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.
I spent a whole month of October trying to battle my health challenge and undergo some aggressive 6 rounds of “therapy”. 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 totally underestimate the impact on the “therapy” to my strength and endurance but I kept on. 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.
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.
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
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 really underestimate the impact of 6 rounds of “therapy” did to my strength and endurance! 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.
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
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!!
No, I didn’t break my personal record but by golly, I think I just set a record for running marathon a month post-”therapy”!! This by far, 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.
Two weeks after Portland Marathon, I was standing at another starting line for yet another half-marathon race. This race is part of Team in Training Fall team and I am so happy that I can be part of it even with some health challenges that I’m going through. I got the doctor’s okay by Thursday, the same time that I also came down with a full blown cold. The kind that gave you an earache, sneeze-fest, congested nose and a sinus headache. Lovely, I thought.
The husband and I hopped on the airplane anyway on Saturday morning and head to San Francisco. I barely remembered the flight as I slept the entire time courtesy of benadryl. It was pretty uneventful to say the least, other than my left ear that felt like explored when we landed.
We dropped our bag, and headed straight to Expotique. Yes. It is indeed called Expotique. I wasn’t really impressed by it cause it felt very Nike’ish. Not that many other vendor and it’s more like a party central. I got my race package, some freebies from Nike+ and headed out to Nike Town for some race specific merchandise. We walked around for a while, and I got bored really fast so we decided to head back to the hotel and rest up.
I love to go to Team in Training Inspiration Dinner. If you never been to one, you should tag along to any of your Team in Training runner and attended one of them (they have to purchase ticket for you). You walked through receiving line of SO MANY Team in Training alumni, mentors, captains and coaches and they cheered you on! It was seriously awesome. Some important number to share — there were 2,900 TNT runners for Nike Women San Francisco and we raised over 9 millions dollars!! That was very impressive!! This year is the 25th anniversary of Team in Training and in the past 25 years, there were 600,000 runners and over 1.4 billion dollars raised for Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Yes, that’s billion with ‘B’.
After dinner, we went back to our hotel, get my gear ready and lights out by 9:30pm.
My husband woke me up at 4am. Blessed his heart for putting up with me on so many races that I did. He woke up before me, got my breakfast ready, filled my fuel belt bottle then had to listen to me whining about how early it was. Every single race, I hated the 4am (or 3am in Florida. Hello!) time to get ready. I mean, really? FOUR AM?
After fifteen minutes of tossing and turning and whining, I finally got myself ready. We had to be at the lobby to meet with the rest of the team by 5:15am, so we slowly mosey ourselves downstairs. We chatted for a bit and around 6am — we all walked out to our corral. I was at the last corral (11+). I didn’t like the way the corral set. There were SO MANY people in the corral!! Armando decided to stay with me in my corral and gave me his famous “girlfriend, I don’t want to hear it. I’m going to stay with you from start to finish” look so I didn’t argue with him.
My goal for this race was fairly simple. I just want to finish. I really don’t have expectation. I started with already a half-tank of energy due as I was still trying to recover from my last treatment and I was battling a cold. I knew the course is hilly, and I knew that I didn’t do much hill workout during training (yes, coach Glen… I should’ve listen to you more) so I was actually (secretly) glad that Armando decided to hang back with me.
Race start officially at 6:30am, but our corral didn’t go out until 7:15am.
We started slowly. My plan was to do keep running until about mile 5.5 (when the big hill start) and switch to run/walk. I kept my pace steady. Slow, but steady (around 12:30′ish pace) the first 5.5 miles. I saw the husband at mile 4.5 and was SO HAPPY to see him. I love seeing him on the course. It always made me smile and gave me a little bit push that I needed. My leg felt fresh, and ready and my congestion didn’t bother me as much and I was doing great.
Then we hit the big hill at mile 5.5. It was foggy, so even though we walked next to Golden Gate bridge, we could barely see anything. I walked the hills and continue to run (or should I say jog?) for the next couple miles. Around mile 8 — I felt fatigued suddenly hit me. I almost anticipated the fatigued so that didn’t really surprise me. I know I switched to shuffle/walk because my run part was more like a shuffle. I ran into coach Glen at mile 10 and he ran with us for a little bit. I know the finish line near because I can see it (the course did a loop next to the finish line) and I ran into my husband one more time.
