Category Archives: marathon

Becoming a Marathoner

Last year, when I finished Ironman Cozumel and I noticed that I had done so much better on the run than any previous Ironman, I said to Felipe, I think I want to run a full stand alone marathon. As weird as it sounds, up to that point we had done 4 full marathons but none as stand alone ones. They were all after riding 112 miles. We had made an attempt in 2014 when we had signed up for the Dallas Marathon which I couldn’t do because that’s when I got my orders and became a Commissioned Corps Officer for the U.S. Public Health Service so I had to be in D.C. for basic training during that time, and on top of that, Dallas was hit with a major winter storm and they had to cancel so even if I had been in town, I wouldn’t have run it.

We entered the NYC Marathon lottery earlier this year, of course, not even thinking we were going to get in. We had already entered the lottery on 2015 and didn’t get in, so we entered again this year. For those of you that know about it, the chances of getting in are very slim. The NYC Marathon has 3 pools for lottery entries, local to NYC (60 miles radius), out of state, and international. Those account for a great majority of the entries, others are the different charities, secured entries and/or the 9+1 method which is the one where you run 9 NYRR races and volunteer 1, it turns to be a really expensive method to get a secured entry to the marathon, but it is a good one if you are local to NYC. For us, it wasn’t a good option, as it would have been about a $2500 at the end of the year when it comes to entry fees, transport to the city for each race and on top of that you still pay full price for the marathon entry. Anyways… .so we both entered the lottery, to our surprise we both got in at the same time. So needless to say we were super excited to get in. On top of that, 2 of Felipe’s co-workers and one of our teammates from Texas got in as well, so we knew it would be a fun one.

From the beginning we knew that running it to kill ourselves wasn’t an option, we still had Ironman Cartagena 70.3 as our A race for the season on December 4th so going too hard at the marathon would hinder our last block of training and our recovery for it. Also, didn’t want to risk getting any injuries prior to Cartagena.  Those are little things that you learn season after season, the more races you do, the longer you race, it turns to more recovery. We didn’t want to sacrifice Cartagena so we decided that we were going to enjoy the 5 boroughs and take it all in. Of course, we didn’t want to walk it, but we weren’t going to break any records. Also, because of our A race, our training wasn’t focused for a marathon. We knew what the distance would entail, but needless to say, we respect the distance, knew we still needed to train for it, and little to no slacking was allowed.

img_2597Our logistics started with us staying in the City. We made our trip to the city and planned it as a weekend trip. We knew we could do the drive the morning of but we didn’t want to stress over all that on that morning. Our weekend started with our friend and teammate, Jenny, arriving on Friday to the city. We met each other around 3 pm, and we went to pick up our packages at the expo. That went pretty quick, then our adventure started by going to rescue Jenny’s cell which she left in the Uber that took her from the airport to meet us, so a few hours later we were ready to get on our way home. We were pretty tired, Felipe had just come back from Arizona that morning as well so it was a long day for all.
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Saturday morning we left our place at around 8. Jenny wanted to go to the Statue of Liberty but we couldn’t get tickets from NYC to get there, fortunate for us, we managed to get tickets from NJ. It was a nice day, so that helped a lot, and I think the crowd was probably better from the Jersey side than from the NYC side. We explored the Statue and then headed back to the city so we would settle in at the hotel. We wanted to put our legs up early as it is so easy to let your self get all excited about the city and not rest. We did about 17 miles between Friday and Saturday walking, so we were pretty ready to get our legs up.

