Clear Eyes. Full Heart. Can’t Lose.


Every once in a while, a race report sneaks up on you.  Sort of like Fernando Valenzuela, famed Dodger pitcher, I breathed this race report out of my eyelids.  I didn’t want to write it.  I wanted to put it away.  And it’s been eating away at me all week. I have not connected with anyone, for fear I would have to face the Marine Corps Marathon square in the face.  I wasn’t going to write this report at all, except it is bleeding out of me all over the place. 

I have to work backward.  This race report starts at the gym.  Today.

I walk in because I haven’t even put on a shoe this week.  Literally, I’ve avoided anything running.  I walk in to the gym and go to the weights section.  I stand there.  I turn on the music.  The music I was going to run to for MCM.  I started to lift.  To do shoulders, triceps, biceps.  My body was staring me down. 

And, I remembered the first time I walked into the gym post childbirth.  I was a very overweight 40 year old with a baby and a toddler.  I was going to do Body For Life.  I was going to win a million dollars.  And, I stared at my body today, lifting the exact same weights I’ve been lifting for 10 years, except for this past year, I’ve only been running, and nothing else.

I picked up the weights.  Bohemian Rhapsody came on.  Never Going Back Again came on.  Closer to Fine.  All songs that have deep meaning to me, both personally and otherwise.  I started to cry.  I kept lifting.   And, I looked deep into my eyes, and saw the girl that was 40.  Trying to figure out if she could get her body back.  If you are a long time blog reader, you know my story.  But, fast forward 10 years, and I have conquered my third marathon.   But, now…I looked deep into her soul and found the marathon story resting patiently…

Because you see, it’s not like you are either Young or Old.  The girl at 40 is so much different than the girl at 51.  And, as I started lifting the weights, the tears came, just like they are doing now…for what I thought would be a life changing marathon for me, simply was not. 

Back through my week I went.  Looking at my students, not telling them about my race…not talking about it with colleagues.  I threw away my race calendar that was above my desk.  Stayed at my desk.  No interaction.  Like, if I just ignored it, it would stop nagging at me.  I drove back and forth to work 30 miles each way in a fog like I’ve never experienced.  Friends and family called “How was your race?” Fine.  Just fine.  It was fine.

Looking back to Monday when I flew in from Washington DC.  To riding the BART, to the flights.  To watching infomercials as the plane raced across the sky.  Immersing myself in new blenders, thighmasters.  To the morning I left.  To the Monday night alone in the hotel room.

And there it was.  My hotel room on Sunday night.  After my coach left.  Completely empty of any feeling.  Not sad, mad, hurt…nothing.  Just simply empty.

See?  I thought I would be more inspired.  Like, I’m going to fly all across the country to run with Marines, for Marines, around Marines.  And I figured out that they are doing their job.  Every day.  Just like I am.  I will teach your child to read, you keep my children safe from danger.  Period.  We have our jobs, and I have never met any one of our military men who signed up for the adulation that we give them.  In fact, it’s quite the opposite. 

Here’s where my race report gets dodgy.  I have forgotten some of the race.  I have.  Whether it’s by design or accident, my brain isn’t fully processing when and where things happened.

I weave back to the weekend.  The tweetups.  The people I talk to day in and day out who have become a part of what I do and who I am.  Friday night with Kirsten, Saturday at the Expo.  Being on FOX news.  Being with my coach.  Eating.  Going to the Diabetes Action Team dinner.

I got to Washington DC on the Thursday morning Redeye.  My friend Debbie picked me up and took me to her apartment, where I would spend the next two nights.  It was nice, because it saved me a boat load of money, but I had to be near the two cats, and I have bad allergies, so sleep wasn’t my friend.  I ran 4 or 5 miles in McLean on Thursday on a bowl of oatmeal and 2 hours of sleep.  Not pretty.

