Monday, August 17, 2009

The waiting game...

Endurance running is not a great sport for specators, as a matter of fact, it is downright lousy.

Spectators are normally close friends and relatives of race participants.or the occasional people living in the nearby neighborhoods that will stand on the corner with a Starbucks and watch us idiots run. While every runner relies on these people for motivation, most don't know a single one.

There have been plenty of races I have run with no spectators to support me, and I totally understand why. I can't say I would willingly get up before the sun on my day off to stand on a street corner for hours only to watch my 'loved one' run for a total of about 45 seconds. What most spectators don't realize, though, is that those 45 seconds can sometimes fuel runners for hours during the race.

It's no secret to me why my best running performances have come when I have had spectators cheering me on. It also comes as no surprise to me that my favorite running experience have been ones I have shared with the people I love. Having my dad there for my Half Marthon PR this weekend meant the world to me. He watched me run for about 30 seconds, but knowing he was at the finish line motivated me more than I could even describe.

If you are a runner, thank your supporters because what they are doing is not their idea of "fun", and yet they do it anyway. If you are a spectator, I want to thank you. Even if you didn't come out to support me, I probably silently adopted you as my supportive family as I struggled through late miles of a race.

If you have ever come out to support me at a race, I want to apologize. I'm sorry that you might not have had a great time and you may have even been miserable. But i'm happy to tell you, your misery was worth it.

You stay classy, San Diego (Race report)

Ah, San Diego...Discovered by Germans in 1904.

If you don't know where that is from, shut down your computer right now, go to Blockbuster and rent Anchorman. Then come back and read the rest of my blog.

Where was I? Ah yes...San Diego.

I was in the wonderful city this weekend for a race appropriately titled, "America's Finest City Half Marathon". Never one to disappoint, San Diego delivered a great weekend and an even better race.

My alarm went off at four-$%#@&*%-fifteen a.m. so I hopped out of bed and into my racing clothes and was quickly out the door. I had to be at Balboa Park before 5:30 to catch the shuttle bus to the start of the race, which was at the beautiful Cabrillo Monument. By the time the race started (7am) I was ready to go back to sleep. Thankfully, the sound of the gun woke me and we were off and running. About a half-mile in I could feel my calves burning...apparently one day off was not long enough to rest my hill-beaten legs.

Two miles in, my legs were still burning, but I noticed the most incredible sensation...we were starting to go downhill. My legs caught a break as the rest of my body did it's best to try and keep up. This lasted for a few glorious miles, which served as a catapult of sorts, launching me into a quick and comfortable pace for the rest of the race.

Floating along at my fastest-ever pace, I saw the friendly 10-mile marker. Relieved and conscious of my PR(personal record)-setting pace, I began to calculate how much energy to use over the last 3.1 miles...that's when it hit me. My whole right side cramped up.

"C'mon, you whimp, its only been ten miles", I thought to myself as I tried to stretch while running (hope they didnt get pictures of that, probably looked like a dying quail). But eventually the cramp caused me to stop briefly and stretch. As frustrating as this was, I knew I still had a chance at an excellent time and I resolved to push myself as hard as I could the entire rest of the way.

The cramp subsided minutes later and I was back on pace...then I saw 6th Ave. For those that are unfamiliar, 6th Ave. runs downtown and takes you up to Balboa Park. UP. I knew the finish line wasn't far beyond the top of the hill, but I couldnt see the top of the hill from the bottom. I put my head down and pushed myself, picking out other runners to try and pass. After what seemed like forever, I reached the top of the hill and turned to enter Balboa Park.

Entering Balboa Park, the course was lined with American flags and screaming spectators, what more motivation could you ask for? I kicked it into high gear and sprinted the last quarter mile leaving everything I had on the course. 1:39:29. I had beaten my previous personal record by 18 minutes. I love San Diego.

I'll be back next year to try and shave off that 9:29. In the meantime, you stay classy, San Diego.

That peaceful nervous feeling...

The day before a race always feels strange to's one of very few days where I am not running and it always includes a race expo, both of which bring feelings of excitement and anxiety.

Maybe it is just my own emotionally-charged running-induced-endorphin-kick-happy self, but my stomach always feels a little uneasy when I walk into the expo. Maybe it's because my head is in so many places. Part of me is sizing up the competition (which, by the way is nearly impossible to do in endurance running), while another part of me is sizing up the vendors (to see which are giving away free stuff, of course), while yet another part of me is day-dreaming about the race tomorrow.

There have been times that I have left an expo with new gear, other times with a new race on the calendar, but every time I leave an expo I have left with that peaceful, nervous feeling.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Charging up

I am slowing down, cutting my training miles and starting to charge my battery for America's Finest City Half Marathon in San Diego this weekend. I am excited to finally get back out and race and to see where my fitness level is at with two months until Long Beach. I am hoping to set a personal record, but more importantly, I am hoping to recharge.

As if working full-time and training for a marathon wasn't enough for me, I added another job on top of that and recently my body, mind and soul have been crying out for some rest. They will finally get their wish when I spend the weekend on my own down in San Diego.

I have decided that my motto for this coming weekend is, "Slow down, run fast".