Monday, May 19, 2014

Colfax Marathon Race Recap. 5/18/2014

I have been training since November for what I called my A race, The Colfax Marathon while also training for triathlons and fundraising for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society with Team in Training.
Race week had finally arrived and that feeling of "calm before the storm" settled in...

The weather in Colorado has always been unpredictable during spring, and I think most of us are used to this crazy element (although I don't quite agree with it) so the last weeks of my mileage increase long runs went something like this:
-Saturday long run 18 miles: pleasant weather, cool, layers worn.
-Saturday long run19 miles: I got rained/hailed on THE ENTIRE TIME. drenched and freezing by the time I was done. average temp, mid 30s
-recovery week: 13 miles and warm, light layers.
-Saturday long run, the mack daddy 20 miler: We got a hot one! I ran out of water twice (thank goodness for planning a route with a King Soopers market for key water/bathroom stops). average temps: mid 50s at start, low 80's at the end.
-recovery week: 10 miles. average temps 70
-recovery week: 6 miles. Last one before the race. average temperature 32 with light rain/drizzle before snow

Based on this, it was really a gamble knowing what the weather would be like on race day... then it snowed on tuesday and they predicted a high of 85 for sunday.


All my training had been done, I worked hard, went to the track every week without fail, dialed in my nutrition and hydration (during the week AND while running), and honestly started feeling strong overall by adding two more disciplines to my training.  Swimming and biking is truly making me stronger!

RACE MORNING is finally here. I had everything ready, clothes, nutrition, garmin, bib number, road id, etc. Woke up at 3am (yes, I wake up at least 2 hrs before I head out) had coffee and my ritual 2 blueberry (gluten free) muffins while getting ready. Walked the dog, and headed out for an early race start (6am, love it!).



Arrived at City Park at 5:15, and after scouting the area, and after the 1st port-a-pottie break, went to the Team In Training tent to say hi and from there, headed to the bathroom one last time before getting to my corral (before a marathon, you HAVE to get all the bathroom breaks you can get! nobody wants to stop at mile 2..you just got started!)

Everything was super organized, and the race went on smoothly. I was running in no time! I started the race telling myself it was MY race and to keep MY pace, while repeating this mental mantra, I kept an eye on the people around me for reference, would I catch up to them?  The pacer for the 4:30 group (my goal) was right in front of me and then, I saw them getting away from me.. again, MY pace, MY race, since I didn't know what their strategy was, I didn't worry. My strategy was negative splits, no matter what. That was my plan, and I was sticking to it!

I mentally write the best blogs while I'm running. I have run the last 2 marathons without music, and I was running this one sans music as well. 
I took a mental note that for the 1st 10 miles, my HR never went above 150.  That made me happy, because I'm starting to notice other benefits from incorporating triathlon training into my marathon "world". I keep on moving, same effort, same pace -or as close as possible- knowing that my race wouldn't start until mile 16, when we were "out of the woods" AKA done with the 8 miles of steady incline (up). I kept moving right along through the turns, and the deceiving hill that wouldn't end and then:
The highlight of today's marathon: running in Lakewood, around mile 14, and a lady caught up to me to thank me (I was wearing my TNT singlet). She said : "thanks to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, my grandson, who had Leukemia, is alive"
THIS is the reason I keep fundraising! It does count!


last turn after mile 15 finally out of the big hill and.... mile 16! Time to get to IT, I took advantage of the now downhill without going "too crazy", there were another 10 miles to go after all, but I still felt powerful in my legs, and every mile split was a bit faster (seconds). My HR kept steady, now over 150 but not above 152 (WOOHOO), I was feeling super confident of my effort, and I knew I could pull faster miles towards the end if I kept the plan intact.


Nice downhill at mile 19 closer to 20, allowed me to have the fastest mile of the race (9:53) and I could feel the heat starting to rise as well (and so did my HR, but just up to 164 momentarily).  I made it to the Broncos stadium once again for our second loop around their running track (amazing they have it as part of the race not once (at mile 6), but twice!)

