Saturday, July 22, 2017

How Running Saved My Life

There is a saying, you can't put the toothpaste back in the tube.  Have you heard of it?  Well, once I tell my story, I can't take it back.  I will have exposed myself to my community and am now at the mercy of their judgement.  But, if I can help someone as I was helped, it will be worth it.

I suffer from severe depression.  Have so for years.  It ebbs and flows...sometimes I'm happy for a long period of time, and sometimes I just want the world to end, at least my part of it.  A few years ago, I spent the entire month of December in bed except to go out to the store three times.  It was definitely a low point and one I don't care to repeat.

I discovered my love of running just over two years ago when I ran my first official race, the Nike Women's Half Marathon in October of 2014.  Rarely will you see me without the Tiffany medal around my neck.  It was my proudest accomplishment until I ran my first full marathon last year.

But let's not get ahead of the story...

I ran the Nike Half, the RnR San Francisco Half, and then the RnR Liverpool Half.  They were amazing.  I had the RnR Tour Pass 3-Pack, so I decided to also include San Jose that year, which was a race that I really did not enjoy.  I don't like running in the heat, and October in San Jose is still hot.

So I stopped running and just focused on working.

I had experienced some major setbacks in my personal life that year, which I will continue to keep private.  The only thing that kept me smiling was my job--one that I continue to truly love.  When the depression would hit hard, the only thing that got me out of bed was work.  I would spend days in bed with the lights off, just crying and feeling horrible.  But, a show would come around, and I would jump at the chance to get on a plane and get away from my current misery, put on a pretty face, and go out in public.  January, February, March...I spent as little time at home as possible.

I was in Washington DC in March 2016, working a convention and decided to stay in a hostel.  I had never stayed in a hostel before, but figured, why not?  I was going through another severe low, and being alone was NOT a good idea.  I'm pretty sure I wasn't going to do any harm to myself, but, you never really know with depression when you will cross the line.  Too many have found out the hard way where the line is, and are no longer with us.  I didn't want to be a statistic.

I was only supposed to be in DC a week for work, but decided to stay for a few days and play tourist, since I had never really seen the city.  With the company of a coworker, we stayed an extra three days, and it really improved my mood.  I saw that the RnR DC was that weekend and figured, what the heck, and decided to sign up and stay through Monday.

The night before the race I hung out with the guests at the hostel, drinking beer, telling stories, and them calling me crazy for signing up for a half marathon.  Yup.  But it kept me from staying in my bunk, hiding my sobbing, and wishing that I had any other life than the one I had.

So I got up super early, grabbed my gear, and headed to the common area to eat and get ready for a half marathon.

Sitting on the couch was a young man getting ready for the race, and we chatted a bit.  I told him that it was nothing for me to jump on a plane and fly across the country for work, and he said he felt the same about races.  He told me that he was going to run the 5K, and hopefully get back to the half starting line so he could do two races in one day.  I admired that, as I had just closed a huge show in San Francisco, and redeyed into DC to open another one.  I knew we were alike.  We switched contact info as he told me about this really great running team that was as crazy about travel as we both were.  And out the door we both went.

DC was great!  I hadn't run in months, but I still earned a PR.  I had already signed up for the RnR San Francisco the next month and was excited to meet some of the people on my new "Team."  But when I got back to San Francisco, I rediscovered my depression, and while not as bad as it was the month before, it still weighed me down.

If anyone knows about people who suffer from depression, they know to keep us away from bridges when we are down.  The RnR SF takes us over and back of the Golden Gate Bridge.  I hate that bridge.  I hate running across it, biking across it, driving across it, doing anything across it.  It's always in the back of my mind how easy it would be to just go out there sometime when I hit another low and...well...yeah.  End it.

And this race takes us over it.  Twice.

To make it worse, I fell on the bridge and broke my toe.  Oh, joy.  But I had a good friend running her first half marathon, so I got up, put on a smiley face, looked straight ahead and kept going.  My time sucked, but I finished, and with a bag of ice taped to my foot, I limped home, ready to fly to Las Vegas the next day to work all day standing in dress shoes.

I hate that bridge.

But, running continued once I healed, with Liverpool again, Seattle, Virginia Beach, Chicago, and a bunch of others.  I was meeting so many new people who I had so much in common with as we were on the course.  We all loved to run, but we all had just an edge of sorrow within us.  We can spot it within each other...it's a secret handshake of sorts that we don't talk about but know it is there.  And I think that is what gets us through the rough spots, both on the course and in our personal life.

Eleven half marathons down in 2016.  Holy smokes.  I'm feeling good, but still missing something...the depression is not as strong because I'm traveling like crazy, either for work or for races.  I don't have time to feel sad.  Dublin, Lisbon, Brooklyn.  Places I had never seen or thought I would see.  Each of them kept my mind busy and my calendar full.

What was missing was a full marathon.  OK.  Hell, why not.

I signed up for the RnR Savannah and didn't tell anyone.  I didn't want to be the girl who tried to do something and failed.  I'd been made fun of my whole life for my inability to keep up physically with everyone else, and I sure as hell wasn't going to attempt a full and DNF.  I could never be seen in my group again.

