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Portlandia, Official Icon for Portland Oregon

Yay! All done! Finally, all those months (9 to be exact) of training have finally come to an end by (I wish I could say, with a bang!) completing the 26.2 mile marathon in Portland, October 4th, Sunday.

Such A Pig Bib, Medal & 26.2 Magnet

My Official Shirt & My Good-Luck Charms

Target time of 6.5 hours just didn’t quite happen. I had problems early on, at mile 3. The toes to my right foot started to scream at me, with intense burning sensation. I can only think, ‘Oh boy, there are 23 more miles to go. How am I gonna finish this?!’ I was totally miserable as I reached mile 14, where I had a complete exhausted feeling and racking my brain for new strategy. Mile 17, which is the highest peak of the race literally on the St. John’s Bridge, was supposed to be the WALL. My wall started at mile 14.

But I had weapons of distraction on the ready by then. I puffed the last puff of my asthma inhaler, put on my mp3 player and swallowed (yuck!) 2 of the 2x caffeine gel for a boost. That changed everything. I was able to pass about 20 racers (some of which were seniors and some who were shorter than me. hahahahaha!). Also, I noticed that the burning sensation on my toes had ceased; with the conclusion that my feet were swollen enough to elevate the toes from touching the bottom of my shoes.

I even cheered on racers who were dragging their limping legs, as I passed them by. I would say, ‘xxxx more miles to go. Pick up, pick up!’ But deep down, I’d say, ‘Darn, xxx more loooooong miles to go.’ Even the last mile seemed like forever to reach.

Finally, I see the finish line. Hardly anyone on the sidelines were cheering. But surprise, surprise, my training coach was there and was happy to see me. I was just going to wave to her, but she came and hugged me. It was really a nice gesture, but all I could think then was, ‘Hey, you’re delaying my finish time.’

So, what was my finish time? Let’s just put it this way………I beat the 8 hour clock! Because after 8 hours, the organizers were supposed to clear away the area. Unluckily for my race partner, who always beats me in the dust at other races, finished at a dismal 9 some hours. Others were still there till 10 hours. So, really, I shouldn’t be whining, right?

It’s just my first full marathon. One learns alot at any first time events, right? First time marathon….lots of lessons learned. I mean A LOT! During the race, all I could think of was WHY? WHY WERE YOU CRAZY ENOUGH TO THINK YOU CAN DO THIS?!

After the race, the mind set is in a different state. In a state of euphoria for:

  1. overcoming one’s self-doubt;
  2. not giving up; not even the thought of giving up;
  3. not succumbing to the mental circus of thoughts going on during the race;
  4. and lastly, for actually reaching the finish line.

There’s a wish (death wish?) that there would be more marathons to accomplish even if it meant ‘just walking them’. This is very addicting! In a positive way!

Notes of Importance from This Race:

  • The weather that started with rain overnight before the race, turned out really wonderful with overcast skies (hate sunshine!) and about high 30’s into 40’s, I think. So, no overheating feeling there.
  • I didn’t overdress, one lesson I learned from the Eugene Half Marathon.
  • I didn’t overload on crappy useless stuffs in my backpack.
  • From watching other racers, I saw a couple with Cyclist’s Vests on. They seemed happy without any burden to carry. Next time I will invest in one and put all my necessities in the back pocket.
  • And depending on the amenities of the race, I will minimize carrying my own water. Portland Marathon was great giving out water and electrolytes and gummy bears. For this race, I loaded up with my own electrolyte thinking I’ll just drink their water. After so many miles, I was getting sick of and bored with drinking & eating SWEET stuffs like such electrolytes (which by the way is an absolute necessity) and power bars. To this day, I don’t even want to mention power bars. AND GELS!
  • As for food, variety is the keyBeef Jerky, dried fruits, pretzels, cheese stix, and trail mix would give one a no humdrum feeling.
  • And last lesson learned: it’s not only the physical that we train to accomplish feats of impossibility, one has to tackle and train THE MIND. Long races play tricks on the mind. It can drive you insane (well, not literally).

So, onto other races. In the meantime, I would like to tackle running, I mean RUNNING (not walking) a 5K.

Until the next marathon…….I remain optimistic and positive. On to a healthier lifestyle! Remember, walking is a way of life, use it!

Behind the Start Line at the Fountain, Early Morning Prior to Race, Hardly Awake

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Hey folks! I’m still around! Don’t go away!

I apologize for not posting for…..over a month?! Such a shame, huh? My website must have gotten soooooo boring, I can understand if my readers (who were few to begin with) decided to abandon me.

So, what have I done during my blog absence? Nothing really boring, mind you. I have kept up with knitting, dancing, still working nights, still on track with my walking training for the Portland Marathon in October. I’ve incorporated jogging a bit in my walk training, but am trying not to aggravate my knees.

This past Wednesday, I went to a knee/hip specialist to find out what the status is on my knee condition. Had x-rays done. The doctor took one glance at the x-rays and told me I have no ligament nor bone problems. I don’t even have any sign of arthritis. That’s wonderful to hear.

