Marathon

Marathon #11 – 2016 WDW Marathon

Posted by on Jan 25, 2016 in Marathon, Race Recap, Running | 1 comment

Yes,  you read that right.   Marathon number 11.   ELEVENTH!.

There were so much running and races between my last recap to now, and I don’t even want to play catch up.   I’ve been slacking busy!  Yes, that’s my excuse and I’m going to stick to it.    However, I do want to write this particular one because it’s very different than any of my other races.

Remember when I ran 2013 Disneyland Half Marathon and I paced my friend, Rebekah?   It was my first race that I actually did not do it for me.   I ran that race solely because I made a promise to Rebekah that I will get her to the finish line for her first half-marathon.   It was the most rewarding experience for me because I got to experience the joy of completing her first half-marathon through her.   The distance that once impossible for her.    Since then, I have paced several friends through their first half-marathon, even their first 10k/half-marathon challenge and I enjoyed every one of them.

Fast forward to December 2015 – a good friend of mine, Patty Holiday, asked me to help her with her first marathon.  She had run 18 miles so far and was about to run her first 20-miler and needed moral support for the rest of her training and during the race.     The word absolutely came out of me so fast and I even told her that I would get a bib and run with her to the finish line.

I contacted a travel agent (shout out to Magical Miles Travel!  Sarah Bergman is an awesome travel agent to work with!) and she had a marathon bib available.   I grabbed two bibs for me and the husband, called DVC to see if I can score the lodging and scoured the interwebs for cheap airfare and the stars just lined up perfectly.    I got us a room at Saratoga Springs Villa and got a round trip tickets for me and the husband from Seattle to Orlando for $389 round trip/person.    That’s almost unheard of, but hey — sometimes the last minutes thing really work on your favor.    We took a red-eye flight on Friday from Seattle to Orlando, went to Expo on Saturday, ate, mingled and rested.

Race Day

Our alarm went off at an ungodly hour of 2:30 am.    My body was still on west coast time and I was not a happy camper (I never was one on that hour).    We got dressed, ate quick breakfast and hopped in the bus around 3:30 am.    It was warm and humid, even at 3:30 am, especially for this Pacific Northwest Girl.    I texted Patty to check on her, and she told me that she was on the bus and almost at the drop-off area.

The rest was kinda blurred to me.   I remembered the bus drop us off, and we walked through security and towards our corral.    Since I purchased our bib late, we did not submit our proof of time for a good corral placement, so we both at corral L.   We hung out at the back of the corral and before I knew it, the race started.    I tracked Patty’s bib so I could keep an eye on where she was at.   She was at corral J and she crossed the start line around 6 am.    I told her to stick to her interval and stay on the right side of the course and I will find her.   We texted back and forth, and around 6:20 am, I crossed the start line.

Mile 1-7

Lilo & Stitch!

Lilo & Stitch!

Oh, the humidity.   Yes.  This was a miserable seven miles for me.   I was slightly jet-lag and tired and it was waaaaaarrrrmmmmm and humid.   We kept steady 30/30 ratio and average around 12:30 pace even with the crowd.   I saw my friend Carolyn who brought my sunglasses (Thank you Thank you Thank you!) since I left that in the room, hugged her and headed into the park.

I didn’t stop for any pictures with characters, other than Lilo & Stitch (my youngest daughter is a huuuuuuuge fan of them, so I had to stop) but took some background photos  here and there but boy, it was very crowded.   I ran into several friends and tried to shorten the gap between us and Patty.    I texted her and she told me that she was just short of mile 5 when we left the Magic Kingdom.

We passed mile 7 and I still did not see the sign of Patty, and I was starting to get worried.    Did I miss her?   Did we pass her and not see her?    I told the husband to veer to the right and stop since I needed to text her, and I heard a shout…. YANNI!

I looked to my right and there was Patty.    She stopped shortly before mile 8 so she can text me because she was struggling.    I looked at her, did my quick scan (yes, I did check her out from head to toe to make sure she didn’t fall earlier and ya know, have bloody knees or something) and asked her how she was doing.     She told me that she wasn’t doing well.    It was only mile 8 and she didn’t know if she could actually keep going.    She looked .. panicked.    I told her to diss her timer and follow me.    The husband told her to drink and eat the snack and made sure she wasn’t dehydrated.   We stopped for a good 5 minutes to regroup and we started to run again

Mile 8-17

Mile 13. Not the halfway

Mile 13. Not the halfway

I started Patty on 30/2-minutes interval.   We shuffled for 30 seconds and we walked for 2 minutes.   I told her to focus on my steps and just follow me.   The husband was task behind her and entertained her with his constant stories (This is true.   He could make stories our of anything during the run).    I looked at my watch and we were around a 16:30 pace.    We passed mile marker 9 and the husband shouted… look we are half way to mile-18!    I laughed at his silly-ness and secretly hoped that Patty was not too much annoyed by his sense of humor but she seemed to play along so we kept going.    We entered the Animal Kingdom and I decided to skip Everest ride (yes, for those who never run WDW marathon — you can ride the ride in the middle of your race) and stay with Patty, even though she insisted of me to go ride it.     We took a quick picture and kept shuffling around.    Patty saw a few of her friends who cheered and volunteered, and I saw some of mine.   I was all good so far.

Mile 17. Still in a good spirit!

Mile 17. Still in a good spirit!

We were on a steady pace of 16:30 and our gap between us and the balloon ladies (official 16-min/mile pacer) were getting shorter (I tracked them so I know when they hit certain timing mat).    I was starting to get a little nervous so I switched our interval to 30/60 without Patty even knowing it (she probably cursed me inside .. haha).     I was so proud of her though as she was doing exactly what I was asking her.    Follow my steps.   She ran when I ran, she walked when I walked.     I told her to only focus on the 30 seconds we were running.   That’s all because most people can shuffle for 30 seconds and as long as we were moving forward, we were good.

We left the Animal Kingdom and kept on going.    Patty was in good spirits (or so it seems) even though there was a shorter walk break, but my muscles started to get tired.    Since I was pacing her, I ran slower than I normally did, and walked more than I normally walked and guess what — my muscles were not trained for that much of walking.    I can feel some of the twinge on my muscles so I started to run a bit faster to mix it up a bit.    The husband ran in front of Patty (sometimes backward) and paced her, and I was behind her — keeping a distance so I can do ‘run’ break to work my muscles differently.     I started to doubt myself on this whole ‘pacing someone for a marathon’ thing.   What was I thinking?   What happened if *I* could not go on?    I mean, I just came out of TFL injury after back to back Marine Corps Marathon and New York Marathon and diagnosed with Pneumonia 2 months prior.     Whooooo… boy.    I was on full on panic mode.   It’s one thing when it’s only me that I have to worry to get to the finish line and I know that I have enough stubborn cells in my body to do it, it’s a whole ‘nother thing when you have other people rely on you to get to the finish line.