A few people figured out that I was trying to do the full and one even upgraded to run with me.  So sweet.  I don't want to embarrass him by naming him, but his initials are ZZ.  LOL.  Nobody has ever done something like that for me.  I always do things alone.  And now someone was going to stay by my side to make sure I was OK.  Yeah, this is new.

The morning of the marathon came, and the word was out.  Everyone knew I had never run more than 15 miles and I was attempting 26.2.  Well, that's me.  Why not.

I was nervous as hell and quite intimidated as I had my breakfast and warmup in the VIP area.  People saw my bib and really encouraged me to be strong and finish.  My friends were there, as was the rest of my team, and I felt good.

And then, someone came over to me and said some words I will never forget:

"I wanted to tell you that no matter what happens, I love you, and I'm proud of you."

I honestly think I had been waiting to hear that sentence my whole life.  I don't think anyone has ever said that to me.  And I'm 45 years old.

There was no way I wasn't going to finish.  Kicking and screaming and crawling, I was crossing that finish line.

And I did.  Because someone cared.  Not because of something that they wanted from me, or because they had to say that to me, but simply because I needed to hear it, so he said it.  It was the most selfless thing anyone has ever done for me.

I finished the marathon, ran a punishing Las Vegas half a week later, and earned my Hall of Fame (15 races in one year) in San Antonio in December, and then went home for three weeks.

And yes, the depression leaked back in, but not as bad as the years before.  I survived December and the holidays alone and went back out on the road for January, February, and March...the usual.  But this time, I made sure to work in my races where I could.

Because I needed them.  And I needed my friends.

Full marathon in New Orleans in February.  DC again, Dallas to Mexico City, and then San Francisco.  That damn bridge again.  Where I fell and lost my nerve.  But this time I owned it.  As my previous blog stated, not only was it a great race, but I set a new PR.  I think this time, because I know how much I hate that bridge, it was that emotion that powered me over and back.  It wasn't going to win.  Not this time.

And then a two month break...I couldn't race because work was too busy and I really felt the effects.  The depression crept back in, and when I finally had a week off in early May, I spent it in bed...not crying as much as I used to do, but definitely feeling the effects of depression.  And not training.  I just couldn't get up and go for a run.  Between the depression and the guilt from not running, I was a mess...

But Liverpool was coming, and this was going to be my second full of the year.  And I did it.

And then I flew back to the US and completed the San Diego full a week later.  PR.  And the coveted Triple Marathon Medal.  Oh, that felt good!!

And we all know how much I like those marathon finisher jackets!!!!

I've had to miss some races that I wanted to do because of work, but I'm still on track to complete my 15 required races for the RnR Hall of Fame this year.

I'm also throwing in a few more just for the heck of it.  Because...why not??

Tomorrow morning I'll be up at 3 AM to have breakfast and pull on my long sleeves to run the San Francisco Full Marathon.  I have no idea what possessed me to do this race, but I'm still going to try anyway.  I'm sore from the Chicago half last week and a full week on my feet for work, but, hell...if my mental state can't defeat me, my physical state sure won't.  I don't care if I'm last across the finish line, I'm still going to cross it unaided.

And I'm going to run across that damned bridge.  Twice.  I hate that bridge.  But I'm not going to let it beat me.  Someday I want to run across it and actually enjoy it enough to smile.  But until then, I'll be head down, fighting all the emotion that it brings because I know that if I hadn't found running, I might not be here.

So, long story...but running saved my life.  As did a few, well, many people on my running team.  A good friend of mine said it best, "I've never seen you so happy as when you are running."  Yup.  That is it exactly.

But, I'm a work in progress, and even though I know that I want to get up and go log some miles, there are days that I just can't do it.  Race days and work days definitely get me out of bed, but training days sometimes just don't.  I wish they did, as I know I could be stronger and faster.

Maybe someday.

I'm just happy to still be here.  I was afraid for a few years that I wouldn't be.  And I am so thankful for those around me and beside me that make sure I hear what I need to hear to stay here every day.  Because some days are much harder than others.

Running gives me something to get out of bed for when I feel all hope is lost.  It gives me relationships with people with whom I have things in common.  And it gives me the ability to set goals that are individual and challenging, yet I know I can achieve.

So now it is time to go to bed.  Because 26.2 and a bridge await me in a few hours, and I think I've cried enough writing this that I need to start pounding fluids so that I'm not dehydrated tomorrow.

Thank you for listening.  I'm sure I'll massively edit this in the next few days, but for now, this is what I'm feeling.

And thank you, Joe, for those words in November.  I did you proud.

Life is Good.  Life is better when you have a purpose to be a part of it.

We'll do the totals later....

----------------------------------------------

EDIT:

Two things...

1.  The first time I went across that bridge was the day we did the small memorial for Robin Williams in my old neighborhood.  As you know, he suffered from depression and committed suicide.  It was also the morning that I found out my best friend was diagnosed with cancer.  After the memorial, I just started running.  I ran through the Presidio and after a few miles, my only choice was the bridge.  So, angry as hell at the world, I ran across it, and back.  It was the first time I went over 10 miles.

