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Posts tagged ‘The Long Run’

Catching up (+ the San Francisco Marathon expo)

So ... my blog had a major issue this past weekend. I spent Friday-Monday trying to get it restored. It took a call, several support tickets and a bunch of anguish on my part to bring it back. I lost one of my personally managed sites in the process. It was all sorts of sadness for me, especially because I truly thought I'd lost my daughter's birth story (even though I had backed up the database).

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Taking on the Sirena 18 a second time


Do you ever have one of those days where you truly love running? I mean not just the running part, but also the sense of accomplishment and camaraderie from other runners?

Running is hard. Anyone who tells you differently is either freakishly athletic or lying. Your feet pound the pavement constantly. Your whole body shakes. You can easily feel worn down at the end. In some cases, you feel broken and beaten.

Confession: I used to feel the later of those things and more after a run.

Recent realization: I’m lucky to be able to finish a half marathon, marathon or any other event AT ALL. Not everyone can do it. Not everyone wants to. But being a runner, or any distance, means you’ve committed to the challenge. Finishing that distance means you did it. All the runners I’ve ever meant say that once they finished that “unreachable distance” they want to keep pushing. They want to keep going. We’re damn lucky we can.

That brings me to the Mermaid Series Sirena 18. By far, this is one of the smallest races I’ve done in the three years I’ve been running. And I love it.

It is one of three races I’ve run that focuses on female runners (See Jane Run and the Nike Women’s Marathon are the other two). The goal is to empower women of all sizes and backgrounds to just run. The “just run” part is hard enough. Getting out there is even tougher. Running in front of people is unfathomable for some people.

With all that said, this year’s Sirena 18 went well at the beginning, but kind of fell apart at the end for me. And you know what? That’s OK.

I was hot. The sun was beating down on me. I ran out of Gu at mile 15 (seriously!). I felt like I slowed to a crawl after blazing through the first 11 miles without any issues. And it’s all OK.

Because I went out and ran.


The day started out in kind of a daze. My 4:30 a.m. alarm got me up quickly. I was out the door by 5:20 a.m. for a round of pick ups of fellow runners in Mountain House. My husband decided last weekend that he wanted to head up to Colusa and see a friend this weekend. That left me by myself for this run, which was OK when my running buddy Sam offered to come with and bring her daughter to run the Mini Mermaid run.

We stopped by and picked up two more runners to head to Quarry Lakes Regional Recreation Area in Fremont.

We were there within an hour, maybe even 45 minutes. My race was the earliest one, starting at 7:30 a.m.

In retrospect, I probably spent too much time in the car hanging out and not enough time stretching and preparing. It was kind of cold outside. I wasn’t exactly in “race mode.” That would come back to haunt me later.

I went and grabbed my race bib in the Sirena 18’s one line. I was also given a pretty nice, though long, shirt.


At 7:25 a.m., I lined up and met up with my friend Mimi, who was running her first Sirena 18. Mimi and I go way back to my beginning newspaper reporting days. She’s now a director for an influential organization in my hometown. I first met and interviewed her when she was in high school. I’m in awe of all she’s done since then.

I was pretty jazzed to see her.

The race started right on time with a small field, though more people than last year. It started all good.

Mile 1: 10:06 — Good pacing, feeling good. The start is a smooth, conversational pace.

Mile 2: 10:15 — Still in the park, moving along nicely. The sky is overcast. I’m worried a little because my skin burns more when it’s overcast. I wonder if I’ve put enough sunscreen on.

Mile 3: 10:19 — My first Gu for the day. My legs were starting to warm up. We hit the first out and back. I slow for the Gu and take down a little water with it.

Mile 4: 10:19 — Feeling really good here.

Mile 5: 10:07 — The Gu starts to kick in. I feel amazing as we hit the bridge to take us to the longer of the two out-and-back routes.

Mile 6: 10:41 — My legs are feeling good, but I’m also getting tired.

Mile 7: 10:56 — Why am I so tired? At this point, we’re past the beginning of the park. Nowhere to go but out and back now. It’s a long way until the turnaround.

Mile 8: 10:37 — Another Gu.

Mile 9: 11:41 — Slowing through a water stop. It’s starting to get warm and it’s not even that late.

Mile 10: 10:48 — Gu is kicking in now. Feeling good. The turnaround for the longer out-and-back is within this mile. Only eight miles? I have this! (BTW, I may have been imagining it, but I thought someone said “and she runs!” right here. If that was someone out there who reads my blog, speak up!)

Mile 11: 12:13 — Or do I? I get through the first 11 miles in under two hours. It’s good, but I’m starting to really feel the heat here. In fact, it literally feels like someone just flipped a switch. Why? The first part of this section, we run facing away from the sun. On the way back, we run facing the sun. Suddenly it feels so much hotter. And I’m miserable.

