Friday, December 16, 2011

Honolulu Marathon 2011

Well, it looks like another marathon has come and gone, but fortunately I am able to look forward to the next one already. It’s crazy how slow time goes while waiting for a race and then how quickly it is over. Right now am writing the blog on Kuhio st. at a Starbucks in Waikiki and it is pretty wild here.

I kind of signed up for Honolulu marathon compulsively while at the library working on my summer research paper. With the previous summers me spending in Japan and working with kids, the research environment was not working out to well for me. Luckily, I had support from my advisor and a couple friends Lily and John to get me through at the time. Anyhow, while I was at the library I had been contemplating quitting the research program, but deciding if I signed up for Honolulu it would be my mental escape allowing me to sit in the library longer, knowing I would be going to paradise to visit my sis and run. So anyhow, signed up for the marathon, booked a flight and about $1100 later and deciding to miss almost 2 weeks of school, I was able to finish my research requirements for that summer

Initially, I just planned on running Honolulu as a fun run because of the busy race schedule I had in the summer/fall.
From that spring I did:
Eau Claire M
Superior Trail 50k
Grandma’s M
Voyageur Trail M
Chisago half-tri
Superior 50 mile
Twin Cities M

Intuitively, with not being used to doing this many races in 1 summer, trying to get a PR at Honolulu would have seem pretty ridiculous to a person who can think on logic, but with not being able to do moderation very well, I asked Chris Lundstrom to throw together a training schedule for me, and had a sub-3 hour marathon cemented in my head.

