Marathon Life

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Blog from the Past - June 3, 2007: San Diego Rock n Roll Marathon

I am going to try to post a "blog from the past" every week since I have about 10 years of blog entries to work with. This week's installment goes back to a very significant day in my marathon running history. June 3, 2007 was the day that I ran my fastest marathon at 2:57:41 and my 10th marathon overall. It was also the last marathon and significant race I have competed in. My stubborn hamstring injuries have plagued me for the last 3.5 years.

Actrually I did run the ASYMC Camp Pendleton 10K Mud Run on Oct 18, 2008 and placed 1st in the 30-34 age group (5th overall out of 1,300 runners). See the results here. I was very proud of that run considering I was running injured with my hamstrings not even 80 percent. Granted it wasn't a true road race, as we had to run up mountains, a lake and also and through mud and other obstacles, so our times were a lot slower than a normal 10K. Other than that one glorious race, I have not competed. Not even a 5K or 10K. I just don't feel I am up to par, so I continue to train and try to get my mileage up. I hope one day I will feel ready to compete again. Maybe it's pushing through the discomfort, but I don't want to make one injury worse and do permanent damage.

So here it is, in its entirety. I am posting this as a motivator so I can hopefully run one last marathon before I retire for good. Who knew I would be this washed up at 35? I started when I was 25 so I got 7 good years and 3 injured. I hope re-evaluating my shoes (Sir Isaac Newtons) and running technique, I can pull out another one.

Rock N Roll San Diego Marathon - June 3, 2007
I'm at the finish of this historic race
Overcoming adversity is basically the theme of this marathon. I overcame a 2 injuries during what seemed like an endless 25-week training cycle - a half a year! I missed Boston Marathon in April due to recovering from tendonitis in February. Then in April I had a soft tissue tear in my arch tendon. I didn't think a marathon this year was possible. I was wrong.

Well, the 10th time is certainly a charm. On the day of my 10th marathon I was able to pull out yet another sub-3:00 marathon effort, this time at a 6:47 minute per mile pace. Other stats: 110th place out of 15,958 people and 20th place in the 30-34 age group out of 1,358.

I just kept relaxed throughout the entire race and focused on calm thoughts. I kept repeating in my head "stay in this state" and "focus on now." It really helped. The first few miles were standard. I tried not to go out too fast. I was at 6:42 at the first mile and 13:30 at mile 2. I don't remember much about the next few miles. We headed downtown and I really didn't like this part of the course. It smelled like a dumpster and was just not appealing. As I passed by the 10K mark (6.2 miles) I got this sense of dread. I had 20 more miles. Was I going to be able to keep up the intensity? I actually had a thought of just dropping out. Then I realized how ridiculous that was. I knew I could pull out at least a sub-3:10 effort if I really wanted to. So I kept on.

Mile 7.5 began the 2.5 mile climb up Highway 163. It was strange being able to run on the highway. I knew about this hill from my 2004 race. I knew it was going to be tough, but it was early enough in the race that I only slowed about 10 seconds per mile. My mileage watch said I was doing 7:20s mostly. I knew at the top I had to step it up. I had taken a Cliff Shot Block at the start that had caffeine in it. I think that gave me a little surge.

At mile 10 the San Diego Front Runners had their water stop. It was great. They announced my name on the microphone as I ran by. I felt great for the next 7 miles. I knew I had to put in a good solid chunk in the middle of this marathon to have any chance of a sub-3. So I glided down to mile 11 - all downhill. It was great. I felt relaxed. Then I got to the half marathon 13.1 miles at 1:27:14. I knew that I had some time in the bank. I could run the second half in 1:33 or so and be right around 3:00. I saw this guy Myles who had been running with me at the start but I let him pull ahead. I asked him what he was trying to maintain. He said 6:40 pace. So I kept with him for a few miles and around mile 15 I surged ahead. I still felt pretty good. I was totally zoning out. I was in a groove. It felt effortless at some portions. I tried to just keep my pace around 6:45 or so.

My boss Rich and co-workers Heidi and Charity were right after mile 16. They had a large sign with "Go Anthony" and my face blown up on it. I was so surprised. It was great. I then got the bottle of Gatorade I had asked for. After mile 17 I took another Cliff Shot Block. I wanted to do it around 2:00 or so but decided earlier. I knew I had 9.2 left. I did slow here. I was not feeling great, but not bad. I knew I just wanted to get to 20 miles and then re-evaluate my options for breaking 3:00.

