Sunday, February 21, 2010

Orange Curtain 100K- How was I the female winner?!?!?!

The race consisted of running from the start 3.1 miles on a bike path (or in the dirt alongside it) to the turnaround/aid station and returning to the start.  In other words, one out/back was a 10k lap.  The 50K runners would do it 5 times and the suckers in for the 100K would do it 10 times.  The race director reminded us 100K crazies that we could drop at any time after the 50K mark and receive a 50K finishing time.  That was never an option for me as I knew I had to finish using whatever means necessary.  I knew I would use a walk/run strategy but I'm bad at sticking to schedules so my plan was to establish and follow the intervals of run/walk based on how I felt.  Many of the miles blurred together but I'll try to recall what happened during the different laps, hoping I don't mix up when things happened too much. :)  During all middle/end loops, it was cool to have the race director ride by on his bike and give encouragement...really enjoyed the race!

First loop (10k=6.2 miles)
I was chatting with few people as we began but almost all runners kept to the pavement and so only runners near the dirt where I ran got to engage in fantastic conversations with me.;)  Many people took off fast (mostly 50K runners) and I kept checking my Garmin to make sure I was not getting carried away.  I wanted to average 10 minute miles for the first 50K, which would give me plenty of time to finish the second 50K.  I figured running in the mid-9s plus taking walk breaks would put me around that average.  I kept catching myself in the 8:20-8:50s and desperately tried to settle into a slower rhythm.  I passed one guy in the dirt who was also doing the 100k; he commented that I was running fast and I kept thinking I hoped I was not setting myself up for major crash/burn later.  I felt very comfortable with my pace and, in fact, worried my hip flexors would hurt if I ran too slowly.  When I hit the turnaround, the ones recording our numbers and times said I was the second female for the 100K.  That shocked me and I started trying to figure out who was first so I could make sure I didn't pass that person.  I was running beside one lady and I assumed she was in for the 100K and decided that I should not pass her as she was running high 8s and that was too fast for my goal.  I realized bib numbers 1-49 were people in the 50K and 50 and above were 100K runners.  I started checking bib numbers, except of the lady near me because I couldn't see hers. Another lady, whose number was slightly hidden, ran past me starting her second loop and I wondered if she was in for the 50K or the 100K; she was flying so no bib number left me wondering.  My intention was to walk after the first 10K but I didn't see anyone else near me walking and I decided to wait to take walk breaks.

Second 10K (miles 6.3-12.4)
Nothing notable about the miles.  I chatted with some runners around me, enjoyed seeing the lead 50K guy flying and hamming it up, and just settled into groove.  I made sure I got Gatorade at the aid stations and took my first Gu around mile 10.  Getting close to ending the lap, I saw a photographer and thought it was John, my boyfriend's co-worker who I knew was coming out to take pics for a couple of hours for AM Signature Photography.  Quick porta-potty break and I was back out for my third loop.

Third 10K (miles 12.5- 18.6)
The skies started to clear more, the opposite of the rain that had been predicated, and I started to look at the surroundings of the course while listening to a long DJ mix by Above and Beyond.  We were running by some parks, a place with horses, a Wal-Mart...nothing exciting.  There were some bikers and other pedestrians on the bike path and most were nice, except for one jerk who yelled out obscenities because he had to pass a runner in the race.  Total idiot!  All the other people noticed we were part of a race and were very cool about sharing the path with us.  Alan, my boyfriend, had joined John taking pics and I was very happy to see him.  I got to see him a few times as they moved from one spot to another and he saw me on the out/back.  He said he was leaving but would be back later and I looked forward to having him there at the finish.  Ending the loop (or the next one), I met Jay, the race director, and he said he had spoken to my  I let him know it was my boyfriend and boyfriend's co-worker.  Jay seemed very cool about their being there and I was just happy to be almost 1/3 of the way done and with some pics of my running as a bonus.  I did my walk strategy leaving the aid station by walking 0.2 miles before running again.