2.  Today as I was running across the bridge, my timing was just perfect to see a man drop to one knee and propose, right at the middle.  It was foggy, cold, wet and miserable.  The wind was strong and made me shiver and cramp.  But the love that these two had for each other brought the sun out and the entire bridge cheered.  I stopped for a while to take pics, and I hope I can find them online to send the pics to them.

So now every time I cross that bridge, I will have a very good memory of the love shared between two people, even in the bleakest of circumstances.

I don't hate that bridge so much anymore...

 



Tuesday, March 28, 2017

When your favorite airline and race series come together in your hometown, you HAVE to set a new PR!

Two weeks ago, I wrote about redeying into the United RnRDC half marathon, and the amazing support I received from the United staff at three airports as well as the in-flight crews.  That story is here if you want some background.

This weekend, I was thrilled to be able to run the United RnRSF half marathon in my hometown.  This would be my third time running it.

While the last blog was about the support getting TO the race, this blog will focus on the support AT the race itself.

Wait--I was just there!
As a 1K member with United, I get a lot of perks.  The first one was flying First Class from my last race in Mexico City to my home in San Francisco.  That was a punishing race day (and the recap is the next blog), and being able to stretch out in First Class was an unexpected thrill.  And since I hadn't been home in almost a month (even before the RnRDC race), being able to bring my suitcase home, have a day or two to unpack, and sleep in my own bed were exactly what my mind needed to start focusing on Sunday's race.

Friday, 24 March

United had offered a "VIP Experience" for some of its selected MileagePlus Members.  Naturally, I signed up.

Aaron, the man who gets things done!
Upon arriving at the Expo, I went to the United Booth and met Aaron, the coordinator of the United MileagePlus VIP for the race weekend.  He and I had been in communication earlier, and I wanted to thank him for all of his hard work in ensuring that my running team and their families who qualified for the VIP Experience were all sorted for the weekend.  Many of us were on our fourth race in three weeks over two countries, and sometimes we forget details like submitting our guest's name by the deadline.  Aaron handled everything with true professionalism and represented United in the most positive light.


Susie, United FA
POLARIS!
I also met Susie, a Flight Attendant with United.  She and I chatted a bit about the RnRDC weekend, and how much all the support in my flights to work or to a race really makes a difference in my performance.  I really hope to see her again on one of my future flights.

And then.... POLARIS!!

I have been looking forward to flying in the new Polaris Class and planes for months.  There were actual seats at the Expo for us to try out and experience Polaris Class without booking a flight.  As I am a savvy traveler, I saw online that the new Polaris Class 777 was making a few trips from SFO-EWR and snagged a ticket on the flight, and put in for an upgrade.  We'll see how it goes in two weeks!  In the meantime, I know everything I need to know about being in complete comfort for my transcon flight, and will definitely look for these aircraft when I fly to Europe or Asia in the future (Chengdu, maybe??).

I had a great night of sleep in my own bed that night and woke up Saturday refreshed and relaxed.

Saturday, 25 March

Giving a United Airlines Testimonial
My teammates were all meeting at the Expo around 3:00 so I headed to the Expo early to visit with the people I didn't get a chance to see in DC, Dallas, or Mexico City.  I stopped by the United Booth again to say hello and was asked if I could provide a testimonial for United's Customer Service as a 1K member.  Moi?  Talk up my favorite airline??  DONE!  It was my pleasure to thank everyone for all that they do for me.

I met up with my team for the usual pre-race shenanigans and was in bed by 9:00.

Sunday, 26 March  RACE DAY

I woke up about 1:00 AM feeling excited and nervous, but rested.  I had run this course several times over the past three years and know it is a tough one.  Hills.  And the Golden Gate Bridge.  And a big hill at the end.

Definitely Running While Branded
And I also knew that this time, I would go for a PR.  Not just a San Francisco PR, but an overall best.  I had great rest, enough sleep, good food, and the support of my favorite airline, my running team, and all the people at Rock N Roll working for me.  I was going to OWN this course today.

I took an Uber out to Beach Chalet where I was greeted by Aaron at the entrance (does he ever sleep) and welcomed by more United staff for the breakfast.  Coffee, juice, pastries, yogurt, etc.  All the things that one needs to fuel up before a race.  And I was thankful that it opened at 4:30, as I need to have food in my stomach early to calm the nerves.  Oh--and indoor toilets!!!  That, alone, is worth getting a VIP ticket.

We were shuttled to the start line where I joined up with the rest of my team for our pre-race pictures and took my spot to the side of the group, as I'm a little slower than the rest of the pack.  I drank my Glukos, finished stretching and waited for the countdown.

Black Sheep getting ready to Run


The race was as magical as it always is.  The first mile is always slow and congested as people fight to find their pace and space and get ready for the first hill.  Three blocks uphill, then on the flat.  And then a downhill mile.  This is where you push yourself as fast as you can go and burn through the shinsplints...as there is a punishing hill right around the corner that can own you if you aren't prepared.





