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Over the last weekend I completed the Big Sur Half Marathon, my last event in the season (and no I’ve not decided what next season will look like, I need a break and some diversity in my workout life atm). If you remember this was my BIG and serious half – SJ RnR was just for fun. My goal was to run the whole thing minus the time needed to grab water at the stops. With a few minor annoyances, it was a great day. I was worried about rain, but the forecast said it would be &^%^#%^%& cold and 0% chance of precipitation, so we dragged our asses up at 3 fricking 30 in the morning to get here in time to park and check me in for the race. We had ooodles of time, but it was a bit fun hanging out in the corral socializing with folks. By the time the race started I was SO ready to be moving! My first mile was WAY too fast, I had people passing me left and right for most of the rest of the first half. It was just so good to be moving, and there was a cute little out and back at the start, so as we ran out we got to be cheering on the elites who were already most of the way done with their first mile. Cheering on the people rushing past me ALWAYS ups my energy, and in a good way – it doesn’t seem to hurt me later on when I’m going faster for that reason. I LOVE out an back courses it would appear….

Oh yeah and that 0% chance of rain sprinkled on us for the first half hour, but not enough to be bothersome. A racer nearby me at the time joked it was massive deployment of overhead misters – it really was just enough to help you stay cool and not enough to get wet.

As we got into the downtown Monterey loop, I started chatting with people around me, and eventually hooked up with one woman whose name I forgot… She pretty much ended up being my running mate off and on for the rest of the course. We hooked up somewhere in the second mile, just chatting about the course and our running experience. She was having a bit of a slow day, I was going fast but still feeling it wasn’t gonna bite me later, and so we decided to stick together for a bit. I guess we both tend to like to have someone to track a pace with. We ran together until we hit a water stop – I wasn’t ready yet for a refill and she didn’t have a bottle, and darn it, I was sticking to that “no stopping unless I need fluids” rule rather strictly. Since it was a cool day I didn’t end up needing much in the way of refills, and I ended up just slowing a bit at the mile 5 and mile 10 water stops – can’t even really call it a walk break, it lasted like 5 seconds each time…

Anyhow we ran down cannery row, then up a bit thru pacific grove. I know they need to run us thru the centers of all these cities that get shut down for the event, but really, I was just itching to get out to the coast. They just shut down the main coast road for us, and it was great out there if you could ignore the smell of seal flatulence. The only problem was the wind – somehow it was in my face both ways, I don’t know HOW that happened. I also noted that the course managed to feel like it was uphill both ways, which means that it really just had lots of gradual up and down, and the down was too gentle for me to notice but I swear I notice any little up hill… As we hit the coast before heading into Pacific Grove, we were JUST in time to see the winner below us on the paved jog path, in his final few miles of the race, and us not even an hour into it. He was ALL ALONE out there – I didn’t even see another runner before we had to turn off the coast and into town. Turns out he had more than a full minute lead on the next runner in – he was a good quarter mile out there ahead of the pack. I was suitably impressed!

The rest of the coast run was great – we were along the road, running like it was Britain, with us slower folks on the left, and the faster folks returning on the right, along the coast side. I stuck myself right along the middle line, which was largely policed (no need when there’s a timing pad at the turnaround to tell you if anyone cheats!) – nothing really to separate the 2 groups of runners but the yellow line on the road. So I was being a major dork, holding my hand out for high fives from the faster folk. The REALLY fast people totally ignored me, they are just incredibly focused and don’t seem to see anything around them. But when we started to be passing the corral B folks, there were lots of people shouting out encouragement and such across the sides of the course, and it really helped keep the energy high for those long middle course miles. We were in that 2-way stretch from about mile 6 thru 11, and those are really the miles I find hardest – you’ve been at it long enough that you really feel it, but you’re still not feeling anywhere near to the end and there’s no excitement about pushing towards the finish. Somewhere on the outward leg of this I met back up with my running partner, who was excited to meet me, and instantly recognized my voice as I was of course doing the “cheer the other side” game. We stuck it out again to the next water stop on the return leg, when again, she needed to stop and I needed to keep going.

