Sunday, July 30, 2006

Greetings from San Francisco!

I'm sitting in my sister's Oakland livingroom recuperating recovering from my first ever half marathon, and I'm very proud to announce that I finished the San Francisco (First Half) Marathon!

Race Day began a couple of hours before dawn, when Tim's alarm woke us up. Everyone knows that 4am is ass-time, but it's another thing to experience it. Bleary-eyed, I dressed in my running clothes. [Let me tell you, during my long training runs not only was I gearing up for this day, but I was also discovering which socks would be best, what type of breakfast would supply me with enough fuel for the run yet not make me feel bloated or give me cramps, which sports bra/top/underwear/bottoms comination would keep me feeling supported, comfortable, and chafe-free for the hourssss (emphasis on multiple hours) of running.] While I dressed Tim prepped our breakfast of bagels and cream. Then we loaded ourselves in the car and headed over the Bay Bridge to the Embarcadero, the start of the race.

Tangent-I have a great husband. Not only is he here supporting me, but he brought his bike and his camera and studied the race course map so that he could take pictures of me, the race, and cheer me on. :-) He'd bike ahead of me, get off, find me, take a pic, smile and wave, give me a "Go, Sweetie, go."

OK, back to the race-Why were we up before the butt crack of dawn? Because the first wave started at 5-frikkin'-30 in the morning. This wave consisted of the Elites-crazy people who intended to finish the first half marathon in a little more than an hour or the entire marathon in just over 2 hours. I, on the other hand, was in the last wave. This wave was great! It had hundreds of people (about 300-500), all ages, sizes, shapes, and colors. So, Tim dropped me off and went in search of free parking. I joined the milling throng and completed my pre-race rituals: using the bathroom, securing my timing chip to my shoe, affixing the bib to my shirt, trying to make sense of things, seeing where I "fit in" (both realistically and figuratively).

Being ass-thirty in the morning, I was bundled up in my fuzzy jacket and pair of jeans. It was chilly! I began to have doubts about my top. Maybe I should've worn the race shirt I got yesterday. These spaghetti straps are not going to keep me warm. But there was nothing I could do about it. Too late to change clothes! About 15 min before the race started I turned in my fuzzy and jeans (to be collected at the finish line, 13.1 miles away) and headed to my wave corral.

During this chaos I kept my lookout for Tim. It wasn't until I was corraled in that we found each other. He stood by me, trying to keep me warm while I anxiously waited for the race to begin. I was ready. My body had been itching for a good run these last two days, and I was cold. I longed for the heat and sweat, for the jitters to end. Looking back, one thing was missing today- the "evil" voice. The voice of derision, doubt, and incredulity. The last couple of weeks, each time I went out to run, there was this voice, saying "Who do you think you are? What are you trying to prove? You can't do this." Nothing was telling me I couldn't do this today, and that was great.

Just before we started, the announcer asked, "Raise your hand if this is your first marathon?" and was answered by everyone cheering, waving, hooting. We were full of positive energy, encouraging each other, and a little apprehensive. Speaking for myself, I've never done anything as big as this race. Big, you know, physically challenging and demanding. In front of so many people. We were the largest wave, and because we all felt we could finish the race at about the same time, I was right in the middle of it for the first 8 miles at least. That was nice. At my last race I was one of the last people to cross the line. This time I was near the end. Hooray!

Met some interesting people out there. Clusters of people cheering on their friends and the rest of us. Biker gangs volunteering at a water station and intersections. Police officers watching out for us. And, the jog across the Golden Gate Bridge. The city had closed off 3 lanes for the race (one reason for the early start and time limits). It was pretty cool, but the best view came when we got off and ran to the vista point to turn around and run back: I looked up and saw the red bridge with hundreds of people pouring off and on, cars crossing and honking at them, joining in the fun. It was awesome, knowing I was a part of all this. :-)

Tim asked me if I was having fun around mile 10. Amazingly enough, I was! My soul felt great, strong. My knees, however, were getting real tired and achy. I had run farther than I had ever run before, thanks to all the other runners and volunteers. I had a couple of nice chats here and there. One woman, with whom I had chatted before therace began, caught me walking. Smiling, she called out, "Come on! If I can do it, you can!" and I pushed myself a bit faster and farther.