Now we were in the Crown Point area of Pacific Beach. I took my e-Gel Electrolyte Energy gel around 18.5 miles. I saw someone who worked at SDRI (the running store I frequent) and he gave me a bottle of water to wash it down with. I ate half and waited to get to 20 miles before ingesting the other half. I saw the clock, it was 2:14 or so. I knew I had 46:00 to run the last 10K (6.2 miles). I knew in my mind that I could do that if I did not have any major cramping. At that point it was a hill since we crossed a bridge. I really pushed hard up it, as I was not going to slow for any reason. I heard a guy next to me grunting in pain as we ran up. I yelled "Come on, let's do this" to him. I kept on. I kept on pushing and pushing. I wanted it. I knew I could do it. Still, I had doubts though.

As I passed mile 21 I saw Trevor (a pacer) who was waiting for the 3:00 pace group to arrive. He looked anxious for the group to come. Then he yelled out to me, "You are way ahead of the 3:00 group, keep it up!" That was cool and I felt pumped. My confidence soared. As I arrived at mile 22 I told myself I have a Khoury's Run left in me. Khoury's was a 4.13 mile run my old running group Somerville Road Runners did every Thursday night starting and ending in front of this small pub called Khoury's in Somerville, Mass. I saw that the clock read 2:28 so that meant I had 32:00 to run 4.2 finish in under 3 hours. I knew I could easily do that.
I upped my pace in the next mile and made it to mile 23 around 2:35 or so. I now had 25:00 to do 3.2 miles - a piece of cake, right? Then, all of sudden, I got a small twinge in my right calf muscle. SHIT! It was a small cramp though. I slowed slightly and told myself that I was not going to cramp up until AFTER it was over. I drank extra water. I got through that scare and was at mile 24 at 2:42 or so. I knew I had 18:00 to do the last 2.2 - that would very easy. I just kept pushing and pushing. I got to mile 25 at around 2:49:50 or so.

I knew I had it in the bag as long as the cramping did not start up again. There was 1.2 left and I had 10:10 to do it. I could surely do that. As soon as I made the final left turn into the front gates of the Marine Corps Recruit Depot I knew I only had less than a half mile left. I pushed as hard as I could. I was in so much pain. My hip flexors were burning as well as my calves. My lungs were burning as well. Still, I did not feel dizzy, which was great - a sign I was well hydrated. I heard the announcer's voice in the distance. I was so close! Then I saw a guy cramping up big time. He was hobbling his way with the help of his friend. I felt so bad. It could have been me.

I didn't even look at my watch at this point. I didn't want to know what the time on the clock said. I knew I was going to break 3 hours, but by how much? Finally, during the last straightaway, I glanced at my watch and it said 2:55 and change. I knew I could feasibly finish in under 2:58. I just sprinted. All out sprinted. I was ecstatic. As I passed the 26-mile mark, the last .2 miles were a complete blur. I did not notice anyone around me. I had a narrow vision to the clock. 2:56:30, 2:56:50, 2:57:20...tick, tick tick... At last, I ran through with both hands raised up high and smiled into the camera. I was well aware they were cameras up above the finish banner so I struck a decent pose. Then it was over. Was it really over?

In my excitement I tried to do a cartwheel unsuccessfully and fell to the ground scratching both my palms in the process. Still, I was excited. This guy Dennis from Front Runners was right there as I crossed. He said that I would be on the front page of the GL Times. I laughed. I didn't even expect to see him right at the finish as one of the volunteers.

After my breakup over a month ago, I think I gained extra motivation to focus on my running. I did this marathon for myself. I wanted it so bad. I'm glad I was able to run a PR after the struggles I had this year. I couldn't be happier. And this is why I continue to do this. I can't let go of the high of running a great race. I have no regrets about this one, that's for sure.


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posted by Anthony at 8:39 PM 0 comments

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Running and Sir Isaac Newton running shoes

If you asked me 3 months ago what I would be doing right now, on a Saturday at quarter to 8 in the morning, I probably would have told you I was getting ready to head out on a 16 mile run. Well, I am sitting in bed writing about how I AM NOT doing that and how I still am not ready to do any sort of long-ish runs. I haven't done above 8 miles in months. My hamstrings continue to give me problems. At least my lower back aches are gone now. I have seriously been evaluating if I should continue with long distance running. I yearn to play tennis competitively again and have contemplated joining a few tennis clubs and leagues.