Cresting Lincoln Hill
I love how the Blue Mile is on the Lincoln Hill.  This is the slowest part of the course for most, a 200 ft. climb to the top of the Presidio, and as you push yourself up and feel the burn in your legs, it allows you the opportunity to consider what our Service Members have done for our country.  It's hard not to start crying when you see the pictures of those who have given their lives so I can have the freedom to do something as simple as run up a hill on a Sunday Morning.  I am forever grateful for their daily sacrifices.

A little chance to breathe on a small downhill drop and turn to the Golden Gate Bridge.  Time to drink another Glukos and fight another uphill slope.  This was the first time I have reached the bridge and not had any runners already on the way back.  Part of it is because the starting line was moved in slightly, but a major factor was that I was really pushing myself up that hill.  I looked at my Garmin and saw that my time was great and I was on track for a new PR.

Over the bridge, around the rest stop, and back on the bridge.  At the peak of the bridge, we just passed 10K.  As I train on this course, I know that the next two miles are downhill.  Time to run as fast as possible to balance out the time the hill at Mile 11 will counter.  And I did.  I ran my first official sub-9 minute mile.  The time flashed on my Garmin and I knew there was no way this course would beat me...at least I hoped it wouldn't.  I knew that last hill was still waiting.

On the Marina Flat I caught up with my teammate and friend, Sherry (and another United 1K member).  Sherry holds the record for the most RnR miles run, and has been a mentor of mine over the past year.  I was out of breath from the downhill and just looked over at her and said, "I'm trying to PR.  Get ahead of me and guide me in."  She's quite the quick runner and I knew that if I stayed on her tail, I would finish strong.

Another Glukos stop on the flat and we turned for the hill.  It doesn't matter how many times I train for this race, this hill always tests me.  I looked at my watch.  2:02.  I started doing math.  I needed to beat 2:24.  Can I get up this hill and to the finish line in 22 minutes?  Oh, I'm sure going to try.

I crested the hill, saw the finish line, looked at my watch and started to cry.  I still had six minutes, and I knew that this part of the course would take three.  I lost Sherry on the uphill, but caught sight of her on the way down and just glued my eyes on her back.  I started to panic because this road has potholes and if I fell it would cost my PR.  I fell last year on the GG Bridge and broke my toe.  No, I was not going to fall again.

Victory!  And a new PR!
I crossed the Finish Line at 2:21:57.  Three minutes better than my former PR, which was earned at the Seattle RnR, ironically, on a hilly course.  I love my hills.

I collected my medals and went straight to the United VIP Lounge where the faster members of my team were waiting, hugging and congratulating everyone for finishing a tough race.

And right there was Aaron--there must be three of him--congratulating every person and welcoming them into the lounge to have breakfast and refreshments and sit in the sun to relax and share our victories.  There were also many United Flight Attendants walking around the area, chatting with the runners, and a few of them even ran the race themselves.  Well done!

I sat with my friends eating bacon, hydrating, and stretching out my legs.  United offered free medal engraving--a luxury that I have never afforded myself--so I took advantage of that.  And massages....ooooohhhh....yes, please!!

We closed the place down, lol.


Team Black Sheep Run
Thank you, Adrian Mauricio for the pic
It was a wonderful experience for me to be able to run a race at home, since most of them are run while traveling and the price I pay for all the travel is a slower time than I would like.  The day was enhanced even more by being able to run with the support of my family--my running team and the wonderful employees of United Airlines.

Team United RnRSF
I was interviewed again about my participation at the race, and how having the United VIP Pre and Post Race Hospitality Area enhanced my overall race.  I can honestly say that I would not have set a new PR if it wasn't for this opportunity and invitation.  The food, the smiles, the encouragement, the behind-the-scenes preparation...each little detail became the strong movement of support that pushed me up those hills and across the finish line.  Words cannot express the amount of gratitude I have for all of you.

But I know the service does not stop now that the race is over and the medals are hung.  I was asked why I love United so much and enjoy flying to and from races on that airline.  I remembered the time when I earned my (now shattered) PR in Seattle last June.  I flew home right after the race and had a horrible cramp in my leg.  The Flight Attendant noticed my limp and my medals when I got on the plane, and as soon as we passed 10,000 feet, she jumped up, brought me a bottle of water and told me to use it to roll out the cramp...and congratulated me for my achievements.

Maybe.....
This is why I fly United.  And this is why I am looking forward to a long, happy partnership between United Airlines and the Rock N Roll Marathon Series.  I just might have to put Chengdu on the calendar, after Liverpool, Dublin, and Lisbon...





Life is Good.  Life is better when you run with a team of hundreds, or even thousands.

Celebrating with Sherry

I want to dedicate this race to my friend, Sherry Ricker, who got me up that last hill and to a PR...even if she doesn't know that she did it.  Sherry, you are the BEST!!


Miles Run: 181
1K Qualifying Miles: 26,601
Actual Miles Flown:  31,451



Wouldn't it be great to have a RnR here??



Always branded





One of the founders of Black Sheep Run,
Justin Bravo
I did it!!!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Thirteen miles run and thirteen thousand miles flown...sort of...

What does a woman who travels for a living do when she has 36 hours off between work and vacation--both on the West Coast?

She jumps on a plane to redeye into The United Airlines RnR Washington DC Marathon.

Why not?

