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Race Recap: Tinkerbell Half Marathon!

most ginormous bling ever!

I did not go into this half marathon race with high expectations. In fact, I was kind of dreading it because my running training has fallen short of my intentions. So I was just hoping it wouldn’t be a big, enormous painful fail, and that I would come home with one of those pretty Tinkerbell wing medals.

Originally I’d signed up for this race as a great mother-daughter bonding event. But the best laid plans, you know? Poor Junior, who had actually TRAINED for this race, came down with a gnarly flu/sore throat/feeling like hell on Friday night. She had gone down to SoCal early, and because I had my TNT Kick-Off on Saturday, and Juniorette had crew practice, it was up to poor Junior to go to the Expo to pick up our race packets and chips and all. What a sad thing, to be amidst all that wild enthusiasm and excitement, knowing she probably wouldn’t be able to do the race. Wahh! I really felt for her.

She picked up all the stuff and then we met up at the hotel where she was lying in bed looking miserable.

"hug me... but don't catch my germs"

After taking some medicine she did feel well enough to go over to Disney California for a bit. We headed straight for our most favorite ride, Soarin’ Over California, which is both relaxing and beautiful. At that point, Junior was feeling better than she’d had all day, and we entertained the idea that maybe she could walk the race slowly. But the night was a rough one, with fever and discomfort and no sleep. So when the alarm went off at 3:30am (!!!!!!!!!) it was just Juniorette and I who got up.

One of the VERY BEST DECISIONS I ever made was to book the hotel right at the start/finish line. So all we had to do was take the elevator downstairs, and the race staging area was RIGHT THERE. I knew that other people were having to WALK a mile or more to the start, and that just would not have been a happy thing.

When we first entered the area we were greeted by some Pirates. That was pretty awesome, and took the sting out of the fact that it was still pretty much the middle of the night.

Arrr! Pirates!

I have to say, this pretty much spoiled me for every other race. If we aren’t greeted by pirates at the crack of dawn, then I’m gonna be sad.

When it was time to go to our corrals to line up for the start, Juniorette and I had to split up because she was in C (younger faster folks!) and I was in E (the End).

I was verrrry happy to then meet up with (out of 11,000 people) two of my friends! What are the chances of that! I found Christine and Sabrina, both of whom with I’d done the Fight for Air Stair Climb last year. It was great to have people to hang with while we were waiting to make our way to the start line. It was Christine’s first half marathon, which was exciting, and it was Sabrina’s 16th! (her first this month- she’s doing a half every month!)

Sabrina, me and Christine waiting to start!

While we were waiting around, I did several minutes of calf stretches. When I had been at the TNT Kickoff on Saturday morning (which, by the way, was awesome) I met up with a foot doctor at their mini-expo. I described to him the excruciating foot pain that has been plaguing me worse than ever. I told him about this sole-stabbing PAIN that came on without fail pretty much every run, after about 1/3 mile, and which persisted until it started subsiding around mile 2. I’ve learned that I can “run through it” but man, it has not been pleasant. It always makes me think of the Little Mermaid who has these knife-stabbing sensations in her feet when she walks (I did a paper on Hans Christian Anderson’s Little Mermaid in grad school).  Anyway, he said it sounded like a case of tight gastrocnemius muscle and he showed me exactly the stretches to do. Which I did, crossing my fingers. I thought how nice it would be to not be running on knives through Ariel’s Grotto.

Finally it was time to move up to the start line. It was still pitch black, and then fireworks went off (of course) and… wooo! Juniorette texted me that Sean Astin (aka Samwise Gamgee from LOTR!) was in her corral. Squeeee! They called Corral C, then D, then it was our turn: Corral E – proceed to the starting line! Boom!

We ran around some random streets for a while and then after a mile or two (?) we were back in Disneyland. That was surreal and fun, running through the empty park, through the back lots and Secret Areas while the sun was just starting to come up.

Just as we came up around the It’s A Small World ride (fond childhood memories) I saw this big line and thought, what, port-o-potties already? No, it was Snow White and Sleeping Beauty and a few other princesses. And a heck of a long line. I knew that I did NOT want to stand there for 10-15 minutes that early on. Or maybe ever. But then, after mile 2, I saw these two guys standing there – with NO LINE! (or maybe just one person ahead of me) I couldn’t resist.

Tarzan and Hercules!!

I also could not resist the real, clean, flush bathrooms right near there. Even though there was a waiting line, it wasn’t any longer than the Port O Potties line, so I went for the flush kind. I was really happy I did that, especially early on, because it made for a much more comfortable race.

Just when I got to the 5k point (3.1 miles) I realized something. MY FEET HAD NOT BEEN STABBING ME. Thank you, Dr. Footdoctor, at the TNT expo! He had been so right. It felt so amazing to run on pain-free feet!!

Pretty soon we came upon Cinderella’s castle. How awesome was that.

I was one of few people not wearing a tutu or wings.
Feeling pretty good!

I actually felt just relaxed and great through the first eight miles. I was so happy about that. I knew that I had a mental block coming up around mile 9, because that was my longest run in the past many months. OK, my longest run since the Las Vegas Half in December 2010. So I knew I was once again heading into uncharted territory, and I remembered how absolutely MISERABLE and deathly feeling I’d been at mile 11 in Vegas. I was kinda nervous.

