Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Me vs. Me - I win

"We improve ourselves by victories over ourself. There must be contests, and you must win."

I'm my own worst enemy. My biggest issue with the marathon was NOT putting in enough training. It was NOT speed. It was NOT endurance. It WAS that little space between my ears.

I'm a perfectionist. I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform. And when it came time to do that, I melted. You can read about my Chicago Marathon disaster here.

The second I got home from Chicago, before I even set my stuff down, I raced to my computer and registered for The Fort Worth Marathon. I wasn't going to end 2010 that way. I wasn't going to waste 5 months of training when I knew I could do better.

I purposely chose this marathon because it was small (250 people), on the Trinity Trail (familiar turf), and it was home to where I did my first half marathon in 2009.

I wanted to minimize any additional stress on me for this marathon. I didn't tell a lot of people. I wanted to keep a low profile. I didn't want to hear people telling me that this was a mistake. I needed to do this. Everyone always says the marathon is just as mental as it is physcial. I'm living proof of that. I needed to prove to myself that I can get out of my head.

My Sunday running buddy Jeremy said he would run with me and pace me. I was elated to have a friend run with me. It would be just like our normal Sunday run.

I couldn't have asked for a better day for a marathon. It was 42 degrees at the start, no wind, warmed up to about 58. I met Jeremy at the start and Sergio was there running his 12th marathon a week after NYC! Stud.

The race advertised a water stop every mile. I didn't carry water, I decided to alternate water/gatoraid every water station. Well that worked for the first two miles. We didn't see another water stop until mile 10. Apparently, the volunteers never got out there. A man running in front of us had called his daughter to bring water. She gave me a bottle of water which I held on to for dear life until we saw more water. Sergio's fabulous wife also brought gatoraid for us on the course!

Somewhere around mile 7 or 8, we met Fred. Fred said he lost his watch and had no idea what he was running. So we invited him to run with us. With a marathon this small, it was really nice to have a group of people to run with. It would have gotten really lonely out there.

Rounding mile 11, Corina and her son were there cheering us all on. It was so nice to have a familiar face. I knew that I would see her on the turn around again and was very much looking forward to that. I yelled out our time and asked her to tweet it. I knew there were a lot of people wondering how I was doing. She said she would see us around mile 20.

Around mile 19 I was getting a little tired. My left knee started feeling funny. I was really looking forward to seeing Corina again. I held onto that thought and kept plugging along. I saw her and said I was hurting and this is where things start to suck. She encouraged me to keep going strong.

After we passed Corina, I was really falling back. Jeremy kept trying to keep me going. Telling me to run in the crushed gravel to weight off that knee. Then my IT band/hip starting going to crap too. I was shuffling. My stride looked ridiculous, I am quite sure of it. My pace went to crap. It was all I could do to keep going. Everyone says that last 10K sucks. Well, the last 5K REALLY REALLY sucks.

I kept telling myself, just a few minutes. 30 minutes left. I got this. I think Jeremy thought I was talking to him, but I was really trying to convince myself. I was fighting my own head again. I knew I was going to have a hell of a PR. I wished my damn knee and hip felt better, but I kept trying to forget about that and get discouraged and just kept focusing on the posititve. I'm having a good race. This is my day. Nothing is wrong. Keep going. Even if you are shuffling. Keep moving. I walked through the last few water stops, tried to walk once at the last mile, and Jeremy said, "oh no, none of that crap." Ok, ok, shuffle along. He told me to pick up. I said I can't. And I really couldn't. My knee was hurting so bad.

Oh there's La Grave Field. One stupid uphill and then a little down and we're done. I got to the top of the hill and I see Cornina waving and screaming. Yay!!! She ran over and ran us in the last .2! Somehow, somewhere, I found the energy to pick it up. I crossed the finish line strong. However, you can see in the pic, I was clearly having issues with my left side. My entire left arm is doing something really funny!

Crossed that line at 4:11:24, a 24-minute PR. I saw my co-workers, my RAW buddies all there waiting for me to finish. And it was amazing.

There it was. The battle of me vs. me was over. And I won. My first marathon was OKC in April 2010 with a time of 4:35:03. Five weeks earlier, I ran Chicago in 4:39.
Marathon kicked my ass twice in 2010, but on Nov. 14, 2010, I kicked marathon's ass. But I was only able to do that because I was stronger than myself. I finally feel like I earned the title "Marathoner".

I had a lot of friends out there helping me. I think almost wanting this just as much as I wanted it. They may not have agreed or understood why I needed to do this, but they supported me and knew I wouldn't rest until I could prove to myself that I could do this.

Coach Jeff: For letting me do something a little crazy and helping keep my head screwed on straight in the process. Always hovering over me like a father making sure I didn't hurt myself.

My sole sisters Marci and Bojana : You girls are my inspiration, my rock when I needed it, my sushi hoes. You have always been there for me and I love you!

Josh: Always encouraging, always listening, always telling me to STFU and quit your whining!

: Your support that day means the world to me! I can't tell you how nice it was to have a personal cheering section!

Jeremy: A great Sunday running partner who keeps me running when I just want to give him. Thanks for sticking with me when the going got tough. Without you, that last 10K may not have happened!

Steve: Words cannot even express how much I appreciate your support. You witnessed the crash of 10-10-10, picked up the torn up pieces of my ego and taped them back together. Your support and encouragement over these past 5 difficult weeks has been amazing.

To everyone out there that I may have missed. Thanks for putting up with me, believing in me and following me on my crazy little journey.

What's next? Oh, another marathon. I won this battle, but I still have more to battles to fight.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Took a trip to the dark side

Monster Sprint Tri 300M Swim, 12.66 Bike, 5K Run

Someone told me they had cookies. They had pancakes and I ate four. Don't judge.

The best thing I did going into this race was not looking at it like a race. My goal was to go have fun and learn. I had never done a tri before. Didn't train for this and never attempted a brick. But I knew I could swim 300M, that's usually a warm up for me. I knew I could muddle through the bike. And the 5K, can do that in my sleep. So why not put it all together.

The day before the race, my dear friend David gave me and Bojana a transition 101 so we wouldn't DQ ourselves!

Saturday, I ran 21 miles. I woke up Sunday morning and my quads were pretty darn tight. A little worried, but I told myself, it's short, you're done in less than 1:30. Just muddle through.

Got to the transition area, racked my bike, set out all my gear like David told me and headed to get my chip. Saw a bunch of my RAW buddies and my colleagues from work.