Mile 18-24

Mile 20! Well, the smile still there!We hit mile marker 18, and the husband made a comment that not too long ago, he was saying that we were half way point to mile 18.    I mumbled something along… well, that was a long time ago, but I didn’t think he heard me.   We walked through World Wide of Sport (ESPN complex) and gosh, I hated this part.    I hated during Goofy 2013 and Dopey 2015 and I still hated it in 2016.     I looked at my watch and realized that we were only 12 minutes ahead from the balloon ladies.    We ran into a few friends, took pictures, stop at porta-potty and we kept going.    Slow, but steady.    We left WWoS and saw the parade bus aka. sweeper bus shortly after mile 21 and Patty suddenly ran a bit faster.    The sight of the sweeper bus just lit a fire in her and I started to feel confident about everything.

The momentary panic feeling went away, and we entered Hollywood Studios.    We took a few pictures with the characters as there were no lines.    I knew that we would cross the finish line together that day, even if both the husband and I had to drag her with us but Patty’s spirit seems to be up and she looked more confident than she was several miles prior.      I kept us moving with the same pace.   I switched us back to 30/2-minutes and the husband just ran/walk backward in front of us while continue to feed us with some stories about something.    Oh, how I love that husband of mine!    All of the pictures on this post were taken by him.    He ran with full-size camera in his hand and I love how he documented the whole race for us.

Moving Forward!

Moving Forward!

For the husband, this was his fifth marathon in 2 years.    Yes, from the last race recap on this blog to this post, somehow the husband became a runner and started to run the race with me.    From couch to Half-Marathon in summer 2014 and he ran pretty much all the races with me (with the exception of a few local races).

We moved along slowly, but steady through Hollywood Studios and I knew there’s one more hard sweeping point, which was outside Hollywood Studios, before the narrow trails towards the boardwalk.    I saw the parade sweeper bus out there as we walked near it and I was so relieved to know that we made it through all the sweep point!!!     I shouted to Patty as we walked towards the Boardwalk … YOU ARE GOING TO BE A MARATHONER!!    She was all teary eyes with a huge grin on her face and said, yes yes I am!

Mile 24 – 26.2

These ladies cheered FOR SEVEN HOURS!

These ladies cheered FOR SEVEN HOURS!

We entered Boardwalk and was passed by balloon ladies but I knew as long as we kept moving forward, we were okay.    I took one good look at Patty and decided to ditch the interval and just walked, and ooooh we did.    We joked, we laughed, we cried a bit and before long, I saw familiar faces.    It was several friends of mine (I love you to pieces, ladies) that waited for me there and cheered me!        Jill (in the picture, green shirt with banana… ooh.. banaaanaaa) and Carolyn (she was not in the picture) flew to DC several months prior to cheer me and the husband during Marine Corps Marathon.   Heather (blue shirt, holding the sign) ran half-marathon the day prior and was on her feet, cheering for SEVEN HOURS!!!

I puffy-pink heart all of these ladies!!!

We walked through the Boardwalk and entered Epcot and I started to get a little emotional.  I remembered my first marathon, on this very course.   I still vividly remembered, to this day, how I felt when I looked across the lake and saw the Epcot ball and those feelings were bubbling up out of nowhere!

I asked the husband to walk ahead towards Mexico pavilion and got Patty a frozen Margarita.   I promised her that the day before, so (oh how I love that husband of mine) the husband ran ahead, stood in the line and waited for us with a frozen margarita on his hand!    We ran into several other friends and it was just the most amazing thing.    We continue to walk and before we knew it, I saw the finisher chute.

The husband stepped back a few feet and captured an amazing picture of us crossing the finish line!

The FINISH LINE!!

The FINISH LINE!!

Epic Finish Photo!

Epic Finish Photo!

Disclaimer:   We did not block the finish line (feel free to peruse marathonfoto and check out our finisher video) and there were a good ten feet between us and the husband who took this awesome shot

Patty and I hugged each other and I was so so very proud of her!    The joy that I experienced when I cross that finish line with her was indescribable.     She almost gave up at mile 8 and she didn’t. She kept going.   She moved from start to finish with her own two feet, all twenty-six point two miles of it!!!!      And as for me — I get to experience the joy, the amazing joy that as a runner, completely beyond everything I ever experienced.    If you are interested to read Patty’s recap, she blogged it here.

Footnotes

If you never pace or run someone on their first race, be that 5k/10k/Half-Marathon or Marathon — I highly suggested you try it.    To actually run a race, not for yourself.    It was so very rewarding and you won’t regret it.     This saying below always something that I live by and I hope, on January 10, 2016 — Patty really looked at me and think that.     Because if I can inspire ONE person to achieve something that once impossible for them, everything that I do carries so much value

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2013 Seattle Marathon – Recap

Posted by on Dec 3, 2013 in Charity, Exercise, Marathon, Race Recap, Running, Triathlon | 0 comments

Yes.  I just completed another marathon.   2013 Seattle Marathon was my FIFTH marathon since I started to run a little over 2 years ago.    What a journey and I am patting myself in the back as I’m writing this post for such an accomplishment.   No, I didn’t break my personal record or even have spectacular time, but this race, in particular, very special to me.

Another Medal!!

Another Medal!!

I spent a whole month of October trying to battle my health challenge.   Needless to stay, it was quite a month and it was a major set back in my fitness.    For those who knows me, this should not come as a surprise but the whole thing just lit a fire under me.   I consulted with my coaches and they came up with a quick plan to get me ready.   I already have the base training and endurance since I just did Portland Marathon in early October so I just need to keep it up.    Easy peasy, I said.

November arrived and I totally flunked the training.   Even on the “easy” plan that my coaches put together for me, I fell short.   I didn’t have enough energy to even follow it.    I did the best I could, with sweat, (no blood) and tears.   I was worry and nervous leading up to the race day and kept wondering if I had it in me this time to finish it.