I started texting Mr McBody because I knew he’d give me a little pep talk. So every time I passed a mile marker I’d type in the number and word for how I felt.

I was totally psyched that at Mile 10 I was feeling GOOD.

(that's the time from when the race started, not my time!)

Up until this point I really did not have any discomfort other than what felt like a blister on my right pinky toe. I kept sort of shifting around in my shoe to avoid the tender spot. But it wasn’t like it was killing me.

The last couple miles weren’t EASY (I texted, “I’m feeling it”) but they weren’t horrible. I wasn’t suffering or praying for mercy or anything like it. I wasn’t feeling any systemic problems. I had been drinking a half-cup of water and half-cup of PowerAde at every water stop. I had a little pouch of salted pretzels which I took in steadily, and I had one packet of Gu at Mile 9. (good place for it) I felt perfectly balanced, which is pretty much nothing short of a miracle for me. No GI problems, no tingling, numbness, asthma, nausea or the like. All of which I’ve had in large amounts. I was so grateful but also proud of myself for having figured that part of it out. There was one woman running near me with her hands up, and her friend was massaging her fingers. I gave her some pretzels and said, “need salt” and she was so happy. (“Those Team in Training people are so helpful!”)

I was also really proud of the fact that I ran the entire race WITHOUT MUSIC. Which is also nothing short of miraculous, considering I’ve been pretty dependent on my tunes since day one. It was just that my phone battery was down to 3/4 even at the start line, and I was super nervous I wouldn’t have enough juice to text people at the end (or during if necessary). So I didn’t use my Runkeeper ( which really drains the juice) or ANY music. I listened to the cool high school marching bands and to the speaker music when it came around every mile or so. That was enough, and I think having music as a “special treat” now and then helped me really appreciate it. Having said that I think I need to invest in a Mophie or one of those extra battery things.

Finally we got to mile 12, back in the park again, and I was so happy about how good I was feeling. The last mile between 12 and 13 felt pretty long, but again, I wasn’t dying. Then we got to mile 13 and I was so happy. I saw Sabrina and that was great, to see her at beginning and end (and a bunch in the middle too). When we got to the finish, I did a little jump in the air (I hope Brightroom.com got that one!) and just felt so happy. Then a few feet later I saw Pauly, whom I’d run a bit with during HER Las Vegas half in December! (she is also a TNT mentor, down in LA) That was awesome.

I’ve gotta say, there were HUNDREDS of TNT runners, spectators and coaches through this whole race. It is so great to have people call your name and say “Go Team!” just because you’re wearing this purple shirt. Toward the end, maybe Mile 12, I think I may have been looking a little ragged, and this TNT coach ran with me for a while. He talked to me about drinking water in the last mile, and he was just so encouraging and coach-y, it was as if he’d been training me all season. That made a big impression, the huge community that TNT is everywhere.

I was super stoked to get this giant gorgeous medal!

Yippeee! Look at this beauty!

Then I found Juniorette, who’d been waiting for me OVER an HOUR (she rocked it!!!). We went up to the hotel and pretty much crashed. It felt so awesome to take my shoes off. Junior had slept through the whole thing. Poor baby!

The afternoon was pretty much a blur of napping and lying around, and then later on we went back to the parks to play before Junior’s plane ride home. Juniorette and I had an awesome dinner at Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen then stayed out super late playing on the rides. She convinced me to go on the Tower of Terror, which WAS terrifying but actually really fun and well done. We also did the new 3D Star Tours (AWESOME!) and Indiana Jones and a few others. Finally dragged back to bed around 11 and crashed hard.

This was my second half marathon and I have to say it was one of my happiest races. I’ve had a lot of pain and suffering in many  of my events, and even though I was glad to have finished them, they were hard won victories. This one just felt good from beginning to end. (is there something to running a race in the “happiest place on Earth?”) It was slower than my first half marathon by seven minutes, but it felt 100% better. So I’d call it a personal best of sorts. (and I know that time difference was for the Tarzan and bathroom stops!)

I just feel so good about all the things that went RIGHT for this race:

  • The hotel location was PERFECTO. Nothing sucks more than having to walk 1-2 miles back to a hotel after you’ve just run 13.1.
  • Salt, water and sports drink ratio were just right. Yay for salty pretzels, water, PowerAde and Gu, all in just the right amounts at the right time. How awesome to not feel SICK.
  • No painful feet! The calf stretches were amazing, and I wore my ankle brace and orthotics (and compression socks) but didn’t overdo it with tape and extra stuff. I felt well supported but not strangled. It was great.

I feel really good about this race, considering that my training was less than stellar. It made me think, wow, what could I do WITH some good training? Maybe my next adventure will be a TNT half or full….

But for now, my next schedule race isn’t until June, the South Maui Triathlon. I want to feel as good about that as I did about this half marathon, so I’m excited to dive into training with my new team and my new coach. WAHOO!

Hellooooo 2012!