I still don't want to give up and just last night had a dream about the Boston Marathon.  In the dream I was at the finish line waiting for myself to finish. It was as if I was in two bodies at once, as a spectator and as a runner. It kept switching back and forth. Then I saw the time on the clock (3:45:00) and it was well past when I should have finished. I woke up not feeling to great.

I think my continued issues may have to do with the shoe I am using. I decided to splurge and try the experimental technology of the Sir Isaac Newton running shoes. Basically these shoes were designed to force you to run more on your forefoot and less on your heels. They attempt to mimic barefoot running, which is all the craze now in preventing injury. Newtons were built exclusively to allow a natural running gait. Here is a more technical explanation from their web site regarding their Action/Reaction Technology™:

When your midfoot/forefoot LANDS on the ground, the technology's four external actuator lugs are pressed into hollow chambers inside the shoe's midsole via an elastic membrane (ACTION). This movement absorbs shock.

As you LEVER inside the shoe, the lugs release their stored energy and propel you forward through a burst of energetic return (REACTION) from the Action/Reaction Technology™. You then LIFT your knee and begin a new stride.

Well I am still not sure spending the $148 every 3 months for this shoe is worth it just yet. I have been using them for over 6 months now. I have noticed slight changes, but not always positive. I actually have noticed I have more pain in my metatarsals in my right foot. Maybe because I land more heavily on my right side. That would explain why I have hamstring issues on my right leg. Do right handed people land more heavily on their right side? I wonder if studies have been done on this. Anyway, I will give them another chance. I do like that they are much lighter and I feel myself propelling forward while I run.

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posted by Anthony at 8:13 AM 9 comments

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Condo repair status

January seems to be flying by. The weather here in San Diego has been glorious these past few weeks. After a lot of rain over the holidays, January is shaping up to be the best one yet since I have lived here. We have had highs in the 70s and with sunny skies and dry conditions. I am so grateful to live here now, especially when I see that the northeast continues to get pounded by snow and ice. I know that I would be miserable if I still lived there.
As for the condo, I still don’t have walls in sections of living room due to the leak and the drywall that was taken out back on Dec 27. We have received one bid for a repair and replacement option that was way too expensive. Replacing it would be absolutely ridiculous, so for now we are going to go the repair route. The second vendor is supposed to send his bid in a few days. Then we can get that repair done and then put back up the drywall that was taken out. There are 3 other units that need drywall repair, so our reserves are certainly going to take a hit after all of this. 

Since I am now on the board, I proposed that every unit owner may need to pay a one-time assessment fee of $500 to $700 so we can replenish some of the reserves we are going to take out to pay for all these repairs. I am annoyed that the owners let things deteriorate so much over the years. No one thought of having routine maintenance on the roof and building. I was up on that roof myself and there were tons of leaves and other debris that were blocking drains, etc. It should be cleaned on a regular basis. It should be inspected on a regular basis. I know that the other unit owners will not want to pay an assessment, but it may be necessary. According to our HOA bylaws, we have to carry a certain balance in the reserve. We will see what happens. 

I did receive good news from the California Franchise Tax Board though. I applied for part of the $100 million that is to be allocated in tax credits to first time home buyers in California. Since I closed on my condo between May 1, 2010 and Jan 1, 2011, I qualified to receive $10,000 over the course of 3 years. I applied and received the confirmation letter that I received the credit the other week. So I will receive $3,333 as a tax return once I complete my state taxes. This money will come in handy for condo related projects (new windows, more furniture and art work), especially any assessments I may have to pay related to the roof repairs. Being a homeowner is not predictable nor easy, but I am trying to learn as much as I can as I go along.
I've even done a few Do-It-Yourself projects at home to save money. I first fixed my disposal about a month ago. It was jammed. So I went to Lowe's and bought a $7 tool that loosens the blades if anything is stuck in there. I also repaired my kitchen light that would "sometimes" turn on. This has been an issue since I moved in last July. I thought it was the bulbs at first, but I replaced them and it still had issues. Then I went to Lowe's and bought a replacement switch. The woman who happened to be in the isle and seemed like a lighting expert, told me that it may be the ballast. I had no idea what that was, but it is the electronic box that holds all the circuits, etc. They didn't have any at the store to power the size of my light, but I found one online. When I got it, I turned off the electricity, took out the old one, put in the new one and it is working fine now. I basically saved myself $150 by not calling an electrician to do this for me.