The course was also really interestingly laid out – they used man power instead of fancy electronics, and at every mile marker there was a course volunteer shouting out the official gun time as you ran past. This was great since I’d totally forgotten my watch and had no way to track pace. I figured I was about 3 minutes short of gun time, so I knew I was holding a decently fast pace – starting at mile 3 when I tuned in I was consistently doing around 11 minute miles. I started to get really excited at mile 10 when I passed that marker with an official GUN time of a few minutes short of 2 hours. I think it was something in the range of 1:58. That meant all I had to do was maintain pace (and I was feeling tired as heck but able to do that) and I had a whole 34-35 minutes to do the last 3.1 miles and have my GUN time beat my SJ CHIP time (chip time is always shorter when you’re in the mid-back of the pack, it just takes a few minutes to cross the start line). I did my best to throw a little more energy in as I knew I was doing great, but it didn’t seem to kick in until that last mile. I also got caught by my running mate in that last mile, and she was barely keeping going. Frankly I was struggling too, and was reaching the talking and singing to myself stage… (yes, I’m a runner dork, but I need to do that to keep moving). It was really great to have someone ELSE to encourage so I felt like less of a nut job talking to myself… 😛 And she really liked being told how little was left and that she could make it. I pulled away when we started to be able to see the finish – my feet just found some extra energy and I knew the faster I got there, the sooner I could stop. I was chanting “come on legs, keep moving” and just pushing as fast as I could go. I know I passed at least a dozen people, and was flat out sprinting (or what passes for a sprint when one has just run 13.1 miles) for most of that last .1 mile. I heard Peter somewhere in the background shouting my name just as I passed around the last person ahead of me and crossed the line. I then had to move to the side and bend over a bit to catch my breath – I think I scared some EMT’s for a minute there. 😉 But I’d done it! I’d run the whole way with only 2 mini-pauses to fill my water bottle, and I’d done it in excellent for me time. My GUN time was 2:33:08, right below my chip time for SJ. Peter’s phone was crapping out so we couldn’t get online to get real results til we got home.
Oh yeah, and that 0% chance of rain? Well the city wide overhead misters turned on again to cool off my last 2 miles, and then they provided a FULL FREE SHOWER to me while waiting in line for food. Isn’t that nice of the city? I used that mylar warm-up sheet they give you as a makeshift rain cloak. It was a pretty serious rain for 0%…

Poor Peter, BTW. He’s sworn off using cars to chase me along a course for races. We’d parked in the garage the event directions pointed us to, right? BIG mistake. That garage was right near the corner of the course, about 2 miles in. Peter couldn’t get the car out to follow me until ALL the walkers had cleared the 2 mile point. And some of them were only doing 10 miles and going damned slow at that. He had to wait most of an hour before he could get the car out, and by then had really no idea where to hole up and wait for me to pass him on the course. We ended up only meeting about twice – once right by the damned garage, and once when I was on the return leg along the coast, and then not again until the finish. I think he may well be sold on joining me for more races, and if not, then we’re bringing the bike so he can track the course a bit better.

Anyhow, all in all a great day – I met my goal of running the whole damned thing, even took less and shorter water breaks than I had allowed myself, and I also got in with an official time of under 2 and a half hours – my chip time was 2:29:19! It was a great close for my first season of running, and I had a lot of fun.

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Its been, oh, over a month since I’ve blogged, and its time for a catchup post or 3. I guess with the marathon over the original impetus to get back into blogging slacked off. So here we go with a few updates.

My after marathon plans included staying in shape and completing 2 half marathons this year. The first I planned on doing just for fun, second and upcoming I had hoped to work up to running the whole thing, walking only when needed to grab water at a stop. As previously mentioned, Peter and I were training together for the San Jose Rock and Roll half marathon. We fell down a little bit on our running plan for a few reasons. First, it is ren faire time, and that meant weekends were largely committed there. Ren faire may not be as rigorous as running but it really does wear us down being out there, in dust and heat, for 8 hour days. So we had to move our long runs to weekday nights as Peter is deathly allergic to mornings (and working for an east coast company so the earlier he gets online the better). This also seems to have meant we didn’t get into good habits of shorter runs throughout the week, and I totally wimped out on cross training. So all we were doing were those 1X per week long runs and whatever walking and such happened out at faire. Peter’s knee was having quit a bit of trouble by our last runs, so the 10 miles got cut to 9, and the 12 cut to about 10.5. I remember having knee problems at that stage too and think he’ll be fine in the future, especially if we do the whole training package 😛

