Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Afterglow of Avalon: 50 Miles for 50 Years.

January 14, 2012..4 days before my 51st Birthday, I choose to participate in a 50 mile footrace. As a birthday present to myself, I bought a boat ride, a 2 night hotel stay and 50 miles worth of running on the golden-brown hills of one of California’s most famous (and infamous) locations, Catalina Island.

Catalina, in addition to being quaint and picturesque, has quite an interesting history, something I learned about both before and after my 50 mile race. Nature conservatory, baseball training camp, imported buffalo, playground for both the common man, and the Hollywood elite. Errol Flynn, John Wayne, and Humphrey Bogart had their fair share of fun on the island. It was once home to a newlywed Norma Jean before she became “Marylin” and Natalie Wood literally took her last breaths there before her mysterious drowning. This is the setting in which I chose to celebrate having lived on this earth for a half century.

My adventure started early in the morning on Friday the 13th, as I sat down in my friend Summer’s red jeep and buckled my seat belt. We headed South on the 605 freeway toward Long Beach to board the “Catalina Express.” Once we arrived at the port, Summer and I grabbed coffees, chatted and watched as the lobby began to fill with fellow participants who were registered for the Catalina 50 Mile Benefit Run. I saw many familiar faces. A running group known as The Foothill Flyers had designed team shirts with “COUCH POTATO” emblazoned across their chests. Across the room I recognized 3 of the fastest runners I know: Jannifer and Chris, members of INVICTUS RUNNING, along with their coach and founder of the team, Simon. We exchanged hugs and well wishes for the race.

The Catalina Express sailed effortlessly over the greenish-blue water. A school of dolphin swam along with us for a while, providing me a brief distraction from my nerves. A fellow runner sat next to us. He and Summer, being the experienced “Ultras”, exchanged stories about race courses they had both run. I listened intently to their conversation. While I had run a few 50Ks, they had run distances well beyond that, including 100 milers. Though I enjoyed their stories, inside my head a reoccurring thought kept creeping in; “50 miles, can I really make it through 50 miles and will I make the 12-hour cutoff”? I walked outside and stood on the deck of the bow letting the wind and sea fill my senses as I watched Catalina getting closer and closer.

As we disembarked we were greeted by what I call “island magic”..a warm sun tempered by a cool sea breeze. We promptly found our hotel, The Pavilion, and checked in. We had the rest of the day on the island and the only place we had to be was at the “Pre-race check in” at 5PM. Being on the island during “off” season, it felt as if we runners owned the place. Summer and I went on a short pre-race hike and then we spent some time apart, each exploring the island in our own way. I decided to visit the Botanical Gardens, the Wrigley Memorial and the Catalina Conservatory. At 4pm we met back up for dinner at a restaurant that was the designated location for the pre-race check-in and race bib pickup.

After dinner, race participants gathered in the courtyard outside of the restaurant for a pre-race briefing. The nippy January air reminded us that our 5AM start was going to be a bit chilly. Maps of the course were used to clarify the route and explain where the aid stations would be. Now it was time to go back to our hotel, finish our race gear prep and try to get some sleep. Check, double check..headlamp, bib number in place, gloves, Camelback, fuel sources, and oh yeah…my music! For the first time in my life I was going to run with music. My kind friend Susan loaned me her “Shuffle”. I normally don’t run with music because I am often running technical trails, or on streets where I feel the need to have my senses about me. The truth is that I am very sensitive to music and it can be too distracting for me in that it affects my pace. However, this time I made an exception…50 miles!? Heck ya, I was going to need some music to keep my mind off of my discomfort and I knew my pace was going to be at a power hike for a good portion of the course . After calling the front desk for a 3:45AM wake up call, I finally settled down in bed and actually did fall asleep.

Sure enough, the ringing phone woke us up as scheduled. I rose with little effort, as my mind was now in “race mode” and I was not one bit sleepy. I brewed a pot of coffee, took a hot shower, stretched , got dressed. We made a final gear check and headed out to the starting line.