Mile 12: 11:58 — I hate you sun. I hate you so much.

Mile 13: 12:55 — SUN. FIERY SUN. BLAH.

Mile 14: 12:59 — I’m hot. I’m miserable. I realize that I’m falling way behind here. I was doing so well. Now it’s falling apart. I take another Gu in between miles 13 and 14.

Mile 15: 12:03 — The Gu kicked in. I feel better, but I’m still hot. And then I realize my toe hurts. My left IT band is also screaming at me. That’s what happens when you don’t stretch. I was really feeling it then.

Mile 16: 12:48 — Between the heat, my IT band and my toe, I was dying. But the bridge back into the park was coming up again. I was elated to see it. I just wanted to finish. I tried to go for another Gu only to realize I was all out. All out. Gone. No more Gu. Well, crap. One of my major mistakes last year was not taking the Gu at mile 16.

Mile 17: 12:08 — Picking it up back into the park. I grabbed a couple glasses of very watered-down Gatorade. It hardly tasted like Gatorade. If outside the park felt steamy, inside the park was like a furnace. Yikes. Everyone around me was commenting on how horrible it felt. We hit an area near the lake and it smelled like fish. I was ready for it to be over.

Mile 17.82: 10:04 — I was a little disappointed as I came into the finish, until I saw Sam’s daughter with a sign she made specifically for me. She was running into the finish area with me, yelling “Go Tara!” OK, you can’t be mad when you see that. Not at all.


I was handed the charm the Mermaid Series awards participants with. I crossed the finish, grabbed a bottle of water and headed over to Sam. We sat for awhile talking before moving into a more shaded area. I needed to get out of the sun. I was so afraid of baking my skin and turning into a lobster.

Less than five minutes after I finished, I got a text message from the timing company with my official time: 3:22:54.

Even though the last seven miles were not my best, I beat last year’s time by nearly 10 minutes. That’s a good run. Again, I’m damn lucky to be able to run. I’m going to celebrate it.

I’m also going to celebrate Mimi a little too. I saw Mimi a couple times along the course. Each time, she looked cool, collected and serious. Mimi was determined.

I felt honored to cheer Mimi in when she came into the finish. I wish I still had my shoes on because I would have kept running along the chute next to her. I underestimated the thickets in the grass. But I took a cue from my friend’s daughter and started yelling her name the moment I saw her.


That’s Mimi. Mimi rocked it. I swear I’ve never seen a runner look so serene when she finished. She HAD this run. She OWNED this run. I have no doubt that when she runs a marathon, she’ll conquer it with as much determination as I saw her with out there during the Sirena 18.

One of the amazing things about the running community is that we all support each other. This is even more true at races put on with the intention of supporting female athletes. It’s women encouraging other women. Each woman’s name was said at the finish line. It’s a cheesy cliche, but it’s about “girl power.”

I was kind of on overload with all that support. Between a solid finish time (even though the last seven miles were a struggle), hanging out with my friend and her daughter (and heading out to Fremont with a car full of runners) and being able to cheer a friend on as she came into the finish, I felt proud to be a member of the running community.

I’m not sure even Mimi realizes how seeing her on the course pumped my spirits up, especially when I was struggling to keep lifting my feet. Just seeing someone you know and having them say “doing good” or “you got this” is an affirmation. It was a truly inspiring day for all of the reasons listed.

I’ll say it again: Runners choose this. We choose to endure the long runs, the long hours of workouts and the body pains. We push ourselves to go faster and longer. It makes us a little crazy, I’ll admit. But it also means we are incredibly fortunate.

Channeling my inner mermaid


I’m working on my race report for the Mermaid Series Sirena 18 tonight, trying to keep on top of posts for the multiple races I’ll be doing in coming weeks. But I figured I would post a quick update about how it went.

The first 11 miles were great, averaging miles with the 10-minute mark in front of them. I felt really good until about the time I hit the turnaround with a picturesque view of Coyote Hills in the foreground, then I was running straight into the sun. And I felt it. Every single step of the way.

I had to re-read my race report from last year to realize this was a problem for me then too. Basically I melt when running into the sun. Or at least that’s what it felt like today.

My last seven miles were a struggle to keep in 12-minute range, many edging up, but not quite getting to 13.

I felt like I could have performed a lot better in those last seven miles. But I’m really proud of how I did. I took nearly 10 minutes off my time from last year. I had fun. I felt like it went by a lot faster, because it did. And I felt like I knew I could do it from the get go.

So I’m not upset. Just a little disappointed that those last seven miles weren’t as good as the first 11. But getting in 11 miles in under two hours is impressive for me, not matter how I feel about the whole race right now.

I’m proud. And that’s probably the biggest difference between me as runner now and me as a runner a year ago: These things are no longer disappointments. They are just part of the journey.