Was able to get to Hyland every Friday for the loop which was always fun. Also Brando and I would do the early morning what we called “Lundo Runs” starting on Summit and E river road. With these runs being approx. 7.5 and 12 miles respectively, I was able to build a bigger base than I have in the past for previous marathon. Not being a person who has ever put in a lot of miles for a training schedule, it was giving me confidence to be able to get in some moderate distant runs during the week. On top of that, it was what I would look forward to every week. I have vivid memories of Brando and I rolling to Hyland early in the morning and bumpin’ some Foster the People. About a month out from the race Brando headed out to Cali to ski instruct and Cody and I were able to get in some rockin tempo runs on Sunday. 4 weeks out we did a slow 22 and 3 weeks out we did an 18 with 12 at MP. That last long run was pretty tough with the winter conditions not really allowing for a 6:50 pace but we had a good idea what 6:50 effort was.
Then leading up a little bit closer to the race, was a stressful time, trying to finish up all of the academic work, and also the CA position work that Vall and I had to finish before both of us going outta town for winter break. With the thought of going out to Honolulu on the mind, was able to get through and before I knew it, was on the plane heading back out to Hawaii for the 5th time.
With the taper leaving me over-energized and anxious the planeride was a bit stressful. I ended up standing for nearly 2 hours from LAX->HNL from how anxious I was getting. Once getting to Hawaii, it was pretty hectic with the race less than 2 days away. I still had to pick up the race packet and get mentally prepared. Scootered to the expo on Saturday and couldn’t believe how crazy it was Met Honda-san for the first time there.
We had met on the Honolulu Facebook page and both running had no problem connecting as both of us were running the marathon. So many Japanese people walking inside into the the convention center. Inside of the Honolulu Convention Center, it felt like I was in Japan, with nearly all of the booth’s information in Japanese and also the people working there were Japanese. Took a quick photo with the JTB Santa Claus
It was completely overwhelming being at a marathon expo with almost everything in Japanese. With my overall energy up from tapering combined with so many things in Japanese, it was a recipe for sensory overload. We walked around talking about each others training leading up to that point, and ate curry rice at the convention center. mmMh. After eating wonderful curry rice, met up with Aunty Sharon, Uncle Randy, Andrea, and Bella and Aunty Share gave me some of the peanut butter Mochi which I had been craving for months. After meeting briefly, we split up and Hondasan and I headed back to Kayla’s apartment. After being stopped by the police for riding 2 people on the moped, we made it to Kaylas without a ticket. We had all been planning on having our carb loading night there so we were beginning to prepare for that. After de-alcoholizing and cleaning her apartment, we greeted Hondasan’s roommate Sakamoto-san over. It was a little awkward hanging out there with Sakamotosan because he was a little bit older and didn’t speak much English, but with both of us having running as a common interest, that’s enough to beat any language barrier. Aunty Share and the crew came over and we ate delicious pizza and pasta from a restaurant and Aunty Share and Andrea cooked up some awesome pasta. After eating and hanging out for a bit, they left and then my anxiousness really picked up. I was just 1 “sleep” away from running the race that I had occupied my mind for the past 3 or so months. The race started at 5am so set the alarm for about 3:30am. Got to sleep at around 12 or so and was a little worried from the lack of sleep I got the night before. Anyhow, woke up at 3:30am and despite being a little sleep deprived, felt more awake than I had anytime in the last 3 months. Felt my thoughts narrowed into the marathon and had the prerace jitters going on. Kyle moped’ed me over to pretty much the start of the race and the experience was about to begin. There were thousands and thousands of people (mainly Japanese) all over town who were getting ready for the marathon as well (many first timers). It was super energizing and I tried to run around some of the sidestreets for a warmup. I can feel my heartrate pick up as I write this part. After doing some warmups and drills, I hopped one of the fences where the startline was and found a spot. Even though they put up marathon pace signs, it seemed that people didn’t really follow that and there were many people who just wanted to start up front. With this being semi-understandable for me, I also though it would be semi-understandable if I just hopped one of the fences to get a spot where I wouldn't be stuck behind a bunch of people. I ended up randomly bumping into another person wearing a TC RUN CO shirt and he was a older guy on the race team. We talked for a bit at the start, he gave me some of his Gatorade before he tossed it, and after standing around herded into the start shoot for almost 10+ anxious minutes the race started.
The start of the race was accompanied with a firework show to our left. This definitely didn’t help for me and my problem with starting out to fast.
For some reason I had a symbolic experience while we were all running the race in the dark with fireworks going on. It kind of reminded me of WWII and all the tragedies that happened, however it was very unifying to be running together on this play run, with American and Japanese running together with a common goal. It was one of those goosebump moments for me and probably was a factor to hitting a couple of 6:25min/pace miles. It was a little confusing at the start too because there wasn’t mile markers at the first few miles, however they were marked in kilometers every few of them. However with this confusion, I tried to dial into the 6:52 pace that I had been training for for the past few months. It was too awesome running past the large groups of people (mainly Japanese) with the screaming ganbare!(fight, do you best) to us. Think the Japanese fans were mainly screaming at the Japanese runners, so strategically, I tried to pace with one of them, for the increased superficial support. A few miles into it, was realized that I was sweating a lot more than I should be, and was a little getting pretty warm. During the race, it was my first time getting in hot conditions for more than a few miles. Prior to going to Hawaii, I was trying to get in some warm training runs i.e. running with a long sleeve indoors with a hat on at the metrodome, and putting on extra layers outside, but with the Minnesota weather around 0 degrees when I left, it definitely felt like I was more adapt to the cold weather. Having long hair and sporting a TC RUN CO hat, got pretty warm and gave the hat to Kayla at around my 7. She handed me a gu, ran with me for a few minutes, and wished me well as I was off. It felt surprisingly more cool with the hat off and now I just would have needed more aid stations to stay cool and hydrated. I popped an S-tab and about every half hour, depending where the aid stations were. I was a little surprised that there was not many aid stations at the beginning of the race and found myself waiting for a few miles sometimes just to get some water. The later aid stations had water and sponges which helped get all the salt off the head and arms and was just overall refreshing. Ended up sticking behind some American guy for a while and we right at a 3 hour pace. Early on the race, I felt pretty confident that I could sustain that pace for the rest of the race, but as I got into the later miles, that started to change. I remember at mile 13 thinking only 10 more miles to go, imagining that all I needed to do was run to the Ford Bridge and back from Middlebrook, but realizing my stupid mistake, had to wait until mile 16 until I could reimagine that in my head. Was getting pretty warm throughout the race, but would cool off at the aid-stations and would try to rehydrate with 1 or 2 gatorades/water at each aid station. Legs were starting to fatigue and was getting nervous if I could keep the pace as I snuck up on the later miles. I ended up getting with a group of 4+ runners and stuck with them for prob 5+ miles. The gusting winds made it tough to stick to the pace, but the benefit of running with the group was at least an artificial feeling of using less energy. It’s crazy how much of a mental game running is. Another problem that I attribute to mental fatigue is my stomach was getting a little upset and had the feeling of needing to use the bathroom coming up. I think because of the fact that I was beginning to think that I couldn’t keep pace much longer, I might have allowed myself to succumb to this feeling. Added on to being fatigued, that might have expedited how quick I actually needed to use the bathroom and since I was on exact pace of what I needed to hit, I knew if I stopped to go to the bathroom, it was goodbye to a sub 3. Holding on to not going to the bathroom for as long as possible, I decided to just go. It was pretty frustrating knowing that my goal that I had shot out for and thought about so much the past few months was out the window, but also realizing that I didn't have much control over it at this point, I didn't let it overwhelm me, or ruin the rest of the race experience for me. Hopped outa the biffy and was happy to have an aid station not long after that to wash off after sitting in a sauna-like biffy for some time. I was back on the road and was just running at whatever pace I thought I could sustain until the end. It was a bummer though I lost the people who I used to pace throughout the beginning of the race. Having to readjust to the new runners around me, I tried to just tried in a groove. It was so so cool running along the busy road with the other runners on the other side of the road running towards us. There was just thousands of runners running by and they would just stare at (at least my) zombie like body stumbling around at around mile 20. Despite taking 3 S-tabs, as always around this time, my calfs were starting to cramp if I took too long of strides or pushed off too hard so just tried to keep it conservative and see how fast I could go without a cramp sneaking up on me. Seeing the other runners was pretty entertaining with many of them wearing costumes and doing other silly things, but all this stimulation was kind of overwhelming at that point. I would try to close my eyes and run for 5+ seconds just to take a break from it. Next time I do Honolulu, for sure I will be costuming it. It was cool to get the ganbares (goodlucks, keep goings) from the older Japanese ladies too, because even though they knew I didn’t understand it, the tone of them saying it was enough to express their feeling for the non-Japanese speakers. Seen Uncle Randy and Kyle at around mile 25 and was a little shameful to come into them at a later time that expected, but with their unconditional support, was excited to finish the last mile of the race. There surprisingly weren’t too many people on the course the last mile of the race which is completely different than the crowd at Twin Cities. At later in mile 25, I saw Andrea and she cruised me into final shoot. Here there was tons of people but with just hyperfocused on the finish, I only saw the finish line mats. After finishing, walked around for a bit trying to find the finish shirts area and after doing that I went and got a shiatsu massage from a Jlady who works on the island. After getting an awesome massage I tried to stand up and both my calf and my quad cramped up, and had to have her actively get the cramps out. Being a little greedy I went to another guy giving the massages and got another. Walked back over to the finish and met up with the supporters who had been overly gracious to me the whole time. It was too emotional for me to sit with all the family and friends so I went further towards the finish line so I could cheer on the finishers by myself. It is one of the coolest feelings in the world for me watching people come in at the end of the marathon. Seeing their relief to be finishing what had just been torturing them for hours is pretty cool. Usually being a nut for getting in calories after a run, I just found myself staying there wanted to cheer on all the people who were finishing all day. The people who would run by also seemed to appreciate the support, which made me want to stay even more. It was cool seeing the large running groups that came over from Japan, such as the JTB runners, Konami Sports Club, and even a few highschool groups! I couldn't believe how fun of an idea it would be to train a group of highschoolers and fly them to another country for a marathon(although not sure how safe). I think I remember the school’s names were Kokoku highschool and also Tohoku highschool. I would try to yell out for them ad they always seemed surprised to hear a foreigner supporting their group. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see Hondasan run past me to the finish but he came and found me after the race. Congrats to him for his first marathon! After heading out of the marathon wanting to stay even longer, we got a ride back to Kayla’s apartment from Uncle Randy and Kayla gave me a couple of cold beers. mmMm. Again, it was sad how fast the race came and went and I am kind of bummed to be sitting here after the race, wishing it could happen again tomorrow. It was sadistically pleasing for me for some reason to see almost the whole town of Waikiki limping around everywhere the following days after the marathon. Wish I could interact with more people around here. I am always grateful to be hanging out with other runners. Overall, a great race. Kind of wish I would have got a better time but wharves.
Now I am just hanging out in Hawaii until mid-Jan when I will pace Adam Schwartz Lowe for the HURT 100 mile race. Really looking forward to that. Need to try and get good nutrition and recovery runs to get back on schedule. Next race is probably Boston. Thinking of sporting a costume for that because don’t think I will be trying to throw down a quick time in the middle of training for the tri. Better hop in the ocean today and learn to swim! Excited to spend time on the big island pretty soon and start swimming/biking. Get to hike Koko head soon too!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Twin Cities Marathon 2011

