Thursday, July 29, 2010

Four 4 Wally!

Okay -- it's time to get serious about our race attire. We need a group t-shirt. My Idea -- we put Four 4 Wally on the front and favorite sayings of his on our back. Like "gimme a break" or "suck it up" or "just spectacular". What's your idea?

JPJ v The Mountain. The Saga Continues!

Today, my own mini, self-imposed time trial. Can I sprint? Will I faint? Can I push myself? Am I just fooling myself?????? Well....... I ran a little over 2 miles booking it as much as my lungs would allow. I ran it in 17 minutes, 35 seconds. Essentially an 8.30 minute mile. Of course, most of it was downhill -- but I'll take it!! I realize to some of you following this blog that 8.25 is slow as syrup -- but to this nearly 43 year old body; it was heaven! And, at nearly 10,000 feet! Yahoo!! Then, I turned around and ran a mile completely up hill, blind turns, and nothing but concrete -- ouch!! But, I did it. Steep, steep, steep. At one point during this pithy "cool down"
distance an ambulance blew past me and for a split second, I thought it was coming for me! As I did my cool down -- I stopped to watch a chipmunk doing Lord knows what in the pine tree. Thinking to myself -- how blessed I am to be in this wonderful place and how neat that I am one with nature. Well, turns out, the damn thing was laughing at me. And I'm serious!! Just like Alvin. He must have been watching me attempt to run straight uphill. Time for a massage to heal my ego. I told the massage therapist that I was training for a marathon -- how far is that, she asked? I said 26.2 and the .2 is very important. So, are your muscles going to hurt? was her response. Hmmm -- maybe a massage was not the right solution to the chipmunk spank-down. For the next 80 minutes I learned about some basketball player who lost his limbs to some weird virus from sweating too much; how some kid from her college got meningitus [sp] from sharing a bong, how she hit a deer with her car and nearly lost her eye.....did I seriously pay for this relaxation? Saving grace -- she cranked on my IT band and almost sent me to the ceiling but it feels great now!! I digressed -- back to the purpose of this blog: Saturday, I'll take on the 8.5 that I keep saying I am going to do and keep talking myself out of doing. The first 3 miles is uphill --on one of those slow, nasty, and deceptive type of grades. Looks like it's flat until your legs are burning like the dickens and you realize that indeed, you are running up hill!! JPJ v. The Mountain will continue and I will conquer it!!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The San Francisco Half Marathon

Well it's done.  I can't believe it.  As I said to Diana the night before, "It'll be over before you know it" I still can't believe the race has come and gone.

But it's done and I have to say it was my best race so far.  Not only because I made my PR (personal record) for a half marathon but also because I ran this particular race to feel closer to my Dad; who we lost to complications from Diabetes a year a ago next Wednesday.  His favorite run was along the San Francisco Bay in the Presidio, a military base we were stationed at when I was four and five. I got the chance to run just as he had and boy did I feel him every bit of the way; it was amazing.

I never forgot the story of when he ran across the Golden Gate Bridge with Randy Quaid.  I was 4 at the time and the image always stuck with me, with us all I think.  Maybe it was because it involved a celebrity, but really I think I never forgot because I remember thinking the bridge was the longest distance anyone had ever ran in their entire lives!  And my dad did it!

While my child eyes just were a bit of an exaggeration as to the actual length of the bridge, it was something to admire about him throughout my life.

I never in a million-bajillion years thought I would EVER willingly run long distances (other than away from something/one).  Nor did I ever think I was ever actually capable of it.  I credit my friend Tiffany, my sister Sally and Jennifer all for getting me into it.  I credit myself for continuing to muster through the pain and annoyance of it all.

I've done it.  I've actually run the Golden Gate Bridge...

The Marathon:

The night before Diana and I prepared our shirts. 

Hers having her writing on the front for photos, mine on the back for all to read while running.  (the letters had peeled off by mile 2).  For her:  a shout out to Suarez, her family name.

Mine: Wally, my dad - though he HATED when people called him Wally, I had to represent myself with the shout out - I'm a teaser at heart.

