Saturday, June 28, 2008

Happy 4th of July!!!

Happy 4th!!! I just love 3-day holiday weekends, don't you!!!!!

I've been procrastinating in posting my blog. Mostly because I don't have much to report. I've gone from from having a really awesome week to regressing into 2 weeks of blahdom.

Training Week #2:

  • 2 karate classes: one "A" day class, one "B" day "Bugo/sparring" class
  • 0 SWAT classes
  • 3 days of extras
  • 1 run: 2.04 miles in 19:14

Training Week #3:

  • 2 karate classes: two "A" day classes (dojo closed Friday & Saturday, bummer!)
  • 2 SWAT classes
  • 3 days of extras
  • 3 runs: 12.44 miles; average pace 9:48 min/mi

"Extras" can vary from week to week, depending on what Master KC wants us to do. But I try to always get in a minimum of 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, 100 squats and 100 side kicks (50 off of each leg) per "extra".

SWAT stands for special winning attitude team. When you are a candidate for black belt, part of the black belt cycle is "SWATTING" where you assist the instructors in classes for the lower belts. By helping to teach others, it reinforces the candidate's skills and drills. It takes 3-4 years to earn a black belt, and along the way you learn lots of different skills, drills, katas, etc. Swatting helps you to "re-master" everything. Plus, you get to know the students coming up in the system. And it's always great to see them learn and test for their new belts. They become your "babies" (in a good way!!!).

Since I am going for my 2nd degree black belt, I have to go through 2 cycles. Each cycle is 16 weeks of torture (and I mean that in a good way!). Each week you have to get in 4 classes; 3 "regular" classes plus Saturday morning candidate class. You have to get in 4 "extras" session, 4 runs and 3 SWAT classes. The 1st cycle is coming to a close. The candidates for August just finished Power Week. Power Week is the actual black belt test. The candidates actually get their black "belts" at the Black Belt Spectacular which will be held on July 26th. The "Spectacular" is where they get to show off their skills! If all goes well for me, I will have my "spectacular" on December 6th. But, it's looking like Power Week will be the same week as the New York Marathon. So I'll just have to wait and see how the scheduling goes.

I have not been running as often or for as far as I should be or want to be. My right knee is still hurting and the pain behind my right heel hasn't gotten better. I am starting to be concerned. I think I will make an appointment with a podiatrist. The running store gave me the name of a DPM who is also a runner. I am using orthotics that are close to 14 years old, so I probably need a newer pair. My heel pain started after switching from my Brooks to Nikes; I have since gone back to my trusty old Brooks.

But I have to start seriously training for NYC. I can't take too many more weeks off. Between the heat/humidity of South Florida and my aching, aging body, training for NYC marathon will be a challenge! But, I have always loved a challenge; the tougher the better!

Run strong,


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

NYC Marathon Training Week #1

Training week #1 was good. I got in work outs every day! No rest days on the training log this week!!!

Let's just say I've had better running weeks. I took Monday and Tuesday off from running. Wednesday night it was raining. That meant I had to run on the treadmill, which I normally hate. But, it wasn't so bad. I listened to some good tunes on the ipod, turned the TV screen to the discovery channel, upped the incline, and ran for 30 minutes, getting in 3.44 miles. And that was it for running for the week........

My sister turned me on to PiYo, which is a blend of Pilates and Yoga. So, I did an hour of that on Wednesday after my run and also on Sunday. I figured it would be good for my non-karate days to "force" me to work on my flexibility. The "beginner" lesson was ok. It wasn't too strenuous and really only offered a few "new" stretches. Hopefully the intermediate and advanced courses will offer more challenge. But the good thing about it is it will force me to take my time on the stretches. Normally when I stretch on my own, I tend to "rush" the stretch in an effort to get it done.

This was a great karate week! I got in 5 classes; basically I was at the dojo everyday except for Wednesday. I even enjoyed my Bugo class!! I got in 5 SWATs and 4 days of Extras. Not too shabby! And I felt great at each class. That is, except for Saturday morning candidate class.

We started with a warm-up run; 1 trampoline "stepper", jump over targets, side-to-sides, kicks on the bags on the back wall. I think we ended up doing 5 "laps". Next we went into some kicking and boxing skills. Then it was short 2 kata with the entire group. After that, we were split into the "August" candidates and everyone else. Since I'm in cycle for December, I was with "everyone else".