The last mile and a half, I barely have anything in my tank. I totally underestimated how fatigued I can get after the treatment and I didn’t even know how I can move to the finish line. I focused on the next mark, the thought of the finish line chute, the next goal, and somehow, one step at the time, I crossed that finish line.
Armando and I hug each other, got our Tiffany necklace and headed out towards the exit. That’s when it was so chaotic. The line to pick up finisher shirt was separated by the shirt size, so Armando and I got separated. I got my shirt and was shivering cold because we were standing yet in another line to pick up our mylar blanket and food. The line barely moved and there were no way out. I was starting to hyperventilate because I’m a bit claustrophobic and being in the middle of the crowd that way, plus the drop in my body temperature almost sent me to a panic attack. There were absolutely NO cellphone signal in the area. I have no idea where my husband was and really hope he would meet me at the family reunion area, so I headed out that way.
I waited for 15 minutes and my husband were no where to be found, so I decided to walk and head towards the shuttle. I wandered around and could not figure out where was the TNT shuttle. The people at TNT tent pointed me to ‘a direction’ that turn out was wrong. There were about 6 ladies around me, all TNT runners and we were all confused. I was so cold, and tired and I just wanted to get back so I decided to skip the shuttle and went ahead to call UBER taxi. I stood there waiting for the car, and hopelessly tried to call my husband again. This time — I barely had a signal and finally get a hold of him. I was SO GLAD to hear his voice and he finally met me and we headed back together
I really didn’t like the way the end of the race was. I think it could be manage a way better and the mylar blanket should be given immediately after runner cross the finish line (right after the necklace). It was a cold day and after 13.1 miles (or for many, 26.2 miles) — you were in a complete stop, standing in the line with the crowd for a good 10 minutes. The gal next to me kept saying that she felt like she was about to fainted! It was total chaotic.
The course itself was not bad. I mean, it was hilly as expected and it was supposedly to be beautiful if we can actually see the scenery but it was pretty foggy, so we can’t really see anything. Course support was great, and I didn’t have any issue getting water/snack/orange slices etc and there were a lot of people that cheered us.
I always tried to learn something on every race. Here’s what my notes, in no specific order
In overall — I am pleased with what I accomplished and grateful for my experiences. I want to thank everyone for cheering me during the race, sent me encouraging notes and believe in me. Armando, thank you for staying by me from start to finish. You made the race enjoyable and I honestly can say that you helped me push through the last mile and a half when I needed that.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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 – 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.
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!!
I have learned a lesson (or two) during this race. They are listed below, in no particular order:
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.
I’ve been slacking off. No, not on the running part. Well, maybe a little but after 4 months of marathon training right after finishing a marathon, girl can get a little tired and skip a weekday run (or two — sorry Coach!). I’m talking about updating my training progress. This blog have not been updated with my training progress. I am supposed to do weekly update. Recap of what I did on that week, what work and what didn’t work as well as document how I felt.
Yeah. That didn’t happen. There. I ‘fess up. We can move on now, yes?
Portland Marathon is 5 days away. I started to get little antsy. My weekly miles are significantly less as my runs are now shorter (nothing above 8 miles). I drank more water and ate more carbs than normal. This alone result of me feeling like a busted can of biscuit. You know what I’m talking about? Have you seen Pillsbury dough in a can? When you twisted the can and all the dough burst out of the seam? Get the idea?
I am also nervous. This is going to be my fourth marathon. I should be calm as I know what to expect, right? You know, been there, done that, got the t-shirt? Yeah, not so much. The butterfly in my stomach when I think about the distance are still there. 26.2 miles is a long way and as much as I feel ready, race day is a different story. The hardest part of the marathon is not the race day, but the journey to get to the start line. I logged 351.4 miles since the beginning of the training. In four months. That’s a lot of miles, time commitment and sweat and don’t even talk to me about how many GU that I ate throughout the training. Or how many bottle of Gatorade that I consumed.
I know I am ready.
