8/30/08

Labor Day Weekend – Moist

"The answer to the big questions in running is the same as the answer to the big questions in life: Do the best with what you've got." DR. GEORGE SHEEHAN

Waking up the usual time on a weekend is not always great when you get home and go to bed at around 2am. Exhausted as I was, I am the type who “once I get up, I get up…” If I stay in bed, I just lie there and might as well get up. So going to sleep the night before at 2:30am, coming back from the US Open with JM (seeing JG, C and NH&LS) was very unexpected as well…but it was good that we had met up with them.

Anyways, got up, changed into my running gear and left out the door. The idea was to get into a good enough condition and relate back to my old roots in getting back into shape and into race shape for that matter. I had to get over those kinks that I have been having when racing, the “wall” that I am incorporating during the first few miles of a race and psychologically, I need to be prepared. EVERYTHING HAS TO GO RIGHT and according to planned if I am to break the 3 hour mark.

I set out of my apartment building eating a banana and then start my way up. I have another banana in hand, but that is for the later miles when I get hungry. I was already too late to catch the Saturday morning crew of the Flyers and I just decided to make my way up and try to catch them half way along Harlem Hill, if any of them were there for that matter. I gunned and as I reached the park there was a moist humid feeling of just heavy air. I couldn’t do this at a pace, but kept moving. As I reached the top of Central Park, I saw EA and some other Flyers…small group. I decided to say hello and travel on my own ways and continue to make my own loop around the park. My initial plan was to catch up to the group, see if someone like SH (other known as ST) was there to run with, but she wasn’t…later confirmed by JH, her husband who I had seen while stretching. I made my way around at a blistering pace. Some spots were rather nice and cool, while other spots were humid and sticky…the nice and cool spots were like air conditioning spots located here and there in a department store…very weird being in the open environment and having that everywhere you ran.

Water! I had t make a few water stops due to the heat. It was muggy and you can add 5-10 minutes to your time if you were racing today…which the air was heavy and legs felt like blocks. The night before on Thursday night was not too fun at all either due to the fact that I had to sub in for the Thursday night leaders and go at a 10 minute mile pace for 6 miles…and ended up doing 15 miles that night (9 at race pace and 6 at 10 minutes). So my legs were tired and exhausted. What can you do?

I was only going to do one lap around. Stopped to think about it, since it was labor day weekend, my legs were tired as hell and I was already out. I decided to do another loop. Crazy? Yes, that’s me.

I was exhausted by the time I had gotten back to 72nd transverse and stretched and gotten water at the boat house. I walked back out of Central Park, slowly observing and taking in the environment. Summer is soon to end, trees will soon change colors and the cool air of winter will be around the corner. But before you know it, the NYC marathon will be around the corner as well…oh the excitement.

I found my way to the Apple store and then started jogging home…another 3 miles, ending with a long run…17.6 miles…ready or not here I come.

8/27/08

Morning 10 Miler…

"We all have dreams. In order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline and effort." JESSE OWENS

Ok…so I planned to wake up early to run this morning, but really did not expect to run 10 miles. 18th street, catching up with the Wednesday morning Flyerville group, which was a party of one in RP, then he left me at Brooklyn Bridge as I continued on my hustle and bustle pace. We chatted as we ran on the east side and as the sun came up. It was a nice morning to run, but I just had to get myself out the door.

As I continued on, I weaved my way through the old fish market, South Street Seaport and the Staten Island Ferry Terminal…I continued on as I passed the Statue of Liberty and the nice breeze that came from the Hudson. I went on the reversal run that we usually do for the Monday group runs, but this was morning and there were a whole lot of ladies out there running. People in business suits going to work as I passed them by, as I wizzing and weaved passed them, I tested my leg for any other kinks or remnants of injury. I also saw JS on the way...but continued on. This is training, hardcore mode from now on...


My hamstring I could feel a little tightness, which usually never happens as though it was a tear or a sprain. I don’t know what it was, but it sure is gone…I ran on the new west side path as I brushed my hand through some sprinklers to get some water on my legs. I was really pushing my legs to gain confidence, but really act as though it was a casual carefree run, keep relaxed and keep calm. Nothing to worry about…just run.

I continued on and did piers to add on some more mileage. Kept the legs cranking as I made my way to 14th and 8th…by this time I knew it would be close to 10 miles as the sun glared into my face and I made my way up to 18th…now, just cross town. I pushed, although I got stopped by many traffic lights here and there and finished my run as my watch beeped…I knew I was close to 10 miles…but it was exactly 10 miles. CRAZY!

10 miles in the morning…yeah start at 6:30ish and end at 7:45ish…one hour and 15 minutes of pure morning run…gets your blood moving and your day going…that is, afterwards I showered and laid naked on my bed for about 10 minutes and napped, before heading to work…

8/25/08

Playing leader...