This marathon seems to come and go every year so quickly. Running this race with Brando was my third year doing TC in a row. For the third year now, I would not be actually racing TC but doing it more as a joy run and that it was. That said, I did not do any specific training for this run, however you could say my "long run" prior to this was 55 miles (superior trail race).
Brando and I had been anticipating this race for a while and were super excited when TC Marathon weekend finally rolled around. We almost went to the expo on Friday because we were excited to see all the other runners and check out all the expo stations. With me getting my car late on Friday, we decided to just go to the expo on Saturday(miracle). We got to the expo a tid bit later than we expected and were just walking around talking to the representatives from all of the other races. We ended up seeing a picture of Dean Karnazes at an iron supplement station and we both exchanged words of excitement. To our astonishment, the lady working behind the station told us he was going to be here at 2:30pm and at the time it was 2:00pm. We both thought she was playing a cruel joke on us but she assured us that he was actually coming. Brando and I couldn't believe that the guy who we had just read 3 of his books of would be here soon. He had not put anything on his website recently, and by extreme coincidence, we ended up finding out he would be here in a matter of a half hour. After chatting like little school girls and picking up our packets, we went and stood in line to meet him. Karno came around 2:30 and we got to both meet and greet with him. You can easily say that Karno is Brando and I's idol and if we could both pick anyone to meet, it would be him. Karno signed my TC Running CO shirt and also the race bib. We were so pumped up from meeting him we couldn't really contain ourselves. It was so cool after reading all of his books and hearing all the insane things he had done, to actually meet this guy in person.
I had been riding on cloud 9 that day feeling so exciting from meeting Karno, and the race being tomorrow with, 2 other CA's coworkers running it, and also a bunch of supporters from the dorm. That saturday, some students from South Africa were visiting and playing soccer outside of the dorm in the street right outside of Middlebrooke, so I decided to join in. Accidently, I kicked the ball over a high fence and had to jump over and get it. When I did, I felt a pretty bad pull in my lower abdomen which had been bothering me about a week earlier. I had to jump back over the fence and felt my lower stomach hurt even worse. This was a scary pain and initially I thought it was just sore abdominal muscles from practicing for the backflip I intended to do at the finish with the gymnastics team. Anyhow, this pain progressed which led me to believe I had a hernia and spent a good portion of that night worrying about if I would need surgery and how long that would take me away from training. I ended up getting that checked out and was just a pulled muscle so am happy about that.
Woke up in the AM pretty early at Brando's house and had a PB bagel and a Banana. Got dropped of at race by Brando's friend Obel.
The race weather in the morning was a little chill but just right for running. There wasn't a cloud in the sky and you could tell it was going to warm up later. Most runners didn't even start with the warm overlayer they planned on wearing for the start. There was a lot of dejavu feelings going on running through downtown again with such a large group like I had done the previous 2 years. Somehow, the weather has been awesome the last 3 years for the race. Accidentally I missed taking a picture at the first mile marker, as I did last year, but because of missing the first one, I decided the rest wouldn't matter so ended up leaving my camera in my fanny pack until I handed it off at mile 19 with my phone and about 5 gels in it.
It was pretty congested at the beginning of the race and we found ourselves running at about a 10min pace(1 minute/mile slower than Brando had intended on running it. This set us back a bit but we ended up picking up the pace through the first half and was just 2 minutes overpace at the 13.1 mark. Seen my pops at Lake Calhoun, as he had been there the last 2 years. Snapped a quick photo with him and caught back up to Brando. I ended up having to do that a few times with spontaneously seeing people and stopping briefly to say Hi. It was pretty cool all the random people I ended up seeing spectate the run. I say this so much, but I really would love to just spectate a large marathon like that. Would be super inspiring to watch all of those runners working to finish. Also would be fun to watch the Kenyans blow by in the front! Oh ya, I wore the Japan costume again this year but my nametag that I taped on with hockey tape ended up ripping off when I took my longsleeve off so many people kept on cheering to Gopher Swimming, although I can hardly swim. :)
Thankfully I was running at Brando's pace because even at the halfway point I was pretty stiff in the knees. I don't think the legs had enough time to fully recover from the superior race and def don't think that they would have been able to handle doing a marathon at race speed. The miles went by pretty quick and before we knew it we were on Minnehaha heading to West River Road. This had been Brando's and my home turf of running through his past year and my past 4 years. It was pretty cool running this race on our home territory and knowing the location so well. Prior to crossing Franklin, I seen my mom and brother off on one of the sides of W R road. One of them was wearing the other rice patty hat at home, which I got a good chuckle out of. We crossed Franklin Ave bridge and seen a large yellow sign that fellow CA's and resident had made for us. It was sporting all the names of people we knew running the race and had everyone hanging onto it. Kyle O. handed us cold washcloths graciously provided by Caitlyn and after wiping ourselves and giving them back to Kyle we were on our way to Easy River Road. Before long I ended up spotting Karno from the back running not to far away from us. This was super surprising because he had told us he planned on running around a 3:15-3:30 marathon and we were well off that pace. I ended up running with him for a minute or so and dropped back to where Brando was in his zone, battling the later miles of a marathon. We got to around mile 21ish before we turned onto Summit for our last stretch to the capital. Prior to this, there had been tons of fan support along the way, shouting things such as GO Japan!(china, and korea occasionally) but Summit was just Stacked with people on either side. This really helped us keep pace on a relatively rough section of the course. Summit just seems to gradually incline and seep all the energy left from your legs that are already dead. The nice thing about Summit however, was that there was people passing out various alchoholic beverages along the way for runners who chose to indulge. Of course, I could not allow myself to pass up this opportunity so without any resistance, I would stop at everyone presented, and down 2 of the cups of selected beverage, more to please the other partygoers than anything else. The signature I developed by midway up Summit was getting down on both my knees and pouring 2 of the cups simultaneously into my mouth, followed by smashing both the cups together as I got up and caught back up to Brando. The fans seem to always enjoy this so naturally I kept on doing it. It was probably only 4/5 adult beverage stops I made, but by mile 24ish I was feeling a little buzz, more from not having much inside me at the time than anything else. Seen Brian and Paul again by the TC Running CO van and had a Dejavu of rolling into the last station at the superior race, however, this atmosphere was about 100% different than what it was like up there 3 weeks ago. With trying to encourage Brando to keep rolling, we steadily made our way up Summit, reeling in those who had not saved enough energy for this tough part of the race. We finally made it to the home stretch road with the capital in sight we both were able to pick up the pace quite a bit.
Went to a pizza place downtown St Paul with Brando and his family that had been there to support them. After getting some food in, I just wanted to walk around outside in the nice hot sun while the others continued to eat and chitchat.