I decided to bring 2012 in with an active bang. On New Year’s eve day, the hike team went for a hecka long hike up and down Mount Diablo. It’s only an hour away, but in 25 years I’ve never been there. The views are pretty amazingly beautiful. However, I was not feeling my best. I think we hiked about five hours and the last couple were a real weird struggle for me. Straight uphill. First I was getting shooting pains in my right ankle. I was wearing my old ankle brace as well as using an orthotic in that shoe. My ankle really did not feel happy going up steep inclines. I was a little freaked out when the pain started because we were a good two hours from the parking lot (uphill). But after a while it subsided, and then the other stuff started. Nausea, stomach cramps, light headedness. Oh man. It was really one of the worst hikes I ever did, physically.

pretty views
Nature Guy found the world's biggest pine cone!

One of the mentors gave me some pita chips to get some salt into me. I think after a few hours I can get really sensitive, hydration wise. Even if I’m drinking a lot of water (which I was) if I don’t have salt and electrolytes, I can get really messed up. I was trying to be conscientious about the water but clearly it was not enough. I felt crappy the rest of the hike and when I got home, I had to just hop in the shower and into the car and over to San Francisco for my NYE dinner date and to work at friends’ comedy show. (which was awesome)

When I got up (at 6am!) on New Years’ Day, I was still kind of running on empty. I was feeling kind of tentative about doing the 10K run I’d signed up for, but I was meeting my Hike Coach (who was racewalking), another friend, and a bunch of buddies from my Tri team. I didn’t want to miss that! I promised spouse and self that I would rest, turn around or quit if I felt yucky.

GO team! Yahoo!

I didn’t really have any huge goals regarding the race, other than finishing without feeling like death. It’s a good thing that I didn’t have a good look at the race course before starting, because it would have scared me a LOT. The middle of the course was just one giant hill. Steeper or as steep as Mount Diablo.

Wow that was one heck of a hill.

I ended up walking pretty much all the way up and most of the way down. I saw a lot of runners FLYING down the hill and it scared me to death -you could break your neck so fast like that! So I was pretty cautious.

The awesome thing is that they had a great aid station at the top of the hill, which was the 10k turnaround. Sports drink and all kinds of edibles – including my favorite, salty pretzels! I took a big cupful and a big handful of pretzels. And you know, the second half of the race felt fantastic. I felt like my body was in perfect balance with fluids, salts and nutrition. The magic combo, once again!

I sure didn’t beat any speed records (especially due to the hill) but I finished feeling strong.  Coach Carolyn cheered me into the finish – she had walked that 10k twenty minutes faster than I did, running! She is a real force of nature. I met up with my other buddies and we got our medals and our (YUM) Haagen Dasz ice cream bars (what a great post-race treat!). We then discovered that Katherine had come in first in her age group – how awesome is she!!

Yahoo! Medals!
Go Katherine! Won her age division!
we all scream for ice cream!

So it turned out to be an awesome way to start the New Year. But man, I was pooped. Last night I went to bed right after dinner. I wasn’t sure if I was exhausted from the dual workout, or partly sick, or…

Today I barely moved. I spent the day paying bills and filing stuff and generally keeping a low profile. I think I need to learn a little bit about pacing myself. 🙂

Marin County Triathlon 2011: The Race Recap

So finally – here’s my race recap. It isn’t exactly a replica of my idyllic visualization that I wrote a few days ago. It also took a long time to gather up all the pictures (click on any of them to make them bigger). When you train with Team in Training, you pretty much have a papparazzi gang following you everywhere! It’s good that I had some reflection time, too. Two days after the fact I can say now that I feel good about it. Sunday night, not so much.

Here goes, in probably excruciating detail, but this is kind of how I process stuff (in case you haven’t noticed, LOL!).

Woke up at 4:10am. Actually woke up at 12:59am, 3-something-am AND 4:10am because Mr. McBody (Dr McBody to some) was on call, and get calls he did. (note to self: if spouse is on call night before a race, sleep in separate rooms)

I was WIDE awake though. This was helped by the switch back to Standard Time, which felt like a gift from the universe. So it only FELT like 5:10am, which I’ve done before! Got dressed and had mini-mini meltdowns due to 1) someone at the last whole wheat English muffin and left the EMPTY PACKAGE on top of the breadbox! So I was left without my Eng muffin and peanut butter breakfast which I have gotten very attached to. Instead I boiled a couple of eggs and ate some weird Chai-flavored instant oatmeal. They both felt unfamiliar and kind of wrong, but what choice did I have at 4:30am? Not much.

eating my egg in the car

Picked up Lily. Yay! Her sweetie and parents and dog were all waiting down on the street to load her bike in my car. We had an awesome drive over to the tri site. I am really going to miss driving to workouts with her in the wee hours of the morning. (snif)

We arrived at the park in plenty of time. It was actually really beautiful there in the predawn.

pulling the giant buoy markers out to place

I ate my hard boiled egg, we used the restrooms and picked out our transition spots. Since we were there so early, we had a good choice of spot and I got to use the fence as a coat rack.

Lily: "Move your bike closer to mine, I don't want anyone to get between us." Me: "That's never gonna happen!"

Coach Haakon taped up my foot. Which is supposedly not in the regulations, but I really appreciated it.

We went and got our bodies marked with our race numbers and our ages. 52, baby!!!! I always wonder why they do that – so that if we die on the course we have ID on our bodies?

Go, # 505!
52!! Yeah!!

Teammate Monica was celebrating her 50th by doing this tri. WAY TO GO GIRL!

Our mentor Annika gave us a visual preview of all the ins and outs and showed us where all the buoys were for the swim course. I’d say we’re looking fairly concerned. Teammate Vince calls it “game face.” LOL.

