Sunday, February 28, 2010

Chinatown Firecracker 10K, Year of the Tiger Official welcome

After my not so great week after the Marathon, I decided not to run Saturday and helped out with water stations for the Leggers instead. But I did go to Firecracker 10K on Sunday. How could I not? This event is crazy. It's crowded, packed with people from all races, ages, and abilities, and starts off with a bang of hundreds of firecrackers going off. I didn't actually see the firecrackers; but I heard them, smelled them, and saw the smoke. There was also a lively dragon dance - Just the right amount of cheesiness and fun.

I did the Firecracker 5K 2 years ago, so I knew to expect hills. And after that race, I vowed never to do it again. But I've worked on hill training since then, and I started off pretty slowly - running - but slowly. The 10K started half an hour after the 5K, and since I got there very early, I was eager to go. The hills were just as I remembered them, steep! But I was prepared and was able to run up them at a relaxed pace. The views were beautiful. Gorgeous clear day. Now the parts I wasn't as crazy about? The downhills. Steep steep downhills. Running with brakes at full force downhills. So I took little walk breaks there. No need to muck up my knees. Once I got to Dodger's Stadium, a little over a mile away from home base, I notched up my speed. I was feeling good and heading to the finish. My final time was 1:09:21 . And after it was done? I went home. Too crowded!

But I did spot the Tiger. He looked beautiful, happy, strong and hopeful. Happy Chinese New Year everyone.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Pasadena Marathon!!

A little bit of doubt is always a good thing. It's like going into a blind date with low expectations with a back up plan if he turns out to be a loser, and happily discovering that he's not. For whatever reason, I had no doubts going into the Pasadena Marathon. I had just gotten back from an exhausting overseas flight about 6 days before, went back to work immediately, and still had no doubt about completing the marathon without a hitch. I must have caught some running confidence bug. I figured I did 24 miles not too long ago, so what should be the problem. And for the most part during the race, there was no problem.

Pasadena is a runner's race. Not a lot of fluff or sideline distractions (and by distractions, I mean supporters, cheerleaders, music, something..) There were a few people who did provide music courtesy of pot banging and cowbell shaking, but apart from that it was you and the road, about 1000 other runners in the marathon field, and nothing else. I decided not to take my iPod with me too, so mind games helped also in a pinch, as well as some helpful banter with my running partner. And towards the end, the music from his cellphone helped too. Sure, I didn't really know much Warren Zevon, but it sounded good at mile 22.

So I was more cognizant of the mental and physical challenge because there was not much else to take my mind off of it. My left knee started bothering me at mile 10, and the hills were no picnic either. Somewhere along the course, there was a sign posted on a tree that said "Remember what you are running for". Hmm...What am I running for? This is the first time since I started running that I really began to question what I am doing to my body. But I did finish, at 5:24:03 (12:22/mile pace). Almost 40 minutes faster than my first marathon last year.

A couple of days post-marathon, I didn't have the joint and body pains I expected, but a whole slew of other problems. I was feeling woosy, nauseous, bloated and dizzy. I couldn't eat anything without getting uncomfortable stomach cramps. My doctor claimed I had an abdominal flu and sent me home with some pills. I took the pills and drank Pediasure for a few days. Easy fix for him, but not for me. My symptoms have continued on and off for the last few weeks since the Marathon.

So, naturally, I have been hard on myself. Initially, I was mad for not getting enough electrolytes during the race. Since I got bad stomach cramps during LA Marathon last year from too much Gatorade, I decided not to drink any. I wasn't drinking any during training, so I thought it was OK. But boy, did that cup of Gatorade taste good around mile 20. So I thought that I had diminished my body so badly, that now I was paying the consequences.

Somewhere along the way, I forgot that although I enjoy running, a marathon is still a MARATHON. It's hard, challenging, grueling and a major challenge to the human body. A reminder that as strong and resilient as the human body can be conditioned to be, it can also be vulnerable, hurt and defeated. This was a reality check for me.

Externally, my knee still hurts, so does my back, and my side. I feel like the machine I have been working so hard on now needs a major tune-up. So naturally this doubt is effecting my mental game for the LA Marathon. I am taking it easy until then, and if push comes to shove and I don't feel like jeopardizing my body, I won't do it. After all, isn't this supposed to be fun?

Now times to re-group and get my motor running again.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Pasadena Marathon Expo

I have good memories of last year's Pasadena Expo. To the eyes of a young runner, it was big impressive and exciting. That day was also pinched with apprehension about the rain forecast for race day (downpour). I also had my car serviced and was left to wander Colorado Blvd until the Toyota people picked me up. So it was a bit of an adventure. I don't get out to Pasadena very often, and when I do, it's like a little treat. So this year, I was looking forward to attending again, but this time as a marathon participant and not the 5K.

The Pasadena Expo was OK but now having attended a couple of other large expos, the experience wasn't as novel as that first time. My main goal was to obtain all that I needed, do a quick sweep of the booths (including finding the LA Marathon booth and sharing my worry of the whole shuttle situation) and leave. A stop at Sephora in the lovely open air mall across the street would also be included.

So I picked up my bib, t-shirt, bag and toured the booths. I wasn't in the market to buy any gear but it's always fun to look. I did stop at the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation Cinco de Mayo Half-Marathon booth. I have been following them on twitter and thought that if they had a nice expo discount I would register for the half - So I did. Same day as OC Marathon and same general area, I will be running the Cinco de Mayo Half-Marathon on May 2. I'm told mariachis will be at the starting line!

It took a while to navigate through the maze of booths, but I finally found the LA Marathon table. I had scheduled for the 5:30am shuttle to get from Santa Monica to the starting line at Dodger's Stadium and after doing that worried that an earlier shuttle would probably be safer given that this is an experiment of sorts. She assured me not to worry. Nevertheless, I emailed the LA Marathon folks and they moved me to the 5:00am shuttle. Which works out since the Leggers are meeting at 4:30am for a royal Legger send off.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

6.5 miles back in LA

I did my first run back in L.A.; a few laps around the Brentwood Country Club. Last one before Pasadena on Sunday!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Last Weekend in Paris

On my last weekend in Paris, I ran 8 miles on Saturday and 4 walk/run with a family member on Sunday. The Bois was FULL of people on Sunday. The weather had warmed (probably 35 degrees!) and the lake area was packed with runners, walkers and the most adorable dogs. the French have a love obsession with their pets and there are some doggie daycares that bring dogs to this area all the time. Always fun to watch them. I'll miss running in Paris. Paris Marathon 2011 here I come!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Mid week runs in Paris

While I was in Paris, I had two "mid-week" runs in the Bois de Boulogne - the large forest to the west of Paris. Both days were cold, around 30 degrees, and the second day had snow. I was running against a cold sharp wind. I kept telling myself that running in the cold is good training!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

10 miles dans Le Bois de Boulogne

I had been preparing for my winter running in Paris for a few weeks. How would I handle the rain ? and the cold? I arrived in Paris on Saturday and headed out to the nearby Bois de Boulougne, the huge forrest on the western part of the city, on Sunday. I was planning a 10 mile run. The weather was cool, but not cold. I had va thin windbreaker and a long sleeve technical shirt and I was good to go. And there were a ton of runners and walkers out and enjoying the day. It was lovely. If I only came to Paris to run here, then the violently turbulent flight from New York to CDG was well worth it.