Overall, it was a great race weekend, with friends completing their first marathons,
getting to talk to our idol, accompanied by so many supportive spectators. Can't wait to possibly race this next year if I am in MN!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Superior Trail 50 Mile Race

I ended up deciding to go for the Superior Trail 50 mile race this past weekend despite not feeling very well the last month or so. Have been trying to figure whether my respiratory problems have been from this summer's bad allergies, mold problems in my summer residence, or from signing up for too many races in the last few months(like to believe this is not the case). Anyhow, I did not find a time where I was ready to run my scheduled 35 mileish run as my long run like my training schedule Chris Lundstrom had wrote for me. Instead of going out for the one long run, I decided to try and hit 70 miles in a week, hoping this would be the easiest way to be able and finish the 50. With usually having pretty low miles compared to everybody else, 70 was an accomplishment for me and gave me just the tad bit of confidence I needed to attempt the 50mile race.

The prior few weeks to the race, I had not been running much, perhaps due to fatigue of the summer mixed with CA training and also maybe I was justifying my laziness with calling it an extended taper. Anyways, did few couple mile runs the week before and was curious how things would go down.

Initially Brandon and Jeremy planned on coming up with me to crew me through to the finish, but unfortunately I found out on the website this was not allowed so plans ended up changing last minute. It was the day before the race and I was still not sure how I would be getting there, until by Miracle, Steve found me by facebook and offered me a ride up there. I ended up leaving class early and he picked me up to head towards Lutsen. We got to Caribou Highlands and ate a pasta dinner which was very satisfying. I initially planned on sleeping in some public lounge area at the Highlands but was not able to find anyplace that I would be able to get away with being a bum for a night. Luckily, I ran into Steve after he found a parking lot he was planning on sleeping in. He offered for me to crash with him in his tent, but not wanting to keep him up during the night, I decided to try and crash in his car. This was not working for me so I went out in the back on Caribou Highlands and fell asleep in the back courtyard. It was pretty cool hearing wolfs howling at night. Ended up getting woke up by a drunk guy at about 1:30am and was freezing my butt off in the cool night air so decided to go scrunch back up in the car and try to sleep til 4:00am. Woke up with the alarm on time and was feeling very anxious. I had not completely processed what I was about to do and it was slowly starting to hit me. Steve and I saw the northern lights flashing over the Caribou Highland lodge and across the sky and the combination of hearing the wolves the previous night and the northern lights that morning was pretty magical.

Ate an unplanned breakfast of a bagel with pb and downed it with a little coffee and muscle milk. We got on the bus and headed to Finland which took around 40min. At this point I was getting to nervous to really talk with people so just sat with my headphones on trying to relax. It was a funny feeling being in a bus with 60 other people at 5:00am and the bus noise level was noisy as a cocktail party. It was still dark out and it was beginning to hit me more would I would be doing soon. Thinking about the guys who had been running the 100 mile since 6am the previous day, eased my mind a little bit but still my stomach seemed to get more tight. It seemed pretty bizarre that those 100milers were out there with their headlamps running around their 50th mile. In an odd sense, there were jealous feelings in my mind for those runners who had been running for almost the past 24 hours.

After checking in Finland and waiting around for about 15min we lined up on the road and headed out. We started out just trotting down and took a left turn into the woods. At this point, I was towards the end of the group and tried to hop in front of a pack of people before hoping onto the single track trail. Once getting on the trail, it felt like I needed to go faster being stuck behind a huge group for the first 5 minutes or so but figured if I was going to be running all day, better off to just chill now. Was able to hop in front of a big pack of people following another guy named John who was also doing this for his first time. We ended up running around 10 miles or so together until we caught up to the guys I would be running the next 40 or so miles with later. Ended up hanging out behind Jared and Joseph for a bit before we started chit chatting and getting to know each other. With all of our names beginning in J we found it funny to call each other J1, J2, J3 depending on our position in the single track trails we were running. Think we were together when we got to the 1st aid station and I remember eating alot of food. Had pb and J sandwiches, banana slices, coke, and just tried to stock up as to refuel my legs which were sadly already fatiguing. I knew if I didn’t consume a ton of calories at the aid stations, the race wouldn’t be possible to finish. Looks like my eating Taco Bell before long runs helped out as I didn’t experience much GI problems the whole day. I think our second stint on the trail was 9.7ish miles and this was pretty tough with just carrying 1 handheld with the 2 gels stuffed into the pocket. Finally made it to the next aid sation and plowed through some food again. Tried a canned potato dipped in salt and nearly gagged. Other J's and I were able to laugh about the bad stuff we ate. After this aid station I think we began doing a system where we would run 10 minutes and walk 1. I remember the J train experiencing a group low around 20 as knew we were still 30 from the finish. The final destination of the race was unbearable to think about so we just focused on the next aid station to get us through in steps. It really helped having the other J's around to talk to about whatever. The trails were super challenging and was tripping all over the place. At the aid stations, I had been eating warm mashed potatoes and chicken noodle soup because could not stomach any more gels. Surprisingly the soup was a miracle worker for me and really made me feel revived. I had also taken advil and antihistamines because my throat was swelling up. They seemed to help out a ton. It was crazy to start going by some of the people who were running the 100mile race. They were distinct by wearing a red race bib different from our blue ones. Seeing the red bib made me instantly respect and admire those who had it and I would genuinely try and give encouragement to them. Woww Good job to all of them!
Sadly the race kinda meshes together in my mind about which aid stations were where and what miles we were at during specific times but I just remember cycling the J train in intervals of 10 minutes running followed by a minute or so of walking, which changed to 8 min running and 2ish minutes walking. It was soo nice having the other J's to swap out of leading. It broke our waiting time to the next aid station into more manageable sections. Instead of having to think about the next aid station for over an hour, we were able to focus on following another J, or leading the other J's while the others followed. What was also inspiring was complimenting each other after a J finished a lead session. Really crazy the camaraderie that can be created between a few guys after knowing each other for such a relatively short time. I guess you really learn a lot quickly when you are out in the wilderness fatigued and on the same mission together. Finding out more often that these are my zone moments where nothing else is in my mind. Feel like I should have been born 500 years ago!

