Donations for 2018 MCM

When I started this running journey, the purpose of it all, beyond an egotistical self-documenting blog that is interesting to only me, was to dedicate each marathon to some sort of cause. Whether it be fundraising or individual donations or volunteer work.

For the 2018 Marine Corps Marathon, I made a series of donations dedicated to the race. The first was $500 to the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) of Texas. This was in response to the border detentions and family separations that were occurring in the summer due to President Trump’s “zero tolerance” separation policy. Regardless of political beliefs, I think people should be able to agree that splitting up kids from their parents in this manner was/is awful and unconscionable and not who we should be as a people (but perhaps, sadly, who we are becoming). A $500 donation was enough to pay bond for one family, hopefully to keep them together.

Another donation was to Wendy Martinez’s Gofundme to help with funeral costs after her very tragic death. A third was a gofundme campaign for one of the writers on MGoBlog who is dealing with a difficult health situation.

I say all of this not to brag, but to hopefully encourage whoever reads this to find a cause that resonates with them and to be a part of it in whichever way possible.

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Marathon Training – weeks 14 and 15 (of 18)

WEEKS SUMMARY

 

I fell a little behind on posting here, so I’ll recap the last two weeks.  The first of the two week recap constituted a low mileage week.  I hadn’t been feeling great, and I rested up.  I ran twice that week for a total of 11.15 miles.  The second of the two weeks was a very high mileage week.  I ran my second 20 mile run en route to a 45.17 mile week (over five runs).

 

Now, it’s on the the taper.  This is the most prepared I’ve been for any marathon training I’ve done.  I’m a little nervous about the significant mileage drop during the taper weeks, but apparently that’s all normal.

 

In terms of marathon pacing–I’ve read that you can expect anywhere between a 5% to 10% reduction in time from your long run pace.  I ran the 20 miler at 9:40, so I am going to aim for a marathon pace of 9:11 min/mile to 8:42 min/mile, which amounts to a total finish time of between 3 hr 48 min and 4 hrs.  I’m going to work out a race plan, more on that later.  I’m considering joining a pace group, and right now my goal is to start off at around 10 min/mile for the first few miles, and then work up to an 8:45ish pace.

 

It feels good to be at taper and have the hard part done.

 

TWIR

 

It’s going to be a short recap because I won’t remember everything.  Pumpkin patch on Saturday, new phones on Saturday evening, friends house on Sunday, Daddy-daughter day on Monday bc of the holiday.  The previous week was a wedding on Saturday, pizza on Friday (I think)?  Also, I’ve been hitting a lot of museums lately.

 

Some pictures to paint the 1000 words I can’t muster together:

 

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September 2018 – Stats

This was the highest mileage month I have ever run, including the longest non-marathon run I’ve done.  The weather cooled during September, but it was still pretty humid.  I’m looking forward to the October stretch heading into the 2018 MCM.

 

Miles 135.43 miles
Total time 22 hr, 26 min, 50 sec
Average pace per mile 9 min 56 sec
Number or runs 16 runs
Average distance per run 8.46 miles
Average temperature, per run 70.25 deg F
Average temperature, time spent in temperature 74.77 deg F
Coldest temperature 67 deg F
Warmest temperature 88 deg F
Total elevation 4184 ft
Average elevation per run 261.5 ft
Longest run 20.01 miles
Shortest run 2.47 miles

 

Marathon Training – week 13 (of 18) – Race #5

WEEK SUMMARY

 

This was a long mileage week for this training cycle.  I ran five times for a total of 46.31 miles, including a long run of 20 miles.  It’s the first time that I have run a 20 miler while training for a marathon.  I think the longest non-marathon run I’ve run before this is 17ish miles.  Which means, the 20 mile run was the fifth longest run I’ve ever gone on.

 

Next week is a bit of a break, and then another long mile week capped by a 20 miler.  Then it’s a taper down to the MCM!

 

TWIR

 

This was a sad week for DC runners, as I mentioned in my “Tragedy” post.  It’s a reminder to appreciate the things you have.

 

On Saturday I ran the Clarendon Day Double.  After the race, we went out for breakfast, and then came home to relax before taking Mini to a playground in the afternoon.  Sunday was a rainy day–we spent it getting groceries and just hanging out at home.  Not a terribly eventful weekend, but a good one.

 

 

 

Race Report – 2018 Clarendon Day Double (5K and 10K) – 5K PR!