Runners gathered under the light of a few streetlamps, exchanging greetings and hugs, taking photos. We gathered, more and more of us, arms crossed over ourselves trying to keep warm. A voice called us to attention. This was our last call to check in for the start of the race and now it was time to run. “On your mark, get set, GO!” Off we went into the pre-dawn darkness. Now my adventure had truly begun..I was going to attempt to finish a 50 mile race in less than 12 hours.

I settled into a comfortable jog and decided not to turn on my music during the dark portion of the run. The crunch of runners feet on the gravely road and their intermittent chatter was motivation enough for me. Four or five miles had passed when a fellow runner, struck up a conversation with me. His name was Dave; he was 56 years old and had recently gotten back into ultra running. He had trained for only about 3 months for this race. Dave had some very helpful advice for me a about the course, which I took to heart. He stressed the importance of me “running my own race” and running a conservative first half because there would be an opportunity on the other side of this race to pick up the pace and be able to finish strong. As it turned out, Dave and I would be playing leap-frog for the entire race.

Dawn began to break just after the first aid station at about mile 7. The air was still cool, but not cold enough for me to keep my running jacket on, so I dumped it at the aid station, as they had a box to drop off gear that they would be returning to the start line for us. Up and around a bend and I had my first of many spectacular views along this course. Dawn broke through the dark sky to show us a glistening bay below the hills we were running on. Several of us stopped to take in the moment.

As I continued along the open fire road, the morning sun climbed up above us and struggled to shine through a light cloud cover that stubbornly refused to yield, (which we runners found much to our liking). The course at this point was starting to climb but was still runnable for the most part. Upon Dave’s sound advice, I decided to power walk some of the inclines early on to reserve my running strength for the back half of this thing. Stronger runners, the top runners, I am sure ran most of this part, but for the rest of us, wisdom dictated that we take a more conservative approach. When I did run, I did so in intervals of run/walk. I do what I call my “Chihuahua run”..very short steps, slightly leaning into the hill and not pushing off hard. Since my walking stride is so short, I tend to lose too much ground if I only walk for too long. I have learned that only the elite runners truly run most of these long distance events, what many ultra runners do is to walk very efficiently. “Relentless forward motion” they call it. Walk, run, jog..whatever it takes to keep moving. Run the flats and downs, walk the steep stuff…it works.

At the half marathon point (13 miles) I decided to plug in my music. There were a half dozen or so runners in front of me that were running at about my pace; I kept them in sight and fell into an easy rhythmic run with Bruce Springsteen, Prince and Aerosmith. I noticed some black birds flying over head. I could tell by their size and the fact that they seemed paired up, that they were ravens. I turned down the music and heard them calling back and forth. One landed on trail sign up ahead of me. I had to stop and take it’s photo. I stopped for my first Facebook post: “I love the Ravens at mile 15ish”. I figured with 35 miles to go, I could stop for moment and have a little fun…this was going to be a long day! (After the race was over, I noticed one of my friends, Laura, had commented on my post…”stay ahead of the ravens” she said…too funny!).

8:32AM – I had been running for 3 hours and here I was at mile 18; the aid station called LITTLE HARBOR 1.(LITTLE HARBOR 1 would later be LITTLE HARBOR 2 at mile 33 because we would be looping back to that location). I was greeted by Suzy, an amazing athlete; both a runner and triathlete. Suzy was sitting this race out to allow recovery from a minor running injury. She is one of those people who exudes cheerfulness and is a natural at providing encouragement as well as practical help to fellow athletes. “You’re looking great!”, she said as I ran into the aid station, “what do you need?”. In fact I was feeling good..excited and ready to keep moving. I fueled up, stretched for a few minutes and headed out.

The course was fun, because there is an “out and back” portion where we could see those runners who were ahead of us returning on that loop. It was thrilling to see the front man, “Fabian” running toward us ..and I mean running. We cheered him and the other leaders as they ran by. My fast friends from Invictus (several who won medals that day) “high-fived” me as we passed one another.

