Tag Archives: postaweek2011

Three more days!

3 more days!

It’s almost that time again. I’ve been getting quite a few “Are you ready?” questions this week. My answer is I am as ready now as I’m going to be Sunday.

If I were to take a ballpark guess at how long it’ll take me to swim 1/2 mile, bike 18 miles, and then run 4 miles– 22.5 miles total, I’d say 30 minutes for the swim and t1, 1 hour 8 minutes for the bike and t2, and 37 minutes for the run: 2 hours and 15 minutes.

I am not nervous (yet). I haven’t felt any certain way about this weekend aside from excitement. I’ve found it tough to envision past Wednesday of this week. Now it’s Friday and here I am with registration packet in hand and I’m expecting a familiar bought of race-induced insomnia over the next two nights. I have absolutely no plans on Sunday from 1:30PM-6:30 AM on Monday except to recover from the long, sleep-deprived drive back home. None of my non-tri team friends nor my family will be attending this time due to logistical difficulty, but I know they’re supportive of my efforts, no matter what and so I’ll just do my best and have fun with no extra pressure.

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My 1st half marathon: recap

Preparation: ICE CREAM

Biggest ice cream cone in town

…plus quite a bit of baseline running this summer which I’m sure helped me more than the ice cream– but I don’t have a photo of that to share.

In the last week I have consumed more ice cream than I have over the last two months of summer combined, and I enjoyed every delicious bit. This gigantic cone is from the Ghirardelli Ice Cream Shop at Downtown Disney (WDW, Orlando, FL). Alas, I couldn’t finish this chocolate dipped waffle cone of butter pecan goodness because it was way too much apparently my stomach is too small to handle the perfect amount of ice cream.

My first half marathon recap: The morning of the race, I got up early and arrived at the parking structure by 4:15 AM. At 6 AM the race began and I ran with almost 12,800 runners, with 62% of them other women. We were placed into one of seven start corrals based on ability (A.k.a. proof of time from a previous qualifying race of 10K or longer).

“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully.”

 Steve Jobs

Determined focus: I started in Corral D which the announcer dubbed “Determined.” I was determined to finish this race with a time of under 2 hours and 15 minutes and I would not have been able to do that without focus. That Steve Jobs quote above applies to this race, as it was a challenge made up of many little challenges.

Water– In my previous longest race (10K) I stopped at every single water station, which was unnecessary. This time I carried a bottle with me and only stopped for Accelerade once at the first water station. Carrying the bottle with me wasn’t much fun because I kept it in a pocket of a jacket that was secured “fanny pack” style tightly around my waist. This made it a pain to take out, but I didn’t really drink much until the latter part of the race anyway. Knowing that I already had hydration on me helped me power right on through those stations where runners all around me slowed down and stopped to grab cups.

Restrooms– These were everywhere along the course and very tempting too. I found my brain convincing me that if I stopped for a couple minutes then I’d feel better and be able to run even faster. Then again I also knew that womens’ restrooms have notorious lines and that it would likely take more than the couple of minutes I was considering sparing. Every time I passed one I had to force my eyes back on the course and not follow the trail of runners veering off toward them. I knew, of course, that I just had a case of nerves and when I finished the race I wouldn’t have to go at all.

Road hazards– I saw one runner take a spill on my left while running through Storybookland in Disneyland. I, myself, had to be very careful of railroad tracks and the raised reflectors in the road. I found while we were running down the streets that I had a tendency to run close to the middle, usually directly on the lane lines except when turning the corners when I cut very close to the raised curbs. Sometimes I’d jump onto the sidewalks to pass other runners and hop back down into the street afterward. This could have ended very badly with one misstep. Fortunately I didn’t get a case of the clumsies even during a race that started at 6:00 AM.

Character/ location photos– Lots of characters were out and posing with runners. I saw a huge line for Darth Vader. It was novel to take photos at Disneyland during the race, but at the same time we were in a race so I kept running.

Sideline distractions- there were many high fives offered, music played, cheers from h.s. cheerleaders, and homemade signs encouraging the runners. I gave a few high fives, but then I moved toward the middle of the street again so I wouldn’t be tempted to stop and chat or else seem rude for not returning the offered high fives.

