Friday, February 13, 2009

So...what's next?

I bit my tongue and registered for my first half ironman. Barb's Race, in Sonoma, CA on 8/1/09. I did promise myself last year that if I finish the long course triathlon without much pain I will do the half! so I had to keep my promise.

Official 20-week training program starts on March 19th.

Until then, I'm focusing on strength training for my legs and hips (until next week), doing long but low-impact aerobic workouts (elliptical, bike, swim) to build a base (starting the week after), or continue to build a base from all the running I did all winter.

Also, I've embarked on a weight-loss plan to lose 15 pounds in the next 2-3 months. I need to shed the weight I didn't lose from the run (i definitely ate a lot more than i was burning). I need to shed the weight to save my hip and also make it easier for me to climb those hills on the bike.

I'm enjoying sleeping a lot and not having to wake up as early. I'm going to enjoy that for a month. My body deserves a bit of a break.

I'll probably squeeze in a couple of sprint and/or olympic tri races in May and June. Or maybe just one. Haven't decided.

I was going over my training schedule last night and this morning. Interesting (i.e., daunting).

Monday, February 2, 2009

Race Report.

2009 Surf City Half Marathon
2/1/09 Huntington Beach, CA

Pre-Race Stuff
230am, Saturday night: I woke up with a sharp pain in my right butt cheek (piriformis). It wasn’t tightness, it was a sudden, sharp pain, the same kind of pain I had when I was running the half marathon 2 years ago. Frustrated and scared somewhat, I pretty much stayed up all night massaging and stretching. I kinda snickered to myself thinking, "of course what's a race for me without some drama behind it." There's always something.

415am. Time to get out of bed. Shower, stretch, breakfast and coffee. Took inventory of everything I needed (sunscreen, visors, sunglasses, energy gels, race belt/bib, timing chip, ibuprofen). Kept testing my right hip. OUCHHHHHHH, dang it!

523am. Friends (my racing buddies Shirley and Lilian!!!) and I are in the car, ready to go.

I was feeling pretty nervous about the race on the way, only because my right hip was just not feeling great at all. What a way to start the day with the exact pain that reminds me of the failure 2 years ago. Thanks to my wonderful friends and their supportive company I was able to distract myself a little.

603 - 700am: Parking disaster. Brave Shirley decides to just drive up a curb and park there next to the other mischiefs. "They can't possibly tow everyone here" we comfort ourselves. Ok, time to get out of the car!

715am. Meet up with David from, introduce my friends and converse, laugh and mentally prepare ourselves as we stretch. I check in the clothes and stuff I wouldn't need during the race, and we’re ready to go. Took photos with our awesome patientslikeme tshirts and visors on, they were kind enough to sponsor us! Just a side note - Shirley and Lilian look like twins.

745am. Line up at starting line. It’s more like a starting area, with thousands and thousands of people. Butterflies start moving around in my stomach. Stretching and warming up. I stand in the back, the 2 hr and 40 min + wave.

802am. My wave starts – my friends Shirley and Lilian depart ahead of me as they are way faster than I am. we say bye and with warm hugs and good luck wishes, we go our separate ways. I see David taping us, I wave at the camera and start my run, and my timer.

The Race
Up to Mile 4, I’m feeling good, going at my slower/warmup pace, and ready to kick it up a notch. My right hip was a bit uncomfortable, but the discomfort was manageable.

Mile 5 – 7: Right hip definitely starting to hurt badly, especially after the incline. Every mile, I stretched on the side of the street. I was just happy that the stretching helped at least temporarily to continue my run. Took my first gel pack at mile 5. Maintaining pace of around 11.5/12 minute mile, I was still very comfortable in it.

Mile 7 – 9: I see Shirley and Lilian on the other side of the road (probably 2-3 miles ahead of me), we run towards each other screaming with open arms. Seeing them made me so happy and energized. They looked great and they were kicking butt! I pop two out of the three ibuprofen pills I brought with me. Took my second and last gel pack at mile 9. Right hip seriously hurting, limping and walking and stretching more frequently. Fighting bad, negative thoughts. Almost punched the other Minnie in my head that was tempting me to quit.

Mile 10-12: When I saw the Mile 10 sign, I was elated, people were clapping and screaming, and I was thinking in my head to pretend that I just started warming up for a 3 mile run. A tough imagination to keep, but helped nonetheless. I struggled to find the right leg alignment and cadence that minimized my pain. At some point, I was running at a quicker pace (90 steps/min) with much smaller steps. I made sure my upper body was almost upright, not hunching or swinging my arms sideways. I stopped looking for the next mileage sign, I stopped looking at the time. I was just looking slightly ahead of me, just focusing on my foot strokes. I felt less pain that way, and I needed to focus on keeping that posture until I reached the finish line. One misalignment, and I felt the pain come on to me like a flying knife hitting the bulls-eye. At that point, I’m chanting the Daily Prayer, singing random songs that I don’t even know the lyrics to, thinking about what slogans to use for my future races, etc…whatever I can to get me through this agonizing, what seems to be the longest 3 miles. At this point, my pace was over 13 minute/mile, including walking and stretching time and all that jazz. That’s probably why I stopped looking at the time.

Mile 12. YES! I wanted to go hug the Mile 12 sign. No more stopping to stretch, no more walking, just keep pushing, I was telling myself. I looked at the time – I could come in at 2:45 I thought. I just kept pushing. I’m hoping to see the finish sign. Not just yet, which made this last mile look so much longer than ever.

Mile 13. As I finally see the Finish sign before me with 0.1 mile to go, I am stoked, I am actually sprinting with pain written all over my face. I catch a glimpse of David, Shirley and Lilian waving at me and cheering me towards the finish line – which gave me another burst of energy to just really go for it. I dashed towards the finish line, I was so happy and relieved that when I saw the final time-chip check point for the finish, I leaped over it with full force. I was ecstatic, tears coming down my eyes out of joy and pain and relief and frustration all at the same time. I saw my friends, Dave was filming me asking me how I felt – “I feel great!” I said. Pointing at my race shirt that had the patientslikeme logo in front, I said “patients like me can run 13.1 miles.” Yes, I did it. I actually ran (ok, mostly ran) a half marathon. I didn’t break 2:45 as I hoped to, but I made it in at 2:53, I believe. My first half took me more than 4 hours to finish because I had to walk most of the way back! Shirley and Lilian came to hug me and congratulate me, while I congratulated them as well for finishing in great time (2:12!). They were kind enough to pack up a recovery food bag for me while waiting – I love these girls! I felt so happy and well taken care of by my friends. I was so grateful for my friends for being there with me. This race was especially meaningful for me because David’s company was sponsoring us and he got to see me in action, and I could help him out too (hopefully) in return. I cannot wait to see the video. I cannot wait for others to see it and hopefully feel hopeful and encouraged about the future.

Post-race stuff: simple – stretching, eating, icing and resting. And feeling proud for giving fibromyalgia yet another kick in the butt.