Saturday, November 29, 2008

Year in Review

Even though it just (not quite barely) December, I don't have anything else planned this year (besides being the Asst. RD for the Twin Peaks Ultra race) so I figured it would be a good time for a year in review...

My totals this year include -
3 sprint triathlons - newport, june lake, santa barbara
1 1/2 marathon - oc
2 marathons - la, greece
1 5k - e-racing the blues in delaware
1 10k - e-racing the blues in delaware
climbing - handful of v4's

Besides the sports side of my life, I started working at lululemon athletica in the Irvine Spectrum and have met some amazing people. I absolutely love working there - it's just the atmosphere that an urban hippie such as myself thrives in :) And yes, I'm still teaching. lulu is my 2nd job, but somedays it keeps me sane!

Over the next couple weeks I will be making my final edits and printing my thesis on the fancy paper. That means I only have to pay a bunch of money to the bookstore and then I will have my Master's degree in Special Education! yay!

Overall, not too shabby if I do say so myself :)

p.s. i'm looking for races for '09... suggestions are welcome.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Athens Marathon Race Re-cap

In spirit of my first run since the marathon (not the originally planned 10K Turkey Trot but a very easy 3 miler later in the day), I figured I'd post a little re-cap about my race...

First of all, we went to Greece with Apostolos Greek Tours and I have to say Paul Samaras is the nicest man ever and you can tell he really wants you to have an amazing experience in Greece. We had a pasta dinner the night before, and had the hotel set up the breakfast early that morning so we could get something to eat before we left. The race didn't start until 9 am so I didn't have to get up at the butt crack of dawn like usual. We slept until about 6 and then got breakfast and I got on the bus to head towards Marathon at 7. Eric didn't have to leave until 7:30 since the 10K started near the stadium, which was my finishing point.
We drove through the Greece countryside and arrived in Marathonas at around 8:15. It was cold and a little windy, but the wind would be at our backs once the race started, so I tried to keep that in mind. Jeff Galloway, the run/walk master, was with the tour and was leading a 1 min. run/1 min. walk group with a goal of 5 hours. The night before he told us that the course was difficult and we should expect to run 20 minutes slower than usual, but my secret goal was to set a pr (break 5:30).
After listening to some Madonna, and then taking an oath about having fun and enjoying the race, and it was on! Jeff wanted to start after everyone else had gone, and for the first time I started dead last. There were only a few thousand people there, so we were actually only about 5 minutes behind clock time. The temp. at race start was 61 degrees with the wind at our back and lots of cloud coverage, which is practically perfect marathon weather, and while the wind eventually died down, the clouds and cool temps stayed with us.
After the first couple miles, we started the loop around the tomb of the Athenian soldiers who fell during the war between the Persians and the Athenians. The 1/1 run/walk method was awesome and the race was flying by. Jeff and his wife, Barbara, are so positive and fun to run with. Eric and I had looked at the course map beforehand and didn't expect much of the hills that we saw. They were mostly long and gradual, but a couple were a bit steep. The hills did start to take a toll on my knees, though. Besides being hilly, the road is slanted which any runner knows can create imbalance issues. By mile 7 my knees started bothering me, but I tried to ignore them. They continued to bother me, and ended up hurting 3 weeks after the race, but I think my positive attitude (and the cream/spray I kept getting on them) really helped me through.
We continued through the countryside, with cheers of Bravo and Calimera (good morning) coming from people who had come outside to cheer us on. Around mile 16 we started to get into the suburbs of Athens and see more buildings. This was also about the time that I started to lose the group. I had to stop to get some cream for my knees and slow my pace down a bit and they pulled away. I kept them in my sights for the next 3ish miles and then they were gone. But I was looking forward to seeing Eric at mile 24. And I made a friend who was part of TNT who was there running as well.
My hamstring started to cramp off and on around mile 20, but I would push through the running minute to get to the walking minute and then it would go away for a couple minutes. One thing that helped me get through was something that another member of our group said which was, "I can do anything for a minute". I remembered this when I started to feel tired and when I started to cramp.
It came to about 23.75 and there was Eric. I had almost made it! I wasn't crashing, either, it was awesome. My crash during this race was in the middle, around 12-15. Eric was surprised to find me in a good mood, and I was kind of surprised to be in a good mood. Maybe it was the spirit of Phidippides and the olive branches in my visor. A little after mile 25, both my hamstrings started to cramp and my quads. I have never cramped in my legs before, so it was a little bothersome. It would come and go, and it pretty much went away in a few minutes. Right after mile 26 Eric had to leave me because he couldn't run into the stadium with me, so he had to haul it through the National Gardens to see me finish. As I was "sprinting" to the finish, EVERYTHING cramped. My left big toe was cramping like whoa, which has only happened with tight climbing shoes. As I was running in I turned to my right and saw a stray dog jogging in a few feet behind me, which kind of made me laugh and I forgot about my cramps for a second.
And then I was done. It was amazing. Here I was in the Olympic Stadium with the olympic rings above the stands (which we hiked up to right after the marathon), with the acropolis and the Parthenon in the distance, and it was amazing. My final time was 5:14, a PR by approx. 15 minutes. :)

