Monday, October 24, 2016

Lose Some, Win Some.

If I've learned anything about running, it's that it is always a little unpredictable. And that keeps it interesting.

But every now and then, "unpredictable" means that I'm going to have a crappy run. Maybe it's the weather, or my feet, or my legs, or the road, or any of a dozen other things. But it's a crappy run, for sure.

That was my Friday.

Not sure why, but when I started running, my legs felt awkward and clunky. I tried to run, then to jog, and ultimately to walk, but nothing felt smooth and comfortable. I just couldn't get into a groove.

Fortunately, I was running at the gym on the treadmill, so I had other options. I slogged through a mile, then I moved to the bike for four miles and the elliptical for another single mile. I was happy that I didn't give up, though, and that I stuck with the workout.

Contrast that with today. I started out with the same awkward feeling, but soon enough I found my rhythm. The run felt so good that I decided to keep going at the 5K mark and ran a total of 5 miles, instead.

Running. It doesn't always work like you think it should. But that's no reason to quit. Because when it's good, it's really good.

5 miles and lots of sweat later

Friday, October 21, 2016

From Fat To Finish Line - The Facebook Group

If you know me at all, you know that I am very proud of my involvement with the documentary film, "From Fat To Finish Line." It's the story of a dozen people who each lost weight through running and then took on the challenge of the Ragnar Relay Race in the Florida Keys. We battled the heat, the humidity, and the miles, and *spoiler alert* we ultimately crossed the finish line as a team. It was one of proudest moments as a runner.

The film is available now for purchase on iTunes and Amazon or you can watch it on NetFlix.

Believe it or not, the documentary isn't what I'm most proud of, though. It's amazing to be part of it, absolutely. But even more important to me is the community that has sprung up as a result of the film. Let me introduce you to From Fat To Finish Line - The Facebook Group.

Our little group of twelve has become a tribe of more than 7,000 people.

Yes. I said 7,000.

And we're still growing every single day. Because people want to be part of a running community that celebrates who they are right now AND who they want to become. We are fat and thin, tall and short, male and female, young and old. We are every color and religion and nationality. We strive to be the very best at welcoming all walkers/runners/joggers.

We celebrate miles. We cheer finish lines. We applaud non-scale victories. And most importantly, we recognize and support each other when those miles and finish lines and victories feel unattainable and out of reach.

We ARE the reason that people are pushing themselves to try more, to do more, and to be more. We are running buddies and shoulders-to-lean-on and a global support network unlike any other I have ever known.

Thanks to all of you in the group for becoming my running family. And to the rest of you, what are you waiting for? Come join us!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

What's Next for Runner 12?

There's a lot of racing up ahead for me.

Three Ragnar Relay Races.
Three half marathons.
Four full marathons.
And a ten mile virtual race.

Maybe you'll join me for a few miles?

Sunday, October 16th - Road Runner Sports Craft Classic Half Marathon Phoenix

Friday and Saturday, November 4th and 5th - Ragnar Napa Relay

Thursday, November 10th - Tun Tavern Ten Virtual Race

Sunday, December 18th - San Diego Holiday Half Marathon

Saturday, January 7th - Citrus Heritage Run

Sunday, February 5th - Surf City Half Marathon

Saturday, February 25th - Phoenix Marathon

Friday and Saturday, March 10th and 11th - Ragnar Del Sol Relay

Sunday, March 19th - LA Marathon

Friday and Saturday, April 7th and 8th - Ragnar SoCal

Sunday, May 7th - OC Marathon

The Long Road to Long Beach (Marathon Recap)

After nearly three months of preparation and training, the Long Beach Marathon - my Marathon Number Eight - is now just a memory. My training was not great but it was definitely better than my training for the San Diego Rock 'n Roll Marathon, so I consider the whole experience an improvement.

Hello, Dexter

The event was in Long Beach, which is at least a ninety-minute drive from my home in San Diego. With such an early start time, I decided it made sense to stay overnight before the race. Hotels in that area are costly and often unavailable the night before a major event, so I opted for AirBnb, instead. Good call. For $80, I found a private room in a beautiful home only a few miles from the start/finish line and two blocks away from the 12-mile mark on the course. That meant a good night sleep before the race instead of having to drive all the way up from San Diego.