 About 2 hours into the race
 Sending Alan kisses (I'm too gross to kiss during a race!!)

  Few minutes later; getting ready to head into dodging of water puddle underpass

        Moments later...according to time stamp on pic files:)

Smiling while running is good!

                                   Blowing Alan kisses...
More kisses to the best boyfriend in the world!
Alan capturing my kisses:)

Fourth 10K (miles 18.7- 24.8)
I kept saying hi to the other runners, yelling my last bit of encouragement to the guy who was making his way to the finish line as the winner of the 50K, and finally chatted with the lady who I was running near; she and I had traded off "leading" and she told me it was my time to lead.  I laughed and told her she was doing a great job pacing me so she could stay in front; I asked if she was doing the 100K and she said she was in for the 50K!  Eeeeek.  That was my cue to slow down!  I hit the turnaround and again did a 0.2 walk.  I have no clue when I took my second Gu but I ended up having to take a Salt Stick capsule at some point because my fingers were swollen like balloons.

Fifth 10K (miles 24.9- 31)
Starting on my 5 lap, I got a huge surprise as I saw Sam and his son, Jack; Sam's the one running 60 marathons this year to raise funds for Train4Autism.  They were nearby for their session in the hyperbaric chamber and decided to drop by and cheer me on.  It worked out perfectly as they had just arrived when I came by.  I chatted for a minute, told him how I was doing (ahead of schedule), and posed for quick picture.  That brightened my race and gave me more inspiration.  My legs were really tired during the loop and I realized I was not fueling often enough/getting enough calories per hour.  I hit the marathon mark in 4:05 and again realized I must slow down and force myself to walk more.  Ending the lap, I was an hour ahead of schedule and my right hip flexor/quad/ITB and left foot were hurting, a sign of more pain to come.  Leaving the aid station and heading out for the next loop, I stopped and chatted with Bill Ramsey, a man I met last year when I got injured at the PCT50; he was in for the 100K but decided to stop at 50K; he said the course was harder on the legs than any trail run.  That made me feel better about the aches I was feeling and my chances of surviving my first 100.

 Pic courtesy of Sam around mile 25- Thanks to him for being there!!! He rocks!

Sixth loop (miles 31.1-37.2)
Nothing notable except I finally figured out who the lady I would end up battling for the win was.  She was the one I had noticed early in the race.  At some point I passed her and she said, "Go go get it."  The aches in my right leg and left foot got progressively worse and I looked forward to seeing my friend Deirdre at the end of the loop; I had told her to be there sometime noon or after and I ended the lap around noon.  She was great about refilling my water bottle, chatting with me, encouraging me while I sat on the ground.  I noticed my right leg was swollen above my knee and that it was very knotted; I massaged it hard and used the stick hoping for the best. I removed my left shoe and tried to work on the huge knot in my arch.  I considered changing shoes but decided to stick with my plan of changing after my next loop.  I headed back out and implemented a new strategy- walk 0.5 miles every turnaround and walk some every mile.

Seventh loop (miles 37.2-43.4)
Foot hurt so badly I had to stop and massage it again.  Right leg also got some more treatment.  Again noticed I was dizzy and needed to take in more sugar when the ground looked like it was rolling.  Took 200mg of Advil at mile 40.   I knew the lady I was leading was close behind me but I was not concerned; I was in survival mode/avoid too much pain mode.  I chatted with some runners who were a lap behind me and the conversations broke up the miles.  I was soooo happy to get back to my drop bag, rub my foot, change shoes, massage my aching/knotted right leg, and take off with only 2 laps to go. 

Eighth loop (miles 42.5-49.6)
Starting trading places with other 100K leading lady; she would pass me when I was walking and I would pass her when running.  We chatted for a bit and she seemed very nice.  My foot was somewhat happier with new shoes but still hurting.  I kept battling feeling really tired and kept realizing I needed more calories.  I kept taking 0.5 mile walk breaks but was still able to run in the 8s, 9s when running.