"Wow, those buoys are REALLY FAR out there!"

We started walking over to the swim entry area, led by an awesome bagpipe player (very dramatic!). My heart was pounding like a jackhammer. Then I stepped in this crazy HOLE in the parking lot (like six inches deep and the width of a coffee can) – my foot went RIGHT IN and I fell down. Bam! Not an auspicious beginning. I could feel something bad in my knee (which is still feeling pretty twisted, by the way). But we kept going. I was feeling pretty psyched, and pretty ready.

good to go!

We TNTers got to go in the first wave and that was a really good thing. We got in the water (brrrrrrrrr!) and got the water in our wetsuits and floated around while we waited for the starting horn.

Can you believe it's me out there in 40 degree weather and 60 degree water?
waving at J, who's trying to pick me out of all the other green capped creatures

We were being led out on paddleboard by Coach Neil, the guy who had led my semi-disastrous last open water swim a few weeks ago. I told him I was feeling good about the swim and he seemed pleased but also surprised because I think he really had me for a goner in the open water department.

And... we're off! That orange buoy on the horizon was our first marker!

So we swam. I know that I was swimming really, really slowly. But I was relaxed. I kept up my “gentle-kind” mantra pretty much the only time, except when I was daydreaming about pleasant things, which was a pretty nice way to pass the time. I noticed that each time I lifted my head to sight on the big orange buoy, it kept GETTING BIGGER! which I found very encouraging. I was making headway, even though virtually everyone was passing me and leaving a large gap between them and me. I was OK. I made a few little “bobbing” stops to get my bearings and take some extra oxygen in, but they weren’t like panic stops, more like, “let’s see what’s going on.”

I am pretty sure one of these is me.

I was somewhere between buoy 2 and 3 (out of 4?) and a couple kayakers were yelling and motioning at me to “pull it in toward the shore!” I think I got kind of drifty toward the right and ended up adding a couple hundred extra yards to my swim. I had a few moments of “Well, that’s a drag” but I didn’t freak out. Pretty soon a huge wave of red-capped swimmers took us over. They were churning up the water like a hundred sharks in a frenzy. A couple of them slapped at my feet and bumped into me. Thank goodness that is ONE thing that doesn’t freak me out. I just kind of got out of their way.

The swim felt long. By the clock I think it was around 40 minutes, which was shorter than I’d planned for but still I was near the end of our group. No matter. I was relaxed the whole time, and toward the end I was almost regretting it was going to be over. I was sort of enjoying thinking my nice thoughts and just stroke, stroke, stroke. The last bit between the final buoy and the red finish arc felt reallllllllly long. But I didn’t panic, didn’t float on my back, didn’t hang on any kayaks or people, and pretty much DID the damn thing! After all the struggle I had these past months? I was ecstatic.

I was pretty darn happy when I got out of the water.

final strokes toward shore
Yeah!! I made it to land!
YAYY! This was a happy moment

I headed to T1. (Transition 1) When I got there I was suddenly overcome by lightheadedness. I felt super dizzy and suddenly insanely COLD. So I was just focused on trying to get warm and put on some dry stuff. It seemed to take forever to put on my socks and gloves. My feet were this wacky white/red color. Finally I felt ready and I pulled my bike down and got out of there.

heading out of transition with teammate Katherine
freezing cold, sopping wet, but feeling good

Ha! Forgot this very Special Moment during the tri until teammate Katherine sent it to me. Right after this last picture above, it was time to “mount the bikes.” I got on and then… OOPS! Seems like Katherine wanted some team togetherness. 🙂 Neither of us actually fell over though, and it was all good!  This is now one of my favorite pics of the event.

"Now that's team togetherness!" LOL

Important note for subsequent events: I was really kind of a woozy space cadet during this transition. I wasn’t thinking clearly. ie., I looked at my huuuuuge bottle of Gatorade on the ground, and a littler bottle. But I didn’t drink any. Nor did I eat any of the salted pretzels I’d so carefully baggied up. I took a little swig of water and then put the water bottle in my bike’s holder. I ate a half of a Kind bar. (sweet flavor)

I go back and back to this moment. In the past months I learned that the combo of Gatorade and salty pretzels is like the PERFECT combo recovery/fuel for me. The electrolytes/carbs/salt combo. This combo has given me like superhuman energy and really surprised me. So WHY didn’t I eat/drink it during this transition? One, I was dying from salt overload from the swim and I couldn’t deal with the idea of pretzels. Which is why I chose the Kind bar. Two, I remember kind of glancing at the Gatorade and I may as well have been looking at a doorknob. Like, “Hmm, that looks familiar like something I’ve used in a past life.” It just didn’t click to me. I took that one little sip of water and then I was starting to get really concerned about sitting there having a picnic while everyone else was clearing out to bike, so I just wanted to hustle and get out of there. I MAY have thought, “I’ll drink when I’m on the bike” but I also thought there would be some water/Gatorade stops on the way.

I got going out of transition and up the hill. This is a really steep kind of hill of doom thing, but I set it in first gear and just got up it. It wasn’t so bad. I was feeling pretty good. My feet were absolutely NUMB and I had noticed when putting my socks on they were a freaky white/red frostbitey color. They never thawed out the whole time I was on the bike.