"Taking charge of your body can help you take charge of your life. And that power can help you go wherever you want to go, every single day." CHERYL BRIDGES TREWORGY, member of five U.S. World Cross-Country teams

Ok…So I bought this women’s shirt at the San Francisco Marathon thinking guys shirts, gals shirts, no big deal. I didn’t buy the guys shirt because all they had were large’s and extra larges and those are definitely not my size. They were selling these training shirts for a discounted $5! Come on now, how can you not resist? So I bought 2 of them and then another that was an older marathon shirt and well…

Women…how can you wear these v-neck shirts? Seriously? I mean really now they show so much cleavage? Well I certainly don’t have cleavage, but still…and for those guys who say that the gal’s cut is almost the same as the guys cut…so not true, I should have gone with a women’s large, this is super tight on me that I kind of look gay with my tight shirt and short shorts…maybe I’m just way too muscular…NOT!

Ok…so I’m back with the Monday night crew and leading the group? What’s up with that? The rocket man was not there; neither were J, since he’s injured and James? Hmm…don’t know until I actually go out there and see if she’s out from work…nope…a one man show.

People looked at me funny, maybe it’s because it’s Rocket man’s run, but maybe it’s because I usually don’t lead. Maybe it’s because I was making sure who was going to be the last person just to be sure that everyone was ok. But I ran in back to secure my position and make sure that no one was left behind. LG was right, the nights came quicker and I should stay in the back since I was leader for the day…and it was good to catch up to some of the people that I never usually get to talk to. JM, BS and LG, we were all running together and then half way point kicked in and LG and I got caught up at a light and we chatted the whole way back. It was good, since LG and I always see each other at board meetings, but never really get the chance to catch up and just chat. We made it back to our new area and I scolded everyone to stretch…since I am the stretching nazi. Well, not really.

Everyone scattered toward the subway and JS decided to run home since she met up with us half way. No way was I to let her run home alone, even though the West Side Highway is sort of safe, but I felt responsible. I didn’t want naything to happen to any of my friends and didn’t want anything to go wrong…the possibilities in my head…not good. So I ran with her down and since I didn’t really get a good run in, I decided to run my way back home at my race pace. Stupid? Well…yes and no.

I am back and I should take it easy till September which is when I really train. HARD. September is going to be one hell of a month. I mean hell on earth because this one I am gunning for. I respect the distance too much and for the past two marathons that I have done, they were challenging and going into the race I didn’t train hard or take the race too seriously. I learned a whole lot about the race, but never took it as seriously in training as I did for the previous ones before that. I’m gunning for my goal this year, I knew that I would have a rough year and when you are running as many marathons as I am, you want to end on a good note. Especially when you know that you have some months to rest and some months to think about the next marathon.

Things will slow down for me and I won’t be doing as many marathons in the next few years as I am doing for the past two years. Who knows what number I will have this year, who knows how many I will do next year. But the time is now and in some ways I am close enough that I can taste it. I need to focus, respect the distance, respect the time and respect the pace. A marathon is something that you just don’t do to do. It’s something that you do for a keepsake and something you will cherish in your life. Something that is in yoru heart, your desire, and your hopes and dreams…my dream is not to go to the Olympics (I will never make it there), not to win a marathon (not realistic) but just smaller steps…a sub 3. 2:59:59 would do it for me…and why not, I’ll take a picture of that one.

8/24/08

Closing ceremonies: Olympics

"Get out there and do what you love!" KARA GOUCHER

UH! Finally the Olympics are O_V_A!

Geez, now I can finally get some sleep and serious focus in my work. The first week definitely killed my work schedule watching the amazing Michael Phelps and his 8 gold medals. Seriously, I don’t know how he went through customs and did not get stopped. I mean seriously, 8 gold medals…

OK…but finally the closing ceremonies were last night and it was a bit sad due to the fact that the torch was unlit and the games are done. What next? The US Open folks, that or finally football season. But this is suppose to be a running blog right? Okok…I’ll include a little running for you…

I did no running today due to the fact that I should take a rest, did NY Fly newsletter stuff, but that’s it. When is this going to be over? Oh did I say that out loud? What I really meant was…ok I can’t lie. This month is done, next please…get this over and done with…

Ok…on with Monday night…running tomorrow, back in action!

8/16/08

American Kastor drops out of marathon

"The reason I run is that it makes everything easy for me, especially on the court." Richard Hamilton, Detroit Pistons

I think I was at James's place this night....We ordered in to watch the women's marathon together at her place with some beer and turkish food...it was fun...relaxing and all...
I am pretty sure I met up with pean that night as well...as I was suppose to hang out with some college friends, although that was sidetracked...another story...
American Kastor drops out of marathon
By The Associated Press
Posted Saturday, August 16, 2008 8:21 PM ET