 and I kept on drinking water and more Skratch Labs electrolytes. Mile 20, and I was at 3 hours 31 min, I thought to myself, I can do this PR, time to step up.  Left the stadium and at this point, there's about 3 miles of concrete running and no shade in sight... mile 22 comes and goes and I need more and more water, the heat is really annoying me, and mentally I try to stay strong and keep pushing, and then we get to mile 24, the part of the course that every Denver race adds to their route towards the end... the killer hill on 17th ave uptown, I had to walk it (sigh), at that point I knew it would be a really hard effort to get a PR (about 7 min/miles from there until the end). I was annoyed and a bit delirious, my left quad was very unhappy and every second I walked I knew it would get harder to start running again, so the moment I got to the top and started running again.  The last water station I remember was there, grabbed some water and put it on my bottle, I needed more and more by the second..kept on drinking and running; my legs started feeling like bricks but my pace said otherwise, I was pushing, I was going for it! I knew there would be no PR but that wasn't a reason to quit or slow down, STICK TO THE PLAN, I yelled in  my head and I kept getting  more and more annoyed by those people comfy on their chairs eating at the restaurants along 17th while I was running a marathon! how dare they rest while I'm in so much pain -discomfort really- (yes, this happens when I get close to the end of a race, since I just want to be done, I want my medal, and I just want to lay down on the grass for a really long time).

Finally we make the left turn north, mile 25 is here, and another right turn to 20th avenue... getting closer to the park.  At this point, I feel I'm about to kill anyone who dares stepping in front of me, I get to City Park at last and I keep looking for the finish line chute and nothing... not there yet. Mile 26 beeps on my watch... where is the damn .2??? my watch keeps on adding distance, the desperation is at 100% I want to be done, my quads are screaming for mercy! and there it is... I honestly couldn't tell you who was there cheering if there was anyone at all (there was, but my mind is so blank at that point, and all I see is the chute... tunnel vision at its best!) I'm so close! I keep moving, I know it's almost over.  I cross the finish line, was there an announcer? Did he say my name as I crossed the finish line?  I realized this was probably the case as I was leaving the race and walking to my car and could hear him, but while I crossed there was nothing but silence around me, CRAZY! I shut off everything outside my head and only focused on the task... finish.
So I did. and immediately after, I stopped. I was done. I wasn't moving anymore, and then a voice told me "Daniela, you have to keep moving". It was one of the fireman who hands out the medals.  I was out of it, all I wanted was water.  Got my medal and went to the water tent and sat there, gasping for air. Drank some water and went to get my picture taken.  Out of all the exhaustion from 5 min. ago, once you have your medal (at least in my case) everything is good with the world again, I did it! 


After a few minutes walking very slowly, I made it to the TNT tent and sat on the grass. I was out of it, dizzy and feeling I would be unable to move for a long time.  Thankfully they had a few massage therapists helping us runners, so my quads and back got a bit of relief.

At first I was a bit disappointed because I didn't PR but then I realized it was OK. I put in a lot of effort, and even though I was 10min off my goal time, I managed a strong finish and gave it all I could.

I'm still thinking about what I could have changed, and looking at my time splits, I know I did what I was supposed to do, I had controlled everything I could, and weather was my only game changer.  

That's OK though. I'll keep working hard for my next one (whenever that may be).  Today I'm grateful I was able to run, thankful for all the inspiration all around me, the people that work so hard to reach their goals, and go get them.  I kept my HR at a whooping 157 average, and that makes me so happy. My heart is healthy and I will keep on training.

Next stop is Bolder Boulder (in only 6 days -yikes!) and on June 1st, my first triathlon ever, the Boulder Sprint Triathlon! Excited and a bit scared, since it will be the 1st time I will tackle all 3 sports one after the other, but the more I see the excitement on my friends' faces as they train and race Ironman races, the more inspired and excited I become.

The plan for next year (april) is Ironman New Orleans 70.3! I will keep training throughout summer, fall and winter and will keep working hard to become a faster and stronger in all 3 disciplines.  This is what I love about these sports, you only get out what you put in, and once you cross that finish line, all that effort is just you! Nobody can take that away from you. It is priceless!!!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Training & Fundraising

So far my training is going good, although it is a bit exhausting training for 2 triathlons and a marathon at the same time.
Oh well, I have to get used to the grind if I want to complete an Ironman ;)

I decided to organize a virtual race to help my fundraising efforts. It will cover all distances and I'm excited about the look of the medal. It is a 2.5" die cast medal, custom made for the event.



I hope to reach my fundraising goal before the event in April. Every dollar truly helps researchers working hard to find a cure!     In the meantime, I will continue to train and help as much as I can.


