Monday, December 31, 2012

Cheers to 2012

I don't have the patience to write a full recap of my 2012 running because I'm lazy. But I do have the patience to share a few numbers and many photos from this year. Despite many ups and down in terms of running and in life, 2012 was jam-packed year for my sport -- lots of races, lots of traveling, lots of new experiences, and the best part of running: lots of friends. I'm ready to bid 2012 farewell and welcome 2013. A brand new year with even more to experience and new goals to go after.

In 2012...

I ran 5 full marathons.

One in Hawaii.

One in Utah.

One in Washington.
  Rock 'n' Roll Seattle

One in my adopted hometown.

And another in California. 

I learned to love trail running & even did a few trail races.

I had my first real running "injury" that kept me out of the sport for 7 loooong weeks, and is still threatening to keep me out for longer.

See that pectineus muscle? It's being a little bitch.

Regardless, I still ran 1,850 miles this year, which is more than I ran last year (and I didn't take two months off last year!).

I ran with many, many good friends in very beautiful places... and often.
And I was accepted into my first ultramarathon via a lottery system. Injury-pending, I'll be running my first 50k in, gulp, a couple months.

So here's to 2012 & cheers to 2013. May you have a safe & fun New Year!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Race Recap: California International Marathon

Way too much has already been written for me to chime in on the disastrous conditions of the California International Marathon this year. Too many pictures have been posted of the downed trees, flooded streets, pouring rain, and whipping winds. Too many DNFs happened, too many goals were altered, too many old injuries flared up. And despite the harsh conditions of this year's race, a lot of great things happened, too. 

Groups of people banned together to beat the wind and shelter one another from the rain. Spirits remained high, hands of fellow runners were shaken, hugs and jokes were shared, beer flowed, pizza and pasta was served. A few magical PRs erupted (I'm looking at you, Renee!). A sense of accomplishment shone across every person's face at that finish line -- from the people finishing in just over 2 hours to those finishing after 6. We had all just been through something truly epic.

CIM 2012 happened. I got my goal. I crossed the finish line. It was my worst race time-wise, but it was one of my most meaningful mentally.

Courtney and I started off 2012 running an impromptu marathon in Hawaii, crossing the finish line full well realizing we were capable of accomplishing something most "normal" people would consider crazy. Over the course of the year, we've gone through a lot -- with jobs, travels, boys, cats, apartments, each other. We ended the year crossing another finish line together in something even fellow marathoners consider crazy. 

Courtney makes Hefty bags cute. Me? No.

We were both undertrained, I was injured, and the weather didn't want us to be out there. We questioned our own sanity, but we never gave up.

Everything hurt so unbelievably bad that I wasn't able to focus on my gimpy hip. Instead my water-logged feet, tight IT bands, sore quads, achy ankles, slouched shoulders, and hunched-over back pain acted as a good distraction.

And yet every time a glimpse of pain or suffering got so bad that the idea of quitting seemed like the better option, I switched my mind back to Chachi. I reflected on my best little buddy, the great years we had together, how peacefully he passed away in my arms, how much I love him, and how terribly I miss him. A number of times I teared up (and I realized how hard it is to cry and run at the same time!) and Courtney was there to tell me that Chachi loved me, too. We hardly spoke a word to each other during this race, and yet when we did, she had the right thing to say. While I was struggling, Courtney never once complained. She just stayed by me with a smile.

We ran to mile 6 -- a distance PR for me during my recent "WTF is up with my hip" streak. Then we ran to mile 12 & I was so out of it I thought we were at mile 9. I knew I could make it to the halfway mark, and I knew I had banked enough time to walk the rest of the race if need be. We ran mile 14 -- "Chachi's mile", the age of my cat when he died -- then ran to mile 15. I then started taking walk breaks at every mile marker, and Courtney never once urged me to push beyond my comfort, but instead just kept telling me I could finish.  

I did.
I had a truly great time running with a friend who's been here for me all year. I'm so happy and proud of how we did. I am ending my year feeling good about my running life despite this unknown injury. I can't wait to rest, recover, figure out a long-term solution to my hip, heal, get stronger, and set new goals.

(Hopefully this goes without saying, but I also want to thank my friends who were out there spectating in the storm & for all my Internet people who asked to track me online & sent me some "you can finish" vibes. I thought about you all during the race, too!)

I ran CIM with Chachi's picture pinned to my side. And even though we were sopping wet, his picture barely absorbed any water. I thought about him lots -- and still think about him lots -- and that race was for him. 

My 10th marathon. Chachi In Memory. 2012.