However, I feel like having a tantrum. A taper tantrum. I want to go out and run more. You know, just to make myself more ready. And a sudden urge to buy more running gear because I really do need another fuel belt and socks. Oh and more Sparkle Skirts and an extra compression socks just in case. I also feel sluggish. I run less, and eat more. This is bad. I probably am not ready. Panic. Anxiety. Weight gain. Worry about injury. More panic. I can’t get sick. I think I’m coming down with a cold. I should pack now. I don’t think I’m ready. Is it going to be pouring rain? More panic
Get the picture?
There are so many article out there about what to do when you are on taper phase so I’m not going to write it here. Just google/bing that yourself and you’ll have plenty of advice/tips and tricks (believe me, I’m reading them all now) and I know this is normal but I just need to put it out there and apologize in advance for those around me and those who have to interact with me in person for the next few days (my dear husband, bless his heart, my friends and co-workers)
I might be acting a tiny bit crazy in the next few days. You have been warned.
What in the world is Dumbo Double Dare, you might ask…
It’s a mini Goofy. Ha.
Remember back in January when I did the Goofy Challenge? Well Dumbo Double Dare is a similar challenge, but it’s a wee bit shorter distance. 10K and Half Marathon (13.1M), back to back in one weekend at Disneyland.
This was my fourth 10k and my seventh half-marathon since I started my running journey a little over 2 years ago, but this time I had a different goal. No, not that I want to finish in a certain time or break any records. My goal for this race, especially the half, involved another runner. A very good friend of mine, Rebekah. Rebekah never had run anything more than 5k before. She completed a sprint triathlon a few years ago, but she’s not sure about the ‘running’ part. She told me that it would be impossible for her to be able to complete half marathon. Ha, I said. Challenge accepted.
When I started my running journey, I remember saying the very same thing to my friend Karen. In fact, I owe it to her to push me and build confidence in me that I could actually do this and now I want to pay it forward. I started to talk Rebekah about a different approach to running, about the Galloway method and how that allows ordinary people, like me, to be able to complete an endurance race, such as a half marathon or even full marathon (or both and call it a Goofy.) She was hesitant, but agreed to give it a try.
I never forgot our first training run. We did 2-1 run/walk and by the time we were done, I asked her if she knew how far we ran. She said.. maybe a mile or so? I smiled and told her that we just did 5k and she was beside herself! She didn’t hate it, she wasn’t struggling, she was… feeling okay the entire time! I sent her a Galloway training plan and told her to follow it and promised that I would be there for her during training for questions and encouragement as well as run beside her through the entire half-marathon. From start to finish. She reluctantly agreed. I registered her for the half, and we were all set.
That first 5k turned into 5 miles, then 7 miles then 9 miles and her longest run was 10 miles. She struggled, but she kept going. She had a lot of doubt, but she kept on going. It was an incredible joy for me to watch her progressing. Oh, just to clarify, I’m not a coach in any means. However, I am lucky to be part of Team In Training and have their wonderful coaches as well as Coach Tony at my disposal for questions and running tips/tricks and I relayed relevant information to her every chance I got.
Long story short, we did it! I completed both a 10k and half marathon and Rebekah completed her first half marathon! I was delighted and it turns out — there are more than the medals and personal records on this race. The reward and satisfaction of knowing that you encouraged someone else and inspired them to make a posative change in their life and complete something that was once unthinkable — waaaaay more worth it than the medals or personal record. I urge you to do the same. Find someone that you can motivate, inspire, and encourage and help them achieve something that they thought impossible, even if it takes a dare…. I dare you to try!
Pay it forward. It’s so rewarding. You’ll see what I mean.
The husband woke me up at 4am (what an awesome husband, he is). I was cranky. I have never been a morning person or morning runner, and to be up at 4am to run, definitely NOT my cup of tea. A few of us agreed to meet at the lobby at 5:15am so I reluctantly moved my behind and get myself ready. We walked to our corral and the first clue of trouble arose. It was a warm 81 degrees outside according to my weather app. It was humid as well.
