Thursday, November 20, 2008

San Antonio 1/2 Marathon - New PR

What a great trip to a far off place called Texas..... San Antonio to be exact.  I haven't posted in a very long time, so I'll try to make this entertaining for the lack of updates.  This is another Rock 'n Roll event and I find myself excited and a bit nervous.  I was mainly worried about getting to San Antonio too early Saturday afternoon, waiting around for Kris, Dana and Lauren to show up.  Fortunately and unfortunately, my connection flight to Denver was delayed and I missed my flight to San Antonio.  My new flight came 5 hours later, with a food voucher to spend at DIA (Denver International Airport) and a $100 plane voucher, so I can't really complain.  I was now getting into San Antonio after the gang, and they would pick me up.  Once I arrived to San Antonio, Kris, and car packed with fun loving people left for our hotel that Dana arranged for us.  We got in an easy 30 minute run through the outskirts of some sketchy area, and some strides at a local elementary school soccer field.  Once that was over, we all piled in the car (6 total) and headed off on a scavenger hunt for restaurants.  After we coordinated a group of about 13 family members and friends at Olive Garden, we all ate and enjoyed a wonderful meal and conversation of the most random things possible.  It was Great!

Race day!  Dana, Lauren and I woke up to about 15 different alarm clocks/wake up calls at 5am to get in an early morning shake out run.  What I really wanted was to sleep through those alarm clocks and even the race! Oh well, Dana and I get in a short run and the temperature didn't seem too bad outside of the hotel; but once we got back and met up with Kris to leave, it seemed as if the temperature kept dropping.  As we leave the hotel, and a car now packed with 7 lovely people, we drive aimlessly towards the race.  Mercilessly, Kris gets the car within 10 feet of the starting line, which is not allowed, but whatever we're just going with the flow as we always do.  New Mexican rag tag style.

Once we got our race bibs and a late warm up in we head over to the starting line.  We mingle with some of the other runners and see Brain Sell (USA olympic marathoner - 2008) doing some strides with his Brooks-Hanson's teammates.  We get to listen to the National Anthem and then group up on the starting line for the race.  Kris is on the far left of the field, and I position myself on the right of all the Brooks-Hanson's guys.  The starting gun fires and everyone dashes off.  Two Hanson's guys go out pretty hard (Nick and Brian) and I stay back and run with Kris and the other Hanson's guy. 

As we come up to the first mile we hit 5:00.  We have a decent little group of three guys and the two leaders are increasing their lead.  The second mile winds us through downtown and past the Alamo; which is surprisingly small, but we come through two miles in 4:51 and keep pushing on.  The crowds in downtown were very cheerful and that helped out a bit going into mile three, which was hit in 4:56 (5k-15:17).  At around this time, Kris and the other Hansons guy faded a little bit.  I was a little concerned to be running on my own, but I could see Nick
way up in front, and I thought if I kept visual in him maybe I could run a good time.  I think I cam through mile four in 4:57.  I wasn't thinking of much at this moment.  Now the course takes up hill through a nice neighborhood and a water station, where I grab some cold water.  Mile five is hit in 5:08, and off the down hill I start to pick it up to catch up to Nick.  I hit mile six in 4:42, because of the downhill.  At around this point I see Lauren (Dana's fiance) and Kris' mom cheering from a nearby park.  It was nice to have some support along the course, not only from all the bands and random people, but from people who you actually know.  Mile seven, eight, nine and ten are hit in: 4:58, 4:55, 4:57 and 4:57.  I come through 10 miles in a personal best time of 49:26.  Those four miles were kind of a blur.  I was just focusing on catching Nick and thinking of random stuff.  I remember thinking about the Sandia mountain run, and how the three of us journeyed to a state of mind that could never be replicated.

Images kept coming to mind of that epic run and how beautiful those mountains look at sunset.  Being at peace with nature can be pretty hard to do when you're tired and feeling the pain of exertion.  But if the scenery can out weigh the tiredness, then it seems worth it.  Thats what I felt on the Sandias, a sense of peace, and earth beneath my feet.  But in San Antonio, there was only violent pounding on the hard asphalt in order to finish the race, with the best effort possible.