15000208_616567051864429_5146014050346110768_oWe got back to the hotel by 8 pm, set up our race stuff for the next day, and by 9 pm lights were out. We were so tired, that it was easy to fall asleep. Since it was daylight savings that day, we had an extra hour to sleep so it was great.  The wake up alarm went off and we were ready to go. We had a 24-hr bagel place downstairs from our hotel so we got breakfast there and picked up our Uber to go to Whitehall Terminal. Then the fun begun. There were so many people, it was hard not to soak everything in. From there, the ferry takes you from Manhattan to Staten Island, then you get on the buses that take you to the start. We camped at the Staten Island terminal for a little bit before heading to the start VIRB Picturesince we had late starts. We didn’t want to just sit at the park waiting in the cold. Once we waited for a little bit, we then got on the buses which is a good 30-40 min ride to the start, traffic is heavy due to all the buses going back and forth. We got to the start and sat amongst 50,000 of our running friends to wait.  Cell reception wasn’t the best as so many people were all killing time on their phones.
Before we knew it, we were in our corral ready to go.  Being surrounded by so many awesome people was great, but the nerves were starting to kick in.  I was surprised they hadn’t knocked earlier in the day as is usual for me on race day, but the overall feeling of this race was different.  I knew I was going to have fun with my hunny running through the streets of NYC.  As a young kid, I remember seeing the marathon on tv and thinking how cool for so many people to be freely running through NYC, but never in my mind did I ever think I would be standing here about to run the streets of NYC.  We were able to get warm, and shed our layers off before we got to the actual start. We were getting really excited as we were getting closer to the start, tons of people, the energy was amazinVIRB Pictureg, the Star Spangled Banner performed by one of the runners and then the cannon went off. Those things give me goosebumps just remembering them. We had one goal for our run, we wanted to run a 4:30 marathon. We were able to keep the pace and stay on for 15-16 miles, until we hit Queens and got into Manhattan. The Queensboro bridge was a beast as it was a straight incline into Manhattan.  My legs were definitely feeling it at that point.  The Manhattan rollers slowed us down and by the time we hit the Bronx we were starting to fall off pace.

Our walking intervals were more often and longer and it was mentally draining. The crowds definitely helped to distract the pain and keep carrying us to the finish line. Once we got into Central Park, the last couple of “hills” which seem mountains at that time, came up and we looked at our watches, by that point our 4:30 goal became the “let’s make it under 5” so we did our best to run through the crowds and forget the pain to come in under 5 … mission accomplished 4:59:59. Such a great feeling to be done, but unlike other races where you get most of your things right at the finish, 26.2 miles became more like 28 miles.  Since so many people run the marathon, they have to make room for all who still are coming in.  It is another good mile or 2 (or seems like that) before you get your pictures taken, your bag with food, your blanket and your poncho. We didn’t make it out of the park until about 45 minutes after we finished, we were cold, stiff, and tired, but super happy to have been part of this epic marathon.  They gave us our well earned and long awaited NYC ponchos, which are amazing.  They have a fleece inner lining and it felt great wearing them as we were slow walking through NYC. An Under Armour rep had been standing outside of a building and he was inviting marathoners inside a pop up store where VIRB Picturethey had  set-up a stretching area with food for athletes.  Since we were waiting for Jenny, we ventured inside to check it out.  It sounded great until they told us it was downstairs and we had to maneuver stairs. LOL it was a sight to see as going down stairs wasn’t the prettiest after having done a marathon.  We walked into a room with all kinds of goodies including foam rollers, stretch bands, yoga mats, and Normatec boots. The best part of all was a delicious carrot cake they had for us.  Needless to say, Felipe and I took advantage of everything.  The mere thought of stretching wasn’t the best, but I knew I would quickly get stiff and then it would be even harder to move around.  So I made the effort and braved the foam rollimg_1233er, which actually didn’t feel too bad especially a high-tech vibrating foam roller.  Best thing! 🙂
Felipe then jumped into the Normatec boots and once he was done, I used them too.  By that time, Jenny had finished and met up with us, where she also took advantage of free stretching area.  As we hobbled up the stairs and back onto 72nd, we went to grab some food.  Burgers, fries, and beer – can’t beat that.  We took an Uber back to the hotel and got some rest. Medal Monday came and Felipe went off to work, accidentally taking both of our medals.  Worked out great though
img_9130because he was able to capture an awesome picture of them on his work terrace with the NYC backdrop.  Jenny and I had went for brunch and enjoyed some mimosas and delish breakfast.  We walked back towards the hotel and went to do some shopping.  You can’t be in NYC and not get some retail therapy in with a good friend.  It was a great cap to an awesome weekend and I can’t say enough how I love this city and all it offers.

 

 

 

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The elusive marathon…

Some of you might think how come a marathon is elusive, you either sign up to do it or you don’t. Well, here is a little story of my first full marathon on fresh legs (thats for another entry) that when I think is going to happen it doesn’t.