Ninth loop (miles 49.7-54.8)
Same as last loop, except at turnaround the volunteers commented that I was battling that lady for first.  I told them she could have it as my legs were done; they didn't like that  When she passed me heading back to end the loop, I told her all I cared about was finishing and I encouraged her to take the win.  We chatted and turns out we were both out for the same thing- just finishing,  Ending the lap, I saw Alan and I was so happy to see him!!!  But was sad he didn't have the diet coke I requested...I yelled for him to go get it, expecting him to have it for me at the finish.

So happy to see Alan and to have 1 lap to go!

I'm trying to smile:)

                                       Coke- not the same as Diet Coke- but trying to find some energy

                       Missed the garbage..."Alan, can you get that, please?"

Tenth loop/Finish
My competitive nature set in and, when I saw Alan holding out the diet coke he had gotten permission to hand me, I barely took two sips because I wanted to keep momentum.  I ran as much as I could but ended up being so low on energy that I had to do more walk breaks than I hoped..sometimes could only run half mile before needing a break.  Got my spirits lifted by seeing a guy who had passed me way earlier in the race pumped heading towards the finish line.  I got lots of encouragement by other guys and girls who realized I was on my last lap.  With only 3.1 miles to go, I tried to muster everything in me to run.  I knew I had a lead and I was so tired I didn't care if I was first or second; I was just shocked to be finishing it feeling okay.  I kept to run/walk and would do run 0.4/walk 0.2, stretching out run part when I had enough energy.  With a mile to go, I walked slightly more in order to save energy for sprinting to the finish.  And sprint I did...I was so pumped to be finished and being the female winner was icing on the cake.  Garmin time: 10:56!  I got big surprise seeing my friend Tiffany and her son Benjamin waiting with Alan at the finish.  I cheered for the second place lady and finally got to do formal introductions/learn her name (Jeri).  Very cool to learn that we are both doing SD100. 

Starting to sprint to finish line

Final surge

                                           I'm a little happy!

                         I love Diet Coke!

Alan was so awesome!  He kissed/hugged me in all my "disgustingness" and got me red roses!!!

Tiffany and I- she's the best!!!

62.58 miles!
So cold!  We couldn't wait for the RD to do the award part!

    Flowers from Alan, Tiffany, them!
Ice bath...well the ice melted so I should have used more.  Look of having the worst blisters ever- no pics of those allowed!

Orange Curtain 100K RR- Pre-race

Since the race was long, my race report will be long but I'll take of of pre-race details in this post.:)  Most of you know that I decided to run the Orange Curtain 100K in order to meet the qualifying requirements for my goal race, the San Diego 100.  I was definitely nervous about the race because my I have not done many long training runs (over 12 miles) in the past 7 months.  My longest runs recently were two marathons this year and, though I ran those comfortably, 62 miles is a lot farther than 26.2!!  I was especially concerned about how my body (and mind) would handle the course.  The course is an out/back 3.1 mile trek on a bike path along and small "river."  I knew there was a dirt path alongside the pavement and I fully intended on running on the dirt because my legs would hate me otherwise.  The course is extremely flat with the only slight ups/downs being when we cross under 3 overpasses and I was very worried about my legs holding up under extremely repetitive forces; at least trails or hilly runs allow the leg muscles to be used differently and cause less strain.

My fears about the distance were lessened because I kept reminding myself that I've covered the distance before.  I did a 65 mile "run" last year the evening of July 3rd into the morning of July 4th; however, that run caused my left ITB to hurt around mile 20 something and to lock up completely by mile 39ish; I ended up walking most of the last 25 miles in excruciating pain.  That run was a course I mapped out and it had some elevation changes and variety in other words, it was mentally easier (plus, I was doing it as a memorial to my father who passed away the previous July 4th so nothing could prevent me from finishing it).