Ms. Stefani had "everyone else" run through XMA form 1, XMA form II, Kamaset 2 and then the black belts did American Bo form. During these forms, I started getting really lightheaded and thought I was going to faint. And it showed in my performance! UGH!! I was awful!! I made it through the class but had to skip out on the 2 mile timed run.

Anyways, to make a long story even longer, I had taken some "strong" cough syrup the night before and I think the effects lasted until the next morning. Although I am a pharmacist, I really dont like taking medicine. But, the last time I got a "chest cold", I ended up with pneumonia and honestly thought I was going to die! So now, I'm paranoid and treat my cough/chest cold quickly and aggressively.

It was no surprise that I came down with a "cold" last week. Everone at work has been sick; multiple times. But my immune system is pretty hardy and the "head" part of the cold only lasted less than 2 days. And, it didn't stop me from working out!!! Yeah!! But that's probably not something I should be cheering about.

The good news is there are no more Saturday morning candidate classes until August! So I get to sleep in for a few weeks!! Woo Hoo! But, I might move my long runs from Sunday to Saturday; we'll see.......

The absolute best thing about this week was meeting up with some friends on Saturday night. My friend Mary hosted a "tropical" party at her new house. It was a great party; good people, good food/drink and good music.

Slán go fóill (Gaelic Good-bye for now)

Dani aka blonderx

Totals for the Week:
  • Karate: 5 classes
  • SWAT: 5 classes
  • Extras: 4 workouts
  • PiYo: 2 workouts
  • Run: 1 run; 3.44 miles

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Calm Before The Storm.....

Recovery week #2 comes to an end

I know that after the marathon, my body needs time to rest and recover. So I took it easy; I went to a few karate classes, I ran some short runs. But boy, I feel like a slacker!!! I worked so hard for my conditioning, strength and endurance that I hate to think that I could be "losing it" by taking time off from karate/running. I hate "rest days" on my workout log!!!

But thankfully, this brief respite is coming to an end. It's time to start training for the NYC marathon!! Woo Hoo!!! For San Diego, I used a 16 week, training program (modified Hanson's). But, there were a few flaws in that program. First, I ran into some scheduling challenges which didn't allow me to get in as many long, long runs as I needed. Second, I did only 1 "hill" training run. And boy did I paid for that!!

So, for the NYC marathon, I've made a few modifications.

  • I've extended the "training" from 16 weeks to 20 weeks. This will allow me to get in at least (2) 20-milers and (1) 22-miler run.

  • I'm increasing from 4 runs a week to 5 runs a week

  • 1-Speed Workout

  • 1-Hill Workout

  • 1-LSD Workout (and no, that's not the drug!!! it's Long, Slow, Distance run)

For my 1st marathon, I did a little bit of speed work; primarily interval runs. I think it was helpful, but more so for my timed karate runs than for my marathon. For NYC, I'm going to do more tempo runs. Tempo or "marathon pace" runs will mean I do warm-up and cool-down runs at a "relaxed" pace, but the miles in between are run at the pace I want to run for the marathon. And for NYC, I AM going to finish in less than 5 hours, which means my marathon pace will have to be 11:27 min/mile or better. So I will train with a tempo pace of 10 min/mile, or maybe faster!!! or, with the summer temps in the 90's, maybe slower!!?!?!

Hill workout is probably the area I need to focus on the most. Yes, I know. Hill training in Florida is an oxymoron!!! Well, I have 2 options for hill training. The first is the treadmill. Boring!!!! The second option is to train on the intracoastal bridges. But, that means I will be inhaling lots of car exhaust. So which is worse, boredome or car exhaust?

I'm excited about my next marathon. I'm excited about running the NYC marathon. It's only 2nd to the Boston marathon in prestige, and with my run times, I won't be making it to Boston anytime soon! My only concern is the timing. The marathon is right around the time when it will be "Power Week" for karate. Power week is the actual black belt test where all of our skills and drills are tested over a week period.

Getting my 2nd degree black belt is very important to me. And I don't want to have to chose one over the other. I want it all! So far, 2008 has been a tremendous year. Already, I have accomplished so much! I ran my 1st 1/2 marathon; I ran my 1st marathon; I stopped a 25 year smoking habit and I took on a new job that is both challenging and rewarding. I know I can do anything I put my mind to. So I WILL run the NYC marathon and I WILL work as hard as I can to get my 2nd degree black belt!

