A Retirement from Running

Lately, running has not been fun for me.

It has gone from this:

My 1st ever marathon-Surf City 2009

My 1st ever marathon-Surf City 2009

To this:

A very bad race: LA Mizathon 2011

A very bad race: LA Mizathon 2011

I dreaded nearly each and every run of my training for the Run Through Redlands Half-Marathon. Even the short, three mile runs. It took enormous amounts of self-pep talks and listening to Pitbull, to get my Asics to hit the pavement. I would have to argue with myself to get off the couch each Saturday morning. Sometimes, the lazier part of me would win and I would push my run back till Sunday. Sometimes, the quitter part of me would win and I would skip my training run all together. I did not feel any relief until I took that first step and heard the starting “beep” on my Garmin, which means I actually talked myself off my couch and into the streets.

The more I think about it, the harder it is for me to see running in my present. Running was something that was very enjoyable and alive in my past and I keep trying to recreate that in my present reality, but it’s not working. Every time I talk about races that I have run or past PRs, I feel as pathetic as Uncle Rico. I have to stop living in ’82 and admit that I may be past my running prime.

My body has felt the effects of running for some time. I struggle with knee, ankle, foot and sometimes back pain. Adding on miles and trying to increase my speed exacerbates my injuries. Running while injured is not fun. My chiropractor is constantly giving me a lecture about how running on concrete is bad for the curvature in my spine, which probably leads to the pain I feel in my knees, ankles, etc.

More than anything, my head and my heart are not in running, they way they used to be. I never had the natural, physical ability to be a great runner, but I always had the strong mind and spirit that pushed me towards the finish line. I have felt that dwindling more and more, and that has shown me that I am burned out and need to stop.

This is why I have decided to retire from racing. It’s probably more of a Jay-Z type of a retirement, but, I still know I need a break and just uttering those words provides a huge sense of relief. I want running to be fun again, so if I feel so inclined to run a few miles here or there, I will. But, I want to avoid the pressure I feel when training and the dread that comes up when I think of racing. I think I will be taking a break from racing for a looooong time and am OK with maybe even indefinitely.

I plan to focus my efforts now more on yoga and hiking. Yoga makes my body feel good, as well as my mind and heart. This is more to where I feel drawn to at the moment, and I feel energized and motivated to do yoga, not dread and depletion.

Unless something changes, (which knowing myself, it very well could) I am saying peace out to racing! I have done 9 marathons and 11 half-marathon, plus thousands of miles in training. I already proved Ladies is pimps too, so I’m just going to brush this dirt of my shoulders and move on with an Empire state of mind.

Run Through Redlands Half-Marathon 2014

Yesterday, I ran my 11th half-marathon, The Run Through Redlands half. This is my 6th year in a row doing this race. You can read about past experiences here and here.

I absolutely love this race. It is local and I know the course well. Besides having run the race itself five times previous, I frequently do my training runs around the course, so I know the terrain, the elevation and what to expect. The one thing I have always despised about this race is the start time. I have always felt like it was waaaay too late (typically, 7:30, but this year they moved it up by a whopping 10 minutes) and the heat typically zaps me and leaves me nauseous by the end of the race.

However, the weather could have not been more perfect! It rained the day before and the clouds hung around throughout nearly the whole race.

I knew it was a good sign when the sun was not beating down on me already, at the start. On the right is a picture from last year before the race, and the left is from this year. You can see how the cloudiness cooled the morning down.

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I arrived early enough to do some stretching, find a good spot at the start, kiss my family good-bye and soon enough, head off.

14018249906_fb21549eee_o Even though I have done this so many times before, I was nervous! I knew I would finish the race, but I cannot say that my whole mind and body was in it. I was worried about how difficult the next 13 miles would be.

This course is definitely challenging. There are tons of hills to contend with, but knowing where to expect them helps. The elevation chart is below. My plan was to start and end fast and take it slower in the middle, when the hills made their appearance.

rtr elevationI probably started off a little too fast and was experience side stitches around mile 3. At mile 4, I stopped and did some quick stretching. This really seemed to help and I scaled my pace back a little, and did not experience the pain again.

Around mile 5, the first big hill was conquered and my hips were wondering why I was doing this to them. I continued to struggle with tight hips and hamstrings through the remainder of the race. This was not something that I was expecting, and it begin to slow me down.

With the hip and hamstring pain, I really scaled back on the hills and did not push myself up them too hard. I did not want to push myself to the point where I was miserable or not enjoying it.