Chocolate– My one big time concession was near mile 9 where they gave out Clif gels that were offered with one shout, “Chocolate!” I slowed to grab a pack figuring “Why not? I could use a boost of energy,” but I couldn’t open the little package very easily while running so I slowed down a bit more. It was worth it though, because once I sucked it down I felt like I just licked the spoon of some rich brownie batter and all was right with the world. I tossed the empty breakfast of champions sleeve into a bin and entered Angels Stadium. At that point I felt good so I picked up my speed, especially once I started hearing that we were only ‘x’ distance away or ‘almost there’ from people on the sidelines. I passed a number of people by drafting off of those who’d just passed me and were weaving their way through the exhausted runners ahead. Doing that meant I didn’t have to think about path as much as just moving quickly into their wake until I saw the finish line.

My results: My goal was to run this in 2 hours and 15 minutes or less.

Distance HALF MAR
Clock Time 2:28:04
Chip Time 2:10:31
Overall Place 2604 / 12785
Gender Place 1067 / 8368
Division Place 188 / 1410
Age Grade 50.5%
5K 34:02
10K 1:04:34
15K 1:35:11

Execution: SUCCESSFUL!

Results explanation: Half marathon distance is 13.1 miles. Clock time is measured from the start of the race. Chip time is measured from the time that I physically crossed the starting line to physically crossing the finish line. Overall and gender place categories are self-explanatory. Division place is where I ranked among the other women in my age group. Not sure what the age grade is all about, but apparently I’m in the dead center of the pack on that. Yay, me. Below that you have my splits for the 5K (00:34:02– started with a 10:57 min/mile pace doing 3min r/1 min w intervals until the crowd thinned out enough to just go for it), 10K (00:30:32) 15K (00:30:37), plus the homestretch 3.8miles (00:35:20– for a decent finish at a 9:18 min/mile pace).

I’d never run a race that long and half-expected to poop out by mile 8. I found that I was able to maintain a consistent pace right on track with the 3 to 5+ mile pace training runs I’ve done with the tri team running group all summer. Pretty amazing!

Just completed my 1st Half Marathon

Photo by Chris A.

Here’s my Disneyland Half Marathon obligatory ‘look at my shiny new medal’ pose.

A year ago running a half marathon sounded as crazy to me as running a full marathon does to me now, but with the overwhelming amount of support I’ve had this summer and this weekend, and with the right amount of focus– and enough peer pressure in the case of a marathon sign up campaign– I feel like I can accomplish whatever challenge I choose next! I’m glad this one turned out well. I’m already signed up for another half in late January (Tinkerbell Half Marathon), same place.

Next events: For my LA locals, here are a couple more fun activities I’m looking forward to this month.

Nautica Malibu Triathlon Sept. 17-18, 2011

LA Chocolate Salon in Pasadena on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2011

If you’ve read this far, that means your eyes have just read a half marathon. Congratulations, and thanks for reading!


In the B.A.G.

I learned something new while swimming in the Pacific Ocean this weekend. Two things, actually.

1) It is possible to get seasick while swimming in the sea. Previously I thought that it only happened while in a boat. I generally don’t get seasick in boats, but I felt really nauseated while doing that swim. Water temperature was fine. Getting past the break was fine. Swimming a half mile while nauseated? Not so much.  I swam against the current yesterday for the first time this year that I can recall. I’m fairly sure it took me upwards of 45 minutes once I walked into the water to touch dry land again. I think swimmers are reasonably expected to close this distance well under 30 minutes. It’s okay though, because I did finish that swim.

2a) It’s extremely difficult to reach a goal when you can’t see it and 2b) You won’t reach your target if you don’t know where it is.

I was a little late in walking over to the sand for the group swim, and so I missed the chance to do the bottom check– the walk in to check the sandy surface under the water and to get used to the water temperature before it was time to swim. A small group of us started stressing about that and I didn’t even think to look over a couple of towers and spot the buoy in the water that we had to swim to. Needless to say I had no idea where it was once I got out far enough past the break to swim parallel to shore.

This reminds me of the Big Audacious Goal (B.A.G.) concept. The best way to attain a measurable goal is to break it down into manageable chunks and like a shark — where you must keep moving along and making progress with these things– you power through until you obliterate them.

My chunks were simple enough:

  • Ignore the disgusting ocean water taste.
  • Relax and try to not hyperventilate.
  • Swim or at least keep moving forward. I still had to break down the last one a little more into a bit of a pep talk chunk because I couldn’t see the buoy:
  • Just swim toward a house on shore in front of me and/or swim to catch up to at least one resting swimmer ahead of me.

That worked. By doing the smaller goals, eventually I spotted the yellow buoy and made a beeline swam like a fish toward it. Getting back to shore was relatively easy but I had to fight the urge to stop and rest for a while instead of hurrying to get on my bike in a simulated race situation. My T1 needs a bit of work, but with 7 ocean swims completed this summer, I’m happy to note that removing my wetsuit quickly is now my main “worry” about the tri. Not being daunted by everything, and not feeling overwhelmed about whether I can even manage to do this swim.

