.5, I was absolutely pooped. I took more frequent walk breaks and struggled mightily against body chafing. I was drinking too much water in an effort to keep my body cool, and I felt like I might puke before I finished.

With a half mile to go, my overuse knee injury from May flared up. My left knee shouted in pain, and I alternated shuffled, jogged, and walked the remaining distance with my eyes brimming with tears. I knew I looked rough and repeated in my head, "Just let me finish," scared that the volunteers might stop me and call for a medic. I managed to ask how much farther at the final aid station, and they pointed and told me the finish was just around the corner. I could see it from there . . . just . . . up . . . one last godforsaken hill.

In addition to the pain, I was physically exhausted and had no energy left mentally to fight the onslaught of emotion as I was SO close to finishing. I grimaced and my breath caught in my throat on the final approach; I couldn't even look up or acknowledge the dozens of volunteers lining the final stretch cheering me on (and I'm tearing up again as I write of it).

I crossed the finish line, accepted a medal and water, and stumbled a few paces out of the way to pause my tracking app. 3 hours, 4 minutes. *frowny face* 13.36 miles?! I was 4 minutes over my vague goal with a quarter-mile too-long course and 6 months of simultaneously fighting injury while training for a first half?! Hell yeah!

Then I had to stumble dangerously down a steep hillside to the ambulance to get my knee wrapped and iced. A beautiful woman in a cow suit checked on me, gave me a shoulder to hobble back to the Team in Training tent, and offered to grab me food if I wanted. In-and-Out was catering the event, but I had no appetite whatsoever.

I sat for about 20 minutes, took a few finisher selfies, briefly panicked about the pain I was in and the drive ahead of me, and finally shuffled back to my car, where I grabbed my yoga mat and stretched my aching butt before driving back to my best friend's house to shower. I was very lucky it was my left knee that hurt.

I'd stayed with my friend in Euless so I wouldn't have to drive from McKinney to Fort Worth, and she treated me to a manicure after lunch. We spent the afternoon together while her husband watched their kiddo, and we had a lot of fun catching up, eating pho, being pampered, and shopping.

And I am SO looking forward to taking it easy this winter and running only for maintenance while pondering my long-term goals. I'll be off from running a few weeks while I wait on my knee to heal and am only planning to participate in a 6k race with coworkers on November 15 and a 15k January 10.

It will be a long time before I consider doing anything like this (the fundraising and distance training) again. 

Go Team!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Disneyland Half Marathon weekend!

This is a September post from my fundraising page that I'm just now getting around to cross-posting on Blogger.

I’m writing today with an update on my training and races. I ran the Disneyland Half Marathon (13.1 miles!) on August 31 with my best friend, and it was AMAZING. We spent two days at Disneyland, ran on the third day, and spent the following day at Disney California Adventure Park.
I’ve been fighting a knee injury since May and suffering mightily while training in the grueling humidity and heat. Kaitlin hadn’t been able to train at all because of work. So after two awesome days on our feet in the park, we mentally prepared for a long, painful race day. We got up at 3:30 a.m. to dress, eat, catch a shuttle to the park, and walk to the starting corrals for the 5:30 a.m. race, not realizing that starting in the last corral meant starting closer to 6:30 a.m.
The weather was glorious, and Kaitlin let me push us through a ‘run two minutes, walk one’ routine. The delayed start, however, meant we soon needed a bathroom break, and we lost at least 7 minutes in line for the porta-potties on the course. When we rejoined the other participants, the cutoff pacers were drawing up just behind us. Bicycling volunteers followed them, warning/encouraging participants to catch up or be pulled from the course for not meeting the minimum pace requirement.
By the 5k mark, we were averaging 17:29 minutes per mile, way behind the required 16min/mi minimum.  At 4 miles, Kaitlin was struggling mightily, and I was the most irritatingly cheerful personal trainer/cheerleader I could possibly be. “Walk fast or jog slow, but we’re not walking slow! You’ve got long legs; you can do this!” I told her I’d push her to 6 miles before letting her quit. We enjoyed running through the parks, briefly picking up speed and smiling for photographers, and bopping our heads to the music played by local marching bands and drumlines along the course. But we didn’t have time to stop and wait in line to take pictures with costumed characters.
At about 5.75 miles, the sun came out, we slathered on some sunblock, and we parted ways. I picked up my pace to try to catch the rear pacers, who’d just fallen out of sight. At the 10k mark, I’d picked up some time and was averaging 16:46 minutes per mile. I hit the 7-mile marker feeling unbelievably strong! The course then wound toward the Angels stadium, through it, and back out the other side. Local high school cheerleaders cheered us and gave high fives and I passed what must have been a mile of classic cars and their owners lining a stretch of otherwise boring street.
I alternated running and walking most of the course as needed, following no set plan or timer. My longest training run had been 10.65 miles about two weeks prior, and I had stopped back at my house for water two times in the middle of it, and yet I found myself feeling strong and exuberant throughout the race itself. I threw my arms in the air in a crazy dance while listening to my iPod and passing many other runners. At the 15k mark, my pace had improved to an average 15:50 minutes per mile.
Running the first half with Kaitlin had helped me pace far better than I could have on my own, and I definitely noticed the low energy of participants around me in the last 4 miles. I was tired, too, but I still had a lot left to give, even in spite of a painful blister. It was approaching 10 a.m. and getting quite warm, so the last mile or two was definitely tough. But I found it in me to sprint the final stretch and cross the finish line with my arms raised in the air. I didn’t have a set time goal but had been hoping for 3:30. My final time was 3:22:04 with an average pace of 15:25 minutes per mile.
Another way to break down the math is that I ran the first 3.1 miles in 54 minutes, 22 seconds; the next 3.1 in 49:49 (16 min/mi); the next 3.1 in 43:24 (14 min/mi); and the last 3.8 in 54:29 (14:20 min/mi). Some pretty impressive gains as the morning wore on!
I met up with Kaitlin at the end, and she told me she’d made it to 7 miles, which was WAY more than she thought she could do! She even got her finisher’s medal, too! We hobbled back to the shuttle and soon drove to a nearby spa to soak and unwind before meeting a local friend for an idyllic picnic dinner on the beach.
But there’s no rest in store for me. I’m looking forward to a gorgeous 10k trail race on October 4, my first duathlon (a 500 m swim + 5k run) on October 14, my next half marathon on October 19, the Spartan Beast 10- to 12-mile obstacle race on November 1, a possible back-to-back half marathon challenge on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, and my first stair climb race, the Big D Climb (1,276 stairs in 58 stories) on January 31. Why? Because I like challenges and new things and just want to be able to say at the end, “I did it!”