I made the decision a few days before that this would probably be my last race, at least for awhile. I know this is very dramatic and Jay-Z of me, but I think I have officially burned myself out of running. I have an overly dramatic post about it all planned later this week, so stick around.

I was thinking about how this may be the last time I ran this race and felt a little emotional at certain points. I also saw some of my fellow runners wearing shirts from past races I completed, and I begin to reflect on my running experiences.

I saw one from The OC Marathon, 2010, in which I ran my best marathon time ever! I also had one of the hardest races, that time around, resulting in me throwing my water bottle at mile 17, like an insolent infant and spewing a string of profanity, that was equal parts innovative and hateful, that I am equally proud and ashamed of it.

I saw many from Surf City Marathon, which was my first ever marathon in 2009, and will always have a special place in my heart for showing me what I was made of, and making myself proud.

I saw quite a few from past Run Through Redlands’ races, and I reflected on the various ups and downs I have had in the past years in my personal life, and how those ups and downs were reflected in my performance on the course.

Still, I felt my heart and soul not completely in this race like it normally was, and felt certain that it was time for retirement.

As I started to get to the downhill portions, I tried to increase my speed. As the miles begin to build, my pace slowed more and more and the pain in my hips and hamstrings increased.

I stopped around mile 10 to stretch, which helped a little, but my pace continued to slow. I tried not to let this bother me too much, and tried to make peace with not pushing myself too hard. I did not want to finish this race miserable, as I have so many other races where I have put too much pressure on myself.

Around mile 12, the sun was barely peeking through the clouds. I felt incredibly grateful that the weather cooperated, especially knowing that the temperatures will climb to the 90s, later this week.

I also felt a little bit of stomach cramping, but was thankful that I was almost finished!

As I rounded the corner towards the finish line, I heard my mom’s ever present cheering and saw my family, and a few friends. I felt so fortunate to have their support and I was ready to cross the finish line!

14038170542_e25554bb08_oI crossed at 2:13. Not a great time, but nothing I will beat myself up over.

I was glad I did not feel the heat exhaustion I have felt in years passed. I immediately started chugging coconut water and fresh juice made with pears, turmeric, fennel and golden beets. I am hoping the turmeric would help combat any potential inflammation.

14038191951_02b054f040_oAs per tradition, we went to eat at my favorite, local Mexican restaurant, Oscar’s. Once we got there, I felt a little…off. I was begin to feel dizzy and nauseous, something I hoped the hydration right after the race would have prevented. I had a hard time even looking at the menu, but less thinking about what food to order.

I defaulted to my Mexican roots, and ordered a Sprite, which we pretty believe cures everything. Turns out, it does. Within about ten minutes, I felt normal again and could finally start eating chips and salsa.

I ordered chilaquiles (just asked for no cheese, and add veggies), with a side order of beans and a melon margarita.

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My husband ordered the tofu platter. It comes with grilled tofu, veggies, beans, rice and hand made tortillas. It is delicious and filling.

14041490385_4fa11705c2_oOnce I was fed, I was ready for a shower and nap!

Overall, I feel the race was a success. It definitely was not my best, but I am obviously not at my best in running, anymore. If this does in fact, turn out to be my last race, I am glad it was Run Through Redlands. This has always been a favorite of mine and one I may return to run, just maybe in the 5K.

 

 

 

 

 

Half-Marathon Playlist (part II)

So,..I totally thought this playlist would last me through the training and race day for my upcoming half-marathon. Turns out, I am already sick of it!

I have been lacking motivation in the running department (which is oh so convenient, with an upcoming race) and in desperate need of inspiration. Thus, came forth this new playlist, which I do hope, in fact, lasts me through the race itself.

This list features 35 songs and is 2 hours and 23 minutes long. This should cover me for the time I plan on finishing the race, but with my current attitude towards running, who knows.

Bidi Bidi Bom Bom-Selena (because I will definitely need some of this to get me through my run:)

Boom Boom-Kumbia Kings

Candy Rain-Soul for Real

Caught Up-Usher

The Cup of Life-Ricky Martin (If she can’t get me motivated, then no one can!)

Dance, Dance- Fall Out Boy

Dangerous-Michael Jackson

El Chico del Apartamento 512-Selena

Girls & Boys-Blur

Gold Digger-Glee Cast (one, of the many songs, I don’t care for the original, but love it when sung by the Glee Cast)

Got to Give it Up-Marvin Gaye

Hit Em Up-2 Pac & Outlaws (totally not a nice song. I have no idea why I used to love it so much.)

