Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Last year, on Facebook, I posted something  I was thankful for every day in November.  I know I am a bit late on this, considering Thanksgiving has come and gone and it is the last day of November, but I think giving thanks is something that can be done every day.  This year was, by far, the hardest Thanksgiving I have ever faced.  Even with an extremely difficult situation in life, I can say I am very thankful for some key things.

1. A strong marriage.  We have been through a lot the past two years.  The last few months have been extremely stressful.  I have been known to take out my frustrations on the closest person, my husband.  We’re both short tempered and therefore tend to argue (and to be honest, it is often due to me overreacting).  If our marriage didn’t have such a strong foundation, I don’t think it could have survived this.  I know that once we get through all this, we’ll be better than ever.  I know I have a partner in life and we have been tested with the “worse” part of “better or worse.”

2. Happy and healthy kids.  My kids make me smile every day.  Even when I am depressed (which seems to happen more often), my kids can snap me out of it.  I haven’t been the best mother lately, but they have been the best kids.  On those days when I just want to lay on the couch an do nothing, inevitably my kids will need me.  They will need comforting or help with homework or someone to watch them dance.  How can I wallow in my own self-pity when there are two great kids right here.   Often, when I am lamenting over our situation, I remind myself that there are parents out there who aren’t so fortunate to be able to watch their kids laugh or attack them as a tickle monster.  For this, I am truly blessed.

3. A wonderful network of friends and family. I have always been very proud.  I was independent and self-sufficient from a very early age.  I was the one in my family who packed up my belongings and moved to a different state “just because.”  Accepting help has never been in my comfort zone, let alone asking for it.  Twelve months of unemployment have taught me a little about pride.  I have learned to accept “charity” from friends and family, knowing that soon enough, I will be able to pay it forward.  I have been so fortunate to meet some great people through my running.  These generous people have helped us network for jobs, given me free massages, paid for race entries and been there for me in so many ways.  My family is really pitching in to ensure that my children have one of their best Christmases yet.

4. My running. Running is a relatively new thing for me.  I started running, in earnest, in 2008.  Before that, I probably never ran more than two or three miles at a time (other than my very first 10k in the summer of 2007).  I am so thankful that I am healthy enough to be able to run.  Running keeps me healthy, gives me my mommy “alone time,” and keeps me sane.  More than anything, running has given me my social outlet.  Since moving here a little more than a year ago, I have met some fantastic people (as mentioned above).  I would not have been able to get so close to these women without the quality time we spend running.
early morning running gals
We had a lady snap a picture of us during one of our pre-dawn runs.  This is the main group that runs each morning.  Some times there are more and sometimes fewer, but I haven’t had to run by myself in quite a while.

Even though my life is difficult and sometimes feels a bit hopeless, I do realize how truly lucky I am.   I know his is a running blog and I try to keep things mostly about my running, leaving the other stuff to my other blog.  However, running has become such a big part of my life, so I wanted to post this here.  Thanks for reading.

Happy running.

*Coming soon: Dana Point Turkey Trot Race Report

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Goodbye to an online friend

I have been really bad at keeping up with reading all the blogs that I follow.  I read when I can and comment even less.  While trying to catch up a bit last weekend, I was saddened to learn about the passing of one of my blog buddies.  Rick was a very supportive and enthusiastic friend.  He and I often commented on each other's blogs and became Facebook friends as well.  He could always be counted on for an encouraging word or something to make me laugh.   

I AM a Warrior..or The Grand Poobah from The Flintstones!This entry was on his blog:

The Last Run

To all of Rick's followers and fans,

My dad had his last final run today. He passed away this morning doing what he loves... running. 
I was surprised at how sad I was to learn this news.  I had never met this man who lived across the country.  But through the internet and running, we found a connection.  Rick was a man with a huge heart.  He was a dedicated father and husband.  He loved beer and going to the casino.  He was also very charitable, raising a lot of money for Autism Speaks.  He was charitable towards everyone.  In 2009, I was incredibly touched when Rick offered to start a collection among my followers to sponsor me in my marathon.  That was just the kind of thing he did.

This reminds me that life is so fleeting.  Rick was not very old (in his mid-50's).  I need to remember what is important and tell the people in my life how much they mean to me.

Rest in Peace, Rick.  You'll be missed.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Santa Barbara Marathon Race Report—the marathon that almost wasn’t (PART 2)

The Morning of the Race
For the craziness leading up to this point see Part 1 here.