On Friday, my coach came into town.  By that time, I had successfully navigated the WashingtonDC Metro and got myself to the Tweetup that @ultrarunnergirl Kirsten had organized at her home.  It was simply lovely.  Beautiful sweet friends who I talk with regularly on Twitter.  I was walking up, tweeting, looking at the map, when the most lovely girl walked in front of me…turned and said, “Are you going to the tweetup?” And, I immediately recognized her as TK, the @pigtailsflying pal I have recently leaned on through thick and thin.  There are tons of pictures that I will upload, eventually.

@tinyjenna @evatesq @bklynrunner

Saturday,we slept until 10am, and never even got going until 1pm or so.  Ran a bit with my coach.  The Metro was filled with an odd assortment of people dressed for Halloween, people going to the Sanity Rally, and runners.  I maniacally chatted up every single person I saw.  What do you do? Where do you live? Do you Twitter? Do you run? Where do you work?  Geez.

This is probably my favorite picture of the whole weekend.  My coach.  With a ghoul.  Reading a newspaper.  This is the perfect picture to explain the weekend.  I can’t keep thanking him.  I have had no words all week.  But every time I look at this picture, I giggle.   He has infinite patience with me.  He does.  And I am so grateful.


I am interviewed by FOX News.  I look fabulous.

Sunday morning the alarm goes off with the feeling I recognize.  The words inside of my head:  Race Day.

We dress.

We walk.

We get to the start, and sit. 

And wait.

When the cannon rang, it was anticlimatic, as was the flyover, the Marines yelling OOrah, the Star Spangled Banner. 

Because really, I get more emotional as an American, every day during 3rd period when I stand alone during my Prep Period and salute the flag.  That moment means more to me every day than the pomp and circumstance surrounding a special race.  It’s the regular honoring of the country and her flag that I adore.  Yes.  Thank you to all our military.  I just really want you to know.  I don’t just salute you on Veterans Day or holidays.  I salute you every day.  In a very personal way.

I start walking and get to the mat.  The mat that will start recording, measuring, telling the world of my progress.  I’m not really sure of the exact mile markers because I didn’t wear a watch.  All I know is that by Mile 2 we were going up a little hill.  As was one on Mile 4 and Mile 6.  Two girls got in a fight I remember.  They were arguing about who cut who off. 

My coach and I said very little.  It was the exact opposite of the mania I inundated him with the two days prior.

I remember very little of Miles 6-10.  I know we were through Georgetown at that point.  I ran with the American Flag for awhile.  We ran up a bitch of a hill.  But I had not stopped running.

Around Mile 11, my coach says: You look good.  You look strong.

That’s really a great memory.  Because I felt amazing.

The Potomac River.  So many things I cannot repeat in mixed company, but every bodily function that you try to hold in, was coming out.  I tried shot blocks.  Immediately I was nauseous and got them out.  The puky feeling lasted for the rest of the bite me miles from 13-19.  At the half, I was at 2:30, 6 minutes off my half PR.  I got dizzy.  Not the acute vertigo that landed me on the ground in September, but the constant buzz buzz buzzing that was so chronic that all I wanted to do was sleep.

I remember thinking my coach’s arms looked like furry pillows. 

And I started rubbing his arm.

And begged to sleep.

And he would steer me back on the course.

And here we go again.  I am walking another marathon. 

My favorite sign from @deefsu:  Good Luck TWITTER PEEPS.  Man, that was the only one I saw.

The Washington Monument.  Staring at me.  Was this the Capitol?  The Lincoln Memorial?  Where the hell are we? And at one point someone gave me a bagel.  And I lost him on the course.  And I wanted to just walk off the course.  There went the 5:00 pace group.  Then balloons that I only assumed was the 5:15 pace group. 

I really can’t remember where we were going.  But I saw this sign:

Today, Make this Bridge your Bitch.

I had to get across the GW Bridge, or be pulled off the course.