If you would like to read a bit more about the cause I'm supporting and make a donation to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, you can visit my fundraising page:

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The joys of riding outside!!!

OH my goodness! Since I bought my bike, I've been religious about putting time on the saddle (and my sit bones weren't very happy with me), but it has all been on the trainer.... until yesterday!

Our crazy Colorado weather allows for many things, but riding outside in January is not really one of them.  My soon to be coach Mary Carey -from Team In Training -, mentioned she was riding outside and I didn't want to miss the opportunity to learn some things and ride outside (not on my own), so off to Chatfield Reservoir I went!
I met them at 10am, and per her advise, I layered..as in I dressed warm!.  So grateful for ear warmers under the helmet!
It was between 34 and 37 degrees during the entire ride, my toes were numb, but it was a great experience.
I fell 5 seconds in (clip shoes will do that right?) but at second try, I was going!
Such a different experience from being on a trainer. Outside you are WORKING! so much respect for those Tour de France riders, and basically any pro cyclist... it looks easy, it is not!.  You are changing gears constantly, being aware, looking at the road, feeling your body, trying to relax, working your legs... amazing!


My beatiful bike NOVA performed all duties as expected, and now I know how much work I have ahead of me if I'm going to finish an Ironman in the next 3 years.  Lots of training coming my way! Love it!

2014 for new challenges!

So here it is, 2014 underway and I'm excited to say, I bought a bike!! it is a sweet Cannondale CAAD 10, 2013 model. I bought it in December, I followed my heart, took a HUGE leap of faith and went for it (sometimes that's just how you have to do things!).

Since I got it late in december, I went ahead and bought a trainer as well, since the cold weather has been a bit insane around here.
Having the bike meant one thing. Time for triathlons and time to pursue my dream of completing an Ironman! but like everything, before you walk, you have to crawl and learn new things..
I started looking for local races and found that Ironman has a race series in Colorado the entire month of june that leads up to Boulder Ironman in August, so on December 31st, I closed the year by registering to my first triathlon: the Boulder Sprint Triathlon.
Looking for training plans online, I found a found on Beginner Triathlete's website and started building some time on the bike. I've already been running and adding mileage,  since I'll be running the Colfax Marathon on May 18th, and I'm hoping to beat my PR since I'll be racing a flat course (compared to my previous races).

My schedule of training started on January 6th for the tri, and has looked something like this:


Yes, there's no swimming there yet, I'm aware I'm still missing a sport (hehe) but since I started swimming at age 3, and competed until I was 12, I'm a bit comfortable with it than let's say, the bike!



I've been involved with Team In Training and have participated in many of their events since 2010, and in fact, thanks to their coaching, I successfully completed my 1st marathon (San Diego) and now, 5 marathons and 14 marathons later, I started thinking that perhaps the best way to be successful this time around with my 1st triathlon, was to train with them again, and raise funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
I looked at their calendar and found they have an event listed a few weeks after my first triathlon.  The opportunity to train and raise funds came in the way of the Loveland Lake to Lake Triathlon.
So here I am, on "pre-season" training for 1 marathon and 2 triathlons (a sprint and an olympic), and officially starting a training program (swimming included) on February 1st.
I'm excited and a bit scared, since it is a new challenge.  Something good for 2014!

Here's the link to my fundraising page: http://pages.teamintraining.org/rm/llltri14/dvasqued2j
Please consider making a donation!



Wednesday, January 15, 2014

2014 means : New Challenges

I took a leap, and in December I bought a bike.  A beautiful Cannondale that now takes half my living room, but that's ok. I love it, and I love that I listened to my gut and bought a trainer right away; that way I could stay indoors while the snow and cold and general winter madness happen.

Having a bike has now intensified my love for running, that sounds weird I know, but my sitbones have been unhappy for a while, I'm sure they'll get used to the saddle

Monday, August 26, 2013

Recap Bonanza Part 2: So many races! Colfax 1/2 Marathon, Bolder Boulder 10K, another 20 miler & IM Kansas 70.3 Relay

After completing the Big Sur Marathon successfully, I realized I had nothing but racing coming up during the month of May so, with the saying "no rest for the wicked" in mind, I only took 1 week of rest after the race and was back at it, this time for the following races:

-The Colfax Half Marathon on May 19th
-A 20 miler training run for the San Francisco Marathon on May 24th
-Bolder Boulder 10K on May 27th
-IronMan Kansas 70.3 relay (I was doing the 1/2 marathon portion of the race) on June 9th

During the weeks between Big Sur and the Colfax 1/2 I was also taking a "warriors'" training, which included lots of time on the Real Ryders' bikes and lots of weight work, core, HIIT, cardio, etc work.  Needless to say, that was kicking my butt on an almost daily basis... in fact, the last day of that training was the saturday before the Colfax race and I literally cried I was so tired and crushed by the intensity of it and also thinking the because of that "beating" I wouldn't be able to compete properly on race day......