Official finish time: 4:42:03
1: 10:16
2: 9:58
3: 9:42
4: 9:25
5: 9:32
6: 9:34
7:  9:36
8: 9:38
9: 9:46
10: 9:33
11: 9:39
12: 9:34
13: 9:33
14: 11:47
15: 10:28
16: 12:08
17: 10:04
18: 12:52
19: 10:00
20: 13:02
21: 12:56
22: 13:19
23: 12:23
24: 11:50
25: 10:11
26: 11:21
.44: 3:59 (8:58 pace)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Laying It All Out There: CIM Goals

Let's be honest. I've avoided this blog. Things have sucked lately.

This year has been rocky, to say the least. I quit my long-standing job, started a new job, lost said job after 6 weeks, filed for unemployment, started a new job, and all in the span of... 3 months. (That's a lot of change for this "I loves me a good routine" freak.) My cat went from healthy to sick, and last weekend I lost him to cancer. The only things I've really had as stability during this time has been the tall gentleman and running.

And even the running has been rocky. I ran 4 marathons this year, which, for me, is a lot. I was signed up for 7, but dropped out of 2: St. George because I didn't want to leave my sick cat, and Humboldt (which was supposed to be my 10th marathon on my birthday), also because I didn't want to leave my sick cat. I decided to drop out of CIM, too, because I didn't know where things were going to be with Chachi or how much time I'd get to devote to training. But a few long runs with good friends helped me realize that I wanted to keep running through the bad stuff in life. They helped me see that CIM might not be a goal race for me this year, but it sure sounded like a fun weekend. 

And right after I posted that CIM was back on, I got injured.

Now, I pride myself in knocking on wood about never getting injured FAR too often. I don't cross train, I don't weight train, I don't stretch, I don't foam roll, I really don't do anything except pound the concrete sidewalks of San Francisco day after day after day after day after day after day. When I do get "injured," most of my injuries go away if I run through them smartly. In more extreme cases, I can generally take a week off & then start back up again without consequence. Well, I hate to admit it, but I think after all these years, it's finally caught up with me.

Until recently, I was averaging about 45-50 miles a week all year. So far, for the entire month of November, I've hit 36.84. Most of these were test runs where I went out a mile, and then turned around and came back because I've been in so much pain. A number of them involved me turning off my watch and walking home.

My last long run was 21 miles on 10/27 with these fine ladies. During this run I stopped to stretch my hip about 829312 times. Since then, my longest run has been a slow 6 MILES. Wah wah. 

Having this cursed self-effacing I DON'T NEED HELP personality type, I haven't had an official diagnosis on what is wrong with my hip. (If you want my best guess, I'd say it's tendonitis or some abnormally tight hip flexor that is throwing everything out of wack, from my lower back to my upper thigh to my knee.) I've rested, I've stretched, I've foam rolled, I've taken pain relievers, I've iced, I've heated, I've tried new shoes. Nothing has helped. 

I finally broke down and made a doctor appointment, but I can't get in until next Friday, December 7th. 

So where does that leave me until then?

CIM Goals
With all this said, the second half of this year has not been my favorite. I'm ready to move on and start some good stuff again. I've dropped out of so many races this year (for good reasons, I admit), but I'm sick of feeling like I'm taking the easy way out. I'm sick of feeling like I've given up on myself.

And so with CIM in mind, I have just one goal: Cross the finish line.

I'm aware I am injured and this could be my dumbest idea ever. I am aware that after a month of logging essentially NO time on my feet, my lungs feel so fatigued when I go up even a flight of stairs. Thus, I'm playing around with the run 2 miles/walk 1 mile idea. I also am aware it's supposed to monsoon and I could be out there for a dangerously long time.

So go ahead and tell me that this is a bad idea, or, better yet, please encourage me to do it.

But I promise you, my dear Internet friends, I have to at least try. If I DNF, fine. If it takes me 5 hours and 59 minutes, perfect. But I need to end this year doing something I can be proud of attempting. Something I can say I pulled myself through and didn't give up on. I want to run my 10th marathon on CIM's 30th anniversary.

I'd like to cross the CIM finish line with Chachi In Memory.

Lil Chach

I want to push myself to attempt something big to believe in myself again. 

I'm ready to move on, heal in a number of ways, and make next year a strong one. Thanks for following me on my journey. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Stepping My Tiny Toe Back Into Training

Things have been slowly on the up-and-up. 

I somehow managed to land a pretty cool job I didn't applied for. Chachi is hanging around me as much as he can -- although he has some great days and some terribly scary days -- and I'm grateful for every second I have with him. I turned another year older and realized I have the best supportive friends who want to be around me, even when I'm a downer.

And I started doing a little more running. 

