Running in America’s Finest City

September 2, 2011 1 comment

Finished up my finals for biostastics, worked two days, and went into the half marathon with a little preparation. I went over what to do to get to the course and things to look out for, I made sure I went through the final course packet, highlighted things and put things in red that are really important. I passed out early and got as much ready as I needed to before bed. I honestly can’t remember if I just got ready that morning. My mom woke me up at 3:00AM, 5 minutes before my alarms went off, made me a shake, and I ran out the door to get to the half marathon. I typed in balboa park in the GPS on my phone and it took me to the best spot in the run to park. It took about 20 minutes to get up this steep hill but it was well worth the wait. The main thing about driving to San Diego is that every station goes fuzzy but you can get a little of 98.7, it starts getting really fuzzy the more downtown you get.

I hopped on the bus and again they are really strict for some reason at this marathon series for having your bib and such. Waited about an hour at the start line and it didn’t seem like there were any corrals when the gun went off because people just ran when they had the chance. I kept a 10 minute mile pace for about 6 miles which is the best that I’ve had yet. Even better I didn’t feel tired at all but I had to stop at the bathroom which took 15 minutes off my time and another 15 minutes of walking to recover (5 minutes added to 3 miles).

I actually met up with one of the people I saw in Carls Bad, she was running and said Hi. I felt bad because I veered off to go to the bathroom without saying anything, I was holding it for 2 miles, there are no words to describe. There wasn’t much that stood out in the course. We got lucky again, it was overcast up until the 11th mile as it usually seems to be. We were walking uphill for about a mile and then I noticed at the end of the uphill we were going uphill for about 2 1/2 miles. I didn’t even know it was on the course, no one said anything, I didn’t overhear anything. Except for running through a rental car lot near the airport the run wasn’t that bad, beachfront again or bay front, either way it was a beautiful course.

It would have been nice to finish the Triple Crown series with a sub 2:20:00 but it will happen eventually, then I just have to trim 20 minutes from my time to get my goal time. I think I ended with a 2:45:00 and I assumed that I added 30 minutes of unnecessary and avoidable actions for my next run so I think if I kept up with my pace I could have had around a 2:18:00, which is great, it’s nice to know I’m running sub 2:20:00 even though it’s not technically official.

Debating whether or not I should shoot for running a sub 2:20:00 for the Disneyland half marathon or at least run for time to see where I’m at. But it’s Disneyland? How can you pass up the sightseeing, out of all the runs? I might default to walking with Tina and my mom. This one will be a doozy, it’s a 3:30:00 finish time.

[Ordered the pictures over a week ago and they still haven’t arrived, a proof for now.]

[Not sure how San Diego got the trademark for America’s Finest City.]

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Categories: 1/2 Marathon, Triple Crown

Catching up on Sleep in Chicago

September 2, 2011 Leave a comment

To those who haven’t heard, I did end up missing the Chicago event. This was the fifth week of biostats, I had done three weeks of school every week day and then working every weekend, I had a half marathon and flew out to Providence the weekend before, got sick for two days after and still had residual. I flew down Saturday. I was so busy with school I didn’t even have time to book a room. I was just going to sleep in the airport again. I called Mohammad and he helped me for two hours to get a hotel in the airport. I went down to the bus checkin and got lucky because the bus arrived a minute after I showed up (come around every two hours). So, my phone by then was almost dead and I forgot my charger.

Getting to the hotel was something else too. We were on the freeway and some car slid into the shuttle bus so we pulled to the side of the road for an hour. When we were sitting there we saw someone do a 180 too. So, I checked into the hotel and talked with Mohammad about getting on the CTA because I didn’t remember the exact street I had to get off on and I wanted to know which place to meet him at. I asked the front desk for a charger and they couldn’t find one. Did all that, went to the room, showered, watched some tv and went to bed. Starting to see why? I woke up and it said 7 o’clock but I had to wake up at about 5 oclock for the shuttle to take me to O’hare catch the CTA to Jackson street. Mega fail unless I could run a 2 hour half, which I’m just short of.