It all started last year, we had finished our Austin 70.3 Ironman on October 28th, and after talking to our coach on the weeks prior to it (even prior to our crash) we had decided we were going to do the Dallas Marathon. What I didn’t count with was that I was going to return from Austin with somewhat of an injury. My foot got swollen and really hurt, but after x-rays, dye CT-Scans and doctors nothing was wrong with it. By the it was already almost thanksgiving so there was no way for me to do that since the marathon was on early December. Felipe had thought of doing it but we had decided to wait to do it together as we always try to do things together. Even though we start together and 90% of the time don’t finish together, just the fact of knowing he is around on the same course makes me feel like he is closer than if we was home or simply somewhere at the finish line waiting for me (it happens to him too). So we decided we weren’t going to race after all.

Dallas Marathon Registration

Dallas Marathon Registration

A few months go by and we do our first ironman, yes it included a 26.2 mile run but since we seem to be doing things backwards, as we did a 70.3 half ironman before we did just the 13.1 run by itself, it seemed appropriate that we would do the 26.2 mile run after we did the 140.6 full ironman. We then signed up back in June or July (can’t remember when) and we were all ready for our “running” season to start and be only running for a while. We started the training and I was called to serve our country with the Public Health Service in December. Guess what… The weekend of the marathon!!!. I love to serve our country don’t get me wrong but thanks to our lovely shutdown a few weeks ago, they pushed my trip to December since November was out of the question. We were training, and to keep Felipe company on his long runs I continued training however was a bit bummed that I wasn’t going to run it. Felipe will be running it while I keep track of him online and wait for him to tell me he finished his first full marathon. :(. It is a bittersweet feeling, while I’m proud of him for pushing his limits and wanting to do it alone, I am still sad I won’t be able to do it with him, on top of losing the $100 registration fee.

Anyways… That’s the story of my elusive marathon, not sure now when I will do it, next year we have to be smart with our training and racing since we are officially signed up for 2×140.6 distances, IronMan Arizona and Challenge USA (Atlantic City), don’t want to be putting more than we need to as we know running a marathon will probably set us back on our progress since recovery probably take from our already busy training schedule.

It’s just a half Mary…. Right!!!

A couple of weeks ago we did a little half marathon around the Texas Motor Speedway, not sure what we were thinking when Felipe decided that it was a good idea to do it after our weekend of chasing bourbon in Kentucky. As you can imagine we were a bit sore on Monday and Tuesday but at least we had scheduled massages for our anniversary on Tuesday. It is our tradition to get couples massage on our anniversary. Just now we see them more like a sports massage than a spa treatment type 🙂 #triathleteproblems I know.

We had a couple of workouts during the week, we did our track workout with the coach on Wednesday and on Thursday we did the Friends of the River 6K run in Fort Worth. We’ve been volunteering for many years and I would walk the 1 mile route with Anise. Last couple of years we’ve done the full run and had a blast so we did it. Felipe had a bunch of coworkers doing it so it was fun. We did our typical start and goodbye “see you at the end” thing and off we went. Felipe took off, he finished in under 30 minutes claiming he was sore still (whatever!) me on the other hand did the whole thing with JayJay, it was a bit hard because I had done it a few times with Anise and she always came to help, so doing it with JayJay was somewhat of a bittersweet experience. Still she had a blast, pulled me the whole way… The puppy energy and we managed to do it in 35 minutes.

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Saturday was a different story, we had that crazy half marathon that we had signed up for. We weren’t too concerned with the distance, yet I was more like taking it as another day of running around the speedway. It is actually funny how now running a half marathon is no biggie anymore. We got our stuff ready, had our normal workout day breakfast, nothing too special, oatmeal a banana and that was it. We had planned to have a powerbar gel prior to starting and one more half way through along with our Infinit in our handheld bottles. It was overall a smaller race. We knew the area since we run and ride so much around the speedway so it was fun at the same time. I took off with one of our teammates, but she had a faster pace starting than what I’m used to. I try to pace myself at the start which tends to help me maintain a better average later on. I think I was ok until mile 10 which is when you come back into the actual speedway track. It is fun but also kind of bad because there are some areas of it where the slope of the track makes you run kind of weird, or at least it felt like I was putting more pressure on my left leg which in turn reflected on some ITB pain. I eased up the pace for a little and then saw the finish line, I was far from a PR, my previous half marathon on fresh legs was 2:00 but I didn’t care. I had run over 45 miles in less than 7 days and my legs were letting me know that.