Lotta walking.  Embarrassed.  Just wanted to go away.  Be alone.  Many miles back I had stopped feeling bad for my coach, because he of all people would never want that.  This was my race. 

Got over the Bridge into some weird place called Crystal City.  Like, it looked like a walker’s parade.  I could run for 30 seconds.  Then walk.  Then run.  Then walk.

Finally I said to Josh.  What time is it.

5:26.  We still had 2 miles to go.  I said 5:26???

This is what I remember.  I told him to leave me alone.  That I had to run by myself.  And, I started a slow shuffle to the next mile. 

By Mile 25, he found me and I remember him saying:  “Honey.  It’s time to move”  And we started to run.  Powered only by sips of water and Powerade that I kept down, he told me to run and not stop.

And, that’s just what I did.


It was a marathon, but don’t congratulate me.  I did 26.2 miles, but don’t tell me Good Job.  Because all I wanted to do was stop and never run again.  I could have manned up.  I could have run harder.  More. 

I have stared down the marathon infancy. 

And as I looked at my body in the mirror today at the gym, I decided that I am no longer a rookie, or a child.  If I am to do a marathon again…and I say that in all seriousness…I need to face the fact that my body will need to be re-tooled for the sport.  Not just my legs.  But everything.

Clear Eyes.  Full Heart.  Can’t Lose.



Age: 51 Gender: F


Distance MAR
Clock Time 6:10:53
Chip Time 5:59:30
Overall Place 20055 / 21986
Gender Place 7704 / 8724
Division Place 438 / 530
Age Grade 45.1%
5K 34:56
10K 1:09:06
15K 1:43:44
20K 2:21:47
25K 3:02:56
30K 3:51:31
35K 4:45:45
40K 5:40:22
Pace 13:44


Marine Corps Marathon
Image via Wikipedia

I wonder if this is a new form my brain is taking.  I am running the Marine Corps Marathon on Sunday, and you know.   Just can’t finish a sentence. 

I am going to Washington DC.  I hear there will be Marines.

Absolutely that is all in my brain.  Really.

Marathon #3.  Coming up.

I Speak Dog

American pit bull terrier (named Tuttle) seated.
Image via Wikipedia

17 miles were on tap on Saturday.  I’m not a fan of the long run.  Everyone knows that.  I tend to have insomnia the night before, I can’t get nutrition right, I want to give up.  All. The. Time.

On Friday, my coach tells me I need to send him my nutrition for the day.  I had oatmeal.  Not enough?  NO.  He sends me to a carnicería in my local town, and I order a burrito the size of a baby’s head.  Filled with rice and chicken, and all kinds of peppers and onions.  Topped with a mountain of cheese (which I mostly scraped off).  For dinner I had waffles and a Gatorade.  And this, my friends, is my new nutrition plan pre-race.  The burrito held me in good stead for ALL of the 17 miles.  I was neither hungry, nor overly full.  I felt amazing on that note.

We started out at 6am around the trail near the house, which gives me 3 miles before I have to cross the freeway.  We went on to the Green Bridge, and were on tap for a fabulous run.  At mile 6, I ate 2 shot blocks, and felt great.  Mile 7 or 8, we made a wrong turn, heading east away from Hwy 99, on the Salida exit.  Not knowing where we were, we turned and headed North to go by Modesto Christian School.

Dead End.

Dueling Banjoe’s on my iPod.

We found a canal.  Figured it would take us to the freeway.  Not so much.

At mile 10, we had to cross the canal, on a 1 foot wide cement block.  I had a touch of vertigo, so had to sit down and take a SUCCEED caplet, which I had planned on anyway.  Kim says, “oh, here’s a farm”.  It’s beautiful.  It’s shady, and we are running in almond orchards. 