BEIJING (AP ) - American Deena Kastor pulled out of the women's marathon early in the race at the Beijing Olympics with a foot injury.
Kastor, the top U.S. runner in the field in Sunday's race, dropped to one knee and held her right foot at about the 5-kilometer (3.1-mile) mark. She got up and tried to walk it off but dropped back down again and was forced to give up.
"I felt a pop in my foot. I couldn't stand on it," Kastor said. "I didn't expect to be finishing the marathon on a bus."
She said the foot had been sore for the past week.
"I thought it was just tendons, they get hyper-sensitive leading up to marathon," she said. "I was icing it this week. It didn't affect how I was training."
Kastor, 35, moved from eighth to third in the closing stages of the marathon in Athens to win the United States' first Olympic marathon medal since 1984. She holds the American record of 2 hours, 19 minutes, 36 seconds set at the Flora London Marathon in 2006.
"We prepare forever for the marathon, and I had a sound race plan," she said. "I was excited to get out. I made my country proud and tried to win another medal. As athletes, we have ups and downs. Unfortunately, you can't pick the days they come on."
Another American, Magdalena Lewy-Boulet, also pulled out of the race.
"I hurt my knee a few days ago," she said. "I just can't bend it, and it got worse and worse."
Romania's Constantina Tomescu Dita, 38, won the marathon in 2:26.44 and became the oldest to ever win the event at the Olympics. She pulled away from the lead pack near the halfway mark to win by 22 seconds over her nearest challenger.
Reigning world champion Catherine Ndereba of Kenya outsprinted China's Zhou Chunxiu for the silver to the disappointment of the roaring crowd at National Stadium. Still, the bronze was China's first medal in track and field. Another Chinese runner, ZHU Xiaolin, was fourth.
























Running on Fumes in Beijing







By GINA KOLATA
Published: August 5, 2008


















It was a hot, humid, oppressive Thursday night, but my running group was ready to go. Jen Davis, one of the regulars, had mapped out a hilly eight-and-a-half-mile course in Princeton, N.J., and nine of us set out, trying to ignore the steamy weather.

I had a hard time. My legs felt heavy and I just could not get going. Along with five others in the group, I ended up cutting the run short, avoiding the last couple of miles. And that’s something I almost never do.
When I got home, I called my coach, Tom Fleming, to tell him what happened.
“I have just one word for you,” Tom said. “Beijing.”










Yes, I’m going. I’ll be part of the New York Times reporting team. And yes, I intend to run when I’m in China. I’ll even have a training schedule and will e-mail my results to Tom and talk to him via Skype.









One running partner, if our plans work out, will be Mary Wittenberg, president of New York Road Runners. She hopes to run for an hour at least every other day, if not more often.









“I’m going in there optimistic,” she said. “How bad can it be?”









Still, it gives me pause that the United States’ track and marathon athletes are not arriving in Beijing until the last minute. They’re training in Dalian, a comparatively pollution-free city north of Beijing, where they can get accustomed to the time zone and heat. They won’t even try to be out there breathing the Beijing air every day while sweating in the intense heat and humidity.
And it is hard to dismiss the cautionary tales. Tom Fleming, who won the New York Marathon in 1973 and 1975, is an experienced runner and coach. He was in Beijing twice, in 1991 and 1994, both times as coach for the United States women’s ekiden team. In ekiden, a relay race popular in Asia, runners cover various distances to equal a marathon distance of 26.2 miles.
The ekiden races were in March, so heat and humidity were not severe, Tom said, but the pollution had him worried. “What I noticed was that my white shirt was gray,” he said. “That’s when I said, ‘Holy crow.’ You know it can’t be good.









“Let me know if you see any Chinese people running,” he added. “I never saw anyone.”









That’s because ordinary Beijing residents almost never run on the streets where Tom was running.
Running, it turns out, is not a sport for most people in China. And when they do run, their style is, to Western eyes, a bit unusual. Joseph Kahn, a deputy foreign editor for The Times who just returned from five years as Beijing bureau chief, said athletics in China was mostly confined to sports academies that train young people to be Olympians. Otherwise, exercise takes place in the morning in parks, where people do yoga and tai chi and run backward, which they think helps with balance.









“Rarely do people run on the streets, but not never,” he said.









Some athletes who have competed in Beijing said they were defeated by the conditions there.
Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski, a mountain biker, entered a race in Beijing last September. He started coughing soon after the race began, and his coughing fits were so severe that he had to drop out halfway through. Almost everyone had trouble, he said, with only 8 of 50 cyclists finishing the race.









Still, you can avoid the worst of one pollutant, ozone, by running in the morning. Levels peak at midday. And there is some evidence that you can develop tolerance to ozone over a five-day period, said Kenneth W. Rundell, director of respiratory research and the human physiology laboratory at Marywood University in Scranton, Pa.









Added to the air pollution is the pollen. The Chinese government has warned that August is pollen season, and counts are expected to be high. I’m bringing over-the-counter pills containing the decongestant pseudoephedrine, a drug that is banned for Olympians under antidoping regulations but is legal for non-Olympians like me.









But Randall L. Wilber, a senior sports physiologist at the United States Olympic Training Center, told me that heat and humidity would take a bigger toll. “We’re actually focusing very, very heavily on heat and humidity as opposed to air pollution,” he said.









