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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Reflections of this Day

Twelve years and one day ago, I was holding a soft, cuddly and sweet smelling new born in my arms. My baby boy was perfect. The next morning on September 11th as I was laying in the hospital room, I was awakened by a nurse drawing my blood. I complained and groaned a little bit, and the nurse (and looking back I still think that she was very rude) told me that "there are worse things going on in the world" and then proceeded to turn on the TV. It was the exact moment when Tower Two was hit and my husband and I not having watched the news at all that morning did not quite understand what was going on. At first I thought it was an ad for a new action movie, but it didn't take long for me to realize that our country was under attack.
The scenes that followed will be ingrained in my brain forever. I held my baby tigher, sadness came over me knowing that his world will not be the same. I wanted to rush home and hold my other baby (he was three and a half at the time), but the doctors would not send me home. The silence of the skies were defeaning. I had the TV turned because the endless loop being shown of the towers collapsing were becoming too much to bear.
I was allowed to come home later that day. the streets appeared to be desserted. Even at 3000 miles away, the effects of the terror attack were deeply felt here in the Bay Area.
That day our country mourned the loss of thousands of lives, the loss of a sense of safety and our security. That day, as a nation we have to realize that our strength will only manifest if we stand together. We shall never forget...

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Running with Friends

I started running because it was for me it was a nice, solitary activity. Running for me is a time to be alone and to sort out my own thoughts. It was a time when I do not have to be wife, a mother or daughter. Running three to five miles were enjoyable. But I came to a point where I also needed someone to share my running experiences with specially on longer runs. My family has always been supportive, but they do not quite get the excitement that I get from my runs and my races. I have very good friends, but some of them still think I should only run when being chased.
Through one of the running blogs that I read, I found the group "Moms Run This Town". I gingerly joined their Facebook page and found a place that belongs to moms of all ages and running abilities. Ignoring all warnings to not meet anyone in person whom you've only met on the internet, I signed up for a group run. After all, these are moms so they would not hurt me, right?
Since then, I have been running with these amazing group of women at least once a week. We've run races together, climbed up stairs and trekked trails. These women are not just a "support" group who I run with, they are now friends. The support we get goes beyond pushing each other on the track and the roads, we only support each other through injuries, setbacks and issues with our children. These moms listen, understand and are able to relate to what each of is going through.
I can actually give credit to MRTT for my continued determination and of course my speedier running pace.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Sometimes I Run from my Demons

This is going to be difficult post to write. During my runs, I usually reflect on what is going with my life and my with my family's life. Lately, I have been ruminating about where I am in life and how my past decisions got me here.
There are many reasons why I run. One of them is that I almost never have been successful in anything I have ever done for myself. It took me more than four years to finish my Bachelor of Arts Degree with only one class left to complete. After I finished my Master's Degree in Counseling Psychology, I slaved away at years of unpaid internships to obtain my Marriage and Family Therapy license only to stop short of a few hundred hours to licensure.
Last year, I enrolled in an online college to earn my credential to teach special education. I have passed most of my classes and yet I had failed to finish some of them. I have yet to enroll again and finish what I had started. Now I am working as an instructional assistant and quite honestly not feeling fullfilled with my job. I earn the same amount of money as someone who has not graduated college.
I seem to know how to sabotage any chance of success that I may have. This includes even my interpersonal relationships. I tend to hurt the people I should care about the most.
Running has become for me a means to meet a goal I have never yet in other aspects of my life. Yes, I know it seems that I am putting more meaning into my running than I should, but sometimes I feel that it is the only good thing that I have going to for me. Every step, every mile and every finish line has become to me a symbol of my own achivement.
Running is something that no one can take away from me. No one pushed me into it, no has any expectations from me, and no one else can accomplish this but me. So far, I have accomplished more than I expected of myself.
Yes, I do run from my own demons. Sometimes they chase me like a sonofabitch. I am getting faster, I am getting stronger. I know I will out run them. I know I will persevere.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Weekend Race Review