Running sucks, especially when you fall

Confession: I fall off my bike a lot. I love it dearly, but it’s fast and scary. (Yes, I’m wearing a helmet.) The last time I took my bike out for a ride, I crashed into a light pole I was trying to grab on to so I could unclip from the pedals quickly. I’ve kind of concluded that it will take a miracle for me to get better at cycling.

Second confession: In the hundreds of miles I’ve logged outside, I’ve only ever had a “tumble” when running. It wasn’t even a legitimate fall. It was, to say the least, weak sauce when it came to falls.

Until today.


That’s an epic bad wrist sprain thanks to a stupid broken sidewalk that I missed.

Let’s back up to this morning: Jennie and I were planning a noon 15-mile run through my very small city. Tracy is literally five miles each way, not counting the outlining areas, and pretty easy to navigate around. I have five, six, nine and 10 mile paths that are my “go-tos” when I need those distances. I usually do my long runs in an adjacent community where I know the paths, the sidewalks and basically feel comfortable about not getting cat calls (I’m not the cutest girl, but men can’t seem to resist yelling “hey baby!” or whistling as I run by).

Today, we decided on a Tracy run. That meant I needed a new plan since I didn’t want to repeat my five-milers three times.

We started out slow. It’s March 1, but it’s been pleasantly nice in California. I’d say it was somewhere in the 70s today, which was hard on us if only because we are so used to cold-weather running. My legs took forever to warm up. We got lost, my fault, once. And as we were finally getting our stride, I turned back and said something to Jennie…






All of that happened.

I had missed a part of the sidewalk that was sticking up. In broad daylight. And I was the spotter, the lead runner. I basically failed at my job today. (I’m also always the one with the headlamp, go figure.)

I think Jennie was so awestruck she didn’t know what happen.

She tried to pick me up off the ground as I rolled there, half stunned. The fall took my breath away. I got up and started walking.

I’ll premise this next stuff by saying this: Jennie is a mom.

She’s not just a mom. She’s a pretty excellent mom. And therefore Jennie went all mom on me (I’m not being patronizing, I’m actually really glad she did).

I got up and started walking. I was a little off. I couldn’t hear out of my right ear (!!!!). I was wobbly at best. My chest hurt. And the world around me kept getting black. I told her all these things.

“I’m going to call Chris to come get us,” she said, taking my phone. Chris is her husband. He was home today too (Jennie had off, I stepped away from my freelance stuff to run).

“We need to get you ice,” she said.

Twenty minutes later, we were stocking up on ice packs, bandages and Peeps (don’t judge me) at CVS, which happened to be right down the street from where I fell.


Jennie did an emergency wrap in the car. I was still kind of fuzzy.

Jennie also did something that I wouldn’t have done myself: She told me the run was over. No ands, ifs or buts. The run was over. I was to go home, take Ibuprofen, apply ice and rest.

That’s why I love Jennie. When she means business, she means business.


So I was all iced-up. I’m still feeling a little woozy. But my legs, which took a hard hit, don’t hurt, outside of a new war wound that isn’t too bad. I was surprised, actually, that my Nike Retro capris didn’t rip. I think if I’d been wearing any other pair of capris, I’d have a hole as big as my knee where I hit.


And let’s ignore the fact that I don’t shave my legs well.

Five hours later, I’m grateful for a few things. The first is that Jennie’s husband came and got us. I don’t think I would have been able to walk home. I barely got to CVS. We were about two miles from home. (Again, not long, but long enough when you can’t see anything right.) He’s a good guy like that.

The second thing is that Jennie has enough good sense for the two of us. She knew, despite my initial protests, that there was no way I’d finish this run, no matter how much I wanted it. And I did want it. This marathon training cycle has been so messed up that I really just want some good training runs so I know I’m ready for the April 7 marathon in San Luis Obispo.

I’m also grateful I’m not hurt worse than I am.

I’m a little wobbly still. I feel a little nausea as well. Jennie says I might have hit my head. I can’t remember if that happened (would I?), but I know I’m feeling off balance.

I have a wrap around my wrist, but it hurts far above where it stops as well.

I told my husband that’s what happens when 170 pounds falls hard on the ground. I’m not a light woman. I may not look that big, but my legs are pretty heavy. (When I started marathon training years ago, I weighed 160. I haven’t gained any inches per se, but I’ve gained weight. So it’s muscle, thank you very much.)

The Garmin, replaced as of November before the marathon, also is a little worse for the wear.


I’m pretty sure I looked down at it and was disappointed as Jennie was trying to hold me all together.

My legs are surprisingly feeling OK right now. I’m planning to do a short run with Sam tomorrow in fact. My arm and upper body aren’t feeling as great. I told Jennie it’s like I got hit by a car. There’s a lot of pain.