Race Day

The alarm went off at 5:30am.   Groaned.  I hate this early morning race day routine.   The husband woke up before me, made sure my pre-run breakfast ready (he is awesome).   It took me another half hour before I actually rolled out the bed and got myself ready.   I supposed to be at the team meeting at 7:30am and I knew there was no way I could be there on time, so I left message on our team FB page to let the coaches know that I wasn’t going to be there.   We took the monorail to Seattle Center (yes, I didn’t want to walk 3/4 miles from Westin Seattle to Seattle Center) and I was by the Seattle Center House shortly before 8am.   I decided to use their bathroom (real bathroom!) instead of the porta potties by the start line and head out about 8:10am to the corral.   It was not as cold (about 45 degrees) but it was pretty windy.    I ditched my running jacket and gave it to my husband, but kept the light shell.

8:17am — I crossed the start line.

Running on the floating bridge!

Running on the floating bridge!

First few miles went by really quick.  I took off my light jacket about mile 1 and put it on my waist.   We ran on 5th avenue towards the freeway and I was feeling great.  I maintained my 2:30-1 ratio and being really consistent about it.   Leigh Anne, a fellow teammate, who volunteer her time to be Team in Training sweeper (which means — she will run with the last TNT runner– ME–until the next hand off to another sweeper) kept me company.   We didn’t talk much as I never much of a talker when I run but she was there with me.      About mile 4.5 — I started to run at I-90 bridge.   I was a bit worry about the wind, but thankfully, it wasn’t bad at all.   In fact, the weather in overall was awesome.   Overcast and 55 degrees.      We did out and back on the bridge and turn around at Mercer Island.   I was still feeling great

There was sideways strong wind hit me while the photo taken. No joke

There was sideways strong wind hit me while the photo taken. No joke

Mile 9 — I started to feel fatigued.  Uh-oh, I said.   I had a long way to go for being fatigued this early.   This reminded me of Nike Half SF as I was feeling somewhat the same.     I started to breath heavy, since every step required more energy for me to take but I kept on going.   I caught up with the one of our teammate who walked the marathon (they had an hour head start), so Leigh Anne stayed back with her.   I kept going, and ran with a fellow runner who told me he was an TNT alumni (and I can’t remember his name!!).   He kept me company until we entered Seward Park and he had to take a quick stop at porta potties.   I kept going and out of nowhere, Jeff Barber and Kelly Brennan (another TNT alumni — Kelly was my winter season coach) showed up and they started to run with me.   I was so happy to see them and actually teared up a bit.. not sure why.   I am a cry-baby, after all.

Mile 11 to 15 flew by because both Jeff and Kelly kept me distracted.   The wind started to pick up and wowza, it hit me hard sideways!!  I maintained my ratio but I know my pace dropped a bit.   Coach Lisa joined us at mile 15 so I had THREE awesome people literally run around me.    We said good bye to Jeff and Kelly at mile 17 and I kept on going.

Mile 18 – I looked at my watch and it said 4:02.   I did a quick calculation in my head and told myself, okay, I had 2 hours to get 8 miles!  That’s doable and I will break my PR!

Mile 19 – Coach Glen joined us and I was so happy to see him.   I had asked him to ehm… pull me to finish.. so to speak .. haha.   We ran together, took some pictures and at mile 20, we said good bye to Coach Lisa as she need to run back to our other teammate who was behind me.

Told ya our coaches are awesome!

Coach Rod and Coach Glen. Love, LOVE them!

Mile 20 – I was still feeling decent.  No longer great, but it wasn’t as bad.   I was still maintaining the run-walk ratio until about mile 21.5 when we hit BIG hill.   When I said.. big hill… I really meant… BIG HILL.    It’s 120 feet elevation (based on my GPS) from mile 21.5 to mile 22.   That’s the first time I decided to just walk.    So we walked the hill and I can feel that my head spinning and I get dizzier by the minute (sorry I didn’t tell you, coach Glen).   I felt cold, like REALLY cold.    I kept on walking until the top of the hill and started to run again on the downhill, and walked again on the hill.   My pace started to drop tremendously even on the run part

Mile 22 – Coach Rod joined us and I continue to run/walk again as the street started to level up a bit.   Both of my coaches kept me entertained and distracted!  It was awesome.

Mile 23 – We entered the Arboretum and it was ehm.. a lot of hills.   That stretch is not foreign to me because that’s one of the coaches favorite for practice.   My right calves started to cramp badly that I had to stop and stretch (and hug a tree!).   I continued to walk and saw the mission mile about half way into the Arboretum.   Mission mile is a stretch of mile (or less in this case) on the course that filled with pictures of many that lost their life to blood cancers.   I started to cry when I saw Tyler Bledsoe photo in there, then Siona, a daughter of my fellow teammate, and Heather, a sister of my coach.   It was yet another reminder on why I run.   I run for them, because they can no longer run.     Jeff Peterson, our campaign manager,  was around the mission mile and he ran with us for a while

So happy to see him!!

So happy to see him!!

Mile 24 – Coach David joined us.   I knew we were close and my spirit was up.   I started to jog/walk again (see I said jog instead of run) and felt okay.   Then from a distance, I saw someone familiar.   IT WAS MY HUSBAND, JOHN.   There he was, standing on the side of the street around mile 24.5.   I sprinted (yes, I said SPRINTED) to him and leaped into his arm.   I was SO HAPPY to see him!!!!   He brought me banana, which I devoured within a second and he joined us.

Mile 25 – Coach Glen and Coach David said good bye and I continued with Coach Rod and ran into Coach Ginny.   I continued to walked until I saw my friend, Kat, with her sparkle skirt and Santa hat.   I ran and hugged her, took the pretzel (which was awesome) and continue on.

Mile 26 – The stadium is around the corner and I started to run.  Coach Ginny and Coach Rod stayed back when I entered the stadium and I continued to run, lifted my hands, big cheesy smile and cross the finish line!   I did it!   My FIFTH marathons!!

OfficialFinishPhoto

I did it!!

No, I didn’t break my personal record but by far, this is the toughest race I ever done and with perseverance, determination, stubbornness and a lot of support from coaches, TNT volunteers and alumni, I managed to move my body with my own two-feet for 26.2 miles.   I hugged my husband after the finish line, cried on his shoulder as well as on Coach Rod and Coach Ginny’s shoulder.

I did it.

Friends, if you are reading this far, and you are questioning yourself about your ability to complete a long distance event (half marathon/marathon), know that if I can do it, please believe that you can do it too.    You can’t complete half marathon or marathon if you never cross the start line.

Dream big, reach for the sky and you will surprise yourself on how far you can go.