However, because I have Baker’s Cyst on both of them, there’s something that’s generating fluid build-up to the back of knees. I’ve known that I had Baker’s cyst ever since my rowing days. The first specialist I went to told me to stop all physical activities and see if the fluid would go away. I did that, stopped ALL activities for 6 years, until I got sick of the over-25 pound weight I put on. That first specialist also recommended that I had a choice of pain killers (steroid-type) or fluid aspiration or surgery to overcome the Baker’s cyst. I didn’t like the choices so I just laid off physical activities.

The fluid never went away on both knees. I dabbled with safe workout, but reality check was I’ve put on extra weight that I hate. I wanted to be fit again. Six years of exercise hiatus will not make one fit in a matter of months though. It finally hit me that walking IS a form of exercise. So, here I am today, excited and stoked about getting back to fitness.

This knee surgeon I went to this time around suspects that I have a tear in the meniscus and recommended an outpatient procedure called arthroscopy. Although it’s an outpatient procedure, the recovery may take a bit longer. I cannot afford that, as at this time when such a procedure would take me out of the marathon. I will have to postpone the procedure till after the marathon, if ever I decide to go forward with it.

This walking business seemed to have taken over my life. I even joined a fitness school, right after the Eugene Marathon, for my cross-training. The fitness program is SUCH a killer. It involves a combination of weights, aerobics, gymnastics at high intensity with emphasis on safety for 45 minutes. But it can be scaled to your ability and any physical, or health issues. I love, love working out on weights. I’m really enjoying this fitness school. I have a long ways to go though, as I get winded just 10 minutes into the workout.

So, there you have it. This is my excuse for being away from writing my blog. I can’t wait to resume it though. I’ve missed mentioning alot of stuffs happening around me, my life, my family and friends.

I hope you all come back, all 5 of you, to my blog. hahahaha!

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I have fallen off the fast-moving knitting wagon. Let me assure everyone (that is, if anyone is still out there checking out my blog), that I may have fallen off  but I’m brushing off the dirt, hobbling, scrambling to climb back up the wagon. It’s a race to get back on it.

Speaking of race………Yup! The race bug got me. I have already entered 2 races, a 5K on Mother’s Day for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Re-run Run and this last one, a 3K. The latest one, yesterday’s, was a fundraiser for the Greenhill Humane Society, called Bark in the Park.

Bark in the Park at the Start Line

My walking partner’s 2 dogs entered. I was to take her 4 year old Libby while she took 1 year old Matthew (Libby’s son). It was chaotic for me, me who is not used to handling dogs. I keep telling people around the start line to forgive me as I’m really a cat person.

When the race started, Libby wanted to be with her owner and was dragging me around to get to her. Boy, those bird dogs can run! As we met up, we exchanged dogs thinking Matthew, who usually is unpredictable and scatter-brain unless he sees birds, will be less attached to VC, the owner. I was more wrong than right. When he saw his mom dash off, he wanted to be with her or near her. He took off dragging me. Remember, there were people in the race……with dogs…….on the bike path……a bike path narrow enough for only 4 people wide. Matthew was worse to handle than his mom. If I slowed down, he would nudge my elbow to push me on. It was only a 3K (1.86 miles) race, but that was more exhausting than if I did a 5K.

After the race, there was agility demo, which the four of us entered. Libby was better at everything. Matthew was fine until we came upon the tunnel. So, VC and I switched dogs again. I got Libby to go through the tunnel. The guide told me to wait at the other end of the tunnel and dangle a dog treat. Libby was used to these ability tests and I had no clue whatsoever with what to do at these things. So as I went to the other end and peeked in, Libby smashed onto my face before I could even flash the treat. Shock was both on our faces.

Overall, I’ve never seen so many dogs of all kinds and sizes. They were amazingly well-behaved. I felt comfortable enough in what I’d call, ‘my slight phobia with dogs’.

VC with Libby and Matty

Libby (left) and Matthew with VC, just before the race. 

Oh, before I forget to mention, as Matty and I were rounding up to the pond filled with geese, ducks and ducklings, Matty lost focus. He kept looking to the pond and at one point, decided to go towards the water while we were just a few hundred yards from the finish line. Without looking down to him, I kept yelling, ” No birds! No birds! No birds!” People at the benches nearby were having a great laugh at that.

Isn't Matty Cute?

Guess I digress from knitting. Yes, I’m still knitting up squares for the afghan. Yes, KIP #4 is actually finished. I have yet to take photos. Sorry! And I’ve started another KIP ~ will blog about that soon.

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Yaaaaaay! What exhilaration! What accomplishment! The 3rd Annual Eugene Marathon is over!

The goal: to walk a half marathon (13.1 miles)

Target completion time: 4.5 hours

Accomplishment: Completed a half marathon in 3.5 hours!!!!!!!

Awards:

  • The medal (not a chocolate medal as I wished; and everyone got one);
  • A quarter-sized diameter of a blister on bottom of right foot;
  • A dead nail on one of the little toes of same right foot.

Medal for the Half Marathon

Post Race Notes

That’s my walking partner’s legs on the left and mine on the right. Check out how my right foot is stepping funny. That’s because the blister was intensely painful, like a blister on top of a blister.