The worse part was near the end. Miles 12 and 13.1 were painful. My knees ached as I ran, my toes were sore, and I began to experience nausea from the exertion. But I wanted to finish. I knew I would finish. Slowly, I got further and further behind my "pack mates" and got to know some of the slower people-runners who would be finishing with me, or continuing the race and finishing the entire marathon in 6 hours. I knew at mile 12.5 I would be done in less than 30min. They were only half-way done, and I didn't envy them one bit.

Big finish! I did it! I ran the last 1/4 mi, which is when I finally saw the blue finish arch. Across it I went. Off came the chip. On came the thermal sheet. No sign of Tim, so I collected my morning sweats and my finisher's medal. We met, I stretched, and Tim biked 4 more miles to the car. I ran 13.1 miles; he biked 24miles.

My sister's home: showered, shared a bit of the day with sis, ate, napped. Now I get to take it easy for a couple of days. No high intensity workouts, at least for this week. Then, to get ready for my triathlon in September.

But, maybe I'll do a 5k in August. Should be an easy run, right?

'Cause it makes me that much stronger
Makes me work a little bit harder
It makes me that much wiser
So thanks for making me a fighter
Made me learn a little bit faster
Made my skin a little bit thicker
Makes me that much smarter
So thanks for making me a fighter

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Birth Control

Now that they've been gone for a week, I feel like I can tell you about my niece's (15) and nephew's (6) visit.

Overall, it was fun. We did a lot of touristy things, like going to the zoo and eating out. But I don't think we were fully prepared for the experience. For example, dinner became a stressful event. I'd make food hoping they would eat it. We both spent a lot of our home-time making sure neither of them was bored or getting in trouble. I did expand their little horizons a bit by making them help me in the kitchen a couple of times. I had my niece take over cooking her piece chicken, which she liked dry as a bone. She didn't seem comfortable doing it, but she did. And, no, she didn't eat the chicken. However, she did make her pizza the way she liked and ate it.

On Sunday afternoon, I remember turning to Tim and saying, I'm tired. Are you tired? He said he was and then we both wondered if parenting meant being exhausted for 20 years. Tim then exclaimed that having kids kind of makes you want to go to work. ;-)

You'd also have to have a sense of humor if you have kids. After rinsing off the sand from the beach, my nephew opens the bathroom door to let us know he's done. He's standing in a lake, about one inch deep, towel wrapped around him. I look at him, look at the floor, and ask him, "What happened?" He kind of looks at the floor, splashes in it for a second, and says, "I don't know." I just laughed because I knew there was no point in getting upset over it. And, it didn't take long to clean it up. Luckily, we've got a lot of towels.

So, eventhough they are both wonderful people and will become amazing adults, and we did have fun with them, in the end they didn't change our minds about not having kids of our own.

Rats are way easier. Right now, Monkey Rat is in her laundry bag, making a nest out of stinky rat bedding. Isn't that cute?

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Rats, old and new

Please welcome the newest member of the Newsome family! His name is Mr. Blue, but I call him Blue Boy and Tim refers to him as The Boy. He is a 7-8month-old blue hooded rescue rat, neutered, so the plan is to eventually have him living with his adopted sisters. He is very sweet and is still shy (just got him Thurs, 20 July). I don't think he ever lived with another rat at his old place. I do hope he adjusts to us, his new family.