As often happens in races, groups of runners who run at a similar pace tend to “pack” and run together for as long as it suits them. This is a great way to find motivation, especially on long distance races. Packs can switch up, depending on if one holds the pace, exceeds it or falls back. You don’t have to speak to anyone, you just move with the pack simultaneously feeding off of the energy of the other runners and adding your energy and motivation to the pack. As I left Little Harbor 1..I found my pack, put my music back into my ears, settled into a comfortable pace as I pushed toward the marathon distance.

10:36AM – Over five and half hours of running and walking and I arrived at the “Isthmus” aid station which I think was just about 26 miles, the marathon distance. I was now over the halfway point of my journey and I was still feeling strong, though my lower back was getting tight. I took care of that as much as possible by making sure that I stopped to stretch when the inclines were such that I needed to walk anyway. As I left “Isthmus” the next aid station would be LITTLE HARBOR 2 at mile 33, I thought to myself, “when I get there, I will have run further than I have ever run in my life.” My longest distance until this race had been 50K (31 miles). The course at this point had leveled out and was fairly flat. I turned up my music, picked up my pace and pulled ahead of my pack. I felt good and I needed to take advantage of this part of the course. As I ran, I passed a woman who looked to be in her 60’s. She was moving along smoothly, looking very at ease. We smiled at one another. “You are an inspiration”, I said to her, meaning every word of it. She smiled and said “thank you, and you are doing great!”

11:53AM: I spotted Suzy’s famous pink HAMMER jacket (she is a big promoter of HAMMER nutrition products for racing) – here I was at LITTLE HARBOR 2, mile 33, now past the 50K distance. I had been on the road just under 7 hours and I had 17 miles to go. The next aid station was 7 miles away. Onward…upward, downward, run, walk, listen to music. “WALK THIS WAY” – Aerosmith.. yes!! Just what I needed to keep my legs moving..RELENTLESS FORWARD MOTION…the ultra runners mantra beating in my head with the music. Surreal, I was DOING this!

1PM - Arrived at EAGLE’S NEST aid station. I managed to catch up to a few runner’s who had been ahead of me. We stopped to drink, eat, and top off our personal water supplies. I notice one of the Foothill Flyers, a woman I know, sitting on bench with her shoes off. She was one of the members of the group that started this event at 12 midnight to ensure that they would complete the race by the 5PM cutoff time. “Hey Jaymee”..what’s up?” I asked. “I’ve got a huge blister and it really hurts”, she answered, “but I want to finish and I’m not sure what to do.” I asked a man standing next to us, one of the aid station helpers, if he had any Duct tape. He answered, “no” but I have Electrical tape and Band-Aids. I could Band-aid the blister and cover it with Electrical tape”. “Sounds good to me,” I said. Jaymee agreed. (and as it turns out she was able to finish her 50 miles)! I left that station with the runners I had caught and a new pack was formed.

…Now it was getting rough. Over 40 miles done and we started climbing..nice. Lucky for us, the high cloud cover kept the day on the cool side and part of this climb had some shade. It wasn’t crazy steep like the climbs I’ve done in the San Gabriel mountains, but it was steep enough to force all of us into a walk/jog-(emphasis on WALK). As I walked, drank, and listened to my music, I focused on the runners around me; we were all pretty much on the same page. No one spoke, words were not needed, we all knew what this was about; it was a head game now. No negative thoughts, stay hydrated, manage it..and finish. The next aid station was PUMP HOUSE, only about 4 miles away.

2:10 PM –9 hours, 10 mins on the road. I reached PUMP HOUSE aid station and sent out a FaceBook message: “a 10K to go.” As I reached for a cup of Gatorade, a voice called out “’re looking good.”It was Dave, the man who had given me such helpful advice way back when we started our pre-dawn run. As I mentioned earlier, we did leap frog quite a bit during this race..and here he was again. “Well so are you!,” I replied. “This is it, I said, a 10K and we’ll be done.” We left the aid station together. Not far into our run, we began to climb again. I was able to keep up my “Chihuahua run" intervals. I pulled ahead of Dave, but I knew I was likely to see him again as the course flattened out.

