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  • On Path to New York City Marathon III

    Posted on September 29th, 2014 Michele Sun No comments

    Sun Sept 28th, I was up at 5:00am again, which seems to be my routine for every weekend lately. Since I was up very early on Sat and was tired from on my feet for a very long time, I was in bed around 8:30pm.

    I put on the running outfit that I had picked the night before and the new Steven Creek Striders buff that I got yesterday; took my medication then went downstairs to make myself a coconut butter sandwich. After volunteering for 11 hours at TNF50 last Dec, I was too fed up seeing another PBJ :-p Grabbed my hydration pack (30oz of GU Brew) and headlamp, I was out of door and ready to do my 20 ml long run. This is my first 20ml this season, and also my longest run since last April. I haven’t done anything more than 16ml since my last marathon in Paris. Sometimes it shocked me to think where the time has gone, and how far I have come.

    photo 1

    Sat morning I drove myself to Skyline Ridge at 5:30am, and it was dark, foggy, misty, winding, and I was teary while driving with so much emotion tumbling inside of me. It was 5:30am on the same day, Sept 27th, last year that I drove myself to ER after receiving that phone call from my doctor. Then my life had completely changed and took a very unexpected detour.

    Lately I have looked back and thought about so many things have happened in one year, and I have changed in many ways, my perspective about life, friendship, relationship with this world, and what’s essential in life…etc., are quite different than before, however there is one part of me remained unchanged — my love for running. I love the the joy of sun kissing my face, wind brushing my hair, letting the sweat dropped from my forehead, to the end of my ponytail, to my shoulder, to my arms, to the back of my legs with each stride. I love the sense of freedom, the feeling of being physically strong, and I love how my heart won’t give up!

    Horse Shoe Lake

    I got to LGCT in pitch dark, and honestly I was a bit scared, after I put on my headlamp and did my warmup I started toward Meridian. There was me, my shadow and my footsteps, feeling pretty poetic, but I turned whenever I heard noise from behind. I braved myself for about 4 miles till the sun came out, and finally saw couple runners and cyclists on the trail. I wanted to not bunk at this long run, so wasn’t pushing for speed this morning and I think I was at 10min/ml pace. Between the fish pond and the wooden bridge I heard a familiar voice coming up “now I found you”; Max has caught up with me and he slowed down to ask about how far I have been running, where I was heading to..etc. I gestured him to keep going because I didn’t want to interfere his run with my snail pace.

    Running into Vasona Lake Park and I heard music in a distance, at first I was looking for where the stereo and speakers were, then saw a piano was placed near a huge tree and a guy was playing it. As I got closer to the piano and the player, I found he was very good at it. I couldn’t help but stop to appreciate his beautiful music on this beautiful Sunday morning. His bicycle was against that big tree and he was in cycling jersey and short. What do you think of that? A cyclist playing piano in the middle of no where!

    Piano cyclist

    I left the piano guy and continued my run toward LGHS, but I wasn’t going to the track this morning. For the distance and personal reason, I needed to turn right and run toward the dam. I was going to visit John’s bench this morning, and talked to him about my condition and training. I haven’t been to his bench for about 6 months already, and I don’t think I will be here anytime soon after today’s long run. After the graffiti bridge I turned right and funny that I couldn’t remember how far that little hill and bench should be. I hope I am not having memory loss besides the dizziness and hearing & vision problems. And there it is, John’s bench facing the little valley.

    John's bench

    I knelt in front of his bench and looked at the wordings on that bench, and thought about seeimg him standing at top of a hill at Calero Park. I forgot what I wanted to say, but a thought popped into my head “where will I want a bench if there is going to be one for me?” I don’t have a favorite route that I run, or a specific spot that I like to visit. Suddenly a place came into my mind along with very special memory. I remember when CalTrain passing it would shake the place a little, and when sun came through the blinds thousands of tiny golden speckles dancing on that face, and I would trace the closed eyes, nose, facial hair with my gaze. And how I wanted to turn back to the embrace whenever I left under the moonlight. But, can’t have a bench at where I never hold a spot, right?! But how did this come into my mind anyway? Silly!!!!

    Pushed that thought out of my mind and I took a GU gel (mandarin orange), now it’s time to turn around and head back. This should be about mile 12 now, and I felt the tongue of the shoes were hurting the top of my both feet, and wondered why? This is not new shoes and I have run in them before, never had problem. Why did it start to hurt? The rubbing got worse with each stride, and my pace slowed down because of the pain. Now I just wish to finish the run soon, so I can take off my shoes. And I felt bad that Kiyoko and Vinh must have waited for a long time at the coffee place after their run. I felt bad…

    By the time I got back to the trail entrance, I took out my phone and looked at RunKeeper — it’s not 20ml yet. But my feet hurt so badly that I didn’t think I can run any further!! I ran toward the coffee place and a group of runners were sitting outside, and surprisingly saw Max still there. That’s not what I have expected! I told him I was shy from 20ml and my feet hurt, and then I asked “should I run around the parking lot to get 20?” He assured me that it’s not necessary and it’s not a very good idea. I took off my shoes and socks, and there… two nasty looking blisters on my feet. I stretched and whined, walked a bit and complained a lot. Finally I sit down and thanks Max for waiting for me.

    I was feeling a bit lousy for not meeting my goal of running 20ml, and I wondered why I didn’t tough it up and continued. Of course as I am writing about this now I can tell myself “don’t be so ambitious, and don’t forget you are a newbie now.” But I think there are two universal running truths: We all hope to get faster, and we all hope to be able to run forever. So I discovered one thing that hasn’t changed about me — stubbornness!

    In the afternoon I took Max’s advice about ice-bathing my feet, and much thank to his reminding me that 18 – 19 miles is a long way, and I should feel good to have come this far since last year!! Really appreciated that and much needed. So, I am 5 weeks away from NYC Marathon, and I have been logging 30+ ml a week this month, ran from Big Basin to Waddle Beach, and just checked off first 20ml run. What’s next? I will be racing Rock n Roll San Jose Half next weekend, and run Chicago Marathon on Sunday Oct 12 as my 2nd long run, then ready to taper for New York! Pretty stoked here 🙂

    p.s. I somehow feel that I am “cheating on” Chicago, as I am not giving it proper mindshare and honor it deserves, but with two Majors being three weeks apart, I had to make a choice which would be THE target race. And I didn’t want to defer either one to the next year as I can’t be sure there will be next year.


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