On a very sad note, Janola will cross over on Wed, 26 July. There isn't any question anymore regarding her happiness. She is definitely not the same rat as last month, when we weren't sure if it was the right time. As much as putting her to sleep saddens me, I am glad we gave her/got an extra month. I know her sister, Barbara, is waiting for her, and together they can dig and climb and jump and nest build like they did when they were younger. Barbara will probably show Janola around, introducing her to new friends and telling everyone about her sister.

Heat is on!

Yesterday I ran 10 miles! It totally sucked, though. OK, maybe not totally, but it wasn't as fun as my long runs usually are and I blame the weather. It was muggy at 7am. :^( I drove to my usual spot, at the end of the courts and the beginning of the bird refuge, ate my bagel and coffee. Then, did my warm up walk to the bathroom and back, crossed the street, and took off!.... saw that my interval timer wasn't set, so fixed it, restarted, and then took off!

I started out slow, but feeling good. What was remarkable was the absence of the usual coastal breeze. The thought of cutting the run in half and finishing the rest in the evening did cross my mind but I pushed it aside. There would be no "halving" of the race next week, and I'll be participating come rain, shine, or heat, so I just kept running. I can't run without thinking of this old Christmas special, where a young Santa Claus teaches a washed-up warlock how to walk: just put one foot in front of the other, and soon you'll be walking out the do-o-oor! Well, running 10 miles is putting one foot in front of the other over and over and over and over and over again.

Back to the heat. It was so muggy and warm! I must've drank at least 750mL of water during the run, hitting every water fountain I passed, wetting my hat before leaving. I even used the beach showers at miles 3.5/7.5, getting as much of me wet without wetting my feet. The water felt good at the moment, but quickly became part of the overall humidity. Finally the breeze picked up, but that was at mile 8 when I was already worn out by heat and exertion. That doesn't mean I didn't appreciate it; but by then I was walking 5 min and running 6 min. I think I walked most of the last mile, but ran to my personal finish line, and was done. Hooray!

Treated myself to a Crystal Light Slurpee, which meant driving back the way I just ran to the nearest 7-11. Geez, that just put another perspective on my run. It's long! When I got home, Tim was nice enough to make lunch and dinner. I was feeling better by late afternoon, and even did some dishes before going to bed.

It felt nice to sleep in this morning.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Workout 7/1, 7/2

OK, I'll start with today, then blog about yesterday's run.

Today was my "stretch and strength training" day, but I went hiking. We hiked up to Three Pools, off the Tunnel Trail in Santa Barbara. Much of the trail consists of bouldering and rock scrambling, with a little rock climbing. (Basically, you need to get over a big boulder once or twice.) We started around 10am; a bit late, considering the time of year. It was a hot hike, but not unbearable. It was real nice today! We saw 4 snakes-one large California Kingsnake and three California Striped Racers. We also saw the "mystery bird" from past hikes. Before, there would be this bird that has this distinctive, strange song, kinda high and sounds like "WEE-WEe-Wee-wee". (Think "This Little Piggy" and "All the way home.") Today we finally saw it and I was able to identify it as a Canyon Wren. According to the National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America, it's song is really a "(l)oud silvery song, a decelerating, descending series of liquid tee's and tew's."

Anyway, made it to the 3rd pool and it was lovely. The water was so clear, teal, and cool. We scared away one small striped racer and several salamanders. Even a toebiter made an appearance! We had the pool all to ourselves for a bit, then were joined by a small troop of hikers who, like ourselves, were in search of a swimming hole less crowded. Tim and I jumped in, slid down the natural rock water slide, and relaxed by the pool, along with the 4 other hikers. Quite nice.

Now, yesterday. I jogged 8 miles and was delighted to find that I felt really good at the end of it. Gives me courage for my half marathon, only 4 weeks away. At first, this frightened voice started up, doubting my ability to do this run. Luckily, another quickly chimed in, reminding me that I had just done 8 miles last week as well as having completed a 10 mile race a couple of months ago, so what was the problem? With that, I took off! Went into SB and jogged along the coastline, enjoying the remaining cool and breeze before the heat really set in.