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posted by Anthony at 10:07 PM 0 comments

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Gabrielle Giffords shooting and health care

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords
Yesterday I was horrified to find out that Democratic congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot at a routine congressional event in her district. I normally don't like to write about political events, but I felt it was necessary to document something like this. 

When I read the news online I immediately turned on CNN. I first was trying to figure out just how bad the shooting was. I didn't see the initial reports that said Giffords died, but then I saw other news that she was in surgery. A bullet had gone completely through her head! Miraculously she is alive and responsive to commands. The doctors are very optimistic about her recovery. The dead included a 9-year old girl. John Roll, chief judge of the U.S. District Court of Arizona, and Gabe Zimmerman, Gifford's director of community outreach. 

The violence in this country is ridiculous and unnecessary. Obviously this was politically motivated since Giffords voted for health care reform and other progressive issues in a very Republican state. The shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, killed 6 people in all and supposedly has ties to anti-Semitic and immigration groups. Supposedly there is a 50-something white guy involved too. It doesn't surprise me at all that Loughner didn't act alone. How could a 22-year old orchestrate something like this? It upsets me that at normal political events we will now have to be extra cautious for crazed shooters. I often attend political events like gay rallies and other speeches. Do I have to wear a bulletproof vest now? What is happening to our country?

Arizona is a hot spot for many politically divisive issues including the controversial illegal immigration law passed last year that lets police officers detain anyone they suspect being in the country illegally. Hispanics are a big target of this law. If you don't have immigration documents on you it is considered a crime. Also, in 2008 AZ voters banned gay marriage by a margin of 62 percent. What?! It guess it truly sucks to be gay or Hispanic in AZ and I feel for my gay friends in AZ like Nirit who have to deal with all those ignorant, uncultured people.

It appears Sarah Palin, her supporters and the Tea Party movement have inadvertently fueled this fire for the attacks. I had no idea Palin had posted this map (on the left) back in March of last year. She specifically named Giffords as one of the lawmakers she wanted unseated in the November mid-term elections. According to CBS news, the map features crosshairs images to show the Democratic districts she targeted. She even wrote on Twitter, "Don't Retreat, Instead - RELOAD!"

What the fuck is wrong with people? We are at war with each other in this country. Democrats against Republicans. It's almost like a civil war really. Just take the Democratic parts of the East Coast, the West and small sections of the Midwest and pit those sections against the entire South and the rest of the Midwest.

I'm glad we have health care reform. Our country needed it. So many people are uninsured (over 46 million) and many lives become ruined after unexpected medical emergencies. These poor people are forever burdened with debt, all because this country can't figure out how to finance a comprehensive public health care system. I would be happy to pay more in taxes so that every American can be covered with a policy. For some reason Republicans believe universal heath care will bankrupt America. I would really like to hear another alternative. It comes down to selfishness. They just don't want to give anything away and help people in need. I am outraged that the Republicans want to repeal the health care law. It's not going to happen.


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posted by Anthony at 11:53 PM 0 comments

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Resolutions for 2011

Ever since I started a blog in February of 2000, I have posted New Year's resolutions. I went to see what my 2010 ones were, but I noticed I DID NOT post any! I must have been so miserable living in Orange County that I just forgot or didn't even care! Now that I am back in San Diego I am motivated and much happier. I even blog more often.

San Diego's Embarcadero is beautiful. Photo by ME!
Looking back on the last year, I achieved many goals. These were goals that I didn’t even set at the beginning of the year. The most significant achievement of the year has to be my job change. As time went on in 2009 I became more and more miserable living up in Orange County. San Diego was my home and had a special place in my heart as I had lived there since 2004. I had tremendous separation anxiety. I missed my friends and also missed the openness of many parts of the city including my favorite neighborhoods like Hillcrest, North Park and University Heights. I missed my gays!

Orange County is certainly not the hot spot for gays. I really missed just having a community in close proximity. LA was over 50 miles away and San Diego was 90 miles. I was in the middle of nowhere from my standpoint and felt very isolated. Granted, Newport Beach and Laguna Beach are very beautiful places with lush landscapes and beaches. I even lived on Balboa Island in Newport Beach for a time from May – Oct in 2009. Then I moved to Costa Mesa in October of 2009 and my experience in Orange County went downhill from there. Unfortunately much of OC is segregated by race and income and Costa Mesa certainly was the case. It actually should be a case study for racial segregation. I chose a neighborhood that I thought was going to be diverse, but it wasn’t and I felt very out of place. There were mostly lower income families surrounding me, with a few young people in their 20s and 30s here and there. Too many kids, too much noise and too much ghetto-ness. Just not my scene.

