Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Seattle R n' R Race Report

I flew into Seattle on Thursday night and was stunned to see that it was still light outside when the plane landed at 9:20 pm. By the time my brother got me back to his house at 10:40 pm it was finally dark outside but it was messing with my head because I was still on CST and it was 12:40 am. for me. I enjoyed sleeping with the windows open. It was a real treat. Not so much when the birdies started chirping and singing at 4:30 am and it was light out. I cracked out my book to read myself back to sleep for a few more hours. I finally got up around 7 am or 9 am my time. I felt so lazy!

My brother and I headed into Seattle early to hit packet pick-up at the Qwest Center. Since this was his first marathon, it was also his first marathon expo. It was like taking a kid into a endurance candy store. His eyes went as wide as salad plates and his jaw hung open. We hit the bathrooms first (we were good and hydrated!) and then picked up our bibs. I had no trouble getting moved up from corral #18 up to #6 with my brother. WIN! I was then able to get an X-Small race shirt. Double WIN!!! We made our way to the American Cancer Society booth where I checked in. They were SUPER excited to see me and loaded me down with t-shirts, bibs to pin to my singlet for my Honored patients and people I was running in memory of. I was able to pick up a new pair of Newtons at their booth and they loaded me down with a bunch of freebies as well. COOL!

After getting our stuff organized, a little nap, and a trip to the grocery it was time to get diner started and think about a getting some shut eye. I was ready for bed at 7:30 pm! I slept like a rock. I did wake up around 3:30 am which is 5:30 am my time and usually sleeping in for me so I did a little reading and started getting ready and headed down for breakfast. We hit the road at 5 am and as you can see in the picture, it is already light out. Crazy!

My sister-in-law, Diane, drove us up to where the start was. The traffic was nuts! we debated about getting out and walking like lots of other people were doing. Diane did some awesome tactical maneuvers and got us over a mile and a half down the road passing tons of cars before letting us out. Eric and I started running the last half mile to the staging area. We had 15 minutes to the start! All I can say it that it was more like a mile than a half mile of swerving in and out of people to get to corral #39. We quickly (frantically) stuffed Eric's gear bag in mine and we handed it over to the UPS dudes and RAN way above our race pace up to corral #6. Sorry for not removing our hats and running through the National Anthem but we were only at corral #20! We made it to corral #6 just in time to hear the gun go off and we scaled over the barrier and I ditched my long sleeve toss-away shirt as we started moving to the start line. WIN! Sorry, no photos of this, we were out of breath.

As we got up to the start line, Eric hit the Garmin and I hit my Polar. The plan was to run a 9:15 pace for as much of the race as we could. However, our first objective was to find port-o-cans! We had not had pit stops since before we left the house at 5 am and it was now after 7 am and we were ready to bust. We found the first bank of port-o-cans about 3/4 ths of a mile into the race and of course we had to wait. We were pleasantly surprised that there was plenty of toilet paper in the port-o-cans. Second WIN of the day! We got back on the course and back on our pace and it seemed pedestrian after our sprint up to corral #6.

The miles were clicking by and we were feeling great and chatting away. At mile 2 we saw some dude running in a polar bear costume. Nuts! Even though it was 54 degrees at the start I was in a singlet tank and sweating. Around mile 4 we hit our first big hill going through a residential area. Owie, not too bad but still it was more hill than I would get in H-town. Between mile 4 and 6 the hills were non-stop and some of the downhills were just silly steep. I knew my legs were getting a thrashing. Eric was being a champ and hanging with me and running up to all of the band stages to cheer them on for being out there for us. My heart rate was now higher from all the hills and we had stopped all the chatting.

By mile 6 we ran down a nasty hill that I thought that I might trip and fall down and then we were able to run along beautiful Lake Washington. We ran by residents cheering in their driveways and cheer leading groups. At mile 7 the Navy was running the aid station and playing on the band stage in their uniforms. The female singer was awesome! Just after mile 9 we ran up a steep hill and onto a floating bridge over Lake Washington. It was downhill onto the bridge, across it, uphill off the bridge to the turn-around, back down onto the bridge, across, and back uphill off the bridge and into a tunnel. We were now past 12 miles. This was our first chance to see the pace groups. We were ahead of the 4:00 group! How did we manage that???We saw the dude in the Polar Bear costume again. Just before mile 13 I had to hit the port-o-cans again. At least I was hydrated! TP in the cans! WIN #3 for the morning!!! After the wait for the cans and a chance to refill my Fuel Belt bottles, we were on our way again...downhill.