Two days before the race, I made a list of the things that I might need during the race and Thursday/Friday, I hit my local Target and REI to load up on stuff for my drop bag..oh and to buy a waterproof bag in case it rained.  I looked at many bags and settled on a large Drybloc one by Granite Gear since it would be large enough for all my stuff and, especially, my stick.  Friday night I nervously packed,  putting items into ziploc bags and trying to organize things so that I could easily find them. I packed my drop bag, a bag with clothes/towel for car for post-race, and bag with things I would be wearing (Garmin, ipod, Ultimate Direction fuel belt).  Finally went to bed around 9:30pm and tossed/turned until almost 1am...just getting 3 hours of sleep before crawling out of bed and succumbing to my alarm at 4:15.

                                 For after the race

                       Stuff for drop bag and to wear during race

After quickly getting dressed in my Operation Jack shirt and other gear, I made the short 30 minute drive to the race location, checked in (got my #54 and cool tech shirt), and then finished preparations for the race...more BodyGlide on feet, putting moleskin and athletic tape on blister-prone toes.  I made my way to the start line around 5:50am and ran into a running buddy (James) who came out to say hi and see us start.  I chatted with a woman who has completed almost 20 Ironmans and who was out for the 50K.  The race director, Jay, gave a quick run through of the course and the race was on.

Shirt is dark orange/brown...iphone pic not so good;)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I'm finding my speed gear....

I lost my speed gear last year and have not pushed any paces in so long that I feel like a slug.  Tonight I finally had a run that makes me think my faster paces may come out of hibernation.  I felt so slow starting out in the breezy conditions but I decided to push since I was only doing 3 miles; ended up tacking on a cool down mile because I was so happy!!!

Mile 1: 8:04
Mile 2: 7:31
Mile 3: 6:46 (yayayay!!! First sub-7 mile in almost a year!)
Mile 4: 7:47 (cool-down)

While tonight's run does absolutely nothing to help me prepare for Saturday, it was a huge boost to my confidence.  I've avoided speedwork/tempo runs because they are hard (I'm lazy) and they aggravate my knee but yesterday's ART session made my knee feel so much better.  I finally see hope in returning to the training paces that I was hitting late 2008/early 2009...I plan on keeping one run per week short and focused on speed so that training to run slower in the 100 does not equate to a loss of speed overall.

Happy Friday! - Friday starts early for me:)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Eeek! Orange Curtain 100K is days away!

With my first 100K only days away, I am officially entering "freak out" mode.  I've never completed a race longer than 32 miles due to injury and I feel very undertrained for Saturday.  I'm especially worried that my nagging injuries are going to cause me much pain and that old injuries may rear their ugly heads.  Today I spent time at Dr.Yu's in Manhattan Beach office getting A.R.T. (active release technique...basically the most painful deep tissue manipulation imaginable) done.  Unfortunately, he confirmed what I've been fearing- that my left ITB is very tight and that there are bands of scar tissue along my adductors (inner thigh muscles), hamstrings, and quads.  My left ITB is what locked up last summer and brought me to tears on the run that knocked me out of training for months.  The scar tissue is causing my knee to be pulled out of place, creating the pain that never dissipates. Sweet.  Just what I needed to hear days before my longest race.  Foam rolling never seems to help with the ITB issue but I'm going to be spending loads of quality time doing that and adding more ITB stretches over the next couple of days; it can't hurt to do everything possible, right? 

Right now I'm doing my customary shocking of the muscles with my handy-dandy TENS machine; yes, boys and girls, my chiropractor made sure I had my very own electrical stimulation machine a couple of years ago when it became apparent that my body does not respond to distance running very well.  Fingers are crossed that all of this helps and that I make it 62 miles without major ITB or knee issues or messing up my recently-sprained ankle. 

So much can go wrong on Saturday that I'm refocusing my attention to preparing a list of items I need to buy and things I'll need for my drop bag (bag I'll have at the start/finish/every 6.2 miles).  So far, I've thought of the following:
contact lens case; eye drops; PowerBar; banana; ziploc bags; Gu; shot blocks; Desitin/Body Glide; salt stick capsules; Icy Hot; change of shoes/socks/insoles; sunblock; "The Stick"; baby wipes; safety pin and alcohol wipes (in case pop blisters); moleskin; athletic tape; scissors; sunglasses
Quite a list so far and I'm sure there are things I've yet to think of.  I'm starting to think I'll wake up in the middle of the night with some random item in my thoughts.