We, Diana, Sal and I, were up-and-adam ready to get the race started before the sun had even risen.  My alarm went off at 4:00, and the group was in the lobby by quarter of 5.  I've never in my life seen Diana early to anything in the morning...except this!

We met in the lobby of the race hotel for some pre-race coffee, protein and energy load(in the form of saltwater taffy we bought at Fisherman's Wharf the day before- delicious!)

With our excitement in tow, we walked out in the still-dark morning to get into race mode.  The sun was just rising and the atmosphere was soaked in nerves and anxiety.  I myself love this part of the race.  The beginning when everything is ahead of you, when everything you have done for the past 3/4 months has come down to this moment.  Yet the moment is still....moments away.

They should bottle anticipation.

The serious/competitive runners and those whose times are unfathomable to me start first, us to follow.  We were in the last wave, so we had a awhile to wait, stretch and amp up before it was our turn to cross the start line.

And they're off! (the good ones at least)
We walked the 3 blocks back to our start corral watching the other runners begin their journey, just dying to start our own!  Ugh!  I just want to start already!! -Twas our morning theme.

Finally the time was our turn.  The sun was up and we were READY!

And just like that they blew a whistle, fired the gun and we were off.  This is such amazing part of the run for anyone can really experience...for the first 5-10 minutes out of the gates you can hear this inspiring, soothing and just plain cool-ass sound.  I don't even turn my iPod on until I've had my fill of it.  It's the sound of hundreds of runners pounding the pavement at once.  It is indescribable and something worth hearing.  Very cool.

Me with the RED cap - Diana with pink headband - Sal:  Missing.

We ran all along Embarcadaro, passing the numbered piers.  Fisherman's Wharf came up around mile two and I eyed Boudin bakery as I passed, picturing their delicious clam chowder bread bowls and how delicious they would taste after my run...

We kept along the water on Lincoln, past some of the prettiest houses with great big front bay windows that over looked the harbor.  As I ran I imagined myself sitting on their couches, sipping coffee watching the fog roll out over the Golden Gate and on into the Bay and chuckling to myself how wonderful my life is...back to reality.

The course continued along the water and into the Presido; a place I knew well and looked forward to in the run.  At this point in the race, the streets were narrowing and it was hard to keep a steady pace.  I found myself under-performing because of people traffic and wished to be unleashed.  But calmed myself by a promise to later use said energy on a strong finish, when the runners has dispersed more.

And then there was the first hill.... Ouch, you bastard!  That sucked.

At points on the course there would be signs with trivia questions that answered themselves within a block.  The sign on this hill, the hill being the climb to the Golden Gate, read "What is the steepest hill in San Francisco?"  Well that's comforting, at least this is the worst hill there is...  Then I came upon the answer.  "Knob Hill.  Aren't you glad you're not running up that?"   

WHAT THE...?!?  It's like saying "Does it make you feel any better this is only going to get worse?"  Why, yes!  It does.  How kind of you to ask.  Grrrr... 

Then came the moment.  The moment I had wanted and waited.  I rounded mile 5.5 and there she was, massive and beautiful, intimidating, glorious and covered in fog.  I had made it to the bridge and I choked back tears as I approached.  

You'll ...sniff... need the sodium.

It was awesome, in every sense of the word.  Even though it was four miles long, I enjoyed every second of it ... minus the traffic of the people, which made it a bit dangerous and quite slow for my taste.  The air was chill but this being miles 5-9, I enjoyed the hard breeze as we ran across.  The other side of the roadway was open to two-way auto traffic that honked support and encouragement as they passed.  We shared our side of the highway with the runners who had started in the waves ahead and were coming back down the bridge.  Thus making the run EXTRA crowded.
I had to snap a photo...not bad seeing as I'm running at the same time.

Once I was done with the bridge, I'll be honest, I was over the run.  Everything I had looked forward to was over.  The bridge, the Presidio, the flat.  Because now, at the 9.5 mile turn, is when it started to hurt.  The course took us on a steep downgrade hill for about a half mile.  Though I was glad to have an opportunity to make up time, taking downhill fast is quite hard on the knees, especially my knees after the 10th mile.  But I must say the view was INCREDIBLE.   The Pacific ocean, the city blanketing the hills below and the beautiful 100-ft high trees that lined the windy way down.   It flattened out as we turned back into the neighborhoods, exiting the back of the Presidio.