As we started making our way into downtown Seattle, the I-90 highway ramps ramped up and we were going uphill again. Ugh! What goes up must come down and we started heading down to street level. The half and full marathon runners had split back at the bridge where the half runner went straight into the tunnel. There were cones to manage us and sometimes concrete barriers. There were a lot more people on the half side. That made me feel pretty good. As we hit the streets of Seattle, the crowds were great. Around mile 14 we made a left and headed towards the waterfront....which was downhill. Again, it was a crazy downhill and I had to take it at a gallop rather than a run to avoid careening out of control. As soon as we hit the bottom it was back up a steep ramp to the lower level of the Alaskan Way Viaduct. OUCH!!! At least when we got to the top it was flat for a looooooong time. We were close to a 4:00 hour race pace! The next people ahead of us were at least 300 meters up and there were only one or two people behind us. It was peaceful running by the waterfront and the aquarium. It did not last for long because as soon as we hit mile 15 it was uphill where we saw the early super fast runners making their way back in and onto the upper level of the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Then it was downhill and into the Battery St. tunnel. We got a glimpse of the Space Needle before we ran into the darkness of the tunnel. The road surface was really slanted and not fun to run on.

As we emerged from the tunnel we saw more people than we had seen for a while. I guess everyone was starting to slow down. I knew why. We were going uphill again. Mile 16 to 17 was uphill and NOT fun. Just past the 17 mile marker I told Eric that I had to pull over to the side and stretch out my hamstrings and calves. He joined me to take a 30-45 second break to stretch. It HURT to get going again and I made a mental note to only stop in case of an emergency. At the top of the hill we had about 200 meters of flat before we started a huge downhill to the Aurora Ave. Bridge. Ow, Oww, Owww!!! I could feel my calve muscles twitching to cramp and I pushed on. Across the bridge it was back uphill to a turn around point. Strangely, the uphills were easier to handle than the downhills. Once around the turn around and just before mile 19 I had to pull over to the side to stretch some more and down a few S-caps to get some more salt in me. I knew I was dehydrated and off my salt even though I was taking in water. I got behind because the temps were so pleasant. I checked my heart rate and I was still good.

It was a long slog uphill up to mile 20 and then it was a mile long downhill where I thought the wheels were going to come off. Ok, so we may not make 4:00 hours. I'm good with that.

My calves were cramping bad and other muscles in my legs were not happy either. Stretch! Start running again....HOLY F---ING S--T THAT HURTS!!!! At least I was not part of the runners on the other side of the road at mile 16. Back into the tunnel we went. At the end of the tunnel Eric and I groaned as we started back uphill. Eric was no longer running up to the band stages. I decided that I needed to start taking in as much Cytomax as I could to get fluids and electrolytes. I hit every aid station from mile 21 to the end and walked only to down the liquids and then I got running again. We had 2 miles on the top level on the Alaskan Way Viaduct and past the point where the runners on the way back were heading in to the finish at Safeco Field when we were met with a very cruel joke. We had to run downhill to street level!!! People were walking up the hill on the other side. We saw the 4:00 hour pace group on the way back in. When did they pass us??? It must have been at the port-o-can stop at mile 13. Once we hit the bottom of the hill, we still had to run another half mile or more to the turn around just past mile 24. It was another mile and a half back up that last F---ING HILL and to the ramp DOWNHILL to street level again. ARRRRGH!!!! MAKE IT STOP!!!

On the way up that last hill I checked over my shoulder to look for Eric and he was hobbling and flagging me to pull to the side. His legs were cramping up bad and we took some seconds to stretch. Oooo, we may not make 4:15. Come on, we have to get moving! We hit the U-turn and started down the ramp to street level. It did not matter how bad it hurt now, we had a half a mile to go. There was no more stopping!

The last straight away to the Finish Line saw my calves all knotted and cramped up but I was not slowing down. Eric was hanging tough and complaining of leg cramps as well. 4:16:34 and a big 14 minute PR!!! Eric had an AWESOME first marathon time!!! Once we crossed that finish line I could stop and every muscle in my legs started to ball up. Keep Moving! Keep Moving!!!