I didn't end up going to Humboldt for the milestone-birthday marathon, but somewhere along the lines it crossed my mind that I should at least continue to train for CIM. I still don't know if I'll make it to the start line (it's all dependent on Chachi's health), but I might as well attempt to stay in shape for it in case I can go.

After taking mid-September to mid-October off of running, the past few weeks have been dedicated to turning my piddly 2-mile "I'm too afraid to leave my cat for long" runs into 5-mile runs. Which have turned into 10-mile runs. Which turned into trail runs, my 15th half marathon, a 21-miler with a new blogging buddy, and plenty of runs with friends.

Early-morning Headlands run with Jessica, Aron, & Jojo.

After declaring I'd never run Nike Women's Marathon again, I ended up buying a last-minute dirt-cheap bib off Craigslist. Seriously worth it with NWM's logistical changes this year. 15th half marathon = done.

Page organized a group long run with San Diego blogger Nicole. So nice to meet her & get to run with Page, Kristin, & Katie, too!

Runners all cleaned up: Layla, Sima, Kristin, Courtney, & Aron. Thank you so much, friends, for everything!

Running is my sanity. It's how I've met most of my friends. The sport and the community involved in it have been here for me despite life's rocky times. And running always takes me back, even when I shove it aside.

CIM is, for now, back on. I won't be attempting a PR; I don't even think I'll attempt to run hard. I may run it with friends, or depending on Chachi, I might not make it at all. But for now, I've dusted off my neglected training plan and I'm trying to fit some miles back in my life.

5 more weeks until the race. :)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The End of CIM Training

When you're unemployed, what else is there to do but run? Surprisingly, a lot. 

CIM Training: Week 6 (week of Sept. 17)

Goal: 11 mi. easy
Actual: 8.25 mi. trail

The first thing I joked about when my job ended is that I no longer needed to get up before sunrise to run before work. And what did I do on my first day of run-employment? 

I got up at 5:30a.m. to run trails with Aron.

I spent a few days in the East Bay dogsitting on my break from working, and sure enough, Aron was up for some trail miles before her workday. Luckily, I got to go right back to sleep once we were done.

The trails were a little dark when we first started,
but the park brightened up in no time.

Goal: Rest
Actual: Rest

I may not have worked on this day & I may not have run on this day, but I spent the entire day emailing people, calling contacts, filling out agency forms, wearing out a dog, and it ended up being a very busy day.

Jana's fun-loving pup, Leonard.

Leonard & my cat, Chachi, are good buddies.

Goal: 8 mi. w/ 4 @ LT
Actual: Rest

I had another insanely busy day -- one that ended with a trip to the emergency vet because Chachi's face swelled up. Another rest day when I fantasized I'd be doing more running.

Goal: Rest
Actual: 10 mi. easy

Nothing to this run. After some meetings with a new agency in the morning, I headed out in the afternoon sun for some easy miles to think and reflect. I'm really worried about my cat.

Goal: 5 mi. easy
Actual: Rest

I brought my cat into a specialty vet on Friday morning, and I got the most heartbreaking news I could have heard. Chachi has aggressive cancer in his mouth, it's spread to his naval cavity, and is on the way to his brain. There's nothing that can be done. The vet estimates he has 4 to 6 more weeks to live.

I broke down. And sobbed. And sobbed some more.

When I moved to California 2 years ago, my mom asked me if I wanted to leave my 12-year-old cat behind until I settled in. No way, I said. He is the only thing I want to bring with me. So that's what we did. I packed everything I could fit into my car, but not until I made sure there was space for Chachi.

Now, at a spry 14 years and change, he's going to be leaving. I made the decision to adopt him as a kitten, and now I need to make the decision on when he'll go.

If the vet is correct, Chachi will start his decline very rapidly -- something I don't think I'll ever be prepared to see. Four to 6 weeks from now is right around the time of the Humboldt marathon. I don't want to speak too soon, but there's no way I can leave my sick cat for a weekend to run a selfish (birthday) marathon knowing my roommate would have to give him his medication. I would never forgive myself if anything happened to him while I was gone. Taking this long of a break isn't entirely conducive to running CIM either, so for now I'm not planning on running that as well.

So for the duration of Chachi's life, I am going to be here for him; I'm going to spoil him, hug him, kiss him, play with him, cuddle him, feed him ice cream, tell him I love him so often that he thinks it's his new name, and I'm not going to leave him. Perhaps this break from work was exactly what I needed to be around him & comfort him during the last miles of his life.

I am so devastated, and a marathon seems pointless to me right now. I'm going to shelf all training for the time being, take the break from heavy mileage I've been wanting, and make the remainder of Chachi's life as awesome as I humanly can.

Thanks in advance for all your thoughts and prayers. I can't say I'll be online much in the immediate future, but please know your support is appreciated.


Lil Chachi