The house was also featured throughout Season 8 of Dexter, which is kind of cool. The host was super friendly, too, which reinforces the idea of AirBnb instead of hotels whenever possible.

Pack Carefully

The night before a race is always a little stressful. I have more gear than I can possibly carry or use, but I do like to have options. I opted to carry a few things with me at the start and pick up extras (like my water bottle and sunscreen) from my husband when I saw him at Mile 11/12. 

The Start Line

It's always emotional for me at the start line. I was alone with my own thoughts this time, so it was an opportunity to really think about all the choices I had made that led me to that moment. From a guy sitting on the couch to a man about to run a marathon, it has been quite a journey. 

After crying my way through the National Anthem, we were off.

What A View

The Long Beach course was overall not the prettiest, but parts of it were spectacular. I really enjoyed the sunrise shining down on the water and the Queen Mary. It was so gorgeous, I stopped for several pictures and didn't care one bit about how much time it was taking me. Always notice the scenery, folks.

On Pace

After running a seven-hour marathon in San Diego, I set a goal for myself of 6:30 for Long Beach. I knew that sub-15:00 miles were easy enough to maintain and that would bring me in right around my goal time. My second 5K was actually faster than my first and I still felt strong after hitting ten miles. But me being me, that was all about to change.

Don't Talk To Strangers

Maybe I need to add Rick Springfield's song to my running playlist, because talking to strangers seems to be impacting my finish times. (I tease, I tease. I will always talk to people on the course. That's half the fun of entering a race.) 

I met a man named Rich while we were still finishing our run along the water's edge. He was a friendly guy, running by himself, and we struck up an easy conversation as we ran/walked. Turns out he is normally a sub-four hour marathoner, but he was not prepared with his training for Long Beach and he was paying the price. I opted to slow down a bit to stay with him, since he seemed to be struggling and hadn't yet fully committed to sticking with it and finishing. What can I say? I'm a sucker for helping other people.

Meeting Ric

This race was unusual in that my husband had come along. I expected he would be meeting me near Mile 11/12, and that's right where he was. Seeing him gave me such a boost of energy and momentum just when I needed it the most. I introduced him to Rich and explained that we were going to run the rest together, and he wished us well and sent us back out on our way.

The Long Miles

If you have never run a marathon, let me tell you about the "back miles." They are the ones that you have to run after the half-marathoners have peeled off for their own course. They are miles 14-19, where you have been running for a long time but still have so, so much to still run.

I felt pretty good on these miles, but candidly, Rich was really having a tough time. His body did not want to be out there, and he was physically sick a few times. But he dug deep and refused to quit, so I just kept pulling him along. And by the time we cleared the Cal State University Long Beach campus and hit Mile 20, he was finally convinced that he was going to finish.

No Regrets

I crossed the finish line with an official time of 7:20:XX. It was much slower than I thought I would be, but I am absolutely proud of the race I ran. I could have left Rich and stuck with my original race plan, but that wasn't the point of being out there. I was supposed to catch up to Rich and make sure he finished, and that's what I did. There will be other marathons for me to improve on my last time.

Fun Fact: When we took off at the start line, a Jet Blue Airlines (the marathon sponsor) jet was taking off from Long Beach to La Guardia. The challenge to each runner was, "beat the jet." The scheduled time was 6:20:00, so most people felt confident they would finish before the plane landed. But the unexpected twist was the phrase, "if you can't beat the jet, join it." Several of us that finished AFTER the jet landed were rewarded with a free, round-trip ticket anywhere Jet Blue flies non-stop from Long Beach. Yep, I won a ticket to New York just because I chose to stick with a slower runner.

Who's awesome now? This guy. 

Thursday, October 6, 2016

6,000 Members. Seriously. 6,000.

Before the day is over, I expect we are going to hit 6,000 members in our From Fat To Finish Line Facebook group.