OC is simply not as mixed as many neighborhoods in San Diego. For instance, in University Heights where I live now, there are families, single gay and straight people, coupled straights, coupled gays, blacks, whites, Hispanic/Latinos, Asians, etc. There are apartment buildings next to cute Craftsman and Spanish style bungelows. There are Ethiopian restaurants next to Mexican restaurants next to Asian bistros next to Persian cafes next to hair salons next to antique shops. I am very happy to be back to my digs and feel at home.

As for the job itself, I started my search in February 2010. I had a lease at my Costa Mesa apartment until May 31, so I gave myself that deadline to find a job. If I needed to start a job before that date I would just pay double rent. Obviously that wasn’t an ideal situation. Well, after some interviews starting in early April through May, the last day of my lease (May 31) came and went and I did not have a job offer yet. June became the month of even more interviews and I got closer and closer to my “Escape from OC”.

Finally, on June 30, I received an offer to start a part-time contract job as a marketing specialist with a tech company about 15 miles north of San Diego. I immediately gave my notice at my then employer in Irvine the same day. A few weeks later on the second day of that contract job, I got another offer for a permanent full-time job, which I accepted. It all worked out in the end and I got a decent raise in salary and health benefits.

The other major goal I achieved in 2010 was the purchase of my first condo. Ironically it closed the same day I received the job offer (June 30)! The stars were certainly aligned that day. Since I had to move and the market was so good for home buyers, I just went for it. Being located in a different county had its challenges with the bank approvals, but I was still able to get the loan approved. The property I bought was a short sale and a very lengthy real estate transaction. The entire process took almost 5 months with my original offer submitted on February 8. It was worth it as I qualified for the First Time Homebuyer's tax credit, which I received in November. It's nice to have the extra cash for home improvements and to add as a cushion.

So 2010 wasn't a bad year at all. I got my life back in San Diego that I missed dearly. I got my motivation back in general. As for running, I still struggle with it and my hamstring injury, but my lower back no longer aches when I run. I am hoping I can do a marathon in 2011, but it's simply not a priority anymore. I can still do shorter races. Running will always be in my life, but I just don't know in what capacity. I actually miss tennis a lot lately. I may try to join the Balboa Tennis Club for $200 per year. It's a good deal and it will motivate me to play. I just worry about getting too competitive again. When I was in high school and college I was really mentally burnt out from all the matches I had to play. I put a lot of pressure on myself, always strategizing and thinking.

heater devices in my unit
On Christmas Eve I saw the paint bubbling above my fireplace. Well it turned out there is leak coming from the patio above mine and possibly the roof. The company that manages our HOA had a restoration company come in and they had to take out part of the wall, insulation and ceiling! The source of the leak is not very easy to find and I have been on the phone and meeting with roofers and other contractors for the past week. Since I am on the HOA board now, I called a meeting so we can review repair bids, etc. It's a good thing that we have plenty of money in reserves, but this is all new territory for me.

I may run for HOA president. There's only 4 people on the board including myself. It would make sense since the current president seems to be too busy to deal with the day-to-day issues that come up. Since I want to know everything that goes on with our property and actually care, I am a perfect fit. The other board members are supportive of me becoming president. We'll see how this meeting goes in a few days.

I am the type of person who gets things done. I am direct and I take action. The current president does none of that. He is the one who lives above me with the potentially faulty patio tiles that cause water to come down into my unit. Actually the sliding doors had water in them during the last rain. He said for the past 5 years water has collected there and in the corner INSIDE HIS UNIT! It BAFFLES me as to why he hasn't taken action on this, knowing it causes problems below his unit and within his own. He seems to not want to deal with it. He seems like the type of person who is too busy to care about a minor detail like water leaks. 

Back to my 2011 resolutions. Here they are.

1. Run at least 3 races in 2011. I can't commit to a full marathon but will certainly try to fit one in as one of my races.

2. Take a Spanish class at a community college. I may take one this January. I really want to learn the language again and it will help me in my career.

3. Help Jason get a job down in San Diego. Now that he is in the same state, I would love to help him get a job down here. I need to network on his behalf.

4. Read at least 4 books. I am really bad about reading now. I read tons of blogs and magazines but really would like to read more novels.

5. Start a monthly gay movie night. I want to entertain people at my condo and also get a group together to watch fun gay-themed movies.
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posted by Anthony at 12:26 AM 0 comments

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