A few minutes before we had to line up for the swim, I jumped into the pool. I haven't been in the pool for a month. I hit the water and my legs were mad. I decided then to take the swim really easy and go with mostly arms. On a 300M swim, losing 30-45 seconds is nothing.

300M Swim - 6:39

This was pool swim where you snake the lanes. Swimmers are spaced 5 seconds apart. I did ok for the first 100, but being out of the pool for a month started to take it's toll on me. I had to breathe just about every stroke and I was really trying to save my legs for the bike and swim, so I was about 85% arms. The guy behind me passed me on the last 100, but by the last 25, I zipped by him.

Transition 1 - 1:11

Threw my cap and goggles off. Threw on my sunglasses, strapped on my helmet, socks, bike shoes. What the heck? My glasses are fogging. Threw them off, said screw it, I'll deal with wind and sun, grabbed Enrique (my bike) and headed out of the transition area.

Bike 12.66 - 45:41

I had been on the bike maybe a dozen times before this race. I knew this was my weakest link. I was so focused on marathon training that I just didn't have the time to spend on the bike. The course had some hills that I wasn't prepared for. But I made it and my time was respectable. I wanted to take in some fluids on the bike so I had my Gatorade there. I am so new on the bike that I was worried about bending over and grabbing that water bottle. But I was thirsty and knew I better take in something. Got it! Yay! Took a few sips. Oh shit! I have to lean over and put this thing back. I thought about throwing it to the side of the road but then thought I may want it before the run again. So do I gamble and risk a fall or pitch it? I gambled. It was a little rocky and I thought, screw it, I'm not going to do this again. I'll drink at the transition area when I'm off the bike. I did the ride at about a 16.8 MPH pace. Not bad, but I see lots of room for improvement next time.

Transition 2 - 0:59
Remembering what Gail taught me about getting in and out of clips, I unclipped my right foot well before the dismount line so I didn't have to worry about falling and making a fool out of myself. Holy cow, running off the bike into the transition area was a weird feeling. Not only do I have these funny shoes on, my legs feel like Jell-O! Racked my bike, threw on my Kinvaras and off on the run.

5K - 25:38
This was the weirdest feeling ever. I felt like I was running through water and in slow motion. I honestly thought my legs were going to buckle under me. David told me that feeling will go away in about a mile. Come on mile!!! Where are you? I want to feel my legs again. I had my watch set on multi-sport. Had never used it before. I didn't set the screens to see my pace. I had no idea what I was running, but I was sure it was around a 9:30 pace. But here I am passing people.

Up until now, I was pretty uncompetitive. Just enjoying the moment and having fun. But hey, I'm feeling fresh, I'm passing people. The little competitive voice came back into my head, "get that one, easy prey. Oh, he's hurting, chick him. Oh little fairy, how cute, buh bye." I counted 15 roadkill before I stopped counting. I was feeling remarkably good. I looked at my watch and was trying to predict my finish time. I wanted to finish around 1:30. During the run, I knew I would blow that away. Got to the finish line and finished in 1:20:11. Wahoo!!!! My run was a 8:17 pace. Blew me away. When I got home I downloaded my splits: Mile 1 8:27, Mile 2 8:21, Mile 3 8:08, Last .1 7:34. Hot damn! That felt good.

I finished 9th in my AG out of 58 and 186th overall out of 617. Not bad first time out of the gate. One year ago, I ran the Susan G. Komen 5K in 26:40. That was a PR for me. I just ran 21 miles on Sat., swam and biked and I hit a 25:38 5K, two weeks after a marathon. That felt pretty damn good.

If you read my previous blog about Chicago Marathon, you can sense how devastating it was for me. But, I can't even put into words how that marathon impacted me. Only a few people really know because they are the ones who have had to deal with me as I recover (not physically, but emotionally) from that disaster.

Every race has a purpose and there's a reason why you had to have that race. Good or bad, there's a message. I had to fall flat on my back in Chicago to learn how to handle the stress of a big race and my OCD. I had to have this tri to remember this is about fun. This is why you do this, you love it. It's not about a PR every race. It's about learning, having fun and enjoying the journey.

Breathe, relax, have fun. I'm still going to try harder to do better, but I'm not going to let the fear of failure control my race.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Live to Run Another Day

From: Ambler, John O [mailto:John

As mad as I was, I knew I would live to run another day. Quitting the sport never entered my mind. I’m not a quitter. I love running. I didn’t love the run I had on 10-10-10, but I still love running none-the-less.

Chicago Marathon was nothing less than a disaster for me. Ok, before you tell me, “You finished. You should be proud.” Don’t. Finishing was never a goal. Even during my first marathon. I knew I would finish the damn race. I know what my training looked like. I know what I’m capable of running. Quitting was never an option.

“You finished.” Well, no shit. I finished…4 minutes worse than my first marathon. I trained harder, my times were faster. I RAN TRAINING RUNS BETTER THAN THIS!

I’m probably the most Type A person you will ever meet. I never missed a training day. I nailed every single training run. Some were ugly. But I never, ever said, screw it, I’m tired, it’s hot, I’m not doing this. I put in the miles. I put in the hours. I trained hard. I woke up at 3:45 a.m. so I could pound out 14 miles before work. I ran a 22-mile training run with an 8:51 pace. I was ready.

So what happened? I freaked out. My fear of failure literally made me sick. I had stomach cramps at the expo. I woke up with stomach cramps the day of the race. Not intestinal stomach cramps—the kind that I get when I’m stressed, really high in my stomach, right below my chest. The forecast kept getting hotter and hotter and hotter. Before bed, I saw the high was forecasted to be 86 degrees. This just made my stomach turn even more. I had a lofty goal, the weather was not cooperating, my stomach was not cooperating. I was worried. Really worried.

Race day rolls around. Surprisingly, I got a good night’s sleep. I had the blessing of a dear friend who volunteered to pace me. He is my angel. I had a shit day out there and he wouldn’t leave my side. He did everything he could to help me, from getting ice, to water, to food, to convincing me that it was all going to be ok. At one point, I wanted to walk off the course thinking I would rather have a DNF than this sorry ass time. But I remembered conversations that he and I had about his one and only DNF and the pain he still has today about that race. I didn’t want that. And I couldn’t do that to him, not after everything he had done for me. And going back to that quitter thing, yeah, that ain’t me.

I told him I wanted to start slow. I was hot at the start line. I didn’t feel right. We got to the 5K mark and I said, “I’m behind.” He put it into perspective and told me not to worry, just follow. I kept pulling ahead and he would pull me back to where I needed to be.