I went to get continental breakfast, might as well right? I asked the front desk for a charger and of course they had one this time in the lost and found that I could use. If I had it last night I could have remembered to set an alarm because a wake-up call would have been too convenient to remember to do. Went on the internet in a community room for it and heard on the radio the Chicago half marathon was going on. That’s a little jab right there.

I packed up, checked out of the room, charged my phone, caught the shuttle to O’hare and took the CTA to Jackson St. to meet up with Mohammad from Pre-Med Hell. It was nice to finally meet him. He took me around Chicago for a few hours, we couldn’t do much because my flight was at 3:00PM but we walked around a little bit. It’s made me realize that I need to spend a few more days in Chicago the next time I go down, maybe a week next time or at least a good weekend.

Took the train back to O’hare, took O’hare back to Vegas with people who must have been going to some crazy party because they were the loudest people I’ve seen in an airplane and made it back at night and passed out from the trip. Everyone that heard I overslept thought I overslept a little bit and still made it to the run and I’m like, nah, I missed the whole run haha. So, pretty expensive trip to miss everything but I reasoned that it gave me the rest I needed to finish up biostats strong. I felt really good from the sleep I got. I had over 350 pts that week, possible borderline grade, and it in fact worked. I got the grade I needed, so I believe it was for the better. There were a lot of things going against me to not wake up in the morning. Of course, it would have been nice to catch up on sleep under different circumstances.

When it comes down to it, school must take priority so I don’t feel bad about the money essentially gone down the drain. I signed up for the New Years Eve run anyway and I’ll still reach my goals to finish the series as well as my ultimate goal, medical school.

[It was a nice hotel to sleep in by the way, the Executive Suite Plaza, something to that effect if anyone wants to sleep a few days there. The non-smoking section is actually non-smoking.]

[That picture right there is probably worth $75.00 so please enjoy it! It’s a picture of a stainless steal? bean that’s in the middle of a park in Chicago. It sounds kind of dumb but it’s actually pretty neat.]

Family Reunion in the Cape and the Providence Half

August 30, 2011 Leave a comment

I wanted to do enough events this year to be able to get the Rock Legend heavy medal for the Rock ‘n’ Roll series but I could only do it if most of them were during the summer and winter off-season. One of the runs was on August 7, 2011, it was the inaugural Providence half marathon in Rhodes Island. I wanted to see if my mom wanted to go and it turned into a family reunion for the whole family, everyone was coming down not just immediate and extended but people we haven’t seen in years upon years.

Months and months down the road, the semesters grew harder for school and it was too much too handle so I had to drop, early in the semester, before the W mark, my biostatistics course. So, in order to stay on a reasonable track for graduation I had to take biostats in the summer which was right in the middle of going down to the family reunion. And of course the reunion was the weekend before and my mom nor I had the money for two tickets to Providence and back so I could go to the reunion, come back, and then go back for the half marathon.

So, I drove everyone to the airport after a four hour lab exam, they left for the week and I met up with them after a lecture exam the week after. I flew down that Thursday night and was there in the morning. I’m starting to get used to these 40 hour days that I’ve been doing. Everyone was pretty much gone by then, just a few people that we’ve seen over the years. They have nice beach front property in the cape (cape cod, sub-sect in Massachusetts).  The Boston airport charged too much for their internet but their Dunkin Donuts had a great croissant sandwich.

Spent some time touring, a lot of relaxing, spending some time with friends (putting faces to names that I’ve heard for a long time) and then we went to the Providence half in the morning on Sunday. It was great because it was hot all weekend and then it rained before the half, it rained during the entire time we ran, and it rained afterward. It rained when we were getting our bibs for the race just a little bit so we tried to cover ourselves and when we were putting on our bibs and RFID tags. We even put safety pins on our tags because we were scared they would fall off during the race. It poured the entire time we were waiting to take off in the race.