2011 personal goal: Run a half-marathon
Next weekend is the Disneyland Half Marathon. I am doing what I can to mentally prepare. I set a goal to go for a long run (10+ miles) this weekend. I did intervals (ran/walked) 13+ miles for the first time ever on Sunday and I felt good afterward.

Athletic Linkage

Stumbled upon this while browsing my Facebook feed. I’m posting here so I will remember to check this one out in more detail and so you can check it out too.

Black Girls Run website
Black Girls Run on Facebook

My dear LA locals,

I’ll be hopping on a plane soon to travel east for a few days, but when I return get ready for a half marathon weekend extravaganza!


Fundraising goal attained + D23 Expo recap!

Another huge round of thanks to my fantastic expanded crew of triathlon supporters for their donations on my behalf: Jenae M., MAC, Shari E, and Caritta L! That thermometer on my page has been moved all the way up to the target amount by August 18, before the deadline of August 26. Together the tri team was able to rally enough supporters to raise over $11,000 in 10 hours that day. Now that’s teamwork! On September 18, our consolidated contributions will be donated to make a difference in the lives of some very special kids utilizing the services at CHLA.

I’ve had a superb week and topped it off with an exciting visit to the D23 Expo in Anaheim on Saturday.

Shiny Lightning McQueen

Lightning McQueen model from the movie "Cars"

I saw lots of Disneyana, artists, games, books, clothes, food, and characters. Guests were dressed as characters from movies like “Tron” and “Up” plus a plethora of princesses. I saw a few Belles and Cinderellas but not so many of the others. There was one guy walking around dressed as Prince Naveen and another guy as Prince Phillip (the “Sleeping Beauty” prince). Some costumes were elaborate and others not so much. Seeing other fans was cool and I even recognized a lot of the costumes from different Disney properties without having to ask. My favorite part of the expo was going through the gallery of PotC4 movie props.

POTC4 Mermaid bait boat 1

Movie still photo and card placed atop the prop boat used in the movie.

Check out my Flickr page– on the right side of the blog– for more expo photos. I didn’t get to any panels, but I had enough to take in simply walking around the show floor. The guide book I got upon arriving had over 115 pages! As if that wasn’t enough fun, it was followed by a visit right up the street to Disney California Adventure with my family to watch the World of Color and try out a couple of the newer rides. Our favorite 3 rides include Tower of Terror, Midway Mania, and Soarin’ Over California. Have you been to Disney California Adventure? What’s your favorite attraction?


Over halfway to the goal!

Big thanks to my awesome triathlon crew of donors: Tiffany Sy, Lisa W. and Frank, David B., and Matthew H. With your generous donations we’re over halfway to the goal. However, I’m still in need of a few (or many) more donors to push that thermometer to the tip top!

I’m now $70 shy of meeting the minimum donation amount required to race with my team and only $130 from my personal goal.  If you can help support my fundraising efforts, please click here to donate at this (easily shareable) link:  http://bit.ly/jamtNK

This week has flown by for me. Only two days ’til the next ocean swim. I have high hopes the water will be warmer than 58 degrees this time. Very high hopes.


Highlight of the week: Zuma Beach, Malibu, CA

Sunrise at Zuma Beach

This has been my view practically every Saturday morning this summer as I attempt to swim a 1/2 mile in the ocean. This is not an easy thing for me but I go into the water anyway, not knowing how the rest of the swim will go, and optimistic that it will go well. Sometimes the waves are a lot bigger than the ones in this photo. Sometimes the water is a lot colder than it was here (65 degrees, F). Every time I walk out of that water though, I’ve learned something about myself and about the ocean. And I feel a bit more accomplished whether I finish the intended swim distance or not. And I always come to the same realization: I am fortunate to be here today. For that I am grateful. To show my gratitude, I return each weekend I can to practice this challenge so that I can do my best in this endeavor come race day (Sept. 18).

At this time the Nautica Malibu Classic Triathlon is less than 45 days away. Another component of this effort is that I am trying to raise funds by August 26 for Childrens Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) and so that I can fully participate with my tri team in helping raise the largest amount to date by a single corporate entertainment team, to donate to CHLA on race day. If you want to support our efforts and make a tax-deductible donation (of any amount), please go to my fundraising page. My personal goal is to raise and contribute at least $300. Thank you in advance for your support– and I will personally thank you again afterward with a shout out here.

I am really looking forward to 3 things in the next month:

Seeing my friend, Clare Means, play this Thursday at Kulak’s Woodshed, in NoHo.