Along I ran were golden hills met with blue sky. The cloud cover had lifted, it was warm but by no means hot. My lower back was tight. I knew we had one more aid station where I could stop to stretch; I just didn’t want to stop now and break my pace…I was excited! Thoughts would pop into my head: “I am going to finish this race..I have to be careful, anything can go wrong..even at the last mile…take it easy.” Up ahead I noticed a couple of runners that I had been following for the last 20 miles or so. A young woman and a tall young man. I was gaining on them and I kept them in my sight. I was not in a pack now. The view was such that I could see miles of trail interspersed with runners both ahead of me and behind me.

HAYPRESS aid station MILE 46 – LAST STOP- 4 miles to go. I grabbed a quick cup of COKE; I liked the bubbles and the sugar. I stretched my hamstrings on a conveniently located wooden fence. Dave was just approaching the aid station as I was leaving it. I was ready to finish this thing. The dirt road started it’s descent back into Avalon and became a roughly paved blacktop road. I don’t like downhill running much, but this was paved road so no technical skill was needed. However after running 46 miles downhill running can be hard and I didn’t want to lose control of my tired legs, so I slowed my pace. I heard some feet behind was Dave. “How are you doing?”, he asked. “Ok,” I answered, “ but I don’t like this downhill stuff very much.” He replied, “yeah, it can be hard.” I told him, “well I need to find some music for this last bit and not think about it so much.” With that I searched out my “quick feet” song. It was “Pretty Woman” performed by an acapella group that was amazing! The beat sunk right into my legs and I picked up my pace. I ran like I have never run downhill before. I passed quite a few other runners on the way down…I was running by myself now. One of my favorite songs started playing; a Bruce Springsteen song. The line that I kept in my head for a good part of this journey came from that song: “No retreat baby, no surrender”…perfect.

Down the road I ran, legs turning over, not stopping. I was in the village now..left turn down a steep little street, then hung a right turn onto the straight away and headed toward the finish line. As I approached the finish, Robert, one of the “COUCH POTATO” team members from the Foothill Flyer group, was jogging his way in. I grabbed his hand and said, “come on Robert…we’re going in together”. The fact is, Robert had walked me up a nasty little hill to an aid station during last August’s MT. Disappointment Race, when I was sick from heat stress. Robert kept my spirits up when I didn’t think I was going to finish that race. He is part of the crew who helped me recover so that not only did I finish the race, but was first in my division. Other than my coach, I could not think of any other person who I would rather have cross this finish line with me. Over the line we went….we were DONE..50 MILES DONE!

Once we were through the finish line, Robert and I hugged, and finishers medals were hung around our necks. I turned to look back and there were my teammates from the Arrogant Bastards team..Summer along with two friends, Monya and Forrest who had come to cheer us in and celebrate with Summer and I. Within moments of finishing..I realized how exhausted I was. I sat down on a bench, took a photo of my medal and posted it on Facebook: “No Retreat, Baby, No Surrender, 50 miles for 50 years”. I finished in 10:20. I beat the 12 hour cut-off.

Avalon had been kind to me and it’s afterglow stayed with me for an entire week. Sometimes when I feel dragged down by the mundane tasks of everyday life, I relive little pieces of this magical weekend…the “afterglow of Avalon”…this is how I like life to be, both exhausting and fulfilling in the satisfaction of a goal reached.

-Mountain Goat.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

What a gorgeous day for running a race with old friends.

The last time I ran this race was at least 5 years ago. It was a tradition set by my former bosses at the law office where I used to work. That was before I really understood how to train my running effectively. At that time my pace was close to 10 minutes a mile for this course; today I ran it at a 7:40 pace..and that makes me very happy! I am older, I just turned 49 and yet I am faster than I was 5 years ago. Why? with PURPOSE, MOTIVATION AND DIRECTION. Things I learned as a bootcamper under my coach Eric LeClair. Now, I, as a trainer, aim to motivate my clients with these same ideas. I am proof that training with purpose, motivation and direction really does work.