Endurance athletes who exercise in heat and humidity can become acclimated in about two weeks. The body adjusts by increasing the plasma volume, making it easier for the heart to pump blood to muscles and to the skin, for cooling. In addition, when you are acclimated, sweating starts sooner and the sweat is more profuse and more diluted.









But athletes — and others who try to exercise — will be affected by heat and humidity even if they are acclimated. And they may also feel the effects of pollution in Beijing, Dr. Wilber said.
He should know. He visited Beijing several times in preparation for the Olympics, and while there he did runs of 40 to 45 minutes.









“I’ve never been there when the air quality was good for more than 24 hours,” Dr. Wilber said. When he returned home, he coughed up phlegm, particularly after exercise. “It gradually worked its way out,” he said.









Dr. Wilber said he expects the air quality during the Olympics to be better than many anticipate. He is confident that the government’s pollution control measures will help.









I hope so. At least by running in the latest New Jersey heat wave, I should be as acclimated to heat and humidity as I can get. And when I run in Beijing, I’m going to try to abide by my coach’s advice. “The only advantage I had running in Beijing was that I did not try to maintain my same training schedule,” Tom told me.









If it is really hard to run or if it seems impossible to run as far as I’d planned, I hope I have the sense to cut a run short.

8/15/08

Week recap…The Olympics

"Running is 80 percent mental." JOAN BENOIT SAMUELSON
Watching the end of the first week now and it’s from Friday to Friday, where that is 7 days. 7 days of watching athletes, the best in the world compete against other athletes in the world vying for 3 medals and the claim to say that you are the best in the world.

These 7 days have been absolutely draining proportions. But what is this? I am not doing anything. I am only watching the athletes compete. Why am I getting so nervous? Why do I have such a high sense of pride for my nation? Why am I rooting for China a the same time? What is wrong with me?

Not training at all, where I have picked the best time to rest. But did I? Seriously?

All I am doing is torturing myself. Watching people run down Park Ave when Park Ave was closed for the summer streets. I was having a beer every night with dinner…

Stress! Relief! Wheew! DREAMS!! Ahh, such sportsmanship at these games…it’s incredible! Time, energy and training, you see it all when these athletes cry at the podiums with finally the medals around their necks as they sign in relief. They know how much time they had put in, such sacrifice. As the star spangled banner plays many times within the water cube for Michael Phelps, watching the gymnastics all around.

Chills go down your backs when you see this, but you know you can never do this for yourself, nor would you put your children through this? It takes a special path to go through this yourself or put your child through this long narrow path.

Frustrations & injury are just the beginnings of what these people go through, quick recoveries, loads of time and money. But in the end…a champion…well sometimes, but to many just making it to the Olympic stage is amazing. Just making it to nationals is amazing!

For me, I’m resting my feet. Cranking out my cranked Achilles tendonitis or tight calf. I can feel the tightness and a twinge as I walk down the stairs in the morning form my apartment. I can feel a knot sometimes as I massage the muscle. You may seem that I am self torturing myself, but I massage my calf with a golf ball. Yes folks, a gold ball right into the muscle where pain is not an option. Crazy?

8/8/08

The Olympics

"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go." T.S. ELIOT

888 triple eights, Triple happiness. Harmony, love, existence and longevity, words of Chinese culture and China.

So work has ended and it’s a Friday. Nothing happening on Flyerville where usually there is a happy hour, so I head over with some friends, PW and TD to go over a close friend from college KAG to watch the opening of the Olympics at her place in New Rochelle. We missed about half an hour from the beginning and caught the greatest parts of the opening ceremony. It was amazing! I am wondering what I have missed from the first 30 minutes, but I’ll watch that on re-runs. It was good thought being with a different crowd of people. Not that I don’t enjoy Flyerville, but my college friends hang out once in a while and we always seem to make the effort once in a while to get together when we are around. Life is busy and Flyerville takes most of my time and when I do have time, I usually go to Flyerville’s events.

But back to the Olympics, it’s the starting day of 2008 the 29th Olympiad where the opening ceremony was what the whole Chinese culture was all about. Amazing, I want to go back. But after all the parade of countries came out, we finally made our way out the door and it was good seeing her family and friends that was also there. KAG was injured when she tried to jog again and she had wanted to run with me in one of the races. KAG was a college mate who walked in track for New Rochelle, she was one of the first people I had met in college and I still to this day remember the night when our orientation, where BZ and KAG were at the approach (a stairway that led up from Troy to RPI) where we were admiring the night. We spoke about our high school days as we were entering our college years. KAG did track in high school and she probably were in the same meets as I was. We still are great friends, worked together in the same firm as well along with TD. We left without seeing the torch ceremony coming into the stadium, but it was a good trip to her apartment to see everyone and know that she was ok from her spinal nerve injury. .