This blog isn't about me running or the race itself.  We hear about people getting on a plane with a backpack and flying across the country (or various oceans), landing, running, and flying home right after.  Total respect, but let's take the challenge up a notch.

I'm on the road for a month, leaving home on 27 February.  Three shows, three countries, a few races, a "real job" interview, and then finally home.  A backpack doesn't exactly support this time frame or this many outfit changes.  I have a 45-lb suitcase with me...and a huge carry on.

THIS is a challenge.  And I do love a good challenge.

Let me tell you how my race weekend went and the support I received...because this is what my blog is really about.


Friday, 10 March

5:00 AM:  Las Vegas.  Wake up, pack suitcase, pack TSA approved food to prepare me for the race and eat on the plane.  Peanut butter in celery sticks as well as 2-oz. containers, salad, fruit, lunch meat, cheese, etc.  Throw it in the refrigerator.  Go to work.

Everything you can take through TSA.
12:00 PM:  Check the weather forecast.  TWENTY DEGREES??  Wait!  When did that change?  I only have shorts and one pair of yoga pants with me.  No hat.  No gloves.  No thermal race gear.  Nothing.  Freak out and message everyone on my team to buy me warm clothes at the Expo and get my race bib and bag for me.  Done.

4:00 PM:  Leave work.  I have been on my feet at back to back shows for two weeks, with a trip to Los Angeles for the weekend in between.  Feet hurt.

5:00 PM:  Arrive at LAS.  Check my suitcase.  Head to the United Club.
Frank and company at LAS

5:15 PM:  Chat with Frank and his coworkers at the Club about my upcoming adventure.  They have helped me plan it, so they are excited that I am really doing it...if I make the flights.  Weather on the East Coast is messing things up.  Wheee!

6:30 PM:  Board and leave for SFO.

My favorite United Club Bartender, Dennis
8:30 PM:  Arrive at SFO.  Head for the United Club.  Dennis is there, my favorite bartender, who also knows of this crazy adventure I'm planning.  He fills the three baggies that I brought with ice to keep the meat and cheese cool on the flight to IAD.  Change into race gear...what little I have with me.


9:30 PM:  Board for IAD. Asked the FA if I could keep my ice-packed lunch in the back, as I am flying on the bulkhead and have to keep everything overhead.  I don't want to drip on anyone.  I tell them about the race and they think it's fantastic, as some of them are running the United RnR SF.  And...mechanical.  Oh, the one word no one wants to hear when pushing a timeline.  We take off late, but we take off.  I don't sleep because I am stressed about making it to the starting line.  No possibility of the Full now.  Even the Half is in doubt depending on when I land.

Saturday, 11 March

6:30 AM:  Land.  Small eternity to get off the plane.  Head to the United Club (that's three) for coffee.  Apply Body Glide and pull on compression socks.  Out the door.

7:00 AM:  Full Marathon starts.  I'm just catching an Uber.  Eating all of my packed lunch that I can.

7:50 AM:  Arrive as close to the starting line as possible to catch the Half.  OMG IT'S 20 DEGREES!!!!  Meet my friend, Laura, at Gear Check to get my bib and check my carry on.  Call my other friend who has my gloves and hat to tell her where to meet me.  She's lost on public transportation and won't make it.  Freak out.  Start eating Glukos Chews.  They are frozen and chewy, but they work.

8:15 AM:  Meet my running team, Black Sheep Run, for the team photo.  They see I am freezing and give me hand warmers but are at the minimum for themselves on anything else warm.  OK...let's go for it anyway.  Better to try and fail than not try at all.  Drink a Glukos Gel and get the Garmin ready.

8:30 AM:  Half Marathon start.  Cold.  OMG, COLD!  Whatever.  Adrenaline will get me through it.

8:40 AM:  Jamie from Black Sheep starts yelling my name.  There was a pair of disposable running gloves on the ground so she grabbed them for me.  Better.  De Moe gives me his hat.  Much better.  I can do this.

11:40 AM:  Cross the finish line with my team.  Lose them in the chute.  Head to Gear Check to get my bag and warm clothes.  Start making my way to IAD.

1:45 PM:  Arrive at IAD.  Go to Baggage Claim to pick up my suitcase that flew in with me this morning.  Recheck it, check in for YVR and head to the United Club.


IAD United Club staff.  Great people!!
2:00 PM:  Order a Bloody Mary at the Club and realize that I haven't
eaten since the plane.  Good Bloody Mary though....Change socks.  Think that not showering was a mistake.  Try and stay awake at the Club so I don't miss my flight home.

4:30 PM:  Board for YVR via SFO.  In 39A for the way home.  Cold seat makes my knee happy.   Kept my feet off the bulkhead.
Don't do this.  Respect the bulkhead.

24 hours later, I haven't slept, flown 5000 miles
and run a half marathon.  But still smiling!!
9:00 PM:  Land at SFO.  Go see Dennis to celebrate.  Eat again.  Leave my suitcase at the airport.  Catch an Uber home around 11.  Finally shower and pass out right before setting the alarm for 6 AM so I can get back to SFO.  What do you mean we lose an hour tonight???  Daylight Savings Time???  Grrrr!