Armando decided to pull back from his corral A and hung out with me. I reminded him that I was waaaaaay slower than him and he gave me the ‘girlfriend, I’m running with you today — so shush‘ look. Alright, I think. Gun went off and before I knew it — our corral moved. I started a bit slower but then I settled to my normal pace. I decided to skip the first walk break, and second and third and finally decided to run the whole thing and not take a walk break at all. It was so hot and humid, and I didn’t have my fuel belt with me since I was going to just rely on the water stop. Big mistake.
First one was around mile 1, then there was none until mile 4. That 3 miles in between water stops turned into a miserable run as I was very thirsty. Lesson learned here — ALWAYS rely on your own hydration/fuel. We ran through both parks and I actually really like the 10k course as we spent very little time on the road and mostly in both parks as well as downtown Disney (I got to see my girls who waited for me on the balcony of our room!).
I crossed the finish line feeling great even though I sweat so much from the heat. My Garmin recorded 7.1 miles run with 11:25 pace (not sure why it’s a mile longer) but official time recorded me with 11:51 pace. Oh well.
I was even crankier on this day. The husband woke me up at THREE in the MORNING. Gah! I grumbled and mumbled but managed to get myself ready and met Rebekah, Karen and Armando at the lobby. We walked to our corral and wowza, it was already warm and humid out.
RunDisney tweet said there were 17,800 runners for the half marathon, divvy up by 7 corrals. It was so crowded and the corral was overflowing. We waited around for 30 minutes and before we knew it — our corral was up. Rebekah and I agreed to use 3-1 ratio and started SLOW. We did really well and we stopped at every water station to take water and Powerade on every other station. First hour went by quick, then the sun was up. It was really, really hot and humid and that really put a damper on the experience. Rebekah stopped and took pictures with a few characters and we hummed along, one mile at the time. I was SO proud of her because she was doing really awesome. We didn’t skip our run part (other than when we walked through the water stop) and kept our ratio throughout. We even did some silly jump in front of photographer!
Mile 10 came around and Rebekah started to struggle. Her longest run before this was 10 miles so I believe it played with her mind a lot, but she was such a trooper. We chatted and listened to our respective music/audiobooks and I told her how much it meant to me to be able to run. It’s a constant reminder to have gratitude for me, the ability to run and do endurance activities because there was time, not too long ago, that I could not do that even if I wanted it. I cherished (well, okay — sometimes grumbled) every aches as a result of running and I never take it for granted.
Shortly after mile 13, a few hundreds yards to the finish — I heard someone called my name and there it was — the husband and my girls, as well as Rebekah’s husband and all three of her kiddos, cheering us from the side lines. We held hands, raised it up in the air and cross the finish line together.
We did it. I was so overwhelmed with emotions more than because I did it, but because she did it! The joy on her face, the sense of accomplishment that she experienced showed loud and clear and that gave me the such a joy. On top of that, the fact that I just completed my seventh half-marathon only a little over two years since I started running really overwhelmed me.
Despite the heat and humidity, the average of 10 miles a day of park hopping and walking that I did for 4 days in a row and a 10k race the day before — I completed another half-marathon with Rebekah! It was such a success because my goal was to get her across the finish line with me, upright and smiling and I think the picture speak for itself!
Well, I have Portland Marathon in 5 weeks (October 6), followed by San Francisco Nike Women Half Marathon (October 20) and end this year with Seattle Half Marathon (Dec 1). I believe that’s what I have for the rest of the year (don’t hold me to it, I might sneak in a local race here and there if my coach lets me or just doesn’t notice and read this far in the blog…)
*** UPDATE 9/14/2013 – 3PM PST. I have conducted the drawing (yes, I know – it’s three hours behind. Will blog about that later).
Please check the result here .
CONGRATULATIONS for all the winners! ***
*** UPDATE 9/13 – 12PM PST: Please do NOT mark your donation ANONYMOUS if you are purchasing the raffle as I have no idea who you are to enter your name to the raffle . If you marked your donation with anonymous by mistake, please contact me ASAP so I can note your name. See the detail here ***
*** UPDATE 9/11 – 8:30PM PST: SparkleSkirts informed me today that they are going to sponsor ADDITIONAL SKIRT to give away! Which will make FOUR happy winner! From the bottom of my heart — thank you very much for supporting the cause that I believe in.