Until the next race.

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2013 Portland Marathon – Recap

Posted by on Oct 7, 2013 in Charity, Exercise, Marathon, Race Recap, Running, Triathlon | 0 comments

Me and the medals

Me and the medals

A little over two years ago, certain friends of mine talked and dared me into registering to Portland Half Marathon.   I thought that was a crazy talk but I did it anyway.  I joined Team in Training for the first time as a Flex Team participant and trained myself to my first ever sanctioned endurance event.  13.1 miles of crazy.   I finished, and I was hooked.    Fast forward to today, 7 half-marathons and 4 marathons later, my love and passion about running is stronger than ever.   I love the races, I love the medals, I love the ups and downs during the training and I love to continue challenging myself, but what I love the most about it, I love the opportunity that I have to inspire and motivate others to do something that once unthinkable for them.   To find out how far they can push themselves and to witness the strength that they have, buried somewhere within themselves.   No, I’m not a coach by any means.   I’m back-of the pack runner, who happen to be a survivor, a mother who work full time and understand the struggle when you have to balance the time between training for your goals, and your responsibility to your job and your family and I love encouraging others with my journey

Portland marathon always have a special place in my heart.   I always think of the race that started it all so for me to came back and did my fourth marathon there, with the same person who dared me to love this sport to begin with (I love you, Karen!) made it even more special. I learned some lessons from this race and even beat my personal record by 14 minutes!

The night before the race

I attended Team In Training inspiration dinner with the husband, Karen and Rob.   It was your typical pasta dinner hosted by Team In Training OSWIM (Oregon, South Washington, Idaho & Montana) chapter.   There were 125 of TNT runners and collectively, we raised a little bit over $250,000 for the event!   That’s one grant amount for a research!   Pretty impressive!   We had our teammate, Kellie, spoke during the dinner and shared her story.  She is an amazing person!!

After dinner, we went back to our room and lights out about 9pm.    Surprisingly, I wasn’t as nervous as I thought and felt pretty ready.

Honoree Teammates.  We are a superhero

Honoree Teammates. We are a superhero

Race Day!

Alarm went off at 4:45am.   I grumbled, as usual, as it took me about 3o minutes to actually move from the bed and get ready.   The husband made my usual pre-run breakfast (english muffin, banana, peanut butter) and filled out my fuel belt bottle with gatorade and water.   Love that husband of mine!   I slowly got dress, and was out of the door to meet Karen and Rob shortly before 6am.    We hung out at the hotel lobby for another 30 minutes and walked to our corral.   Rob and I were in the same corral, different than Karen.   It was COLD morning.   I was so glad that I had my arm sleeves and gloves!

Me with Karen and Rob. Ready to roll

Me with Karen and Rob.
Ready to roll

At 6:55am, all the runners was asked to sing the national anthem together which I thought very neat.   15,000 runners, united together and sang National anthem.   I actually got a goose bumps!   Corral A and the elite start exactly at 7am and our corral slowly moved towards the start line.    That’s when I realized my Garmin watch is dead.   Yes, my Garmin watch, the one that I thought was charged all night was dead.   I went on panic mode for a moment as I relied on my watch throughout the training session to make sure I stay on pace and I have huge goal for this race.   Actually, I have four goals.   My crazy, huge and aggressive goal was to finish with 5:30 time. I picked up a pace band from the expo that have all the time I have to hit every miles and that seems doable from my training.    My second goal was to finish under 6 hours, which also seems doable.  My third goal was to beat my last personal best time and my last goal was to finish, upright and smiling.   Yes, I told you it was a huge goals.

Mile 1-12

I calmed myself and thought — I had my phone with me and my runmeter app will read the pace, distance and time every half miles.    I took a deep breath and proceeded to walk to the start line.   At 7:25am, I crossed the start line.   I was feeling good and enjoy the crowd.   I saw the husband on mile 2’ish and gave him my dead Garmin watch and again at mile 4.5 where I ditched my gloves.   I was feeling great!  I kept looking at my pace band and made sure that I hit the time on every mile and I had to slow down a few times because I was about 2-3 minutes faster than what the time indicated.    My legs felt great though and I kept on going.   I saw coach Joe and ran with him for a little bit.    Around mile 10, I started to feel some tightness on my chest and started coughing a lot.   I wasn’t panting my any means, but I knew exactly what it was.  It was a sign that the muscle around my airways started to swell and narrowing the air that can go through the airways.  Or what we called Asthma.   I took my first walk break there to see if that will help, and it did, so I switched to run/walk.     Fast forward two miles later, I knew for sure I had an Asthma attack.   I wheezed and stopped at the side of the road, took 4 puff from my inhaler, wait for a few minutes and proceed to walk.    I looked at my pace band, and that cost me about 5 minutes.   The crazy part of me said, well, I’ll make that time up so I started to run faster (like an idiot) because I was so focus on my pace band and not thinking straight.

Coach Glen and I.  Mile 22

Coach Glen and I. Mile 22

Mile 13 – 17

I passed mile 13, and thought — okay, now I’m 3 minutes behind.  I can make that time and proceed to run even faster (again, not being smart) which last about maybe a quarter mile before I stopped and wheezed on the side of the road again.   My chest felt so tight that I had to bend forward, and hold my chest with my hand (or what doctor called it tripod position).   I walked and finally came to my senses and ripped the pace band from my wrist.   I did 5-1 run walk from mile 14.5 on and survived the St. John’s bridge and felt a little bit better.   The view from the top of the bridge was so breathtaking!   I can see Mt. Rainier, Mt. St. Helen and Mt. Hood!  I stopped there for a few seconds, just soaking the view and be grateful that I am able to run and appreciate the opportunity to stand there.

I continued to do run/walk for another couple miles and coach Glen found me around mile 20 and started to run with me.   I was very grateful for him, because all those not-s0-smart move I did earlier (like running faster-almost sprinting just to make sure I made the time and followed my pace band) aggravated my already inflamed airways.   I ran slower on the run part, slow than normal, but I kept moving forward.   Coach Glen kept talking to me about many things, distracted my mind, got me gummy bear and very patiently jog/walk with me.    We saw TNT tent on mile 22 and that was a Godsend!!   They have banana, oranges, pretzel, and candy!   I grabbed handful of pretzel, slice of oranges and half banana which gave me a boost.