The race website had suggested getting there early to get on a shuttle.  Having learned the hard way about pushing the envelope with time, I didn’t want to take any chances.  To fix the bib issue, I figured we would need to get down there around 4 a.m.   I set my watch for 3:15 and my phone alarm for 3:20, to get enough time to get ready and leave around 3:45.  Kelly had set her phone alarm for 3:40, but I wanted to get up earlier. I am pretty sure I didn’t fall asleep until close to 2 a.m.  I fell asleep pretty hard though because for the first time ever, I slept through my alarms!!*  We didn’t wake until Kelly’s phone went off at 3:40.  Not a good start to the morning!!
We rushed like crazy women to get dressed and get all our stuff together.  I usually like to sit and drink my Zip Fizz, eat my Luna Bar and get ready for a race.  Not that morning.  We rushed down to the car, met Kelly’s friend, Suzy, who was running her first marathon also.  We had an easy drive down to the finish area where we needed to catch a shuttle to the start.

We were looking for race staff.  We needed to talk to a man (or woman) about a bib.  We asked a volunteer directing traffic where we should go and he told us to take the bus up to the start and someone could help us up there.  Contact with volunteer #1 gets a thumbs up.

The shuttle dropped us off and we had to walk a half mile or so.  That was a bit strange, since we were walking on a wide street to a high school.  Apparently, they had issues the year before and didn’t want the buses going all the way up to the school.  We made our way to the racer staging area, which was the gymnasium of the high school,  There, right by the entrance [I think I heard angels singing] was a table with two volunteers and boxes of race envelopes.  Even though they did not have race day pick up, there they were with bibs and chips.  Kelly and I immediately went into our sad story of a lost bib/chip.  The volunteer smiled and acted as if it were no big deal.  No big deal to her, maybe, but it had been a big dfriendly volunteerseal to us.  She was going to issue me a new chip and looked for me on the master list.   As we were having trouble finding my name, the other volunteer produced an envelope.  It had several hand-written notes on it, including “left at expo at 4 p.m.” and my contact information.**  Kelly and I were visibly relieved.  I think she was more relieved than I was because I had already been fine with running without a bib.  The day was definitely looking up.

We then had close to two hours to kill.  I just have to say that when you have to wait for a race start, a school gymnasium is the way to go!  It was warm, lit, and had flushing toilets and running water.  Since I hadn’t really used the restroom yet, we decided to get in line.  This is where we would spend our time until the race started.  I learned many races ago, that once you are done using the restroom, go and get back in line again.  The first time I suggested this, Kelly thought I was crazy.  “But I don’t have to go again.”  “You will.”  And she did. The line was relatively slow, since there were only four stalls.  By the time we waited through it, we had to go again. We were standing around anyway, so we might as well be in line. They announced that they would be starting the race late.  There were several groans.  I merely saw it as another opportunity to use the potty. LOL. The second announcement, however, that told us that it was delayed even more, didn’t sit quite as well with me.  We parked our car just after 4:15.  Now the race wasn’t going to start until 7.  That is a long time to wait for a race.  At least we weren’t outside. 
 Racers waiting patiently in the gym for the race to start.

 Kelly and I are all smiles after getting my bib.  No sleep?  No problem!

Us with Kelly’s old friend (and my new one) Suzy.  She was running her first marathon too!
Finally, they called us all out to the starting line.  On our way to the starting line were a dozen garbage boxes with bib numbers on them.  You just dropped your bag (marked with your bib number) into the appropriate box and it was waiting near the finish line.  So simple!  I am sure that a few empty Gu packets and water bottles ended up in the boxes as well, but they worked great!

I was planning on staying with Kelly the entire time.  However, I had never run a marathon without music.  I didn’t know if I might need some tunes in the later miles to keep me going.  I went to get my iPod set up to a playlist and….nothing.  It wouldn’t turn on.*** At this point, I had to laugh.  Of course my iPod didn’t work.  Would my Garmin stay charged?  I was ready for whatever the universe would throw at me at this point.  We were getting ready to start and I was in a great mood.  Bring it on.

The Race!
They finally started the race at 7 a.m.  Kelly had to retie her shoe a couple of times, so we crossed the mat (gotta love chip timing!) around 7:02.  And we were off!!

I had made a couple of signs for us to wear.  I had Kelly wear a sign pinned to her back that said, “I am running my first marathon!”  And I wore IMAG0316one that said, “My friend is running her first marathon.”  This turned out to be such a great thing.  So many people came up and asked how it was going.DSCN2465
DSCN2463  I also had a little homage to my alma mater, which was a nice conversation starter.  Between these things and our good moods, it was the most social race I have ever run!

