23 March 2009

Health is Wealth (by Meechellee)

"Health is wealth." I won first prize with this quote in the slogan contest during the World Health Organization day at my school when I was in fourth grade. I won a box of chocolates! Let me get this straight first, I am not one of those few students whose homework or school projects are all done during the weekend. This is me while having breakfast in the morning, a few hours before the slogan contest, "Mom!!! It's my school's World Health Organization day today, and I need to slogan that has something to do with health!" My mom responded in a very irritated tone, "Health is wealth!" My mom was a teacher but she taught at a different school (thank goodness!). I went home with a box of chocolates and told my mom I had won the first prize of the slogan contest, but I also asked her, "Why can health be wealth?" To the best of my recollection, my mom intuitively responded, "How can you enjoy the things you like to do if you're sick? Even if you have all the money in the world, money can't buy you good health. So, take care of your body because health is wealth." Indeed.

If health is wealth, I am so broke right now because it has been nine days since I last ran during a cold, windy, rainy Shamrock race. No doubt it was the bad weather that got me. I've been lying in bed most of the time since Friday afternoon, and it's ironic to say that it is tiring not doing anything. Though I have to admit that I did enjoy not doing anything but it only lasted for a day. After that, it has been a struggle, or shall I say, stressful. I start to worry about my training because I missed last week's 18-mile run, and I don't think running 21 miles this weekend will do me any good. As I continue to stress about my training, I had to remind myself that the most important thing I have to focus on is to become 100% healthy, and the rest will follow.

So for the time being, I mesmerize all the days I ran miles and miles on pavements, trails, and treadmills... swam meters and meters in the pool... and, of course, all the food that I ate and ate. And the more I think about those things, I feel this revitalizing energy within me which is a good sign. A sign that I'll have my wealth back again...

So run on!

18 March 2009

Luck of the Irish! (by Meechellee)

I woke up in the morning with a hope that the rain has stopped. It didn’t. It’s not only the sound of the raindrops I heard, but also the sound of the wind gushing. I told myself, “Great, this is going to be a wet and windy race.” Hubby and I were slow getting ourselves out the door so, it was 8:05 a.m. by the time we approached the intersection of Naito Parkway. We made a mistake when we took the City Center exit, rather than taking the 12th Avenue exit from I-405 to avoid the traffic. We just realized that mistake when we saw cars piling up. I told hubby that I’ll just get off the car, and just meet me and a couple of our friends outside my office building. My hubby’s office building is just two blocks from mine. It was 8:20 a.m. by the time I met our friends and at the same time got a call from hubby saying that we should just go ahead because he was caught in a big traffic snafu. The race will start at 8:40 a.m. and listening to the tone of my hubby’s voice, I don’t think he’ll make it in time to the start line. I called hubby again and told him that I’ll wait for him and we’ll start with the 8K runners. Hubby insisted that I should just go, so I did.

It was raining, windy, and in the low 40’s. I was wearing a cap, red ear warmers, running gloves, two long sleeves, and a pink raincoat. This is my first time to run the 15K. The route is primarily along Naito Parkway, Terwilliger Blvd., and Barbur Blvd. I know the hills that Terwilliger Blvd. offers because this is one of Portland Fit’s 13-mile routes.

As I crossed the start line, I navigated my way passing other runners. There was an older guy who was doing a power-walk, and he was cooking! I have been passed by a power walker during a marathon but not this time. So, I graciously passed the power-walker. As I continued on, I saw the first mile marker. My watch showed 9:58. Just a couple of blocks from the first mile marker we turned right on Broadway, and that’s when the hill began. I never liked running hills but as long as I concentrate on my posture and breathing, I’ll conquer this hill.