We continued to jog/walk, and ran into coach Ginny.   So happy to see her smiling face!! My knee started to hurt from the tightness of my IT-Band due to quite a stretch of downhill that we had but I kept moving forward and by golly, coach Glen was a lifesaver.   He knew I was struggling and was so patiently kept my mind off from it.   We talked about some other races he did, about so many things.   He engaged my mind during the hardest miles and I had to tell you, it was all mental strength that carry me through.    All the messages from Facebook and Twitter that many, many of my friends posted on my FB walls or tweet me — were so helpful.   I felt so loved and had so many people cheer me to finish strong.   I was hurting, no question about it.  I had retractions on my belly, just the bottom of the breastbone as a result of increased use of the chest muscles for breathing, which cause massive headache, in addition to tension headache that I battle everyday and my left knee was in pain but not even once that the thought of quitting enter my mind

Mile 24.  Can NOT wait to be done

Mile 24. Can NOT wait to be done

Mile 24 – Finish

We were heading back to downtown Portland and I knew that I was in a home stretch.   With 2.2 miles to go, I had 28 minutes to spare to meet my sub-6 goal.   I tried to run faster but after I hit mile 25, I knew that it’s not worth it for me to push it so I went back to my jog/walk strategy.     We ran into coach Joe and coach Lisa and I had three of Team in Training coaches ran me in to mile 25.5, where they had to stop.   I told coach Lisa that it wasn’t my day as I miss my goals, but she straighten me out.   She said “It IS my day.  You are out here, about to finish yet another marathon.  Embrace it”  and boy, I did.   I ran the last half miles with so much endorphin.   I almost ran past the husband who shouted my name from the sideline, a moment before the finish line.   I stopped, kissed him, continued to run, put both of my hand up, looked up to the sky, big smile on my face and cross the finish line.

Post Finish

Shortly after I crossed the finish line, a woman who I never met suddenly hugged me and kissed me on the cheek.     She told me that she almost quit the race but she spotted me and was focusing on the word ‘Rock Star’ and ‘Survivor’ on the back of my jersey and that pushed her through the last 2 miles.   She thanked me for being her inspiration, because she said, if a cancer survivor can do a marathon, a healthy person like her can do that as well. I hugged her back and teared up a bit.   That made my heart melt.   THAT’s what running the races all about for me.   It’s not the time, it’s not the PR, it’s not breaking personal record (even though I was ecstatic that I PR’ed by 14 minutes!).   It’s the opportunity for me to inspire others.

I received my medals, wandered around on the food area and tried to stuff my face with SO MANY FOOD.   Portland marathon had the BEST post-race food and made Run Disney event post-race food look like a joke.   There’s string cheese, oranges, cold and crispy grapes, banana, bagel and cream cheese, all kinds of chips (doritos, lay), slice of apple, chocolate milk and I think I missed a few.   I heard someone called my name, and Rob was walking towards me.   He finished about 20 minutes before me and wandered around and wait for me and Karen.   We continued to stuff our face with food, and waited for Karen.   She crossed the finish line shortly after and we hugged.   We did it!  My fourth marathon, Karen’s second marathon and Rob’s first marathon!!   We were all PR’ed!!

Me, Karen and Rob.  We looked so serious

Me, Karen and Rob. We looked so serious

Lesson Learned

I have learned a lesson (or two) during this race.   They are listed below, in no particular order:

  1. Always, always check all of your gear the night before.  Including to make sure your watch is being charged properly.   Sometimes it looks like it, but double check to make sure it really is being charged
  2. Do NOT fixated on the goal.   Things happen during the race and sometimes, your body decided to go south, when you want go North.    Do a body check every mile (thanks coach Glen!) and re-evaluate.   Your goal sometimes need to be adjusted during the race day and it is OKAY not to meet the goal
  3. Be smart.  Run smart.   My stubbornness sometimes get in a way and prevent me from thinking clearly (hello, sprained ankle 10 days prior WDW marathon and still run it?  Or mile 18 during Goofy challenge after the medical team said they heard ‘crackled’ and that could be a sign of pneumonia and decided to leave the medical tent and walked to the finish line?).  I have got to stop being stubborn and be a smart runner.
  4. Carry a bag of pretzel on a small bag, and put it on your pocket.    The race provided gummy bears and pretzel, but they have no pretzel left on the water/food stop when I was there.   After 4 pack of Gu, I did not want anything sweet anymore
  5. Do more of speed work and hills.   Do not avoid hills during training.   They could be your best friends during race days.

Fundraising Notes

Even though Portland Marathon is part of TNT Fall team event, I have re-direct my fundraising effort towards TNT Spring team event.    To date, I raised $8,430 and I will not stop here.   Thank you for those who are so generously donated to my fundraising event.    If you like to support the cause that very dear to my heart, please visit my fundraising page at:  http://pledge.yannirobel.com   Every dollar help.  No donation is too small, or too big.    I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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San Diego Rock & Roll Marathon Recap

Posted by on Jun 7, 2013 in Charity, Exercise, Marathon, Race Recap, Running | 1 comment

I am a three-times marathoner.   Me.  THREE TIMES.  Me.    The one that walked, ran, hobbled, walked some more and finished and beat my personal record by 21 minutes.

I am so humbled.    I dedicated this run for those who can’t run.   For those who are no longer with us, and for those who were robbed by cancer and its treatment for the privilege to be able to run.   There are many of them around, but in this particular run, I dedicated it to Tom Roush (b | t).  Tom is a dear friend of mine and he’s currently facing some major challenge in his health.   His previous challenge prevented him from being able to run and it’s another thing that we take it for granted.    We didn’t realize how lucky we are to be able to go out and just run until that is no longer an option.

Pre-race

We met for a team meeting on Saturday where the coaches and our team leaders gave us last minute tips and tricks as well as the logistic on what’s going to happen on the race day.   I have a great opportunity to speak in front of everyone and thank everybody’s effort on their fundraising.   To really show that they made a difference.   I am a living proof on what that fundraising all about.    It was deeply touch with so many awesome people I know on this team!

YanniSpeak

Mission Moment

Shortly after, we head out to Team in Training inspiration dinner.    This probably the biggest inspiration dinner I ever attended!  There were 1,500 TNT runners and their family in the room and together, we raised 4.5 millions dollar during this race!  That is VERY impressive numbers.   Our chapter alone for the summer seasons raised $153,000!    Wow.   This is what I am talking about.   The cure is around the corner and Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is working hard to raised all these funds so they can fund more research for the cures.    YOU, my friends, are part of this awesome thing because many of you supported me, either by donating to my fundraising or encourage me during my training run.   For that, from the bottom of my heart, I thank you!