More vivid memories start to pop out in my mind again towards the end of the race. I remember coming into the last aid station which was headed by TC running Co and feeling super excited to arrive at it. This was definitely one of my highs of the race, coming out of the woods ad seeing the big TC running Co bus and Paul H. at the aid station. Seeing his big smile and sporting the same TC running co shirt I had was so awesome. Shortly after, I noticed Kurt who had graciously given me the shirt to wear for the race so this was also satisfying showing him how good morale I was in. Brian P. also just woke up from a nap inside the RV and was hobbling down the stairs from his 100mile race followed by helping crew the winner for the 100 mile. People who have done these races before really know the right things to say at the right time and with their words of encouragement the J’s were out for our final stretch. This was our last aid station and we only had 7ish miles to the finish.

After about 3 or 4 minutes I realized I forgot the headlamp that we were required to have at Oberg aid station after 5pm. Although it was not dark out yet, I needed to get the headlamp to give back to Adam from who I had borrowed it from. Telling the J's to keep running and I'll catch up, I flew back to the aid station and grabbed my headlamp. Turned back around and started trying to catch them. Feeling more energy than I had then compared to the last 6 or so hours, I was really pushing it to try and catch up to them. I kept thinking that I should be seeing them shortly and was getting more and more worried that something had happened. I continued going on the trail that I didn't see any orange flags or blue Superior Hiking Trail signs on the trees and was beginning to get super worried. I saw some tourist taking pictures at a million dollar view and asked if they had seen 2 runners come by recently. They told me no which made me increasingly worried. I contained on a path that I was almost certain was the wrong way, in a dumb stubborn attempt to find something I knew wasn't there. Now hoping to see even anybody, I luckily found another tourist couple taking pictures and again asked if they had seen 2 runners and again the other couple said no. I asked if I was on the Superior Hiking Trail and not to my surprise they said I was not. My stomach sank as I knew after my ballstothewall attempt to catch the J's that I was only further from them and the finish. I was fortunate enough to have them be able to tell me how to get back down to the trail I needed to be on. It was super deflating at the time running back down the hills that sucked my limited remaining energy out. I kept hearing screams back from the TC running co aid station probably for the support of the 100milers passing through. Finally I got to a V in the trail and seen where I had took a wrong turn. I knew Oberg sounded familiar so in the rush of trying to catch up to the J's I followed a signed for Oberg loop rather than the little orange markers on the trail that we were supposed to follow. My high that I had experienced just 30 minutes or so ago quickly turned into a deep low. Seeing another runner on the trail, I asked how far to the finish and found out I still had 5 miles to finish. It might not have seemed difficult an hour ago, but at this point it seemed dang near impossible. At this point I was walking more than any other time during the race. I remember a runner passed me and after I thought he was out my audible range I let out a loud sign and he turns back to me and says “that’s a pretty sad moan”. I couldn’t help but laugh a little because of what he said but still was feeling completely exhausted. I couldn’t stop from thinking how I wasn’t able to finish with the other J’s and worrying about how much time I added overall. I almost considered walking to the finish, but knowing that if I had done this, I would look back in regret so I tried to run as much as possible. Another runner went past me during one of my walking sessions and I made a deal of myself to not let him get to far away from me. I was trying to leach of his energy and so would run when he did and walk when he did. This made things a little easier and definitely made me run more than I might have if I didn’t make that deal. The last few miles I felt a little dizzy and my vision was getting slow. There was many negative thoughts in my head, wondering if I should stop and lay down on the trail, and even stop running after the race. Prior to this race, I saw myself doing a 100 mile race sometime in my life but at this point, I could have bet my life that I would never be doing one. I imagined prior to the race that I would be mentally handling these moments more maturely than I was with all the negative thoughts in my head at the time. Even as I crossed the finish, there wasn’t an exhilarating feeling that I had been anticipating there would be. Jared and his family that had kindly supported us at each aid station were there and it was relieving to see him again but I still felt embarrassed for the mistake I made and was letting the pessimist inside me grow. As I was sitting eating a sandwich afterward, I realized how immature my thoughts were and how I needed to restructure my thoughts about how the race went.

When some of the first people asked how the race went I felt the need to describe all the bad things that happened to justify how hard it was, but now I see myself just wanting to describe the good things. On the car ride home with Steve, I still had negative thoughts in my head, probably from exhaustion. These were similar thoughts to the first marathon I ran when I promised myself I would never run another again. I ended up signing up for another marathon later that night after my first marathon wanting that growing experience again. As I thought about the 50 mile race the day after, I was able to see the race in a different view, and realized how much I loved that vulnerable/fatigued state and realize how much I really learn about myself. Now as I sit here a couple days later, I see this race as a more extreme version of my first marathon: thinking I wasn’t going to be able to accomplish something, somehow managing to get it done, and then craving that feeling again. Looks like I will be signing up for a 100 mile race.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Chisago Lakes Half Iron-man

Well this post should be one of my longer ones, considering how new this experience was to me and how I would like to remember it. Also I received feedback saying my blog read like a foreigner had written it, so this attempt I will try out my good old American Engrish.
Things kind of started out with Tavis and Shanna signing up for the Sprint portion of this race pretty early on and the summer, and me not quite sure if my bike would be in riding condition, I held off registering until the last day (expensive as a mo). Jeremy had also signed up for the half and we decided to go up there together. We slept at his house in Stillwater the day before after a little bit of car trouble and a tow from Crystal out to his house.