That said, my wrist movement, while slightly unbearable, isn’t enough to keep me away from work (or my blog).

But I’m saying it: Sometimes running sucks. For me it’s usually when my calves hurt so bad I can’t go any further and my body feels like giving up.

Even more: How come more cities don’t mark sidewalks when they are screwed up? I know that’s a lot to ask for. And I know my regular routes have marks where the sidewalk is broken, cracked or peaking up a little. Could I have been paying more attention? Yes, definitely. But still. A hazard is a hazard.

Speaking of which, I’m considering investing in this sign:


Not so much for the route, but for me. After ramming the woman at Rock ‘n’ Roll Pasadena and taking myself out today, I’m starting to think I may be the problem.

But I consider myself pretty cautious. I run at night with a headlamp and pepper spray. I scout the roads and crossings before we cross. I’m pretty vigilant. Except today. So how do I avoid being the tripping hazard?

Rockin’ to a course best in Pasadena: Part I


There’s always a little bit of anxiety when you start toward a race expo, especially one that’s more than 300 miles away. Why? A lot can happen in three hours. Between traffic and other things, it’s always best to start out a little earlier than normal and hope that there are no snags along the way.

On Saturday, there were no snags. None whatsoever. Everything seemed a bit too easy.

My running buddy Sam and I hit the road at about 10 a.m. from Mountain House, which is west of Tracy. It’s also the place I do a lot of my runs.

We hopped on Interstate 5 and just kept on going. We only had to stop once, about 50 miles before The Grapevine, the stretch of road that takes drivers from the valley floor over the Tehachapi Mountains. On one side, there’s an expanse of land before you, on the other a metropolis.

We made the long journey on one tank of gas plus some. And we arrived in Pasadena around 3 p.m., which gave us ample time to scope out the expo.

Pasadena is only in its second year as a “tour stop” for Rock ‘n’ Roll, so the expo is still relatively small in comparison to the flagship San Diego run. It didn’t take us long to work out way through the bib pickup, even with a small wait for our $10 parking pass for the Rose Bowl.


Speaking of which, a lot of people were really upset about the whole “pay-to-park” thing. Most of the other races don’t required it. I’ve been in a lot of races that actually make concessions and find people places to park. Apparently other Rose Bowl-hosted races don’t require this. Because we had paid last year, waited in the traffic and hung out in the morning, Sam and I were prepared for all this crazy.

I purchased the pass ahead of time.

We picked up our red Brooks event shirts and our swag bags and headed into the expo where we quickly bypassed the Brooks area, outside of checking out a very interesting display with fake beer.


Fake beer is the way to sell pint glasses, I must say. But I didn’t buy one. We kind of just ran through that area because I’m on a “no new clothes” kick right now. I didn’t even look.

Sam and I checked out all the booths and she picked up some new running equipment. A fire at her house late last year means she has absolutely no gear. We picked up a new bottle set for her, which was a discounted $15 and had four small bottles and a place to stash stuff. Plus, it was Nike, so she got a deal.


I loved this label on another belt she looked at. Penguins. For penguin runners? I don’t know. I kind of consider myself a penguin.

The sad part of the expo was that we didn’t find the “cake booth.” It’s some sort of organic, healthy cake that we’ve seen at multiple Rock ‘n’ Roll expos. The reps at the booth gave out these amazing slices of cake, with frosting even, that were incredibly delicious and apparently good for you as well.


See all those awesome running clothes? I didn’t buy any at the expo. I was so proud of myself.

The real purpose, though, of our expo visit outside of picking up our stuff was to hit up the main Rock ‘n’ Roll booth. Sam has a Tour Pass for this year, meaning she pays a flat amount and can run as many races as possible. I’m really noncommittal about races going into the later part of the year after I run two marathons in the first six months, so I didn’t go that route.

Sam wants to run San Diego again.

After last year’s disastrous run there, I was reluctant. I kept waiting for the course map to be posted online. By the time it was, the price had gone up. So my only chance to register at a lower price was to do so at the expo.

So we ventured to the booth to do so.


I saved $15. The downside? We didn’t register for the 2014 Pasadena run for $70, which will be the lowest price all year. But I really hate making a decision on something like that this far in advance.

For registering, I also got a Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego T-shirt, which was pretty rocking.

After those few things, we were kind of done at the expo.


So we left. By then it was later than it was last year when we finished. We had planned on meeting one of my friends for dinner. But we saw that the Macy’s across the street from the expo was having a closing sale.

So we went.

Because we needed shoes and all.

Not really. But we bought shoes.


We were starting to get a little hungry though, so I sent my friend a text message. We hadn’t yet checked in our hotel room. But both of us were more tired than we thought we would be anyway. My friend was caught up with something, which was a bummer, but we figured since we were already out, we’d find a place to eat.