Taper madness is definitely getting the best of me as all this energy would normally be diverted to running; I've limited my running to a measly 8 miler on Monday but will get in 3-5 tomorrow to restore some sense of sanity.  And then I'll start packing my drop bag, putting new songs on my ipod, and giving my legs some more at-home physical therapy.  If I'm this wound up over a flat, "simple" 100K, how on earth will I be days before my first 100 miler?  Scary thought...

Take care and go run some miles for me:)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Laziness or just missing my running buddies?

Ah...a day off from work.  A time to sleep in, take care of errands, and run, right? I did great at the sleep in part since last night I went to Pasadena to hear my boyfriend's band, Regal Beagle, perform at the Pub.  I loved hearing them since they don't perform very often anymore, but it made for a longer day than I am accustomed to having.  Needless to say, I managed to stay in bed past my customary 5:30 wake-up time but it must not have been enough.  I took care of many top errands- scheduling and going to an optometrist appointment (they hooked me up with deal on eye exam plus contacts plus doc was awesome), mailing in my application for the Orange Curtain 100K (next weekend...eeeeek).

                                                                    Alan (BF) rockin' out

But the third item, run, has not happened as I've fallen victim to laziness or sadness.  Since I feel I have to kick my training up a notch and can't skip many runs, I feel pretty crappy for bailing on today's trail run.  I spent this morning searching for an OC park with open trails (many are closed due to recent rains) and zoned in on Aliso and Wood Canyons and even mapped out a nice 10+ mile route.  I posted on RWOL and FB that I was going to run it but, after getting my eye exam, I suddenly felt very tired and unmotivated.  For weeks I had planned on running with Ryan (my SD 100 partner and instigator of all this craziness) and Billy, but Ryan was unable to come in from Hawaii and Billy's foot is hurting.  I know I could go run alone today with a great new trail area to traverse, but the thought of running alone is unappealing after having it set in my mind that I'd be running with friends today.  Silly?  Maybe.  Or maybe it just shows how much running and friends go together for me.  I normally love the solitude of hitting the trails or roads alone and enjoy my quiet, alone time but today has been different.

I'll do some yoga and maybe some weights later to make up for my lack of training today.  I still can't believe I wasted a gorgeous southern California day by not taking advantage of the opportunity to spend time in nature, basking in the wonderful sunshine.  Sigh.  A day of training down the drain sucks but a day of realizing how much my friends mean to me is priceless.  It's crazy to think that these are the people I met via a running discussion board not long ago, but yet they are friends who have shared in the ups and downs of my life over the past year and half.  Earlier in the week, I responded on RWOL to what I love to run and I listed the people I've met.  Well, today confirms how much that is true.  As I consider the crazy events I will be running during 2010, I look forward to the ones where my friends will be there more than any others.

Tomorrow I'm volunteering at the Twin Peaks 50/50 (1st time volunteering at a running event), so good luck to anyone participating in it or in any event this weekend.  Since I'm celebrating Chinese New Year this weekend, I also wish everyone happy new year!!!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Surf City Marathon Weekend Recap

I ran the Surf City Marathon in 2008 as my second marathon and returned this year hoping that my rain-go-away dance would work so that my 10th marathon would not earn the title "Soak City Round 2."  Since I'm now in full "training-to-not-die-in-upcoming-ultras" mode, I changed my goal from earning another BQ (my 1st post-injury-filled 2009) to chilling and running at comfortable pace (aka. finishing in 4+ hours).  I had been averaging less than 30 miles per week heading into the marathon and had fewer long runs in recent months than before any of my other marathons, normally a combination that would stress me out. Yet, it was awesome in that I had virtually zero stress about the marathon and got to focus on enjoying time with friends. 