Then we turned out of the park and it was so exciting! People lining the streets!

photo by Annelies!

I saw Annelies and my coaches and a whole ton of people. It was so cool. Then we had ANOTHER long climb but I felt OK.

Love this: "Susan whizzing by," by Annelies

I got through the first loop, turned around at the campground and headed back to the park. Fewer people standing around this time because a lot of people had transitioned to run. I was still feeling OK I thought.

I started coming up the long climb for trip number two and right away, my chain slipped. Damn. And as soon as I got off the bike, my head started swirling and I just felt… NOT GOOD. This guy came over and helped me with the chain. I continued up the hill and then I just had to stop. By complete coincidence, I happened to stop in front of this orange-shirted volunteer guy who had this first aid kit. It was a medic! Wow! He asked me how I was doing. I said, “Um…. not so hot.” He told me to rest a few minutes and I did and then I decided to walk to the crest of the hill. But I was feeling really wobbly.

I got on the bike again at the flat and went a little ways longer and then damn, my chain slipped off AGAIN. This time my teammate Art came to my rescue. He fixed my chain and at that point I just started crying. And finding it hard to breathe. And shivering like nobody’s business. I was SO COLD all of a sudden. Then I felt nauseated.  I drank a little more water but at that point I felt like I was going to puke. Then the orange-shirt medic came trotting up and he told me to sit down and I told Art to keep going. And then I REALLY fell apart.

(edited to add: I was dehydrated. I was SO DEHYDRATED! Because I hadn’t really had enough to drink beforehand, and I FORGOT to drink during transition, and I thought there would be water stops on the bike route so I didn’t drink while I was riding either.)

When supervising the medical care of athletes, it is important to recognize the basic signs of dehydration. These include thirst, irritability and general discomfort followed by headache, weakness, dizziness, cramps, chills, heartburn, difficulty breathing, vomiting, nausea, head or neck heat sensations and decreased performance. 

I felt like I was dying. Like all of my internal systems were just going haywire: stomach, lungs, brain, circulation, the works. The medic took my blood pressure. It was high. He said my heart rate was “pretty fast.” I started crying even more, and gasping and death-rattling, not unlike what I’ve done in open water. Except here I was now by the side of the road.  Meanwhile I was getting colder and colder and all I wanted was my big fake-fur parka back at transition. I thought I was going to die if I didn’t get warm. The medic gave me his fleece jacket but it didn’t cover my whole body and my teeth were just chattering like a skeleton dance.  I knew that I had two choices at that moment: I’d have to throw in the towel, or I’d have to rally and keep going. I had been sitting on the ground there for probably more than twenty minutes (no, no exaggeration!). I was feeling in a desperate state. He said, “Maybe you will feel better with some wind in your face, or we can call the car to come get you.”

HELL NO. No car! No car! I felt like I would die a thousand deaths of shame if I got toted back in a car. (worse than a kayak?) So I walked the bike shakily over the next rise and then got on again. I was about 20% into the 2nd loop at that point. I started going verrrrry, very slowly and grimly. I felt like death. I was so cold it was almost unbearable, and I was still kind of hyperventilating. I pedalled. Finally I got out to the turnaround where my friend Mary was waiting with another support person. I was feeling pretty miserable right then. I made my way back to the park and my plan was to ask coach Haakon what he thought I should do.

But there was pretty much nobody there at the park entrance at that point. People were FINISHING the race (I could hear the loudspeakers) and the guy waved his orange flag and flagged me back toward the entrance. They were starting to take down the bike course. I knew that about 4 of my teammates were still out on the course, doing their 3rd loop, because we’d passed each other. But they were past the turnaround and I hadn’t even started. I thought about the big hill and the time. I felt like I had no energy to do another loop, and no time to do it in, and that it would pretty much finish me, physically and emotionally.

I turned into the parking lot and headed down to Transition again.

Here, dear readers, is what is LITERALLY a turning point in the story. Where I made that decision, for better or worse. On one hand it felt like the only tenable choice. On the other hand it felt TERRIBLE. I knew that if I started the run portion I would still be way behind 99% of all of the participants in the race.

So I went down to transition, put on my running shoes and hat, and headed out again. As I passed a lot of people yelling my name, all I could think of was, “If you only knew! I just did two loops!”  I also knew I had to keep going and keep putting one foot in front of the other.

starting the run portion -- 6 miles to go!

In spite of my wonky knee and foot, I managed to “run” (ie not walk) more than half – maybe even 75% of the six miles. I did a walk interval with Art, who had saved me with my slipped chain during the ride. It was great to have him for company during that final piece.

running with Art

He finished up his 2nd run loop (my first) and I ran the majority of the last one. Two of the highlights of the run portion were seeing my beautiful Juniorette appear. She ran up and gave me a kiss and I got all weepy. Then I got to pass my awesome trainer, Doug, who had set up camp with a cup of coffee and a folding chair. I could hear his huge booming voice, “Here comes SUSANITO!” from blocks away. It was amazing to see him out there. (I wish I had a picture of this!)

Meanwhile, the vast majority of participants and spectators were passing me on the road as they headed out of the park, beeping and cowbelling out their windows. I think a hundred cars must have passed by and while it was nice to be cheered I was also wondering if there was going to be ANYbody left in the park when I got down to finish.

