Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Monday Monday... So good to me!

This is the follow up to my half marathon weekend post. Monday needed a post all on it's own.

Do you ever have one of those days where everything just falls into place? This was one of those days. The morning started off with a raid of clothes that Morgan was giving away... new running clothes??? Yes please! Then we headed of to the adorable Pannikin for coffee, muffins, cinnamon rolls and carrot cake... yeah yeah I know not exactly healthy but we couldn't decide!

The crazy part was when we parked in front of Pannikin I looked up and the shopping center in front of me looked really familiar with its cute little yellow buildings and I knew I'd seen it before. Turns out I'd seen it in pictures from numerous Google searches. One of the stores was DeepFling... a store that specializes in Scandinavian clothes and jewelry. I had been wanting to go there for months because they carry the jewelry line from Sweden that Carly and I fell in love with on our trip. We were sad to find that it didn't open for another hour but it turned out to be fortuitous because Morgan joined us for breakfast half way through when she was done with her workout and we all trouped over there afterword. Carly decided to buy herself a graduation present.
Or maybe a couple graduation presents... Then we said good bye to Morgan and got in the car and Carly points to this tattoo parlor in front of us and says, "That's where I almost got my nose pierced." I told her that I had been considering getting a tattoo for a while now and that I had promised myself if I finished the race I would finally get it. Before I knew it she was on the phone asking Morgan if it was a good place for tattoos and Morgan was flipping a u-turn.
I had decided long ago that I would get the word Balance on my wrist. When the tattoo guy asked me why I was getting it I told him it represented my life over the past year. I explained that I had spent the last four years almost completely focused on academia which led to a fairly sedentary life with no time for anything else like I don't know ... exercise. This year had been all about seeking a life of balance. I didn't wan't to be focused on any one thing. I think it can best be summed up by the Einstein quote, "Life is like riding a bicycle, one can only move forward with balance." He also asked about the race and the reasons why I run which I could repeat but Morgan does it so much better in her blog soo...
The actual process of getting the tattoo was much more painful then I anticipated. Apparently the wrist is one of the most painful spots to get a tattoo. I probably should have figured that out before hand huh? Oh well. Luckily I had Carly to hold my hand through it all and Morgan to document the experience. Don't you think this girl should go into photo journalism?
Over a week has gone by and I'm still ecstatic about it. Not only is it a daily reminder to seek balance whether that be between exercising and my ever present need to eat cake or between enjoying things that are safe and comforting while still remembering the reward that comes from pushing myself out of my comfort zone and trying new things. It's also a reminder of this amazing weekend that I got to spend with wonderful people doing something I never thought I could.

Friday, June 10, 2011

I Can See for Miles and Miles

I'm finally getting a chance to sit down and write about my marathon weekend or half marathon to be more precise. I wish I would have written about it sooner as all the thoughts and experiences would have been fresh in my mind, but this week has been crazy busy. I have to say I was scared of this race, scared that I wouldn't be able to finish. Luckily I had a team of motivators telling me I'd be ok... that I'd make it. I also knew that if I didn't at least try I'd regret it.
So Friday I drove down to San Diego to pick up all my race stuff and got to spend the day with my cousin Mike, his wife Magdalene, and their daughter Emma. Mike ran the full and Meg ran the half with me. It was an eye opening day of vendors selling shirts with slogans like, "If you see me pass out please turn off my Garmin" and "In my dreams I'm Kenyan". I also saw every possible protein bar and GU flavor imaginable. I got to meet the famous Josh Cox, a runner whom I'd only learned about a week earlier.
The real treat of the day was having lunch at the Stone Brewery in Escondido. Lunch was delicious with tofu stir-fry and jalapeno hummus, the beer was even better of course. I got the Stone IPA and it was amazing. Even got a souvenir t-shirt!

Saturday was the day of burritos! I have to say one of my favorite parts of running is now carbo loading... I had one burrito from Taco Factory for lunch and another from Chipotle on my way down to San Diego after I picked up my friend Carly from Riverside. Carly and I were staying with her sister Morgan and Morgan's boyfriend Sergio. Both Morgan and Sergio are elite runners and over the weekend I got an introduction into their world. The ride down to SD included a warning session from Carly on what to expect. The most memorable sentence was, " oh and they sleep in a tent so there's a slight hum from the generator". Huh??? Apparently, some elite athletes utilize an oxygen tent to simulate the effects of living in a high altitude environment. Morgan says, "Yeah, all I had to do was sell my car." This was just the beginning of the crazy. They're room is also covered in at least 50 pairs of running shoes in every color imaginable... good thing they work in a running shoe store huh?

Sunday morning we "woke up" at around 4 am. I never actually fell asleep so waking up at that god awful hour wasn't all that difficult. Sergio drove us to the race, with Morgan blasting European techno from the passenger seat. I'm not sure this was motivational but it made us laugh and took my mind off my worries and doubts. The perks of knowing elite runners is you get the VIP treatment, especially if your driver is last years half marathon winner. So we got to avoid having to find a place to park and needing to take shuttles to the starting line. I also got to hang out in the VIP area before the race... that's right... VIP access to the porta-potties. After that I went to find Meg so we could find our corral where we waited for our turn to start, in a race of over 32,000 you can't all start at once.
When we finally got started I actually felt really good and was able to run for about three miles before needing to walk. It was awesome to have so many people cheering on the side of the road and there was bands playing every mile or so. Plus I had Megan next to me who somehow had the ability to talk, sing, dance, and yell while still running. We had to split up around mile 5 for a bathroom break and after that I was alone. I had a few brief conversations with those around me, a lady in her 60's was worried she wasn't gonna make it but she was giving it all she had. Around mile 6 my foot that I'd injured two weeks earlier really started to ache and I started praying that it wouldn't get any worse. Luckily I came upon a Medical tent not too long after that and got some Tylenol. What a godsend! I have to say I actually teared up when I finally saw that 12 mile marker and then out of no where I spot Carly in the crowd and she jumps off the curb to run the last mile with me. We came across Magdalene shortly after that whose knee had locked up a mile back and had been walking. We toughed it out and ran the last .1 mile and crossed the finish line with our hands raised and smiles on our faces in 2:48.
After the race was more VIP treatment, and meeting up with Mike who finished the full in 4:20 and then it was time for a shower, yet another burrito (this time a Jamaican veggie burrito from Mozy's in Enscinitas) and then 3 hours laying on a beautiful beach with Carly doing nothing but getting burnt and trying erase the lovely sports bra and capri tan I acquired that morning. It was truly an amazing weekend and I'm so glad I decided to run it. I can't begin to describe how grateful I am to Mike, Meg, Carly, Morgan and Sergio for all the help and motivation over the past few weeks. I'm sure this will not be my last race and i'm looking forward to future half marathons and maybe even a full some day but I know I'll never forget how special this first one was.