The first miles went by so fast!  We chatted and laughed.  We thanked spectators and volunteers.  Kelly cheered every time a spectator cheered for us.  She said that she would rather feel worn out from cheering than running. LOL.  We met a ton of runners.  We ran with Adam, a local guy in his twenties who didn’t train much and even asked us what kind of fuel the race handed out.  He was completely unprepared.  He ran with us for several miles before he started falling further and further behind. We met Greg, a 3:28 marathoner who was running with his friend in her first marathon.  They were all from Irvine, so we had an Orange County connection.  We went back and forth with them throughout the race, until we passed them for good around mile 20.  We ran for a while with Nikki, a mother of five, running her first marathon with her brother.  Her brother ran with her until the half way point and then took off.****  We went back and forth with Nikki throughout the race as well.  We chatted with “Stanford” and his girlfriend, who was a local.  I never got their names, but we talked about college football, the Pac-10 as well as the race itself.

Before I left for Santa Barbara,  Kelly’s husband told me that he was going to drive up with their daughters to surprise Kelly at the race.  I told him that I would text him so he would know when to expect us.  About mile 8, I let Kelly go ahead of me a bit while I texted Richard our location and pace.  He replied that they were at mile 14.  I was so excited.  I used that opportunity to sprint to catch up with Kelly and Suzy.  It felt good to move my legs a bit.  At one point, fast guy Greg joined me and we called it intervals.  We were really having fun.

When we saw Kelly’s family, it gave us all a huge boost.  They were at mile 14 and again at mile 19.  Not only was Kelly surprised and excited to see them, but everyone around us enjoyed it.  The girls ran with us for a few hundred feet and it was awesome!  Kelly was in tears and it really gave her a boost.
     Santa Barbara Marathon family cheerleadersSanta Barbara Marathon family cheerleaders2    Santa Barbara Marathon running with Kelly and family
I loved the sign Kelly’s kids made!  It says, “Kelly wins the race!”  I am sure you parents out there have heard from your kids, “Mom, did you win the race?”  My daughter is convinced that I win almost every race I run because I come home with a medal.  Out of dozens of medals that I have, only two of them were from actual age group awards.
This race was pretty hilly.  Most of the hills were nice rollers.  I am convinced that I prefer rolling hills over pancake flat.  The uphills, save one, weren’t very difficult and the downhills were fun.  Around mile 15, we went onto a bike path where someone wrote in chalk, “weeeeeeeeeee.”  We ran down the slope and said, “weeeeeeee.”  We were having a great time!  Kelly is really good running downhill.  Once upon a time, I told her about letting gravity help her find “free speed” on the hills.  She loves to fly down the hills.  I had a hard time keeping up with her.  Perhaps the student had become the master?  She often is heard saying, “the heavier they are, the faster they fall.”  LOL.  Often, I would let her sprint ahead on the hill and catch her on the flat or uphill.  

Around mile 18-19, Suzy started slowing down a bit.  We had run with her the majority of the race with her and weren’t going to leave her.  At mile 19, she had to stop at a porta potty.  She told us to go ahead and we would see her at the finish.  We were torn.  Kelly was still feeling good, but didn’t want to leave our friend at the toughest part of the race.  Kelly’s sister-in-law (pictured above holding Kelly’s sign) had decided to run the last seven miles with us.  At this point she told us to go on and she would run with Suzy.  It was perfect.  She really helped make the difference for all of this.  She motivated Suzy to keep going and allowed Kelly to finish the race strong.

The weather for the entire race was absolutely perfect.  During the first half, it was in the 50’s and overcast.  I was in a tank top and never felt cold and never felt hot.  I had to remind myself to drink because I didn’t seem to be sweating much.  Around mile 18, it started to rain lightly.  It never rained more than a drizzle; more of a fine mist.  It was the kind of rain that you don’t need to put your windshield wipers on.  The sun came out at the end.  We felt a bit hot right during that last mile, but I don’t think any weather would have felt good at that point.  It was sure nice to have the sun out after finishing.

I kept checking in with Kelly, to see how she was feeling.  She was hurting (as was I) but still feeling good.  We ran most of the first miles right around 10:15.  The latter miles, save one, were under 10:00!  The latter splits were: 9:26(mile 22), 9:33 (mile 23), 11:36 (the big hill at mile 24), 8:57!! (mile 25), 9:26 (mile 26)  I am not sure exactly what our pace was for the last .2 because I forgot to turn my Garmin off right away and I had run a bit extra during the race during my pacing duties.****  Keeping it nice and easy in the beginning allowed Kelly to pick it up at the end.  We passed so many runners that we had seen earlier in the race and it felt great.   I was so impressed with Kelly.  In fact, in those last few miles, I had to switch it into another gear to keep up with her.