Race Day

The alarm went off at 3am.   Yes THREE AM.   I was so cranky and really didn’t want to get out of bed.   After half hours just dilly-dally and did nothing, I slowly got up and got myself ready.    We were told to meet at the lobby at 4:15am so we all can boarded the bus at 4:30am.    I told Karen (b | t) that I will meet her by the corral.   Karen is another dear friend of mine and one of my awesome corporate sponsor for this Summer season, the one that actually talked me into running to begin with.   I never forget when she dared me to run Portland Half Marathon on 2011 shortly after my Rainier summit trip.   Few months ago, I dared her to do this marathon with me.

We started with a very slow pace and 2-1 ratio for the first mile, then changed to 5-1 afterwards.  First five miles went by really quick until I had to go to do a quick stop at the porta-potties.   We decided to go to Starbucks instead (yes, the stores opened their restroom for runners).   Initially I was so happy to see that there were no lines.   We waited and waited but the lady inside the restroom spent FOREVER in there.   I swore it took almost 10 minutes before both Karen and I ran back to the course and continue on.

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We were THAT cheerful the entire run

I don’t remember much until the about 13 miles.   We ran through Mission Bay park and it was really nice running path.   Weather was overcast and breeze which was great for me.   Karen and I kept our 5-1 ratio and  managed to still joke around during our walk breaks.   She even live-blogged during the run!    We hit mile 18 and my asthma that been bothering me lately started to acting up more and slow me down a bit.   I took more puff from my inhaler and continue on.   Karen and I kept outrun each other, but we managed to stay together.

Mile 19 came around and it was the beginning of a long, very long gradual hill.   About 2 miles long.   I shorten out my ratio down to 2-1 and grind through it.   Again, Karen live-blogged during that hill and I assured you, even the picture didn’t really show it, it was a very long hill!

Mile 21, both Karen and I decided to sprint, well, ran fast on the downhill.   Yes, we knew that was bad for our knees but we did it anyway mainly because I just wanted to get done.    It felt so great to head down that hill fast that way!

Mile 22 was a mission mile stretch.   It’s a stretch of street that filled with signs with name of the people that we run this race for.   I started to cry to see my name on few of that signs.  It was overwhelming to see it!

Sign with my name!

Sign with my name!

The last 3 miles of the race somewhat a blur.   I knew I was so happy we were almost done and the fact that my husband greeted me at mile 25 with his big smile just gave me a boost that I needed.   One of my coach, Erica, who ran with me during some of those hills as well as towards the end also gave me the push that I needed.

Upright and Smiling!

Upright and Smiling!

Then the finish line.

Karen and I sped up and we both smiled cheek to cheek.    We had hold hand, up in the air, big cheesy smile and cross the finish line together.

For me personally, this is the best marathon ever.   Not because I PR’ed by 21 minutes, but mostly because I did it with my dear friend.   Because I can say that I motivated her to complete her first marathon, and because we started, ran it, and finished together.

Karen, thank you for allowing me to be part of your first marathon.    Thank you for continuously to support me and agreed to do more of the crazy races with me  (yes, stay tuned for that).

Until the next race.

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2013 Goofy Challenge – I run because I can and for those who can’t

Posted by on Jan 14, 2013 in Charity, Exercise, Half Marathon, Marathon, Race Recap, Running | 2 comments

I am sitting here at the airplane on my way home to Seattle, with very sore feet, couple blister on my pinkie toes, and the biggest grin on my face.

I just completed 39.3 miles in two days.   That’s THIRTY NINE POINT THREE miles.  Half marathon and full marathon, back to back.

That’s a milestone that I can’t even comprehend a few months ago.   Let me give you some background story for those who don’t know.    Last September, I had to endure three weeks of radiation treatment to battle pesky little cells that took over my body shortly after I signed up with Team in Training for the winter season of Goofy Challenge.   I was bummed and disappointed, but I didn’t let that discourage me.  In fact, I looked at it as a challenge and determined to make it happened.

So I had it plan.   I looked at my training schedule carefully and work with my doctor’s office to schedule the treatment.   I was lucky that I have the luxury to do that.   I did Disneyland Half Marathon a weekend prior the treatment and started my first round the Tuesday after for three weeks.   It was brutal.   It did wonder to my muscle, to my body and most importantly, to my mind.   I started to doubt myself and unsure that I am going to be able to do that.    I was so tired and fatigued and I wasn’t able to eat.  I lost 11lbs in three weeks, not in a healthy way.   I was weak, and I had a hard time to even walk, let alone run.

I am so grateful that I am surrounded by people who constantly lift my spirit up.   There are so many prayers, support, people rallied together to bring my family meals, encouraging notes and slowly but sure, my stubbornness were back.   I started to focus my mind to this race.   It was my distraction.   Whenever I felt really down, I imagined myself crossing the finish line and I picked myself up.   I forced myself to be out in the trail and just be there.   There were days that I can only walked for a very short time due to fatigued but I kept coming back to the trail until the end of the treatment.

That was 15 weeks ago.

Today, I looked back and can’t help but getting so emotional about the whole thing.   I have won, and this is why I run.

I run because I can, and I run for those who can no longer run because they are no longer with us (Tyler and Dawn, this is for you) or they faced serious health challenge that prevent them from doing so (Tom, this is also for you)

Someday is today.

I am Goofy!

I am Goofy!

Half Marathon Recap

My husband woke me up at 2am EST.   It was brutal because of the time different.   We were told to meet at the lobby at 3am and head out to the bus together with the Team In Training group.   By 4am, we were hanging out by the bag check tent to have last minute gathering.   Our coaches kept reminding us to hydrate and pace ourselves well due to the heat.   My teammate, Tim, and I are in the same corral and we agreed to stay together and did 2:30/1 run-walk ratio.   The gun went off at 6:03am and off we went.   The first 5 miles went by so quickly.   We were very conservative and pace ourselves well.   We got to Magic Kingdom about an hour or so after we started and I saw my husband right in front of the castle.   I literally leaped on his arm and gave him a hug.

Can you tell that I'm excited?

Can you tell that I’m excited?

We stopped for a few pictures and ran around the Magic Kingdom.   There were so many people that cheered us and it was a lot of fun.    I stopped in every water station and took at least one cup of water and one cup of PowerAde.