It got really hot, really fast. Approaching the 10K mark, I got really worried. I was boiling. I told him, this isn’t my day. My legs are cramping. I’m hot. I threw my shirt off. He told me to drink. I had 3 ounces of fluids to his 30 ounces.

Like the angel he is, he carried my shirt. I told him to throw it on the ground. He wouldn’t. He carried my water. I was trying so hard to focus, but all I could think about was how this just wasn’t my race, not tripping on sponges, cups, and banana peels, and the masses of humanity.

I got to the ½ marathon mark, 2:05. This just sucks. I know, I know, there are a ton of people who would kill to reach a half marathon in 2:05. But, I didn’t train to run a 4:10 marathon. I trained to run a sub 4 marathon. And my body is quite capable of running a sub 4.

I started crying. I was mad. I could not go any faster. I didn’t have it in me. It’s survival now. I can still PR this stupid race. However, what was bad, got worse. 10K and I knew I couldn’t throw down a sub 1:00 10K. Not today. I don’t know what mile it was, but he told me, I could still PR this. I threw him the dirtiest look and said, “I’m shuffling.” He smiled and said, “Yes, you are.” I may have even laughed. Well maybe not, but it makes me laugh now.

Finish line. Thank God. There is the damn finish line. 4:39:23, four minutes worse than my first marathon. I was nauseous. I wanted to puke—partly due to the heat, partly due to my pitiful performance out there.

Through this 18-month journey to tackle 2 marathons, some of most amazing people have entered my life. I wanted to stick my head in my shell and hide from the world. But my world wouldn’t let me. The most poignant note I got, “You love to run and will likely continue for the rest of your life. Keep it all in perspective and don’t lose that infectious enthusiasm that makes so many of us your ‘followers.’”

That’s the real Suann: the girl who wants to share her passion for running, the girl who doesn’t want to hear “I can’t run that far,” the girl who wants to share the joy of someone who ran further than they ever have before, the girl whose favorite running memory was watching one of her best friends do something that she never though she could run before.

I’m damn lucky I have the support of some really awesome people. And I can’t let them down by sticking my head in the sand. My five minutes of pissing and moaning turned into five days. I’m sick of listening to myself whine. Surely everyone else around me is.

Ok, so it wasn’t my day. Does it still hurt? Yeah, it does. Have I moved on? Yeah, I have. Time to cowgirl up. There’s another marathon with my name on it. Marathon kicked my ass twice. But we’re going to kiss and make up one day. I lived to run another day and I’m damn lucky I can run.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Found My Mojo

Well, maybe it wasn't really ever lost, just misplaced.

Physically, I am ready. I've trained hard. These legs have the speed. These lungs have the endurance, but this head didn't have the confidence.

Between work life, home life and training hard in a hot and humid summer, I was mentally and physically exhausted. I didn't have any energy. I was so tired. Insomnia returned.

I went into my first week of taper and struggled with my speedwork. The speed was there, but it felt so much harder to keep that pace. My legs felt like lead. My head screaming, "you suck." But I plugged through the workouts nonetheless.

Fast forward to marathon week. My body feels 100 percent better. I'm running effortlessly. I'm sleeping better. I'm resting. Well heck, there is something to this taper thing. Huh.

Somewhere, somehow, my mojo came back. The goal that once seemed nearly impossible, now seems attainable. I'm not scared. I'm not worried. I'm not doubting myself. I'm ready to run the race of my life.

The marathon is just as much mental as it is physical. If I had a quarter for every time I have heard that...But it's true. It's time to trust my training, trust myself and lay it all out on the line.

Try harder. Do better. It's time to run the race of my life.

I'll see you in Chicago on 10-10-10.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tapirs or Tapers

The first time I saw a tapir was at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle.

They are awfully cute creatures. The look almost like a cross between a pig and an anteater. The babies are even cuter.

Tapirs are solitary animals and endangered. They are related to horses and rhinoceroses. Their amazing little trunk is prehensile. They are good swimmers, but also enjoy pursuing along the bottom of a river for food. They appear clumsy and slow and are typically shy, but when threatned they will show their teeth and can run with remarkable speed.

I'm quite sure the marathon taper is related to the tapir. You feel clumsy, slow but at the end of the day, you're supposed to be able to run with remarkable speed, right?

Let's hope so because right now, I'm kinda wanting to go to the zoo to look at the tapirs instead of going through this marathon taper.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Lord Voldemort vs. Suann

Hay is in the barn. There is nothing more I can do to get faster before Chicago in two weeks. I'm in the best shape I have ever been in -- EVER. I'm running strong. I'm running fast. All my training points to a serious mother of a PR in Chicago.

There's just one problem. My head. It's playing games with me. I hate my head. There are days it says, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, you can do that. You can run that pace." Then there are days when it says, "What the heck have you been smoking? You do that and you are going to crash and burn. Do you really want that? Don't gamble. Play it safe."

The funny thing about your first marathon is you don't know any better. You haven't personally been introduced to the wall. But when you've met it, you never forget that meeting. I've named him Lord Voldemort -- dark, scary, invisible. He sneaks up on you, smacks you from behind. You're so stunned, you don't know what to do, how to act, where to go. I don't want to see Thou Who Shall Not be Named in Chicago, but I may.

I did a tempo today. I was really hoping this tempo would give me the mental strength I need for Chicago. Honestly, it didn't.

I ran with two from my regular crowd (the Texas Salty Bananas), Charles and Josh. I really leaned on these guys today. It was hard for me to settle into that pace. I wanted to go faster or slower. I felt like my foot was on and off the accelerator the whole time.

Charles is an official Nike pacer for the time I want in Chicago, but I didn't get in a coral and he will be starting in the D corral. Dang it.

I'm not going to have these guys with me in Chicago. It's just going to be me out there. Me vs. Lord Voldemort.

I have two weeks to make up my mind as to how I'm going to run this race. Actually, let me rephrase that. I have two weeks to get my head in the game. I want that time. I need that time. I want it so bad that I can now taste it. I didn't want it that bad two weeks ago. But today, I want it.

Will I see Lord Voldemort out there in Chicago? Probably. But I'm not giving in like I did in OKC. It's not going to be easy. It's going to be a tough fight. It's going to take every ounce of mental and physical strength that I have in this little body. It's going to hurt. I may even cry. But I tell you what, I'm not crossing that finish line thinking, "What if?" What if I pushed harder? There will not be anything left in the tank when I toe that line. Nothing.