Saturday - FE (Forum Encounter)/Operation Jack Dinner
I'd been looking forward to Saturday more than anything because Lucia, a friend from RWOL, was coming in from Truckee for the race and we'd finally get the chance to hangout and share some laughs.  I picked her up from the airport and we took advantage of a break in the rain to hit the race expo.  Wow.  The place was completely packed and that's when I felt what would really hit home during the race- that the race has outgrown its expo tents and narrow bike paths.  Lucia and I wasted no time in getting our bibs, shirts, and hitting the PowerBalance booth so that she could exchange her wristband and I could resist the urge to buy one; I'm still on the fence about it but may cave soon since I'll need all the help I can get to get through the SD 100.  I dropped by the legacy booth to pick up my "special" T-shirt for participating in my 3rd consecutive S.C. event.  We decided to hit main street for some grub and drinks and wound up at BJ's pizza where I got to be one of the first toorder their new strawberry mojito...yummy!!!  Unfortunately, the rain returned when it was time to leave so we got to test our puddle jumping skills and BJ's takeout bags as umbrellas; I give it a thumbs up as it kept my hair from getting drenched.
Lucia and I with our "umbrellas"
We eventually made our way to the RWOL FE/Operation Jack fundraising dinner.  My friends Sam and Tiffany and Train 4 Autism did an awesome job of getting a place large enough to accomodate all of us and making sure we had enough pasta for carb-loading heaven.  I had a blast reuniting with fellow runners I've met at other running events and meeting new ones but was not looking forward to waking up at 4am.
Me, Sam, Alan (BF)

RWOL crew

Race Day
After a sleepless night spent tossing and turning and hoping for quiet, I drug my butt out of bed at 4:15am, got dressed, and made my way to Huntington Beach afer a good luck kiss from Alan.  I scored a spot as close to the starting line as possible, set my alarm and napped until 5:45 when I awoke and finished getting ready.  I decided to violate the "never try something new on race day" rule by wearing new shoes with insoles, a combo I hoped would not give me blisters...thank goodness for Body Glide.  I made my way to the starting line around 6:15, stopped by the Train 4 Autism tent and met up with Sam who was getting ready to assume his 3:30 pacing duties.  We made our way to the starting line and I eventually saw Emil, who I wanted to hang with for at least part of the race.  After a very odd and disorganized "wave" start, I made my way across the starting line and started dodging way too many people, losing Emil in the process.  I settled into a groove of a cruising pace and kept checking my Garmin to make sure I was not going too fast; Emil caught me and then took off while I silently repeated, "jog...jog..jog."

I caught the 3:50 pace group (started before me) around mile 5 and realized I needed to stick with them and slow down.  I twisted my already-sprained ankle around mile 6 and hoped that it would not come back to haunt me ( was okay).  I really felt the effects of a larger marathon crowd trying to cram onto a narrow bike path through the HB parks and welcomed being back on the wide streets.  Emil and I wound up together for a bit and we both agreed that the 3:50 pacer was doing a horrible job at running an even pace; I decided to split from the group and bounded up the last "hill."  I downed my first Gu and took a quick porta-potty stop around mile 10 before turning onto Pacific Coast Highway; then I resisted the urge to push and catch the pace group.  Nevertheless, I caught and passed that group and actually considered picking up the pace and going for 3:40; then remembered that I could not jeopardize my legs getting burned out and again backed down.  Turning on the bike path around mile 17, I caught another 3:50 pace group (huh?!) and decided to stick with them to help with the boring out/back...that didn't last too long as I felt I was running in place on the narrow course.  I ended up on my own and loved when I saw people I knew along the course...cheered for Sam a couple of times and knew he'd nail that 3:30 pacing gig again.  I consumed my second/final Gu around mile 18 and noted that I felt much better than I did at mile 18 of my last marathon.