My first D23 Expo in Anaheim.

My first half marathon (Disneyland Half Marathon) over Labor Day weekend, also in Anaheim.

Feel free to leave a comment to tell me what you are really looking forward to most in the next month as well!


Strawberry Fields Triathlon: The Recap

Strawberry Fields ExpoI drove to Oxnard July 16 (Carmageddon weekend) with absolutely no traffic. This was amazing considering all the traffic warnings and delay notices. I arrived at Strawberry Fields Triathlon’s expo area before noon and spent the afternoon after grabbing my registration packet hanging out in my tri group’s booth and walking around the expo.

The booths are visible in the distant background of the photo above.

The expo had everything that I’d bought over the course of my last few triathlons and more. It’s good to know that the racing world will never lack a supply of racing belts — that elastic belt you attach your bib number to — or packets of sweet-tasting energy gels. I made sure to visit the sand and watch the waves and walk around the transition area before I went to my hotel.

Below is a view of the bike out area. It was a pretty long stretch of grass that we were expected to roll  our bikes along to the street and not ride them. Probably for the best. I wouldn’t want to try to clip in to my pedals on grass in a race. More photos are on my Flickr account if you click through on right side of the blog (Flickr Photos).
future bike lane

Heading back to my room, I did the usual Italian food carbo load– but it was a comfort food meal for me more than anything. Next I stayed up way too late and at some point I knew I had to shut my eyes and sleep so I did. I got up a few hours later and checked out of my hotel at 4:45 AM and drove to the triathlon area, arriving early enough to snag covered parking at the nearby Embassy Suites Resort.

I’d done this race before so I was fairly confident that I’d be able to beat my previous time. The weather and water conditions were touted as perfect. The plan was to beat my swim time and the other legs of the race by about 3:20 each. My execution of said plan was sub par. I was on the sand, ready to go with my start wave and when the megaphone beep sounded, off I went toward the Pacific. Getting past the wave break was fine, but as soon as I started really swimming toward the first buoy I looked straight ahead to sight where it was, turning my head into an oncoming swell and… inhaled. EPIC FAIL.

For the rest of the swim I couldn’t recover well enough to get a full breath of air into my lungs. I was wheezy and ended up resting twice for a few minutes trying to cough out the water on two different lifeguard surfboards before deciding I had been in the water long enough and made myself power swim freestyle into shore with what little lung capacity I had left. I wasn’t the very last one in the ocean, but I knew I was well behind my start wave by that point.

When I reached the transition area about 1/4 mile away from the water I was pretty ready to vomit. I pulled off my wetsuit and sat down until the nausea passed and changed into my bike gear. Fortunately that leg went much more smoothly and I recovered enough to beat my bike time from last year by 1 minute 18 seconds. For the run, I was a little out of it and ran the slowest I’ve ever run in an official race. Oddly enough today I ran 4 miles, walking a little to cross a small stream both there and back, and finished within a minute of the time it took me to run 3.1 miles on that race day.

I finished the triathlon. That’s what was most important. I was exhausted afterward and bummed that not only did I not beat my time by 10 minutes, I came in about 20 minutes slower. I still enjoyed my weekend there and cheered on my teammates who came across the finish line getting top places in their entry categories. I have to do this race again next year to prove that this year’s results really were a “fluke” even though my downfall was likely due to not setting foot in the ocean in about 8 months before race day. Lesson learned!

Post Race Plans

Since then I’ve been at the beach to do an ocean swim an average of once a week. Last week I had a much better swim but the water was freezing. Today it was warmer, but choppy with significant swells. I swam in to shore before I reached the 2nd buoy, upon the lifeguard’s rec, where I promptly got the front-load washing machine treatment with one wave that I saw coming as I exited. I had new goggles and was curious to see where I’d end up after the wave passed. I remained calm through the tumble until my head popped up through the surface and I saw the remnants of the wave’s white fizz dissipate before my confused eyes. I was still facing the shore, but my net distance gain toward shore was zero. I paddled some more until I stood waist high and trudged in.  At long last another ocean swim was completed.

There are only 6 weeks until Nautica Malibu, and I’m running my very first half-marathon in just over 4 weeks. I’ll likely run a few 10k distances and a 10 miler at some point before then. Maybe it’s just me but even 10 miles seems like a long run, let alone 13.1 miles. I know lots of people who have done the Disneyland Half and enjoyed the race so here’s to me trying something (else) new, hopefully with no Charley Horse(s) dragging me sharply awake and in pain the next day. If you have any half-marathon training tips, please leave in a comment.


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