Here are my stats from the REDONDO BEACH SUPERBOWL SUNDAY 10K 2/7/2010:

Hope Langevin #8265 Monrovia, CA Age: 49 Gender: F
Distance 10K
Clock Time 47:55.7
Chip Time 47:30.9
Gender Place 69 / 1751
Division Place 10 / 185
Age Grade 72.1%
Pace 7:40
All Place 460

What you will find in racing these faster and more popular courses is that the talent pool is huge! I faced a very tough group of runners in my division: 1st place lady was 39:59 and she was 47 years old! 2nd Place was 40:36 and 3rd was 41:45. With that kind of competition I am grateful to have achieved 10th place in Division and 69th woman out of 1,751 and 460th overall out of a total of 3,843 runners (male and female) ain't too shabby.

Playing with the big dawgs is a whole different ball game..but it was fun and exciting to try and hang in there.

Now a new chapter to my training is about to begin in March. Crossfit Endurance (CFE). I will be my own experiment. CFE is a very different way to train for endurance events; it breaks a lot of "rules" that the endurance community lives by. We'll see. I am very excited...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Community & Team


"com⋅mu⋅ni⋅ty  Pronunciation [kuh-myoo-ni-tee]

1.a social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists (usually prec. by the): the business community; the community of scholars."

1. a number of persons forming one of the sides in a game or contest: a football team.
2. a number of persons associated in some joint action: a team of advisers.
3. to gather or join in a team, a band, or a cooperative effort (usually fol. by up, together, etc.).

10. combine, unite, ally, merge.

Tonight was track night for our group: Team Crossfit Elite Fitness Academy/Bootcamp. What I saw out there makes me feel a little better about humanity in general. I will explain.

Even though I was training with them, during my recovery time I was able to look at what was taking place on the track.

What I saw was a community of people who, while training as individuals, simultaneously encouraged and motivate one another. We had a very diverse field out there. From walker/joggers to some of our top runners. So what do I see? Our fastest cheering on our beginners, motivating them to finish. Many runners while at rest, watching other runners come in, yelling words of encouragement, "you got it", "nice work", "don't stop." The individuals of this community became a team..of their own volition.

We have some strong athletes in our fitness community. I may not know every one yet, but I know a lot of them. I'm around them enough to see what type of attitude they take towards each other and towards our beginners. I have only come across a few jerks and they are gone. Seriously, too many gifted athletes can be jerks. Conceited, self-centered, condescending and just plain rude. Those kind don't stay with us. Good. What I see is support, respect and an honest care and concern between our members. Sure, there is competition too, and for some more than others. It is a healthy motivating kind of competition, coupled with good sportsmanship.

Our community comes together to train and works together as a team, inspiring one another to not only get the work done, but to do it well. I've been part of this group for 7 years, almost since it's inception and it still moves me to see us in action. I am blessed to be part of it.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

There is a Season..

…A time to keep silence, and
a time to speak...

The past 9 months have been a season for silence and reflection for me and now I am ready to speak, or in this case write again.

Why have I not blogged for so long? All of the usual reasons people usually give, I suppose. Changes in schedule, too many things taking up my time, but in the end, maybe it’s just because I have not had a lot of things that I wanted to blog about. I’ll keep this simple and just say that I’ve had a lot on my mind these past 9 months. Not necessilary bad stuff, just life. Things to sort out in both the personal and business arenas.

Frankly, my head has not been wrapped around my own training, but now a new year has begun and I have set some training goals for myself. I’ve had a physical issue going on. Not anything to be really alarmed about. It is a posterior chain tightness that I am finally getting some help with. Seems that tight muscles have caused a sort of hip alignment problem, or maybe the hip has been dysfunctional for so long it’s causing the muscles to operate in a dysfunctional manner. Who knows, either way I think I’ve had this for a very long time. It’s gotten to the point where my sciatic nerve is also being irritated. I am trying a combination of chiropractic and soft-tissue work to see if I can find some relief. I am able to train, but I just try not to over- do and sometimes I have to take an extra day off from running.