As it turns out, my whole beautiful team was there. I got down to the finish chute and my beautiful mentor Annika and her husband ran in with me.

If it hadn't been for my Team, I would have been completely alone here.

The whole team was yelling my name. The announcer goes, “What an entourage! They’re all yelling for Cindy!” and everyone yells “SUSAN!”

Getting closer…

FINISH: I put my arms up, but I was actually on the verge of falling apart.

I passed over the finish and got all hugged by everyone and I was a sobbing, weepy MESS.

LILY put my medal around my neck! Sob!
Group hug!
My buddy to the end
Coach hug: "You did the damn thing!"
Hubby hug with Juniorette

The announcer boomed out, “Yes, sometimes there are a few tears.” Which made me cry more. I was just freaking SPENT at that point.

Then the last bunch of teammates came on in a while later and then everyone was done and I walked around feeling super fragile, and a combination of triumphant and completely fraudulent and awful. I told Mr. M what had gone on, and of course he was not the least bit disgusted or concerned. (he was, however, quite dismayed by my lack of hydration)

Came home. Took a hot bath (I was STILL cold!). Passed out into a fitful nap then had soup for dinner.

I read the gazillion Facebook accolades and “you are so awesome!” comments. I started writing this recap but at that point I was drowning in feelings of guilt (over not doing the 3rd bike loop) and feeling like I had somehow cheated. I didn’t want to think of myself as the kind of person who takes the bus to the finish line. I was really agonizing over it and felt like I needed to return all the congratulations that had come my way.

I sent a confessional sort of race cap email to my coaches. It was really eating me up. Their responses made me bawl even more, but helped me see that I really did have something to be proud of and not ashamed about.

Coach Stephanie said:

I knew that you hadn’t finished that last loop. You are still a triathlete. Nothing takes that away from what you accomplished this season. I don’t know too many people, myself included who could have the tenacity to get back on that bike after the very emotional moments and sheer physical discomfort that you experienced and decided to carry on. Well done to you!   Live to fight another day…Forgive yourself for any feelings of defeat. You are a warrior and a Triathlete!

WAHHHHHH!

Then Coach Haakon said (and he was who I was most worried about because he is such a BAD ASS!):

You do not have anything to be ashamed of. I hope with all my heart that what you take out of this experience is that you accomplished a hell of a lot more than I think even you thought you were capable of. Plenty of people start and don’t finish completely. You toed the line and you battled through more obstacles than just about anyone else out there. You have trained diligently and hard and have contributed in a big way to the personality of our team. You deserve that medal and many more. I am none the less proud of your accomplishment today than I was yesterday and I would be shocked if anyone else was either. Everyone has a story and everyone has their reasons for doing things. What I see here is someone who struggled enormously yet pushed through despite every part of her body telling her to stop. I can imagine that the decision to cut it short was not an easy one, but it also sounds like it was the right one. Be proud of what you accomplished and celebrate the small victories that you made along the way. Some times it is good to “fail”. It teaches us where our limiters are. Notice I did not say limits. Recognizing our limiters gives us the opportunity to focus our attention in areas that will in term make us better, faster and stronger.

Be proud of what you did, I know I am. Your story will be very inspirational to many and there is no need to paint it any other way. Hang your medal proudly on the glory wall and use it to stay motivated and continue to push outside your comfort zone. Thank you so much for your participation this season and for sharing your story. I would love to see you come back for another go at it some day.

DOUBLE WAHHHHHH! I hope they do not mind posting these emails, but receiving these made me really feel what it has meant to be part of Team in Training. Where they took me in and encouraged me and believed in me to the very end, and beyond the end. This has been one of the most transformative experiences of my LIFE.

Thank you team, thank you teammates and friends and donors and supporters who have followed this journey since July. I know I’ll never be the same.

buddy for life
favorite piece of jewelry other than my wedding ring

Race Recap: 100th Bay to Breakers 2011

Hayes st. Hillsenior runner @ BARTBarrel of Monkeys!not much clothesnot much clothesstarting corral
Crayons + Box100th yr birthday cake guy100th yr birthday cake guy100th yr birthday cake guyChicken FeetChicken Head
Mr. & Mrs. Beer CanAngel, WIlma & Fred, Beer canFred Flintstoneangelsflouncy skirtsman in tutu
starting linetutus! pink!smurfsbunny men passing out carrotsbuttsSalmon running against the stream

100th Bay to Breakers 2011, a set on Flickr.

I did it! I ran in and finished the 100th Bay to Breakers today! As you know, I had a lot of conflict over whether I should even do this race or not. But after figuring out schedules, I realized it was possible to enjoy 24 hours at the spa and still do the race. Which is exactly what I did. Verrrrrrrrrry relaxing.

soakin in the hot waters with Junior

I got home last night around 9pm and got my race pile together. While I was doing that, I realized to my dismay that I had left my sturdy ankle brace up at the spa hotel. ARGHHH. But then I remembered the nifty KTT tape I’d gotten at the Las Vegas marathon, and I whipped it out along with the instructional YouTube video on How to Tape An Ankle, and I figured it would have to do.

race pile

I got up at 5:30 and my helpful spouse helped me tape up the ankle. Then I put on some compression socks, had my whole wheat English muffin with peanut butter (breakfast of champions) and headed out to the BART station. First thing I saw was this elderly gentleman with his race bib and a big cane. Which put a lump in my throat!