I’m A Machine-David Guetta

Kiss-Prince

A Little Party Never Killed Nobody-Fergie from The Great Gatsby soundtrack

Love is My Religion-Ziggy Marley

Mo Money, Mo Problems-Biggie, Puff Daddy (when he was still Puff Daddy) & Mase

Ojos Asi-Shakira

P.I.M.P-Snoop Dogg & 50 Cent

Party Rock Anthem-LMFAO

Regulate-Warren G

Royals-Lorde

Same Song-Digital Underground

Scream-Usher

Shake Senora-Pitbull & T-Pain (when I don’t want to run, I just need to think, what would Pitbull do?)

Somebody That I Used to Know-Glee Cast

Starlight-Muse

Sugar, We’re Going Down-Fall Out Boy

Take It Off-The Donnas

Talk Dirty-Jason Derulo

Tootsie Roll-69 Boyz

Venus-Lady Gaga

We Are Here to Change the World-Michael Jackson

What’s Up-4 Non Blondes

Wild and Free-Ziggy Marley & Woody Harrelson

My half-marathon is less than a week away. With the temperature warming up in Southern California, I am less than excited for what will surely be a hot race.

Any words of encouragement are appreciated! 

 

Half-Marathon Training Plan: Run Through Redlands 2014

After going deliberating back and forth, I decided I will, once again, run the Run Through Redlands Half-Marathon, for the sixth year, in a row.

I almost decided not to do it, because of the race start time. In years past, the race has started at 7:30. At the end of April, in Southern California, the sun is already shinning bright and by the end of the race, it is blaring down on you. I have always finished the race feeling like this:

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Nauseous, at the end of the 2013 race

I voiced my concerns, on the race’s Facebook page, along with many other participants. When race registration opened up for the year, I was disappointed to see that the race time was a mere 10 minutes earlier. I would be happy to start at 6:00 AM to beat the heat. I really went back and forth about whether or not to sign up this year, but sided with tradition and supporting my local community, and thus, will be running one of my favorite courses, once again.

You can read my re-cap of last year’s race by clicking here, or a quick snap shot of years previous by clicking here.

I was eager to rush back into running this year. I looked for races to sign up for in January and February, but am glad that I waited. I have taken the time to slowly build my endurance and miles up, and bring strength training back into my life, despite my on-going HATE for it (you can read all about that by clicking here).

My sisters have helped keep me accountable (they have been kicking butt at the gym, lately) and I have been trying to make my way through Jillian Michael’s Ripped in 30. I am slowly making my way through her workouts, and hating them a little less each time (although still NOT loving it the way I do yoga or running).

Jillian Ripped My training plan for this race is to run at least twice during the week (one 4-5 mile run at race pace and one 3 mile speed run), and one long run on the weekends.

I have slowly been increasing my miles already, so the remainder of my long runs, will look like this:

  • 2/22- 8 miles
  • 3/1-9 miles
  • 3/15-10 miles
  • 3/22-6 miles
  • 3/29-10 miles
  • 4/5-13 miles
  • 4/12-10 miles
  • 4/19-6 miles
  • 4/27-RACE DAY

I am really hoping to shave some time off of last year’s race of 2:12. I doubt I will beat my personal record of 1:57 from 2010 (I always feel like Uncle Rico when I talk about that race), but it would be nice if I did!

I am excited to have a running goal to focus on again. This always helps keep me more accountable and focused.

Are you training for any races?

Run Through Redlands 2013

I woke up at my usual 4:30 AM time and started off with chocolate chai with coconut milk, as I let myself slowly wake up and read.

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I also did a few yoga moves to start stretching and waking my muscles up.

Breakfast was Panda puffs with 1/2 banana, sliced strawberries, flax seed meal and coconut milk.

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The sun started coming up with a vengeance and I knew it was going to be a hot day. As I was stretching around 6, I thought to myself that it would be nice to be starting at that time, instead.

The start time was not until 7:30 AM. We arrived around 7:10. I found some familiar faces and made my way to the start. One of the reasons I love this race so much is because it is local and I see so many of my running buddies.

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The course starts off relatively flat with slight inclines. I felt strong from the start and my plan was to be speedy the first half and scale back if I needed to, when the heat kicked in. I also knew the hills would be coming soon, so any speed I could gain on flatter portions would be beneficial.

This is the elevation chart of the course. I was averaging a 9:15-9:30 pace the first few miles.

Finally, I met the hills, there was a point where I felt they kept coming and coming and coming:

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I was glad that I am so familiar with this course. Volunteers, may the universe send love, light and happiness their way, but they regularly say “this is the last hill,” when in fact, there is still more. It has killed my running spirit before when I think the hills are over and I see there is another one.