I'll see you in Chicago. 10-10-10.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

9 runners, 197 miles, 28 hours 29 minutes 23 seconds

Hood to Coast Relay: August 28 - 29, 2010
The Team Without a Name

It's deemed the largest relay in the world--starts at Timberline Lodge at Mt. Hood and travels 197 miles to Seaside, Oregon. I had to run it.

I grew up in the PNW. Well, I kinda grew up everywhere, but spent a lot of time in the good ol' PNW. I heard about this race growing up. It's an event. And there's a certain level of bad assery title that you earn when you run it, especially when you tell someone that your team has only 9 members as opposed to the traditional 12.

Told a lot of folks, co-workers about my weekend. Um, yeah, I need those days off, my Blackberry probably won't work because I'm running down a mountain with 9 friends to the coast of Oregon, sleeping and eating in a van. Vacation? Hell yeah vacation!

My dear twitter friend Brian Brode mentioned that he was on a Hood to Coast team. Like the shy girl I am, I said, hey if you need an alternate, let me know. Turns out they needed another crazy chick. I passed the test.

Despite the fact that these 9 runners are very smart, creative individuals, we could not come up with a creative name prior to the deadline. There were names like Wii Not be Fit, Mid-leg Crisis, When the Fit Hits the Shan, We've Got the Runs, and many more. We were The Team Without a Name.

Our start time was 11:45 a.m. Teams are seated by their anticipated finish times which are based on the runner's 10K times. We were right in the middle. The first leg down the mountain is a beast! Erin, a totally bad ass chick, volunteered to slay that mountain -- 6 miles with a 3,000 foot elevation drop. Holy quads, Batman! That woman ran that leg with 6:30 splits. She not only took the lead from our start group, she passed the 11:30 runners and perhaps some 11:15 starters!

I ran legs 3, 12, 21, and 30 -- about 20 miles total. And I kinda got lucky and got the easy ones. I was really shocked at how well I did.

Leg 3 - 4 miles - 7:33 pace. This was my fastest 4 miles I have ever run!

Leg 12 - 6.4 miles - 8:13 pace. Certainly a PR here as well for this distance.

Leg 21 - 5 miles - 8:22 pace. I'm pretty proud of this one. 5 miles on a dirt road at 3 a.m. It was pitch black and very dusty. I ate Oregon dirt for 5 miles. The little light I had from my headlamp didn't help much due to all the dirt the vans kicked up. It was a white out! I vaguely remember Brian getting me on tape saying I was a dirty girl....

Leg 30 - 5 miles - 8:23 pace. I was so tired. No sleep. But I still managed to keep it under 8:30. I remember the Elites passing me and saying "good job." Ha!

The Team Without a Name crossed the finish line in 28:29:23.

I could go on and on and on about all the details, funny events, speeding tickets, yadda, yadda, yadda. But I'm going to keep you in suspense and just say ... freakin' run this race if you ever get the chance! You'll make new friends, have a good time, and get to see some pretty damn gorgeous country.

Take a peak at my photos from the event.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

One step backward, two steps forward

I felt like I was on the road to nowhere for quite some time. But I'm ready to say that I found the road to somewhere and I'm quite liking it.

Starting in late May, I think every race I ran was a personal worst, or close to it. It was hot. I started logging more miles than ever before. I started cross training. I starting hitting the weights harder. Yet, I felt like I was moving backward. I felt slow, tired. I thought, maybe this is as good as I'll get. Yet somehow I found the strength to keep slugging through my training no matter how discouraged I felt. But I have to say, I didn't slug on my own. I had a lot of friends who helped me put things into perspective. I'm not going to call you out by name, you know who you are.

I had two goals to work toward. #1 - America's Finest City 1/2 Marathon in San Diego and #2 - Chicago Marathon.

My confidence started picking up as I started running some 18 and 20 miler training runs. Then, I head to the PNW before San Diego and had some amazing weather and amazing times. For the first time in my life, I ran a sub 7 mile.

Aug. 15 - America's Finest City 1/2 Marathon

I flew to San Diego to meet my running partner Bojana in hopes to run a 1:50:00 to get in a coral for Chicago. Well, I got an email that Friday that said it was the deadline to submit for a coral. Poop. Oh well. I'm gonna give it my all anyway to see what I can do. And I did.

This is a gorgeous course! Starting at the top of Cabrilo National Monument, the course takes you on a 5-mile downhill until you reach the marina/airport area and then through downtown and up to Balboa Park. And I do mean up. At mile 10, you start your climb. It freaking hurt too.

I knew there was a hill. Bojana and I drove the course before hand. She said, "I think this is going to be much worse than mile 12 Austin." I hated to admit it, but she was right. Ok, just give it your all. I'm not walking any step of that hill. I did that in Austin, not doing that here. I got this.

I pushed it really hard out the gate. Looked at my Garmin and knew I needed to slow it down when it said 6:50. I tried to keep it at 8:00, but soon realized that was too fast for me. So I tired to keep it around 8:10-8:15, about 10 seconds faster than my coach wanted me to run it. However, secretly I wanted to see if a 1:45 was possible.

I hit my first 10K at 51:03 -- that is a 10K PR by nearly 5 minutes. My pace started to slow a little bit, but I really didn't noticed it at the time. I was just having a good time out there.

Then mile 10. Holy hell! That is a mother of a hill. And it keeps going. My IT band was on fire. I hurt. This is hard. But I kept telling myself, pain is temporary. You got a 5K and it's over. That's nothing. You can run a 5K in your sleep. I figure I lost about 3:30 on that hill. My pace slowed down to a 10:00/mile. I'm ok with that.

Hill done. The finish line is in sight. The pain that was once in my quads and IT, I totally forgot about. Balboa Park never looked better. I hear someone call my name! It's Twitter buddy Rocketman, Jeff! He came to cheer Bojana and I on. So wonderful to be in this great city and hear someone cheering me on at the finish line!

There it was. 1:54:09. It wasn't 1:50:00, but it was a over 5-minute PR off my February 1/2 PR. And it felt really good.

I couldn't walk. My quads were on fire. My IT was on fire. I wanted to puke. For the first time after a race, I didn't have anything left in the tank. I ran this race the hardest I could. And I was beaming. All those months of waking up at 4 a.m., running in 90 degree heat, it paid off, right there in Balboa Park, one of my favorite places in the United States. All those bad races that I had were erased from my mind.

I needed this race to feel good about my running again. The hardest lesson to learn is that sometimes we take one step backward to take two steps forward. Stepping backward sucks. It really sucks. But it's all part of becoming a better athlete.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Too Hot To Handle 15K - Damn it really was!