I was looking forward to seeing Lucia (did the half as a training run) as we had plans for her to meet me at mile 24 and run with me the last couple of miles.  Since I was ahead of schedule, that didn't work out.  I decided to walk for 0.1 of mile around 24.5 to see if that would help her find luck so I tried again around 25.1 and 25.4 with no luck.  As I turned onto PCH for the final stretch, I heard, "Rachel!" and Lucia joined me for the last few tenths of a mile.  Crossing the finish line in 3:47 I was stoked with how good I felt and how easy that pace, I didn't give myself too much grief for running faster than "training run" pace. 


Unfortunately, Lucia had to leave for the aiport but I grabbed lunch and beer at BJ's with Billy, who kicked butt in his first race after suffering a stress fracture.  As always, the best part about racing weekends is getting to hang with friends before/during/after and this weekend was no exception.  Surf City falling on the same day as the SuperBowl makes celebrating all day long a necessity.  Since refueling is essential to training, I made sure I consumed tons of scrumptious tacos, chips, cookies/cupcake at a SuperBowl party I attended with Alan.  Yesterday was physical therapy and lots of icing, etc. for my ankle and work on all my other nagging muscular issues....but thankfully my body felt no different than before the race.  Sweet!  I resumed training today sticking to the treadmill and stairmaster with my fingers crossed that the rain goes away so that I can hit the trails this weekend.

Til later...enjoy your day!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Why am I here?/Support Operation Jack!!!

Welcome! I can't believe I'm actually following through with sharing parts of my life via a blog. The thought of writing a blog has come and gone at various times in my life...gone because I felt I had nothing notable to share with the world. I still have nothing so fantastic to express but since I'm jumping on the crazy train, I might as well share this adventure with whomever is bored or intrigued enough to read my ramblings.

I'm now training for my first 100 mile race...yes, that's 100 miles run as one run over the course of less than 31 hours. Crazy? Yep. I ordered my straight jacket the same day I forked over the application fee. I hope writing will at least help me stay slightly sane as I deal with all the ups and downs I face over the next four months leading up to the San Diego 100. Along the way, I'll share my thoughts so that you can know what on earth goes through someone's head as they prepare for that type of event.

I started running in May 2007 for reasons I'll explain another day. Running provided me with an outlet for dealing with hardships and stresses in life and I was quickly hooked. I found a wonderful online community on Runner's World and I made several friends via that site. Those are the people who have influenced me to test my physical and mental limits over the past two years. I mailed in my application for the SD 100 exactly 14 days ago and got confirmation that I was conditionally accepted 12 days ago; that's the day I realized I needed to start training (yikes!!! How do I do that?!). Thankfully, I already have 2 road marathons booked for this month, so I'll use those as slow training runs instead of running them as fast as I can (pretty slow right now for me....but I digress).

In two days, I'm running the Surf City Marathon for the third consecutive year; however, this time I'm doing it to support Operation Jack, a charity organized by my friend Sam. Sam's middle son is autistic and Sam is running 60 marathons this year(!!!) in order to raise awareness for autism and to raise money to support Train 4 Autism. Train 4 Autism is a charity that provides people with the resources they need to train for and complete an athletic event while raising funds for an autism-related charity of their choosing. Autism is being diagnosed in about 1 in 100 children, a statistic that scares the "science teacher" side of me. Since autism is the fastest growing diagnosed neurological disorder in the US, there is a tremendous need to support autism charities.

Sam, me, Billy around 2am July 4th (stay tuned for "why")

Since I sprained my ankle less than two weeks ago, I am keeping my fingers crossed that it will cooperate so that I finish the race without pain and, more importantly, that people will support Operation Jack/Train 4 Autism since that's the reason why I am staying off the trails this weekend and pounding the pavement in Huntington Beach instead. Thankfully the pouring rain (I thought it never rained in southern Cal?!) is making being off the trails slightly easier today, which is good since I really need to work on my to-do list and get ready to rock-n-roll Sunday morning.

If you're running Surf City, I hope to see you before the race! If you don't run, I hope that at some point this blog encourages you to put on some shoes and pick up those's good for you, I promise.