My little cousin Rebecca ran/walk it with us and she did a great job especially for her first half, in tennis shoes, in the pouring rain. I’m not sure if I would have been excited about it my first time in the rain especially at that age. She wasn’t at first and it took her a minute to do the first couple of miles but she did really well afterward. It took her 38 minutes to do the first two miles and she picked it up to 15 min miles and then 14 min miles. By the time we hit the third or fourth mile our shirts were soaked, our pants were soaked, our shoes were a pool of water, they must have weighed 15 lbs heavier than they were dry.

After the 8th or 9th mile I had to run ahead because the sag bus was trailing us by a few hundred yards back so I ran ahead to make sure that I beat the time we needed to get the finishers medal and continue the heavy medal series. Truth is, my mom and I should have just stayed with her because she finished with just enough time to get a medal and everything so we would have been fine. I beat her by 10-15 minutes. My mom was on the lower end, 10-12 minutes, roughly. I met up with an OR nurse for the last three miles and she said she probably wouldn’t do Providence again, I wonder why? But after this one she wasn’t going to do any for a while because it was just a tough race to beat (finish). She was nice though, she was visiting her grand kids, the whole nine yards, lives in California.

On the way home we went through the Cheesecake factory to get to the parking lot, not sure if they appreciated when runners going through their restaurant. The parking lot was huge for the run, I wouldn’t doubt they accommodated most of the runners with that one parking lot (I think it was Sears). Sat on the rental car seats, soaked them. Went back to the hotel with my little cousin saying she would never do one again. After we showered and warmed up she let out a little murmur of, let’s do one again. I think she’ll enjoy local runs better in sunny ville California with running shoes.

All in all the run was pretty great. The rain yeah, it could have been better but then again with the humidity of the East coast and how hot it could have really been, the rain was a cool alternative. It wasn’t all that cold, it only was a little cold near the end most likely from our immune systems taking a beating. And of course, it’s always something to talk about. “You’re telling me you paid all that money to go run for four hours in the rain?” It was a great experience to hvae, rain or shine. 

[What’s funny though is if you go on the RnR Providence home page, you notice that the runners are happy and cheering to the finish and it appears sunny. But, if you look at it, you can see that it’s raining and at the very least overcast, because I’m sure there idea is who wants to register for a run in the rain? At that point, I can just run for free haha.]

Seattle and the Dissappointing Dehydration

August 25, 2011 Leave a comment

When I went to Seattle, I was in a molecular biology course for the summer. Luckily we just had an exam that Thursday so there wasn’t any new material, I could fully enjoy working and my trip to Washington. My itinerary had a layover in Salt Lake City, very nice people. The airports are finally catching on and a lot of them are allowing a certain amount of time if not unlimited WiFi access. I believe Utah gave us 45 minutes and then you just had to log back in. There are still a few of them that are charging $10.00 a day.

So, I made it to Seattle late into the night and I know they gave you the same 45 minute access because I would try and watch an episode of Scrubs and it would log me off before it finished buffering. I was making every effort at this point to pay my credit cards off as well so I slept in the airport and packed a huge lunch, well it was more of a lunch, dinner, breakfast, lunch, dinner. You can get through airport security with a water bottle as long as the water bottle is empty. Then you just fill it up after the security checkpoint. Saves a lot of money because water can be expensive if there’s no McDonald’s or Burger King and even then it’s still more than it should be.

I didn’t know what security was going to do if they saw me there for that long waiting for an airplane so I tried to stay up most of the night. I made it until about 3AM was the last I remember looking at my laptop. I don’t remember setting any alarms on my phone so it was a good thing I woke up two hours later, drooling all over myself and my laptop an inch way from falling to the ground.