Arriving at the site and check-in was pretty surprising seeing the people rolling their bikes to the equipment check in. It was actually intimidating seeing how nice their bikes were and fearing how fast they may be, but it was pretty comical to roll my bike up to my slot (774) and put together my equipment. Once organizing my backpack that I planned on carrying on the bike,I went over and talked with Jeremy for a bit. I was walking around in my spandex which I would be swimming in shortly. To my surprise, pretty much everyone had wetsuits which supposedly takes a good chunk of time off your swim. As I was standing in my little spankys waiting for my heat (16 and they were two minutes apart) I seen Tav and Shanna waiting across the beach for their race. We spent a little time talking together and then a few minutes before my heat was up I hurried over to the small line left of people waiting to hit the water. There was fog over the lake so we only could see the first few buoys before they disappeared into the middle of the lake. This definitely added more mystery to the longest distance swim I was about to do.
When it was our turn to get into the water, I was very ready after sitting in the cold morning air with just my spandex for almost an hour. The water was very warm due to the super hot week we had earlier and we slowly got into our swimming strokes. The first couple minutes, I was shocked by how effortless the swim felt. If I could have continued at that comfort level, the swim would have been very enjoyable but of course things had to change. Swimming with others around wasn't as bad as I had imagined. Initially, I pictured myself getting kicked and slapped all over the place, but people swim pretty conservative when they are out for 1.2 miles I guess. Started to get out of breath probably half way out to the turn around point and stuck my head up and heard another guy ask "is this the turn-around point?". This got me very excited thinking that we were halfway done but after I continued swimming to the real turn-around point, I think he was just joking to the lifeguard. :( Once reaching the turnaround point, I checked my watch and seen 00:00:00 and think I swore underwater realizing that I didn't hit the start button once getting in the water. At that point, I just figured I'd hit it at the start of the bike. Swimming back to the shore, I was super excited to just get out of the water and do something else besides clumsily swim through the water anymore. I remember at probably the 3/4 mark of the swim hearing the announcer on the shore and that giving me some energy to get my butt there quicker. Finally, finally, finally reaching the shoreline I was very happy to be done with the first leg of the triathlon. Breathing pretty hard as I got out of the water, I ran up to the transition area even attempting to pass a few people to make up for my poor swim performance. I dried off my legs and threw my shoes on socks on, put a shirt on, put my strap backpack that contained my 2 waterbottles, 2 ClifBars and a few gels and I was on my way.

Knowing there was 56 miles ahead of me, I knew it would be stupid to start out fast, but I couldn't resist trying to pass people in the first few miles. I remember looking at mile marker number 3 and being seriously worried what I would feel like at 20 miles, nontheless 56 if I made it there. A few more miles after seeing mile 3, I decided to eat a ClifBar and down some Accelerade Jeremy had graciously hooked me up with. It felt good to get some calories in me and thought it was time to try and get in a rhythm since there was still 50ish miles left. From the start, I was able to pass many bikers because of starting in the last heat of the race. This meant that all the slower people would be trailing on the bike course, and even more on the run later which kind of gave me a false sense of accomplishment. Contiuing on the bike, I was just hoping that nothing would happen to my tires not being able to fix them, or also my chain that had fallen on 3 times earlier on in the week. It felt pretty funny to be riding with my oldies bike compared to all other peoples expensive looking things. Although I can't think of how I could be more happy knowing I was passing people who's front tire cost more than my entire triathlon equipment. This thought was what continued to push me on the bike and want to pass more people. It was kind of tricky to keep a steady pace because the Sprint Tri was also on the same course and those guys were flying. I ended up hooking up with a few guys who were throwing down a pretty good pace until we separated into respective courses. I noticed myself waiting and anticipating the turns which took the monotony out of going along the loooong straight roads. Also I feel that most of the bikers were timid going around them, so I made sure to throw down even harder on then. It was funny receiving comments from people that took the time to actually say something about my goofy presence on the course.  One guy asked me while I had been fooling around in my draw-string backpack if I had my lunch inside. I thought it was funny just because I had been keeping up with him riding no hands as he was in arrow position with his fancy helmet. It was nice getting waterbottles and gatorade from the volunteers but without having much room in the backpack I would just slam whatever I was able to grab and then get back to pounding the peddles. The miles went by pretty slow and I remember just waiting to get to the 28 mile marker and be able to think that I was halfway done. As I got closer to the finish, I found myself to keep putting the remaining miles left in marathon terms, for example, I remember at 40 miles thinking that there was just a marathon left. I'm not quiet sure if this was helpful or not. Getting even closer now, I began getting worried how I would be able to run after completely frying my legs and trying to show off to all these people on fancy equipment. Putting blind faith into my running endurance, I continued to burn what energy I had left for the remaining miles of the bike. It was awesome coming out a tunnel at the end of the bike course and seeing Tav and Shanna cheering me on. T-bob said it was pretty funny seeing me come around the corner with a chicks helmet, a bike from the 80's, a backpack, and wearing tennis shoes and makes me happy that my dysfunctionalness could bring smiles to others. I wouldn't have it any other way actually.