There's a reason why this race is called Too Hot To Handle. If you have ever wondered what if feels like to run on Mars, this race will simulate it. Needless to say, this was not a PR, but I didn't flub it either.

I ran 1:28:34, 30th AG out of 128, 369 out of about 1,200 total runners. Eh, I'll take it.

I hate to say it, but this race was the worst run race I have ever been to. And it has potential to be good.

For starters, the race was 30 minutes late. And in this Texas heat, every minute is precious. It was about 90 degrees when we started. This race is entirely on the lake; therefore, it should have started at 6:30 or 7 a.m. We started at 8 a.m. with an advertised start of 7:30.

There was supposed to be Poweraid and water at every mile on the course. There was, but the Poweraid was so watered down it was light blue water. My biggest issue with this is that it is a SAFETY ISSUE.

There were a lot of cyclists on the path, one even so rude as to yell at runners to get out of his way. However, he did skip up a curb, blew a tire and flipped over his handle bars. Karma, dear friend, karma.

Then we get to the end, no water. I finally found a table where volunteers were filling buckets with a hose and then dipping cups in the vat to give to runners. Serious health code violation.

The only thing positive I have to say about this race is that they had a great bag check and village with beer and pizza. You got a nice tech tank and a hat. That's about it.

Unfortunately, I tried to tell some RunOn folks at the finish line about the issues of no water at the finish, the sanity conditions and the lack of electrolytes on the course and no one seemed to care.

Ok, enough complaining. Here are some pics of me and Bojana!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference

I thought of a million reasons why staying in bed this morning would be a good idea. I'm tired. It's hot. It's really humid. I didn't sleep at all. My legs feel like cement blocks. It's 4:30 a.m. and no one should see 4:30 on their clock twice. Yet, it was like instinct, I got up, put my running clothes and shoes on, fueled up and like auto-pilot, decided to run. I opened the door and immediately felt my chest tighten from the humidity. And the usual excitement that I have about running vanished.

I started running. Slowly. Miles are miles. Just get through it. I felt like I was running through water. Mile 6 my quads started burning. They never burn at mile 6. What is wrong with me? Why am I out here? It's 6 a.m. and I'm the only person in my city running 11 miles today.

So a light bulb goes off. Hell yeah. I AM THE ONLY PERSON IN MY CITY RUNNING 11 MILES THIS MORNING. I smiled. I'm tired, but I'm smiling because I know I'm going to finish those damn 11 miles and I really don't give a rat's a$$ how slow they are. I'm running and other than being tired, I have no reason to bitch, none. I'm running. And thank God I am.

Marathon training is just as mental as it is physical. It's summer in Texas and it's just going to get hotter. I can't change that, but I can change my attitude.

I wanted to share some of my favorite motivational things lately.

This one is taped to my mirror.

Another favorite. Every day damn. Just Do It. Yeah. I get it.

This one is my favorite. It also happens to be my favorite shirt now.

Passionate. You have to be passionate to get through all these miles.

Strong. There are days I do not feel strong, physically or mentally, but that's the challenge. I have to dig deeper to find that strength.

Dedicated. This I do well. I have never missed a training day or a workout. I'm dedicated because I'm passionate about what I do.

Competitive. No need to explain this one.

Athlete. I have never thought of myself as an athlete. But I think it's time to admit that I am.

This weekend, I vowed to myself to quit focusing on the negative. There are good days and bad days. It's how you deal with the bad days that make you a better athlete. Sometimes you have to take a step backward to move two steps forward. But I'm still an athlete nonetheless. It's up to me to take these dreams and make them mine. And it's much more enjoyable with a positive attitude.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Looking out the windshield

May 24, 2010: Exactly one month after Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon.

May 24, 2010: Day one of Chicago Marathon training.

I have about 20 weeks, or exactly 138 days to get ready to kill Chicago.

Chicago is extremely important for me. Not because I'm going to try to qualify for Boston. I'm still a few years away from that goal. But it's because mentally and physically, I want to prove to myself I can become a better runner and live up to my full potential. I want to erase the yuck of Oklahoma City from my mind completely.

Don't get me wrong, the disappointment from OKC is getting better. Last Friday, I actually opened the email from OKC with my finisher's certificate. And for the first time, looking at my results, I wasn't mortified. I finished smack in the middle of my age group, 72/155. And out of all females, 405/1060. I'm ok with that.

Someone dear to my heart told me, "You need to stop looking out the rear view mirror and out the windshield. Eyes on the prize."

Boy, I'm really good at that. Replaying everything over and over again in my head. What if? What if? What if?

But at some point you just get flat out tired of flogging yourself. I reached that point.

Yeah, I know I said that I was moving on in my last blog. But really, this time I am. I'm focusing on the plan. I'm not going to be racing through my training like I did last time. I'm doing things smarter, with a lot of help from my coach and my friends.

I'm done looking through the rear view mirror worrying about a wreck. I'm looking out the windshield and enjoying the view along the way.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Declaring my pitty party over

As much as I didn't want to write my marathon blog, deep down I knew I had to. I wanted to thank a lot of people. And it was a big deal in my life, I should document it. But deep down, subconsciously, there was a another reason I didn't realize until this morning. It's about healing, forgiving yourself and moving on.

It started yesterday morning, I emailed a link to a half marathon to a gal in my office who has been interested in running. I said, here's a great race, flat, mostly women. I think you'll enjoy it. She emailed me back and said, "Suann, you don't even know what an inspiration you all to so many women here." Me? Really? Did she mean to send that email to me?

I've never really thought of myself as an inspiration. But it brought a smile to my face to hear that I make a difference in someone's life.

Yesterday at lunch, I went to the gym at work to do weights and abs. One of the gals who has been working very hard to lose about 100 pounds asked me about how to start getting ready for a 5K. It dawned on me that I have these conversations quite often. Some seek my advice on how to do their first 5K, others about a 1/2 marathon. It was only yesterday that I realized that they value my opinion and maybe I am their inspiration. We're all in the same boat. We work in a male-dominated industry, 24x7 365. It's a challenging job and most of us have kids we are raising too.

This morning, I woke up to a note from a new Daily Mile friend, she said, "However difficult it is, I must choose not to allow those moments to get the best of me...because then, my disappointment in myself has won. I won't allow that." She's absolutely right. I'm not going to let disappointment win. Hell no.

I want to be someone's inspiration. And I can't be an inspiration if I'm constantly flogging myself.

Therefore, today, I declare my pitty party over. I want to thank you all for coming. But it's time to move on. I'm a marathoner and I'm proud. Take that 4:35:03. I'll see you in Chicago.