Last year we ate at this ridiculously bad seafood place right down the street from where we stayed. We both still laugh at how bad the service was and how bad the food was.

This time, we found a great Mexican place. Both of us ordered fajitas.

The food totally made up for last year’s horrible fare.


It was amazing. Plus, we had a ton of leftovers that we both of us ate when we got all the way home the next day. The food was just as good as leftovers.

We finally checked in to our hotel room around 7 p.m. Saturday. The room was nice, toasty and, we thought, would be a little more quiet than last year when we heard people above us making loud noises all night long.

We were so wrong.

Another one of my friend’s stopped by for about an hour to catch up (I know a lot of people in the Los Angeles area, more than I ever think I do). Then it was off to bed for a 4:30 a.m. wake up even though we were only four miles away from the race start.

Why so early? The parking lot closes at 6:15 a.m. for the 7:30 a.m. start.

Unfortunately we didn’t fall asleep all that well. Instead, we heard people screaming in the parking lot and on E. Colorado Blvd. at midnight. It was ridiculous. Both of us woke up numerous times. It seemed our hotel management did nothing to make it stop. In fact, unlike most the hotels I’ve been to, this one’s lobby wasn’t even open at 5 a.m. when we headed down to my car.

It was still dark when we ventured to the Rose Bowl.

Something amazing happened today


I can’t explain it. I don’t think I even want to try really.

I knocked 20 minutes off my course time from last year’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Pasadena Half Marathon. I had a couple challenges, including kind of running into a woman at mile 12 (there will be much for elaboration on that later), but I ran my little heart out. I left everything on the streets of Pasadena.

I picked up when I was dragging. I powered up hills as quickly as I could.

I had moments when I slowed down, when I walked and when I wanted to give up.

But when I saw the 2:30 pacer ahead of me just slightly, I pushed it at the end.

“Just run, Tara. Just run,” I kept saying to myself.

And I finished in 2:28:21 officially.

My first thought: Oh my God. I just ran my my fourth best half marathon. Five weeks after surgery that derailed my entire training plan for this run. I’m not even sure how it happened. It was even a tougher course than I’m used to, with rolling hills and gradual inclines and declines throughout.

I sat waiting for my running buddy to finish and literally said out loud: THAT. JUST. HAPPENED.

Hours later, including a four hour car trip home, I’m still in shock about how well I did today. Only last week I was debating not even making the trip. I was thinking there was no way I’d be ready to run the race. There was every reason for me to fail.

But I didn’t. I’m hoping this bodes well for the “new” Tara, sans gallbladder and all that’s been weighing me down for the past year.

So things keep happening


Like us getting a new puppy. She doesn’t have a name yet. My husband is working on that.

But she’s so fun. Our other dogs aren’t quite sure what to do with her yet. I don’t think we ever considered ourselves a three-dog family. But my mom had her. And she kind of found a way into my heart. She was the puppy who, every time I’d go over to my parents house, would come up to me and give me love.

These pups were born last November, about the time everything was falling apart for me.

It’s kind of fitting we have one now.

I’ve been spending a lot of time on WordPress lately, just not doing a lot for this site. It’s part of a freelance gig I have where I get to code CSS all day long. And. I. Love. It.

Words cannot express how much I love it. I get to spend all day doing amazing web work. Plus I get to code in my pajamas. Or running clothes.

In fact, when a friend stopped by the other day I actually told her she was lucky I was in real clothes.

Even better? I get to take a running lunch break. Seriously. When I’m not at school, which is more than 20 hours a week right now, I’m working from home.

So yesterday, when I started getting a little frustrated because I couldn’t figure out a specific line of CSS, I decided it was a perfect time to go for a run.

Eight miles of a run. During the middle of the day.

Of course, that means today I didn’t attempt a long run.

But Sunday is the Super Bowl. And that means I’ll be eating a lot of amazing goodies. So I’m getting myself up early and running.

Ten miles is on my agenda. I need to do 10. I kind of have to. Rock ‘n’ Roll Pasadena is in 15 days. It’s go time. My plan is to it in at least three 10 milers in the next few weeks. I wouldn’t normally go so crazy training mode about it, but I’m really suffering out there.

My husband reminded me that when I had my last surgery, I took off a lot longer than I am now. I reminded him that I couldn’t afford to forgo a $100-plus race right now. Especially since the hotel room is already paid for and everything is all planned out. We even already have our parking permit for the Rose Bowl!

I know none of that matters when it comes to injury, but I’m still just wanting to be where I was before the surgery.

I’m going to say tomorrow isn’t going to help with my waistline, especially since I already know that pulled pork sliders and other meat items smothered in brown sugar and marinades is on the menu.

Then there’s also the knowledge that I’m contributing to my own problem. My friend asked me to bake. I honestly thought my husband and I would take something savory to the party, like mini chicken bakes or a low-fat dish.