5K

 

Finish time:  23:52 (PERSONAL RECORD)

Placing:  231 out of 1076

178 out of 529 (male)

80 out of 195 (male division)

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10K

 

Finish time:  54:26 

Placing:  274 out of 914

194 out of 439 (male)

88 out of 169 (male division)

 

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I feel good after this race.  It’s a fast course, so it’s a perfect opportunity to steal a PR on a 5K or 10K.  Coming into this race I have set a PR in 2018 for each of the following distances:  10K, 10 Miler and Half Marathon.  Today I added the 5K to that list, beating a time that I set back in 2006 when I was 23 years old (though in all fairness, I haven’t ran all that many 5Ks).  So, if I PR a marathon this year, 2018 will be a banner year–one where I set a personal best for every standard race distance.

 

PRE-RACE

 

I took my lesson from last year and decided that I would not drive to this race.  Last year I made the mistake of parking my car about a mile away from the start line.  The set up of this race is such that the finish line is about a mile and a half down hill from the start.  I didn’t want to walk too much, so just ubered there with plans to do the same back, but it turns out that Jess and Mini met me there (and drove) anyway.  I was hanging out with an old friend the night before but called it an early one to make sure to get home early and get to bed.  I got up at around 6:30am, called my uber at 6:50 and made it there with plenty of time to get my packet.

I had some time to kill before the start of the 5K, but I kind of just stood around and waited for it to start.  I downloaded this podcast called Dissect and started listening to Season 1, which “dissects” the themes and meanings in Kendrick Lamar’s album “To Pimp a Butterfly.”  It was really interesting, and I may have decided to listen to it for the duration of the runs, but I didn’t charge my headphones and they were bound to run out.

 

5K Race

 

8:03 min/mile; 7:29; 7:36; [0:43]

The race starts off fast, faster than you think.  I woke up with the plan to try and PR the 5K an to take it easy on the 10K.  But I was surprised with how fast the first miles went on this course, even though I ran it last year.  I guess that’s what happens when you descend about 300 feet over two miles.  The first mile was slower due to the crowded field, but once I got separation, I felt like I was flying the whole race.

 

When I crossed the finish, I actually considered not doing the 10K.  My stomach wasn’t feeling too great, but it wasn’t anything major, and I had a 10 mile run scheduled in my marathon training anyway, so I put that negative thought out of my mind and walked up the hill.

 

In between

 

Not much to say here except that it takes a long-ass time to get up the hill and back to the start.  I finished the 5K at a decent time and so I decided to walk back to the start for the 10K.  I thought I had plenty of time but I made it back with under 10 minutes to go.  I bet it’s stressful to try and get back if you run the 5K slower.

 

10K Race

 

The 10K started within minutes after me getting back.

 

Miles 1-3

9:12 min/mile; 9:25; 8:05

 

I started the race with the intent of taking it easy.  I didn’t have a particular pace in mind, but thought I’d run at a clip that didn’t feel too terrible.  I was deliberately holding back the first mile and saw that it was still in the low 9s.  Again, this isn’t a testament to my athletic skill, but rather an indication of how the downhill really helps you out.  I stopped for a bathroom break at mile 2, and then when I continued, I found that the 8ish pace was comfortable.

 

Miles 4-6

 

8:17; 8:41; 8:51

 

Miles 4 to 6 started to suck.  It was getting hotter and more humid and more sunny.  You’re running on the highway and there’s no real relief from it.  Once I got to mile 5, I told myself to slow down.  By the end of mile 5, I was really looking forward to the finish line.  I did plan better this time than last year.  I got some decent sleep the night before, I brought a hat, I brought some water, I ate some gummies in between the 5K and 10K.  So I didn’t feel dehydrated and exhausted like I did last year, so I was able to get through these miles without much trouble.

 

Miles 6-6.2

[2:06]

 

I was able to finish the race strong.  When I got to the finish line, I saw Jess and Mini who both so kindly came to support me.  Mini’s face was so precious.  Jess told her that I was coming, and when I approached them, I could see her scanning the crowd for me.  She spotted me right as I passed them, I gave them a quick wave, and then Mini cried a lot when I ran by because she thought I left her.  It’s the kind of “sad but sweet” memory that I’ll always remember.

 

 

POST-RACE

 

I finished, collected both my medals, and found Jess and Mini.  We snapped a few pictures and then headed out.  One the way home, we stopped at Sugar Shack to treat us to a donut, and then we got pupusas to take home for lunch.

 

Overall, a fantastic race.  Some obligatory photos:

 

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And look at the difference from last year to this year.

 

Last year:

 

 

This year:

 

Tragedy

I didn’t know Wendy Martinez.  I don’t live in the neighborhood where she was killed.  On the surface, we shared only a few things in common:  she was my age; and she enjoyed running through our city.