One area that I am very pleased with is the progress my lady bootcampers have made this past year. They have not only made gains in fitness, but in confidence. They have set and met race goals, including half marathons, mud run, several 5 and 10ks. One of them raced The Army 10 Miler in Washington D.C. All of this makes me very happy. As a coach there is nothing better than seeing clients get excited about their training because they have now found a purpose and direction for it. Aside from general fitness for life, which is the main reason my ladies are training, they are now seeing that they can have fun challenging themselves to try new things. They are realizing that they are far more capable than they initially thought. Now they want more...they want to get stronger, faster and fitter and they are putting in the effort to achieve these goals. They have organized themselves into two teams of five for the Camp Pendleton Mud Run this June. I am so very proud of them.

So what about my training? My last blog was about the Pasadena Marathon, and so my first blog of the year will begin with THE PASADENA MARATHON because I am giving it another go on FEBRUARY 21, 2010.

I have been training for the marathon with our Rouge racing team. I’ve done a decent job of keeping the training schedule and I am finally seeing some improvements in running times. I finished in 4:38 last year. I would love to pull that back to a 4:15. If I can shake this hip thing, I should be able to do it. I have the endurance. My 5K pace, my 400’s my 800s all tell me I should be able to pull a 4:15. Good hip health, relief from tightness is what I need to focus on if I am to achieve my goal finish time.

So...the silence has been broken, and a new year has begun, and I am happy for the new beginning.

Mountain Goat signing off for now.

Monday, March 30, 2009

One Week Later: Marathon Reflections

6:20 A.M. Pasadena, California. Dark, cloudy, drizzling on and off; temperature somewhere in the 50’s, chilly and a little breezy. It is ten minutes before the gun goes off for the inaugural Pasadena Marathon (both full and half) to start at 6:30A.M.
4,487 people waiting under the glowing street lamps for the signal to start their 13 mile or 26 mile journey, depending on which they choose. For some of us, this will be our first full or half marathon. More seasoned runners are probably seeking to break a personal record and some will choose to walk and be happy with completion. Everyone has their own reasons for entering this race and they are as diverse as the entrants themselves.

Suddenly the drizzle becomes a downpour. We had been warned that it might rain, most were prepared for it in one way or another. Some wore raingear, or plastic trash bags, and then there were those who stood there in tank tops and shorts. Groans , laughter and cheering rose up from the crowd as the rain poured down . The announcer made a joke about how it never rains in Southern California. He did a good job trying to entertain a now freshly soaked crowd of participants who could not start running for another ten minutes. Five or so minutes later the downpour let up. At last we all counted down the final 10 seconds to the start, gun went off at 6:30 and we began to slog through the wet streets of Pasadena.

I have never run a marathon before, nor even attended one as a spectator. What impressed me most was the diversity of the people participating in this race. There were people doing the FULL marathon who I would have thought would have trouble walking around the block. That’s not being mean, just truthful, they were not in any way fit enough for this event…yet they were doing it. I think this a fine example of what people can achieve when we put our minds to it. I am impressed by the human spirit and its willingness to take on a challenge.

A Few Thoughts On Distance Running:

I finally felt it for myself, distance really makes a difference and of course if you choose to attempt to do more than walk and try to race the distance..this makes even more difference. To date, this is the hardest event I’ve entered. I have spent 9+ hours on an Adventure Race that started at 3AM on a very challenging course. I have run the Mount Baldy race 8.6 miles all uphill starting at 6,000 feet, ending at its 10,000 foot peak– a total of a 4,000 foot gain. I’ve run Mount Wilson as fast as I could, 8.6 miles(2,100 gain in the first 4.3 miles). I’ve run some of my fastest 5 and 10k distances this year and I am always challenged and exhausted at Crossfit training. All of these events are difficult, but this…26.2 miles was still the most difficult thing I have ever done….why?