Another thing I kept thinking about was the training we've done.  For some reason I kept visualizing a Rocky video montage of our training.  Especially from Rocky III and IV!  Those awesome training montages are amazing and inspiring.  I know its kind of corky to think about this stuff, but I couldn't get these images out of my mind.  The underdog; Rocky, training like a mad man with the most rudimentary training techniques and no outside support while his competitor had a sea of trainers and high tech equipment.  This is what kept me motivated.  It kept me thinking about all these other guys out there, with the most expensive coaches, access to great facilities, and a plethora of gear at their disposal.  While guys like Brain Sell, one of America's greatest long distance runners, rises through the ranks and makes an olympic team, has only the bear essentials for training and winning!  With our little group in Albuquerque, mentored by a legend; Henry Rono, it's hard not to try and prove ourselves that we can run with the best Americans.  I finally caught Nick at around mile 11, and he urged me on to a 4:55 mile.  The next two miles were pretty hard.  I kept thinking to myself, after mile 10, that it was a 5k race to the finish.  But after that mile it was hard to push onward.  With my calves now on fire as if they were going to burn off and rip out of my skin,  I come through mile 12 in 5:05.  I wasn't really paying attention to my total time, but I had a feeling that I was going to run a PR. But I had to finish strong.  This mile seemed pretty tough, as I was all alone in the streets of San Antonio.  There were some rolling hills in and out and here and there.  I saw the huge Alamodome in the distance; which is were the finish line was and where the San Antonio Spurs play, and I had a great feeling that I was almost there.

Mile 13 was on a uphill and I could see the clock tick away to 1:04:30.  At that point I knew I wasn't going to break 65 minutes, but as I turned the corner the finish seemed a lot closer than I expected.  I started to get up on my toes to kick as hard as I could.  The clock was approaching 65 minutes, but I was lucky enough to just dip under that time with an official time of 1:04:55.  As I gather my thoughts and take some deep breaths of air, Brian Sell is waiting for his teammates.  I was fortunate enough to talk to him briefly about running and random stuff.  Once his teammates finish, and I congratulate them, they all walk off.  I wait around for Dana and Kris to finish, at that moment I see Lauren and Kris' mom on the other side of the fence cheering with excitement.  Dana and Kris finish together, and Dana runs a huge personal best.  Kris had a little stomach problem and had run into a hotel to use the bathroom and decided to pace Dana to a PR.  

After the race we grab a bunch of free food, t-shirts, free bags, and all sorts of free crap.  At times, we are like vultures running around grabbing everything we can get our hands on.
Once thats over with had to hurry to the hotel and check out and get to the airport for our
 flights.  I felt like things were moving faster than the race, as we rushed to get a cool down in and then to the car.  As we leave, I get a phone call
 from Omar to head back to the VIP section for some quick interviews.  I just wanted to get the
 heck out of there, but everyone in the car (all 6 of them) told me it would be fine and it would be fun.  So we went back, grabbed some more free food, did the interviews, said thanks to everyone and then we were off.  It was Great!

This was another great 1/2 marathon, and it could not have happened without the support and love from my friends and family.  It seemed like everything was taken care of for me. Transportation, food, hotel, everything!  I was not worried about anything, I had a good feeling about the race, and as long as the three of use were at the start, thats all that mattered.  Our preparation leading up to this race was more than I could ask for, and the moments before and after the race are more important than the race itself.  Being with loved ones, joking around and enjoying the moment at hand could out weigh any performance that day.  I was just blessed to have everything line up for me.  I am very proud of that time, but I am more impressed with the relationships I've gained here in New Mexico. I am also blessed to have a better relationship with God.  As I was preparing for this race; the following tuesday and wednesday, I was preparing to receive first holy Communion and Confirmation.  I am very grateful for all that I have received, and I hope to give inspiration to my friends as they have fueled my inspiration.  There is no point to receive all these gifts if you have no one to share it with.  To everybody, thank you for sharing these moments with me!

Mile Splits: [5:00, 4:51, 4:56 (5k-15:17), 4:57, 5:08, 4:42, 4:58, 4:55, 4:57, 4:57 (10 miles-49:26), 4:55, 5:05, 5:03] 1:04:55

A few more pictures:
Before the Start

Brooks-Hanson's Team



Three Amigos!

After the Race

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes We Can!

The outcome of this election brings faith to many Americans.  Just as Obama said:

 "If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer... It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled - Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always be, the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA."

Those words sent a chill down my spine.  It is a sign of change and hope.  I actually felt good about the outcome, and feel that things are going to get "better".  I know its not going to happen over night, but with optimism on our side, maybe thats all we really need...