Most of the time when I write on here, I’m wondering who I’m writing for.  Turns out, I’m writing for myself.  No one reads this blog, and that’s kind of never been the point anyway.  The reason I write is to stop time.  It’s a way for me to catalog my life through the lens of running, using running as a proxy to expand the days and minutes and weeks that go by.  It gives me a false and fleeting sense of control–that I can stop the feeling of my daughter growing up too fast, or that I can stop any negativity or tragedy or bad event from derailing these days that Jess and I are living in–days that I know I will look back on as the best days of my life.

But I’m not delusional.  I look at pictures of Mini from six months ago or six weeks ago and think “where did the time go?”  It stops for no one.  All you can do is embrace the time that you do have and hope for even better days ahead.

Before 2014, I never really ran seriously.  I’d occasional go for a two or three mile run, with an excessive pat-on-my-back mentality whenever I finished.  I’d run a 5k here or a 10k there.  And I wasn’t ever a serious athlete when I was younger.  I just did the typical things that average boys/guys did.  Little league, mediocre pick-up basketball, half-committed tennis, touch and tackle football with friends.  I also did some not so athletic things, which I was a little better at.  Academic teams in high school, engineering in college, law school, and the mother of un-athleticism–becoming a patent lawyer.

In 2014, I took a job with Under Armour, a place filled with athletes past and present.  And call it social pressure or career pressure or whatever–I kind of felt like I had to have a “thing” so I’d have something to talk about and relate to at work and in meetings.  “Oh yeah, I’m training for X this year, it’s been insane!”  Running was the most accessible and had the lowest barrier to entry, so I decided in the fall of that year that I was going to train for a marathon.  I emailed a bunch of friends asking if they wanted to train with me–most of them just laughed and said hell no.

Somewhere along the way, I got hooked.  Not because I ever thought that I was going to be the fastest or strongest or best-in-any-measure runner out there.  I really don’t even consider myself an average-runner.  It’s just something I do.  The thing I got hooked on was how running connected me with myself.  In ways that I could try to describe (“oh, it’s so meditative” or “oh, it makes me healthier” or “oh, it gives me a challenge”), but really, the connection that’s there is in ways that I can’t really describe.  I just feel more myself when I spend that time with myself.  I feel more with others even though I run alone.  I think about things differently, I curse more creatively, I define winning-losing and success-failure in a new light when I’m running.  Some of this came as a coping mechanism after my mom was diagnosed with cancer, but it was really always there.  When I look back, and connect the dots of my recent life–the first day we found out we were pregnant, when Mini was born, watching her take her first smile, her first crawl, her first steps, and her first temper tantrums–I feel the connection to those events more strongly because I feel like I connected with myself more strongly.

When I read about what happened to Wendy, that she was killed for no reason at all by someone she didn’t even know while she was out on a run, I had two strong feelings.  One of incredible sorrow and heartache for this woman and her family.  The other, a strong sense of guilt.  Several times I’ve run through that intersection where she was killed at the same time of day with the same (presumable) expectation of relative safety.  It happened to her, and it didn’t happen to me.  And even though I never met her, I feel like I had taken something from her–that somehow I and the many others who are like me, were able to avoid that fate for no reason other than chance.  Not because we’re good people or that we did anything that made us lucky.  Pure, dumb, cruel, chance.  The killer could have ventured to a different part of the city at a different time, crossing my path.  Or I could have gone through that intersection where Wendy was that night, and my daughter would be left without a father and my wife without a husband.  That there is no reason why this did not happen to me, and there is no reason why this should have happened to Wendy.  Of course, tragedies happen every day, but this really is the first time I’ve felt in my heart that “this absolutely could have been me.”

And that thought brings incredible guilt.  Guilt, because I know that for Wendy and for her family, that “could have been me” scenario is their nightmare.  Tragedy is something that happens to someone else until it happens to you.  It brings guilt for the many times I’ve lulled myself into a sense of security–the 4:30 am runs where I had the Lincoln Memorial all to myself and felt like the most iconic space in our great country was all mine for a few hours.  Guilt for the times when I’ve run through some sketchy areas and thought–no one is going to stop to attack me, and if they do, I’ll just run away.  Guilt for the assumptions I made about certain streets or paths being safe, and thus, the rules of caution need not apply as strongly.   And guilt that I’ll really no longer feel that way again.

I didn’t know Wendy.  But when I read anecdotes and stories shared from her friends and family and coworkers, she really seemed like the kind of person you would want to be around.  The kind that brings you up and brings positive energy to the conversation or to the room.  She seems like a person who was rooted in her faith, not just for her own personal salvation, but as a calling for service and meaning to others.  Her mother spoke some words of forgiveness during the vigil for her, and that was a powerful testament to her character and her own faith during what I’m sure was her most nightmarish time on Earth.