So, I slowly made my way to the bathroom to change and a taxi to make it to the start line. Luckily it was only about 15 bucks to get to what we thought was the start line. I walked about 500 yards from where the taxi dropped me off and the officer guarding the path to the start was quick to reassure us that you have to “go back that way about two miles.” You can only imagine people’s faces. I’m not that much of an elite runner but other runners who looked like 9:00 and 10:00 min miles were a whole lot more expressive. I started my trek there and a car that was blocking my path, the girls inside were like, “Do you need a ride?” I’m like, someone is watching over me, thank god, “Yeah” “Get in” We zoomed off to the freeway entrance, then the freeway, then a freeway off-ramp, it must have been like 2 1/2 miles and even then we cheated, we had to jump over the guard rails and run through a grass field to get to the start line festival. Those girls were funny though, they were troopers, I thanked them and they ran off (more serious runners).

I hadn’t done gear check until then but there was no way out of it this time. They were actually really helpful, we had UPS trucks take all our stuff from point A to point B. I’ve been using it ever since. Got my bib, got a banana, a roll, and some water and made my way to the start line. It looked mildly overcast like it was going to rain. Most of the start of the run is a blur. I know that I was going to be right behind the 2:30 pacers because if I caught up to them I could make a 2:20 time running at their pace. At about 6 miles in I had an overwhelming bathroom break. I tried to run a little after that and I walked the rest. I was really dehydrated and I could feel my right calf acting up again. Made the decision to stay healthy and have no injuries. Plus, I was in Seattle, Washington for the first time. The trees were huge, the green was beautiful, and the lake was amazing. So, I might as well sit back and enjoy a good time. I ended with a 3:00:00 something which wasn’t all that bad for walking the rest.

Got my shirt, got my backpack, and someone was handing out free deli sandwiches, oh my, what a delicacy after a run. I saw everyone taking these huge flight of stairs so I thought I would take it to find a cab back to the airport. I shared a cab with these two ladies that were visiting their relatives. They were very nice. They told me about some sights I had to see in Rhodes Island, they had some family down there. They got to their hotel and paid the cab fair to the hotel so all I had to do was pay the little bit back to the airport. I was really thankful because I really didn’t have the money for it. I talked with the cab driver too, he has a wife and kid and really wants to try and for the Seattle half next year but it’s hard with a kid. It’s hard enough without a kid. He didn’t even want a tip really, I still gave him a little bit.

A few drooling events later and I was back at John Wayne waiting for my brother to pick me up, crashed before I had class the next day.

[That picture shows some huge back foot pounding. I’ve been doing everything I can to have my feet more level but that picture definitely shows otherwise.]

The San Diego Half: My Anniversary Run and the Worst Cramp Yet

August 25, 2011 Leave a comment

San Diego is my anniversary run. After the LA marathon 2007, we did a lot of 5k’s and 10k’s but it wasn’t until the San Diego half that I started getting back into more serious running. Well, not really all that serious, we have a lot of fun when we do them. I ran this one last year and I was planning for about two months to try and do as well as I can. I knew with the La Jolla half that I got a 2:33 which was an hour better than my first half time. I honestly had no time to train since April. I was studying constantly for my science finals, specifically my physics final. At one point, I stayed in our university library for two straight weeks studying. The San Diego half was two weeks after. I worked out every day I could after but it wasn’t enough to get my muscles ready.

I don’t remember as much about this run as I do for other runs but I remember a few things. I remember that it took me over a half an hour to go 0.2 miles on the freeway to get to the airport parking lot. Thought I was going to be late for the run but I was there 30 minutes early. My advice is that if you’re running reasonably late, don’t worry, let people through on the freeway, still be cordial because the buses (especially for the Rock n Roll Series) will run later than they say. Of course, they’re not going to tell you that. You’re not guaranteed a spot on the bus but they usually run pretty late. If you’re running extremely late then you might want to tailgate the car in front of you.

The course was pretty much the same if not the same as last year but I really just don’t remember. I remember that there was a humongous downhill that’s at least a mile down. I hauled to the base of it, I must have been going at an 8:00 or 9:00 pace. I know that I was making pretty okay time and that even when I would walk part of the mile I was still maintaining a 12:00 pace.