The official race day was Oct 5. We skipped a whole faire weekend in honor of the event, which turned out to be a wise choice since it rained all day Saturday and would have been a miserable day at faire anyhow (apparently 3000 people still paid to get in to fair tho, so its all good). Race day dawned cool and sunny and perfect for running. We hit the free participant parking and walked over to the race and got ourselves in the crowded corrals. Over 12,000 people were running! I only ran into one person I knew running with us – the SF coach from the AIDS marathon program was wandering back at our speed, looking forward to a lazy workout with “free” entertainment. As we started out we noticed that we were keeping up nicely with the 2:30 pacer with the friendly bright purple sign, and decided to see if we could keep up. The route was nice and flat and wide, but still pretty crowded, so we made a habit of getting to the slightly clearer space just in front of the pacer on run intervals and of course dropping back during walk breaks. The route went through mostly residential neighborhoods, and there were all sorts of people out to watch, including lots of adorable kids with playschool drum sets providing live music between the real band stations, folks from small convenience stores handing out free water, etc. Real community kind of race! Around mile 4 or so, we got to watch the pros race past us in their final mile dash to the finish and cheer them on, which was pretty exciting. Somewhere around half way thru, I started to feel a bit sluggish (I was foolishly experimenting with ditching Gu in favor of all the sugar in the cytomax and it just didn’t work…) and the pacer picked up the pace, so we let them go in favor of the 2 of us sticking together. Then we turned around and headed back towards downtown, ran thru my office hood and literally right past my windows, and then into the final miles. Peter definitely outdid me most of the way – I was keeping up with him, not the other way around. Although he insists if there’s been another .1 miles his knee woulda knocked him down, and he only kept up the pace because walking hurt more than running by the end! As the finish line came into sight, we both tried to put on extra speed (Peter succeeded, I was again going into lack of Gu slump but unwilling to cough one down for so little race left). Peter would have beat me by several seconds, but decided to slow and cross with me. RNRSJ finally posted split times, so here’s the race data:

Mark point Time Pace
5 km 37:01 11:55
10 km 1:13:43 11:52
10 miles 1:58:04 11:48
Finish 2:33:33 11:43

As you can see, we were not only pretty damned consistent, we were actually consistently accelerating for the entire length of the course. Pretty impressive if you ask me 😛 Anyhow it was a good time, we were both totally dead for the rest of the day after, and Peter is trying to convince me his knee isn’t up for full marathons. 😛 I don’t believe him, I think we just need to train better and slower. It was a pretty unforgiving ramp-up in 2 months, and he did an awesome job!

So the next goal is the Big Sur Half Marathon, coming up Nov 9th. I have 3 more weekend to work towards that, as this last weekend went to the conclusion of faire. The most I’ve run with few to no breaks so far is 7 miles. I’ll be thinking thru a plan and posting it here shortly. Knowing me, I’ll probably end up actually going slower for cutting out the rest breaks, but I’d like to get thru it at a run just to have done it. 😛 who says girls can’t have macho pride? 😉

Suzi and Melissa on the bridge My overpriced photo CD of professional marathon photos has arrived and been uploaded. Here you see a shot of me and my running mate, Melissa, on the golden gate bridge, still full of energy after jsut 6-8 miles or so. The images are in no particular order on the website, and too many of them have me holding fingers over my head saying how many miles I’d gone, cuz I was too damned tired to realize it would look better to just wave (and I kinda wanted to know where I was). Anyhow, all are actually in focus so you should check them out. You have photographic PROOF that I crossed the finish line now! 😛 Copyright details – free for personal use, so if you want a copy on your wall go ahead and print them.

We have marathon photos up, both from the pros at the race course and from Peter’s digital camera. And hopefully our friend Rob will get his shots to us soon too!