Run long,
Modesty, Courtesy, Integrity, Self Control, Perseverence, Indominable Spirit

aka blonderx

Sunday, June 8, 2008

I Rocked 'n Rolled In San Diego!

I did it! I ran a marathon!!!! "What an experience!!".

The adventure started on Thursday May 29th. The flights to San Diego were great. Primarily because I flew first class; gotta love those frequent flyer miles!! I figured my legs would be tired/sore on the return flight and would "deserve" the extra legroom!

Friday was expo day. My sister's friend Elisa and her 9 month-old daughter Brody joined us for the trip to the Expo. Brody was so cute, a blondie and a "chunky monkey" just like Lauren was at that age. Anyways, we started by getting our bibs and t-shirts. The t-shirt was surprisingly nice; usually I give them away but I think I might actually wear this one. We stopped at the Marines' booth where they had a chin-up bar challenge. I held myself up there for 50 seconds. The girl before me did 70 seconds! Wow! But, my time was good enough for a t-shirt that said "Pain is Fear leaving the body", I like that!

The expo was a good size. There were lots of booths hawking new clothes, drinks, energy goos, trinkets, souveniers, etc. But not so many that one would tire out their legs 2 days before the race. After the expo, we dropped off Elisa and Brody, then headed out to meet some of Yvonne's fellow teachers for happy hour. Beer does qualify as carbo loading!!! We had to get going because my nephew Kevin was playing trombone in the 5th grade band concert that evening.

Saturday was designated as "rest" day. I spent most of the morning in bed, on the laptop catching up on some work. Yvonne was at her high school for the annual boat "test". Students are given pieces of wood and have to build a pool-worthy boat, that can hold a student. David and the kids and I went to watch the "test". It was great! The kids had to have a theme for their boat. My favorite was the kid who dressed up in a suit and his boat was the "The Science Guy, Bill Nye". He made it across the pool. The "Luck of the Irish" didn't have much luck and sank immediately. What a great event!

Saturday night, we carbo loaded with lots of baked ziti. Then Yvonne and I got all our race stuff ready and went to bed around 10pm.

Sunday morning, the alarm went off at 3:30am. I got up, got ready and had my racing usual breakfast of a bagel. We left the house around quarter of 5am, hit the highway and as we got close to the airport exit, we came to a dead halt. Too many cars trying to get off at 1 exit. I was surprisingly calm; normally I would be freaking out. But, I wasn't driving. I know Yvonne felt terrible. I don't think she expected as much traffic. After waiting what seemed like an hour; no, actually, it was an hour, we finally made it to the parking area and got on the shuttle bus. It was now 6:15am; the race started at 6:30.

The shuttle bus dropped us off at the back end of the starting line with less than 5 minutes till the start of the race. I did a quick sun screen spray, put on my hydration belt and then we took off running to the UPS gear check spot. Next, we ran to the porta-potty and waited in line. After Yvonne and I got out of the PP, we gave each other a quick hug, wished each other good luck, then headed for our separate starting corrals.

Before I made it to my corral, the race started. So I just jumped into a corral and then realized it was #22. I was supposed to be in #14 so I was quite a bit "behind". So, I jumped out of #22 and ran up the sidelines to find a "faster" corral. Each corral holds 1,000 runners, so when I jumped back in, I had only gotten up to #19. I stayed, but kept getting stuck behind people who talking, taking picture, having a really good social event. But I was ready to RUN!!! I stayed cool and eventually we made it to the starting line; 12 minutes after the race began. Thank goodness for timing chips!

Being in a slower corral should have kept me from going out too fast. But it didn't. As usual, the adrenaline of the race, the people and the music amped me up! The "selling point" of the Rock 'n Roll marathon is that there are bands everywhere. They are at the beginning, the end and spaced out almost every mile on the course. And there are bands covering all types of music styles.

The first miles were in downtown San Diego. It was pretty flat, the weather was in the mod-60's and the marine layer was in place keeping the skies overcast. Yes, perfect running weather! I was doing mid-10 minute miles. While this may sound slow (and really it is!), my intention was to run the first half of the race at an 11:30 pace and pick up on the back half. Well, what do they say about good intentions?