That's me on the right!

I started limping at mile 4. The rain was steady at the start of the race and my socks and shoes were soaked. Decided not to change socks knowing if I did, the blister which I could feel had already adhered to the sock will rip open. Miserably, I limped till the end.

My walking partner got pulled along with the runners and had to run along with them. She finished 20 minutes ahead of me.

All along the course, I was tempted to check my time but held off till the end. The best and sweetest surprise was at the finish line when I could hardly believe my eyes. I shaved AN HOUR from my goal time. If only I could jump up and down at the finish line! But pain and fatigue prevented me from doing anything crazy like jumping or bending or anything. But sweet success, I did it!

And you’d think that after the race you are soooo hungry you could eat a horse or a cow, all  I just wanted to do was NOT TO PUKE. So I didn’t partake on the free pancakes. A banana, 2 bags of chips (for the salt intake), 3 bites of turkey subway sandwich were all I could stomach. Then it was off to a long, deep, relaxing massage. I actually napped till it was over.

We stayed till the end of the race. Although I forgot to take a photo at the start of the race (how could I when the area was jam-packed with people), I made sure to take a photo of the sixth-hour time.

Check out the time!

This week is a no-training week, a goof-off week. Then, on to a more rigorous training for the Portland Full Marathon (26.2 miles of hills and bridges) in October. My goal is to finish it at 6.5 to 7.5 hours considering the uphill battles. Mind you, during the race yesterday, I was actually asking/telling myself, “why, why, why am I here when this race is such a painful ordeal; why, why, why, oh why? I’ll never do this again!” After a day (today) of rest, I’m hooked. This is a new addiction! I can’t wait for the next training.

But before Portland Marathon, there’s the Butte-to-Butte 4.5 mile fitness walk. Butte-to-Butte has no 10k walking race, unfortunately.  Butte-to-Butte’s 10k run is brutal as the history indicates, with almost a vertical climb at the beginning of the race.

I might enter 1 or 2 more half marathons somewhere. We will see. It’s more like my knees will tell me.

Overall, I’m really, really glad I didn’t back out of this crazy idea to enter a marathon.

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 Putting Up the Truffle Shuffle Banner

The race started at 1 p.m. I got to Alton Baker Park around 1130 so I could find parking and retrieve my packet that contained the shirt, the race number and a bunch of other info. I scanned the area for familiar faces but only encountered my walking coach. The place seemed empty.

My Truffle Shuffle Race Number

Checked out sponsors’ booths, but there weren’t that many. Euphoria Chocolate, the big sponsor, hence the name Truffle Shuffle, had boxes of what I suspect contain the truffle chocolates, but they were not opened or out. Bagel Sphere’s booth was busy with volunteers cutting up bagels and bananas. KVAL-TV was there too, with water bottles. Also, there was Committed Partners for Youth (CPY) organization. They’re getting much of the money earned from the race. CPY matches adult mentors to youth in need.

Committed Partners for Youth Booth

By 1230, the crowd had swelled up. There were babies and toddlers in strollers; kids everywhere; lots of dogs of all sizes. I’ve never raced on foot, so this is all new to me. Racing with boats was quite different. The crowd was almost always away from the racers’ area. It would have been crazy h*ll bumping on long boats, expensive boats.

Anyway, when it was time to race, I was not too happy with people on all sides and quite close proximity to me. I may be feeling claustrophobic at this point. Once the bell rang, everyone started moving. It was chaotic, with people zipping in front, in back; almost tripping on yipper dogs; one dog pawed me in the back leg. Luckily, I didn’t get elbowed by anyone. Quarter of a mile, the crowd started thinning out. But then, the runners were coming back. Spotters were telling us to move to the left to let the runners pass on the right. Three truffle mascots passed us by. We cheered.

At the 1 mile mark, a spotter yelled out times. I heard 15 minutes something. I pressed on, inspired. Then the wind died; my feet dragged like lead. Even my mental voice saying “Yes I can” became “What the H*ll?” or “Why Am I Here?”. I thought if only I can see the parking lot where it all began, I will pick myself up and move faster. But it seemed forever before that happened.

Then…….

Then…….

I saw the parking lot. I ran and ran. Ooops! Wait a minute! Shouldn’t I be a walker? What the heck! I just wanted to finish. I passed the big digital clock saying 31:xx:xx. That was the best I could do.

I was so hot during the 2nd mile walk. But at the finish, I started to shiver. It was breezy and in the 40’s, overcast with a threat of rain or shower. I ran to the booths to get me bagels, bananas and water. The line to the truffle chocolate was long; longer still was the porta-putty line. Once I got my chocolate I found out you can only get one. Bummer! So I saved it to take home to my hubby.

Was one chocolate truffle worth the race? You betcha (as one former Republican vice-presidential candidate would say)! It’s for FITNESS & HEALTH!

Here are some more photos taken:

A Senior Volunteer, How Sweet!    Packet Pick-up Table    My Walking Coach on the Left    The Shirt In Reverse

Thank you, Truffle Shuffle! It was fun! I’m now more determined to enter other races. The half marathon isn’t far behind, in May.

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