Today was the first day I went out running since the marathon. 😛 feelign pretty good until I started, then realized those legs are still healing. But 😛 I still managed to beat Peter’s 3 mile time with 32:40 so I’m happy… They boy says he’s happy to have a shared hobby where I’m the expert for once. Most of the things we do together, he’s either more into the tech (scuba) or just have been doing it longer than I’ve been alive (skiing).

So the next goal is to work peter up into half marathon shape by Oct 5 for the SJ rock and roll half. Now I know some of my more serious runner friends will raise eyebrows (especially if they know how badly Peter’s been slacking off on exercise in the last months…) but this is no faster than my marathon program worked up to 14 miles, and I think i skipped 3 of those early weeks to boot. I think my only early injury was when I decided to play DDR for a few hours with a friend the DAY AFTER our 14 mile run… 😛 So yesterday Peter went out on his own for his 3 mile pace setting run, and came back 33:38 later. That’s 11 mins per mile, with hills, so we’ll be shooting for somewhere between 11-12 mins per mile pace on flat. Here’s our rough training schedule:

08/10/08 4
08/16/08 5
08/23/08 6
08/30/08 7
09/06/08 8
09/13/08 10
09/20/08 12
09/27/08 Taper – 6-7
10/05/08 race

I will be still working up to the Nov 9 goal of running the whole Big Sur half marathon without walk breaks, so I’ll either be doing my own long runs (about 10 miles) without Peter, or just going out after training with him and finishing my longer runs. I figure give myself a bit of a break this week, then try to stick to 10 mile long runs weekly until the date. 10 miles is just a wussy recovery week run anyhow, right? 😉 I’d like to stay in the kind of shape where one can do a half marathon at the drop of a hat, for fun, without a lot of planning. Half was such a fun distance, I’d hate for it to become HARD again… 😛

Just across the finish line

1 – 12:32:52
2 – 11:51:76
3 – 12:36:49
4 – 12:01:78
5 – 12:22:34
6 – 13:48:53 (HILL)
7&8 – 24:49:27
9 – 12:14:20
10 – 14:31:00 (bathroom)
11 – 11:54:78
12 – 12:58:36
13 – 12:52:65
14 – 12:00:79
15 – 12:38:72
16 – 12:45:08
17 – 13:07:16
18 – 13:08:46
19 – 13:00:44
20 – 13:23:52
21 – 13:20:32
22 – 13:29:97
23 – 13:51:68
24 – 14:20:47
25 – 14:36:89
26 – 14:00:26
.2 – 2:05:15
total: 5:40:22:59

Well, ladies and gentlemen, I have completed my first marathon with a time of 5:40:21 and have the big coaster sized medal around my neck (they actually put little foam thingies on the back so it could actually be used as a coaster should you be so crass as to wish that…)  It was about the perfect day for it – foggy and cool, with the sun peeking out sometime while I was in the shower.  The bridge and view of city from Marin were awesome – everything all streaked with foggy light.  Melissa and I set off together and finished about half until we hit a hill where I couldn’t stop running and her legs weren’t up to it, so we split up.  I was too brain-dead to wait at the end, but it looks like she ended up just 1 minute behind me.  GO MELISSA!  Another fun part of the course was 90% of the course control volunteers were a gang of a few hundred motorcyclists, all with lots of medals and charms and big fat hogs.  Great bunch.

I do have a few comments, BTW, if you ever volunteer at a marathon…  “you’re almost there”  – please don’t start saying this at mile 20 when we’re all struggling to keep moving and there’s a good hour plus of running left to do!  Keep it up, you look great, going strong, all there are welcome.  But you’re almost there…  for 5 miles we heard this.  oddly enough, when were WERE almost there…  it shifted to “just 2 more miles” and the “keep going to the finish” and such.  Also I wanted to note for people odd stuff in my mile splits.  I look shockingly consistent  😛  We so weren’t…  the first half was all 12-12:30 min miles, with one mile (5) that was walked uphill, and a 3 min pit stop at mile 8.  I gather I stuck CLOSE to 12/12:30 for the 3rd quarter, but that last 6 miles….  those were 14-15 minute miles, WITH me running per schedule.  I let myself drop back to a 3:2 ratio somewhere, I really can’t remember where, and stopped listening to the watch and just running after the VERY WELCOME 26 mile marker.  I managed to find somewhere (I really don’t know where, half a mile back I wasn’t sure I could run after a walk break) enough energy stolen blatantly from the crowd to put on an extra burst of speed for most of that last .2 and crossed the line in style, too oblivious to even know Peter was right there…  😛  took me several minutes to find him and he saw me the whole time.  I was totally brain-dead and still moving forwards (toward the medals, then towards the bananas).