Monday, April 26, 2010

My 1st Marathon (and why I didn't want to write about it)

It's not very often that I'm at a loss for words. I do the word thing pretty well, most days. But it's a lot easier when the words I write are for someone else to use. When they are words for me, about me, it gets a little harder. The words are now personal. And me, I become vulnerable.

I've wanted to write about my first marathon since I ran it on April 25, 2010--the 10th annual Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. But the words weren't falling into place like they usually do.

When I write, my fingers can't pound out the words fast enough. My brain is in overdrive. I know what I want to say and I can't type it fast enough for fear that I won't capture all those words swirling in my head. The words spill out effortlessly on the page.

Why not now? I just ran my first marathon--something I have been looking forward to, training hard for. But I don't want to talk about it.

For the past days, I've been dodging questions of my family, friends and co-workers, "how did it go?" They got the fake smile and "Good, it was good," as I pray, please don't ask me anything more. I got a lot of praise, a lot of "I'm proud of you." Yet, why do I feel I didn't deserve this? I think to myself, "Don't be proud of me. I'm not proud of me."

The race was one of the best supported I have ever seen--a water stop every mile, crowds cheering you on virtually everywhere on the course. There couldn't have been a better run race. I just wish I ran it better.

Things started great. I was running a 9:50 min pace. I kept thinking about what Coach Jeff told me. Think of the race in 3-mile segments. If you're off pace, you have 3 miles to get back on. It worked really well for me. I kept focused and adjusting my pacing through about mile 17.

The course wasn't hilly, but had slight uphills, what felt like the entire race.

The weather was perfect, a little windy, but wasn't bothering me...until we hit the lake at mile 14-17. The wind slowed me down, but I still felt pretty good.

Mile 20, THE WALL. I got very light headed. Part of me wanted to push on through, forget the pain, it's in your head. Go. Then reality sank in. If I don't get something in me besides water, I'm going to pass out. Next aid station, oranges. Hung out for a little bit. Decided I was doing ok. Time to push on.

I get to mile 23 and start crying. I don't cry often or easily. But it seems when I'm really angry, I cry. I looked at my damn watch and realized all that hard work was flushed away. Gone. Can't get it back. There was no way I was going to finish this in my 4:20 goal. I felt like just let the world down. I let me down. Big time. My legs felt fine. Nothing was cramping. I was really tired, but who wouldn't be after 23 miles?

Yet, I felt like I had no excuse for that time I saw on my watch. No injury. No IT band issues. No ankle issues. No knee issues. I got lightheaded. What excuse is that?

I stopped crying. I really don't know what the turning point was. But I thought: shit, you're not first, but you're not last. Finish strong. Take it home.

And I did: 4:35:03, a 10:30 pace.

It's taken me a week to write this with lots of deletes, rewrites and editing. One of the big reasons why I want to write this is I have a lot of people I need to thank.

First my coach, Jeff Kline. I would never had made it to OKC without you. Only had the pleasure of working with you for 2 weeks, but I made it there without injury!

My girlie Marci! She stopped en route to Kansas City to watch me cross that finish line! I love you more than anything!

My VP and co-workers. You guys put up with my juggling meetings, crazy stories, wearing pink KT Tape to the office, and watching me run circles on that track in loud colors.

All my Twitter friends. You all gave me so much support. I thought about you all a lot out there. I'm going to miss someone, but here's a few: Jen, Joe, Josh, Mel, Kris, Doug. You all played a huge role in telling me I don't suck and being uber supportive.

Very special thanks to Glenn. You always had the right words when I wanted to throw the towel in. Thank you for your friendship, your advice and telling me to shut it when I wanted to throw it in.

And to anyone else I missed, I apologize and love you too!

Marathon #1 is in the books. It's not always what you want it to be, but the marathon does one thing. It humbles you and keeps you coming back for more.

Chicago -- 10:10:10 -- It's where I get my revenge. I'm not quitting. Try harder. Do better. My mantra.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Personal goals are just that, personal

Before you read this blog, if you haven't watched Coach Jeff's video, watch it.

I admit. I have high standards. I put great pressure on myself to try hard to do better. I may be crazy and bite off more than I can chew, But what I don't do is put this same level of expectation on anyone else. These are my personal goals, and they are just that...personal.

The reason I love running so much is because it's a great community. I have never had anyone tell me that I suck or that they don't want to run with me because I'm too slow. I have never had anything but encouragement and love from this community. It's why I love it so much. It's not a competition between us, but a competition within ourselves and how far we can push ourselves mentally and physically. This is why I love long-distance running. I'm never going to win a marathon, but I will achieve my goal goals.

The person in this video that Coach Jeff references is one of my best friends. And I will tell you she is the most determined, good-hearted individual you will ever, ever meet. Her goals aren't the same as mine. But that doesn't make her ANY less or more of an athlete. The one thing it takes to be an endurance athlete is courage. Anyone who makes the commitment to train and run a marathon, whether it's a sub-3, sub-4 or 5+ hours, it takes the same amount of courage to do it. And no one should be looked down upon for that.

We couldn't be successful in this sport without a positive community: from the volunteers at races, to the race directors, to the elites, to the newbies, it takes all of us to treat each other with the same amount of respect as you would treat anyone.

So, next time you're at a race, take the time to thank a volunteer, smile and wave at the crowd who is there cheering you on, or volunteer and give back to the sport. It takes each of us working together as a team.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Countdown to OKC

T Minus 14 days until I lose my marathon virginity.

Anxious. Nervous. Excited. Ready.

Two weeks ago I would have never said, "ready." Today, I feel ready. That doesn't mean I continue to question this whole taper thing, because I do, every day. But, I'm too close to marathon Sunday to screw it up now.

The last 8 weeks have been filled with bronchitis, another URI, sprained ankle, IT band and too many races. I was overtrained. This is not atypical behavior from me. I'm a perfectionist and an overachiever. I wasn't going to listen to anyone who told me to alter a plan that I was following, which happened to be a stupid plan.

Then I realized, I was going to run OKC injured or not even get there due to injury if I didn't do something different. I needed help. And damnit, I HATE asking for help. I don't ask for help. I figure it out by myself. Something with my ego that makes me think if I didn't do it by myself, then I really didn't do it. I know, that's stupid.

I have lots of friends at my running club all willing to help me. But none of them can really hold me accountable. I'm also a very good "influencer" (according to some corporate test thingy I took the other day). So you tell me one thing and I'll tell you 20 reasons why you should let me run 20 miles on a sprained ankle. And I'll either convince you or you will get tired of me talking and you say, ok whatever.