Just past mile 8, we moved out of downtown San Diego to the 163 highway. Here we were greated with hills and cambers. The elevations weren't too steep, just rolling up and down, up and down. I did my best to run on the flattest portion of the 163 and avoid the incline, especially since I had experienced some ITB pain in my left leg. My pace slowed down a bit; I was running mid-11's

Around mile 12, we finished the highway portion and got back onto "city" roads. A couple of things happened. First, the marine layer wore off and the sun emerged, shining brightly. Second, I finally caught up with the 5:00 pace group (since they started in a corral ahead of me). I hit the 1/2 way point of 13.1 miles in 2:28. At this point I realized my #3 goal of 4:30 was pretty much out of the question; but goal #2 of 5:00 was still well within my reach.

At mile 13.1 the pace runners switched out. The new pacer was pretty cool. He told us this was his 1st time pacing and that he normally runs a 3:00 marathon (WOW!). He had us walk through the water stops since we were a bit ahead. But then at mile 15 he saw the time on the race clock of 3:00 and said we were way behind. I don't think he accounted for the time to cross the start line. Anyways, he increased the pace quite a bit and at at mile 16.5 I started falling behind.

By now, my knees really started to hurt. Both of them. Really Badly!! My pace dropped and at mile 18 I had to walk. From mile 18 to 24, I walked/ran; mostly walked, but incorporated short bits of running. This was the pity party time. I was hearing people shout, "Go Runners" and all I could think was that, I wasn't running. They weren't shouting for me. One spectator saw my name on my bib and said, "keep going Dani". I think that made me feel even worse. At one point, one of the Team in Training coaches on the side line asked me if I was okay. Did I look that bad??? I told him I was fine, thank you.

At my worst point, I started questioning whether I would ever do a marathon again. A couple of weeks earlier, due to my pre-race exuberance, I had signed up for the NYC marathon. For runners who don't time qualify (ie. slow runners like me!), there is a lottery to get in. At mile 21-22, I was thinking there's no way in hell that I was doing this again! Hopefully, my name won't get picked for NYC. But then I started thinking, I also said that about childbirth; and I have 2

There was never any doubt that I would finish the marathon. Come hell or high water, I was going to run, walk or crawl. I kept thinking about the mantra from my black belt cycle, "Pain is Temporary, Pride Lasts a Lifetime". I knew the the pride of finishing a marathon was going to feel as good as when I achieved my black belt. And nothing was going to get in my way of achieving that victory! Not even 2 bony, painful, old knees!

When I got to mile 23, my spirits lifted. There was only a 5k to the finish line. Just over 3 miles, no sweat! We were headed to the finish line at the Marine Corp Recruiting Depot. At mile 24 I started running again, albeit slowly. I set my ipod to my "motivating" songs. I got to mile 25 and now there's only 1.2 miles. I could do that in my sleep! Mile 26, only 2/10th of a mile. Cue in the ipod to "Theme from Rocky"; yes it's corny, but it works!!!. I ran fast like I had gotten a new pair of knees. Actually, I wasn't running, I was floating. One more turn, and there it was, the finish line! I crossed in 5:41:02 chip time. I started crying because I was emotionally exhausted/exhillarated......and this tall Marine looked at me and said something, I can't even remember what he said, and I started crying more! I was a wreck!

I had done it. I walked over to the medal area and got my finisher's medal. The "end" was constructed very well. It's designed to keep you busy and walking so that your legs don't cramp up. They gave out wet towels, took pictures with your medals, and had tons of water and food (bagels, bananas, etc.), they also had marathon blankets but I didn't take one. After making it through the maze, I went to the UPS trucks to pick up my gear bag. And there was Yvonne sitting by the truck. She finished in 4:40:39, how awesome!!!

We moved our stiff and aching bodies to the shuttle bus line. After a stop at Jamba Juice, we got home. I wrapped both knees with ice packs, took 800mg of ibuprofen and then took a nap.

Monday was the trip home. The knee pain was gone and I was only a bit sore on the outside of my quads. Getting up and sitting down took a few extra seconds! There were lots of people in the airport wearing some sort of RNR shirt. There were a couple on my flight to Dallas and we chatted briefly. When I landed in Ft. Lauderdale, I met a lady waiting for the shuttle to the parking lot, who also did the RNR. We compared sun burns! My sunscreen application missed a few spots, mostly my shoulders.

So this adventure has come to an end. Or has it? Thursday night I got an email from the NYC marathon. Sure enough, I was picked! Go figure!

till my next blog,

run long