Around 7:30am – the sun was up and I could feel the heat was rising.   It was really, really hot.   The air was thick and it was very humid.    We slow our pace a bit but kept the same ratio.   Tim and I entertained each other throughout the course and before we knew it, we crossed the finish line.

I was dancing away as I crossed the finish line and high-fived Donald.   It took me 3:03 to finish but it was exactly where I want it to be due to the heat.

I got my medal, head out to the race retreat tent and met my husband there.   I hung out there for a while and ate before we hopped back at the resort.    I took the ice bath, stretched and napped.   It was a good day!

Marathon Recap

Second days in a row to be woken up at 2am really did wonder to my mood.   I was cranky.   I wasn’t happy and the blister on my pinky toes from yesterday’s run wasn’t really a big help either.   I slowly got myself ready and hopped on the bus.

It was already humid when I was waiting at my corral.   Tim and I agreed that we were going to stick together again and even did a bit lower pace from the beginning.   I can feel the thick air and it was really, really warm at 5:30am.

IMG_2988

My friend Tim and I, in front of Magic Kingdom

The first five miles went by fairly quick as well.   I was drenched in sweat when I saw my husband in front of the Magic Kingdom castle again.   I leaped to his arm (again) and kept on running.   We took 10 minutes bathroom stop at Magic Kingdom for Tim as he wasn’t feeling all too well and I waited for him.    We took a few more pictures with the character throughout the park and kept on going.

Shortly before we enter Animal Kingdom, it was my turn to take the bathroom break.  The lines were so long, and I was drenched in sweat.   I splashed the water on my face and felt better afterwards and continued to run.

There were a lot of runners that stopped and rode the Everest ride at Animal Kingdom but we decided not to do that, as I was afraid that I would get cramp if I sat down.   Shortly after we left Animal Kingdom, I felt a sharp pain in my chest.   I slowed down a bit and tried to figure out where the pain came from.   Then, I breathed fast during my run which causes my chest to hurt even more.    I slowed down even more and eventually I told Tim to go ahead.   He didn’t want to leave me behind, but I knew it at the time that I might have to walk the rest of the course so he took off.

Me at Animal Kingdom

Me at Animal Kingdom

After Tim and I split, I walked for 15 minutes or so and my chest felt better so I started to run again, but the pain came back so I finally stopped at the medical tent around mile 18.    I had a suspicion on what caused my pain, but I wanted someone to confirm it.    I told the nice lady at the medical tent that I had ‘congested chest’ (way to play it down, I know) and she gave me a very cold bottle of water, and grabbed her statoscope and listened to my chest and told me that she heard crackled and suspected fluid in my lungs.   She also suspected that my ‘congested chest’ might turn into pneumonia and told me that I should probably go to the hospital so they can order an x-ray for further observation.    I politely told her that I don’t want to and when she went to get something at the other side of the tent, I quietly got up and walked away.

That was exactly what I suspected.   See, I had fluid in my lung cavity so many times as that was one of the side effects of my medication and went through the whole routine more than I want to count.  My body usually re-absorbs the fluid by itself.   In a few occasions that it didn’t, I had to undergo some procedures to drain the fluid.   I didn’t want to go to the hospital during the race and I had 8 miles to go.   However, I knew that running is no longer an option because of this.   So, yes, I was being stubborn, but I was within my boundaries (yes, this is me justifying my action – stop judging me)

I stopped at the next medical tent and took a couple Tylenol and kept on walking.  I texted my husband and told him what’s going on and told him that I was no longer running.   He told me that he love me and I kept on walking.

At mile 20, I started to get a bit worry about time because I knew that the sweeper would pick the runners up as they were closing the course.   I knew that I need to get to Hollywood Studio.   It was safe zone for all the runners because you were not going to get picked up anymore.

I looked at my watch, and I saw the 7:00 pacer run past me.  I decided to follow them.  They were doing 40/30 run-walk ratio.    It was very conservative, and I didn’t feel as much pain so I followed them.   I got to Hollywood Studio and was so relieved.   I made it thus far!  I was safe!   I dropped out from the 7:00 pacer group and started to walk again.   There were so many people cheered us inside the park and that lifted my spirit quite a bit.   The tweets from all my friends (thank you so very much for that, by the way) were a HUGE moral boost.   I was exhausted at that point.   The bottoms of my feet were very, very sore and I just wanted to be done.

That's me.  Crying.  When I spotted my husband

That’s me. Crying. When I spotted my husband

My husband was waiting for me by the boardwalk, which was a short walk after Hollywood Studio.   I spotted him as soon as I crossed the bridge and I started to cry.   I was so emotional and I was really, really tired.   He walked with me until the end of the boardwalk and I entered Epcot area and spotted my two coaches, Siri and Nadine.   They walked with me throughout the Epcot and all the way to the mile 26 which I broke down into tears again with both of them on my side.     I took a deep breath, and started to run the last 0.2 miles towards the finish line.    7 hours and 25 minutes later, I crossed the finish line.    I walked towards one of the volunteer who gave me the Mickey medal and proceed to the Goofy tent to get my Goofy medal.

I finished!!

I finished!!

I could care less about how long it took for me to finish it.   I FINISHED.

I texted my husband to meet me at the race retreat tent and as soon as I saw him, I leaped into his arm and I lost it.   I was bawling in his arm.     I made it.   I did something awesome.   I overcome my challenge and did it with the flying color.

Thank you SO very much for those who constantly cheer me throughout my race.   I had so many tweets and Facebook messages that in some point, it actually overtook my music.   It was epic.   I love it and it helped me tremendously.    There were so many of you to list here but you know who you are and I know who you are.  I am very grateful to have that much support and full with gratitude.   This is something that I will never take for granted.

Thank you!

Thank you!

If you read all the way here, I hope that I inspire you to dream big and live your life to the fullest.   I hope that I inspire you to overcome whatever challenge you have in front of you by perseverance and commitment to success.   The only thing that stands between you and your goal is yourself.

Dream big.  Smile often.  Make a difference.   Know that YOU can accomplish anything that you set your mind into.

Go you.

Until the next race.

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My Name is Yanni. I’m a Marathoner

Posted by on Jan 10, 2012 in Charity, Exercise, Marathon, Race Recap, Running | 7 comments

Wow.  I’m still in an awe.

I’m a marathoner.   I ran 26.2 miles.   Well, I hobbled around the course with a sprained ankle.  I ran, I walked.   I ran and walked.  For a long time.  Very long time.   But I finished.   I was upright, smiling cheek-to-cheek, and wasn’t the last one!   It was awesome.   It was victorious.   It was absolutely fantastic.   I am a marathoner.