8/7/08

Summer Social

"We go from whining infant to waddling toddler to gold-medal sprinter partly by nature, but mostly by will and determination and intelligence." ALAN STEINBERG

DING! The elevator doors open up as you can hear the conversations that are arising from many Flyers that attend the summer socials. This one is different from the usual happy hour summer Fridays, where most of the elder flyers attend. Elder flyers that usually don’t go out to the summer happy hours those are in attendance at this one. I sneak outside and grab food along the way. I socialize with two new flyers as more flyers join me and congratulate my newest marathon finish. I thank them and push it off like it was nothing, because I am not too proud of the outcome, but proud of the fact that I just finished the race. I was sick, injured a little and the course was hilly. I really had not done a 20 to prepare from my Colorado marathon and really pushed this race in just getting it done. It was more of an adventure than a marathon, so I appreciated the congratulations of finishing, but I didn’t put the time and effort of pushing myself to the limits.

The night was good, you can see the sun setting and the clouds forming while the lightning loomed from the west side. It was quite beautiful and pictures were zapping all around from BC who is the “official” photographer of the Flyers. I usually hold back and let him take all the pictures of the socials so I can have a good time. He and I usually take our rounds in positioning ourselves at different places whenever there was a race. But the party was hopping and I was still sick and should have gone home a long time ago. I stayed almost till the end and shared a cab with JS as the rain just started pouring down.

8/6/08

Hip Flexors down…

"Self-trust is the essence of heroism." RALPH WALDO EMERSON

Last night, I wake up convulsing from my terrible cold and cough. I convulse so hard that my stomach hurts and my body is forced to turn to a baby curl. Well yes, the convulsing caused my hips (which were sore from the marathon) to being not ready for the sudden convulsion and Cough Cough! Oh dear…POP! Ouch! Oh no, something doesn’t feel right now. My hip flexors are out of wack and now my left hip flexor is sore. How did this happen? Seriously, I wake up and my left leg I can not have any effort into lifting my leg. I can’t even lift my left to put on my pants for work. I need two hands to lift my leg into my pants. Oh man! I’m so falling apart! I go around the whole day just looking a little wobbly and exhausted. Oh this is going to be quite the long day…

Only me where I can get through a marathon, but after that when I am resting, everything falls apart, why? I tend to be the opposite where people injure themselves when they are training, I injure myself when I am resting…is there something wrong with that? Umm…yeah, I think so! I hope I don’t injure myself tonight, but with me anything can happen!


Former 'Lost Boy' Lomong chosen to carry U.S. flag
Associated Press


DALIAN, China -- Eight years ago, Lopez Lomong didn't even have a country. Now he'll be carrying the flag for his adopted nation, leading the U.S. Olympic team at opening ceremonies Friday night.


Lomong, one of the Lost Boys of Sudan, won a vote of team captains Wednesday to earn the honor of leading America's contingent into the 90,000-seat Bird's Nest Stadium.


The 1,500-meter track runner will be the flagbearer only 13 months after becoming a U.S. citizen.


'I came all the way here,so I have to run'


ESPN The Magazine's Tom Farrey profiled Lopez Lomong's remarkable story of survival during the U.S. Track and Field Olympic trials. Story "It's more than a dream," Lomong said in an interview with The Associated Press moments after he got the news. "I keep saying, I'm not sure if this is true or not true. I'm making the team and now I'm the first guy coming to the stadium and the whole world will be watching me carry the flag. There are no words to describe it."


He was born in Sudan, separated from his parents at the point of a gun at age 6, and with the help of friends, he escaped confinement and made it to a refugee camp in Kenya. In 2001, he was brought to America as part of a program to relocate lost children from war-torn Sudan.


Earlier this week, Lomong, 23, said he was mounting a campaign to be nominated by the track and field team for the flagbearer's position. He said the honor would be memorable, but he also was thrilled to be part of the democratic process that might get him there.


"In America, everyone has a chance to do all these things," Lomong said. "You follow the rules, people will choose, and if I'm blessed to get that opportunity, I'll get it."


In 2004, Dawn Staley did the flagbearer's honors. In 2000, they went to kayaker Cliff Meidl, who survived a 30,000-volt jolt of electricity in a construction accident and became an Olympian.


Lomong's story is every bit as inspiring.


Lopez Lomong came to America in 2001 as one of the Lost Boys of Sudan. Seven years later, he'll carry the Stars and Stripes into the Olympics opening ceremony.He knew nothing of the Olympics in 2000, when his friends at the refugee camp in Kenya talked him into running five miles and paying five shillings to watch Michael Johnson on a black-and-white TV set with a fuzzy screen.


At that point, Lomong knew he wanted to be an Olympic runner. He earned his spot at the Olympic trials on July 6, exactly one year after he gained his U.S. citizenship.


All three Americans in the 1,500 are naturalized citizens -- Lomong, Bernard Lagat (Kenya) and Leo Manzano (Mexico).


"I feel great," Lomong said Wednesday night. "I feel happy, honored. I'm feeling so blessed to get an opportunity to present the United States of America, to present the United States flag in front of my team."