It sounds like Wendy was someone who loved to run.  I don’t know if her love of it was for any of the same reasons as mine.  I can only understand my experience.  But my heart hurts even more for her knowing that the activity which has given me so much self-discovery was the same one where Wendy lost her life.

When I have read of tragedies, sometimes I think all that I can do is use the sadness as motivation to do something more that you otherwise would not have done.  To be kinder, or work harder, or love more deeply, so that in some weird way you can try to balance the cosmic cruelty.  And also to try and dedicate those good things not just to the tragedy that happened but more importantly to the life that was behind that tragedy.

I will keep this in mind when I think of Wendy–someone who I never knew, taken so cruelly from her world, and for whose life I celebrate and for whose death I mourn deeply.

Marathon Training – weeks 11 and 12 (of 18) – Race #5

WEEK(S) SUMMARIES

 

I kind of fell behind here, so I’m going to summarize two weeks for of training.

 

Week 11 had a lot of miles, the most out of any week training week I think.  I ran four times for a total of 42 miles, including a 16.5 mile run.  The 16.5 mile run was intended to be 20 (!) but I decided to run as far as I could in three hours and then stop.  It went alright–still a lot slower than I’d like to run during the race, but it was super humid outside.  I was happy to get a longish run done.  This week calls for another 20 miler, so let’s see if I can get it done then.

 

Week 12 was a recovery from week 11.  I ran three times for a total of 22.9 miles, including a medium-ish run of 10 miles.  The 10 miler felt good, except for the last two miles, I was having some pain in my chest (nothing serious!), so I kind of stopped running.  I think it was mostly a cramp.

 

So two weeks, 64.9 miles

 

TWIR

 

I don’t really remember too much of what happened during week 11.  It was the first week where summer was pretty much done in DC. The weather on the weekend was pretty bleh–cloudy, rainy, a little cold.  Actually, now that I write this, I do remmber some details from earlier that week.  I remember on Thursday when Jess and I and a friend went out for pizza, the heat index was 95 at 9pm at night.  Then on Saturday, it was like 70 degrees.

 

On the Saturday of week 11, I took Mini on run that’s quickly becoming our tradition. We run about 4-5 miles on our usual Capitol Hill to Lincoln Memorial route.  Then I take Mini out of the stroller and we go up the steps and into the Lincoln Memorial where she walks around the place.  Today, when I got back from my ten mile run, I went inside the Lincoln Memorial by myself, and I immediately got a flash back from a future that hasn’t already happened.  I know that when I become older, and Mini grows up, I’m going to go back to the Lincoln Memorial and remember her as a little girl climbing the ledges and running around the columns.  It was a poignant and nostalgic memory of a feeling that’s yet to come, but that I know is on its way, and it’s another reminder to soak in these days as much as I possibly can.

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Also, checked out the overflow from the Tidal Basin:

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On Saturday afternoon, after Mini’s nap, we took her to the botanical gardens, and she loved it.

 

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On Sunday, we took Mini to meet up with friends at an indoor gym.  We’ve been hitting up all the gyms and playgrounds recently.  It’s a sign of parenthood–I no longer know where any of the hot restaurants are, but we’ve been staking out the kids’ venues.  We had our proud parent moments, watching her climb and slide down a slide by herself for the first time.

 

Oh, the other thing that I remember–staying up too late on Saturday to watch football.  Another parenting lesson–if you decide to stay up late, be prepared to pay the price in the morning, because you will be operating on a lack of sleep!

 

Week 12–most of the week passed along without much going on.  On Thursday, we had a date night! Jess and I went to go see Neil deGrasse Tyson at the Warner Theater.  That was a lot of fun–nerdy, but a lot of fun.  He gave an interesting talk on “Cosmic Collisions” that Jess was majorly nerding out on.

 

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On Friday, we went out for pizza.  On Saturday morning I took Mini for another Lincoln run and then aftewards we all went to two playgrounds, meeting friends at the second one.  Sunday was nicer than expected (they were calling for rain).  We met friends for breakfast at Eastern Market, went to a playground, came home for nap time, and then took Mini to a playground in McLean.  A super nice playground too.  You can tell where my weekends are going this Fall!

 

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Other random thoughts–Mini is communicating really well now.  And it’s been really great that she can kind of start telling us in her sign language what she wants.  And every time she and Jess get home, and if I’m already here, she runs in the room and says “daddy”–these pretty much are the best moments of my life.

 

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