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A couple of lessons learned… Not really a lesson… But a reminder that we don’t give up, I could’ve easily stopped and walked some of it but my mind took over my screaming legs and told them #shutuplegs and made them run! a bit slower but still running. I was able to finish strong with a big smile on my face like I always do at the end of each race.

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Like always I’m grateful that I am able to run these “races” and that I’ve been able to overcome those limitations I had as a kid, like my hate for running, overweight and simply disliking the sport. Now even though its a love hate relationship I love doing it, enjoy it while I’m doing it and shortly after I’m done, but still love being able to get out there and pound the asphalt mile after mile with the love of my life and hope I get to share these experiences with him for many, many years to come.

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Our first official half marathon… Without anything else before it

So this weekend we did our first official half marathon. The Cowtown in Fort Worth. We say official because even though is not the first time doing the distance its the first time we do it as a stand alone. Our previous time was we did it was after getting off the bike and riding 56 miles during our first Half Ironman. So we were looking at it a bit differently.

We had been adding up a lot of miles during our Ironman training, so we weren’t worried about the distance (to some extend) we did a long run last Saturday and we put 11 miles in, felt pretty good and also gave us the confidence boost we needed for a 2:00 or even a sub 2:00 half marathon.

We started our weekend by going to the expo to pickup Puli’s package as he for some reason wasn’t included in our team’s roster (more like a user error). Saturday was pretty busy, not much training on our schedules (a 20 minute recovery run) so took advantage of it and did a bit of catchup with things at home.

Bib numbers and race belts ready

Sunday started at 5:15, woke up to get ready eat some light breakfast and bundled up, it was a cold morning at 37-deg so we knew it was going to be cold. Some our teammates were coming over to the house at 5:45 so we could carpool and avoid taking 3 cars with the typical race day traffic, probably the best idea.

We got to the start, met with the coach, stretched, warmed up which was more like trying to stay warm overall and headed to the corrals. We all started together. Saw each other for the last time crossing the start mat and Puli took off.

From Puli’s report:
The start was crowded, passed a lot of people and pushed a lot more at miles 1 and 2 than I wanted and was actually negative splitting which was something I didn’t want to do. That was when I told B (girl from the team running with me) that we shouldn’t be trying to negative split or keep up with her sister, so by mile 3 we had found a nice 8:26 pace which we were able to keep for a while. By mile 6 which is by the Stockyards we checked and I knew then we were possibly going to hit our sub 2:00 goal, she had a 2:00 I had a 1:50. After the stockyards we knew that was the turn into Downtown on Main St, driving through that almost every day I knew what were up against and it wasn’t pretty. Seeing the Court House from the distance made us keep our easy pace so we could attack the bridge. When we got to it we just said “here we go let’s get it over with” and we got at it. Thinking all the hill repeats we have done over the last few months were paying off, but at the top of the hill it was when the legs were starting to feel the miles. Saw J (another teammate volunteering at mile 9 aid station) and he yelled at us to let us know how far it was, we emptied what we had left in our bottles and refilled at that one. Cruising through Downtown was fun, considering I walk it almost every day running through it was different. It was also a bit colder as the buildings were keeping the sun and the wind was tunneling In between them. We saw a few people. Actually “run” into a friend doing the ultra so we chatted for a few blocks and then we came to the split (half to the right and the full and ultras to the left) we made our turn and headed on Lancaster back on the home stretch. By then I had told B we only had 5k to go and our time was still pretty good, however my legs were starting to feel it. I slowed down a bit and just ran behind B for a while, by mile 12 we were side by side again, by 12.5 or so B started to get further ahead because I was slowing down, I was at 8:35’/mi then, still a good pace but that was all my legs had in them, I saw her make the turn into the finish line and then I came along, finish time 1:52 @ 8:34’/mi avg. not a bad effort for the first stand alone half. Got my finishers medal a bottle of water and then went back to the finish line to wait for Res, saw K come in and she told me Res was right behind her, so I spotted her pink hat and I knew she was home.

You can see Res and her pink hat