The train was full of people with great costumes and a lively happy atmosphere. I did not wear a costume of any sort – not even my Totoro hat – because I thought it would be raining and I didn’t want to deal with a soggy costume. So I was just wearing my regular running stuff which felt pretty mundane.

We all piled out at the Embarcadero and just followed the massive hordes of people going toward the corrals and the start. It was so so so so much fun seeing everyone’s costume. There were more tutus than you could shake a stick at (@Mizfitonline, you would’ve LOVED THIS EVENT). And a bunch of crazier things. I think my favorite was the Barrel of Monkeys. ADORABLE.

barrel of monkeys!

For some reason, it’s tradition to start the Bay to Breakers by tossing thousands of tortillas in the air. I have no idea why, but the tortillas were definitely flying. Also big beach balls. Yeah, it was a party! It was fun inching up to the starting line with all the revelry. People were in very good moods.

Finally we got to the start and it was different from any other race I’d been in because at least half the people there did not pick up speed at ALL after crossing the line – they just kept ambling on in relaxed fashion. But I think I’m conditioned to pick it up after my foot crosses that line so I did start jogging right away. It felt really good! I was just having a great time looking at everyone. I passed a bunch of blue Smurfs and some guys in bunny costumes passing out carrots. Huh? Cute, though.

I did see quite a few naked people. How come the people who run naked have bodies that probably look a LOT BETTER in clothes?? LOL.

There has been a lot of talk in B2B lore about the dreaded HAYES STREET HILL and when we turned onto Hayes I was like, OH NO! but truly it was not so bad. It isn’t as steep as the hill around the corner from my house. I decided I’d walk up it just to save some energy but I walked FAST and passed a bunch of people. It did seem like so many people were just… strolling. Which was fun. So the left half of the street was running and the right half was just out for a slow amble through San Francisco.

Lots of people out on their steps and patios, partying it up and watching everyone. Many of them were also dressed up and that was fun too. Although I just read about some guy falling off his roof with “life-threatening-injuries.” Ugh. I actually have no sympathy for drunk people who get hurt doing stupid things. Sorry.

Miles 2 and 3 went by pretty quickly. I was so jazzed to get to the top of the hill and then sort of fly down the other side. I was feeling very good around mile 3.

Then when we started getting near the Golden Gate Park panhandle – mile 4ish – my left knee started talking to me. Then it started crying and I was like, WHAT? is this? It was unlike any other knee pain I’d ever had before – the back (posterior) part of my knee, right in the center. It sort of came and went over the next couple miles, and sometimes it felt worse to walk, sometimes it felt worse to run. I spent the second half of the race just trying to figure out a gait that was the most comfortable.

In spite of the pain, I loved running through Golden Gate Park. I lived on the outskirts of the park for the first four years I lived in San Francisco, and I just adored that park. Especially the buffalo, which were right in my neighborhood. I got very emotional when we passed the buffalo.

First glimpse of ocean!

Man, do I love Golden Gate park. I was happy to pass the mile 6 and 7 markers, and then at some point I saw the ocean I knew that was it – the breakers in Bay to Breakers! Woo hoooo!!! I went through the finish line and then I really started feeling the daggers in my knee. I limped pretty much the rest of the way. We had to go another MILE to pick up our medals and food. I have to say, the post-race snacks were awesome: chocolate milk (post-race nutrition of champions!), hummus and crackers, and Laughing Cow cheese. Which rocked.

I had bought a ticket for a bus to go back to the starting line, and I was hobbling pretty much at that point. Another 3/4 mile to the bus pickup! OWWW!

Got my medal. (yay!) Got on the bus (double yay!). Then I started feeling all sorts of post-race misery and general decomposition – upset stomach, chills and shakes, KNEE PAIN and overall fatigue. I dragged myself to the BART station and made my way home where I promptly took a very hot shower and passed out for a couple hours.

In spite of the orthopedic mess, I am really glad I did it. It was super duper fun and just festive and great. I didn’t see people being rowdy or drunk, just having a great time. I’d say about HALF the people were walking and just having a good old time. It was fun to be in a race like that – unlike anything I’d ever experienced before.

I want to do it again. And next year I’m definitely running in a costume! I saw lots of people wearing their pajamas which seemed very comfortable and easy. Next year: race in sushi pajamas! Yay!

Now… I reallllllllllllly hope my knee is better by Friday for the Fitbloggin‘ 5k….

I earned that finisher's medal!

Race Recap: Oakland Running Festival Twilight 5k!

So y’all know that originally I was planning to do the Fight for Air Stairclimb, the Oakland Twilight 5k AND the Oakland Marathon Team Relay all in one weekend. Crazy, right? Right! And the 5k for a while felt like a bit of a consolation prize when I tried to register for the team relay and it was sold out. Well, it all turned out to be just riiiiiiiiight. (as it often does)

I did the stairclimb yesterday morning, then came home to blog (naturally) and rest and shower and nap. (<<<<excellent move) Then I woke up, had a nice cup of coffee and headed down to Jack London Square where I was to meet up with Sabrina again (she had had no nap, but a full day of sightseeing in San Francisco! Yow!). As soon as I got to the Square I found her AND a bunch of other people I knew! I met a friend whose daughter had gone to school with my daughter. I was so thrilled to see that she was there and ready to run her very first 5k. I was so excited for her! Go Jill!