THIS RECAP HAS LOTS OF PICTURES, SO IT'S ACTUALLY NOT AS LONG AS IT SEEMS! :)

MAY 19th. Colfax 1/2 Marathon

After picking up my bib at the expo, and trying to rest the rest of the afternoon, I was tired and worried about this race.  I didn't feel 100% prepared for it, but I figured the worst that could happen was getting the same time as my last half marathon.  I kept thinking this was actually a training run for the marathon coming up next, so I shouldn't be so freaked out.  Everything was going to be ok!.

As we lined up, I realized they put me on the F wave (there were so many waves... unreal!) which had me finishing at 2:20 +... I wasn't sure why they had me there, but again, I didn't worry too much and figured I could pass people if necessary, so no pressure.
The course was a lot of fun, mile 3 ran inside the zoo so I got to see the animals, we ran through (literally) the Denver Firehouse #1 in Aurora, and with a pretty and shaded course we also had shirtless firemen cheering at mile 11... I mean, who's going to complain?  it was great!
I didn't take pictures, and again I didn't listen to music... I was just racing here, and racing in my backyard, so no surprises!!
well well... SURPRISE!! I did PR! by 3min 15sec. with an official finish time of 2:01:49


 I was so excited! being so relaxed after a "self talk" made for a great, comfortable and speedy race (for me) where I wasn't worrying about time, just feel... turns out, I felt great, so great that I when I finally looked at my watch at mile 10 I knew I could PR so I picked up the pace!  The medals at the Colfax Marathon race are always super cool and huge! and to top it off, they had a necklace that came with the medal, a very nice detail I really liked!.

May 24th Friday.  Headed out for my 20 mile run.  I had a big show the next day (Denver day of Rock) so I wouldn't be able to get mileage in, so by running friday I got a chance to rest the legs a bit more for Bolder Boulder.  I told myself to go extra slow on this one, and in fact, made myself take lots of walk breaks since I had already been getting the high mileage since Big Sur.  It was a slow going run, but I got it done!

Next up... Bolder Boulder 10K May 27th

This race was fun, because Bolder Boulder is FUN! Biggest 10K in the U.S and you have everything under the sun... elites, amateurs, fun runners, costumed runners, grandpas, grandmas, walkers, drinkers, strollers... you name it! the energy of this race is unique.  I headed there with my friend Erin (both excited to be running together again), and her brother. we got to Boulder early, so we had a chance to chill, get a bathroom break (2 actually) and get mentally ready for the race.
Erin & I pre-race.  My bolder boulder running pal!

After crossing the finish line... that was rough!
 This was a super rough race for me for many reasons... the main one was, I ran 20 miles on friday only to race at my full speed on monday... it killed me!! My legs became bricks at mile 4 and it took everything in me not to stop and start walking.
 I've discovered I prefer longer distances so I have a chance to warm up and gradually increase the pace. Anything shorter that a half marathon, I feel I have to go out full speed, so I miss manage my energy badly!  And it was a hot one! Holy moly!
In the end, I finished the race with an official finish time of  54 min 53 sec.
We Did it!!!

Finishing at the Folsom stadium is way cool!
Next up.... IronMan Kansas 70.3 Relay June 9th

For this one, I was feeling a bit like a fish out of water, since every single person I traveled with has completed a triathlon, except me! hehe.
I signed up with my team to do the running portion (1/2 marathon) and I was happy and worried about it at the same time, since I didn't really enter the taper section of my training for the SF Marathon, and instead I kept racing back to back, plus later on it dawned on me that my relay portion would happen in the middle of the day, in the Kansas heat... oops!
We drove out friday morning, and since I was riding with 3 people doing the whole 70.3, I got a chance to pick their brains; it is a whole new world for me!
Once we got to Lawrence and dropped our bags, we met the rest of our traveling friends at the athlete's party hosted by Oread.  It was a nice chance to chill for a bit and let it all soak in (and also see major pros hanging out!- Like Crowie Alexander-)


Me and Khem (already an Iron-wo-Man)

My team! Cindy on the left- swim-, Judy on the right -Bike-
 

After scouting the area, leaving bikes, checking in, getting out bags, timing chip, etc. Went back to the hotel for a nice pre race dinner and rest time!.

