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  • Finding Running Groove

    Posted on March 25th, 2013 Michele Sun No comments

    Taking “inventory” of what has happened over the last few weeks, it makes me thank my legs for running all the miles and appreciate the importance and value of friendship even more!

    After the a bit disappointing Tokyo Marathon, I only had a week off from my training even though I was joking that “two weeks recovery and two weeks taper and I would be running in Paris.”  I am not the type of person that would enter a commitment without putting in my best effort, and doing anything in mediocre is just not my style. So my definition of “off” is I still waking up in early hour and run in the spooky darkness twice a week, and building up my Sat run’s mileage right after Tokyo by running 8, 14, 17, then last Sat March 23rd I did my first and last 20ml long run. I am officially taper “again” and this time is for Marathon de Paris.

    As much as I love running, I did find myself, surprisingly, look forward to finishing Paris and want to take a break from all these training runs and races. I am not sure how other runners run one marathon every month, but I do find going through chains of training cycles and non-stop  races is physically and mentally tiring. I miss sleep for one, and probably the biggest one, and I got the burnt out feeling from the building up, taper, recovery, building up, taper…cycle. I always like to run alone, and when I do that for 14 months I became very anti-social (beyond solitude) and very tunnel visioned when it comes to running. Somehow that might have affected me physically as well, because I started having hip problems after mile 7 or 8 at each long run and the pain would continue for several days till next long run. I faithfully stretch and foam-roll but those don’t help much. Max asked me if it’s the aftermath of Tokyo, and he reminded me to “enjoy Paris instead of getting injured”.

    Also it affected my race performance — I am not getting better. Coincidentally , or maybe not, I am not the only one feeling training being unproductive. My running buddy Venkat also went through hard and long training season for CIM and he continued the training preparing for Oakland Marathon and an Ultra race. Two weeks ago we were running in Pleasanton and he was telling me that somewhere & somehow he has lost his motivation. And yesterday he did the Oakland Marathon and he got cramped that ended up had to do run/walk from mile 18 and completely messed up his pace. Why are we not getting better?  Have we been running too much? Am I just a one-shot runner? One good PR then jinxed forever that can’t break it? I have lost my confidence.

    Good thing is that I caught myself with my issues and I recognized them,  and now am trying to fix the mental hurdles so I can re-candle my passion for running.

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    First step is to not sign up more races after April, and it’s about time to step back and re-evaluate and do some life-style alignment. I like to step into unknown and that might be why  I enjoy destination races in different cities/countries, or trail races in the woods or even water. I enjoy getting lost and discovering surprises :-p But even with he fun and excitement each race brings upon, I really can’t turn myself into a single track running hermit and live under medals and race shirts, can I?  Having lots of races line up sure look fun on calendar, but in reality it doesn’t work for me though. I know many people do races every month, not just limited to  long distance running, some do very well with dual or tri, and they train a lot harder than me. I do admire how they manage their mental state and maintain that strength, but I am not wired that way and I need to recognize my weakness and do what works the best for me.

    Second step is to make myself useful to running communities —  engage with runners and stop being so me me me. So I went out to run with American Heart Association and gave out my GU Gels and Chomps, also supplied them with visor and water bottle as incentives to their fund raising campaign. When there was a new Sports Basement grand opening in Campbell, I made myself beating traffics and driving to the store to hang out with running buddies that I have been avoiding for personal reason quite a bit. I invited close friends to come out and joined me for the Run for Japan in Shoreline, Mountain View which has become my annual non-race run.  I reached out to friends (runners and non-runners) and made an effort to see them on Sat for post run coffee, or happy hour on Wed or Thur. When I learned that  couple of them are going to Japan in March, I offered to map out travel itinerary for them including my favorite Tokyo Beers Map 🙂

    Sunday March 24th, the annual Oakland Marathon took place by Snow Park in front of the Lake Merritt ;  I woke up even earlier than on my own race day so I could provide race supports to my running buddies. It’s cold and dark at 6:30am by the lake, and I found it a bit amusing that all of them were racing or pacing, but I was the only person there to carry their bags, taking pictures and shouting out “Go Runners.” But it turned out to be a fabulous day because I met runners outside of my usual running circle. I was surprised to see Penny running on road race instead of another CTR trail race, and found out Chris completed 10 races in 9 days, and met Ron who has all sort of interesting race stories to share including unexpectedly paced someone 3:44 marathon in Osaka. And the most amazing thing was meeting Shinji after the race.

    I was standing at the Start/Finish pretty much the whole morning, and it’s very cool to watch the race up close. A little before 10:00am, the event announcer spoke through the PA system telling us the first full marathon finisher was about to come in. Around 10: 05 I saw the lead bike appeared slowly  paddling up that last hill, then I saw an Asian with bouncing dark hair charging steadily behind the lead bike. As he got closer to the finish line, he raised his right arm and index finger pointed toward the beautiful blue sky — definitely an act of triumph! He was so fast, rhythmical and very graceful,  and he made it seemed to be so easy; I guess it’s fair to say that the 5:58 marathon pace is like a walk in the park for him. After he crossed the finish ribbon, he was speaking to the camera and answering to reporter’s questions with total ease!! This is my first time watching a marathon champion, and not to mention a very cute one :-p

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    If I was stressed by my obliged 100ml a month training runs, then knowing Shinji usually logs in 600/700km a month definitely lighten up my mood. So I have mine easy, really, and he is amazingly inspiring!!

    Gradually  my running friends came back one by one from their 3:10, 3:20…pacing duties, and some sprinted in from their 5K, Half or Full Marathon races; after the race we just sit and relaxed on the lawn watching award ceremony and enjoyed the warm California sunshine on our faces. I chatted with Ron who provided advices about positive attitude and realistic goal toward running and racing… etc. Ah, what a beautiful day for an awesome race and comradeship!  And you know what? I felt that  I already got my break before taking a break, and I somehow have found my running groove and regained my confidence again!

    Perhaps it’s standing in sideline watching other runners run, perhaps it’s knowing the 100K World Champion Shinji thinks he can and should put in more effort, or perhaps it’s knowing Max is happily enjoying his run in the canyon and meadow somewhere out there…




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