8/4/08

The San Francisco Marathon

"If you can't excel with talent, triumph with effort." DAVE WEINBAUM

Waking up at 3:30 am was probably the earliest marathon that I have woken up for, besides maybe Boston or New York, although the San Francisco Marathon does take the cake in the earliest start. 5:30 am was when the race had started and NH had graciously volunteered to take me by car to the start. I got all my things together as we left his place at 4:10 and got to the starting line at 4:30. There I sat around a little, ate my banana and sour dough bread, which could have been a bad idea, but wasn’t and went potty. I then saw Lam, who also was there from NY and had done this race before. We chatted and put our bags into the baggage claim, then awaited outside of the choral for people to start going in. While we packed up, the announcer was releasing the first wave…I was intrigued that there was no national anthem though. I also saw NC, who was from the area aand was also running in this race. I can clearly say that I had followed her racing schedule this year from 3 of the races that we have done together: Austin, Boston and now San Francisco. I said a quick hello and then we started the race, so not much to caht with her. The race started in the dark and I was a bit intrigued. The Bay Bridge was beautiful at night with it’s lights and we passed all the piers and the wharf as we headed toward the Golden Gate Bridge. I thought it was crazy that the 3:10 group started out so fast, they were booking and I bet the group really struggled. You really can not depend on a pace group during a marathon because you are depending on people and this is your moment. Your resting all of your training on one person, which is very tough. Running in an individual sport and you should go your own pace and also leave plenty of time if you want to go for a specific time. You need that buffer zone where you can slow down or pick up the pace at certain times. You have to factor in hills, down hills and how you are feeling accordingly to the day. Anyways, we made our way up toward the Golden Gate Bridge and it was killer! The hills were steep and going up towards the bridge was just a relief to make it up. The ascent was killer because in it was so early in the race at about 5-6 miles in and the bridge was no easy task either since the wind on one side was pushing you sideways. I tried to keep focused by not worrying about the time and pace, but just having fun with taking pictures! I mean when will you ever say that you get to run across the Golden Gate Bridge?

One runner saw that I was holding up a camera and taking a picture of myself, he laughs and I explain to him that I take pictures with all of the marathons that I run. I mean I feel it is important. To some people it’s about time, pace, the moment, reaching your PR, the feel of the whole moment coming down to one race. It’s great, don’t get me wrong, but to me there is a different side to a marathon that I find the reason to run it. I find that you have to have a reason to run a marathon, or else your just plain crazy. Either it’s to do just to do or complete the race or to PR for the race, you do it because you really have a goal in mind…anyways, that’s my opinion and you may have your own.

Ok…so going over the Golden Gate Bridge was quite the amazing feat and allowing yourself to take everything in. The other side showcased an even amazing spectacle of allowing the runner to make a circle to come back on the Golden Gate Bridge again…but first you get to see all the runners on the Golden Gate bridge from slightly above and then you get a beautiful view of San Francisco. Then back toward the Golden Gate Bridge, I slightly spotted NC as she was with one of the pace groups. I am always truly amazed by this gal, who runs 20’s for fun and was in awe when she ran a 3:10 in Austin. But yes, as I made it back and moving across, I can slowly see that the 3:10 pace was pretty spread out already. You can see the other people who are just making it across the bridge at this point and sort of feel sorry for them. You can see the clogging of how these pace groups clog up the race as they bundle up the lane. I am glad that I don’t have to run with those people, but then again you have to do what you have to do for your own self when you want to run a certain time. Running alone is a tough task to do, although you slowly get use to it when you do it often. Group running is purely a luxury, but running alone takes somewhat determination and a head strong capabilities.

I see people stopping to take pictures to people with video cameras. I mean who are these people? Seriously? Taking pictures, video? Oh yes, I forgot I was one of these people as well. So after the golden gate bridge which was at about 8-9 miles, you proceed to other hills both up and down hill, at mile 10 I had forgotten that I was even running and was like, “oh! we’re at mile 10 right now? Splendid!” But yes, it was up and down, up and down, I was done with the hills. We ended up somehow in the park and that was where they half ended and the other half began. The marathoners were cheered on by the second half people as we passed them by and in the marathoner’s mind, we all say to ourselves, “why did we choose to do the full, rather than the half?” Then as we head towards the finish line of the half, we are only to go up a hill and split to add on another few miles, by that time it is 14-16 miles into the race. I grow hungry now, not taking any GU at miles 10 or 13, which I always plan on doing and then 5 miles from there on in. It’s mile 15 or so and the hunger sets in. I quickly decide to take a Stinger Bee Honey pack, that I had gotten from my Colorado Marathon, very interesting, sweet, but good if you are not the GU or GEL type of person. At this point, I only try to amuze myself through the marathon, I see a camera person taking photos, I quickly turn on my camera and take a photo as they are taking a photo of me. Funny huh?