After hopping off the bike, emptying out my backpack to take the things that would help me out on the run, talking with Tav a bit about the race earlier, I started heading out for the run. Accidentally, I started running the wrong way, but quickly turned back to the run exit end of the transition. It was super exciting seeing Tav and Shanna and the bike transition and they definitely helped bring out some energy that I didn't know I had left. I remember Tav saying something about how this was my part of the race, and knowing that this was the part of the race I was most comfortable with, I tried to not think about what I had done earlier and just head out and do the part I had been thinking about 95% of the previous 3 or so hours. Jokingly, I told Tav I was gonna get sub 1:30 as I headed out, thinking that it would be impossible to get considering how tired my legs had been. It definitely took some time to switch my "biking legs" back over to legs that felt comfortable running again. Even at the start, I was surprised at how many people I was passing. It felt like I was fishing with dynamite, reeling them in by the dozens mile after mile. Again this is largely attributed to starting off in the last heat, but heck I was enjoying it still. Mile 1 and 2 I remember seeing 6 and 12 minutes on my watch and I wasn't sure how this was happening. I figured I better try and slow down before I burn the only energy left up in my legs that was there. Around mile 3 or 4 I seen Cody Schultz pass by me and I couldn't believe the caliber of people that had passed by me just before him. Nice work! Jeremy would also pass me not much after Cody did. Also, it was pretty surprising to see how fast the miles went by on the run. In some ways, it felt like they went by even faster on the run than bike which is pretty odd. I think just being comfortable running and knowing that I was capable of the distance help keep me relaxed. The sun had come out for this portion of the race and the heat from the sun started to beat down pretty hard. The aid-stations were helpful cooloff spots always dumping a couple cups of water on the head. People also had set up their sprinklers right at the edge of their driveways so that we could run right through it(thankyou!). My pace started to slow down quite a bit around mile 11 as I didn't have much energy left. I was too worried to try and stomach anymore gels so I just stuck with gatorade at the aidstations. It was pretty relieving getting the finish line. Post race food was super good and the sun was shining. Hmm

After race went to Famous Daves for some ribs and beer.mmMm

I'm not super sure why I write these post-race reports. Mainly, I think because I look back at old races on Athlinks and almost forgot everything that happened at the event. Pretty boring typing it out though and I def struggle at writing.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Voyager Marathon-Duluth

Went up to Duluth this weekend to run the Voyager Trail Marathon. This event was set up to raise money for the Voyager Ultra 50mile race which is two weeks later. Was able to run this for $10 committing to volunteer at the Ultra. What a deal! That's how much these events should be costing. Only thing that has held me away from Tris so far(although might be doing Chisago Lakes half-ironman this weekend).
Drove up with Kayla and got iPod hookup so we could jam the whole way up. Stayed at Kyle's house and got little Ceasar's pizza, icecream and beer the night before. Watched Harry Potter Deathly Hallows pt 1 and ended up going to sleep around 1am. Woke up just before alarm went off and got ready. Weather wasn't too bad, although a little humid.
Felt like was running this race on a whim, without having a watch, gels, or any idea of where the course went and what it was like. Seen Brian P. at the start, watching a buddy of his and had come up to do some training runs.
Was fun starting out not worrying about pace and mile splits. Just kind of guess what kind of pace I could hold based on what the runners around me looked like.(kinda shallow?) Trails started out not too bad and was taking it super slow on the hills knowing how much they can burn you out early. Tried to keep pace down because Chris Lundstrom who wrote my 50mile training plan specifically wrote "TRAINING run" on the notes for this race. Was nice to keep HR down more than usual and just take deep breaths and relax. Was cool to run right through the Spirit Mountain ski resort that I had gone to earlier on in the year for snowboarding for the first time. Nothing too excited until was gunning it down a pretty steap hill with legs spinning quick until my left shoe got caught in the muddy pit and the bottom of the hill and ended up sticking in place while my momentum keep me rolling and was not able to stop left foot from squishing into the muddy mess. Had to put shoe on over mud-filled sock which felt pretty nasty but couldn't help but laugh over it. The more I do these runs, the more I realize that the unexpected things are the things I actually look forward to and make these events what they are.
The course had 6 aid-stations with little goodies at them. Had a few pretzels at each one. Hardest part of the race was running through the powerline sections of these giant hills. Was pretty hilarious to see a monsterous hill ahead of us and being pretty worried, only to find out that there was a huge dip in the land right ahead of us which made the hill almost double in size. Hiked alot of the hills and calfs would be on fire at the top. Heartrate would spike quite a bit during these climbs but felt like the legs would get a semi-break from the quicker cadence of the flatter sections. Was an aid-station handing out popsicles, frozen grapes and ice right after the powerline section which was rejuvenating. Was about a 3/4 mile stretch of bike trail path that we ran after that hilly mess which gave me a chance to stretch the legs out again and gain some ground on the others. (makes me wonder if I'm more of a road-runner than trail-runner) Caught a guy who was doing a funky climbing style on hills. He would almost shuffle sideways and I asked what kind of climbing style that was. He said that it was a style he adopted a few years back after reading about how it takes stress of the same muscles and activates the lateral gastrocs and other muscles that aren't used as much while doing the same running style. Tried keeping up with him in some other climbs only to get burnt out and falling back. Ended up catching him in another straightaway though. Ran with a few other guys here and there but also had some stretches of trails where I was running solo for over a half hour. Got to final aid station and was told there was just a 5k left. Was super excited to hear that and decided to start trying to catch some people. The surroundings were just insane and I remember running across a rope bridge in those last few miles and just screaming like an animal. There was rapids rushing down on either side and ahh man, gotta make it back to the spot sometime. Heard the last 5k was super technical and I got a little big headed running the first 10 minutes of it thinking this wasn't bad at all. Felt like running the the BW's trails with the rapids on our left. Trail seemed to get more technical as it went on and found myself crawling down rock ledges and wondering if this was the actual path. Wish I could have been a volunteer and sat out and watched some people maneuver through some of those last few sections.(kinda sadistic, I know) Finished on a bike path and was sure nice to be done with those last few miles. Met up with Kayla and Kyle right after and drove back to D-town.  Of course had to eat at Burrito Union after. Almost no cramping though which is a good sign!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Grandma's Marathon and other updates

