20 October 2010

Nike Women's Marathon 2010!

I did it. I finished. I came, saw, and conquered.

16 October: Kevin dropped me off at Double Tree Inn at 550 AM. Everything was packed, everything was ready to go, and the team was excited. :) We piled into the bus, and headed to Visalia, where we picked up the rest of the Central California team. After a quick stop there, we kept going until we reached Patterson and had lunch. Then... next stop: SAN FRANCISCO! As we went over the Bay Bridge, the excitement was growing, until we finally stopped in front of the Hilton in the Civic Centre/Tenderloin district, where we had to contend with hardcore, extremely LOUD picketers. :| Fabbbbulous. Haha. After checking in with our assigned roommates (I stayed with Marti), we all headed to get our bibs/packets in Union Square. There were so many people that the line wrapped around the sidewalk, and local pedestrians seemed to be pretty annoyed. I think the highlight was getting to take a photo with the Haribo mascot though. Haha. Bib number: 18,163. Holy wow. Yeah, so I think there was actually MORE than the predicted 20,000 runners, too, because I saw some people with bib numbers that were in the 22,000 range... That night, we walked about 1.5 miles total in the cold wind to the Inspirational Dinner, where I nearly lost it because of the speaker who told her story of life after cancer took one of her six sisters Nancy. The other five sisters formed (with the speaker) Team Nancy in order to do Team in Training, and raised a ridiculous amount of money for the cause. It was just AWESOME. By the time we got back to our hotel room though, I was ready to go to bed. I set everything up so it'd be ready for tomorrow morning, and then hit the hay.

17 October: RACE DAY! There was a 30-50% chance of rain prediction and the temperature was going to be in the mid-upper 50s. I didn't think it'd be SO bad, though. We had to get up at 5 AM, in order to be down in the lobby at 545 AM to check any "post-run" clothes bags and be at the start line by 630-645 AM. There were SOOOO many people, and it was getting pretty claustrophobic... and then FINALLY, the mass of people started moving, slowly but surely. I was surprised that it only took me about 12 minutes to get to the start line, and when I did, I TOOK OFF. Talk about a beautiful course... seriously. I remember going by Pier 1. And past several landmarks that hearkened back to childhood Girl Scout field trips. I just felt a few rain drops, and smiled- phew, guess it would just be a light sprinkle like they had said on the Weather Channel, I thought. I was all smiles, despite the insane hills that I had NOT trained for or expected (I just thought there would be a few). I just kept on going until about mile 15. By that time, the rain was pouring down, my fingers had swollen to the point where I could not bend my fingers, and I was completely water-logged. Not only that, but the hills were seriously UNENDING... at least they were for this girl, who only incline trained two times in the last six months. :\ The rain and wind made it ice-cold, and when a San Francisco Team in Training coach noticed me, she stopped and asked if I was okay. In fact, I was not okay because I was having trouble breathing and was seeing grey. I was shaking and shivering so violently that I couldn't keep doing run/walk intervals, so I started power-walking at around mile 18. The coach poured a packet of salt onto the top of my hand, which I licked off, and then fished around in her bag that she had been carrying and handed me her jacket (which I could just barely move enough to get on). How cool of her to let me borrow it though, eh? Despite wanting to totally give up, and despite nearly passing out, I kept going as the rain (with sweat mixed in) poured down my face and into my eyes. I HAD to do this. I wanted to finish- I trained hard for this, even if I hadn't expected this weather or the massive hills. As I hit about mile 23, Katie and Elisa came up behind me, calling my name. It gave me that mental positivity boost that I needed so badly, as despite race-walking at a 13:30 pace, I was near tears from the pain and exhaustion and unbearable cold. To my surprise, they told me that they only knew of one other person from our team in front of me (who happened to be a seasoned ultra-marathoner and nearly reached elite status in her youth); I had been SURE that I would be the last full marathoner to cross the finish line, and everyone else would be back at the hotel already, celebrating their victory. Katie started walking with me around mile 24, but Elisa got this SURGE of adrenaline and ran the rest of the way to the end, where she finished 11 minutes before Katie and me- we crossed the finish line at 5 hours 45 minutes and 54 seconds. I shockingly ranked 4333rd out of 20,000+ runners, according to results site! I was bummed that I didn't hit my goal of 5 hours or less, but dang, considering the circumstances... I was happy just to finish. But yeah, the finish was not the best, considering the rain was still pouring down, and I was SO SO SO cold. I got my little blue Tiffany & Co raindrop-stained box, containing the NWM 2010 finisher's necklace from a drenched firefighter in a tuxedo, got the awesome finishing goody bag, and headed over to check in with the Team in Training folks. They handed me that "26.2" pin, and I realised just how big of an accomplishment it really was. I mean, 26 miles in a car takes you like... 30 minutes. That's like 1/3 of the way to LA from my house. DANG. I headed to get my checked clothes bag and, too cold to even change in one of the porta-potties, I headed to get on the shuttle back to the hotel. Seriously? It took forever to walk to that shuttle! Wish it had been closer, especially since everyone was drenched and so sore. We even had to walk up stairs and then up an inclined sidewalk! :| It took us around 30-45 minutes to get back to the hotel room on the shuttle, and as soon as I got back in the room, I hopped in that shower right away. It's amazing how much a run can beat you up. I had even gotten a big gash on my left boob from chafing of my headphones, which I stuck in my bra to keep them from flopping around after taking them off. That night, despite being so sore, Shawna, Susan, and I walked the nearly 1 mile to the Victory Party (first stopping at Juicy Couture and Old Navy, of course!). I ate dinner (ew, seriously? All they had was fried food- SERIOUSLY!), but afterwards, I was so ready to crash... so despite the fact that they were gonna dance and have entertainment, I walked back to the hotel room and fell asleep around around 8 PM. Haha.