All in all it was a good race.  not really sure I’m addicted to them, tho.  The first half was genuinely fun.  The last half was really mostly just work and finishing what I set out to do.  I’ve got 2 half marathons schedules (SJ rock and roll Oct 5, Big Sur half Nov 9) and am looking forward to them, and think I’ll stick to halfs and 10K’s for a while.

Wow, I simply can’t believe that in 2 days from now I’ll be finished with my first marathon!  I’m very excited, a little nervous, and still feeling ready.  Taper’s been good – the last of the stiff muscles from 3 weeks ago have faded and I’m really feeling antsy.

I never did get around to saying more about the 26 miler.  All in all it was a good experience.  I dropped back to a slower group since I’d not finished the 23, and off we set.  Peter came along and manned a water stand too, somewhere around miles 5/16 I think.  Right before the REALLY BIG 5 BLOCK LONG HILL.  It’ll be a long time before the coaching staff is forgiven those hills…  😛  We set off from the park, along Lake, OVER the hill toward the marina, and along the Embarcadero.  it was a great time, since the half marathoners started passing us on the way back at around mile 6, and then around mile 8 or 9 we started to see the return of the elite runners, so there was lots of support and encouragement.  then out on the embarcadero, there were even a few people who recognized the program and decided to cheer.  my feet sped up, suddenly I’m leading the group…  😉  This is about where I realize not only will i make it thru today (mile 10 and no knee issues, YAY!) but that it’ll be no problem going faster on race day because, well, I’m an extrovert and performer at heart and people will cheer.  If people cheer, I WILL keep going. (YOU ALL COME OUT AND CHEER YOU HEAR?)  We turn around about 10.5 miles in, go back UP the hill (curse you coaches!  😉 give Peter a big sweaty hug and keep on going in one big mob of 12 runners.

Its really funny, running 26 miles…  Honestly, around mile 18 I’m still flying high and making odd statements like “wow is that mile 18 already?  I’m not even tired yet…”  By mile 20 the pace group is falling apart and my tune has changed to “sorry, can’t wait for you if I stop now I won’t start again”  Instead of a large group of runners, we became a stretched out string of runners, each of us just putting one leg in front of the other.  My knee had actually started to whine several miles ago, so I had to really watch my stride, cuz it would HURT if I got out of alignment, but I was fine if I kept in line.  By mile 20 or so the rest of me hurt too so I didn’t care so much about the knee  😛  I started to really feel like a machine for putting one foot in front of the other, with pistons and gears instead of muscles and tendons.  We came back into the park, and most of the way through it, then set off BACK through it for 3 miles to the AIDS memorial grove at mile 23.  now, I’d promised myself that I’d walk the last 3, since I’d not done the 23, but the grove was so emotional – very shady and quiet.  Coach was there and I think she was a bit concerned because I was crying.  Really, seeing mile 23 on that sign, there in the memorial grove, was when I KNEW, down to my bones, REALLY KNEW I would make it.  And of course I couldn’t stop running there.  So I kept on at the walk-run pace for another mile or so before the emotion wore off and I remembered I was supposed to walk now to not hurt myself.  And I got to watch oh, pretty much everyone in the long stretched out line of our pace group that I’d passed, pass me back.  It was a slow walk  😛  I managed to pick up someone that also wanted to walk it in easy, and we finished the 26 plus the little recovery walk together.  I hugged the 26 mile sign.  A couple picnicking there said they’d seen a lot of that today…  Right before you turn the last corner and get back to base station, they’d set up a sign saying “Run across the finish line!”  We laughed and checked for the words “just kidding” on the back, and strolled across the line.  Then Peter and I headed out for a really nice beach cantina lunch (I was starving to death, i swear) complete with seared ahi and a big Ben and Jerry’s banana split.  😛  I earned it, right?