***Edit - this whole time I thought my previous PR was 5:30, but it was really 5:20. Still happy because I still ran a PR by running 5:14, just not by 15 minutes :)***

The pictures are in reverse order, so scroll down and back up...

in the stands with the Acropolis in the distance

my medal :)

first sit down after the marathon

finishing in my pink shirt, cramping and all!

he looks really fast

a little after eric met me, smiling for the first time ever after running 25 miles

statue of Phidippides

Hella Sod in the Athens countryside

the tomb with the mountains in the background

Jeff and Barbara Galloway

the blue line is the marathon course from the 2004 olympics. we followed the exact course.

the start!

freezing with Jeff Galloway before the race.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

GREECE! (and a little Madrid thrown in there too)

Eric and I went to the other side of the pond and ended up in Greece (after JFK sucked and we almost missed our flight to Madrid and lost our luggage) earlier this month. It was awesome. There was a deli 50 yds from our hotel that was super cheap (a loaf of artisan bread and a wedge of gouda was less than 3 euro), our hotel in Athens was super cheap (and had a view of the Acropolis), and I got a scarf that was super cheap (it was 5 euro). The primary purpose of our trip was to run a marathon... the f-ing original marathon that ended in the modern marble olympic stadium! The marathon went pretty well...I'll do a separate race report on that. Eric did the 10K and hauled it for an awesome time, too. After the marathon and all that we did some more sightseeing and then we were on our own for a couple days (we went with Apostolos Greek Tours for the first 6 days)... the first of our on our own days we went to Philopappos Hill to look for some alleged bouldering. We hiked all over this hill and were about to go back when Eric wanted to go just a little further. We went a little further and I saw a bolt. Followed by some more bolts, and then we saw spray painted numbers and decided we had found something. There was a pad stashed, but there were a couple other climbers there so we didn't borrow it, instead bouldering with Eric's jacket under our butts. Needless to say, nothing hard was attempted, but it was still cool climbing anyway.
After Athens we went to Madrid, which was more expensive but just as awesome. We hiked around all day and got comfortable with the metro system (which would totally be my preferred mode of transportation if we had one in Orange County). We got some sweet paella for dinner at our hotel of all places, after looking for a hole in the wall restaurant for 2 hours and not being able to find one.
Finally it was time to go home :( I had a lot of fun in Europe, and wish we could've stayed longer in Madrid, even though it was cold.
Short recap, but in conclusion I love international flights because they serve you actual meals.
I'll post some of the pictures later/tomorrow/this weekend (I have a thesis to turn in!), they'll do a better job showing our trip than I can explain in words!