This is will be my first ever race review on my blog! The best part? It was also my first double race weekend! 
On a last minute, impulse decision I signed up with Brazed Races Summer Breeze 5k. I've run with them before and I was truly impressed with how they treat their runners and their volunteers. The people who run these races are truly nice and wonderful folks. Their runs are mostly on trails on the East and South Bay Area. Each run has a 1/2 mile, 10k and 5k option. And they even offer a "hikers half", they usually walk the half marathon and are given an early start. If you sign up for the race early you even get your name printed on your bib! 
The Summer Breeze run was done at the San Leandro Marina which was a very scenic park on the East Bay Area. The beginning of August was quite foggy and therefore it was a bit chilly this morning (thus this run has also been called the Summer Freeze). The route was along the bay and was mostly flat. It was pretty cool to watch the fog slowly lift as I was running. I so wanted to slow down and take pictures, but was to overcome with my need to get a PR. I was bummed coz I forgot to wear my Garmin. Although, I had on Runkeeper, I didn't really feel like taking it out of my utility belt every time I wanted to keep pace and I really don't wear headphones when I am running with a group of people. 
The Brazen Start Arch
                                            As I was running, there were a few thoughts running through my head:  First, I was thinking that although I wanted to PR, I also did not want to get injured. I had the Giant Race the next day and I am also training for my first half marathon. Second, I have never wanted to finish a race at a great time so bad, that I did not get any sleep the night before. I literally had two hours of sleep and I had to be at the location at 6am since the boys were volunteers (my race did not start till 8:30). I also kept thinking about how bad I was as a mom since I didn't stop to take pictures with my kids at the aid station!
Anyway, I reached the finished line in 32:06 minutes! I ended up number 14 in my age group (40-45). And contrary to what my husband said, there were more than 14 in my age group (there were actually 49)!
Brazen treats their runners like royalty with a massive feast at the finish line: bagels, snacks, candy, and yes this: 
The bling and the prize!
I came home ready to run the Giant's Race the next day!
The Giant's race was something that I have waited for for sometime now. I signed up for this race back in May. I even signed up for the San Jose Giant's race so I can get the take two award. I am a San Francisco Giants fan so the idea of a finish line on the baseball field was beyond awesome. I also get to run along the San Francisco Bay another plus. There were 20,000 plus runners from all the different distances. The energy around the ballpark was incredible. The sea of black and orange gearing up for this road race was pretty amazing. I was pumped. My wave started at 7 and seeing the Bay Bridge still shrouded in fog was cool. Once again, I did not stop to take many pictures since I was gunning for a PR. In hindsight, since this was my first Giants race, I probably should have taken the time to enjoy my surroundings. I ran a steady 11:10 pace the first 4 miles (this time, I wore my Garmin but the GPS did not connect till after mile and a half). I was only able to check my pace after the race on Runkeeper. I only walked a few minutes during each mile. The fifth mile was getting tougher, but I was determined to run on the field. So I kept running. I swear my face lit up when I saw the Park! I was so happy to see my husband cheering me on near the finish. 
Lit up in a good way!
Running into AT&T Park felt electric. The scoreboard was showing all the runners as we were crossing the finish line. I felt as if I was standing on hallowed ground, the world series Giants played their best games here.  I was to stretch were Buster Posey had stretched! I was on an unbelievable high! The medal was pretty awesome too. It was modeled after the 2012 World Series ring. I was too excited after the race, that it was too late when I realized that I didn't take many pictures at the finish either. I am still really bummed about that. I guess I am just going to have to wait until after I run the half marathon next year.

 I never thought that I would ever run for a PR. When I started running, I just wanted to do it for my health, happy that I am able to finish without fainting. It feel great to be able to run beyond what I thought my limits were. I still have those nagging doubts in the back of my head which tells me that this is all just a passing hobby. Something that I would never continue and it is a daily struggle to over come those doubts. 

Do you like taking pictures during your races? Do run for time or for the experience? Do share your thoughts!
The medals from the San Jose Giants race and the Giants race with the turn two award.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

DIY Race Bib Holder

As runners, we are extremely proud of the races that we take on. Be it a 5k or a marathon, we cherish the medals and the bibs that we have earned on each of those races. I have been looking around for the perfect bib holder for a while now. I hate that I keep my medals and bibs in an iPad box. They deserve to be displayed. And since I cannot find anything that suited my taste or my budget, I decided to make my own.
Here are the materials that I used:

I bought the board and the stencils from Michael's Arts and Crafts Store with a 40% off coupon. The wood finish, hooks and everything else was from a local hardware store. Total cost was around $15 (superhero ring not included).
My plan was to stain the wood and use the stencils to add the design or a saying with the stencils. It took me a couple of days to figure out what I should use as a heading. I decided to stencil in race distances. Apparently, my Martha Stewardish skills do not extend to stenciling.
I taped the stencils down, but apparently not good enough and the paint bled all over the place. So, back to Michael's I went.