Out of nowhere, a pit bull comes charging at us.  CHARGING.  BARKING.  We stop.  Uh. Oh.  We freeze.  We start pointing at the dog, and yelling, “NO, NO, NO”  And I am saying Go lay DOWN!  NO NO NO!  And the dog keeps barking.  And, all of a sudden, he turns, and runs away.  Kim says, WE SPEAK DOG!  She reminds me of the article in Runner’s World a few months ago.  We were so proud of ourselves.  The drama was not over though.

We can see the start of the green bridge.  Almost taste it.  But, in order to get to it, we must cross a disked up corn field.  We start running in ankle deep dirt, across the field, by the farmer and his tractor.  We crawl through a fence a mile later, and empty our shoes.  Back on the trail we go. 

She has to go home early.  I’m at mile 12.  I take out 2 more shot blocks, and start to eat, and another dog approaches.  Charges at me.  I didn’t know what to do, so I started feeding him shot blocks.  He kept coming back.  He was thirsty.  We finally run into town, over the overpass and to the Fire Station, because this dog needed water.  I have him run in with me.  I find a bottle, fill it, and feed him like a baby.  He is dehydrated.  I call him PACO. 

I knew he would stay with me.  But, he got what he needed and took off.

I started out the trail with exhaustion. The rest of the 4 mile trek was uneventful.  Stop, run, walk, run, walk.  Finally, I get to mile 17, a block from my house.

It was fun.  I speak dog.  But, my quads are angry, my friends.  A trail run was not on tap that day.  I ran 4 recovery junk miles, but I’m still sore.

Six weeks until The Marine Corps Marathon

Carry on….

…and there she was.

This morning, I had 14 miles on the schedule.  I was ready.  Legs ready, lungs ready, stomach…ready.  The only thing that continues to plague me the night before long runs is insomnia.  And, I’m so consumed with the next morning run, that I sit, immobile.  Talk to friends.  Read.  More sitting.  It’s not good.  Then I go to bed at an early time, like last night, and read.  And then I turn off the light.  Then it goes back on.  The dogs.  The neighbors.  This only happens when my kids aren’t here.  Otherwise, I’m slightly busy.

We had 3 loops planned, with me dropping Kim off at 10 miles.  The first 5 at 5:30am.  Who can go wrong with that?  The sun isn’t up, the air is cool.  You feel strong.  Our first loop was beautiful, sweet.  We came over Jack Tone overpass and saw the new clock tower, indicating we were on track for our time.

Our 2nd loop was out the dreaded Shell-Spring Creek loop.  This loop is going to the graveyard.  Today.  It’s the loop that continues to taunt me.  At mile 7, after taking my Clif Shot Blok, I was hit with nauseau so bad I nearly pulled over and took care of business.  At the end of our 10, Kim peels off to the side, while I head out to the trail…for the last 4 miles.

My shoelace was too tight.  I could feel it, and it hurt.  I leaned down at 11.2 to tie it, and that was all she wrote.  I walked on and off the next mile or so, but couldn’t get back in rhythm.  Because I was tired.  Literally I had 3.5 hours of sleep…the last time I looked at a clock was 1:30am.

I laid down in the shade on the path.  A bicycler came by, looked at me and said…are you okay?  I was.  I just wanted a nap.  So I took one.

As I headed out to the last 2 miles, I was walking, dejected once again.  Damn.  I thought to myself …I’m not a runner.  Like, at all.  Why am I not on an island in Tahiti sipping something cold?  Why am I doing this?

And…there she was.  Another runner.  Looking strong.  Coming around the corner.  I said hello to her, and she stopped.  Said she was training for her first full marathon.  She was tired…but we both started talking about our long runs, running when you have kids, her husband who is training for his first IM.  And then I turned the corner.  We exchanged names, running routes, Mom stuff.  We talked about water, fuel…etc.

It was then I started to run.  I turned the corner, and I ran.  It was a shit run.  It was.  But the only thing that would get me moving again was seeing another runner.  Because you people are the bright spot in my training.  Wherever you are, say hello.  It may get one of us running again.