Just FYI I was up and walking the next day…  😛  even walking NORMAL by Tuesday and running again by Thurs.  The 8 mile with the team went well, tho I think I was the only person in our little group that would agree with that statement.  Mom, dad and Valerie were up, so Val joined me while mom walked.  Then we headed up to Ottawa for the linux symposium.  4 people joined me for my runner BOF thurs (including one who is running the same marathon) and well, no one seemed to be awake Saturday, which was okay because I still got to see the only sun that day by getting up at the ungodly hour of 7.  This week I’ve been taking it really eeasy, and sticking to the “no more than 30 mins, no really” rule.  its kind of a letdown, really.  I’m just feelign warmed up after 30 mins…  But the up side is all the stiff muscles really do seem to have worked themselves out and I’m feelign ready to go on Sunday.  We’ll take off tomorrow midday, check in for the race, and find a nice Italian place for me to stuff my face with pasta, then I hope to sleep before dragging my arse up at o dark o’clock for sunscreen, oatmeal and a date with my foam roller before meeting up with Melissa at 5:45 at the AIDS marathon tent, in more than plenty of time for the 6:25 tortoise wave start time.  Off to packing my run bag!I’ll try to pop back on and leave my runner number so you all can track my progress on race day.

This post goes out to all the interested geeks at this year’s OLS (Ottawa Linux Symposium). In honor of my marathon coming up in a week an a half, I’m hosting 2 linux coder runs. Join me in the beauties of taper (running less so your poor tired legs recover by marathon date) I run at roughly 11-12 minutes per mile (5-5.5 mph, 7- 7.5 mins per km, 8-8.5 km/hr) so these will be nice leisurely jogs with walk breaks unless enough speed demons show up who want to be their own group. Here are the times I am suggesting:

Thurs, July 24, meet in Les suites lobby at 8 AM, leave within 5-10 mins. Walk to Rideau canal trail as warm-up, then run out below parliament on the Ottawa river for about 20-25 mins, and return. Aprx 4-5 miles, 6-8 km. Should be back to les suites by just after 9 AM.

Sat, July 25, meet in Les suites lobby in time to LEAVE by 7:30. Walk to rideau canal and then run out along the canal, hopefully getting as far as the lake before turning around. Run out for 45-50 mins and return.  aprx 7-8 miles, 11-13 km. Should be again back to les suites by 9:15 ish.

For more details, email me at first name at last name dot org.

SF AIDS Marathon 2008

On August 3, myself and about 500 other runners will complete the San Francisco marathon in an effort to raise $1,000,000 for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. This is the culmination of nearly 2 years of lifestyle changes and weight loss for me, and a chance for me to use my new-found energy and fitness to give back to my community. I hope you will join me in this effort by reading and offering your support through my blog. If you are able, I also welcome your contribution to the cause! Thanks and keep on running!

Progress Bar:


Marathon time: 5:40:22
Total Raised: $2,815.70

My Sponsors

I'd like to thank the following organizations and individuals for their support of the SF AIDS Foundation!



Dianne Whitfield of the Bunny Hay Loft


Ulf Anvin
Rob Millner
Scott Lamb
Jeff Barlow
Erika Duplantis
Nick and Carol Esser
Kathryn Mercer
Nicole Pauls
Kathryn Coll
Timothy Berger
Susan Druding
Jenny Forman
Kathryn Mulgrew
Jamie Piperberg
Lucia Sanchez
Fran Taillon
Douglas Leeder
Barbara Kirsch
Ellen Atkinson
Valerie Esser
Peter McCourt
Carla Schroder
Sandra Spicher
Matthew Wilson
Valorie Zimmerman
Kathryn Kramer
Roxanne Seabright
Gayathri Swaminathan
Jason Spiro
Dianne Schoenberg

Thank you so very much for your support!

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