Waking up as early as big sur to get to the race at 4:30am! we found an area under some trees to keep cool and hang out (since there were 4 relay teams together!) while waiting for the other peeps to complete their swim portion and bike portion.

so many bikes!!! 

team ready at the swim area, very exciting!

transition area from bike to run

relay swimmers from our pack, ready to go!





3 medals after the run, one for each teammate




Thursday, June 20, 2013

Recap Bonanza. Part 1: Big Sur Marathon 4/28/2013

Where do I begin?
I love northern California, and this race gave me a full view of the reasons why running along the coast is just magical!!!

I landed in San Jose, rented a car and went straight to Santa Cruz, where my fellow ambassadors Elise and Meg live.  Elise was kind enough to let me stay at her house for the night before heading down to monterrey for the Expo, where I was to pick up my race bib and stay at the info booth for the San Francisco Marathon for a while performing some ambassadorial duties -answering questions, and overall, talking about how awesome the race is-.

Some of the Santa Cruz sights before dinner with my new friends!
 
 

The next morning, bright and early, I headed down to Monterrey, not before stopping by a local coffee shop for much needed caffeine for drive south.  Verve coffee was delicious!
 Foggy drive down reminded me that weather conditions in north cal change in a moments' notice!
Once at the expo, I headed to my "work station"... The San Francisco Marathon booth to share some SF love to all!
I was given my number... Lucky #3000 and I was ready to roll! :)
After my ambassador duties were done, I headed out for touristy stuff with my friend Steve (whom I used to tour with and had not seen in many years), his lady Kim and my fellow runner friend Heather, who was also running Big Sur.  We got some food, went to the Monterrey Aquarium (a must while you're there), Point Lobos, and walked around seeing the coolness of that town.
the view from the place we had lunch at... so pretty!

After all the sightseeing, Heather and I got some pre race dinner ( a bit late considering I had to wake up at at 2:45am to meet the shuttle bus at 4:30am), which was delicious!; and while we talked running and life, I drank a lot of iced tea and then... it was sleepy time before Go time!
in California they honor your GF requests, and the presentation is still great!
Pre race dinner! :)
RACE MORNING!!!!

Finally, after all the training since november, all the hills, track work, long runs... the day had arrived!
 as we made the slow ascent to the starting line, I was pretty glad I couldn't see the road I would be running... foggy & cool morning temperatures were great, and you could feel the energy in the air!
I got to meet my fellow ambassador Chris (pictured above) who was pacing a group (he's a speedy one!)
 Getting ready for the horn start! 3 waves, and I was in wave 2... Here's a selection of pictures from the race... I took about a million more, but the mile markers and some of the scenes just don't do it justice.. It is a magnificent race! a Bucket List item! pure beauty at every mile! and the mile markers were funny!

I had planned to have my tunes and earphones ready for the race and as we started I quickly realized that it wasn't a good idea to listen to music while there was so much sensory overload by the beauty of nature and the sounds of the wind and the ocean... so I ran the race sans music, and I didn't regret it!


 Getting to the halfway point! the brutality of the hills makes you humble! really! you train hard, and for this one you have to train harder! period!  But as you can see by my smile, I was having a blast (and hoping for a PR, which is rough in a course like this one!)

Listening to the Rocky tune across the bridge, courtesy of Mr. Michael at the grand piano, it was incredible!!!





 Because of my race strategy, I didn't really take many more pictures after mile 16, since I was going towards getting that extra gear engaged the last 10 miles (and the .2)... So the fruit lady, pictured here was at mile 25.... deliciously fresh strawberries... what a treat after so many sports beans!

Crossed the finish line with an official time of 4:48:22 which meant I beat my previous PR from the SF Marathon by 3 min 37 sec.  I was so happy!! I knew deep down I could have gone much faster, but I wanted to take it all in, and enjoy the views... This is a beautiful scenic race...impossible to ignore.


here's my official finish picture, for marathon number 4!!!!