And now for the part that is mostly a blur. I made it to the 12 mile marker. My right calf had been contracting a little but it wasn’t anything that I was too worried about. A few hundred yards in the muscles pushed in and I tripped over myself, smashed my hands into the pavement and laid in the middle of the course with a huge cramp. Runners were running by, one of them said, “Oh, cramps are the worst…” Two people helped me off the course and I asked them not too until my cramping stopped. If runners help you off the course they’re compromising their times and I’m really thankful I had two people help me up to the sidewalk.

Someone from the medical team came running to me to see if I was okay. I liked him a lot, he was a trooper, just going with the flow. Asked if I was okay, he knew I needed potassium quick. He found a GU on the ground, “It’s not opened if you want it.” “Yeah, I’ll take it.” I waited for the EMTs to assess me, what year is it, where are you, who’s the president. “Are you gonna finish this thing?” “Hell, yeah.” They helped me up and I was on my way. Every step I took I had to stretch my right calf at the same time. If I didn’t stretch it for two steps it would get a huge aura for cramping again. On the finishing video you can actually see me limping across the finish line. Maybe I’ll upload it, it’s kind of funny now.

I walked over to medical, had them wrap my legs in ice and I guess I didn’t calm down from the finish because I started hyperventilating, getting light headed, seeing starts, almost out of body experience. So, I laid down for a while, took a Tylenol, and limped my way to the car.

I laugh now but it could have been really serious. I saw another runner who almost went to the hospital for an electrolyte imbalance, they called it off last minute. I’ve noticed on different runs that its the same part of my calf every time. I’d love to say that I learned my lesson after that but I didn’t really learn until the AFC half marathon the importance of protein, electrolytes, and water before the run. I knew that something was wrong and something I was doing had to change but I didn’t understand it until a few days ago.

Despite the injury, I still finished with my second best time (2:38:59) and I estimated I would have had under a 2:20 with how long the last mile took. The splits they gave after the race for the 5k and 10k confirmed that it could have been that if I kept it up for the last mile. They did a much better job with the bus transport to the airport this time. I heard that some babies got sick from being in the heat last time, for us it was a two hour wait in the boiling summer sun after the run. This time it was 10 minutes, much more manageable. It was hard getting on that bus though. Driving home wasn’t that bad either but my leg was on edge for a week.

La Jolla Half: Running a 2:33:18 on the Hardest Track I’ve Seen Yet

August 23, 2011 1 comment

I ran the La Jolla Half-Marathon in April right around the time that we had a leave of absence from posting. School picked up for finals and I’ve been in summer school since which may explain a little of the leave. In any regard, I still apologize for the absence. Since then I don’t remember as much as I would have if it was fresh but I still remember a lot.

I remember that the GPS took me to the wrong location and it was interesting going in circles to try and find the right place. I took a wrong left and found a parking lot right near the buses, thankfully, and it was a lot closer than the main parking lot. The parking for me was lucky but for others there were no buses and it was pretty much a free for all. Pre-event was a lot of frustration. Most of the marathons I go to I can’t attend the convention so I have to find a different way to get ahold of my bib and RFID tag. To anyone that is worried about this, I will say there is always a way to skip the convention and get the bib otherwise.

The staff for this event were rather rude to be honest. They care a lot more than they should about people taking bibs that aren’t there’s for runners who aren’t going to make any noise. They want people who are picking up the bib to be that person. If not, you need a driver’s license, a signed document saying they can pick up the information. I forgot to give this to my mom and she had to drive around for two hours and wait a half hour in some surf shop waiting for a fax because the information couldn’t be provided by picture text. You can pass airport security with a picture of your ticket on your phone but you can’t pass this event staff. Ridiculous? But it gets better, after that we didn’t have the cash to pay to get your bib your morning of so my mom wrote a check and threatened her if it bounced. Come on people. It’s a marathon. We’re not signing the lease to a home, we’re signing a $20 check for a marathon of which only costs $60. So, you’re charging roughly 35% to get our bib at the marathon which shouldn’t be that much of an inconvenience and to put the cherry on top, we get attitude for it. It makes for a perfect reason to come back. But, it didn’t end there. They gave me attitude while I was getting my bib and while I was picking up my shirt afterward.