I downed the first bottle of water I got my hands on and we heard Diane and Evan, my nephew, calling through the fence to us. They saw us charge to the finish line and said they would meet us at the end of the athlete exit. Eric was downing a banana and I was desperately looking for a foil blanket because I was starting to get chilly. We got our medals, our finish photos and more food when Eric said his stomach was not feeling good. I kept him moving and we found him some ice for his knees. I started doing dynamic stretching and found a foil blanket. We headed to the American Cancer Society tent to check in and to get our gear bag. I got into some dry clothes and found some chips to eat. Eric was still not feeling good and I forced an S-cap on him and told him the salt would fix his stomach right up. by the time we walked back to the car he said his stomach was feeling much better.

We both snoozed in the car on the way home. We were looking forward to ice baths and naps. After a little recovery it was time to get my stuff packed so I could head back to the airport to take a red-eye home so I could be able to be a Bud's big swim meet the next morning. Over diner, Eric said he was really pleased with his first marathon experience and he would do another in the future. Whoo Hoo!!! Another marathon convert!!!

Elizabeth Garcia #18307

Houston, TX
Age: 39 Gender: F
Clock Time4:23:36
Chip Time4:16:34
Overall Place1447 / 4089
Gender Place477 / 2022
Division Place81 / 313
Age Grade54.9%
5 Km30:39
10 Km58:39
9 Mi1:24:00
Half Way2:05:41
30 Km2:58:34
24 Mile3:54:01
I had a great time running with my brother and I look forward to doing it again in the future.

Oh, and I have to tell you, I signed up for Ironman Texas. It is right in my backyard. I'm saving a lot of money on travel, lodging, and bike shipping. That's my justification. Sick and twisted I know, but hey, I guess I am ready to get back in the mix.

More on this craziness later,


Sunday, June 27, 2010


4:16 and a PR on a hard race course!!!

I took the red-eye home to get back to Houston just in time to drive to my kid's biggest swim meet of the year and volunteer and see him swim. HE TORE IT UP!!!

1st overall in 11-12 boys 50 Backstroke, 5th overall in 11-12 boys 50 Free, 6th overall in 11-12 Boys 100 IM.

We just got home. I need a shower, some food, and some sleep.

Race report to come!!!


Friday, June 25, 2010

12 hours to go!

I was able to be moved up to Corral #6 and they still had X-Small shirts left!

I am feeling really great about the weather. It gets light outside here around 4:30 am and that kept me up for a while until I grabbed my book to read myself back to sleep. I was getting to bed around 2:00 am my time so I needed to get more sleep. I will sleep like a rock tonight.

I splurged and went ahead and bought my new pair of Newtons at the expo and got some free goodies with them. I was in desperate need of new shoes after this race and I had not ordered any new shoes. My Newtons saw me through IM Cozumel, the Goofy Challenge, this race and all the training. They did their job.

I have a feeling that I will be out before the sun disappears out of the sky at 10:00 pm tonight.

Tomorrow is a day for greatness!!!


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Less than 3 days to go!!!

Race number is: 18307

Corral number is: 18

F--- NO!!! I am not having any of that!!! My brother is in corral #6 and I am pacing him. I am getting myself moved up. My brother said he would raise hell if they tried to move him back to corral #18 so we could run together.

More to come...


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Less than 4 days to go!

I have been training, and I have not been training. I have been focusing, and I have been goofing off. I have been tired, and I have been lazy. I have been dialed in, and I have been injured. I have been quick, and I have been slow.

Now... yes now, it all seems to be coming together. 4 months of work comes down to evaluation over 26.2 miles on Saturday. Strangely, this is not a race where I expect to do anything spectacular or remarkable. I take that back. I will do something spectacular and remarkable. I will pace my step-brother through his first marathon.

After he ran 8 miles with me on Christmas Day a few months ago, I convinced him that he could easily do a half marathon and that his life would be whole and complete if he ran a marathon. Eric ran cross-country when he was in school and he has continued to run over the years. He admits that he should have lost a few more pounds and that he still needs to figure out some of the knee and ankle issues that have bothered him from time to time over the past 6 months. But he has assured me that his last 11 mile run felt great and that he is ready to run through the streets of Seattle with me in a few days.