This is where I curse you San Francisco Marathon!  It was soooo hilly.  High and hard, short but painful.  They made us turn every few blocks and with each turn I desperately wanted to see the finish line but with each turn was disappointed.

Finally I rounded a corner and I saw the sign where the half marathon runners and the full marathon's were to split routes.  YES!  Finally, that MUST mean the end.  Oh good a mile marker, this has to be 13!

MILE: 12

Grrrrrr.  This is never going to end.  Screw 26.2!

The streets were clear for me and anyone else to spread their wings and finish strong.  There were hardly any people lining the streets watching which I found very odd especially if I was near the end.  I started to think that one mile was a lot fucking longer than I ever had thought it was before this.  But I focused on the good parts of the run.  I was still running.  I was still passing people. I hadn't given up yet.  However the thoughts were hardly overwhelming motivation with a looming 5 block-long hill ahead.

I looked ahead I saw a guy running just a few people ahead of me with writing down his calves.  As I got closer I looked down at his calves which had a word written on each of them...


What a perfect time to show your face Dad!  I smiled to myself, put my head down and kicked it up a notch.  Before I knew it I looked up to see the greatest word in the English language....FINISH.  And bolted towards it using every last drop of stamina I had.

2:18 and change.  I had wanted a lot faster (sub 2hrs) but I know with starting in the last wave, the traffic jam and the nasty hills were obstacles I never anticipated when setting my goal.  Anyway, it was still a PR for me in time AND distance so I cannot complain or be hard on myself.  And it was the best/hardest run so far...


The story of the day was my roommate Diana.  It was her first half; first race and she nailed it!  She couldn't even run a mile at the beginning of the year and now she has 13.1 miles under her belt!  She ran the entire thing without stopping once;  though cursing me - as she said - when my promise of "it's all down hill after the Bridge" turned out to be false!  But she never stopped!  She finished hers in 2:30, Sal finished his race just in between us at 2:24.

YAY!  Add another medal to my wall.  I love that!  The medal IS the best part after all.

And I have Diana to prove it's the medal that hooks you. 

How do I know what really hooked her?  Well, when she had signed up to run this half with me back in March, I remember telling her "Oh Diana, just wait until you get the medal!  That's why I run.  They are the best part!"  She said to me, "Oh I don't care about the stupid medal.  I just want a reason to continue running, that and say I've run 13+ miles."

Cut to yesterday and her newest Facebook photo upload:

CAPTION:   It's two days later, and YES I'm still wearing my medal.

I told you they were addicting.  And I believe she's after she has signed up to run the LA half in October. 

And I can't wait for my Chicago one.  13.1 miles down, 13.1 to go.

This weekend I take a small break and run week I hit 14.  I'm going to do this.  I AM.  If I ever doubted it before now, it was reinforced over the weekend with pure accomplishment and outstanding support from friends and most especially my family.  [Did I tell you, just as I stepped foot on the Golden Gate bridge my brother Christopher sent me a text "You must be rounding the corner now!  Go get 'em Molls!"]

Ya, and Dad was definitely with me guys.  That was a cool feeling.

BEST. RUN. EVER.  Thank you San Francisco!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

While you are sleeping...

Saturday morning, I'll be running 13.1 miles in the beautiful city of San Francisco.  And I may cry while running down the GGB.

Start time is 5:42am. CHRIST ALMIGHTY!  So when you are sippin' on your coffee or wolfing down your bacon and eggs, I've already burned around 1500 calories and will be be-lining it to the first Jamba Juice I see.

Goal:  1:50:13 (just to make it interesting)

I hope to take pictures along the race too with the iPhone.  Can't wait to tell my story to you guys!