Nope. She wanted me to bake.


So I obliged. I made brownie bites with frosting. I also make mini cheesecakes covered in raspberry preserves.

“Better wear some elastic waist bottoms,” she said in a text to me. Yikes. Let’s hope I can knock out that 10-miler without issues. Otherwise I won’t be able to eat anything at that party.

Battling the elements at California International Marathon: Part II

I had planned to do the rest of this race recap yesterday, but in the past 24 hours have started feeling significantly more under the weather than I have been lately. I’m blaming the deluge from the race.

It started, as colds do, with a little itch. It’s now a sore throat and general soreness.

But I was feeling really good on Saturday. I fell asleep at 9:30 p.m. and, unlike my last marathon, actually slept really well during the night.

I woke up and immediately got to work “lubing” up, for lack of a better term.

Glide under my sports bra. Aquaphor between my toes, along my arms, etc. Anti-chafe anywhere I could put it. My greatest fear was that I would be running and suddenly realize I was chafing somewhere thanks to the rain.

That definitely should have been a fear, except not in the spots I thought.

My husband and I got out of our hotel, near downtown, at about 5:30 a.m. It took us about 20 minutes to get up to Folsom, two miles from the start line.

It was then that the rain was really coming down.

Someone posted the image above to Facebook, showing what we ran through that day. In the morning, when I got to the busing area for the marathon start, it was already pouring. The wind was howling. A local transit line had crews all along the street because a tree fell on the lines. That wouldn’t get fixed for another day or so.

I ran across the street toward a line of school buses. There was no escaping it at this point. It was pouring down rain. It was crazy. The wind was blowing so much that it was hitting me horizontally. I threw on the $1.47 poncho.

It kept me dry for about two minutes. That’s right. My legs were wet by the time my five-minute wait for the bus was over.

Speaking of the bus … it was warm. But our bus driver took us a very different way than last year. We ended up behind the start instead of in front of it. There were a couple questions on the bus whether she knew where she was going, but we ended up right where we needed to be.

I quickly ran over to the long line of portable toilets.

There was hardly any lines, but people were also sticking around in the stalls rather than getting out. Seriously. I waited five minutes and no doors opened in front of me where there were seven or eight toilets.

Come on people. When one, further down, finally opened, I jetted to it. I didn’t care at that moment whether or not someone else was in line. (Sorry folks, put waiting in a portable toilet line in the pouring rain is not cool. Wow. Thanks for being considerate folks.)

I huddled under a gas station cover until about 6:58 a.m. along with everyone else.

At 7 a.m., the race began.

And it was downhill, crazy fun for the first couple miles.

Mile 1: 10:36 — Nice start, my legs didn’t feel cold at all. I was still mostly dry.

Mile 2: 10:34

Mile 3: 10:50

Somewhere around this time, my Garmin turned itself off. I got to the three-mile sign and realized the Garmin hadn’t beeped. Instead it was stuck at 2.67. When did that happen?

And how was I supposed to get it back on track.

Crap. Less than three miles in. I turned it back on and kept going.

Mile 4: 10:52 — Still feeling good.

Mile 5: 11:11 — It’s pouring down rain. But I’m going fairly consistent. I’m actually enjoying the run here. About this time I get to the relay switch, which always brings a good amount of people. (Remember, Garmin was off the entire time, so the real exchange is somewhere at 5.9 or so.)

Mile 6: 6:30 — This isn’t right. I only ran .53 miles here to get my Garmin back on track with the signs.

Mile 7: 11:21

Mile 8: 11:58

Mile 9: 11:54 — I felt as if I was being fairly consistent here with pacing. But it appears to be a little more off than I thought here.

Mile 10: 11:41

Mile 11: 12:12

Mile 12: 11:50

Mile 13: 11:47 — My half time was somewhere close to 2:30. I was excited to be coming in pretty strong in this area. I wasn’t tired, yet, but that would come soon enough.

Mile 14: 12:25 — And here’s where the fatigue actually set in. It came so quickly. The rain was still coming down. I was running through puddles, but also skipping here and there. It was killing my feet. Killing. It hurt so bad.

Mile 15: 13:30 — Slowing down. Lame. But the rain is letting up. Good sign, right?

Mile 16: 12:38 — Gu to pick it back up. Trying to get back into this. Trying.

This is the point where the rain was letting up. I realized then that I was drenched. I mean I was wet in places where I really didn’t want to be. Seriously. My underwear? Yes. My sports bra. Yes.

And I still had the poncho on.

The water had absorbed through my clothes and the poncho was basically useless at this point. So I took it off and threw it to the side near the end of this mile.

This is about right after I ditched the poncho. When I realized my long-sleeve shirt was also wet, I just took it off. It was a warmish 60-degrees, so I felt as if I could finish in my tank top.