Finally, I got to the “top” of the course. The views at this point are pretty amazing.

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I still felt great at this point. I was blowing through the miles, maintaining about a 10:30 mile while going uphill and still dancing to my play-list. I knew it was a good sign when at mile 9, I was dancing to Destiny’s Child. In my head I looked like this:

…but I am sure I looked more like one of these guys:

running

Around mile 9.5 the course starts going downhill. I gained speed at this point and continued to feel strong although the heat was creeping in.

Miles 12-13 were a straightaway to the finish line. The street is relatively unshaded. This was the only time I struggled. This mile felt like it went on and on. The heat was getting to me at this point and my legs started to feel tired.

I could see the finish line in sight and Europe’s “Final Countdown” was playing on my ipod. I sort of felt like this:

As I came in the finish line, I could see and hear my mom. She always comes out to support me at this race and makes me a home made sign.

I crossed at 2:12:57. My Garmin clocked my overall average pace at 10:01.

I put my medal on and started making my way to the finisher’s area. I found my buddy L.B., and I think babbled incoherently for a minute, I started to feel…off.

I chugged some water and found my family. Pretty soon, I felt a wave of nausea hit me and I had to sit down, immediately. It took all I had in me to not completely lose all the contents of my stomach. I stayed like this for about ten minutes.

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Once I started putting water on my face and neck, I started to feel better. After about ten more minutes, the world stopped spinning and my stomach settled down. I was able to get up, take a few pictures and walk to the car. Home made sign from my mom 🙂

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I knew I was feeling better when I suddenly felt ravenous! We went to Eureka Burger. I ordered the Loma Linda veggie burger (made out of beets!) and my favorite beer on tap.8669269241_afc8081174_o 8670370928_a798d28db2_o

Overall, I was proud of my performance. I have been strength training consistently the past 3 weeks, and my legs felt strong on the course. I did not feel any of my injuries flaring up, my foot, ankles and knees all cooperated.

I finally feel like I am recovering and making a running come back! It has been 1 1/2 years since I ran a marathon and I am starting to feel the itch again. It has been a long road recovering from injuries, and I am sure there will be more bumps a long the way, but I finally feel like a runner again!

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Preparing for A Run Through Redlands

On Sunday I will be running my 10th half marathon, A Run Through Redlands. This will be my 5th time running this race. It is local and I feel dedicated to continue my annual tradition in a city that I love.

I am plenty familiar with the course. Besides running it officially 4 times already, I have done many, many training runs around Redlands. This course is known for it’s wonderful hills and elevation gain. This adds to the excitement and challenge.

I am not expecting to set any personal records this race. I was hoping to, but going to Shanghai set me back a ways. I came back with a strong, mysterious sickness, that put me out of commission for 2 weeks. I was not able to run or work out. The good thing is my legs got plenty rest and my runs have been strong for the past 2 weeks. But, I am still not on pace to beat my personal record. There is still a part of me that always hopes for some miracle to happen on race day, but from all my race experience I know I always run the race I trained for. My race pace stays consistently similar to my training pace.

Here’s a quick recap of the past 4 years:

09 2009. The first year I ran this race was actually my first half-marathon ever. Ironically enough, it came 2 months after I ran my first full marathon, I did it a little backwards. I ran this race for fun with some members of my running group. We stopped and took plenty of pictures along the way and chatted around the course. My finishing time was 2:12 with an overall average pace of 10:08.

10 2010. I ran the course this year in 1:57 with a 8:56 average pace. This was my shining year. I set my record for my fastest half-marathon ever. I was already pretty trained up for the LA Marathon that I ran the month before. I added in some speed work after the marathon. It definitely worked and I tackled those hills with a new intensity. I ran this race with my running buddy L.B. (check out his inspirational blog).

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11 2011. Blahhhhh. I was getting burned out on running at this point. I still squeezed in 3 marathons this year, but I was really forcing it. I was also eating like crap and not strength training like I should, I was doing everything wrong and losing steam. My time was 2:14 with an overall pace of 10:15.

12 2012. This year was HOT. I was in a little bit better shape than the year before, but I started feeling nauseous from the heat the last few miles of the race. I was trying to decide between getting a better finish time or throwing up at the finish line. I decided to scale back and keep all my food in my stomach. I finished in 2:19 with an average pace of 10:37, and was so upset that this was my slowest time yet.

We shall see what this year holds in store. I expect to finish in between 2:15-2:30. I think the temps will be in the 80s, so hopefully the wonderful Redlands residents will come out and spray us with their water hoses, as they have done in years past.

Anyone else racing this weekend?