18 October
: After packing my still-wet clothes and shoes, we headed back home at around 930 AM, and I was so glad when we finally got back into town about 6.5 hours later. My hubby came to pick me up, and walked me over to the car... but... it wasn't our car. I thought: "Oh great, a rental car... what happened to the car now?!" since my car has been breaking down a lot. My husband kinda grinned sheepishly and said: "Do you like your new car?" He had actually bought me my first new car ever (first automatic too)- a Ford Fusion Hybrid 2010! (o_o) Can you believe it?! It freaked me out at first, but we had talked about it for a long time... I was just so shocked and amazed that he had taken the initiative to get it this weekend as a "sort-of post-marathon surprise present"! :) And it's good for the environment, too, eh?! :D I was really REALLY glad to get a massage yesterday (19 October) too!

All in all, despite the painful marathon experience, it was worth it to finish. :) I didn't reach my goal, but oh well, there are other marathons I can do, eh? For now, I'm back to being nervous/excited for the Two Cities Eye-Q half-marathon in Fresno on 7 November! I hope my legs are ready!!! :D

+Official Brightroom Photography site!
+My photos of the weekend!

03 October 2010

Must. Keep. Going.

I didn't know where to start, honestly. I feel like I've been running, fulling blast and nonstop, for months now... both literally and physically. And my emotions are having a blast on unending rollercoaster rides. Argh! Even if I am sitting here on the couch, I know there are things to be done. The laundry is being washed and I should be getting ready for church in an hour.