I was starting to get ridiculously tired now.

The wind and water had taken nearly everything out of me.

Mile 17: 12:30 — One foot in front of the other.

Mile 18: 13:16

Mile 19: 13:59

Mile 20: 13:02 — The “wall” party wasn’t as exciting as it could be. I’m sure it had everything to do with the weather. There were hardly any people out there. I realized, however, that we didn’t even have the start arches at the beginning because of the rain.

Mile 21: 13:28 — This is when I looked down and realized something was very wrong with my right foot. It was rubbing really bad against the back of the shoe, which is something that it has never done before.

Mile 22: 14:21 — I briefly stopped at an aid station to grab a Band-Aid. Except it wouldn’t stick. My feet were too waterlogged. Both were completely saturated.

Mile 23: 13:59 — I had to keep going. My foot was killing me. My IT band was hurting too now.

Mile 24: 14:37

Mile 25: 12:29 — Just need to keep going. By now, the feet were really killing me. I’m nearing the end here, and I look as tired as I am.

Mile 26: 13:05 — Notice the overcast sky? It didn’t seem that dark, but it was.

Mile .31: 3.27

Chip time: 5:24:52

I added four minutes onto my time from last year. I was actually aiming at coming in around 5:15 this time, but the weather and the wet feet kind of killed that for me.

I crossed the finish line and was handed by epic medal and I wandered, now in pain and wanting to take my shoes off, through the end corral.

It seemed as if there were more people around this year when I finished, probably again because of the rain. I took a heat sheet and a bottle of water, though I’d been hydrating well along the course too, and walked out.

My husband wasn’t yet at the finish line. Apparently he didn’t have as high hopes for me as I did. He figured I’d be done around 5:30.

I did shave more than 10 minutes off time from San Diego, but that’s not even comparable.

I’m upset that I was doing so well and, yet, it all kind of fell apart after the fact. But I was pretty damaged. My feet hurt. My face had wind burn. And heels were torn apart.

Yes. I put up a photo of one of my feet. Both were completely pruned up. Little blisters everywhere. (That blood blister was there beforehand. It wasn’t caused by the race, but the blister on top of it was. I didn’t even know that was possible.)

And when I got home, I realized that only Duct Tape could have saved that heel that Band-Aids wouldn’t stick too.

The back of my running shoes and my socks were bloody. It was a wet, bloody mess.

I’m thankful that I was able to get most of it out. It now just looks like a faint pink stain. Sorry to put up the gross stuff, but I’ve never had that happen in a race before. In San Diego my shoes torn up my feet completely. My Nikes were fine for the first 15 miles or so before this started.

In fact, I don’t think this happened until it started to get dry outside. The water was apparently lubricating my feet, along with the Aquaphor and Glide. Then it ran out.

Would it have been better if I had applied for Glide instead of trying a Band-Aid? I think by the time I realized it was happening the damage was already done.

I should be upset by this race. I should be mad that I didn’t make goal.

But I’m not.

I ran a good race. The things that came up were unexpected. I was exhausted by mile 15. After battling the rain, I just had little to nothing in me. My foot was killing me the last six miles. And I ran, in the rain, for nearly the entire thing.

And I finished.

That’s a lot more pain on my face than I was expecting. I heard some people say at the expo that they weren’t even going to run the race because of the weather. I know more probably woke up and decided against it that morning.

I never doubted I’d be out at the start. I never doubted that at some point I’d get to the end.

I battled through this thing. And I won the battle.

A year ago, I probably wouldn’t have thought about waking up and running a whole 26.2 in the mostly pouring rain. Critics say you shouldn’t run a marathon your first year as a runner. I believe that now, even though I did it last year.

This year, I realized that the marathon isn’t just about running all those miles. It’s about realization. It’s about finding something deep within yourself to pull you through. This year, I had that in me from the start line. Last year, I doubted myself until mile 25. Only then I knew I could do it.

I know I can do it now, even in the pouring rain. I just want to get better, and maybe achieve that 5:15 goal soon. Then, maybe, work on getting my time to under five hours.

But I’m not disappointed in this race. Not at all.

In fact, it was even a little bit fun. Or at least it was before my feet started getting torn up.

Not a best, but a good time nonetheless at CIM

I finished my second California International Marathon yesterday. It was a blast through the first part, with crazy weather and 40 mile-per-hour wind gusts for the first 13.1.

I was doing really well. But battling the elements took more out of me than I thought it would. I finished in 5:24:53. Four minutes more than my time last year, but 10 better than my San Diego run in June.

It was a wild, crazy run. I’m disappointed that I didn’t make my goal of finishing in 5:15. But I sloshed through very wet streets in pouring rain.

I’m planning a full race report, but with a Garmin malfunction (it stopped for more than a half time only 20 minutes in!), a face reddened by windburn and my quads burning from my great first half, I’m still recovering.