The final 300 yards of the race were on a nice all-weather track at the Santa Barbara City College.  I wish EVERY race ended on a track like this.  It felt SO great on my tired feet.  It felt like running on a cloud.  Santa Barbara Marathon final stretchIt is exciting to be able to see the finish line and sprint toward it. The only bad part of the finish was getting to the track.  We had to wind around a maze in the parking lot.  It was a bit annoying. 

I gave Kelly the choice of running across the finish on her own or holding hands.  She wanted to finish together as we had run the entire race.  I can’t wait to see the official race photos!

After the race, we went along the track to cheer for Suzy, as well as some of our buddies we met along the way.  Then we went into the infield and Jen led us in some stretching.  It was the first time I had done a full stretching regime after a race and I think it made a huge difference.IMAG0321
Santa Barbara Marathon stretchingWe went back to the hotel, took a quick shower and then went to lunch.  I have never been super hungry after a marathon.  This time was different.  I was FAMISHED.  I had a hard time ordering, because I wanted one of everything.  In the end, I chose Eggs Benedict, which completely hit the spot.  That might be my post-race meal from now on!  IMAG0326
Kelly and I after we were showered and fed.  Happy Marathoners!!!

Three weeks prior, I had done everything right (training, food, rest etc.) and came away with a disappointing and painful race.  Saturday I feel like I did everything I’m not supposed to do:  I didn’t get sleep, I barely ate the night before (just some snacking in the car), I had been basically tapering since Long Beach, I was stressed out right before the race,.  I came away from Santa Barbara with one of the most enjoyable races I have ever run.  I had a great time and recovered better than any previous marathon.  I know, more than ever, that marathons are an unpredictable animal.  I have learned so much from every single one.

I am very grateful to Kelly for giving me the opportunity to run this race with her.  It was just what I needed to make me realize why I have really come to love running so much.  It is the people that running has brought into my life that really make it worthwhile.

Thanks for reading my long tale.   Happy running…

*I discovered later this week that in my haste and tiredness, I actually set my phone alarm for 5:20 instead of 3:15.  I had my watch set correctly, but I sometimes turn that off without even thinking when it starts beeping.
**note to self: change contact information on Active.com.  They had my old e-mail address and phone number from San Diego.  As a quick side note…while they did write down this information no one called my cell phone (which was correct).  Also, during our panic the night before, I e-mailed the race people with my problem.  They never did respond to that e-mail, even after the fact.  I didn’t really expect a response, but I was hoping.
***Operator error again!  I later discovered that my iPod was on “lock.”  I think it was a blessing in disguise.  I really enjoyed running without the music and really focused on the social aspect of this race.
****We passed Nikki’s brother around mile 22 or 23!
*****My Garmin shows that I ran 26.48 miles.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Santa Barbara Marathon Race Report—the marathon that almost wasn’t (PART 1)

The Days Before the Race
The day after Long Beach, my friend Kelly told me that she wanted to pay for my entry into Santa Barbara so I could try again for a BQ time.  What an incredibly sweet gesture!  I told her that if I ran Santa Barbara, it would only be to run with her.  Although, at the time, I couldn’t imagine running a marathon in three weeks.  I was having a hard time walking up and down stairs and sitting on the toilet.  I was more sore than I remember being for any other marathon.

On Tuesday, I heard that the Boston Marathon sold out in eight hours.  It wouldn’t matter if I ran a sub-3:50 race in Santa Barbara, 2011 was full.  It was good, because it really took that internal pressure off.  I have a year to worry about running a fast marathon.  Later that week, I told Kelly that if she wanted to “sponsor” me for the marathon it would be as her pacer and coach.  There was nothing more that I wanted than to be there as she finished her first marathon.  I had been there throughout her running journey and it would be the best thing for my mental state to be there with her as she crossed the finish line.  We finally registered me the week of the race after I was sure that my body was fully recovered.  We were both very excited.

The logistics of the race were going to be an issue.  My son had a school talent show on Friday night before the race.  It started at 6 p.m.  I wouldn’t be able to leave for Santa Barbara until after 7:30 p.m.  Once I got on the road, even though it was long after rush hour, I had to fight LA traffic.  The drive was long and I didn’t reach the hotel room until 10:30.  Yikes…so much for getting much sleep. 

Kelly and Lori were in the hotel room getting ready for the morning and Odessa was already sleeping.  Lori was running her first half marathon.  I started to lay out my running stuff and started looking for the bib.  Me: “Where is the bib?” Kelly: “in the bag.” Me, dumping out the contents of the bag: “nope…two shirts*, a hat, a bunch of ads”  Kelly: “Are. You. SERIOUS???  We looked everywhere.  After Kelly mentally retraced her steps, she concluded that when she handed the volunteer her and my envelopes to get one of the shirts, she only received one back.