    Armed with another 40% off coupon I purchased another board. This time I decided to go with pre-cut wood letters which I will attach with wood glue. The wood letters were .25 cents each since they were on sale (ka-ching!) I had the wood glue already at home. The board cost me another $7.49.
 This time, I glued on the letters "RACES" on top of the board. I also drilled the holes for a frame hanger and for the bib hooks first. I used my smallest bibs to measure the distance between the hangers. It is much easier to punch additional holes on the longer bibs than to measure different hanger sizes.

 I then stained the wood with a light, cherry stain. I attached the hooks after the stain had dried.  I am still deciding whether I should varnish the bib hanger.

TA-DAH!! This is the finished product!
I am quite proud of the finished product. It looks clean and simple.  My next project will be the medal hanger.
What do you think,  should I varnished the board?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

My First Runcation

Since my children were very young we have taken them to many. many theme park vacations. I am sure that most if not all of you can relate the hour long lines for a 45 second ride, the endless amount of walking, hundred degree weather, and of course the ridiculous amount of whinning for an over priced toy in the tourist traps  gift shops which are conveniently located at the end of each ride. This year was going to be same, but by some twist of fate (or an online glitch) we did not end up in sunny Florida. Instead, we took a nice road trip along the California Coast.
Before, I hear the word beach and all I could think of is tan time! I'm on my blanket slathered in sunblock with a good book ( I did plenty of that, don't worry).  Now, the first thing that I thought about was "hey, I could run on the beach!"
Pismo Beach is a beautiful beach town situated somewhere between San Francisco and Los Angeles. We had originally planned on doing adventurous things like renting dune buggies and learning how to surf, but the cost was ridiculously prohibitive. I am a cheapskate and a two hour rental on a dune buggy for $200 was just way out of our budget. The boys had a good time playing on the sand and we even rented a Surrey bike! Anyway, I digress. The highlight for me on this trip was my early morning beach run. After a few wrong turns, I found myself running along highway 101. Once I got to the beach, the view was breathtaking. It was still misty, the air was crisp,  fishermen on the pier and surfers were just about to conquer the waves. I felt good, very good. I ran a total of five miles from the hotel, around the beach, and back. When we were in L.A., I wanted to run along the Santa Monica Pier, but got very intimated by the good looking people running around. So I stayed in the hotel gym which worked out because they had cold towels for after my workout!
Anyway, we went back to Pismo after a few days in Lalaand so I did another beach run. All I can say is awesome!!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Sometimes the Road Will Get Rough

Today was a tough running day. I started later than I wanted to, all because I felt that my bed was much more comfortable place than hitting the road. I usually try and get a five minute warm up (a brisk walk) before I start my run.  I had gone a mile before I even noticed that I was still walking! So off I go. Two miles, three miles and I was out of gas. I pop an energy gel in and keep on running (struggling) waiting for that gel to do it's magic. It did not quite happen. I did more walking that I did running.
It was a long, slow run.
This was the slowest I have been in months. I felt discouraged and deflated. Just this past weekend, I run a 10k in one hour and five minutes. It was very tough to silence the negativity that was going on in my head. There was no amount of self talk that could get me going. The only reason I kept going was because I needed to get home!
On the road, I tried to figure out why I was dragging today. I had a healthy breakfast (a smoothie and a coffee), I had water, a Shotblock and I had a couple of days rest. The only reason that I could figure out was that I stayed up too late last night watching past season of "Breaking Bad".
I have to honor my goals and my body. I have to learn to set priorities so that I could meet my goals.
To honor my body, I need to give it the rest and nutrition it needs in order for it to run properly. I need to be able see that what I do in the present time greatly affects the results I am going to get in the future.
I know that this training is going to get me the success I need for my first half marathon. I also know there will be bumps along the way and just like any runner, I have to be able to get beyond those bumps and just move on. No one ever said this was going to be easy, right?

What do you usually do to when you are unmotivated and struggle during a run?