The obvious answer is the distance, but what exactly is it about distance that is so hard? What it is for me is the stress placed on the body of doing the same action for such a long time. Sure, you can choose to walk and stretch, which I did at times, but you always work to get back to pace (if you are racing) and this ultimately is what got to me and slowed me down, especially by mile 19. The time spent on the legs and the number of steps you take, make running form a critical component . Think about it…every step you take, every WRONGLY placed step, magnified over many hours..thousands of steps.

Recap of my race:

Weather: personally loved it. Yeah, it was cold at the start with the downpour, but as soon as I started running I warmed up and felt really good. Dumped my old jacket by mile 2.
Met up with Jim Ward by mile 3ish. He suggested we could run together and help pace each other. I was concerned about my left leg issues and told him that I would like to run together, but that he may end up having to go ahead. Pacing with him was helpful and I think for him too. We were actually able to chat, which was good, because we both wanted to run a conservative first half. The time went so much faster having someone to run with.

We saw friends along the course..this was so much fun; took my mind off of the stress of running and it was so great receiving encouragement and giving it to others.
I wanted to hit the half way point no sooner than 2 hours and no later than 2:10..we hit it at 2: 04…nice. Running it any faster than 2 hours would’ve burned me out too soon. Jim seemed happy with this pace too. We kept going.

Mile 15ish, saw Shannon F. running up ahead of us on Raymond, heading North (uphill to Washington). We passed her, I made sure to give her a thumbs up, and we exchanged a few quick words of encouragement.

Mile 16..along Washington. My left leg started to tighten up from the hip down. I had to let Jim go on..I slowed to walk, stretch and drink. I knew I had to manage this or I wouldn’t finish. Shannon wasn’t far behind, she passed me and was close behind Jim.
The leg was well enough to keep going, but I knew I would have to slow to walking at times to manage it.

Mile 19..the suckfest really starts. Thankfully, Michael Keating was there to pace me in the last 7 miles. He had volunteered to do that for me and I had left extra Cytomax and a goo for him to bring to me at that point.

Michael was patient and listened to me grouse about my leg. He provided encouragement and again, the company was helpful in providing me a mental break from my discomfort. So..walks and jogs for the last 7 miles. Coming around Pasadena High School heading North on Sierra Madre Blvd., the rain clouds began to break a bit, the sun peeked out and the San Gabriel Mountains stood before me in all their stoic beauty. I made sure to look at them and take my eyes off of the painful road. I knew at that point I would finish, though slower than I had hoped, yet truly grateful for every step that I took towards the finish line.

Last mile mostly downhill. It didn’t feel like it was downhill, my legs were spent. Michael made sure to remind me to save enough energy to run through the finish line. I was wearing my SUA SPONTE shirt so I made sure I had enough to run through that finish line. As I ran towards the finish, total strangers were calling out, “great job”, “you did it!”. How nice! They threw out their hands to high-five me as I ran by. People I didn’t even know! Then there were my awesome friends… Dave and Joanne who waited in the cold for me to finish, as they were already done with their half marathon (thanks..I owe you guys) and Carol, Dave and Jane who all made a special trip just to see us all come in…Thanks so much!!! (Oh, and Jane brought us each a bottle of celebratory beer). Jim W and Shannon were there, they finished 4:20 and 4:21 consecutively and I came in at 4:38.

Was this hard?? YES very hard! Would I do it again..absolutely and I hope to be a little faster next time.

I thank God for my friends, the rain, the mountains and the ability to complete the event.

P.S. Something to remember for next time: Carry more of my own nutrition. I needed more Cytomax.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Revisting Virtuosity

Virtuosity is defined in gymnastics as “performing the common uncommonly well.” Unlike risk and originality, virtuosity is elusive, supremely elusive. It is, however, readily
recognized by audience as well as coach and athlete. But more importantly,
more to my point, virtuosity is more than the requirement for that last tenth of a point; it is always the mark of true mastery
(and of genius and beauty).
(Greg Glassman-Head Coach, Crossfit). (Image from

On Sunday 2/22 I participated in my third running clinic. This clinic was conducted entirely by Coach LeClair. We were put through various drills for improved running mechanics, we were filmed and critiqued and we tested what we had learned in challenging workout at the track.