This has been an interesting 4 months of training for me. I had all of those knee issues back in February after taking a few weeks off after running the Goofy Challenge. I found out that I was severely deficient in Vitamin D. 8,000 mg a day has solved the knee issues. I began a "5K a day for 40 days" when Lent started and kept up with it as best I could until I had to take a few days off to pout when our Spring Break trip back to Cozumel was canceled. I recovered and started running with Greyhound as he prepared for the Ogden 1/2 Marathon. Team in Training kept me busy, but my coach kept me even busier with some dang hard functional strength training. It has worked. Those first few weeks I was sore all the time. Now I am only sore for an hour after the workouts. TRX Suspension System...I LOVE YOU!!!

I swam to recover. I rode my bike to spin out the legs. I ventured out into the blackness of the early mornings to get the long runs done. It made it easier having someone who was holding me accountable to show up and get the work done. I traveled 170 miles three weekends in a row to get some running in where there would be some hills. I finished my 21 miler in crazy heat and smothering humidity. I am sure that I looked like a fright, but I got the "'Atta Girl!" and the fist bump and suddenly the weight in my legs was gone and I seriously felt like I was floating.

Floating, soaring, flying....I was running some of the fastest splits that I have ever turned out. Even at mile 11 and mile 17. Even in 84 degree heat and 79% humidity. Even on days where I got too little sleep. Mind you, I'm still slow.

All that matters now is not how good I can run on Saturday. All that matters is how well I can lead someone to their goal. I did the hard work so that on Saturday I could take it easy and focus on someone else. Someone else will become a hero to their son and love of their life. It is my responsibility to make sure that happens.

I run and race for others. I always have. I do it for those who cannot. I do it to encourage those who can to join me. I do it to change people's lives.

I hope that my brother has an awesome adventure on Saturday. I hope that there will be a cancer patient who will benefit from my personal contribution of $1250.00 to be a part of Team DetermiNATION with the American Cancer Society. I hope that I will be an encouragement to someone along the 26.2 mile journey.

I want to thank my family for once again putting up with my crazy shenanigans. I want to thank my coach, Anthony Humpage, for putting together a plan that has made me a stronger runner. I want to thank my brother for joining me on this wild ride. Most importantly, I want to thank my training partner, Greyhound. He got up early and met me in the dark to run with me and to keep me safe. He ran miles that were not even in his training plan so that I could get mine in. He waited for me when I had to go out and run more. He kept me updated on my pacing and reeled me in when I was working too hard and pushed me when I needed to hurt a little. He encouraged me when I was ready to throw in the towel. Greyhound has been such a great friend over the past year and a half as we have trained for IM Cozumel and other stuff and I hope that I have been as good as a friend to him as he has been to me.

Remember that you can be a part of my support team by going to the Coach Liz link and making a difference in the lives of cancer patients and their families. Join me!

More to come...


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Zzzz...Sngt Huh, Wha? Oh, yeah I'm here.

Well fair reader, I have been neglecting my blog due to coaching responsibilities, work, training, family, and some fun.

First off, on Memorial Day weekend I was in Austin, TX for the Capitol of Texas Triathlon. I had my 12 participants that I had to see through to the finish line. On Saturday afternoon we got a quick swim in at Barton Springs. The water was nice and cool which was great since it was HOT out and we were all sweating like pigs trying to get our wetsuits on. After getting checked in and meeting up with Johnny Tri who was there doing his first Tri Coach stint with Team in Training, we took a group of our peeps to Chuy's for Tex Mex grub. The special was the same as last year, beef hatch tacos. I was in heaven.

The next morning we were up and out at 6:45 am to get a bike ride in on the course before traffic got hectic. Everyone got to see where the hills were and what kind of gearing they needed. We also stopped for pictures in front of the Texas Capitol. I do these every year and then run to Wal-Mart and develop the pictures and get them into frames for everyone to get at the Inspiration Dinner. I had a quick plate of breakfast tacos with my Mentors, attended the Coach's meeting, and ran my photo and banana/bagel errands for the next day's breakfast for the crew. With just enough time to shower and get cleaned up, it was time for me to head to the Inspiration Dinner.