Well this past weekend was Grandma's Marathon. Was pretty excited to run it because this is the marathon I grew up as a kid hearing about from my Aunt and Uncle who would run it every year. Unfortunately developed a sinus infection the week leading up to the marathon so was a little nervous as to how the race would be. Drove up there with Jin and another guy Evan who my mom connected me with through her work. This was his first marathon so was pretty exciting. Slept Friday night up in Duluth at some on-campus apartments with some of Jin's friends. Was a new experience staying with all Koreans for a night. Woke up the next morning a bit late (40 min) because my alarm was set wrong and we both slept through Jin's multiple times. Scrambled to pack stuff up and a bit unorganized because with both Jin and I feeling under the weather the night before, we just went to bed without really planning the morning out (mistake).
Was able to get to the parking area we needed to and hop on one of the last shuttles from Duluth to Two Harbors. Was pouring rain in the morning but luckily by the time we reached Two Harbors it seemed to have drizzled off.
Race: Ended up seeing Jake Pittman at the start and we decided to start out running together. Both of us went and wished Chris Lundstrom good luck on his race and waited for the start. The start was exciting with over 6k people there. Many international (Kenyan) athletes were there for the large payout to 1st place ($10k I think).
Beginning miles felt pretty good. First couple miles we ran at about 7:08 making our way to about 7:00 miles. Felt a little more fatigued than usual at around mile 7 and worried how the later miles would feel. Was nice to run with Jake because he had is GPS watch and would give up mile splits that we needed to hit. He was in charge of our splits and I was in charge of where we ran on the road and also when to take our Gel's which we did every 45min. We ran together until mile 11 when Jake decided he was "going to drop" which I initially thought he meant out of the race but he actually meant his shoes. From that point on I was solo running with a pretty steady group older people. Slight tailwind on our way to Duluth really helped keep cool and feel light. Went potty (#1) at mile 20 after holding it in a little longer than comfortable. Put me down about 30-45 seconds but tried to catch the group of guys I had been running with slowly as to not burn out the legs too much before the tougher miles came up. With the increased crowds and college students support, felt pretty good in the later miles. Lemon drop hill was pretty tough and was feeling a little heavy legged at that part was still had a little energy left to pick it up in the late miles. Felt like I was passing many people from mile 21-25 and near the last mile didn't have to much to give. Compared to previous marathons though, this one I had cramped the least and was able to push it the most later towards the end of the race. Ended up finishing at 3:06:something AGAIN, and was not too disapointed. For a bit during the run, I had my hopes up of getting 3:05 and felt very excited for a bit (was a math miscalculation though :(  )
After the race had a chocolate milk and headed to the massage tents to wait for a massage. Met a guy named Eric who was a runner for Minneapolis who had run Tokyo marathon before! Was a fun chitchat with him. After becoming freezing cold and searching for Jin for some time without bringing a drop bag, was happy to meet him and receive a blanket that he had been carrying around from the rest of the day. Went back to Kayla's roommates house and then went to Burrito Union and enjoyed eating there for the second time.
Overall, was a beautiful race and I look forward to running it next year. Have felt the least sore after this marathon than any other which is a great thing. The thing that hurt the worst though was having feet crammed into my Aasics Trainers and having been accustomed to running in my Aasics trail shoes to not wear out the Trainers. Bad idea.
Have a 10k next week (Time to Fly) that will be doing with Tavis and maybe a few others. Kind of bummed not to have any long distance events scheduled until the 50mile. Am trying to find a back to back Sat/Sun marathon duo as preparation for the 50mile. Haven't been able to find any at the time I need so might be doing some high milage on my own.  Thank god for Japanese podcasts that I can zone out and listen to.

This have been a little rough with the McNair program so far, not having as much direction as I imagined and feeling a little lost in the research paper process. Might sadly be switching to another mentor and different topic if I cannot meet up with my current mentor by tomorrow. Am  a little excited to start progressing though with summer project.

Well am in the BioMed library so should probably pretend to get back to work.

Sorry didn't proofread

Sunday, May 29, 2011

After Semester updates +beginning of summer

Well, haven't updated as much as intitially planned but here we go.

The Superior Trail 50k was absolutely gorgeous and thanks to Paul H. and Brian P. (thanks to Chris L.) I was able to finish the course without too much suffering. Went to Fitger's the night before the race, then went to a burrito place for post race.  Will definitely be looking forward to signing up for more trail races and have a better idea of what the Superior 50 mile will be like. Course was so amazing to be on and constantly reminded me of the portages in the Boundary Waters. Whenever felt a little tired, always had to remind myself how nice it was to not have to be carrying a canoe and a pack.

Time has been going pretty quick that the semester wrapped up. Starting out the few days of just sleeping in a tad, going down to Caribou and studying some Japanese (sometimes w Longen-san) and playing catch here and there w Stones. Have done a few short distance (recovery) runs since after the race.

Just got back from Oshkosh and some members from Team 4 Japan got to say goodbye to Heather who is leaving in 3 weeks to teach fulltime there! After getting back from Oshkosh, Jeremy and Jin and I went to volunteer at Rochester Med-city marathon and watched a couple buddies partake in it. Look forward to being able to be part of many more marathons and also with getting creative it. (costumes/music/themes/ect)

Tomorrow will be moving back into Middlebrook for the start of the McNair Scholars program. Am pretty excited but would like to get a set schedule for the summer so can jam pack it with other enjoyable things that are happening.

Next race is Gma's June 18th. Today technically should have been my long run but with still feeling fatigued from the 50k and running on 4ish hours of sleep in the last two days, might hold off until tomorrow. Also time to get a specific training schedule for Gma's. Diet has been pretty pathetic lately (today having BK for breakfast at the marathon :(,  very large portion of cake/icecream at Granpa Vernon's Birthday party, followed by chipotle with stones, followed by 2 homemade cinnamon rolls freshly backed by ma) Need to start having more discipline with my impulses...Anyways, will finalize a training schedule leading up to Grandma's and start figuring out how to train for the 50miler w the help of Chris L. in the upcoming days.

Will try to write something in Japanese when there is a little more cognitive energy left to give.
Can't forget to start practicing Kanji! 口!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

First blog

Decided to make a blog for some reason during finals..Maybe just another excuse to not study or to justify why I didn't do so well on the final tests..Anyways, thought this would be a cool place to just record feelings/pictures/memories.
Tomorrow we are having a floor BBQ outside of Middlebrook which should be exciting if the weather holds up. Upcoming week is final exams and then will have a week until the Superior 50k and starting the research program with Professor Ingraham.
Kind of have a little tweak in the hamstring after Eau Claire Marathon so have been babying it a bit (except for running around at the Undie Run last night) which was pretty fun. Need to heal up in order to be able to train this summer and do the Superior 50mile in the fall. Don't want to be not able to finish that.




(Wondering if this will evolve into a diary type of blog, or more of a summary of events and activties blog.) Guess I will find out.