On the work front: Still at the hospital, still in medical records, still full-time. It is tough to balance everything, and yet still go into work Monday through Friday, 8a-5p. But I do, and as much as I say this job is "not suited for me," I am so grateful for the fact that I can finally have fantastic insurance coverage (I was denied for 3.5 years due to previous issues) and amazing benefits, to boot. Since mid-April, I've been presented with so many social and personal challenges by my co-workers, whether intentionally or unconsciously. But yep, it's been just a couple weeks away from 6 months that I've been at the hospital. And fittingly, I got to check out the Kern County fair with my hubby because the hospital's employee picnic was held there on 28 September! :)

On the school side: California State University of Bakersfield (CSUB) is so extremely frustrating to deal with, and I was getting sick of all the hoops I was having to jump through. However, as mentioned before (I think?), I FINALLY finished all the paperwork... and am now officially enrolled in two individual study (no, not online courses) advanced French courses (Business French, French Civilisation). The reason for "individual study" is due to the fact that CSUB does not have a French major, and the only French classes they offer in their schedule/course manual are two beginning classes. So, how am I majoring in French? Well, I am doing the "special major in French" programme via the modern languages department, which means I will have to take 8 advanced courses on my own in order to finally finish up the French BA that I started at SJSU. Oh boy, oh boy. This quarter entails reading 10 business "cases," answering about 6-8 pages of questions about the reading material and translating about 4-5 paragraphs from French to English per case. That's just Business French. My other course is French Civilisation, and I haven't even gotten started; I will have to read two entire textbooks (yes, they're in French, of course) about French history (and civilisation, of course), then answer 2-4 questions per chapter, as well as come up with a research topic and write a 10-page term paper (not including the bibliography, and YES, it has to be in French) about it. Ahhh! I. CAN. DO. THIS. Right?

On the marathon training front: Our team is tapering now! After two previous long runs being absolutely AWFUL due to GI issues, I was really nervous about our 4-hour longest training run of the season on 25 September. I went to the doctor, and after she did multiple labs (four vials of blood taken!), 3 ultrasounds, and a urinalysis (I was supposed to do two stool cultures and an x-ray, too, but I just keep forgetting), I am just waiting to go over the results with her on 7 October. In the meantime, I've been "forced" by my body to start really scrutinising what I eat again. This is NOT easy for someone who just wants to pretend (I guess?) that food choices don't matter. After a decade and a half of restricting myself and putting a microscope up to everything I put in my mouth, I don't want to have to do this again! But I've also been taking Immodium and that helps too, and... gulp... I contacted my old dietitian and have an appointment with her on 13 October. I just hope she doesn't make comments on how different I look, because obviously, I look like an entirely different person after gaining 40 pounds! :\ But ANYWAY, I didn't mean to go off onto some rant, because the 4-hour run went GREAT. Yeah, it hurt soooo bad/good, but I did 20.1 miles in a total of 3 hours, 50 minutes (that's not including the long aid station break at mile 10), so it was pretty dang worth it. Afterward, most of the team gathered to toast our accomplishments in both fundraising (I'm only at around 70% though, and the rest is due in just a couple days! PLEASE... help?! Anything is appreciated!) for this amazing cause, as well as enduring this training season! The coaches brought some great grub and we all split a bottle of champagne (between us all, each of us only ended up with a small gulp)... and we got to meet a darling potential honoree for next season named Lucas! He's only 22 months, but is in remission from leukemia after being diagnosed at only 7 months old. Wow, I cannot imagine how difficult this would be as new parents, but that's why the Team in Training's fundraising for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) is so important. (Man, running has really helped me learn and grow!) Not to mention, I've gained friends who appreciate an active lifestyle! Oddly enough, my massage therapist Gina Nathan is the mother of one of our current honorees Bryna, who was diagnosed with cancer at age 3- she's in 3rd or 4th grade now, thanks to the financial support of the LLS! :D

I feel like I've left a lot out, but I'm running out of time. I've just got 15 minutes to get ready for church! ;P Take care, everyone, and oh... I <3 comments/feedback! Share my blog with friends! Heehee. You don't mind if I leave you with these awesome verses, re-translated in the Message Bible, do you?

You've all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You're after one that's gold eternally. I don't know about you, but I'm running hard for the finish line. I'm giving it everything I've got. No sloppy living for me! I'm staying alert and in top condition. I'm not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).