After a horrible 18-mile run on a snowy Sunday, I lost it. I wanted to throw it all away. All my hard work, all the training, I was done. There was no fire or sparkle left. I just flat out hurt all over.

I talked to my dear friend Glenn. Told him I didn't want to run OKC. I don't want to be a marathoner. I can't do this. He said marathon training is physically and mentally challenging, but the reward is crossing that finish line. He also convinced me that I don't suck and that it really didn't sound like me to be a "quitter." EEEWWWW. He said the "q" word. Hell no, I'm not a quitter. But I knew I couldn't get through this alone if I wanted to do this right. I can't rely on my friends. Not fair to me, not fair to them.

I reached out to Jeff Kline. Originally, I thought I wanted him to help me with Chicago. No, Coach, I need your help now. First thing he did was yell at me for not following his advice. No excuses, no negotiating. He's holding me accountable and there is no way out of that.

First run I did, I couldn't hit my pace. "Why," he asked. "I'm tired, I guess," I said. That's code for overtrained. And I had to admit it.

For the past two weeks, I've been listening to him. And guess what? It's working. I'm not saying I haven't questioned it and want to do more. But I keep remembering what he told me, that he's going to make my runs more efficient and help me reach my goals. I started doing speed work. I hated speed work before because I didn't know how to do it. Last week, I did my 18-mile run 3:03, a hair over a 10-minute pace. That's good. I like that. I felt great. I felt like I could go on forever. For the first time since January, I feel like I'm doing something right.

Flash forward to today, I feel like a kid again anxiously awaiting Christmas. I've got my advent calendar and I'm opening the little doors until the big day. I honestly can't wait to get out there. Nervous, yes. A quitter, hell no. A little humility, maybe. But that's a good thing.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

If it's broken, you have to fix it

I sprained my ankle a week ago running a half marathon. Right at the beginning I twisted it on some cobblestone. Then I ran 13.1 miles on it. Ok, maybe 12.5 miles. I ran low miles twice last week. It felt ok on the treadmill.

Yesterday, I ran the Cowtown 10K. I was looking forward to running a 10K because the last one I ran was long and not chip timed. The one before that was 9 degrees. I knew I was capable of running a sub-55:00 and I wanted that on record.

I ran Cowtown as hard as I could. Brick roads. Crap. I twisted an already tender ankle, again. I ran the rest of it in pain, but knew I was going to beat that 55:00. And I did. I ran a great race, albeit a stupid race, but it was good. I finished in 53:58, a PR and 20th in my age group. Not too bad for a big race.

My marathon plan had me running 14 miles today, my longest run ever to date. I met one of the gals who is also training for OKC at the running club. Right of the bat, each step was a sharp pain up my leg. Maybe it will go away. Mile 8, I have to run down hill. I had to walk it. It hurt. My buddy got really tired at mile 10 and told me to go on. I wanted to get done, so I went on.

Another friend of mine caught up with me at mile 11. She kept my mind off my pain and kept me going until 12 when she was done. I had to go out for another one mile and back. I hit 13 turned to go back and another buddy saw me. He said, "You must have raced Cowtown yesterday, I've never seen you run at this slow of a pace."

Ok, not only did my stupid ankle hurt, now my damn ego hurt. He didn't mean anything by it, he just knew I was not performing at 100 percent. I was hurting and it showed. I knew I wasn't performing at 100 percent but I didn't want to admit it. That was no one's fault but my own. I finished that 14 miles in 2:19:00. A 9:57 min/mile. It was ugly.

I spent the next several minutes talking to a lot of my buddies at RAW. They showed me good stretches to do, because now my damn IT band hurts because I changed my stride in an effort to get pressure of my ankle. They convinced me that I wasn't going to lose my base by laying off this week.

Lesson learned--again, the hard way. I can't wish this away or pretend that it doesn't hurt or keep crying about it. If it's broken, I have to fix it. And that means sitting on the sidelines for a few days. I may get on the stationary bike, but I'm not running. I may do a little walking.

I've worked too darn long and hard to kiss OKC Marathon goodbye for simply not listening. But just like running, this is mind over matter. I need to keep my goal in mind. It's not the little races before then, it's completing a marathon. And to do that, I need to be at 100 percent. Anything less is not acceptable.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The first number starts with a "1"

Half marathon number 4: The Stonebridge Half Marathon...and I wanted the first number to start with a "1" so badly.

I ran Austin last week with a 5-min PR of 2:05:41. I later found out I ran it with bronchitis. I knew I could do better. So today, Feb. 21, 2010, was my chance. I knew going into this that a 6-minute PR would be hard, but doable. My training pace had been around 9:20 min/mile. With the right course and conditions, I could do it.

The course was good. A few hills, but certainly NOTHING compared to Austin last week. A decent hill at mile 4 and a few others, but really nothing that I haven't trained on.

The conditions were not good. Right off the bat, I twisted my ankle on this stupid stamped concrete that looks like cobble stone. It started raining at mile 4 a little. At first it was nice, cooled me down. Just a light drizzle. Then the downpour hit! And I mean Texas sized gully washer! Certainly this can't last long. They never do in Texas....except today.

My pace had been dead on until...

Mile 8: Lightening. Thunder. Questioning my sanity. But what am I going to do? Can't go back. Not anywhere near the finish line. I'm soaking wet. My shoes must weigh 5 pounds each. I have a river going in between my toes. Only thing to do is press on.

Mile 10: Hail. Ok, this hurts. I turn to the guy next to me, "This is by far the stupidest thing I have ever done." He told me that he's 1 mile from his house. I nearly invited myself to a stranger's house. Well, only 3 more miles. That's a 5K. I'm slower, but I think I can PR this beast.

Finish line: Guess what, the rain lets up with .25 miles to go. Just my luck. But if I kick it up, I'm going to see that first number be a "1".

1:59:49 - I did it! I broke the 2-hour mark. Damn, this feels good. REALLY, REALLY good! I seriously never thought I would see this at my 4th half marathon.

I started reflecting on how far I've come:
Nov. 7, 2009 - First half marathon 2:11:46
Dec. 13, 2009 - Second half marathon 2:09:41
Feb. 14, 2010 - Third half marathon 2:05:41
Feb. 21, 2010 - Fourth half marathon 1:59:49

I'm starting to wonder if adversity and a challenge is what drives me to perform. God forbid I have nice weather for RnR Dallas on March 14.