Sparkle On! ***
As part of my continuous fundraising for Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, I am giving away 3 (three) of ANY Sparkle Skirts products to three winners via raffle. The winners can tell me which one they want, what size and I’ll purchase them and have the product mail directly to you (to the address listed on donation information). Sparkle Skirts made SUPER awesome running skirts.
For the record, I am not employed by them or being paid/compensated by any means to write about their product. I’m their die-hard customer, love their products and used it myself for many of my races. Their running skirt is very functional, not only cute and flattering, but have two large pockets on the side, one zipper pocket in the front (or back) and do not chafe or ride up (used the skirts during two marathons so far).
To purchase the raffle entry — please visit my fundraising site at http://pledge.yannirobel.com. Raffle entry is $5 for one entry, or $20 for 5 entries. To identify the raffle entries — please put SPARKLE ON! at the message so I know this is a raffle purchase. ALL proceeds will go directly to Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (I will not accept cash/check for raffle entries — please purchase directly via the fundraising site). I will send you an email shortly after to confirm your entries. Please note that I will not publish or share your information with ANY party (other than Leukemia & Lymphoma Society since you are donating directly to them and they need your information).
The drawing will be held on Saturday Sept 14, 2013 at 12pm PST using Random Picker Generator
Gentlemen — if you have a lady runner in your life, this would be an AWESOME surprise on top of the great cause you’ll be participating! Don’t let ‘I don’t wear running skirt‘ stop you for participating!
On July 30, 2011 — I went out and attempted to do my very first run ever. After being constantly nagged by two of my friends, Karen and Erin to register for Portland Half Marathon, I finally pulled the trigger and register myself. After all, I just finished Mt. Rainier climb and felt fairly fit, so this whole running thing shouldn’t be that hard. Boy, was I wrong. I went out for a run on this very day, two years ago, and found myself in so many aches and pain after about 10 minutes. I walked, hobbled, walked some more, jogged, ran, hobbled some more <insert some profanity words here>, got lost, got lost some more and finally able to find my way back to the car, about 5 miles later.
I almost gave up. I was super sore, embarrassed (remember, I thought I was fairly fit) and mad.
Then I was hurting for a few days. Then I got more mad, and decided to give this whole running thing another try. And another try.
1,271 miles, three marathons, six half-marathons, countless 5k and 10k, two radiation treatments and side-effects struggle in between, here I am. I am a runner, and I love it. Sure, there were bad runs and the moment that I can’t wait for the run to be over, but in overall, I have grown to love it. I witness my body changed, and in awe on how far I have become. From “Oh my God – I have to do 8 miles today??” To “I am going for a short-8 today“. I have become stronger, healthier (despite my other health challenge) and happier and I contribute that to my love for running.
To my husband, John, who always been there for me and support me with this new found love. The one who rode his bike alongside me on most of my long runs, or drove me to my TNT practice and wait for me with our dog, Mack, while I ran or stay home with the girls so I can go out and run. The one that cheered for me on ALL of my races, waited for me at the finish line. The one who always believe in me and my ability to accomplish so many goals — from the bottom of my heart, thank YOU.
Here’s to many more years of running, many more miles, many more races and many healthy year ahead!
No, I do NOT have any triathlon race on the horizon.
Many of you were asking me if I’m training for any triathlon since I decided to be a triathlete, and witness my whining about the early morning swim and my bike ride adventure because who woke up at 5:30am and be in the pool at 6am if you are not training for a race, right? Apparently, this girl does.
I purposely do not want to register to any tri race this year, not because I have a second thought of being a triathlete, but because I really am trying to build a good baseline for my swimming, biking and yes, even running, before I commit myself to many weeks of triathlon training program. Beside, I am still in the middle of Fall Season of Team in Training for several upcoming race and have committed to their training program, plus some other Disney races that I have already registered. My plan this year is to swim and bike on my active recovery days as a cross training while learning the correct way to swim, bike and run.