Apart from the great service the staff provided, the half marathon was actually extremely beautiful. I was really nervous about the “monster hill” La Jolla is known for not to mention the hills in between. I met a few people before getting on the bus and they eased my mind about it. Some people to look up too, running a 1:45 and one of them was a pretty big guy, not the average skinny muscle we’re all used to seeing. I know I’m down to a 2:33 for my best time but it’s nice to know that under a 2:00:00 is right around the corner. The guy I talked too on the bus was really nice too. I talked to him for the 30 minutes it took to get to the event. Going to community college, screwed off a lot, but he’s getting his stuff together. He knows a lot about running and the bond you make when you run with someone. After we told our life stories we both went our separate ways.

So the marathon took off from intercoms at this shopping center. And I start off running and I usually try and go the pace of the runners that I’m starting with. Whether or not I’m in the right corral or wave or group, I always move up as much as I can. At the one mile mark I notice the time and I say to myself, nah that can’t be and I kept running and running with the group that I was with. And I started getting way more tired than I’m used too, “I know I haven’t been training that hard because of school but I can’t be this out of shape?” I saw the 4 mile marker time and noticed 40 something minutes on the clock, I know it was around 44 minutes. “44 minutes, divided by 4…. Ohhhhhh”

The five mile marker was coming up and in the distance I see this huge hill and as you get closer you start to see runners going up it, “So, that’s what they were talking about.” At a GU right before it and ran a little and noticed that wasn’t gonna happen so I walked the 2 mile hill that seemed like a 45% grade most of the way up. I felt pretty good afterward and must have sprinted down the hill because I made up for lost time, I was going pretty fast, probably a lot faster than I should have, could have gotten easily hurt. So, it was two miles up and then two miles down. At about mile 9 when I was ready to give up and just walk the rest. I worked out the time in my head and I couldn’t beat my 2:40 time. The guy I knew crossed right around the same I crossed the start. He worked it out in his head and if I kept up the pace I could still make it. So, we jogged and walked the rest of the way. I was thinking a 2:39 and possibly a 2:40 again. I see the clock in the distance say 2:36 as I’m running down the last hill we had to climb for the finish. Tag time was 2:33:18. The guy came running right after me and congratulated me for getting a 2:30.

I was really happy that I did it, I remember that. When you beat your time, as far as physical endurance there aren’t many people to thank but yourself. They may have helped you a long but all you have to blame and the one you have to most thank is yourself. You did it, you overcame, no one else but yourself. And that’s a great high to ride.

Despite the event staff, the people and the half itself is a beautiful course. Even with the hills you can still hall down half of it (what comes up must come down). Just make sure you have good form when you run down the hills and make sure you lift your head up when you’re going up them. Picking your head up, opens your trachea and gives your lungs more air, you shouldn’t be as tired from the hill, though you  may feel like it. Good form down a hill is important so you don’t hurt anything (people tend to go faster down hill then up hill). Usually a lot more pounding then uphill.

Categories: 1/2 Marathon, Triple Crown

We’re Finally Back and Doing Better than Ever

August 23, 2011 2 comments

The last post that we put up was on pacing and the benefits of slowing down. On behalf of the team, I would like to apologize for such a long time in posting, I noticed the last update was on April. A lot has happened and I’m excited to give updates on what’s been going on. Some new goals, some new planning, and a lot of new energy to finish up the year.

I’m not sure if this is going to happen or not but I’m excited to give a few updates on some tips that I’ve picked up since then. The team is doing great, we’re gearing up for a few half marathons next year already and we’ll announce those soon enough.

Thank you to everyone who has stuck out the wait and look out for updates in the near future.

Categories: Announcements
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