Sunday, 12 March

6:00 AM:  Get up.  Repack backpack.  Call Uber and head to SFO.

9:00 AM:  Arrive at SFO for breakfast and a mimosa.  OK...three mimosas.  Board for YVR.  Fall asleep before the plane takes off......

Vacation time in Vancouver until I leave and head to Dallas for the RnR Tex2Mex.  That's Dallas Half in the morning, and Mexico City Half that evening.  Egads!


Now you might think that all of this was an easy accomplishment except for the running 13.1 miles in 20 degree weather.  Not so.

It's no secret that I am a huge fan of United.  I have leaned on them so many times to get me back and forth to work that I can't list them all.  I insist that my favorite business investment I make each year with the biggest ROI is buying a United Club Membership.

If it wasn't for all of the support that I had from United--from the CSR agents on the phone for the planning, to the incredible United Club staff in all three clubs, to the Flight Attendants on the plane, and of course, my running group, the staff at RnR, and a slew of Uber drivers, I never would have pulled this off.

They say that running is an individual sport.  While I would like to agree, as I don't really feel that I compete with anyone when I am on the course itself, I know that it is, in fact, a team sport.  Without my team from United and Black Sheep Run, as well as the other individuals who helped along the way, I never would have been able to fly, run, and fly again.

My team is the best.


Life is good.  Life is better when you are part of a worldwide support team.



Next stop:  Tex2Mex.

(Since United counts PQD for their 1K membership, and I flew on a comped ticket LAS--IAD--YVR, I don't get credit for status on this trip.  But since this month's trip was 12,104 miles, we will have to start tallying separately).

Miles Run: 140
1K Qualifying Miles: 21,955
Actual Miles Flown:  25,636




Friday, March 3, 2017

I'm an official blogger!!!

I know I haven't been around...I've been flying and running all over the country...we'll catch up on that later.

But.....

I'd like to announce two important things, along with my 2017 running challenge.

You all know that I am a Hall of Fame member with the Rock N Roll Marathon Series because I completed 15 races of at least a half marathon in one calendar year.

Well....they have chosen me to be a Rock N Blogger to represent them for 2017 in their races along with whatever else I may do.



ALSO...you all know how much Glukos has changed my running game.  I have bragged about this product since I discovered it and used it in the RnR Seattle half marathon to set my PR.



Well, they have asked me to be a Brand Ambassador for their product.  I am in complete heaven.  I ran a "taper" half marathon right before the RnR New Orleans Marathon (that's ONE of THREE for the year) and I just love how about 10 minutes after I have a gel, I can feel it going through my legs and pushing me past my comfort pace.  I love that I'm hitting sub-10 minute miles on the back half of that 13 coming down from the Golden Gate Bridge.  OK, it's downhill, and I'm old, but you know what--I'M DOING A SUB-10 MINUTE MILE!!!!  A few times.  In San Francisco.  HILLS!!

Yeah, that works.

I'd really like to thank the Rock N Roll Series for picking me to represent them.  I think that I represent an important niche--an older woman who is in no means an athlete, but who wants to feel welcome in a sport where she can excel on her own terms and at her own pace without being judged.  We do what we can when we can, and we welcome the opportunity to be celebrated and appreciated for our accomplishments.  This is an opportunity for those of us who travel for a living to keep fit, and for those of us who want to travel to find a reason and stay fit at while pursuing our travel ambitions.

And now for the challenge...

I'm a 1K member with my favorite airline, United.  They are sponsoring the RnR DC and SF races, which I will be running, and you can bet that getting to and from the DC race will be the subject of my next blog.  Stay tuned!!

My challenge is to keep my 1K status, which requires me to fly 100,000 miles a year, as well as run 1000 miles a year and maintain my Hall of Fame with the RnR Marathon Series.

So, we essentially have 1K squared.

Let's do it!!


Miles Run:  126.7
Miles Flown:  21,445

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Setting a New PR in Seattle

I thought Seattle was supposed to be hilly?

Someone told me that.  I forget who.

I set a new PR in Washington DC this March, running when I didn't even feel like it.  DC had one big hill at about 10K, and that hill completely owned me.  I walked the whole stretch of it.  But compared to San Francisco where I usually train, the rest of the course was pretty flat, so I took about five minutes off my best time.


I hadn't had time to do a long run since Liverpool's Half Marathon, and was still coughing from the tail end of bronchitis  The only runs I could squeeze in were short 30-60 minute bursts on a treadmill in whatever fitness center was close to wherever I was working.  I would run as hard as I could for as long as I could, then shower and hit the Show Floor.

Not exactly the best training program, but something is better than nothing.

In DC, I had met a man who introduced me to his running group, Black Sheep Run.  This group would jump on an airplane at a moment's notice to fly across the world for a race, then turn around the next day and fly home.  As often as they could.

Hmmm...sounded a bit like....me.  But I do it for Trade Shows.  I fit right in.


I never really gave all the energy I had at a race.  Except for one or two, I have always been alone at the Finish Line with no one to greet me when I finished or catch me if I fell.  I don't really have an "In Case of Emergency" contact that I can put on my toe tag in case something goes wrong.  It's just me.  And that means I don't push myself and risk not being able to get home.