Then I found my buddy and very first Couch-to-5k running partner, Mary. That made me feel so happy and emotional! She was the one who started it all with me, from our very first 60-second run that I wasn’t sure we would survive. How awesome. It seemed like every time I turned around I was bumping into someone else I knew. It was such a big PARTY! There were tons of kids, from little ones to teens, and older people and just every kind of person imaginable. The vibe was very big Oakland party.

They announced that they were moving the course last minute (?!) because of mud or puddles or some such thing, and that we were all going to walk a block down the Square to some green line on the ground and line up behind it.  Huh? But we all did just that, and at some point people started running and we were off. I put on my iPod earbuds and my regular running music and went. My only goal was to run the whole way at whatever pace. Often when I am training-running I will do some walk intervals, but I just really wanted to run this whole thing since I knew I was not going to be running any part of the Sunday marathon.

When we started out, it was just a huge sea of people. The kids were running all willy nilly, darting in and around the crowd, and the spectators were loud and noisy and boisterous and YAY! I just felt so overwhelmingly happy and full of love for Oakland. It was truly twilight and the weather and the light were beautiful and perfect. I just took off feeling relaxed and loving the feel of all the people around me. We headed through the square toward the Port of Oakland and then at some point not too far off, all of a sudden the front runners were heading back the other way. I actually love this feeling, seeing the fast runners just pushing it out. It’s so inspiring. I got so excited seeing them, including some awesome looking women and one small, very fast child. It was incredible!

Then before long we turned around and made a U-turn too, and back through the Square full of all the cheering people. YAY that was fun! Then we ran down toward the boathouse where my daughters have been rowing crew for the past 6 years. Man, I know this path so well. I have walked and run it so many times before, and there was something so lovely and comforting about that particular stretch. I saw the 2 mile mark and was like, What? Only 1.2 miles left? I was feeling so good. A lot of people were walking around me now, and I passed a whole bunch. Including some of those kids who had charged out of the gate so early.

I passed one guy walking with a cane, and one paralyzed arm, like he’d had a stroke or brain injury. He was just trucking along. There were two women walking backwards in front of him, cheering him on. It brought tears to my eyes. I saw quite a few people of significant size, and I was like, GO YOU! You’re not waiting to get to X weight to do this! You’re doing it!

I saw so many people who inspired me during this race. It just filled me with pride and happiness. My body felt great – not any soreness at ALL from the stairclimb. I just felt relaxed and good. When we came to the last .1, and that Finish arch was right THERE, I decided to just push it out into an all out sprint. It felt amazing. I just tore through that finish and all I can say is I hope that someone took a picture because I was on fire.

Then I stood at the finish and watched everyone else come in. I loved it. And then the craziest thing happened. I was standing there, and this woman I didn’t recognize said, “Excuse me, but do you blog?” I said, “Yeah…” and then she said, “Are you Foodie McBody?” I could have fainted dead away right there! She introduced herself as Bethany (@, a reader and blogger herself! WOW! WOW! I think that was one of the absolute highlights of the weekend.  Today I went and found her blog and it’s awesome! Everyone go read her!

That's @bgetnhot

Then I met up with Sabrina, who had ended up walking the race with the friend of friend, and apparently they had the best time chatting away! I was so excited to be with her at our SECOND finish line of the day! Yahoo!

That's @brematt!

Then we went and met up with Mary and her family at Souley Vegan, an awesome restaurant up the street. Yeah… vegan soul food! You can read my full review of it here but needless to say it has redeemed my estimation of vegan food! YUM!

Mary's daughter gazing adoringly at the Everything Platter
Crispy Tofu Burger is a thing of wonder!

I have to say that this was one of my favorite race experiences EVER. There was so much to love: being in my own town which I love, with other Oaklanders (and fans of), having such a cool and enthusiastic crowd to cheer us on, feeling totally relaxed and without pain or struggle. It was just wonderful. The only thing that would’ve been better would be getting some nice BLING but that didn’t happen. Ah well!

I had been feeling all sour grapesy about the actual marathon, but this morning I just wanted to be part of it. I knew my friend Lydia would be running the 2nd leg through my neighborhood so I made a sign (with two sides) and went down to Montclair Village to see the marathoners coming through. Well, I have never participated in a race as a Spectator before, and let me tell you, it was awesome. It was so exciting and I was so happy to see the runners and frankly very grateful that my running for the weekend was OVER. 🙂 People were SO happy to see my sign, and many of them yelled out, “No, YOU are awesome!” (What?!?) and “THANK  YOU!” It was fantastic. I just loved being there and again felt so inspired. Lydia zipped right past me before I could get my phone out to take a picture. She looked fabulous!!

I came home and it was time to get my own workout in. Yeah, there’s no days off with this #30daychip! Because TODAY I also completed my 30th day in a row of exercise! It felt great. Now I’m waiting for my #30daychip to show up. @Bradgansberg? 🙂

Day 30 done!!! Yippeeee!

When that was over, I was ready to rest and sit down. Finally. My friend Ericka and I met up to see the movie Jane Eyre. Which I loved. It was the perfect ending of a pretty much perfect weekend. YAYYYYY!!!!!!!!

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