Six thousand people in one group. That's a lot of folks, to be sure. But thanks to my teammate, Linda, we have a way to visualize just how many people that is.

This is our team of twelve people featured in the documentary From Fat To Finish Line, captured at the finish line of the Ragnar Florida Keys:

From the original twelve, our group began to grow as fans became friends, friends became teammates, and we all became a tribe.

This represents what our group looked like when we were sixty people:

And then six hundred:

And now, in the next few hours, we'll be at six thousand members. And it will look like this:

Thank you to everyone who has made our original group and our passion project become a movement that continues to grow every single day. We are all so grateful to be part of the ever-expanding tribe of people going From Fat To Finish Line.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."
~ Margaret Mead

Saturday, October 1, 2016

To Full or Not To Full?

In less than eight days, I will be standing at the start line for the Long Beach Marathon. And honestly, right this moment, I can't say if I will be running the full or the half marathon.

A Little History

In 2012, I started a marathon training program that I called Project One Five. Over one hundred days, five tasks each day, I trained to run the Pasadena Marathon. And I was successful. I ran my fastest marathon ever - 4:40 - even taking twenty minutes off of my previous PR. It was a good program and a great performance.

By comparison, I didn't train at all for the 2016 Rock 'n Roll San Diego Marathon. I had an amazing race day experience because of my race companions, but it wasn't a very impressive running performance. The course limit was seven hours and I used nearly every minute of that.

I've run seven marathons so far: 2011 Marine Corps, 2012 Pasadena, 2012 Hercules, 2013 Carlsbad, 2013 Marine Corps, and 2016 Rock 'n Roll San Diego. I know what it takes to finish them. More importantly, I know what it takes to be ready to even start them.

Run The Half Marathon

There are so many good reasons to run the half. I have trained, yes, but not as consistently as I could have. My longest run was seventeen miles, which is enough to know I can finish the full distance but not enough to make me feel comfortable that I'm ready. If I switch to the half marathon, I know I can deliver a solid performance and finish strong.

I also have more events ahead. One week after Long Beach, I am running the Road Runner Sports Craft Classic Phoenix Half Marathon. That is an event with my From Fat To Finish Line team, and it's important to me that I am ready to run another distance event right after. Run the half in Long Beach and I'm more likely to run strong in Phoenix.

There have been some crazy life distractions that have sidelined my training. They aren't excuses, just real-world things that have demanded more of my attention. My husband's fall and concussion meant trips to the hospital/doctor and watching over him, of course, but that took time away from long runs. Starting a job nearly thirty miles from my home took time away. And my own personal drama with depression and anxiety didn't exactly make me want to leave my home, let alone go for a double-digit run.

Most importantly, I have nothing to prove with this marathon. I'm not running it with anyone. I'm not running it for a personal record. And while it is the first in a series of three events in the Beach Cities Challenge, a half marathon qualifies just as well as a marathon. Running either is considered completing the event.

Obviously, running the half marathon is the only choice that makes sense.

Run The Marathon

And yet, there are so many good reasons to run the full marathon. Even with no training, I finished the San Diego marathon in June. I'm more trained now, which means there is no chance I don't finish Long Beach. I signed up for it, I've (kind of) trained for it, and I should run it.

I also owe it to my running coach to give this my very best effort. Dropping down to the half sends a message to him that perhaps I am not the runner he thinks I am. Or worse, maybe I just don't have the commitment that I claim to have.

Why else should I run the full distance? Because maybe... just maybe... I am looking at the half because I'm being lazy. Why go 26.2 when I can run 13.1 and people will still write nice things on my Instagram and Facebook posts? Have I really been taking all the compliments ("Wow, you are running a full marathon?! That's amazing!") without really intending to run it all?

The answer seems obvious. If I can run the full marathon - and we all know I can - then I have an obligation to myself, my coach, and everyone who has ever cheered me on to get out there, suck it up, and do all 26.2.

The Verdict

I'm not a quitter. I'm not sandbagging. And I will push myself as far as I can as long as I can until I can't go any further.

I'm running the full marathon. Let's do this.