Of course, my running partner Bojana ran this with me. And we agreed, we're either hard core or crazy. Or a little both.

I also had the chance to Tweet up @asianstyleguy and @libbyruns at the race. And big special thanks to @AprilBRuns for her volunteer work at mile 4!

Race details
This is a small race, a little under 200 people. But the PlayTri group is fantastically organized. Always enough water and volunteers on the course. And God bless those volunteers who also had to brave the weather.

The course takes you through the neighborhoods of Stonebridge Ranch. Nice houses and a little canal to by (although I swear I ran through it). It was a nice change of running through city streets.

Not a lot of bells and whistles, got a nice medal and a long-sleeved shirt. The race was priced right at $60 (got a $5 discount through my running group, so $55 for me).

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The blind squirrel finds its nut

--Update 2/15/10 Went to Doc, I have bronchitis. I ran this race with bronchitis--

I just came off of a really crazy week--been fighting and denying a cold for the past week, had the busiest and most challenging work week of my career, North Texas got 12.5 inches of snow in 24 hours (the most ever in recorded history). And I had to run a half marathon on Valentine's Day in Austin.

I was really looking forward to this race for several reasons: 1) It's Austin 2) I was running as part of Team Athletes Honey Milk 3) OMG a weekend with my husband sans child 4) Bojana was running with me.

I have been training really hard. I have never felt more prepared for a race. But then my cold got worse. Despite Airborne, Odwalla C Monsters 4 times a day and lots of meds, I was getting worse. Then Thursday's snow storm knocked out our power. I woke up Friday without a voice and my house was 40 degrees. Friday, my husband says, "You think you can run Austin?" Come hell or high water, I was going to Austin. I told my husband, I'll finish even if I have to walk the last half, I'm going to finish and I'm going to have fun. I needed this race, not for a PR, but for some sanity for all the crazy stuff going on in my life.

On Saturday, my husband drops me off at the Expo and I had the chance to meet up with the Team Athletes Honey Milk folks! We all know each other from Twitter and, of course, have a passion for running and Athletes Milk--@jaker @andersp @runningcouple @acokertx @krysteilen @celluloidcinema.

Sunday 4:30 a.m. I wake up before my alarm. I had coughed the entire night. My nose is stuffy and I'm feeling pretty crappy. Not going to let it ruin my day. I'm not giving up that easy. I've worked too damn long and hard. Sudafed, Advil, Airborne, C Monster, bagel and a coffee. Ok, I'm ready to run.

Headed to the start line and met Anders, Jake and Bojana. Here goes nothing. I'm feeling a little better, but I know it's masked by the meds and adrenaline. I get to around mile 1 and I hear Taiko drummers. And I smiled. It's Chinese New Year!

Before I knew it, I was at mile 5. Really? Already? Rolling hills, eh, not bad. I hit 10K - 55 minutes. Wow. I could PR this thing. Doing ok, but then I get to mile 8. Legs feel good. Chest tightens. It's hard to breathe. I start coughing. I can't stop. I had cough drops, but I threw my coat off at the start line and they were in my coat. Crap. Ok, let's have some Gu.

Mile 8, pace is slower. But I can still PR. Mile 10, WHO THE HELL PUT THAT BEAST OF A HILL THERE? Really not funny. I heard a guy to my left coaching his friend, "What goes up must come down." This hill is short. I can do this.

Mile 11, Hi Anders! Oh ok, video. I think I said something like, "I feel like crap." Glad he caught that on film.

Mile 12, long steady. I can do this. Mile 12-something. OUCH. THIS HILL IS EVEN WORSE. This is a hill I've only seen in San Francisco. I realize I'm running it slower than I can just walk it. So I walk it. At the top, deep breath, let's go. We're at the Capitol. I can hear the crowd. Time to push it, less than a 1/2 mile to go. Hey, it's Heath from my running club there to cheer on Danyah! I think I said, "Hey babe." Ooops. I was looking for my husband and thinking about when I would see him. Hell it's Valentine's Day.

The finish line, I'm about to cry. I WILL PR!!! I sprinted faster than I ever have in my life. 2:05:40 -- a 4 minute, 1 second PR. And with a cold. I found Christian and he asked me how I felt, "Like crap. My chest is so tight. It's hard to breathe." But who cares I PRed!

I didn't drive the race ahead of time because I didn't want to stress and worry. I didn't look at my Garmin too much for fear that my times were slow. I went into this blind, which just proves that every now and then, the blind squirrel finds it's nut.

Watch Anders cool video here http://www.athletesmilk.com/blog/.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

What a way to start 2010!

First race of the year and it was great! The Dallas Snowman Shuffle on 1/9/10 and it was COLD. No snowman, but it would be a good place for him. It was 9 degrees when I woke up and about 16 degrees when we got to White Rock Lake. I ran with my best buddies from Lake Grapevine Runners and Walkers (RAW), Marci Sims and Debi Cox. This was my third 10K, Debi's second and Marci's first. I have to say RAW girls kick some butt and take no prisoners!

I am so proud of Marci! This girlie just started running and she went out there and ran with all her heart, even gave me a high 5 when I saw her on my way back. I ran to my car to get my camera and bag and missed her coming across the finish line :( .

And Debi, she shaved 3 minutes off her PR and took 3rd in her age group. RAW girls ROCK!

I started this race too fast. I knew I did and I knew I couldn't keep the pace, but I was cold and didn't care. And I was kinda experimenting to see how long I could go that fast. I know, dumb, but I'm still learning. I hit the first mile at about 7:55 min/mile pace. WAY TOO FAST! I was still cold and didn't care.

At the half-way mark, I was really tired. I usually try to negotiate with myself, ok, if you keep this pace, you can pull back at mile 5. Or, if you keep it under 9, no long run tomorrow. Fortunately at mile 4, I saw my friend Jeff who was also running the race with his wife and brother-in-law. He yelled, "Good job. There are only 20 people ahead of you. You're probably going to win your age group." I needed that motivation! I picked it up again and kept going. Pace got slower, but still moving well.

I ran miles 4-6 pretty much alone. I discovered that is tough on me because I usually try to stay with a pack. What can I say, I'm a lemming. Hit the finish line at 55:54, shaving nearly 3 minutes off my previous personal best and taking a 2nd place in my age group! SWEET! Not a bad way to start the 2010 race season.

As we're waiting around for the awards, I check Twitter and see that Twitter buddy, TriBoomer placed 2nd in his AG. Turns out he's at the same race. Impromptu tweet up! Great to meet this fantastic athlete!