As we decend from our turn away point from the half marathoners, I quickly glance over to see what times they have, 2:10 and counting…boy at this point of time I wish I can do the half marathon…why do I have to go on with this quest to doing 50 marathons in 50 states? WHY AM I SO STUBBORN or crazy? So I pass the finish line for the half, which the marathoners have to go next to and you see all these people finish on the side of you as you keep on going because your at mile 17 and their at mile 13.1 and done…ARG! Anyways, so we are in the park now, pass the DeYoung museum, which NH and I were just at the other day, and keep on going…until mile 19 or so where we exit, then go back in and then exit again. MILE 20! Wahooo! I was suppose to meet my friend, NH and his boyfriend at mile 20…ok…now I put my efforts into finding him. I am behind my time in which I told him that I would be at mile 20 since my half time was really slow…1:36? Seriously, it was difficult!

We now enter Haight which is a pretty beat up area of punkish looking biker barish looking bars. I get this feeling because there are all these bikers that are telling the runners where to go, which is pretty cool that they had volunteered for this. Ok, mile 20 and in my mind always at mile 20 is either Deena Kastor or Paula Radcliffe saying that at Mile 20, this is where the real race begins. I really have nothing left and my legs and body are separate from my mind. I think I have learned that if you do this, you’ll have an easier time during a marathon. You don’t feel the pain as much and maybe I am the only one that does this or knows how to do this, I’m sure the pro’s do this all the time though. It’s the simple separation of allowing your body to move on, feeling just only how the body just moves, but not feeling too much of an effort to push. Weird concept, but really, it works.

I finally see them on the right, my friends as I turn off and tell them before hand to get together, I was going to take a picture of them and me and it’s just how I do things. I quickly turn on my camera and snap…done! I check it so it will come out. I have learned this from Chicago when I first started doing this with my friends, where Kimmy and I was suppose to take a picture and I was pissed afterwards because I thought I had the picture taken…arg! Also happened in NYC marathon with my friends KA and BG, but it was all good. The rest of the way, yup twists and turns, up and down and hills all around. I chatted with one of the guys that asked me if I was from NY, since I had a NY Flyers singlet on. We chatted for a second about the NYC marathon and I told him that this course was HILLY! He was from the marathon maniacs as well and he told me a few pointers ahead where hills were. Steep down hills were a problem as some of those hills my knee started to ache. It was bad, but in the end, I passed the guy in the last few miles and took it easy to live another day. It was ok of a marathon, where I put effort into the hills, but knew that I came out in a moderate time. I thought it was going to be worse than it was, but the time was around the range that I wanted to run. Plus, I’m sick with a bad cough (which I had cough drops that I stuck under my tongue to have a consistent flow of syrupy sweetness) and my coughs cuased me to convulse. BAD! I need to take care of myself a little more…why was I running in the marathon? Oh yeah, I’ve been nursing an injury as well from that tight calve on my lower left leg for about a year. Opps! Ok, marathon done, now I’m off for a month. Wheew…time to go back to NYC.

8/1/08

COLD!

"Running improves my relationships with my family, my friends - everyone around me." TONY SANDOVAL

Holly Cow its cold in San Francisco! My gosh, I woke up at 5am in the morning, where my body is still acclimated to NYC time and weather where it was 8am there and work habits tends me to wake up early on the weekends. For going to bed so late such as 3am NYC time, 12pm San Fran time that I had arrived into my friend’s (NH) apartment last night and that was late for going to bed. But I went back to sleep after my 5am wake up and finally got up at 8am San Francisco time. My friend and his boyfriend had already left for work already and I was left to myself to find my way around. He had given me his key and his metro card which he had another that worked with the transit systems. So I washed up and tried out the transit systems, which I pretty much failed the first time around. I was waiting for the “tram” but a but that was hooked up to the electric cables came along and I had thought that my friend meant that, but it was suppose to turn! So I got off the bus and walked back to where I had began. For some reason of the other, I saw another bus and flag that down and I went in…not even thinking and did the same scenario again! (since I flagged it down, I figured that I should go onto the bus…so this time around I was smarter, I went straight to the tram station and waited. Not getting it wrong the third time around, so I finally got onto the tram and arrived to the station 20 minutes later to where JM was going to meet me. We arrived at the same time so it was pretty perfect. We walked in the direction to where JM’s parents were staying at and they met us half way. I have to say, last night meeting JM’s brother and seeing the similarities from the whole sibling connections was astonishing. It was rather cool I think and reminded me of my sister and I, I guess. But last night JM’s bro (J) and his girlfriend came to pick us up from the airport and drove me to my friends place. It was very nice. So, meeting the parents to JM was very interesting, but I went along with it because it’s parents. We went to Berkley where JM went to school and she showed me around, with her parents of course and J’s girlfriend, Jac. Jac was running the marathon as well and it was her first marathon. But Berkley was a beautiful campus as I could only imagine just being on that campus for school. I can’t even fathom the thousands of students during the school year…We went o the gift shop, saw people in trees, then had lunch and then had free time. During the free time I quickly went back to the bookstore to get the shirt that JM had passed on at the line…It was a dri-fit Cal shirt and JM’s birthday had passed and I couldn’t resist to get her something, since she came up with the gift that J, JM and Davey boy got me…one of a kind. I could only return the favor. We returned from Berkley to San Fran…and I had said my good bye’s to JM and her family. I needed to go out and see the city, then meet up for dinner with my reunion of China friends from my study abroad trip. My teammate, BC, that had went to Tongji University was living in San Fran and so was JB, who I became very good friends with, who was a year above us in college was also living there. I have not seen both of them for 5 or 6 years and it would have been good to see them.