Tuesday, December 2, 2014


This is a July 28 post from my fundraising page that I'm just now getting around to cross-posting on Blogger.

I've just reached half of my fundraising goal for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, thanks largely to Mom's and Brother's help with volunteering at local races in exchange for fundraising payments! I've also raised over $100 this summer selling jewelry that my aunt made! 
Mom and I volunteered from 5 a.m. for the Disco Triathlon in June, feeding athletes loaded pancakes and fruit after they swam a mile, biked 40 miles, and ran another 9 miles! I don't know about you, but I can just barely swim 500 yards and bike about 5 miles total and never on the same day. It was an amazing experience to see and cheer so many athletes of every shape, size, and sex and deeply inspiring toward my own running goals.
Another volunteer we met there told me about an event called Dude, Just Tri! consisting of a 200-yard swim, 10-mile bike ride, and a 5k (3-mile) run, which I'm now contemplating training for next summer.
Earlier in July, Mom, Brother, and I volunteered from 4 a.m. at the Too Hot to Handle 5k & 15k race in Dallas. Brother directed participants to the parking lot for 5 hours straight and handled with ease the few folks angry about a full lot and having to park farther away. Mom helped athletes check in and get their t-shirts and set up prizes for the top finishers, and I helped police direct traffic and later handed out water to finishers.

We saw our first triple-digit temps of the year that day, and the racers struggled mightily through their 3- and 9-mile courses, even spending their pained breaths to thank us for volunteering. Over 100 volunteers came out that day, including two of my coworkers and one's partner, to take care of participants and make sure everything ran smoothly.
Altogether, we earned $300 for the LLS, and I'm a mere $950 from my final fundraising goal, due October 6 to secure my registration for the Honored Hero Half Marathon in Fort Worth on October 19. Summer training is really tough, but I'm keeping at it and am up to running 8 miles so far out of the 13.1 half marathon distance. The Honored Hero Run recognizes local survivors of blood cancers and raises money for research and treatment. I'm not sure I know anyone who's been affected by these specific cancers, but I signed up because I wanted to do something good for others.
Every little bit helps, so please share with your friends and coworkers. I've been stunned by the level of support from my coworkers and am glad I took on this challenge.
Thanks for all your love and support! I'll be working hard for this final fundraising stretch and to make sure I'm ready for my first half marathon, the Disneyland Half on August 31. I can't believe how quickly it's coming up! 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Onward and Upward!

This is a July 15 post from my fundraising page that I'm just now getting around to cross-posting on Blogger.

I've reached 33% of my fundraising goal and recruited friends and family to volunteer with me at other races to earn an additional $400 that has yet to post to my account, putting me at over 50% of my goal!

In other good news, I had the opportunity to participate in the 8th annual Race Against Misogyny and Sexism 5k, benefiting SafeHaven of Tarrant County, a domestic violence charity, and I took second place in my division!

Thanks to your help, I am well on my way toward my final goal for beating blood cancers!

I'm less than 7 weeks out from my first half marathon in Disneyland!