Team Black Sheep Run at the Starting Line
This race was different.  I was there with a group.  There were 20 or so Black Sheep from all over the country coming in for the race, and I got to hang out and meet more people as the weekend went on.  When race day came, we all got together and posed for a Group Picture and most of us all started at the same time.

As the race started, I ran just a little quicker than I usually do for a Half, feeling the effects of all the gels and gummies that I had eaten.  5K came and went, and I was on a pretty good pace.  Started waiting for the hills.  Where were the hills?  What hills?

Oh, a little six-story around mile 4.  Walked up it.  Water station right after.  Cool.  When is the next hill?


Next thing I knew, 10K gone.  And on a downhill.  Oooooookaaaaaayyyy....  Looked at my Microsoft Band.  PR on a 10K.  Alrighty then.  Let's keep going.

Almost ten miles in, and it's still pretty flat.  I'm running by a lake.  No idea where in town I am, but it's cool, I feel pretty good, and every mile or so there is a water or gel station.  Let's push a little harder.  This is usually where I get tired and walk.  Not this time.

And then...there it was...a hill.  Right after the mile 10 marker.  And it went around a bend, so I had no idea how high it was going to be.  Time to walk and conserve.  I just set a PR on 10 miles, so let's slow down a bit.  I don't want to bonk.

Well, that hill was only 55 or so feet incline.  Ummm...that's it?  Seattle, that's all you are going to throw at me??

Oh, I GOT THIS!!

The last gel kicked in and my legs and brain got into some sort of joined conspiracy that made me really start pushing.  I ran through the 2nd tunnel and saw Century Field and started doing the math in my head...  To finish at XX time I need to run a YY pace for ZZ length.  This is what people with math backgrounds do when they are out running without music to keep the mind occupied.  I had a goal to finish a Half Marathon under 02:30 by the end of the year.  And I was going to do it.  In June.

And then my mind was really going...I was doing more math...damn all that gel I drank.  If I kicked it up just a littttttttle bit, I could come in at 02:25, taking 10 minutes off my DC time.  Nice thought...but not sure if I had that kind of energy.  Too risky.  What if I fell?  What if I cramped?  What if I passed out?  What if....???  The cautious me began to win this race and I slowed down.  And it started raining so I got paranoid that I would slip and fall on the slick highway.

BUT WAIT!!!  I have a TEAM here!!  I am not alone!!  If I fall down at the Finish Line, they will pick me up and get me home.  I am NOT ALONE!!! There may not be any "In Case of Emergency" written on my toe tag, but I have two dozen Black Sheep waiting for me somewhere who, at the very least, will give me a hug and get me a beer or drag my sorry butt three blocks to my room and throw me in the shower.  I can do this!!  I can run--DOWNHILL--into Century Field and cross that Finish Line at 02:25 or keel over trying.  And they will pick up my phone, my toe tag, and my fitness bands and make sure I do not get a DNF.  And then they will come back for me.

Finish line picture.
Not that I remember taking it...
So run I did.  At mile 12 I started getting dizzy.  I couldn't see to the sides of me.  My legs were screaming at me.  My feet were threatening mutiny.  But I kept going.  Bingo Fuel gone.  I saw the mile 13 sign ahead of me and made the right turn into the stadium.  And then it all went blank.

I honestly don't remember crossing the Finish Line.  It was raining pretty hard and all I could think about was getting a picture and getting out of the rain before my phone got ruined.  I guess you have to focus on something, right?  The only thing I remember was someone from the race staff grabbing me and asking me over and over if I was OK.  I kept saying yes, and I had to find my team.

I eventually found them and celebrations commenced.  I'm not sure how many of us set a new PR, but it was an amazing experience sitting there with everyone, drinking beer, and watching one Black Sheep after another come in jumping up and down, waving medals and celebrating victory.  I wouldn't trade those few hours for anything in the world.

And, of course, because I was Running While Branded with my Team Geico shirt on, I went to the tent and got an amazing massage by a big Hawaiian, which might be the only reason I was able to walk to the train station, get on an airplane and fly home.

The Black Sheep drinking beer and being the last ones at the party.
And by the way...Seattle...I didn't just own you, MY TEAM OWNED YOU!!!  Next time, try a little harder, will you?  Those hills you threatened us with?  Nope.  Why don't you come down to a REAL hill city like San Francisco and try and set a PR here.  OK.  Testosterone back in check.

So as I sit here writing this, my legs just beginning to forgive me, my lower back throbbing with some sort of new knot, and my toenails threatening to fall off, I'm working with some of my teammates to find accommodations in Chicago for the next race as well as figure out how we will all get to Dublin and back.

See you in Chicago.  Unless you want to come to San Francisco and do some REAL hills with me.

Life is Good.  Life is better when you finally find out the meaning of TEAM.



Miles Flown:  46,846
Longest Run:  13.1 miles






Thursday, June 2, 2016

Unbranded in Liverpool...the Encore

This is my second time running the Rock & Roll Liverpool Half Marathon . And, sadly, my second time not doing it healthy.



Last year, I had a horrible infection on my ankle which caused me to be on crutches the week before the race.  