JPJ v. The Mountain....Round ^^%%$##

This ^^%$#$%%^^ mountain! I beat it on Monday. It beat me on Tuesday -- tried to bike up the thing. Legs burning, lungs burning -- got stock in a gear in the middle of the steepest part; nearly fell on my butt trying to get my shoes unclicked. No helmet to boot. Yes, dad would have my hide for the last part -- helmet, helmet, helmet. But -- today. Today is my day. I"m going to take this ^^%$$# mountain. Off to run another 5.5. Saturday is 11 miles -- first three miles up hill. AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Great Run!

I ran 5.5 and beat the mountain. Did it in 55 minutes. Felt great. Finally!!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Hot Spot

Well the hell is a "hot spot"???

After over a month of rest, Ibuprofen, ice and who can forget an appendectomy.. turns out this SOB pain in my left ankle actually IS a bone injury. Oh joy....

No fracture, but I have stressed it. AKA the "Hot Spot" Tibia.

Today, I finally saw an orthopedic Surgeon. Dr Kupcha of DE Orthopedic Center (Go Army! ...Check him out here: Couldn't have picked a better DR as he completely understood that running Chicago isn't an option.

What really rubs me is that my 1 month of rest accompanied with a consistent dosage of Ibuprofen actually retarded my bone repair... Great, just freak'n awesome news.

So what's next? 2 weeks of no running, but cross-training to simulate cardio work. Swimming, Biking, etc. Hell, just might be in Triathlon shape when this is over.

Bought 2 new pair of shoes (Saucony Guide 3) to alternate every day/ every workout. Find myself a high school track to re-start running here in 2 weeks.

Pop... I know that you're up there master-minding all of this, having a chuckle, a Manhattan with olives and tossing all this BS if front of us seeing if we can suck it up. I'm going to enjoy the finish line.

Oh yea... cannot forget. Molly.. kick ass this weekend! (SF Half)

- Christopher

I left my left lung on the mountain.....

Humility is golden. I ran 3.5 miles today at 10,800 feet, hard face wind the ENTIRE way, and not a single cloud in the sky. How is it possible to be so windy without a single cloud? I'm hot, I'm beat, I'm sore, and I nearly lost my cookies half way through the run on the 8% grade hill. I even had Peter Gabriel's Solsbury Hill playing and it did nothing for my stamina. When I passed by the graveyard, I seriously thought about joining them! I was planning on running at least 5 today so I can work my way up to running up the damn mountain instead of down. I am more than a little disappointed in myself today. How in the heck am I supposed to run 26.2 in 3 months if I cannot endure 3.5 today. Crap, crap, and more crap! Ugh!

Monday, July 12, 2010

My attempt at a run group

In the months I have been training for the Chicago Marathon and the upcoming San Francisco Half Marathon (eeek! just 13 days away), I get the occasional "I want to start running.  Can I run with you sometime?" request.  While it's nice to see when people get encouraged to go out and try running for themselves, I have to say the last thing I want to do is A) run with someone & B) run with a beginner.

That's not to say that I am the best runner on the face of this planet.  Believe me (and why wouldn't you) I am not.  My problem is pressure.  There are times I face pressure straight on and kick it in its ass.  Other times I tend to avoid it like it I did freshman Geometry.  I just can't handle the PRESSURE!!!

So yes, running with another person causes unbearable pressure for me.  Will I be too slow?  Will they want to run elsewhere or further than I?  Can I keep up?  Will I be able to focus on my breathing?  Will they want me to entertain them?  Keep a solid pace?  Heaven forbid, talk to them?  And if they are new runners......forget it.  Been there, done that.  If you think there is nothing worse than the start of your running career, try reverting back to it after 5 years' training, just to be nice.......uhm, nightmare! 

That and the fact that there are no leisurely jogs scheduled in my immediate (<4 months) future.  And like I said, I don't stop, ever. So don't expect me to.

My solution was to tell those who inquired about running with me about a run group I had thought of starting.  Normally that gets them fast off the running subject.  Run with PEOPLE!?!  OH hell no!  I mean, had I mentioned this idea to my people 4 years ago, they would have laughed in my face and then ordered me a beer, thanking me for the happy-hour chuckle.

But something has happened over the past 5 years.  EVERYONE is running.  That or they say they want to... so I decided to actually put my money where my fake-solution was and make it happen.