At this point, Kelly was freaking out.  To be honest, inside I was freaking out a little too.  But it wouldn’t do any good for both of us to freak out.  I said, don’t worry…we’ll be able to figure this out (but inside I was thinking, “omg,omg,omg…whatthehellarewegoingtodo?” ) “I’m sure this isn’t the first time something like this has happened” (but inside I was thinking about all the chaos of the pre-race morning that Danica described in her post-Long Beach blog post).  “I’m sure they can issue a new chip” (thinking, “but Kelly activated the original chip at the expo.”)  “If not, I’ll just run it without a bib and chip… I’m here for you.” (“I will run with Kelly no matter what, but, dang, that is a long way to run to not get a medal or an official time.  I’ll have four marathons and an asterisk.”)

We decided to try to get some sleep.  It was after eleven and we had to get up EARLY.  Well…sleep was an elusive thing.  I could not turn off my brain.  When I wasn’t thinking about the chip and bib (“what if they don’t let me on the bus.”) I was thinking about every random thing in my life (“will my husband get a second interview to a job he is up for?” “did my son get all his props from backstage at the talent show?”  “did I get my driver’s license off the scanner when I copied it for Kelly?”  I didn’t.)  I looked at my watch sometime around 12:30 or 1:00 and Kelly said, “Lisa, you’re killing me…I am SO sorry I lost the envelope!!”  I reached over (we were sharing a bed) and touched her arm and said, “don’t worry, it will all work out fine.”  By this time, I believed it.  I knew it would somehow work out and we would have a great story to tell.
To be continued…

*I have a bit of a gripe with the fact that we have two tech shirts.  When we registered at Active.com, it asked if we wanted a technical shirt for an additional $20.  Doesn’t this imply that the race shirt would be a cotton t-shirt??  Kelly, being a generous friend, purchased the additional shirt for me, since that what she did for herself.  We both ended up with two tech shirts.  They are different designs, but to be honest, the “free” race shirt is nicer than the $20 extra shirt.  What is that all about??  I think that smells a bit dishonest!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Stealth Marathon

I made such a big deal about Long Beach.  I posted about it for weeks and had people all over the country pulling for me.  When I failed, it was really hard, thinking about all the people cheering for me; all the people I let down.  However, out of that “failure” came such an unbelievable outpouring of support.  I learned that my running was so much more than just something for me.  I had inspired so many of my friends.  I couldn’t let one race spoil my opinion of long distance running and lose faith in myself.  I needed a race that wasn’t about a PR or BQ.  I needed a race that was about the fun of running and what it has been about for me for a while: inspiring and helping my friends.

So I ran another marathon this weekend.  That was my “secret.”  It was my low-key, not-for-PR, all-about-someone-else race.  I didn’t tell anyone (other than my close running friends) so I could get out of my own way and “just do it.”

And I think I found my calling.

I paced my friend, Kelly, in the Santa Barbara International Marathon, her very first marathon.  Her main goal was to finish, of course, but she really wanted to finish under 4:30.  We came in, holding hands, at 4:29!!!  The entire race was perfect.  The weather was perfect (overcast, then drizzly showers around mile 18, with the sun coming out just in time for the finish).  The people were perfect.  We laughed, we made friends and we ran 26.2 miles together.

I learned quite a lot from this experience. I will write up a full race report soon. 

Happy Running...

Friday, November 5, 2010

A couple of giveaways, a little quack attack and a secret…

Check out these giveaways that end this weekend:
*Danica is giving away signed copies of Meb Keflezighi’s book,  Run to Overcome.     http://chicrunner.com/run-to-overcome/
*Aron is giving away a great necklace from Anne Franklin Designs.       http://www.runnersrambles.com/2010/11/giveaway-anne-franklin-designs-necklace.html
I went to the University of Oregon.  I am an Oregon duck FAN (of course!).  This year is the best football season for any Oregon fan.  Heck, my parents both went to Oregon State (Oregon’s in-state rival) and even they are cheering for Chip Kelly’s team this year.  Not only do we have a great football team, but one of the best mascots in the country.  Here are a couple of videos for your viewing pleasure.  ;-)

This is a fun video and song about my favorite team.

Here is a clip of how ESPN has featured our Mascot, Ducky.
Lastly, I am going to put a little teaser out there.  I haven’t been writing much about my running lately.  Long Beach was a tough one for me.  I am hoping that tomorrow will help me remember why I love running long distances.  Stay tuned to see if it works.

Happy Running….


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