This year, I overdeveloped bronchitis the week before the race, and was not sure I would make it through the course without keeling over and coughing myself to the hospital.

But there's something about Liverpool and the people who live there That just give you energy and strength to get out there and do it, dying or not.


The 2:30 pacer who made ​​me finish strong.
 Next year, he promises me 2:20. Let's do it !!
This is without a doubt my favorite Rock & Roll Marathon that I have completed. If you ever get a chance to come across The Pond and participate, do it! The people are wonderful, the city was a blast, and the fact that not many people know you makes it even more fun to get out there and experience new things. Plus, if you drink enough beer, you start to understand the accent, and can almost figure out what the Scouse are saying. Truly amazing and hospitable people in this town .


And, of course, everything BEATLES !!!!  
How could you go wrong?

I Decided to do the R & R Remix Challenge - 5K on Saturday and the Half Marathon on Sunday. After not running for almost a month, my 5K was good - just two minutes off my PR, and my Half Marathon was pretty decent as the 4th best time. I was afraid to push myself too hard, as I did not want to get into a coughing fit on the course and not be editable to finish. No way I will quit, I do not care how long it takes. That's just me.


This is what I look like after crossing the finish line.
No editing or filtering. The false eyelashes stay on!




Some people from my group came running over, and this was the 10th R & R racing for them this year - definitely an achievement. Having a group That you only see during a race and communicate with on Facebook is certainly the modern way of developing relationships with people who, like me, will jump on a plane at a moment's notice and fly wherever for an event. I do it for work, they do it for a race. Just great people.





Unbranded why, though? Because this is the only event that i can do and not have an association to a fire, and not know at least half the people working it. Coming to Liverpool and running is like a "guilty pleasure" for me. ... Shhhhh .... no one knows I'm here.


Always Branded
But I still ran the 5K branded with my Geico shirt, since theywere nice enough to feature the picture I fired at the DC R & R Half Marathon for the #MyRaceFace  social media campaign as Their main picture for the Bay to Breakers race in San Francisco last month. So I suppose I can never get away from being branded, can I?

And, after all, that's the point of all of this, is not it? I can not be "Running While Branded" if I'm not branded, right?



Miles Flown: 35 299 miles.
Longest Run: 13.1 miles.



The luck or love of the Irish.




Monday, February 1, 2016

I Got a New Toy!!

At CES this year, I was working near the fitness section in the Sands Convention Center.  As the exhibitors wandered by my booth, I started conversations with them about what I wanted in a wearable fitness device.

I'm looking for something that has a built in GPS and will connect to my running app, Strava, so that I don't have to carry my phone with me when I run.

Everyone I talked to said it wasn't on the market.  Yet.

Well, shoots.  So into the sports bra goes my phone.  Not exactly comfortable, but certainly handy.


This week, I'm working the Super Bowl Expo for Microsoft.  We're getting the usual crash course on the products being showcased at the Expo, talking points, highlights, etc.  Well, guess what the last product introduced is?

A wearable device that has built in GPS and connects to many fitness apps, like Strava, so I can leave my phone at home when I run.

Why does no one know about this?

There you have it.  The Microsoft Band 2



So I went out and bought one.


Now, even though I work a LOT of Tech Shows throughout the year, I'm not exactly and expert when it comes to setting up new devices.  I usually try to do it myself and then go back to the store where I bought it to have them do it.  Not with this device.  It was VERY easy to set up and customize.  Even for me.  It has a lot of bells and whistles that I won't use, so I just turned those features off, and connecting it to my Strava account was self explanatory.

Seriously.  If you know me, I struggle trying to set the alarm on my phone.  This was incredibly easy.


I went for a run with it, seven miles with hills, to see how it would compare to the other fitness device that I wear.

And I forgot to turn on the GPS, so in effect, I can't connect with Strava to get the credit.  Grumble.  Good to know for next time, but I would have liked it to let me know that GPS was not on instead of having to remember to turn it on.  My running apps on my phone give me the head's up, this should too.  Suggestion noted in feedback form.

Otherwise, it did well tracking my steps and estimated run.  I covered a regular path and the calculations were very close.

I particularly liked that the device vibrated slightly every mile completed.  My other device doesn't do that, it only vibrates when the steps goal is completed.  This, to me, is my little cheering section.  Three miles completed?  OK, I can do another.  Four?  Yep, I've got another mile left in me...and on and on I went.

I also like that pace, elevation, and heart rate are displayed.  I don't have to wait until I get home and remember where I was when the pace I was running felt right.  This helps me speed up or slow down, depending on my goals for the day.

The only real challenge I see upcoming is the battery life.  Even with the GPS off, I drained 25% of the battery on a seven mile run.  That's going to be an issue when I start covering large distances in a few months.  The battery needs to be good for 20+ miles to really make it worthwhile for me.  I'll go back to the Microsoft store and ask the incredibly helpful staff how I can tinker with the device to extend battery life.

In the end, after the first day, I'm giving it four stars out of five.  Not bad.  Not bad at all.

Tomorrow is my day off, I have another long run scheduled, so I will be out there, Running While Branded...


Miles Flown:  3500
Longest Run:  7.0 miles