Every race, I try to pick someone from the crowd who will be my pace person, and just a few steps ahead of me was an older guy who was running a very comfortable pace---I found my pace person! As I continue to ascend to Terwilliger Blvd., I passed mile marker 3. My watch showed 33:00. A few moments later, my cell rang and it was my hubby. He just wanted to tell me that he finally crossed the start line. I explained to him to stay on Broadway, and continue on to Terwilliger then I hung up. I was happy to know that he was on his way. As I continued on, I passed mile marker 4. My watch showed 43:15. It was still raining, windy, and cold. Not far ahead, I heard an Irish music playing in front of the Chart restaurant. I got so excited because I knew that it’s pretty much downhill from there. As my excitement pushed me through the remainder of the hill, I lost my pace person because he started to walk. I wished him good luck, and navigated my way through other runners. As I continued on, there was this younger gal that I started playing leap frogs. She passed me, I passed, she passed me again, and then I took off and lost her for a little while. I continued on and passed the intersection of the Pacific Hillsdale Hwy, and continued on down Barbur Blvd. I was amazed how windy it was because even though I was going downhill, the wind was very resisting that I had lean forward so that my weight will help me fight the resisting wind. As I continued to navigate my way through runners, the gal I played leap frogs a while ago came zooming and passed me. I told myself, “Oh well…” As I continued on, I passed mile marker 6. My watch showed 1:03:30. I told myself, “I only have 3.3 miles left, and that’s just another 30 minutes.” Barbur Blvd. was flat plus the wind behind me; I felt I was making up time from all the hill work. I passed mile marker 7… mile marker 8… and guess who I saw? It was the gal I played leap frogs! And this time, I zoom passed her. I hesitated looking at my watch instead I just concentrated on my running posture and breathing. When I saw the finish line banner about less than half-mile, I started to run almost sprinting, but I can feel my heart working so hard, so I slowed down a little bit. As I continued on, I unzipped my raincoat so that the photographer will get photos of me. And then… YES!!! I crossed the finish line! My very reliable watch showed: 1:33:30. The official time was 1:33:29. It’s a new PR for me! I ran the last 3.3 miles in 30 minutes! After I crossed the finish line, I ran along Naito Parkway, watched runners go to the finishers chute, I saw my hubby. He saw me and gestured we’ll meet at the finish line. Well, I ran again to the finishers chute, and I’m pretty sure I have multiple finishers’ photos.

After the race, my in-laws treated us for brunch. I had a hefty brunch: 2 cups of coffee, 3 strips of bacon, an omelet, a pancake swimming in syrup, a slice of sourdough with strawberry jam. Well, my eating is a different blog.

By the way, my hubby crossed the start line 24 minutes after I did. He ran with the 8K runners so he was the only one running up Broadway, while all the runners were turning left. He finally caught up with the last runner on the course at mile marker 3.

10 March 2009

Real Runner's Shoes Don't Stay White

(by SoloRunner)

Saturday started out as any typical morning with the exception of the weather. The threat of snow, I just did not want to get out of bed. I had plans to check in with my running partner at 8:00 a.m. and we would make the decision when to run. We finally met up at about 11:00 a.m. or so. We were slated to run 11 miles but she was convinced that it was not enough and we needed to do 15 miles. I was feeling good so I say to myself, “Why not?” I got all my weekly runs in so I agreed on one condition, we run up the Wild Wood trail—one of my favorites.