Our speaker was very powerful. After being involved with Team in Training for over 9 years and personally fundraising and completing 16 events it never fails that I get choked up at the Inspiration Dinner. Our speaker was the father of a 8 year old little boy who had lost his battle with leukemia. His main message to us was that the majority of the people on the street do not know what leukemia and lymphoma are. People who run marathons or do triathlons know that we are the "People in Purple" but they are not really sure what group we represent. His challenge to us was to inform people of who we were and to inform them about what leukemia and lymphoma is and that it is killing children. He said that the public does a great job of supporting organizations that save women's lives from cancer but that leukemia and lymphoma is killing these women's children. Pretty powerful.

Every 4 minutes, someone is diagnosed with a blood cancer. Every 10 minutes someone with a blood cancer looses their battle. Team in Training has passed the 1 Billion dollar mark in fundraising this past December and we support 37 research doctors and 16 research projects just in the Texas Medical Center. There are many others nation wide. 75% of what we fund raise goes to patient aid and research. Other non-profit fundraising organizations cannot claim that. These other organizations spend millions in advertising to get you to buy a product with a certain color lid or box or to wear clothing with a symbol or logo on it so a few pennies can go back to the cause of raising awareness.

I am not putting these organizations down at all. They have been successful at raising people's awareness and have aided patients and their families through information and knowledge. The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and Team in Training are in the trenches raising money to find a cure or treatments that will improve the lives of blood cancer patients. A CURE...did you hear me? A CURE!

You might have seen a full page ad in Runner's World. Runner's World is one of our supporting partners and they are gracious enough to give us that advertising space. You might have seen the "People in Purple" at the Nike Women's Marathon, a Rock n' Roll marathon, or the Nation's Triathlon. The race directors of these events made a decision that a small part of the registration fee from every participant would go to support Team in Training and The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. We cannot thank these people enough for their support.

So here is something to think about. Last week it was announced that the Houston Marathon would go to a lottery system of registration. Last year, the full and half marathon sold out in 3 days. Many people that I know are majorly ticked off about this because they feel they won't get a race slot and the slots are not announced until late in the training season. They don't want to train for a race that they might not get into.

I have been telling these people that Team in Training is guaranteed race slots to events like the Houston Marathon, The Marine Corps Marathon, the Nike's Women's Marathon and others. You don't need to enter the lottery! All you need to do is sign up to be a part of Team in Training and fund raise a little money for cancer research. We pay your race registration, give you a cool purple singlet to run in, a cycling kit to ride in, and a wetsuit to do your tri in. We cover travel and transport expenses and provide you with a few meals as well. Top it all off with the fact that you get coaching from certified coaches for a 16-20 week block before the event and we pair you up with a Honored Teammate who is going through treatment or is in remission that you can meet and connect with. (Many of our Honored Teammates actually train and do the events with you!) It is almost like being a sponsored athlete!

And all you have to do is tell people what you are doing, inform them about what leukemia is, and show up to practice.

Ok, I just made you aware!

How can you make a difference?

I have set the lofty goal of raising over $1600 by July 1st and then an additional $1600 by August 1st for the Leukemia and Lymphoma society. Let's just say that in 2 weeks, I may be a frazzled mess trying to reach that first goal.
You can be a part of my TEAM and help kids like Maddy Batiz who is my Honored Teammate. Maddy just finished her last round of chemo this past March and was able to get her long-line port taken out in May. She is an energetic 12 year old who loves soccer and who is right now at the FIFA World Cup as part of her Make a Wish Foundation wish. You can go to the Coach Liz link and make a donation to help kids and adults like Maddy. No donation is too small. Check to see if your employer has matching gifts. Give up your morning coffee run for a week. Estimate what it costs you to each lunch out for a week and then make a lunch from home and donate the "lunch money". Did you go to the movies lately? How much did it cost? Make a donation to Maddy in the same amount as the cost of the movie tickets and snacks.

If it was your child, niece, nephew, grand child, neighbor's kid, your child's friend, a brother, a sister, a parent, or a close friend, wouldn't you do what you could to help out and make a difference?

The Coach Liz link can make you a part of my TEAM!

Have a great day,


P.S. The Cap Tex event was long on the swim and the run and it was HOT. All my athletes did awesome! Coach was very proud of them.