What I came away with today was a rather large slice of “humble pie”.

I have run quite a few races in the past five years. I have gotten faster, I’ve done well with divisional placement and earned a few medals. However, what I saw today on my running film was not the form of a good runner, it was mediocre. When my first run was viewed and hurt. Here I sat, one of our “better runners’, someone whom others look to for help. In my defense, I often do know what to do, and I can spot most gross form faults and offer corrections. However, when it comes to “fixing” myself, my problem is no different from everyone else’s..that is connecting my brain with my body so that my body does what I want it to do.

It only took me about a minute to get over initial “ouch” (ego wound) because I wanted to really hear and understand what I needed to do to improve. So, swallowing my piece of “humble pie” was good medicine. I listened, kept working, did some things better and still need to work on others.

Coach LeClair asked us the question, “can you keep running like you are?” The answer is yes, but clearly we should not. The answer for me is obvious, because while I have become a stronger runner, a faster runner, I still suffer with various “aggravations” that are not going away. I am concerned about this, seriously concerned. I want to compete in longer runs; I have a marathon coming up in less than a month. I want a healthy run, I want to run injury free, and I want to run for as long as I can, therefore, my bio-mechanics need correction…period.

“There is a compelling tendency among novices developing any skill or art,
whether learning to play the violin, write poetry, or compete in gymnastics, to
quickly move past the fundamentals and on to more elaborate, more
sophisticated movements, skills, or techniques. This compulsion is the novice’s
curse—the rush to originality and risk. "

While I might not be consider a “novice” runner because of how long I’ve been running, my lack of sound bio-mechanics says otherwise. What the film tells me is that I have forgotten some of my basics...and I know they were there. I can feel during a run when I finally "get it", running actually does become more effortless. What I need is CONSISTENTLY good form, which means quelling the compulsion to go faster than my form can take me, not allowing my anxiousness for speed turn me into a sloppy heel striker. they say, back to basics: drills and more drills and out comes the “tempo trainer” little beeping buddy.

I want to excel in Virtuosity!

Friday, January 2, 2009

2009- The Quest..Dreams into Realities

Goals, dreams..they seem interrelated to me. Don't we dream of the goals we want to achieve?

The quest then is in pursuing the dream, setting the goal and turning it into a reality.

2009 is off to a good start for me in some areas, but I've got to get it going in other areas -- and do so while the year is still young.

SUCCESSES TO DATE... and it's only the first week of the year!
1. I have a new work schedule...more work, which is good for me financially. I'll be learning new skills and expanding my "universe" to speak.

2. BOOTCAMP is off to a great start! I am so proud of my Lady Boot Campers. Five of them in particular are training together on their own in addition to attending Bootcamp. They've already set a race schedule for the entire year! They are so motivated, this is what I live for as a coach. They get it! They understand that their training is more productive and even more fun when it has a purpose outside of itself, i.e. activities and/or sport they can apply it to. They are making the discovery that they are capable of so much more than they thought.

3. PERSONAL TRAINING BIZ: Two of my personal clients have made impressive achievements in weight loss this past year and are becoming "mentally tougher" during their training sessions. They are also getting better at keeping active when they are not training with me. One of them has found a hiking friend, but my client wants to run more and ON HER OWN has put them both on a conservative running program that they will work for 30 days to gradually improve their running. Again...I LIVE FOR THIS! She wants to achieve's not my goal for her, it's her goal.


1. Getting my own training nailed down for the goals I've set.

2. Growing the Women's Bootcamp program.

3. Growing and developing the personal training side of my business. Have some ideas, but need to make them materialize.

This requires more self discipline in several areas: A. Time Management B. Personal Health, i.e. improving nutrition and rest. C. Learning business skills such as writing a business plan, budgeting, learning to use the resources I have on hand more effectively. In other words, becoming a better business woman.

I've heard it said that:
"Dreams are good, but Realities are better." I agree.

I'll be working to turn some of my dreams into realities in 2009.