[Name TBD] run #1.

3 miles
Venice Beach
Saturday @ 9am

Pffft, who's actually going to show for this?  I mean I was frickin shocked 18 people confirmed to my invite.  But really, 9am, Saturday morning ... NO ONE will actually make it.

My roommate and Sal, who are both training for the San Fran half with me, headed out the the beach early (7am) to knock out 8 miles before the 3 mile "run group" appeared; as it was a long run day and we couldn't afford to just run 3 with the race just weeks away

It was a lovely run.  I killed it!  Finished it in 63 minutes.  That is just under 8' miles.  Diana ran her best time EVER with sub 10' miles and Sal kicked ass just by finishing the 8 as he probably has only ran a total of 8 miles this whole training round.

So 8 miles down.  Just another 3 to go...easy, right?

It was 10 minutes to 9:00 when our first attendee showed up...after 15 minutes we had a crowd of 6...and at the start of the Run Group we had a whopping 16 people!

We started a bit late but EVERYONE finished.  Some finished faster than I would have liked (show offs) but that's really my own personal jealousy issues.  But bottom line is, everyone finished!!

I was so proud.  While my final 3 miles were extremely tough due to stopping after the hard 8, I still managed to finish at 9'20 pace - borderline OK.  But the best part of the day?  Is seeing the accomplishment in people's eyes.

They were so proud of themselves.  Whether it was because they ran 3 straight miles, or that they did it super quick, maybe it was because they got up at 8am on a Saturday after partying, frankly I don't give a pile-o-poo.  What's done is done.

Everyone there started their Saturday off with some hard work and personal accomplishment.

And the best part is....I think I may have gotten someone hooked on running because the next day I received an awesome text message:

"Molly, just finished my 6th mile in two days!  Definitely going to sign up for the LA Rock-n-Roll Half. Thanks to you chica!"


You're very welcome Kara.

Can I really do this?

Hmmm -- seriously thinking! I know that I can but lordy, lordy I am out of shape! I am up here at nearly 10,000 feet. Ran 3 miles today and about lost a lung. One hill was an 8% grade and I could barely breath at the crest. I kept going but holy cow! Before I leave here in mid-august -- my happy butt is going to jog up this damn mountain -- Mt. Crested Butte, that is. I may have to be buried at the top. Ha! I am keeping my training pace but damn!

Second issue -- frequency of training. Without day care and an extra set of hands -- it's hard as heck to get some mileage in with the twins in tow. I didn't bring the jogger with me and, based on the first paragraph above, I probably couldn't handle it anyway. At 40 pounds each -- pushing an extra 80 pounds -- two-thirds of my body weight -- not ideal!!

I am seriously hoping that hiking and biking with twins in tow will make up for my poor work out regime. But, I am really freaking out. I"ll do this marathon, even if I have to walk the darn thing -- but I may take off my chip before we start!! Yikes!

Can I really do this???????

Friday, July 9, 2010

Face wind....

Learn to embrace it--it's not called the windy city for nothing!!!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

I'm Back... I Hope

Well... not what I planned since my half in mid-May. Took a 2 week break that turned into a 5 week break cause of some freak soreness that is either my soleous or flexor digitorum longus on my left ankle. I actually listen to my Physician and give it a rest, ice and Ibuprofen like it's my new religion...

So ready to join the running world once again only to have an appendicitis... Yes, no shit... an appendicitis pays me a visit on Monday 6/28... in the hospital 6/29, FU appendix and bye bye...discharged 6/30... just in time for the weekend Holiday. Come Monday, July 5th, feeling back to normal and hit Margate, NJ for some surfing... I'm back baby.

July 7th: 5:30am... 3 Mile run, no sweat. I haven't ran in more than a month but so what, been cross-training like crazy... Heat wave in the Northeast. Already 85 degrees at 5am. I'm sucking wind major and guess who comes back to visit.. GD left ankle soreness... I'm pissed. Really pissed.