It’s too bad I don’t have any photos of that morning. I was trying to stay dry as long as possible (that didn’t happen). But it will be a fun race report.

Reasons to be thankful

Eventually I’ll get around to my Big Sur Half Marathon on Monterey Bay recap. But today is Thanksgiving. And, despite my recent turmoil, I’m finding I have a lot to be thankful for in my life.

There are people who are and continue to be amazing to me. There are certain events that have happened that I am incredibly grateful to have been part of. I have food on my plate every night. I have a warm home. I have a nice car to drive. I have a lot.

Here’s a short list of reasons I’m thankful today, just because it’s that time of the year. And this is in no particular order.

My grandmother: I’m 28 years old and my grandmother still makes the best Thanksgiving dinner ever. Hands down. Her pies, too, are to die for. My grandfather used to love having family together. After he died in 1996, my grandmother continued to host Thanksgiving. She has done so nearly every year. I’m glad I’m still able to enjoy the holidays with her and she’s still able to host. It gives me a lot of joy to be with her at Thanksgiving.

My brother’s girlfriend Ashley: For making the amazing Rice Krispie treat turkeys seen above. She handed a holiday with my family. And she did so with grace. I think that means she’s a keeper.

My mother: We just finished spending three days and two nights together in Monterey for the half marathon. I’m glad she was able to get away with me on a much needed little vacation. She’s been a constant through all the crap I’ve been dealing with lately. And I’m incredibly thankful for all the support.

(Wo)man’s best friend(s): Our dogs Sky and Beau spent most the day knocking over nearly everything on the first level of our home, but I don’t think I’d be able to make it through some days without them. Beau just seems to know when I need someone to come over and give me a kiss. He puts his head in my lap when I’m sad. Sky gives me her paw to tell me she loves me too. It’s comforting to have my two Chow Chows with me.

Lasting friendships: My best friend and the maid of honor in my wedding came from Stockton last night, where she is visiting parents. I made lasagna and we enjoyed apple pie she brought for dessert. We had a great conversation that lasted more than two hours. That sort of love, especially right now, is amazing to me. I can never say enough thank yous.

My husband’s humor: I’ve had a lot of moments lately where I’ve just wanted to stay in my room and have a good cry. My husband is an amazing man who makes me laugh, even when I don’t want to. He’s good at pulling me out of the darkness and giving me a reason to want to smile again.

My home: Two years ago, we purchased our house in Tracy and quickly went about making it a home. I’m thankful that we have the resources to make it a comfortable place to retreat to and continue to be here for a long time.

Our backyard: My husband worked his tailbone off to put our beautiful backyard together. We can now enjoy it, even in the winter, just by looking out the window. It’s a little overgrown right now, but it’s plush and green and I love looking at it.

Running: It’s my saving grace right now. It’s where I can think. Whether it’s one mile or 20, or 26.2 in less than two weeks, it’s helping me figure things out when times get tough.

My Nikes: Yes, my LunarEclipse’s are on my list. Best pair of running shoes I’ve ever owned. Worth every penny of the $150 price tag. I’m thankful for them every run.

Racing: It makes me feel like myself. It tests my ability. It challenges me to be better. I’ll likely be narrowing down my list  of runs into the next year, but I’m hoping to do some volunteer work to earn me entry into some Brazen races too.  Hopefully I can continue to do races, but cut back on costs too.

My phone not ringing: I never thought I’d be so glad that few people are calling me or reaching out right now. (For those of you who have, yes, I’ve received your words of encouragement and emails, I’m just not quick to respond as of late because I don’t know what to say, how to thank you. I will, though, at some point.) Right now it’s nice not to be on anyone’s immediate call list.

Netflix and Hulu: For being my entertainment on my treadmill. It’s rare I venture out for a run these days and never without Jennie, so I’ve been doing a lot of speed work and distance on my treadmill.

Chocolate: I don’t think I need to explain this. But I really need to eat less of it. I’m getting a little more round than I should be.

Diet Coke: Everyone says it will kill me, but it saved me from my five Pepsi a day habit. Plus I’m no longer drinking my calories.

Lululemon: Luxtreme is smooth. I love smooth. The one day I go without a Lululemon Run:Swifty shirt during a race, I came away with horrible chafing on my arms. Four days later and it’s still healing. I’ll never do that again. There’s a reason runners stick with what they know. That’s it.

My own turkey trot: Six miles on the treadmill this morning. I also donated $10 to the Red Cross. I’m more relieved that I skipped the local one than not now, especially since I was able to do some good (by donating).

Hopefully I’ll be able to blog my Big Sur Half recap before the weekend ends. I’m looking forward to talking about what went right and what went wrong. So much more went right than wrong.

Happy Thanksgiving!