My ability to swim is limited to thread water, float and dog paddle myself across the pool. I can somewhat sorta do a breast stroke and went from one side of the pool to the other, but that’s pretty much it. I contacted several swimming coach, and went for an assessment swim lesson. Coach Kimberly Lorton is fabulous and I did a lesson with her in Seattle pool. I really like her (and she was TNT coach a couple seasons ago!) but I can’t seems to find a schedule to work for both of us, and she only coach on a handful pools. After some more search, I contacted another coach that her name seems to be all over beginner triathlete forum. Coach Theresa Trinka-Hoard is a 5 (FIVE!) times Ironman finisher and a wonderful coach. I began my lesson to her at Redmond pool and managed to have consistent schedule with her on the club pool that I belong to which is so awesome as I don’t have to go to a different pool for my lesson. First few lessons – I felt like I a big fat whale. Actually, worst than whale since at least whale know how to swim. I realized now that I know nothing about swimming efficiently. There were many frustration on my part, but she patiently taught me the basics. I mean, really the basics. I learned many drills, and more drills. I have a lot of work to do, but I know that I am improving a little bit. I didn’t feel like I’m inhaling the whole pool water anymore whenever I did the drill now, and actually understand and can acknowledge when I didn’t do things correctly. I haven’t even work on the endurance training part of the swim yet (no swim lap) as she wants me to focus on the drill and technique.
I have a confession to make. I was 10 years old the last time I rode a bike, before my big fuss about ‘I have decided to be a triathlete’. Yes. 10 years old. So, the bike and I haven’t really friends for over 30 years. Can I ride it? Sure, I know how to balance, pedal and ride on straight line but can I really ride it? At that time, I didn’t even own a bike so my first challenge is to find me a bike. After several, okay, seventh trip to the local bike shop, spent hours of talking to many bike-expert on the shop, test-ride about 6 bikes, I finally purchased a bike that I believed fit my needs. Meet Ariel, my new best friend. Her and I are getting to know each other and I like her more and more every time. A lot of you asked what made me decide to get her, so I’ll let you in my thought process. Fist of all, I know that I will mostly ride around my local trail which consist of gravel and compact dirt road, and maybe on asphalt/paved/some back road so I want something that can do that, and also can be use for ride around the town. I also want to have a bike that I can use for my first triathlon race, and you know, be decent. I figured if this whole swim, bike, run business really sink in and I want to do the unimaginable (like.. the half Iron or even (gasp!).. Ironman) years from now, I’ll invest on different bike for that. Since I brought Ariel home, I have taken her for a few rides and loved it. The bike that fitted for you, just for you, made a whole world of different on how you feel while riding it
I recently joined Always Running and Coach Tony Williams agreed to coach me and help me run more efficiently. Yes, I am a three-times marathoner (plus handful of half-marathons) and know how to run, but just like swim and bike, I don’t know how to run efficiently, utilizing my strength and work around my limitation. I respect Coach Tony greatly (and challenged him constantly) and probably raised his blood pressure and gave him gray hair since he agreed to coach me. I enjoyed working with him so far and he helped me with my running form, my confidence and gave me many insightful advice on how to make running as a lifestyle, instead of focusing on a race. I’m still coming for Team In Training practice and run with team as well as following their training schedule, but Coach Tony adapted the schedule for me, for my current ability and help me plan my run, how should I run it and what’s the goal for each run.
So there. That’s what’s going on with me lately. I have decided to be a triathlete and I am making it happen and will continue to push forward towards my goal, which is pretty simple for this year. I want to be comfortable with the three sports and learn how to do it efficiently.
My workout schedule still follow Team In Training plan, but with slight modification to incorporate swim and bike, so it’s something like this:
Mon: Rest (My favorite day)
Tue: Run (Hills/Tempo)
Wed: Run (Target pace)
Thu: Swim (Drills)
Fri: Rest (Another favorite day)
Sat: Long Run (Slow steady pace)
How do I make the time, you asked, between this schedule, work full time, mama of two kiddos, and a wife? Ongoing fatigued from life in general AND for me personally, my personal battle with my health? I’ll be the first one to admit, it’s not unicorn and rainbow. In fact, it’s full with stormy sky, a gloomy day and many, many tears, but I made it as a priority and find a way to make it happen.
I am a three-times marathoner. Me. THREE TIMES. Me. The one who trained and raced during cancer treatment. 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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
Last weekend was the longest run practice for San Diego Rock & Roll runners on our team. Our schedule called for 270 minutes. For those who can’t convert fast enough, I’ll make it easier to you. It’s FOUR HOURS and HALF. On your feet. Moving.