So I explored San Fran, first walking through the Ferry Terminal, then the Bay Bridge, then walked over to Chinatown and saw the many hills that San Fran had to offer, the trollies were fun to watch. It was early, so I met up with NH, who had gotten off work and we met up for drinks before dinner. We chatted and caught up, saw how things were. It had been about a year since I had last saw him, so nothing much has changed since. We then went to dinner and called it a night. Dinner was amazing since it’s always fun seeing people that you have not seeing in a whole while. It was good to catch up with BC and JB and good to see them as well.

The Olympics…

"The impossible is often the untried." JIM GOODWIN

Non: Edited:
As all of us will soon turn on our television units to watch the ever enduring events of the Olympics, the most amazing athletes on this planet will rise to their best performances and will compete to prove that they are the best in the world. Three weeks of different events from archery to water polo, the most interesting to us?

Track and field of course! 47 different events ranging from the 100 meter dash on the track to the shot put in the field events to the marathon in the streets of Beijing. The Olympics offer every bit of amusement to all of us. In August, 47 different events in track and field alone, all of which will be contested over a span of 10 consecutive days.

From personal experience, I truly enjoyed the 100 meter dash due to my history of sprinting when I was in high school. At the same time when I was a sprinter, I could never understand how people would watch the 1,500 or 3,000 or even the 10,000. All I could think about was, these poor runners just running around in circles around the track…really how boring! Now that I have turned a new leaf to longer distances, I truly enjoy the longer running events to an obsessed level of knowing the names of all the top United States competitors and their times, personal records, hometowns and age. No, I’m not that obsessed, just super excited.

You wonder how these super athletes make it to this level. Was it that they were born with these super human powers like superman or the Flash? Or did they have absolutely strict parents which made them run around the track day and night in circles till their feet bled.

I think these athletes just enjoyed running like you and I and that was their motivation of making it to the Olympic level. In some ways the genetics of a person in how they were born into the sport plays a deep role into how they enhance toward that specific event. In many ways it’s the training, the hard work and determination. Olympic athletes have a bit of each of these categories to make it to this level. A combination of hard work, spirit, motivation and body genetics, these Olympians are far better than we will ever get within our lifetime. They are true athletes 24/7 and that is their job.

That’s what makes the difference between us and them…I mean seriously, we can all make the Olympics. Ok, I only joking. It takes tremendous talent to make it to this level and clearly defines the gap between amateur and professional. But give us all credit for training hard, having our own goals that we want to break ourselves. May the Olympian’s bring home the Gold, while we try to break our own PR’s…there is no difference there. The glory is the same…

Edited:
As most of us will soon tune in our television sets to watch the opening ceremony of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games, the most amazing athletes on this planet will rise to their best performances and compete to prove that they are the best in the world. Three weeks of different events ranging from Archery to Wrestling. But what is the most interesting to us?

Track & Field of course! With 47 different events, including the 100 Meter Dash on the track, the Shot Put in the field, and the Marathon through the streets of Beijing, the Olympics offer something for everyone. Last month we clung to our seats, cheering for our heroes who participated in the U.S. Olympic Team Trials on the hallowed Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon (AKA “Track Town, USA”). And this month they will be competing over a span of 10 consecutive days, halfway across the world, with all eyes on Gold.

I have always enjoyed watching the 100 Meter Dash due to my history of sprinting in high school. But when I was a sprinter, I could never understand how people could watch the 1500 or 3000 Meter Run events, and especially the 10,000 Meter Run. All I could think about was these poor runners, running in circles and circles around the track…how boring! Now that I have turned a new leaf to longer distances, I truly enjoy the longer running events, almost to an obsessed level—knowing not only the names and times of all the top U.S. competitors, but their Personal Records, hometowns, ages, shoe sizes, Social Security numbers...no, I’m not that obsessed, just super excited.

One wonders how these superior athletes make it to this level. Were they born with super-human powers, like Superman or the Flash? Or did they have incredibly strict parents who made them run around the track day and night until their feet bled?

I think these athletes just love running, like you and me, and that was their motivation to make it to the Olympic level. The genetics of how a person is ‘born into the sport’ play an important role in how they excel in a specific event. But, much more than that, it’s the hard work training, persistence, spirit, motivation and determination that make an Olympic athlete. I can only aspire to their talent within my lifetime.

True, it takes tremendous talent to make it to this level, clearly defining the gap between professional and amateur athletes. But give us all credit for training hard to meet and exceed our own goals. May our Olympians bring home the Gold while we strive to break our own PRs. There is no difference at the end of the day. Our glory is the same.