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Need for Speed

I started this blog as a way to keep myself accountable as I train for my very first half marathon. The San Jose Half Marathon will happen on October 6, 2013. I started training about four weeks ago and I have been using the training program from the book Train Like a Mother by Dimity McDowell and  Sarah Bowen Shea. The training program mixes up long and short weekday runs, crosstraining and speed training. They allow flexibility as moms have tendency to not have total controll of their time. They do stress the mandatory long weekend run to ensure your sucess.
I find the training program is easy to follow and quite enjoyable, here is the pdf from their website Half Marathon Finish It Plan.  The only part of the training that I struggle with is the speed training part. Holy heck! If ever you have felt that your heart is about to jump out of your chest and you are about to lose your breakfast, lunch and yet to be consumed dinner, then you would know how I feel during these speed training runs.

So far, I have been able to follow the training program religiously. The only draw back I have experiecned so far is the ridiculous heat wave that have hit Northern California last week. I know that I have to discipline myself into going to bed early so I can also get up early. I am currently on summer hours as I am on summer break with my kids. It is VERY, VERY easy to fall into a lazy pattern. 

What is your biggest challenge during summer run training?

The Reality of a Virtual Run - Jedi Style

Being new to running, I have recently learned about virtual races. After some research, I found out that virtual races are quite common, they have different themes and I could GET a medal. They are also run on an honor system. You sign up for a race, pick your distance, run/accomplish said distance and BAM you get your bling via USPS. My family are big Star Wars fans so when I found out about a Jedi Virtual race I immediately signed both my boys up for the 5k. As I have mentioned before, I try and encourage my kids to get out and exercise. It's not always easy but with a Star Wars medal, there were not Jedi mind tricks necessary.
My running group had organized a group in beautiful Monterey. The weather was great, the water was blue and we were pumped for the run. The trail was a bit crowded since it was the last day of the Fourth of July weekend. The three point ten miles flew by amid a view of the ocean, seals sunning themselves on rocks and tourists weaving in and out of the trail on family driven surreys (four to five people bikes dangerously being driven by happy, enthusiastic tourists. Stay out of their way, apparently the safety guidelines include "stay on the trail, avoid crowds and if you break it you buy it).
We ended the run at Monterey State Beach. The people on the sand was enough of an invite for us to relax and dip our toes in the Pacific for a post race R&R.
Monterey State Beach

The Jedi Bling

I really enjoyed the Jedi Virtual run. The kids did too. The registration proceeds went to Team in Training (win!) and the medal was pretty cool!

Have you ever done a virtual run? What are your thoughts on it?
If you haven't done one, would you consider it?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Running With My Child/The Sharks Fitness Challenge

It was a 5k run that I signed up for at the last minute. I had originally just signed up my 11 year old for the kids fun run, but he begged and begged me to run the 5k with him (ok he didn't really have to beg that hard).  So sign up I did.
Seven tutus for seven runners
Since my cousins were also signed up, we came up with a crazy idea to make teal tutus in honor of the San Jose Sharks. So Friday before the race, on a blistering day when my A/C chose to break down, we made seven tutus.
That Sunday, June 30th was the middle of a very unusual heatwave that hit our fair Bay Area. (Yes, I will admit that we are spoiled crybabies who will complain if the temperature gauge flactuates beyond 75 degrees.) It was predicted to go up to 99 degrees that day, so I made a deal with my son to try and finish the 5k in forty minutes. Not too much to ask for, right? And we are off!
We were off to a running start, well at least for the first thirty seconds before my Bubba decided to slow down to warm up first. But the warm up walk kinda lasted almost the entire race. (To be fair, he did tell me he wasn't able to sleep all night because it was too hot.) I tried to encourage him to keep going and to try to at least jog. I found myself getting frustrated because it was a race after all. I literally had to stop take a breath and come to a realization that he has not trained for this. He is trying is best and I had to forget about my time and worry about him just getting to the finish.
I run for many reasons. One of them is so that I could inspire my children to try their best and to also to as healthy as they could be. In light of that, I need to keep in mind that signing them up for one race without really helping them train for is not a way to help me reach my goal.
Thank you for reading my first blog. I hope to share with you more of my journey and I hope that you could join me.

How do you encourage your children to excercise?
Have you run races with your children?