So, what do I do?... I run again on July8th: 5:30am... hurt like a SOB but I'm running through this f'n thing. Surprisingly, working the area with my Trigger Point ball seems to actually relieve the pain... so I have a glimmer of hope here. We'll see come Sat for my 6-8 miler. Traveling to Madison, CT this weekend, therefore running in a new area always produces a really great run or a suck ass one... stay tuned

- Christopher

New shoes!

Tonight I'm going to get fitted, pricked, prodded and fondled (whatever they must do) for my first ever CUSTOMIZED running shoes. I feel so special...

Hopefully this fixes my knee problem. I'm 29 and get out of chairs like I'm 70. And don't even think to ask me to sit on the ground, there's a chance I may never get back up.

Excited! First run is tomorrow in them...will keep you posted. (no pun intended. actually. yes, PUN INTENDED!)

Respectfully submitted,


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Running in the Altitude

Hard as heck! I went from just above sea level to over 9,000 feet. Nothing like altitude to remind you that you are woefully out of shape!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

I've realized I hate running, but love accomplishment.

On Sunday, the first 5 miles were cake....

For the past couple of weeks my training has been, well, lacking -or- SAlacking. I think I covered maybe 20 miles in 14 days. More than a mile day. That's good, no?

NO! Not when I should be averaging 25-30 per week.

I went to visit Mom this weekend. Tough weekend, but one of the best, most hopeful I've had in the past year.

With the training slacking and my running confidence shot, I was unsure about whether I could even finish the 10. To me, a terrifying fail.

So all Saturday - mentally preparing for Sunday's run - I would battle between the thought "Just run the 10, you can walk if you need....just FINISH it!" to "Egh, you only need to do 8. Just get another 8 done and do 10 next week..." or even "You're on vacation. Start running when you get back to LA." The typical mental marry-go-round that begins when a long run is within 12/18 hours.

Sunday morning rolls around. I had planned to run early, and mentioned to my mom that I wanted to wake up at 8/830 to avoid the mid-afternoon Texas heat. However with no alarm clock or even CLOCK in my bedroom, I rolled - literally - out of bed at 10:00. [cue the mental battle] Great. There goes the cool run. Maybe I should just run tomorrow? ... NO! Stop that!

I ate breakfast slowly, chatted with my mom, checked Facebook, emailed some people, browsed my fav websites. Then I roamed around the house slowly putting on my running gear a piece at a time. Spent a good 10 minutes searching for a butt pack I knew hadn't shown it's face in the Piskun house since 1986. Finally I just said "STOP stalling Molly and get going."

It was 11:00 am. In July. In Texas. West Texas, to be exact. Yes. This is is where I decided to knock out my first 10-miler this year. This run, mid-afternoon, being hot as hell with 20 mile/hr winds in a tree-free Amarillo would definitely put up a good fight.

Like I said the first five were cake. Can you say foreshadowing?

As I turned around for my second 5, running from my house to the medical park and back, is when it hit me. Yes, it was hot. But a cold front had come in over the week, remnants from Hurricane Alex, to bless me with sub 90 degree temperatures so the heat wasn't as much of a factor as I has originally anticipated. But turning back, I realized why the first 5 had been so easy. The wind. It was at my back the whole way there.

Oh shitballs! This 5 is going to hurt.

Never, well maybe never, but not this training round have I ever had such a difficult run. I pulled every once of energy and positive reinforcement to finish. Miles 6, 7, 8 were OK, but barely. The last two were torture. Running into 20 mile/hr winds with the sun directly on top of me finally got to me after 3.5 miles and with a looming 1.5 to go.

I stopped running. And I never stop. The moment I took the one walking step I immediately started up again. I wouldn't allow myself, no I would not DENY myself the accomplishment of running the complete 10. I could suffer for another 15 minutes...

Make no mistake. That's exactly what I did. One stepped walked, 9.9999 miles ran.

I finished.

For so long I put off the 10 because I was scared I wouldn't finish it. ME! Scared I wouldn't do something. It's like I don't even know myself.

Failure is not an option to me. It wasn't with my dad, it isn't with me. We all have it. ALL OF US. We all have the FIGHT gene when is come to fight-or-flight. We fight for ourselves and we most especially fight for each other, for this family. And that will never change.

Remember that.