Bandits Beware


Today, the story is Bandits.  Running bandits.  I googled this to find some cool articles, and of course as is prone with Google, I got lots of different hits, some having nothing to do with running.

And I found several articles, all of which I mostly agree with, and that you can find here.

The Number One Reason Not To Bandit A Race

Bandits Are Bad For The Running Business

Never Bandit A Race Under Any Circumstance

Unregistered Runners at SF Marathon

However, I’m talking about what happens not only to us at the back of the pack, but the volunteers, and indeed on a different level the ones in the front!

  • Having been very satisfied with a 10:40 pace as a 50 year old, I’m assured that on any given marathon or race, I’m going to make it under the wire in enough time, so as to not have the course closed on me.   However, running with bandits has me coming in to empty water stations, empty Gu boxes and volunteers who are wiped out already with the ton of people coming through.
  • Who knows how many actual bandits there are, but how will the race directors know how much materials to order for everyone, if the number of runners exceeds the paid registration?
  • As a volunteer at Mile 20 in LA, I can assure you that we are VERY concerned about those folks who come in wiped out (as Mile 20 is supposed to feel), who need our help, our aid…and there’s something of a resentment brewing inside of me as I watch non-paid runners glide on past…or even get water and throw their cups on the ground.  If you pay for it? Yeah, go ahead and throw it down.  That’s why I’m here.  It’s my job.
  • I remember Napa to Sonoma half last summer, when there was not ONE drop of water at an Aid station.  The worker there started yelling at us…”Don’t bug me about it…all the runners came through already!”  And I’m standing there parched…and I didn’t bring water because I knew when and where to get some … (that was the last race that I relied on the aid station)…but there’s a level of hostility that arises…

In general, a bandit is actually a thief.  Even the pacers…which brings up a separate issue.  If you’re pacing someone at a Marathon, and you’re a bandit, then you are doing two disservices.  One to the race directors and volunteers…but other, more significantly is the fact that is seems more like cheating. 

I believe in pacers.  I’m having one at the Marine Corps Marathon.  But, you will bet your life that he will have a paid registration, and a bib, and will be able to enjoy every bit of the marathon …legally.  This includes the crowds, the volunteers, the water, the excitement…and me. 

Because no one steals from Ms. V.

New “First”

This summer, I was informed that since I’m on vacation, I will be getting 2 workouts a day.  My response?  Bring it.  Feeling cocky and sure of myself, I knew I could do it.  Easily.  You just workout, eat, rest and workout, right?  Not so much.

This is the third week of these two a days, and this week, for the first time, I was able to do three in a row.   And it was a big deal.

Tuesday:  Did Spin & Core work in am, Yoga & 4 miles in the evening.  Yoga is so hard, but I keep thinking it’s like relaxation, and it is SO not.  My teacher, at the end of the class says, “And you get to go run 4 miles”.  Yeah, i know.  Tuesday’s miles weren’t so bad, but I was definitely feeling it.

Wednesday: 4 miles relaxed in the morning.  Well, since I’m up until midnight, morning was more like noon.  On the treadmill.  Nice and slow.  Wednesday night called for a mix-up of 6 miles, alternating times.  I did it for 3, but bailed and finally ended the night just doing 3×2 9:30 splits for nearly 2 miles.  We got in the 6, just not as prescribed.  It was wicked hot and hard, and Kim and I were both spent at the end.

Thursday: The morning called for spin and core, which I did easily, and I thought…oh, tonight’s 4 miler will be EASY PEASY (just like my coach called them).  They were anything but that.  I parked my car at the market, because we were out of milk, and I could also avoid a hill, making it an easy run.  When I got to N.Ripon Road, I looked at Crash Davis, and realized, it was only .6 mile.  Really?  Up and around Mistlin Park, by the Jack Tone Truck Stop, into the market parking lot I fly…and look down.  2.83 miles.  I ran around and around.  Down side streets, because I needed to prove to myself that I could do four miles.  I ran into the parking lot just as the manager was coming in.  I got my keys and ran in and grabbed a water…which I paid for with my groceries.