Race Recap

The hotel wake-up call service woke me up at 2:30am.   It took me another 30 minutes before I actually moved from the bed and started to get ready.   I decided to wear my capri as supposed of my short, compression sleeves and a tank.   It was a cool morning, about 40 degrees out.   I had my throw-away jacket with me as well.   About 4:00am – I was sitting on the bus and head out to Epcot.

Traffic were pretty heavy and it took us almost 30 minutes to get to Epcot from our resort.   I was surprisingly calm.   We walked for another 10 minutes from the bus stop to our race retreat tent and I checked my bag, used a porta-potty and started to walked to my corral.     We walked for another 20 minutes to our corral.   There were so many people around me!   It was a full moon and it felt somewhat magical

The event started on time.   Wheelchair racers were out exactly at 5:30am and before long, my corral started to move to the starting line.   Exactly at 6:05am, they let our corral go.

I ditched my jacket before even hit mile-1.   I was pretty warm.   The first 3 miles went by pretty fast.    We went towards the Epcot, around and went towards the future world-case and head out from the side, made a loop towards our corral.   I felt great.   Then I saw John at Mile 4.5!!  I was soooo excited!!   I blew him kisses and kept on running.

I stopped for at porta-potty at Mile 5, did my thing and kept going.   We were running on the road that connect Epcot and Magic Kingdom, and I had to tell you – they put some interesting stuff for us out there.   There’s always sign about Disney-fact on the side of the road for you to read as you run (Do you know it takes 7 marathon length to go around all four Disney parks?) and there were Disney characters!   I had my camera with me and able to snap pictures with a few of them.

We came to Magic Kingdom from their staff entrance and put us directly on Main Street.   When I made that turn to Main Street and saw the Cinderella Castle, I had to admit, that was very, very cool.   I saw that castle the day before so it’s not like that’s the first time I saw it, but I had the same reaction with my daughter the day before.   It was one of those  “awwwww, it’s the castle”  reaction.

We went around the castle and under it, and out we were to the next park.   I was feeling great.   I paced myself well, about 2 minutes slower than my normal race pace due to my sprained ankle, tried to be cautious on how my gait and made sure that I did heel-toe inward on my stride.

Mile 12 came around, I suddenly felt a pull on my ankle.    I had those ‘uh-oh’ moment for a second.   I stopped.   I stretched it a bit and massage the tendon towards my knee.   My physical therapist warned me about this, so did my trainer.   I stopped for almost 10 minutes and decided to kept on running, even with slower pace.

I hit the half-marathon mark and the sun was baking me! It was pretty warm! The stretch between Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom had a couple overpass, which mean, a hill. I was doing okay though, even though I can feel my ankle somewhat throbbing. No, shooting pain though so I kept going.

There so many tweets that came in between the 13-18 miles. I think it some point, between 15-16, that’s all I hear. It was awesome. I was laughing. I was smiling. I was giggling!

Then I hit mile 22. Something changed. My ankle hurt more and more and I started to doubt myself. I never run more than 22 miles before. Ever.  It was really a mind game.   I had even more cheer-tweets.   They were encouraging tweets.   I stopped for a minute, tried to massage the tendon around the ankle again and kept running.    I had so many people believe in me and I need to switch my mind set.     I grabbed a couple Tylenol from the medical tent, and started to run again.

The last 4 miles felt very, very long.   In fact, my runmeter app was 2 miles off as it already announced that I hit 26 miles when I ran past 24 miles sign!   Talk about discouraging tweet!   I started to get mad.   I want it to be done.

We entered Hollywood Studio, and I ran past the entire Disney character there without taking any photo.   I could careless about it anymore.  I just want to be done!    We ran through the boardwalk and headed towards Epcot and when I saw the Epcot famous ball from across the lake, I felt relieved.   All I had to do just ran around the lake and head out, then the finish line would be there.

Um.  Yeah.   Turn out, when you just ran 24 miles, those lake at Epcot is HUGE.    I kept hearing a tweets and I had to say, that’s what kept me going.    My ankle hurt every time my left foot hit the ground and my gait were completely off.

Mile 25.

People were cheering.  There were so many volunteer, Disney staff and just some random people that happened to be in the park cheering us.   I can see the Epcot famous ball closer and closer.   I took a deep breath and started to increase my pace.

Mile 26.

Who would’ve though .2 miles could feel like 2 miles?   OMG.   My phone constantly read the tweets.   Everybody excited.  Heck, I was excited AND impatience.   Who moved the darn finish line???

Then I turn in the corner, and I saw the finish line.

THE FINISH LINE

I almost sprint to it, but I remember that my husband and my girls were waiting for me at the left side of the finish line, so I started to look for them.   Before long, I spotted them.   I saw him waved and grin.  I saw my girls with their ‘I love you mama‘ sign, I saw my brother-in-law.   My eyes started to tear up and I had the cheesiest cheek-to-cheek grin.   I lifted both of my hand and cross that finish line.

When the volunteer put that medal around my neck, I started to cry.   There was another runner who cross the finish line shortly after me broke down as well, and we ended up hug each other and cry on each other’s shoulder.   I didn’t really catch her name other than she wore Team In Training jersey.    I grabbed the gatorade, banana and some bagel and head out to the photo line, did my finisher photo and walked back to race retreat tent to meet the rest of my family.

I stretched, and ate some snack and I was impatiently waiting for my family.   Then from across the tent, I saw my husband.   I ran towards him (yes, I ran again after 26.2) and leaped to his arm and started to cry.   All I said was “I did it.  I did it

I finished the marathon.

I had the same medal around my neck with the elite runner who finish first.   That’s the awesome thing about this competition.   Every finisher have the same medal.    We compete against ourselves, and on that race, I won.

I have a long list of thank you for those who supported me during this journey, first and foremost, I want to thank my husband, John.   I know this is a public blog and yes, I have said these words in person, but I want to make an effort to say this again here.

Thank you, John — for everything you do.   From waking up at the wee hours over the weekend, made sure I had my pre-run breakfast and ride your bike alongside me during every single one of my long run for hours to end to everything you did on the race day.   YOU are my hero and my inspiration.    I love you more than I can say with words.

To the rest of you — my family, my best friends, my SQL Family.   There were too many names to mentioned, but you know who you are.   Thank you for your constant support.   For those encouraging words, for the giggles, and most importantly, for believe in me that I can actually do this.

You guys are an awesome bunch.

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