I ran longer than that before, distance and time. However, I still had butterfly in my stomach before my (very) long run. Am I going to make it? Can I run that long? How my body is going to do? Am I going to have ‘bathroom’ problem? Is there a bathroom in the trail?
Yeah, I drove myself crazy sometimes with those thought but I always thought it’s good for me to still questions those. It keep me grounded and humbled and respect the distance (time). To be able to do this is a privilege. I don’t take it for granted. I cherish the moment and the ability for me to do this.
My weekday scheduled called for 60 minutes on Tues, 40 mins on Wed and 60 minutes on Thursday. I ran in the morning on Tuesday before work and I actually enjoyed that a lot. The 50 degrees, blue sky and sunshine morning might have a lot of things to do with it. I ran at my favorite trail at Snoqualmie with my puppy, 30 mins west and back. I rocked the run and recorded the fastest 5 miles I ran in a very, very long time
For Wednesday — I went out in the afternoon after work. I didn’t feel like going to the trail, so I ran around the neighborhood instead. It was glorious afternoon, as the sun made the mountain glow. It’s a wee bit warm for my taste, but there was a lot of breeze. I did a nice slow 5k and enjoy every moment of it.
Thursday – I skipped my run. I walked instead for an hour around my office. And no, not because I can’t run. It’s because — well, I just did my hair and didn’t feel like my pretty-all-stylish-ready-to-go-out hair would get sweat all over it if I run. Coaches — I’m sure you understand, yes? Girl have priority here.
I woke up around 6am and felt really tired. No, not because I didn’t get enough sleep. It’s the side effect from the treatment that I’m going through. I felt my head throbbed. Durnnit, I said. I was about to move my backside for 270 minutes and this just ruined it. This new treatment of mine, as good as a result that I have it now, could really made my day turn from cool to awful within minutes. Everyday is like a box of chocolate, you never know what kind that you are going to get. A good day? A so-so day? Or awful day?
I moved very slowly, put on my running clothes that I put out the night before and get ready. I took a couple advil and ate my pre-run breakfast (toasted english muffin + peanut butter + honey + banana) and headed out. We got to the trail just in time for the team to gather and listened to the coaches. Our run that day was limited to 20 miles, or 270 minutes. Whichever comes first. It’s a bow-tie route at Burke-Gilman Trail. We started at Matthew Beach and head south towards University of Washington for a quarter of our time/distance, turn around and back to the start and head north to do the same. First 10 miles actually went really fast. I did a quick stop for bathroom at Silver Cloud hotel (yes, they let us use their restroom). It was getting really warm and I was so happy that I had a chance to splash cold water in my face.
The second half of the run started to get a little difficult. Not because my feet are sore or it’s hot, but my head just hurts and I’m getting fatigued. Fast. My body was reacting to the medicine that I took differently that day. I slowed down my pace and grind through it. One of my coach ran with me for the last 6 miles and boy, I was thankful for him. It kept me focus and moving forward. Around mile 18, I started to wheeze. Durnit, I said. Not again. My asthma been acting up a lot lately, like I need yet another medical condition to deal with. I shorten out my run/walk ratio down to 2-1 from 5-1 and even skipped the run part a few times, which seems to help.
Four hours and a half later, I clocked in 20.29 miles. Not my best run, but considering all the things that I had to deal with since the morning, I think I deserve a pat in the back. Having my teammate cheered me at the end, high-fived and hugged made me teary eyes. THIS, this is what it’s all about. I love my team, my fellow runners. We are connected with the same cause and the same passion.
Shortly after the run, I plunged myself at Lake Washington. Submerged my body from hip down to a very, very cold lake water. It felt SO cold but I know my muscles would thank me later
I had an overwhelming response last week on my birthday. I asked a lot of people to donate and help me reach my goal, and I did. I’m at $5,430! However, don’t let the limit stop you for contributing to this awesome cause. Every dollar matter and I thank you from the bottom of my heart! Please visit my online fundraising page at http://pledge.yannirobel.com