And, I finished 3 days in a row of 2 workouts a day.  But, I’m spent.  I really am.  Today is an off day, with a 5am start tomorrow of 11 miles.  Damn.  It was hard.  But, I’m very satisified with this.  Time to rest & hydrate because it’s going to be 106 today.  Central Valley.  It’s July. 

In Search of 4.

I have just started training for The Marine Corps Marathon.  Official training.  I’m in week 2.  Here’s some things I’d like to do differently this time:

  • 2 a days.  When I have time, which I do this summer, my coach has given me workouts twice a day.  these are variations of spinning, yoga, running & core work.  i have only been able to do 2 in a row.  tomorrow i will see if i can do three.
  • take myself seriously.  i think for the most part, i can pump myself up to believe i can do it.  yay yay yay me.  however, you have to have the money behind your mouth.  which means every time i don’t want to work out, i take myself out of the running, literally and figuratively.
  • no pedicures until november 1.  what i’ve learned about my feet is this:  if i build them up during training, then slough them off over and over, i’m really damaging the hard work i’ve put in.  i’m sure there’s no scientific evidence to back this up, but honestly, there should be.
  • no diet sodas until november 1. remember i gave up diet drinks this year before the la marathon.  well, slowly, ever so slowly, they worked back into my diet.  here and there.  diet mountain dew, diet orange, full coke, etc.  i feel better when i don’t have them, so now…i don’t have them.
  • focus. i have wanted a bq since i started running.  when i’m 60, i will have to have a 4:30 time to bq.  i hope to do it before then, and my coach believes that i can if i do the work.  it’s not a wish, it’s a real goal.  but lately, i’ve been diverted with thinking about ultras, tris, etc.  not that i’m going to do them.  i’m not.  i just know that i’m the girl that wants to conquer the marathon and that’s it.  even this month in runner’s world, there’s a section on tris.  no bueno.  if i wanted to read about tris, then, i’d get that mag. (as i type this, i’m getting lots of nods from my twitter pals, so probably in a year from now this means i’ll be training for a tri.  no no no)
  • 4. the number is 4.  i don’t care if it’s 4:59:59, i want a 4.  which means i have to work for it. 
  • races i have the san francisco half marathon in july, nike half marathon in october.  august & september are not spoken for.  that being said, i love racing, but my focus is running, and running hard.  building up my hockey stick legs for the hills on the marathon.  the endurance.
  • music. one thing i’ve learned recently, is that there is a reason that i turn my music down during races.  it’s because the music distracts me from my body, and i defocus very quickly.  so recently people have been talking about running naked.  no music, no garmin.  this morning, i ran a full mile with sound.  it felt good, but it was boring as hell.  so yeah, sometimes i need the distraction.
  • boyfriends and dating.  or dating and boyfriends.  or lack thereof. i seem to get fairly dipsy when a man comes into my life.  the last few months i’ve met several men, dated, chatted, phoned, texted, emailed, skyped.  here’s the deal for me.  i gotta get this marathon thing nailed.  so i know i’m not normal.  i know people have full on relationships while training, and although i’ve stated LOUD AND CLEAR, that i do NOT want a relationship, i seem to get wacky just with the kiss-chase.  so yeah, i’m gonna put that on hold too.  as if i have any say about it.  the universe has it’s ways.  but i’m not in pursuit.  at all.  and it’s killing me. lol
  • remember why i’m running you see the sticky note at the top of my blog.  it’s why i’m running this particular marathon.  i couldn’t find a marathon where i could run and raise money for diabetes.  i’m so tired of hearing about my sister with some new illness, with some other reason to be careful.  her story is on the team lala page, and gives me purpose for this training.  so yeah, i want that sub 5, but i’d give it all if she could just get better.