Friday, May 13, 2011

When Life Gives You Lemons...

Make some lemonade, then find someone whose life is giving them vodka and throw a party!

Kidding.  Sort of.  How about this:

“I attribute my success to this - I never gave or took any excuse.” - Florence Nightingale

I saw this quote yesterday morning on my way into the gym to hit the stationary bike.  WHAT?!?!?!?!  GYM?  WHAT THE F?  Yeah, that's right, on my way to the gym to hit the stationary bike.  Why on earth would I want to do that?  Well, truth is I want to do that because I want to be a better runner.  And I can't run.  I have a stress fracture in my left tibia.  I discovered it a little over 3 weeks ago and haven't run since.  I missed 2 planned races and have missed miles and miles of training for Angeles Crest.  I've missed out on one of my ABSOLUTE favorite things to do, which is trail running with pals.  BUT SO WHAT?  To be honest, this may have been a BLESSING in disguise.  

WHY?  Because I have been MORE MOTIVATED than I was before this injury.  I was getting a massage yesterday and while my muscles were being ever so painfully manipulated Scott Amiss (Sports Massage/PAIN master) and I discussed life and change.  Often times, it takes hitting ROCK BOTTOM to motivate CHANGE.  Whether in a job, in a a relationship or unhealthy living habits,  I feel like most people need to feel so much SUCK that they are finally motivated to get off their ass and do something about it.  People are AFRAID of change, so they are willing to endure the mild unhappiness they get from one thing or another until it becomes too much.  

What is interesting to me is that I have been more motivated in every area of my life since I discovered this injury.  I feel like a new man.  SERIOUSLY.  This is a familiar feeling, and a GREAT one.  I feel like I can accomplish everything that I want to accomplish.  FUCK EXCUSES. 

Not only do I want to get healthy again so I can run, I want to come back STRONGER than I was before.  Faster, leaner, focused.  I have spent hours and hours swimming and riding a stationary bike for the last few weeks THINKING about running.  I can't wait to run again.

For those of you who know me, it may seem ridiculous to say that I had hit rock bottom, but it is a relative term.  Rock bottom for me is that I had given up on my hopes and dreams professionally, and was making excuses for where I am right now in that aspect of my life.  To myself and to others.  Rock bottom for me is that I ran my body into the ground with a lack of focus and the inability to give my legs a rest.  Rock bottom for me is that for the last 2 years, I've let myself be tired and let myself be RUN BY the outside world, instead of doing everything that I'm capable of doing to RUN IT.  There was a time a few years ago where I felt like I had enough energy to change the world.  Something happened and I got off of that path.  That way of feeling.  The creative/positive energy train.  I've made excuse after excuse to myself over the last few years so I could feel like I was off the hook.  

I have made many absolutely WONDERFUL new friends and have a GORGEOUS and loving new woman in my life, and overall I'm doing GREAT.  But to be honest, there are a lot of things that I've let go.  I haven't budgeted well, I haven't made any real headway in determining what exactly I should be doing.  I'm still working in a place that gives me only 1 week vacation a year, tied to a desk.  I got that job because I needed flexibility to pursue an acting career.  I'm no longer pursuing that career, so WHY am I still working in the same place?  Now, those of you who know me know that I'm a fairly positive person who'll try to make the best out of most situations.   Even though I have had one of the best years ever so far (sure feels that way), I still feel like I've been SELLING MYSELF SHORT.    

I'm SICK of bad days.  I'm READY to feel GOOD.  I'm ready to take some responsibility for both my FAILURES and my SUCCESSES, and acknowledge every experience as being just that - an EXPERIENCE.  My friends, family, loved ones... everybody that I know.. have helped me recognize that I haven't changed one bit.  THANK YOU.  I'm still the person that I was a few years ago when I felt like I had the world by the balls.

I'm going to EMBRACE my LIFE.  No more victim.  No more bad days.  I'm gonna own this shit, and come July 23rd I'm gonna be up in WRIGHTWOOD getting ready to RUN 100 Miles.  Whatever happens, HAPPENS.
All I have is one queston:  WHO'S COMIN' WITH ME?     


Thursday, May 5, 2011

LA Marathon Race Report

The few weeks leading up to the race felt oddly calm.  I wasn't very excited about the marathon compared to almost all of my past races.  I asked Jimmy why that may be, and he confirmed what I had been thinking might be the case:  This race wasn't that important to me compared to other races I had planned for this year.  This was a B race.  Regardless, as the race got closer, I started getting excited, and through the race I had a great time.

I spent the night at Annie's the night before over in Santa Monica, and rode the Coyote Shuttle (special arrangement by Jimmy) from Bicknell and Main.  I felt pretty good on race morning, though my hip still had a little bit of pain from the tendonitis that had been troubling me for end of February and first few weeks of March.  I jogged a little of the way down to the shuttle to try and keep warm and had a cheap poncho on to keep me dry before the race.  The forecast was for rain, but I wasn't too worried about the weather, I just wanted to make sure I was warm when I started.  The shuttle was full of familiar faces and a few new peeps, and it was a nice and comfortable ride to the start.  

We got to Dodger Stadium about an hour and half or so before the race, so we had plenty of time to go to the porta potties and to take care of our drop bags.  I was a little bit nervous because I wasn't able to poop at all.  For those of you who don't run, you may not understand why I'm mentioning this.  For those of you who do run, you probably understand all too well.  WOOHOOO.  Sorry.  ANYWAYS, I was nervous about that but not really about anything else.  I knew that if the hip acted up I could handle it.  I knew that I was in good shape.  I was focused on following my race plan for a fun race/PR/long speed workout as part of my AC 100 Training.  I spent a little bit of time with Dan Winterbottom and Pedro ( I think? Too long ago to remember.  Sorry DRO!) before I moseyed on over to the starting corral to get ready for the start.  I had gotten a letter B to put on my bib so I could get access to the Sub 4 Hr. corral, and I had no problem getting in.