The first mile or so is a bad ass hill that gets me every time. I have had my challenges with and it has taken me down a time or two, but I keep coming back. My friend said she was game. I told her that it was going to be muddy. She asked how muddy, because she did not want to get her shoes dirty. With thoughts of—are you freaking kidding me about to fly out of my mouth—I just said let’s go. We started up the hill dodging the mud that if you stuck your foot in it, you could lose your shoe, it was great! As we made our way up, I took a glance back and my friend was not keeping up. She was dodging every ounce of mud she could. I waited at the next turn and when she finally caught up with me, I said with a big grin, “So, isn’t this great?!” Her reply was, “I am not really enjoying myself and I don’t think we will be on speaking terms after this.” I said, “Oh, you’ll get over it.” I took off and back to the hill. A little further down the road, I checked in again. I told her that we could turn back, and she seems to be a little happier with what I said. But, true friend she is, she sucked it up and said no. As we approached another turn the mud was so bad that I ran as close to the edge as I could. That was a big mistake because the next thing I knew, I was down. Dang that pot hole! I stopped and fell to my knees and hit the ground, and I feel pain. I thought, “Ok, just give me a minute and let me see how it really feels.” My friend asked what I wanted to do. I said, “Let me walk and see what happens.” The first few steps hurt, but after I checked that there is no swelling, I walked a bit more and worked up to a light jog. The pain was not that bad so I said let’s go. We contented our run with some pain, but like my brothers use to say, “If you’re going to play with the big boy, no cry babies!” I know crazy or stupid same difference. As we made our way to clearing a dog owner, her three misbehaved dogs approached us. One with full force almost knocking my friend down, I yelled to the woman to get her dog under control and her reply was, “Which one?” Are you freaking kidding me? Some people should not own a dog, let alone three. We decided to take a shortcut back down to the main trail. I had to walk down the steep hill that I would have loved to run down. When we arrived at the main trail, we followed it to the end of the line so when we came back to it that would complete 15 miles. It was still turning out to be a good run even with the pain. We also lucked out with very little snow/ice coming down on us. We started back down for another 7 miles and I could only hear my music and my thoughts that kept me focused. I am not a talker on my runs so it really helped that my friend did find the need to speak. In spite of it all, I really did have a good run. I DO think my friend really enjoyed herself even if she got her white shoes all muddy (now, she is a real runner!).

I went home and had to wrap and ice, and headed to acupuncture on Monday. Hope to be back on the road Tuesday. Thanks for reading.

Now go out and RUN!

06 March 2009

Going Home

(by SoloRunner)

Another week of inconsistent running. I did get out and run, however the amount of running and planning for a 15 mile run was not enough. My 105 year old grandmother passed away this past week and so before I knew it I was on a plane heading home. I was dreading the events that were to come because I had not seen some of my family since my dad died almost two years ago and now we would be back together again. As we all gathered to celebrate her life, I was reminded of what an incredible woman she was and how she played a large part in influencing who I am. I will miss her dearly, but I am comforted by those familiar words: “the best gift someone can leave you is the memories you create with them.” I also took this time to clear my head about the direction my life is going. My brother drove me to Santa Cruz, a place I truly love and where I have so many great memories. I lived there for 10 years and before my kids came along, it was the best 10 years of my life. Being back seeing old friends and hanging at the beach is so magical for me. When I got to Santa Cruz, I dropped my bags off at the hotel and took off for a run. I was so excited to see the place I loved so much! I ran down that old familiar road and memories of days spent on that beach rushed to me like waves coming on shore. It was a beautiful day. Friday came along and I started to contemplate running my 15 miles and I thought of every reason not to run. I decided to take a walk down to Capitola and thought about all the reasons I should wait. The first thought that came to mind in support of why I should run: I already told my twitter friends I would be running 15 on Saturday! I also thought about my friends in Oregon who would be doing their long runs. Friday night I still did not have a plan. Saturday morning came and I woke up and it hit me. So I headed out and before I knew it I was at the beach and I could feel that feeling of the old days when I was back then a Solorunner. Lots of other runners were on the road. At about 1.5 miles, I came up to east cliff where a lot of surfers catch their waves. As I got to mile 3, I encountered a group of cyclists and as I ran by they smiled and went on their way. I then saw my old stomping grounds: Crows Nest, Sea Bright brewery and the boardwalk. I ran down the old train tracks and up towards the roller coaster. I soon found myself at mile 6 and I could see the place I use to live and started up the hill to run along the coast line and remembered that Lance Armstrong was just here. At mile 7.5 I started to make my way back. Wow, what an incredible run! I was pacing nicely and my heart rate was in check. I was really feeling good and I knew this was what I truly love about running… how free I felt and how lucky I was that I could do this. The last part of my run, I was singing (something I do when I run). I felt so comfortable running alone. At moments like this, I truly love being a solorunner. Thanks for reading.

Now go out and RUN!