I had my Ipod shuffle on my shorts, and my Amphipod pouch around my hips.  TECHNICALLY I broke a major rule of racing as this was my first long run with the pouch, but it had seemed like it would be fine when I jogged around with it so I didn't let it bother me.  I had purchased these earbud covers at the Expo called YourBuds (they are custom sized and are FUCKING AWESOME) and was jamming to some pre-race tunes.  I had two playlists on my shuffle.  One was for the first 13.1 miles, which was a mellow mix (P-Dubs Call of Carne Mix) that lasts a little over an hour.  The other was a mixture of metal and rap to get me pumped up for the second 13.1.

My race plan was to run the first half marathon at around a 7:45 pace, which I could still PR with if I ran the whole race at that pace.  It wasn't tough for me to run that pace during my training runs, but I still hadn't ever run more than 7 or 8 miles at that pace so didn't know how I would fare.  Based on my 10k time from Boopas, I calculated that I should run between a 3:10 and 3:20 marathon if I went all out.  The 7:45 would have put me between 3:20 and 3:30, so I sort of guessed that I wouldn't struggle too much to maintain at that pace.  The plan for the second half was to run fast.  No specific pace, as fast as I could go for the last 13.1.  I had it in my mind that I should be able to catch Kate Martini Freeman if I went fast enough (I wasn't).  Regardless, this plan turned out to be awesome.

I was pretty excited right before we started.  I hadn't tested my speed at this distance since the SF marathon, and that had been a bad race.  This time I felt prepared.  I felt like I knew what I was doing.  I popped an Apple Cinamon Hammer Gel (my absolute FAVORITE) when they announced the 5 minute warning, and waited anxiously.  When the gun went off I started running.  My music was going, I paid close attention to my pace so as not to go out too fast.  The first few miles are downhill so I still ran some faster miles but kept it calm.  It started raining just before the first mile marker and didn't end up stopping for the rest of the day.  I was by myself for almost the entire race.  I had put on sunscreen, which was running into my eyes, and I didn't feel very good for the first 5 or 6 miles.  Luckily, I now had the experience to know that I needed to just relax and let it go.  I knew what pace I was going to run.  I knew I could be in pain for hours.  I knew it would end.

Not sure where, but this is what the first 6 miles felt like.
Well it wasn't a big deal.  I just kept running along and eventually felt a little bit better.  I was excited to get to the half mark so I could turn up the enthusiasm, pace, and change my music.  I just focused on not running too fast, enjoying the signs the spectators were holding, and eating and taking salt.  Now, lots of people wouldn't have been taking salt in the rain but the SF marathon was super cold and I still got crampy, so I stuck to a saltstick every 45 mins.  I ate a gel every 30.  It was interesting to think of the LA Marathon I had run just a year earlier.  Such a different race this year.  I was alone, and I was running much faster.  I felt much more confident.  I was excited to know that I could run the fastest half marathon I'd ever run, and still speed up after that!  So when that half mark came, that's exactly what I did.

Cruisin' through Hollywood.  Mile 10-ish.

Angry flying running.
I switched my playlist over and went to town.  People I'd run behind or been passed by for the first half of the race were now getting passed very quickly.  I went about the next few miles absolutely crushing it.  I probably ran too fast... WHO CARES?  It was awesome.  I had so much fun.  The music was perfect.  I didn't even really hit trouble physically until mile 21 ish.  I slowed down a little bit at mile 16 because I knew my pace wasn't sustainable, but I still negative split the race, and actually progressive split each 10k of the race.  When I got to San Vicente and still had enough gas to run.  I questioned whether I could run fast for the rest of the time, and my pace slowed a bit even though I was still putting out the same amount of effort.  I saw some Coyote pals that sort of picked up my energy, but my Ipod stopped working with a few miles left to go.  I was now running with the ClifBar 3:20 marathon pace team.  I knew I could run faster than 3:20.  I ran down San V with them for a while, and heard the pacer say that we were ahead of pace and that we could relax and still make 3:20.  I sped up.  I was looking for Annie, and I just knew I was close enough to really lay it all out there.  I didn't feel even close to cramping, so I just turned on the jets.  When I turned on to Ocean I was expecting to see Annie right away but she was a little ways down.  I had been thinking about her all day and couldn't wait to see her.  I saw her jumping up and down and waving her arms as soon as she recognized me, which only added fuel to the fire. 

Rodeo Drive.  Flying.  Lovin' it.
I ran faster and got to Annie, and she ran along with me for a while.  She told me to wait for her after the finish line and then stopped to go back and get her bike.  I also passed Kara Bauer at that point who was cheering peeps on and taking video (Thanks Kara!!!) and could pretty much see the finish line at this point.  I have to admit, it was surreal.  This was a 37 minute PR for me.  I'll probably never have another marathon PR this big, but I didn't even feel that bad.  It was like a whole different kind of race.  I felt SO strong.  Having run farther on a few occasions and having run 50 miles definitely helped me know what I could push through and made this race easier for me.

I nearly froze to death walking to get my drop bag after, but all in all this was a phenomenal day.  Another testament to my awesome coach Jimmy Dean Freeman, and to how FUCKING PHENOMENAL this year has been.  Thank you to Jimmy for the great race plan and the outstanding coaching.  Thank you to everybody else for the outstanding support, and to Annie for the few hundred yards of pacing at the end of the race ;)